These lovely elderly ladies are Louise E. Nixon and Jane ‘Jennie’ Bracken Nixon, nieces of my great-grandmother Sarah (Nixon) Boles of Co. Leitrim, Ireland, whose parents—William Nixon and Rachel Miller—and numerous siblings moved to the United States in the late 1860s. The ladies were my grandfather William Boles‘s cousins.
A previous post on Sarah Nixon Boles mentioned the fact that most, if not all, of her family relocated to New York after the US Civil War. This Nixon family is presumably part of the Nixon family of Fermanagh*—about which much has been written (e.g., The Families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, and Their Descendants by Henry B. Swanzy, published in 1908). However, I have yet to figure out the family’s location in the larger Nixon family tree.
William and Rachel Nixon were about 67 and 51, respectively when they arrived in America in 1869 (the year given me by the descendant of Benjamin, one of their sons). Joining them were supposedly all of their children (I’ve found 11, although my mother’s records list 14) except for my great-grandmother Sarah: Mark Nixon (b. cir. 1839/1845), Edward Nixon (b. cir 1845); Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Nixon (b. cir. 1849); Jane Nixon (b. 1851); Thomas Nixon (b. cir. 1852); Sarah Nixon (b. 1855); Rachel Nixon (b. cir 1865); Mary Nixon (b. cir 1858); Benjamin Nixon (b. cir 1862); Robert Nixon (b. 1863); Catherine Nixon (b. 1864); the last three (whom I have yet to find a trace of) were James, John, and William.
The passenger list inset for the ship Caledonia , which set sail from Moville on Lough Foyle at the northern tip of Northern Ireland to New York on 14 September 1868, shows the names of some Nixons–the names seem to fairly well coincide with some of the Nixon children’s names & ages. If these indeed are ‘our Nixons’, it would indicate that the older children may have come ahead of the parents and younger children.
While researching the family, I found William, Rachel and a number of the children in the 1870 US Federal Census, living in NYC Ward 18. William is listed as a ‘farmer’, an answer based certainly on his past occupation in Ireland. The children in the household were: Edward (30), Thomas (20), Eliza (22), Jane (18), Rachel (15), Mary (10), and ‘Bennett’ (10, this was probably ‘Benjamin’).
William Nixon died before the 1880 US Federal Census, as Rachel Nixon is listed in that census record as a widow ‘keeping house’ and living at 203 16th Street, NY, NY. and living with children Edward, Lizzie, Thomas, Rachel, Benjamin, Robert, Mary, and Kate, and several lodgers. The census record indicates that family members were involved in the dry goods business. Son Thomas (28 and now widowed) is listed as being a ‘dry goods buyer’ as is son Edward, age 35 and single. Benjamin (20) is listed as a ‘dry goods clerk’ as is Robert (18). (The 1900 Census indicates that Robert emigrated in 1879.)
Looking at old newspapers, I found the following mortuary notice in the New York Herald, dated 11 Aug 1871: At his [Gramercy] residence, 346 East 17th Street, on Thursday, August 10, William Nixon, aged 69 years. Funeral will take place on Saturday, August 12, at one o’clock PM from Seventeenth Street Methodist Episcopal Church, between First and Second avenues. Relatives and friends are invited to attend.
Almost two decades later, I found a notice for a Rachel Nixon (New York Herald, 12 May 1890): On Saturday, May 10, 1890, Rachel Nixon, age 72 years. The relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the funeral services at her late [East Village] residence, No. 224 East 12th Street, on Monday evening, May 12, 1890 at eight o’clock. Interment in Green-wood.
A William Nixon (bur. August 1871, Find a Grave memorial #127997780) and a Rachel Nixon (bur. 5-13-1890; Find a Grave memorial #106845856) are buried in Green-wood Cemetery Lot 17245 Section 17, Grave 114. The grave is unmarked according to the Find a Grave photographer who kindly attempted to find the graves for me. I’m not yet certain that I have the correct Rachel and William, but hope to pin all this down at some point. Meanwhile I toss this info out there to my readers and future readers who may already have turned over these stones and arrived at some conclusions.
