Jane F. Wales Nicholson
Valentine Nicholson (b. May 27th, 1809 in Clinton County-d. March 24, 1904 in Indianapolis, Indiana) and Jane F. Wales Nicholson (b. February 1st, 1806 in Iredale Co., North Carolina-d. September 9th, 1906 in Indiana) were married on November 3rd, 1830. They had seven children:
Mary Ellen (1829)
Ruth Wales (1831)
Eden Finley (1836)
Martha Jane (1842),
Caroline M. (1846)
The Valentine Nicholson farm was located between the Samuel Welch and the T. M. Wales properties at the foot of the "S" curve leading up to Harveysburg. See the 1856 Map of the Waynesville-Harveysburg area.
The early death of four of his children encouraged his deep belief in Spiritualism. At some point later in life Valentine was separated from his wife since he chose to live the celibate Shaker life for a while at Union Village, three miles west of Lebanon, Ohio. According to Clarkson Butterworth, the clerk of Miami Monthly Meeting (Membership of MMM in 1897):
Jane F. Nicholson (b. 1806.2.1-d.1906.9.9), Elizabeth Nicholson (b. 1833.12.10), Mary Ellen Nicholson (b. 1829-3-29). Address, 1217 Broadway, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jane was daughter of Isaac and Ruth (Welch) Wales, and named after her grandmother, Jane Finley, nee Irvin. The husband and father, Valentine Nicholson, long apart from his wife, is with the family, to be taken care of. He is not a member (of the Society of Friends). Elizabeth is an artist and Mary Ellen, a teacher of high grade. All bright people.
The Nicholsons (Valentine and Jane F. Wales Nicholson) of Harveysburg were much more radical and experimental than the Orthodox Harveys (Dr. Jesse and Elizabeth Burgess Harvey). Valentine, who was quite vocal and forthright, left The Society of Friends (Hicksite) in 1844 due to what he interpreted as a lack of zeal for abolition among both Hicksites and Orthodox Friends. Friends were equally anxious about his radical and disturbing ideas which went far beyond his advocacy of Spiritualism and belief in Phrenology and Mesmerism.
Valentine and Jane were conductors on The Underground Railroad for twenty years. Valentine came to believe that intentional communal living could model the government of God to the world and would help to convert the world from sin to holiness. He participated in the New England Anti-Slavery Society’s one-hundred conventions in the west in 1843, a series of radical Garrisonian meetings in New York State, Ohio and Indiana which typically encountered violence and expressions of hatred towards its ideals. One of the participants, Frederick Douglas, was almost killed in Indiana.
Valentine Nicholson was a radical abolitionist. Valentine and Jane belonged to Miami Monthly Meeting (probably attending Harveysburg Preparative Meeting (Hicksite); however, his radical position conflicted with the more moderate Hicksite views of Miami Monthly Meeting, which was the center of Hicksite strength in southwest Ohio. He had more in common with abolitionist Friends located in Oakland (Clinton County), Harveysburg (Warren County) and at Green Plain Monthly Meeting outside of Selma (Clark County). In effect, Miami Quarter was moderately Hicksite whereas Green Plain Quarter was much more radical. He separated, “came-out-from”, The Society of Friends eventually joining the Green Plain Congregational Friends at Selma who had also embraced Spiritualism along side their radical abolitionism. His wife, Jane, retained her membership in Miami Monthly Meeting of Friends. The Nicholsons participated in the Oakland meeting of the Ohio American Anti-Slavery Society in October of 1842. Immediately after that convention another one was held in “Liberty Hall” in Oakland. A group interested in the radical reform of the social system met. This event led to the establishment of The Society for Universal Inquiry and Reform which eventually established seven communities to model God’s government on earth: three in Ohio (Marlborough, Prairie Home and Highland Home) and in Indiana (Union Home, West Grove or Fraternal Home, Kristeen and Grand Prairie). Valentine was involved in the Prairie Home community north of Urbana near West Liberty, Ohio, which only survived from the spring to the fall of 1844.
Valentine Nicholson was advanced in his thinking concerning education in general. He was critical of harsh methods found in many schools and believed that conditions of learning should be positive and persuasive. He advocated the methods of famed educator, Pestalozzi, and he employed a lady from Concord, New Hampshire who held similar views to teach his children and the children of relatives. (This information is taken from a manuscript about Valentine Nicholson’s life found in the Valentine Nicholson Collection located in the library of The Indiana Historical Society, The H. W. Smith Memorial Library, Collection 0M0299. A listing of the Nicholson Collection can be found at : The W. H. Smith Library Manuscripts & Archives website, http://www.indianahistory.org/library/ manuscripts/ collection guides/ om299.html.)
Isaiah Fallis, a miller in Harveysburg, and Valentine Nicholson established a new free town hall in Harveysburg. They built an academy with a hall above dedicated to free speech. Both whites and blacks were educated together on the lower level. The first meeting in this hall was attended by famous abolitionists Samuel Lewis, Benjamin F. Wade and Joshua R. Giddings. Friends were the first teachers: Dr. Wilson Hobbs, Dr. O. W. Nixon and his brother William Penn Nixon and Israel Taylor. The Harveysburg Academy, established by Dr. Jesse Harvey, represented the work of moderate Orthodox Friends, but the Nicholson Academy represented the beliefs of Garrisonian abolitionists and immediate emancipation.
For more information:
God’s Government Begun: The Society for Universal Inquiry and Reform, 1842-1846 by Thomas D. Hamm (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995).
Jane F. Wales Nicholson’s personal journal, “Memories of Long Ago” and Valentine Nicholson’s of the same title.
The Valentine Nicholson Collection located in the library of The Indiana Historical Society, The H. W. Smith Memorial Library, Collection 0M0299