GEORGE W. NICHOLS
GEORGE W. NICHOLS was one of the honored pioneer citizens of Eaton County, where he passed practically his entire life, his death having occurred on his fine homestead farm, in section 25, Oneida Township, on March 10, 1901. His life was dominated by a spirit of scrupulous integrity. He was a man of much mental strength and he was influential in his community, where he commanded the most unreserved confidence and esteem. Mr. Nichols was born in Royalton, Niagara County, New York, January 22, 1822, and was a son of Truman W. Nichols, who was one of the earliest settlers in Oneida Township, Eaton County, the farm on which the widow of the subject of this memoir now resides having been part of the tract which this honored pioneer secured from the government. Concerning the family genealogy and history detailed account is given in the sketch of the life of Leonard P. Waldo, on other pages of this volume, Mrs. Waldo being the youngest daughter of Truman W. Nichols. George W. Nichols secured his early educational training in the common schools of his native county, having been fifteen years of age at the time of the family removal to Eaton County, Michigan, where he was reared to manhood on the pioneer farm, assisting in its reclamation and development, and in his youth continuing to attend school at intervals. His entire active career was devoted to agricultural pursuits, and he was one of those who rendered material aid in the industrial and civic up building of Eaton County. He finally acquired one hundred and sixty acres of land, the same having been bought from the government by his father, as already noted, and he reclaimed the farm from the forest, making it one of the model places of Oneida Township. He erected the substantial and commodious brick house and other good buildings which are now on the homestead, and was one of the progressive farmers and public-spirited citizens of his county. The homestead is still the residence of his widow. Mr. Nichols was a stanch adherent of the Democratic Party and that his fellow citizens recognized his eligibility is shown in the fact that he was called upon to serve in various positions of public trust and responsibility, having been supervisor, township clerk, justice of the peace, etc., and having at all times been ready to give his aid and influence in support of measures tending to advance the general welfare. 'He was a zealous and devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he was ordained deacon, at Monroe, Michigan, and his widow also has long been active in the work of the church. He was a man of distinctive intellectuality, well informed and taking deep interest in the questions and issues of the day. He gained marked success in temporal affairs, was tolerant and generous in his intercourse with his fellow men and left the priceless heritage of a name unspotted by suspicion of wrong. February 17, 1847, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Nichols to Miss Sarah L. Preston, who was born in Cayuga County, N. Y., on January 23, 1830, being a daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Sprague) Preston, the former of whom was born in Broome County, New York, July 15, 1800, and the latter in Cayuga County, that state, October 14, 1807. Both passed the closing years of their lives on their homestead farm, in Oneida Township, Eaton County, Michigan, where the father died in June, 1883, and the mother April 27, 1897. Samuel Preston, whose vocation throughout life was that of farming, came with his family to Michigan in the winter of 1834, locating in Lenawee County, where he remained until 1837, when he took up his residence on his embryonic farm in Oneida Township, Eaton County, arriving March 4, 1837, the day that Martin Van Buren was inaugurated president of the United States. He had previously purchased from the government this tract of one hundred and sixty acres, in the midst of the virgin forest, and he erected a log house, into which he removed his family before the house had been equipped with either doors or windows. He was the second person to make permanent settlement in Oneida Township, but others came soon afterward, so that neighbors were not lacking, while he and his family did not endure so great hardships or suffer such isolation as did many of the pioneers of the county. He reclaimed the greater portion of his land, erecting a good frame house and other buildings, and continued to reside on the original homestead until 1865, when he sold the property and bought an improved farm of forty acres, in the same township, where he passed the remainder of his life. The second farm is now owned by his son Charles, of Grand Ledge. Mr. Preston was an uncompromising Democrat in his political proclivities, and he served one term as township supervisor. In the early days the township post office was maintained at his house and he served as postmaster, the duties of the position being not onerous as may well be imagined. Both he and his wife were devoted members of the Presbyterian church, and exemplified their faith in the daily walks of life. They became the parents of five children, all of whom are living, namely: Sarah L., widow of the subject of this memoir; Samuel H., a resident of the city of Lansing; Samantha, wife of John Jones, of Boyne City; and Charles M., of Grand Ledge. Of the ten children of Mr. and Mrs. Nichols eight are living, a brief record concerning them being as follows: Lucy is the wife of Uri Lazelle, of Lansing; Samantha is the wife of A. A. Ellis, of Ionia; Truman resides on a portion of the old homestead farm; Emma, who was the wife of Frank Foreman, died in Grand Ledge, in 1890; Zina makes her home in Ionia; George E. is engaged in the practice of law in Ionia; Martin A. is a member of the same profession and is engaged in practice in the city of Grand Rapids; Newton married Miss Matie Waldron and they reside with his widowed mother on the home farm, of which he has charge; Charles W. is a successful lawyer, engaged in practice in the city of Lansing; and the tenth child died in infancy.