NICHOLS, SAMUEL WARREN , editor and one of the proprietors of the Jacksonville (Ill.) "Daily Journal," was born near Quincy, Adams County, Ill., February 5, 1844, a son of Warren and Ann Maria (Morrill) Nichols, both descendants of old and honored families of New England. Warren Nichols was born in Reading, Mass., January 25, 1803, and was a representative of an English family which emigrated to New England in the early colonial period. He received a liberal classical education, and after his graduation from Williams College in 1830, entered Andover Theological Seminary for the purpose of qualifying himself for the ministry in the "New School" Presbyterian Church. After pursuing the rigid course prescribed by that institution, he was graduated thereform in 1833, with his health badly impaired as the result of years of hard study, and work performed in order to pay his expenses through college. Having decided to engage in home missionary work in the West, he at once proceeded to Missouri, where he spent about a year in this work. While in Missouri he suffered from an attack of Asiatic cholera, during the memorable epidemic of 1833, but from which he recovered.
In 1834 he removed to Illinois, and for fifteen years thereafter labored continuously in Adams, Pike and Hancock Counties, in the latter county striving to overcome the influence exerted by the Mormon Church, whose headquarters were then at Nauvoo, Hancock County. Warren Nichols was also one of the most ardent workers in behalf of the slave, and for a long period assisted in the workings of the so-called "underground railroad." vAs the associate of the celebrated Dr. David Nelson, he devoted a large share of his time to educational work in Illinois; and during a portion of the time in which he made this State his field of labor, served as agent for the American Tract Society. He gave freely of his time and services for the promulgation of religious principles and the education of the young, without thought of financial reward. Possessed of a brilliant intellect, with a mental equipment that was rarely to be found in the pioneer days of Illinois-a profound Hebrew, Latin and Greek scholar, and highly skilled in mathematics, Warren Nichols was able to accomplish a vast amount of good in the field of effort he had chosen, and few men of his period left a more indelible impression upon the State than he. In 1849 he removed to Ohio, where he continued to preach until failing health compelled him to abandon his labors. His death occurred in that State in 1862. His wife, who was born in Epsom, N. H., and reared in Concord, of that State, was a descendant, on the maternal side, of the Kimball and Ayers families, two of the most noted families in the history of New England.
Samuel Warren Nicholas was reared in Illinois and Ohio, and in the latter State began his studies in the public schools. In May, 1864, at the age of twenty years, he enlisted in Company E, One Hundred and Fifty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and served four months in the Army of the Potomac, principally in the defense of Washington, being thus engaged during Early's raid against the National Capital. About two years after the death of his father (on November 11, 1864) he returned to Illinois, and entered Illinois College in the class of 1868, during the presidency of Julian M. Sturtevant, D. D., LL.D. Though he abandoned his college course before the expiration of the four years' course, he was voted a graduate and accorded the Bachelor's degree. Entering the Jacksonville Business College, in 1866, he became the first graduate of that institution, and during the year following was engaged as a teacher therein. Disliking the work, he relinquished his post to become treasurer and collector for the Jacksonville Gas Company, in which capacity he served for three years. In 1870 he entered the First National Bank of Jacksonville as Teller. A year later he formed a partnership with Terence Brennan and Joseph DeSilva, under the firm name of Nicholas, Brennan & Co., and either as a member of this firm, or individually, was engaged in the stove and tinware trade for six years. From 1877 to 1886 he operated a photograph studio, but while thus engaged, in 1884, was employed as local editor of the "Jacksonville Daily Journal," devoting his days to his studio and the larger part of the nights to his newspaper work. In May, 1886, he disposed of his studio and engaged his services exclusively as an employe of the "Journal." From that time to the present he has been continuously identified with that newspaper. On November 22, 1886, the Journal Company was organized, with Edmund C. Kreider as President, W. L. Fay as Secretary and S. W. Nichols as Treasurer. Since that time Hawes Yates has succeeded Col. Kreider as President, but Mr. Nicholas and Mr. Fay have continued to conduct the paper, the former as editor and the latter as business manager. Under their management the "Journal" has become recognized as one of the influential newspapers of Central Illinois.
