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Cast of Characters

The first of these letters -- describing climbing Pike's Peak on horseback in August 1883 -- from actress EJ Phillips to her son Albert Nickinson was written from San Francisco where she had traveled with the AM Palmer theatre company from New York.  

EJ Phillips about 1877 (1830-1904)

Albert Nickinson, Middletown NY about 1886 (1863-1948)

Theatre manager AM Palmer (1838-1905)

Palmer Theatre Company colleagues included Maurice Barrymore (father of Ethel, Lionel and John), Agnes Booth, wife of Junius Brutus Booth Jr. and sister-in-law of EdwinShe was in San Francisco when Palmer produced Oscar Wilde's first play Vera the Nihilist, but later toured in his Lady Windermere's Fan.  Palmer's company performed at Grover Cleveland's 1885 inauguration and met Cleveland at the White House as part of their trip to Washington for a sold out Actor's Fund benefit performance in April 1887.

Dr. and Mrs. Dr. John T. Nagle kept a boardinghouse on East 21st Street and were friends as well as landlords.  He was a public health physician at 301 Mott Street, and as an enthusiastic photographer collaborated with Jacob Riis in investigating New York slums.

Daughter Hattie Nickinson Dolman (1860-1946)  married Philadelphia lawyer John Dolman Jr. (1837-1939) in 1887.    
Dolman cousins 
and their quilts

Albert married  Mary Penelope Macardell Nickinson (1864-1955) in Middletown, New York on Thanksgiving 1889. 

Grandsons Jack Dolman (1888-1952) and Edward Phillips Nickinson (1890-1948) were quite young in these letters. Each died fairly young, too soon to know their grandchildren.

That these letters were saved is both a reflection on the travel and adventures reported by an intrepid actress, and (it must be admitted) the habits of a family of packrats.  John Nickinson, actor, the father of EJ Phillips' children (and possibly her husband) had died in Cincinnati in February 1864, aged 56, leaving EJ Phillips (aged 33) with Hattie, aged 3 and Albert, aged seven months and herself to support.  

John Nickinson   (1808-1864)

About these letters  1992+

 

I could never have produced this website without my mother's transcription of them.  Em Turner Nickinson Kuhl (1928-2000) grew up in Pensacola and delighted in the company of Albert, her grandfather.  I never knew him -- he died the weekend my parents met.  Nor did I know her father Ted. But I grew up in Florida, going to Pensacola every summer and hearing stories of lots of relatives.  
Mother 1996 reading the second edition

Beachnuts 1999, 619 North Baylen St., Pensacola Florida

Only child Edward Phillips Nickinson had three children, 12 grandchildren and 20+  great-grandchildren. 
  Nickinson Family Tree

I count myself lucky to have grown up with so many fine examples of "terrific old ladies", starting of course with my maternal grandmother the Poor Old Lady. What I hadn't realized was that the prototype went back so far. I never expected to know a relative so well who died 46 years before I was born.  Mary Glen Kuhl Chitty mgchitty@verizon.net 

Last updated March 3, 2005

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