Thursday, August 3, 2017

Where's Frank?

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the husband of Mary Elizabeth Watkins and the father of her son, Fountain. Mary Elizabeth's tombstone in Smithland Cemetery states she was the wife of Frank Nickels and the same name is listed as the father of Fountain Nickels on his tombstone.  

Mary Elizabeth Watkins
Wife of Frank Nickels
Dec. 24, 1845
Oct. 24, 1924

Son of
Frank & Mary E.
Jan. 4, 1866
Mar. 26, 1870

In 1860 Mary E. Watkins is found in the Lyon County, Kentucky household of her father, Washington Watkins[1], but her death certificate identifies her father as Thomas Watkins.[2] In 1870, following the birth and death of her son, Fountain Nickels, Mary E. was living in the household of her brother-in-law and sister, John W. and Sarah (Watkins) Bush in Smithland, Kentucky. Her occupation was given as domestic servant. [3]

The date and location of the marriage of Frank Nickels and Mary E. Watkins are unknown. A search of the marriage records in Lyon, Caldwell, Livingston and Crittenden Counties does not show such a marriage. Was Frank Nickels  part of one of the numerous Nickels  families in the Caldwell and Lyon Counties area or was he from outside the immediate area?

Born at a time when women did not work outside their home, Mary Elizabeth continued to live with the  Bush family in Smithland for many years. She died at the home of her niece and nephew-in-law, Corrie (Bush) and Charles C. Grassham at 105 Fountain Avenue in Paducah in 1924.

[1] 1860 Lyon County, Kentucky Census, Population Schedule, database on-line, page 703,, accessed 26 May 2017.
[2] Kentucky Death Certificate #23389,, accessed 26 May 2017.
[3] 1870 Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky, Population Schedule, database on-line, page  ,, accessed 26 May 2017.

Published 3 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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