Homepage   People  Places   Plays     Site Map

Babies and toddlers

Pregnancy and childbirth  family planning  Children's clothes   Education
Grandchildren 
John Dolman "Jack"   Ted Nickinson   Elizabeth Ellen Dolman    Melanie Dolman     

Single parenthood
Whether John Nickinson and EJ Phillips actually married (and if so, when) is unclear.  John Nickinson, son of his first marriage, wrote to the New York Clipper after his father's death and his obituary that his parents had never been divorced. 

John Nickinson often refers to himself as EJ Phillips' husband in his letters.  EJ Phillips occasionally calls herself Nickinson, though she uses Phillips much more often, and in her letters does not directly call him her husband.  The fullest obituary of EJ Phillips (New York Dramatic Mirror, August 20, 1904) makes no reference to John or Albert Nickinson, but lists Hattie and the three grandchildren.  The New York Times obituary mentions only Hattie.

EJ Phillips evolved from Miss Phillips (when she was originally appearing with John Nickinson and his four daughters the Misses Charlotte, Eliza, Virginia and Isabella  Nickinson into using the stage name Mrs. EJ Phillips.  A more careful unearthing and perusal of playbills and programs from the 1860's and 1870's might help date this transition.  The only Mr. Phillips had been her father.  

I d often wondered what name(s) are on her tombstone. Dolman cousins Susan Misciewicz  and Peggy Spencer  (then living outside Philadelphia) went to West Laurel Hill Cemetery to try to find out.  She is buried in the Dolman family plot (without a stone), and in the cemetery records as a Nickinson.  Dolman cousin Susan Spencer [Misciewicz], who lives in Toronto, researched Canadian marriage and divorce records, but fire seems to have left only fragmentary public records. 

Hattie Nickinson was three and Albert was less than a year old when John Nickinson died.  Charles Alderman Nickinson (born April 30, 1858 in Toronto) had died in Pittsburgh in September 1859.  It seems unlikely that John Nickinson left much (if any) estate to contribute to the support of EJ and the children. 

Phillips family
EJ Phillips
seems to have had few relatives to help her raise two young children.  Her own mother (born July 1 1790 in Ledbury,  Herefordshire, England) had died in Hamilton, Canada on September 15, 1853.  Her father, also born in Ledbury (January 1794) died the year before John Nickinson on April 1, 1863.

EJ Phillips' sister Maryann Phillips, born in 1824 (six years before EJ Phillips) had died in 1832, aged eight.  

The only relative who seems to be identified as such in the letters is Aunty (Mrs. Zavistowski) who lived fairly close to New York (Ridgewood NJ, later moving to Elizabeth NJ) and seems to have had some money (to lend to Albert and to buy a house and 2 and 1/2 acres).  Assuming she is the "Sister Cris" of some letters we have, she sounds much less articulate or educated than EJP.

Several undated newspaper clippings refer to the Zavistowski ballet troup and Alice Zavistowski.  After John Nickinson's death, EJP sometimes boarded the children with the Zavistowskis.  There are receipts for Mrs. Christine Zavistowski in 1874 and 1875 from EJ Nickinson for $10, $20, $30  (varying amounts), some sent to Philadelphia and some to Suffern NY.

Grandchildren
Jack Dolman
Boston, May 27, 1888, All letters from John and Mrs. Dolman give good accounts of Hattie's condition and of your nephew [John Dolman "Jack"].  His eyes were a little sore & he had a little colic, but is better.  Today his Grandpapa was to visit him and has given him a carriage.  Lottie has sent him a silver spoon.  So you see he came as near as possible to being "born with a silver spoon in his mouth".  

Philadelphia, June 21, 1888  Hattie is much better than she was on my arrival.  Then I felt rather nervous about her.  She looked so pale and thin and her eyes looked so large.  She breakfasted downstairs this morning for the first time.  The boy is a month old today.  He grows fast.  He has had colic for a day or two, but otherwise seems thoroughly healthy.  He is very strong, and is almost too much for his mother to nurse.  So Grandma has to do a great share of the nursing.  

Los Angeles, Sept. 19, 1888  On the 7th Hattie went to see the folks and had to stay all night as a storm came up, but she got home on Saturday morning the 8th.  She took John upstairs and put him in bed with his Aunts.  After they had romped with him awhile she heard Nellie exclaim, "Oh how I wish your Uncle Albert could see you.  He would think you so sweet".  