Mr. Nichols has been and still is identified with other enterprises of a more or less public nature. He has been Secretary of Passavant Memorial Hospital since its organization in 1874; for thirty-five years has been a member of the Prudential Committee of the Congregational Church, of which he is a communicant; for twenty-eight years has been Superintendent of the colored Sunday-school of Jacksonville, whose business affairs he has generously promoted, giving freely of his means towards it support; and has been Chairman of the Park Board since its organization, following his gift to the city of the public park located southeast of the city. This park will be but one of the many monuments to his memory in the years to come, though perhaps it will be regarded by many as the chief of all, inasmuch as from its very nature it cannot fail to endure as something tangible, rather than as a memory. In the fall of 1903 Mr. Nichols tendered to the city of Jacksonville the sum of $10,000 for the purpose of laying the foundation for a park system. The city accepted the gift, with expressions of the profoundest gratitude on the part of its people, and the site since selected southeast of the city, on Morgan Lake, has been laid out and its improvement begun.
This large gift for the foundation of a park system, though the most marked individual instance of Mr. Nichol's generosity, by no means represents the limit of his beneficences. No citizen of Morgan County-if, indeed, in the State-has more closely endeared himself to hundreds of children by his innumerable acts of kindness. A great lover of the young, and especially affectionate and sympathetic where the children of poor parents are concerned. Mr. Nichols has taken no pleasure trips in many years without being accompanied by young children, that he might gain added pleasure from their rare enjoyment. During the past ten or twelve years he has visited Alaska, the Yellowstone Park, the Yosemite Valley, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, Old Mexico, the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, the city of Galveston, Niagara Falls and various other points of unusual interest, both in the East and the West; and on each of these trips he has been accompanied, invariably, by two or more children, all of whose expenses he has borne personally. During the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, he took three small parties of children to that great exhibit, bearing all expenses, on one occasion taking with him, in a special train, a party of 408, mostly school children. In making up this party he announced that he wanted every poor child in Jacksonville between the ages of eleven and fifteen years to go with him, and probably all coming within that class enjoyed that memorable visit to the great fair. During the past five years he has made it a rule to visit the poor authorities and the public school authorities, for advice as to children who might otherwise be overlooked at the Christmas season, and in this manner has endeavored to see that every poor child of Jacksonville shall have an appropriate Christmas present.
Mr. Nichols is a member of Matt Starr Post No. 738, G.A.R., and in Masonry is identified with Harmony Lodge, No. 3, A.F.&A.M., Jacksonville Chapter, No. 3, R.A.M.; and Hospitaler Commandery, No. 31, K.T. He was married December 30, 1873, to Helen M. Storrs, a native of Holliston, Mass., who died January 15, 1887.
That Mr. Nichols has inherited many of the unselfish and noble traits of character which were so conspicuous in his father is evident from the record of his career of usefulness and well-doing. Earnest in his religion, he has not been content to identify himself alone with the work of the church of which he is a member, but has endeavored to be of practical usefulness in carrying the message of love and brotherly kindness to those whose locations, remote from the scene of regular Sunday services, have made them intensely appreciative of his efforts. He has filled many pulpits, in the country and small towns, principally in Morgan County, in churches where no regular pastors have been maintained, and in many other ways has made his influence for good felt in the community. He modestly refuses to disclose the facts pertaining to many of his charitable acts, but it is believed by many of his friends that he has partially, and in many cases wholly, paid the educational expenses of not less than fifty young persons. He is a man among men, and a child among children. Throughout his career, though diligent in business, he seems to have been guided by a paramount desire to make his life useful to others. His liberality has been more than liberality, in the common acceptance of the term; he has been self-sacrificing in his contributions to all worthy causes of benevolence. The unstinted appreciation shown by the people of Jacksonville for a life thus far so radiant with intelligent benevolence, so thoroughly alive with kindly energy-a life at once human, Christian, gracious, manly and true-affords a living testimonial to his worth.