was born on
January 7, 1849, in Ireland. He apparently immigrated to the United
his parents around 1851, when he was two years old. According to his
family settled in Delaware. "He grew to manhood among the peach
and nurseries of Middletown, New Castle County, Delaware, and there
imbued with a love of horticulture, which pursuit he followed during
career." Documentary evidence concerning James's early life is scanty,
Soon James moved
west. He married Helen
"Nellie" Electra Rood (1848–1930) in November 1873 in Garden
Plains, Illinois, when he was 24. By March 1, 1875, James was living in
Delaware, Leavenworth County, Kansas. There, he told the Kansas Census
he was a gardener born in Pennsylvania. In 1879, the family moved to a
near Denison, Texas, where they were to live for ten years. The 1880
Census listed James as a fruit grower born in Ireland.
According to Samuel
W. Geiser, in his Horticulture and
Horticulturists in Early Texas (Dallas: SMU Press, 1945), "In
[Nimon] came to a farm near Denison and lived there ten years, when he
Denison" (67). The 1887 Denison City Directory lists James living at
"South Fannin Avenue south of the city limits." By Geiser's
information, he would have moved northward in 1889. The 1891 City
places his residence at the "southwest corner of Mirick Avenue and
Street." Thereafter, his address was 616 West Heron.
Art Work of Grayson County (1895)
and raconteur Doug Hoover says, "In 1880, Mirick
Avenue stopped at Acheson. Fannin was the through street, going past
Bonner Chevrolet is now and to the northeast side of Sherman."
Nimon's farm on South Fannin
Avenue was just
south of T.
V. Munson's famed
Denison Nurseries. As Tom B. Anderson recalled in his memoir,
"I remember [that], from
north to almost the Cotton
Mill south, from Fannin Avenue on the east
Frisco Railroad on the west, was the T. V. Munson nurseries."
became close friends. Led by Munson, a group of energetic
leaders yoked a strong interest in horticulture to a vision for
future. They saw the scientific development of new agricultural
products as a
key to local economic development. Real estate sales, large-scale
shipments, and industries processing home-grown crops would stimulate
1883, James Nimon was fully engaged in
horticultural pursuits. The Transactions
of the American Horticultural Society for that year carried
this notice: "March 3d,
our North Texas Horticultural Society held its annual election of
election resulted as follows: For President, T.
V. Munson; Vice
Edward Perry; Secretary, James Nimon; Treasurer, Willard Robison.
Board, the President and Vice President, and three other members chosen
ballot, viz.: G. Alkire, A.
R. Collins, J. Nimon.... The aim of the
to be a working, educative organization, and our exhibitions are
specially with this view. We hope to make our annual exhibition about
middle of July, and are beginning to plan its arrangements, which we
lead to a grand instructive entertainment for all who may attend."
In 1885–1886, T. V.
Munson was vice president of the American Horticultural Society (AHS),
was producing a stream of well-received scholarly papers and journal
publications, particularly focusing on grapes and other fruits. Other
Denisonians were AHS members that year: Nimon, John J.
Fairbanks, H. E. Lowell,
J. R. Martin, Mrs. Maria B. Munson, J. T. Munson (T. V.'s brother), and
In another journal,
Nimon wrote vouching for a Canadian nurseryman, Charles
Stephens, who operated a nursery in Denison, on what is now
near Miller's Spring.