Philadelphia, May 27th 1891 Jack is a big boy now, and as great a chatterbox as ever.  He talks of Aunt Neppie & Uncle Albert very often.  He is crazy on the subject of steam cars and fire engines.  John bought him a locomotive, tender and two coal cars for his birthday and for two days he worked harder over that train than ever any engineer did on the Erie.  He was three years old last Thursday.  

Edward Phillips Nickinson " Ted"   birth of Oct. 7, 1890

Philadelphia, Oct 9, 1890  I hope Neppie is doing well and that grandson is not giving much trouble.  I long to see them both.  Jack -- says very plainly "Aunt Neppie's baby boy is my cousin".  He talks of Uncle Alba & Aunt Neppie every day

Philadelphia, Oct 9, 1890 I think Arthur Macardell Nickinson would be a splendid name.  I have no objection to the name of "Phillips" but I dislike the abbreviation of "Phil".   I have one grandson John now, and while I appreciate your desire to call your son after your father, yet I think Neppie's wish and her family name ought to be considered.  It is the swell form now to give a child its mother's maiden name and Macardell is a very pretty one.  And your son has his grandfather's name in Nickinson.  

Philadelphia, Oct 16, 1890  So the boy's name is Arthur Phillips -- all right!  I am satisfied, even if Hattie has won the election.  And I hope Neppie is satisfied, and that Arthur will be when he is old enough to know what his name is.  ...  you must not call my grandson a "homely little cuss".  That is not nice, and you would not like it if anyone else were to call him so.  Newborn babies are never very handsome, but as a rule the ugliest at birth turn out to be the prettiest a few months later. It is a sign of growth when they stretch themselves so much & all the signs you mention tell me that he is doing well and growing fast.  I hope I shall see him very soon & judge for myself. 

Philadelphia, Oct. 20, 1890  Am pleased to know that Arthur [Edward "Ted"] is so good -- sure sign he feels in good health and it is a pleasant thing for his Mother.  Trust the "red gum" and "spoor" have disappeared.  Those little ailments are better outside than in.

New York, Nov 5, 1890  Sorry my dear little Grandson has his tongue tied.  That was the cause of his having so much trouble when he began his meals.

When "Arthur" became Edward Phillips is not recorded, but it must have been shortly after this letter.

New York, Nov 19, 1890  Very glad to hear you were all well and "getting along nicely" especially that Neppie was gaining strength and the baby growing nicely... After Thanksgiving I expect Mrs. Dolman over to pay me a little visit.  Perhaps by that time, if Neppie feels strong enough, you might come over and spend a night or two with me.  it would give Mrs. D an opportunity of seeing you all.  I am sure she wants to see Edward -- she is such a baby lover. .. Jack well and full of talk as ever.  Hugs his Mother now and says, "Ain't you a nice Mama?".  How pleased Neppie will be when Edward can say that to her. 

New York, Nov. 26th 1890  Well you have to let things rest until you can do better.  Be careful of yourself and do not expose yourself to draughts, whatever goes undone. .. Albert writes that he [Edward]  is a screamer, but I guess he is no worse than many millions of little boys who have come before him.  I am sure not worse than Jack, who is now a very good little boy indeed. 

New York, Dec. 5, 1890  I think you have done well to get the condensed milk for Edward.  I do not think he yet requires Mellins food, still it will perhaps be a help to digestion.  I suppose his Mother gives it to him through a bottle.  It will be better for her & for the boy.  He will grow fat now. 

New York, Dec 24, 1890 I am pleased to hear he is growing fast and is less cross, as proof he is in better health, and I am very glad you are feeding him with condensed milk.  It will be better for him, and for you and give you a chance to gain some strength and flesh.  Mrs. Law is feeding Mabel on condensed milk and I hear the child is thriving wonderfully. 

Ted Nickinson, Middletown NY

New York, Feb. 18, 1891 I was pleased to hear that Edward was growing so finely.  I think fourteen sounds a very good weight for so young a boy. 

Pittsburgh, May 12, 1893  So Master Ted is running a little wild. That's human and healthful, but keep him in sight.  Bring up a child in the way he should go, and when he gets there he will go as he pleases. Grandma Nickinson sends him a great big Kiss. 

