Sarah Thomas was born 13 Jun 1782 in Loudoun county, Virginia, to Owen Thomas, a revolutionary war soldier, and Martha Davis. She was the third of 9 children, and the oldest daughter. About 1801 Sarah married Nathan Spencer Nickols, also of Loudoun county. Their first son, John was born in 1802. Soon followed the births of 11 more children, Mahala (b Aug1804 d Oct 1804), Ruth (1805), George (1807), Albert (1808), Harriet (1810), Massey(1811), Margaret (1813), Martha (1815), Anne (1817), Sarah (1819), Mordecai Davis (b 1820 d 1824), Mary Elizabeth (1822) and Nathan (1826).
In 1823, Nathan Spencer Nickols traveled from Loudoun county, Virginia to central Ohio. He purchased 960 acres of land, in Marion county, ( the land is now in Morrow county), intending to move his family there and give each child a farm of their own. In 1825 he returned to the Ohio land and then returned to Loudoun county to sell his farm and prepare his family for the long journey. Three of his children, John, Albert and Ruth, went ahead and moved to the new land with their spouses and families. In 1826 Nathan contracted to sell his land in Virginia. While in Leesburg, Nathan had a possible stroke.(cause of death is not certain. Family lore holds that he had a "ruptured blood vessel") His will was written on 17 Mar 1827 with a codicil added on 18 Mar. On 21 Mar 1827 Nathan Spencer Nickols died at the age of 46. Sarah Thomas Nickols was left with a farm already being sold, 9 children still at home to provide for, and almost 1000 acres in a distant state.
According to family lore, Sarah was determined to continue with her husband's plans, as she said that she believed that Nathan "had Divine guidance in making his plans, and I'll do my best to carry out his plans," and so, she, her children ranging in age from 20 to 11 months old, and 2 former slaves, Oliver and Susannah, who were freed upon Nathans death, all began the journey by wagon to the new land. Oliver and Susannah left the group in Belmont county, Ohio where they decided to settle.
I can only imagine the hardships of such a large group traveling through forests, much of the way probably on nothing more than dirt paths. Part of the way would have not been on the common migratory trails. I don't know the exact length of the journey, but Sarah and her family were on the new land by the summer of 1827. There was no house built on thepartially cleared property that Nathan had left her in his will, although he had provided $1000 in his will for a brick house to be built for her. I imagine that she lived with one of her children who had previously moved to the area until her house was ready.
Also, as per Nathan's will, Sarah purchased an additional 5 quarter sections of land from the government. Thus she was able to fulfill Nathans desire that every child should have 160 acres of land.
Sarah planted an orchard near her new home, with trees gotten from the nurseries of "Johnny Appleseed". From one of these trees an apple called the "Mt Gilead Beauty" was produced and propogated.
Sarah Thomas Nickols died 23 Jun 1839 at the age of 57.I don't know how Sarah lived her life in this new area, but I can get a glimpse of who she was through her will and inventory. While her will was signed with her mark instead of her signature, she probably could not read or write, education for her children must have been of utmost importance to her. Included in the public sale of her estate were the following books: several dictionaries, a geography book, a book on horse farrier, "The Life of Lafeyette", an arithmatic book, "The History of the United States", a book on moral instruction, books on the military,several Bibles and many others.
Also included in the inventory and sale were sheep, pigs, cattle and horses. From the tools in the sale and the large amount of spun yarn and raw wool, I can deduce that she raised the sheep for the wool, spinning the wool into yarn, and weaving the yarn into her and her children's clothing, and possibly for the community. Large amounts of cured meat were left in the estate, as were farming implements and large amounts of grains, corn and peaches. There is no doubt that Sarah was a hard working and industrious woman.
Sarah Nickols was a true pioneer woman, and I am proud that she was my great great great great great grandmother. I hope that I have inherited at least a small amount of her strength.