About James Wilson Nichols
NICHOLS, JAMES WILSON (1820–1891). James Nichols, Indian scout, was born on December 27, 1820, in Franklin County, Tennessee, the son of George Washington and Mary Ann (Walker) Nichols. At age twelve he began a journal that was eventually published as a book of memoirs, Now You Hear My Horn (1968). This account vividly describes his life, beginning with his travels to Texas. The Nichols and Johnson Day families traveled the Tennessee, the Mississippi, and the Red Rivers to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and from there they traveled overland to Guadalupe-Gonzales counties, Texas. Nichols's journal says the party crossed the Sabine River into Texas on December 16, 1836. The families took up residence near Gonzales on March 2, 1837. Some historians have suggested that Nichols was present at the battle of the Alamo; however, these dates disprove such speculations. Another entry in Nichols's journal recalls the crowds waiting in San Antonio to see David Crockett's gun. There is no previous mention of Crockett.
Like his father and his grandfather, Nichols frequently moved, but he always settled back in Guadalupe-Gonzales counties. He served as a member of the Texas Rangers, the Frontier Battalion, and the Minute Men. In 1839 he scouted for Capt. James Callahan. In 1841 he fought Comanche Indians under Capt. Jack (John Coffee) Hays; in 1842, while serving under Hays, the troop encountered a messenger from Gen. Rafael Vásquez on the outskirts of San Antonio, asking for the city to surrender. Hays had only 100 men, so he called for an evacuation of San Antonio. By the time other Minute Men had heard the news and traveled to San Antonio, Vásquez had retreated to the Rio Grande. Nichols served with Mathew Caldwell in the battle of Salado Creek against Adrián Woll in 1842. During the Mexican War he fought with Hays.
He also made furniture for a local wood shop. With this occupation, he traveled to San Antonio to make trades and bargain with others for goods. For two years he was employed in the furniture business. In the late 1850s Nichols came into conflict with secessionists because of his Unionism. Men from a town committee voted on a resolution ordering him to leave the county within the next ten days but Nichols answered that when they came for him, they would be greeted by "two double-barrel guns. Now you hear my horn." (Hence the title of his memoirs.) He was convicted of trumped-up horse-stealing charges, but Governor Frances R. Lubbock granted him a pardon and the court reversed the case. In 1861 he moved to an adjoining county. Nichols married Mary Ann Daniell, daughter of Rev. George Daniell of Gonzales County. He and his wife had twelve children. He died in Kerrville on October 8, 1891.
Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Cynthia Schellenberg
TEXAS RANGER SERVICE RECORD 1847 - 1900 Volume IV, Page 116:
James W. Nichols, Cpl.
- Texas Rangers - Frontier Battalion - Minute Men - Indian Scout -
Gonzales Rangers, Enlist: March 16, 1839 - Discharge: June 16, 1839
1839 scouted for Capt. James Callahan
Fought Comanche Indians under Capt Jack (John Coffe) Hays
Served with Matthew Caldwell in the Battle of Salado Creek under Adrian Woll
During the Mexican War he fought with Hays in Mexico
Name: James Wilson Nichols
Birth: 27 DEC 1820 in Winchester, Franklin Co., TN 1
Military Service: Private, Caldwell Ranger Company, Gonzales Regiment
Occupation: Furniture maker and trader
Death: 08 OCT 1891 in Kerrville, Kerr Co., TX 1
Occupation: 1880 Farmer
James is listed in the 1846 Guadalupe Co., TX Tax list.
James and family are listed in the 1860 Gonzales Co., TX census Image 90, line 625. He is listed as J. W. Nichols.
James and family are listed in the 1870 1st Precinct, Westbrook P.O., Blanco Co., TX census Image 2, line 11.
James and family are listed in the 1880 45th District, 11th Precinct, Coleman Co., TX census Image 4, line 80.
The Nichols and Johnson Day families traveled crossed the Sabine River and entered Texas on 16 Dec 1836 according to Nichols journal, "Now you Hear My Horn". Although their goal was San Antonio, both families eventually settled in Gonzales on 2 Mar 1837 after spending the interim in East Texas. Although the Nichols and Days moved considerably, they usually returned to the area around Seguin in Guadalupe Co. or Gonzales. Nichols was a Texas Ranger and Minuteman in the early days of the Republic of Texas seving with Capt. James Callahan and Capt. Jack Hays. Nichols served under Capt. Mathew Caldwell in the Battle of Plum Creek in 1841 and the Battle of Salado in 1842 which he described in his journal. He was with Hays company in 1842 when they encountered a messenger from Gen. Rafael Vasquez on the outskirts of San Antonio asking the surrender of the city. Hays called for the evacuation of San Antonio, but before he could muster additional troops Vasquez retreated to the Rio Grande. He again served with Capt. Hays troops in the Mexican War of 1847.
His journal indicates a pleasant storyteller with a sense of humor, but outspoken in his opinions on issues and individuals. He was against secession and came into conflict with secessionists in the 1850's. Nichols answered a town committee's order for him to leave the county in ten days with the threat that they would be greeted by "two double-barrel guns. Now you hear my horn." He was later convicted of trumped-up charges of horse-stealing charges, but Governor Frances R. Lubbock granted him a pardon followed by reversal of the conviction in court.
Let me give a short description of his writing about leaving TN.....
My father, George Washington and grandfather, David moved from Winchester, Franklin Co., TN to the western district of the same state, Madison County, when I was quite small and lived there five years. My father and grandfather decided to move west and build themselves a flatboat and float it down the Tennessee River to the mouth and launch out on the "Father of Waters", the Mississippi and float to Memphis where there was but one store in the place run in the firm name of Byas and Moore. We then crossed over to High Point and stayed there in camp through the winter using driftwood for fuel. In the spring we moved out on Grande Lake. He then talks about rafting timber to New Orleans to sell and see a cousin of his fathers by the name of Terry Nichols who lived in a seven story building. In the summer of 1836 my father sold out in Arkansas to move to Texas and his destination was San Antonio but about a week before we was ready to start, one evening some movers drove up and bought some corn and fodder from father and drove out and camped. After supper father went out to the camp to chat and found out where they were moving to. We found out that therir names was Day and that they was moving to Texas. This was Johnson Day and family. Father and old man Day made a covenant that night to get together, travel together and settle together. We got with Day and traveled together all the way and crossed the Sabine River into Texas the 16th Day of December 1836.
Grantee: Jas. W. Nichols
District: Bexar; Travis
Survey/Blk/Tsp: SW 1/4 968 AB & M-
Patentee: James W. Nichols
Patent Date: 08 Jun 1866
District: Bexar; Gonzales
Patent #: 522
Patent Volume: 33
Class: Gonz. 3rd