Phila Pa, August 21st 1893 I was pleased to hear you were having such a nice time in Otisville. and Ted was having so much fun with the Horses, Cows & Chickens but I am afraid the poor chickens had a hard time of it.  They are not used to having a little wild boy running after them.  

Elizabeth Ellen Dolman 1891-1892   birth of  May 28, 1891

Philadelphia, June 5, 1891 Pardon me for not sooner replying to your note to Hattie congratulating her upon the advent of her little daughter Elizabeth Ellen Dolman ... I am pleased to be able to tell you Hattie is doing very nicely - she has not had any set-backs of any kind - Miss Elizabeth Ellen takes her meals regularly and is very quiet and good. Hattie has an excellent nurse who lifts her about as if she were a baby.  She sat up in a chair last evening for 15 minutes and from 5 to 1/2 past this Evening.  This is the first day the doctor has not called - so I imagine he thinks she is now on the road to recovery. She feels stronger and better than she did after Jack - at this time of the case - and looks better than she did when I saw her three weeks after he was born.  I am very grateful that all has passed off so much easier than I anticipated. 

Phila Pa, June 28th 1891 I hope it will not be long before I have a chance of renewing [Edward's] acquaintance.  Today Elizabeth Ellen is a month old.  She has grown wonderfully during her little life and is fat and plump as a partridge.   The doctor says [Hattie] looks better than he ever saw her before. 

New York, Apr. 14, 1892  Yes, Hattie still nurses the baby and intends to through the Summer but she also gives her Mellins food which Elizabeth drinks from a tumbler. Drinks two tumblers full, one about 10 AM and the other about 1/2 six PM. Seems to agree with her. 

Recipe 2 Based on Mellins food ( a mixture of the sugars maltose and dextrose  with thiamine mononitrate ferric glycerol, phosphate, and potassium bicarbonate), honey, evaporated milk, vitamins and mineral supplement and animal protein. Feeding Captive Birds, Provet Healthcare Information http://www.provet.co.uk/Petfacts/healthtips/birdsfeeding.htm 

ebay lists Mellins food bottles and trading cards.

death of Elizabeth Ellen Dolman 1892

Nellie Dolman Law's children
Philadelphia Aug 6, 1893 [Nellie Dolman Law] is getting pretty stout [pregnant] but seems well and in good spirits. Her children are well and are two terrors! Ted and Jack are mild little lambs in comparison. 

Milwaukee Nov. 8, 1893 Have you heard that Nellie [Law]'s new baby is to be named Harriet Nickinson?  If not, I have the pleasure of informing you of the fact.  Such is the decision of Mr. & Mrs. Law.  It was quite a surprise to Hattie but she says she feels highly honored and pleased.  And I suppose will take upon her the responsibilities of GodMother.  Nellie is getting along splendidly.  Is down in the kitchen attending to cooking and dishwashing.  Mrs. Robinson, her nurse, was with her three weeks.  Left her on Monday.  Mrs. Law, Will's Mother, is with her though. 

Columbus Ohio Mar 1 1895 Yes, Nellie's family is nicely alternated, girl & boy, girl & boy.  But whether there ever will be a reconciliation or not remains to be found out.  Will [Law] called and saw the baby Sunday after its birth, and Mrs. Law called a few hours after its birth, knowing it had occurred.  Nellie had a very easy time, and is doing well with plenty of nourishment for the baby  They have not yet decided on a name for him. 

Philadelphia, May 5, 1895 Nellie to go back to Will, I am told but do not know any particulars.  [From an undated 1895 letter, prior to John Dolman Senior's death: Nellie and Will are reconciled and begin housekeeping again next week]. The house is taken from the 15th (Saturday).  I hope the past may prove a wholesome lesson to them.  My opinion is that Will has behaved most manfully and well and done all he could to make things pleasant.] 

Melanie Nickinson Dolman 1897
Phila Pa, Novr 8th 1897  Dr thinks it will not be much longer for [Hattie] to wait.  I hope not for she is very tired. 

Phila Pa Novr 24th 1897  One month from today will be Christmas or rather tomorrow and your anniversary will be on Sunday the 28th. That is the date when our little stranger is expected. Will be nice if it would arrive that day. But Man proposes and a Higher Hand Disposes and we must be satisfied with His Will! Whatever it may be and be thankful. Hattie is feeling well under the circumstances, and is quite lively. Does not appear to be as nervous as she did some weeks ago. Still I guess she will be glad when all is over. 