Son Edward Nixon and wife Anna (Bracken) Nixon, who emigrated from No. Ireland in 1883, had four children: Jane ‘Jennie’ (b. 1884), William (b. 1885), George (b. 1887), and Louise (b. 1889). The first two children were born in Manhattan. The second two were born in Bridgeport, CT. Edward died sometime between 1889 and 1900, as Anna is a widow as of the 1900 census. There is an Edward Nixon in the same plot at Green-wood Cemetery (Burial 1899-03-29, Lot 17245 Section 17, Grave 114; (Find a Grave #106846467), perhaps giving a bit more weight to the possibility that the Green-wood plot is indeed where our Nixon ancestors were laid to rest.
By the 1900 Census, Anna (Bracken) Nixon and her children (ages 16, 15, 13, 11), sister Mary J. Bracken, and a lodger are living at 160 Virginia Avenue in Jersey City Ward No. 8, Hudson Co., NJ, and it was there that the family remained for many years. Neither Jennie nor Louise ever married. Jennie devoted her life to working as a teacher in the Jersey City public school system, and Louise worked for many years as a stenographer and then executive secretary for the president or vice president of a company in NYC. Eventually the sisters joined forces with their brother William and his wife Marion to buy a large house at 680 Orchard Street in Oradell, NJ, where they spent happy years before moving into the Francis Asbury Manor Methodist rest home in Ocean Grove, NJ. Jane died in May of 1972, and Louise in October 1979.
Serendipitously it was during their years in Jersey City that Jennie and Louise befriended my grandmother Zillah Trewin who lived there with her parents William Trewin and Elizabeth (Sargent) Trewin. According to my mother, Zillah was great friends with the Nixon sisters, as well as their cousins (the children of Jane Nixon and Wm Elliott Roberts), and it was through that friendship that she ultimately met and married their cousin (my grandfather) William Boles who emigrated to the US in 1912 at the encouragement of his uncle Robert Nixon who sponsored him.
I remember Jennie and Louise well. They were very fun ladies—full of good humor and always had a twinkle in their eyes. I always enjoyed the times spent with them, and best remember our visits to their Ocean Grove apartment. As I recall, we would drive down to see them on Saturdays since the roads in Ocean Grove are closed to all traffic on Sundays. We always took them out to lunch, and I remember taking them down to some restaurant near the ocean in Spring Lake, a short drive to the south. They were two sweethearts and it was very sad to lose them. I would love to have them here now to have some family history chats with them. When I was a teenager that topic was far from my mind.
I’ll close this post with a couple of Louise’s recipes (‘Chocolate Flake Candy’ and ‘Date Balls’) I recently came upon while re-binding my mom’s old recipe notebook. I haven’t tried either of them yet as I am trying to shift a bit of weight. Such temptations would surely sabotage my results! But they will stay on my radar!
If you’ve made it this far in the post, I wish you a great day. If you have anything to add, share, correct, etc., please don’t hesitate to get in touch or leave a comment!
Jennie and Louise’s Nixon Tree Branch
1-William Nixon b. Cir 1802, Ireland, d. Bef 2 Jun 1880; possibly 10 Aug
1871 +Rachael Millar b. Cir 1818, Ireland, d. Possibly 10 May 1890, Manhattan, New
York, New York
|—–2-Edward Nixon b. Cir 1845, Ireland, d. Betw 1889 and 1900
| +Anna Bracken b. Aug 1847, Northern Ireland, d. After 1930
| |—–3-Jane Bracken Nixon b. 15 Apr 1884, Manhattan, New York, New York,
| | d. May 1972, Ocean Grove, Monmouth, NJ
| |—–3-William Thomas Nixon b. 24 Aug 1885, Manhattan, New York, New
| | York, d. Sep 1967, Suffolk, New York
| | +Marion Zoller
| |—–3-George Robert Bracken Nixon b. 12 Feb 1887, Bridgeport,
| | Connecticut
| | +May L. Swenarton b. Cir 1889, New Jersey
| | |—–4-George W. Nixon b. Cir 1914, New Jersey
| | |—–4-Frank L. Nixon b. Cir 1919
| |—–3-Louise E. Nixon b. 22 Jul 1889, Bridgeport, Connecticut, d. Oct
| | 1979, Ocean Grove, Monmouth, NJ