Thomas Jefferson Nuckolls


THOMAS J. NUCKOLLS occupies an honorable position among the members of the bar of Sangamon County. He is engaged in the practice of his profession at Auburn, his place of residence, and also in Springfield. Besides attending to his law business he is Notary Public and a dealer in real estate and acts as Collector.

The father of our subject, C. D. Nuckolls, was born in Grayson County, Va., March 2, 1805. He was a son of James Nuckolls, who was of English descent and was born January 5, 1777, in Botetourt County, Va., and was a soldier in the Revolution. He was a farmer and mechanic and was engaged at his vocations in Grayson County, Va., where he was married to Janey Swift, a native of that county who was born March 2, 1781. Mr. Nuckolls became one of the early pioneers of Madison County, in this State, where he located in 1818. In 1820 he came to Auburn Township, and was one of its earliest settlers. He accumulated a valuable property and during his life was an extensive farmer.

The father of our subject learned the various trades of a carpenter, cabinet-maker and wheelwright, and was considered a very fine mechanic. In the early days of Springfield he was one of its leading business men and was there extensively engaged as a carpenter and builder. He bought a lot in that city for $12 and a few years later sold it to Sangamon County for $1,200 for a site for the present court house.

Mr. Nuckolls was a man of superior intelligence and was greatly interested in medicine, of which he made a special study during his leisure hours. In 1855 he attended lectures at McDowell's College, St. Louis, Mo., was graduated from that institution in 1856 and from that time until his death November 19, 1865, at the age of sixty-one years was actively engaged in practice. He was a man of means and owned a large farm of six hundred acres of land in Auburn Township. He was a Whig in early life and after the formation of the Republican party was one of its sturdiest supporters. In him the Methodist Episcopal Church found an active member whose liberality greatly aided in its upbuilding.

The mother of our subject, Mary (Wilson) Nuckolls, was born in Roanoke County, Tenn., and was a daughter of Thomas Wilson, who was born in one of the pioneer homes of that State. He was a planter while he lived there but owned no slaves. Preferring to live in a free State, in 1828 he came to what then formed a part of this county, making the journey with team and wagon, and was one of the early settlers in what is now Clear Creek Township, Christian County. He died soon after he settled there. The venerable mother of our subject is a welcome inmate of his household, and is now past seventy-eight years of age, and is a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Eight children came of her marriage with Mr. Nuckolls of whom the following is recorded: Margaret Jane, who married R. W. Ricks and died in this county; Thomas J.; James W., who married and died in this county, leaving one child; John W., who is a merchant at Pawnee; George W., a physician at Tintah, Minn.; Mary e., Mrs. N. R. Lockridge, of Pawnee; Charles W., a farmer in Auburn Township; and Nancy A., who died at the age of six years.

The gentleman of whom these notes are written was born in Auburn Township, December 6, 1834, and is a worthy representative of a sterling pioneer ancestry. His boyhood and youth were passed in a log house that was situated on the unbroken prairies in the edge of the timber. He was very young when he commenced to assist his father on the farm and he was only seven years old when he was intrusted with the labor of plowing land, plowing with the old-fashioned moldboard plow drawn by oxen. His school advantages were such as were afforded to the boys of pioneer days. Education was then conducted in primitive log houses which were furnished with plank desks and slab seats and were attended by the boys mostly in the winter season. He was studious, fond of his books, and liked debating, thus early showing a gift that has been beneficial to him as a lawyer. He early displayed a taste for the legal profession, and used to read law books and was interested in looking up law cases. He finally began to practice before the local courts and tried his first case when under seventeen years old in Ball Township under Squire Burtle. He used to attend court in Springfield, and while listening to such lawyers as Col. Baker, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, gained much knowledge of law. Our subject was then a boy, carrying water to the cradlers in the field, when he first saw the future President Lincoln.

When Mr. Nuckolls was eighteen years old his fellow-citizens who were watching his course with pride, had such confidence in his knowledge of the law that they put a good many cases in his hands and in one day he tried eight before Squire Burtle. He continued his studies at home and subsequently read with Geo. W. Murray two years and was admitted to the bar in June, 1880. In 1881 he went to Arkansas and was in Judsonia White's law office and practiced with him one year. He had gone thither to try the climate, but as it did not agree with his wife he returned to this county in 1882, and has since been engaged as before stated. He is a man of weight in his community, and is looked up to by all for the integrity of his character. He is connected with the Masonic fraternity and with the Royal Arch Masons here, and is identified with the Council at Springfield. He belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Modern Woodmen of America and was a member of the Grange. He was connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church and is liberal in his support of all denominations. He is a stalwart Democrat, but departed from the traditions of his party to support Abraham Lincoln in his candidacy for the Presidency. He has been a delegate to County conventions and his wisdom has been of benefit to his party.

Mr. Nuckolls has also been interested in the agriculture of his native county and has contributed to advance it. He engaged first in farming and stock raising on the old homestead in Auburn Township, improving and operating it with his father. They were together when he sold out in 1880. He used to ship stock directly to St. Louis, Mo., and he has in his life driven stock to that city, making the long journey on foot and finding it hard work. In 1863 he went to New Orleans with two hundred cattle just after the blockade was raised. In pioneer times when he was a boy he used to be very fond of hunting, and has run down many a deer on the prairie and engaged in many a wolf hunt.

Mr. Nuckolls was married in Springfield in 1871 to Miss Martha A. Brunk, a native of Cotton Hill and a daughter of George Brunk. For his ancestral history see sketch of M. F. Brunk, of Cotton Hill. Mrs. Nuckolls is a woman of superior tact and is highly regarded by her neighbors and friends. In her the Presbyterian church finds one of its most valued members. Mr. and Mrs. Nuckolls have three children: Lillie J., aged nineteen years; Leona A., ten years old; and John Frank, seven years of age. Lillie J., a scholar of marked ability, is a graduate of the High School and for a year has been studying medicine at the Woman's Medical College of Chicago, of which she is the youngest pupil in attendance.

Templates in Time