Philadelphia, Dec 2nd 1897 Your Sister had a pleasant arrival at 7:35 this Morning.  Weighs 9 lbs, strong and healthy.  Is a girl.  Name not yet decided upon.  Will let you know when it is.  Mother & daughter doing well.  Love & Kisses to you all from Mother    Excuse haste.

Philadelphia, Tuesday 7th Decr 1897 Pardon me for not acknowledging the receipt of your package sooner, but I have been kept pretty busy since the arrival of Miss "Katherine Harriet" and cannot get and to do all I ought to do at the proper time. 

The sacque is beautiful and Hattie is very pleased with it, and sends you thanks.  She thinks your work excellent and is delighted that in showing it to her friends she can say, "It came from my sister".  Hattie is kept weak by the night sweats, but I hope in a few days she will be better as the doctor is giving her remedies to stop these unpleasant experiences which she has had after every confinement. 

The baby is doing well but has given us every night about 1 to 3 a taste of her musical qualities.  Jack is very fond of her, thinks her "very sweet". Tell Ted that when Jack wrote to him, his little sister had not then arrived and he could not tell Ted about her.  Jack says Ted must come to see her.  Her name is not fully decided upon.  Hattie says if you have any suggestions to make to send them on to me at once.  The doctor must have the name before the end of the month as he has to send in his report by the 1st.  John insists on the name Harriet, but after that does not so much care except that he wishes her to have two names.  

There seems to be a family tradition of experimenting with different baby names, as  Edward Nickinson was originally referred to as "Arthur".  

Philadelphia, Sunday  Decr 19th 1897  We are all doing as well as possible under the existing circumstances.  The young lady is still in doubt as to what name will be given to her.  The latest selection is from John -- "Melanie Nickinson".  He liked Katherine Harriet but his Mother did not like "Katherine".  I have had nothing to say in the matter.  The name matters little, if only she has good constitution and good health --  both of which she seems at present time to possess. 

Hattie & I both thinks she looks like Albert.  She certainly looks like my babies did, but she is only two weeks and 3 days old and may change before she is a month old, at which time I hope you will, with Albert & Ted be here to be introduced to her and judge for yourselves. The young lady is hearty.  Consequently her Mother is not gaining strength very fast and is troubled with night sweats, but has a good appetite and physically is doing well.    

Philadelphia, New Years Eve 1897  [obviously written a day or two after New Years Melanie's] lungs are strong and she lets the neighborhood know she is alive.  You may imagine we felt terribly mortified at John's forgetting to post Hattie's letter to you.  It must have left you in great uncertainty as to what you were to do. John was so very busy and Jack's illness troubled him so much, that it was not strange he forgot to post the letter.  

Philadelphia Pa, Feby 22nd 1898 I did not intend being so much behind time in answering your good newsy letter, but each day finds me busy and the hours pass.  A baby in the house is paramount to all other considerations & we all have to take a back seat when Melanie has the floor, which she takes pretty often, but she is a good little soul, and we have to answer her. 

Education - children
EJP refers several times to her grandsons' education, but never to her own so far. She was obviously intelligent and articulate. She was clearly a newspaper reader and periodically refers to contemporary books and journals. She was obviously familiar with Shakespeare and contemporary plays. What kind of schooling (compulsory, free?) did Canada have in the 1840's?

Philadelphia, Mar 24, 1894 Jack is all right again and going to school.  This week he goes in the afternoons and next week in the mornings -- this alternating gives the schools a chance to instruct more pupils than otherwise their capacity would allow them to.  But whether it is better for the children or not is a question!  But it is at least better than no schooling.

Philadelphia, July 19, 1894 Yesterday a Kindergarten school opened in the Chapel and Jack started to school again.  He likes it very much.  A Miss Ogden is the teacher.  Josie [Dolman, Jack's aunt]  would not take it again, as it did not pay her to do so.  I would prefer seeing Jack go to Public School, but the nearest one is at 28th & Columbia Ave, and is so crowded that half the children cannot be taken in, and of course the larger ones get preference for admission.

Education - theatrical

Last updated April 2, 2005

Homepage   Bibliography    People   Places    Plays     Site Map