Munson in producing a stream of respected publications based on
his farm. In 1895, James could brag in the first issue of the Horticultural Gleaner of Austin, Texas:
"We are proud of the record Parker Earl [a strawberry] has made, North,
South, East and West. No berry ever introduced has ever received such
praise. For vigor of plant, productiveness, beauty and quality of
variety has no equal, endures the drought and heat of summer better
Apparently James had large
fields where he grew
the strawberries, which were much in demand. Speculation on Facebook
focused on where exactly the strawberry fields were located. Steve
the 1898 directory, James Nimon lived at 616
W Heron. This would have put his strawberries just to the northwest of
Munson's greenhouses at 1315 South Mirick.... The 1908 Grayson County
shows James Nimon had a 222 x 277 [foot] lot that covered almost that
block of Heron Street. He also owned 5.3 acres on Mirick Avenue that
actually south of the T. V. Munson property. The location was bounded
on the east, extended to the west beyond Barrett Avenue on the west, on
south it was just north of Florence, and on the north it extended past
Street. It appears the baseball field at Denison High School used to be
Concerning this latter,
the 1908 Grayson County Plat Book: The
even-numbered (south) side of the 600 block of West Heron is a very
block, so it wouldn't take much to consume the entire block.... I
the railroad track to the east and south was in place at this time. The
'strawberry field' seems also to have covered the Golden Rule School
Actually, per the description, just the extreme southern left and
areas of the high school baseball field near the fence, and part of the
area, would have been all that was a strawberry field. It doesn't state
north of Ford Street the property extended, but Ford Street doesn't
the third base area. North of Ford Street are Chase and then Wilde
Chase possibly would line up to the east with the driveway into the DHS
lot that runs down to the athletic field house.
Nimon's 1889 move
to Heron Street coincided with an occupational shift. With T. V. Munson
president, the Denison Canning Company opened in 1889, located on the
side of West Brock Street between Chandler and Tone avenues. Nimon was
manager. By 1896, his position with the company was "horticulturist."
It is unclear how long he continued this work (or how long the company
existed). He was listed as a horticulturist in the 1900 Census. The
not mentioned in the 1901 City Directory. From then until James's death
1905, the directories simply listed him as a horticulturist at 616 West
Denison City Directory
indicates the operation 1315 S. Mirick in relation to T.V. Munson's
James died on December 1, 1905,
in Denison, when
he was only 56 years old. City Directories suggest that Nellie lived on
Street until her death in 1930. Both she and James were buried in Fairview
Cemetery in Denison.
John D. Ourand
James and Nellie
had six children—two daughters and four sons. These were Wilmer
Alvin "Willie" Nimon
(1848–1946); Charles William Nimon (1876–1943); James W. Nimon
Nimon Horn (1882–1959); Julia G. Nimon Majors (1886–1961); and Earl J.
Nimon (1893–1959). James W. may
have died at a young age.
and Minnie graduated from
Educational Institute, the first free, graded public school
Minnie was in the Class of 1900, along with Neva Munson, daughter of T.
Munson. Both Minnie and Neva were teachers in 1905, but by 1910 Minnie
to Jesse C. Horn (1873–1938), a
railroad engineer ten years her senior, and living in McAlester,
Julia was in the Institute's Class of 1904, as was T. V. Munson's
Viala. Julia too was married by 1910 but lived in Denison all her life,
her husband Clarence E. Majors
1900, Clarence Majors had been
29, single, and working as a laborer in gardening in Morrison,
County, Illinois. The Census said he had completed eight years of
1905, he was in Denison, Texas, employed by Will B. Munson (son of T.
V. Munson) in the retail Munson
Greenhouses at 1315 South Mirick Avenue. Clarence lived on site. By
Clarence had married Julia Nimon and taken over the florist business at
Mirick. The couple lived nearby at 615 West Murray Street. Clarence
his florist business at the same location for many years; he and Julia
the premises or at nearby addresses.
are the Munson greenhouses at 1315 South Mirick where Clarence Majors
worked when he came to Denison. Later he operated his florist business
here for many years.
Source: "Munson's Green House, 1315 South Mirick Avenue."
Robinson, Frank M., comp. Industrial Denison. [N.p.]: Means-Moore Co.,
[ca. 1909]. Page 99.
Nimon lived in
Kansas and Missouri most of his life, dying in El Paso, Texas, in 1946.
Nimon and his wife Dora
Kathleen Nimon (1896–1953) lived in Denison, sharing a
his mother as she aged. The 1940 Census reported his occupation as
reader. Earl and Dora, like Julia and Clarence Majors, were buried at Fairview
The second Nimon son, Charles
William Nimon, had dual careers—as an undertaker and as a
life took him far from Denison and then brought him back to play a
role in his hometown's history. His life is recounted elsewhere on this