J. S. NICHOLSON, editor of the Beardstown Illinoian, was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England, in 1832. The family left Liverpool on the anniversary of the Queen's marriage, and, like so many emigrants, had a slow passage to New Orleans, thence up the Mississippi river, settling at last, after a journey of eleven weeks with teams, at Jacksonville. In 1850 the family settled on improved lands near Beardstown. They farmed this land. Part of the family moved to Rome, Peoria county, where the father died, aged seventy-three years, four months and twenty-eight days. He had been a good, quiet citizen. The war of the Rebellion changed his politics and he became a decided Republican in his old age. His wife, formerly Miss Mary Needham, died February 9, 1881. She had been a good, kind wife and mother, and both she and her husband were consistent members of the Methodist Church, having been so connected for thirty-five years.
The subject of our sketch commenced life here as an office boy at the office of a paper of which he later became the proprietor and editor. The history of journalism in Beardstown began as early as 1834, when F. Arenz, the brother of Judge Arenz, became the editor of the Beardstown Chronicle and Illinoian a kind of land advertiser. The next paper was started by Judge Emmons in 1845, and this was later owned by C. D. Dickinson, and he was followed by J. M. Sherman. Soon after it became the property of B. C. Drake, who ran it under the name of the Central Illinoian. When the war broke out the office was closed and the editor enlisted. The paper was re-organized by R. S. Mitchell, the property becoming owned by a stock company. Following the election of 1863 it became the property of L. W. Reavis, who continued to be the owner until 1866. The next year the paper was the property of A. J. Miller and was edited by Judge Emmons, and in 1877 Mr. Nicholson became the manager and proprietor. He was his own editor, and except for a short interval in 1883, has continued to run it successfully as a semi-weekly, under the name of the Illinoian. He is a thorough and practical newspaper man and the columns display his ability. His paper is run in the interests of the Republican party, and he has taken hold of all matters that tend toward reform. He has always been a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln and relates Mr. Lincoln's early experiences here with an especial pride and enthusiasm.
He was married in this city, in 1860, to Miss J. D. C. Harris, who came from England with her parents when a young woman. She died here in 1873, leaving four children, of whom but one is still living, Charles B., a member of the firm of Merry & Nicholson of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Nicholson was married for the second time, in this city, to Miss E. J. Buck. She was born, reared and educated in Cass county, and she has been a good wife and mother, and is an intelligent lady. Her one child is a son named Edgar E., a bright lad of twelve years. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a Republican in every sense. He has frequently been a delegate to the State and District Conventions and once a member of the State Central Committee.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 244-245.
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