The Valley of Heart's Delight

Valentine David Nichols-
from Indiana to San Jose, California- Historical Biography

SURNAMES: Waltman, Kaiser, Landa, Reily, Duncan, Ukestad

The record of the life of Valentine D. Nichols, now living in retirement in San Jose, is a striking exemplification of the truth that industry, perseverance and determination, reinforced by the sagacity resultant from contact with the business world, is uniformly rewarded by success. Born near Wolocottville, La Grange County, Ind., October 26, 1845, he is the son of Nelson Irvin and Keziah (Waltman) Nichols, the latter born in Huntington, Pa., and coming to La Grange County, Ind., as a bride in 1834. Both paternal and maternal grandparents were prominent in theearly history of New England. The father was an early pioneer of Indiana, was prominent in the development of the public school system of Indiana, and was a leader in all advance movements for the betterment of his local community.

On September 17, 1862, Valentine D. Nichols enlisted in the Twenty-third Indiana Battery, commanded by Capt. James H. Myers, and received his training at Camp Noble, which is now included in the present site of Indianapolis. While in training at this camp, his battery was called out to stop the raids of Morgan's men. The following year Mr. Nichols' battery went to East Tennessee and was under the command of Burnside until he went East. Extreme hardships were endured by the soldiers, never stopping to establish winter quarters, but always in active service, and in 1864 found Mr. Nichols with the Schofield Corps under General Sherman in his famous Atlanta campaign. Mr. Nichols has the remarkable record of being through twenty-seven skirmishes and coming out without a wound; among the battles which he participated wereResaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta Franklin, and Nashville. Altogether Mr. Nichols served three years continuously, lacking six weeks; was promoted to the rank of corporal, for gallantry in action, and was mustered out on July 2, 1865, at Indianapolis, returning to his home onJuly 4, 1865. For a time he was employed at farm work, and during the winter months attended the academy adjacent to his home town and taught one term in Indiana and later several years in Minnesota. In 1868 he migrated to Douglas County, Mich., settling on a homestead of 160 acres104 miles from a railroad. By dint of hard work, economy, and industry, he acquired a farm of 400 acres. He specialized white Yorkshire hogs; also raised wheat, flax, oats, timothy, and red clover. His standing in the community as a successful agriculturist and an influential citizenis shown by the fact for thirty-four consecutive years he presided over the justice court at the town of Brandon. In the organization of the township of Brandon, Mr. Nichols used his influence, and was rewarded by being elected clerk of the board, which position he filled creditablyfor fifteen years; he served as a school director for twenty-five years. Mrs. Nichols was also elected a school director, and has the distinction of being the first woman elected to such an office in Douglas County; she also served as treasurer of the board for a number of years.

Politically, a stalwart Republican, he was a member of the Republican County Central Committee; also serving as a state delegate. He was a member of John Reynolds Post No. 51, G. A. R., of Alexandria, Minn., and he served as a commander of this post two years, or until hisremoval to California. His life has always been actuated by the highest principles of integrity, whish has been used in the service of his community, and wherever he has resided, the community has been greatly benefited.

The marriage of Mr. Nichols on December 24, 1877, united him with Miss Katharine Landa, a daughter of Albert and Mary (Kaiser) Landa, natives of Bohemia, who migrated to America in 1855, settling in Iowa for nine years and then to Minnesota. They were stanch admirers oftheir adopted county and both lived to a good age, the mother being eighty-four and the father seventy-five when they passed away. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Nichols: Ethel, now Mrs. Elmer Riley, resides in Monterey County; Benjamin, a rancher at Butte, Mont., is married and has two children; Kezia is the wife of James Duncan, they are the parents of six children and reside in San Jose; Marcus, a rancher, also of Butte, Mont., has a wife and four children. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols had two grandsons, Marcus J. and Valentine David Ukestad,both from North Dakota, serving in the World War, the latter still in the U. S. Navy. In fact, from the early Indian and Revolutionary wars to the present time, members of the Nichols family have been participants, with the exception of the war with Mexico.

Mr. Nichols came to California in 1903, settling in San Jose and bought a place in College Park, at 854 Elm Street, content to reside here for the remaining years of his life. Since locating here three of Mrs. Nichols' sisters have located in San Jose on account of the climate. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols have made a number of visits to their old home in Minnesota, but they prefer the mild climate of California for their permanent residence. Mr. Nichols is an honored member of the Col.A. G. Bennett Post G. A. R. of San Jose, and a life member of the Union Veteran Legion, serving as colonel of Camp 160, San Jose. In the years past, while a resident of Minnesota, Mr. Nichols was extremely fond of hunting and fishing, and this sport was both pleasant and profitable, as the streams of Minnesota abound with fish, and the forests were full of
wild game.

Transcribed by Linda Gretty, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 666