John Nicholls, the senior member of the bank firm of W. & P. Nicholls, at Dutch Flat, Placer County, California, was born in Cornwall, England, September 30, 1846, and is a representative of an old English family. William Nicholls, the father of John, left England in 1852 and came to California, pioneering in its mining districts. He was engaged in placer mining at Placerville, Georgetown and Forest City, and met with gratifying success. In partnership with his brother Philip, he became the leading gold buyer of Forest City, Sierra County, and for years the two were engaged in buying and packing gold across the mountains to San Francisco. While thus occupied the subjected themselves to much fatigue and exposure incident to the unsettled conditions of the country. At times they carried as much as one hundred thousand dollars in gold dust on their pack mules, and more than once were attacked by robbers. By prowess and bravery, however, they always managed to keep their treasure. In 1860 they came to Dutch Flat and established a banking business, which they conducted successfully up to the time of their death, and which their sons are still conducting. William Nicholls departed this life in 1877. He was a man of the highest business integrity and great courage, and, in short, possessed those sterling characteristics which made him what he was, the highest type of a California pioneer. He had married, in 1845, Miss Jane Nicholls, a distant relative, who died in England in 1864. Of their three children, two are living—John and William.
John and William Nicholls were reared and educated in England, and in 1865, the year following their mother’s death, they came to this country to join their father in California, making the voyage via New York and the Isthmus of Panama and landing in due time at San Francisco, whence they came directly to Dutch Flat. Here John Nicholls and his cousin William succeeded to the banking business established by father and uncle, as above stated. They are also interested in various mining operations and other business enterprises and have been uniformly successful in whatever they have undertaken. Thus they have rightly gained a standing among the most prominent businessmen of the county.
In San Francisco, February 21, 1878, John Nicholls married Miss Olive Wilson, and they are the parents of four children, namely: John Carroll, Robert Julian, Sydney Walton and Jennie Esbella. The eldest son, John Carroll, has recently graduated at the University of California. The Nicholls’ home is one of the most commodious and attractive residences in Dutch Flat and Mr. Nicholls and his family are held in high esteem by the citizens of the place.
For a number of years Mr. Nicholls has been an enthusiastic Mason, and both he and his wife are members of the Order of the Eastern Star. In Masonry he has advanced through the degrees of the blue lodge, chapter and commandery, and at this writing he is filling the office of treasurer in the blue lodge. Also he belongs to the Independent Order of Red Men. Politically he is a Democrat, and on one occasion allowed his name to be used as the candidate of this party for the state assembly. He is not, however, what may be termed a politician, and he has never sought official honors, preferring rather to give his undivided attention to his extensive business interests.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.