Biography of Patriot Joseph Nickell (1750-1829)
Nickell, of the Colony of Virginia, served as a Guide for 116 days,
during the 1774 Point Pleasant Campaign of Lord Dunmore’s War against
John Murray, Lord Dunmore, was appointed governor of the Colony of
Virginia in 1771, he was ordered to discourage settlement of the lands
beyond the mountains to the west. This decision was motivated by the
British government’s desire to pacify the Indians, by preventing
encroachment on their hunting grounds, and to preserve a profitable fur
trade with the Ohio Valley tribes.
westward migration could not be stemmed, however, as more and more
restless settlers poured over the Alleghenies. This invasion aroused the
Indians, and their anger turned into bloody warfare in 1774, when a
group of drunken settlers murdered the entire family of Logan, a
friendly Mingo chief, opposite the mouth of Yellow Creek in Hancock
County. Logan was so enraged that he led his tribe on the warpath. He
himself took thirty (30) white scalps in revenge.
Dunmore ordered the organization of a border militia. Andrew Lewis, a
veteran of the French and Indian Wars, was appointed Brigadier General
of the Virginia Militia. By carrying the fight to the Indians, Dunmore
hoped to divert the attention of the Virginians from the trouble that
was brewing with Great Britain.
most famous, and the most important, engagement of Lord Dunmore’s War
was fought at Point Pleasant, at the meeting place of the Great Kanawha
and Ohio Rivers, on October 10, 1774. One thousand and one hundred
(1,100) Virginia militiamen engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat, with
an equal number of Indians, led by the Shawnee chieftain Cornstalk.
series of violent attacks, and counterattacks, the Indians were forced
to retreat to the point of land formed by the confluence of the two (2)
rivers. There the fighting reached its peak. Many Indians were killed,
as were more than fifty (50) Virginians, including Colonel Charles
Lewis, brother of General Andrew Lewis. The Battle of Point Pleasant was
a victory for the colonists, which opened the Ohio valley to settlement.
Historians have successfully argued that “the shot heard ‘round the
world” was fired here, and not at Lexington, over six (6) months later.
The Indians had, in fact, been incited by British agents, to trouble the
colonists, and to thus keep their minds off of their grievances against
Great Britain. Congress acted in 1908 to recognize The Battle of Point
Pleasant as “The First Battle of the Revolution,” and it is approved as
acceptable military service for applications for membership in both the
SAR, and the DAR, as well as the Society of Colonial Wars and Colonial
Nickell was born on January 10, 1750 in Augusta County. He was the third
of son John Nickell and Barbara McCombe. His father, John Nickell, was
born in 1728 in County Tyrone, Ulster, Northern Ireland, near the town
of Gortin, where families of this name are still settled. It is believed
he served as an indentured servant in order to pay for his passage from
Belfast. In 1749 he bought a plantation of 400 acres on Moffett’s
Branch, Middle River of the Shenandoah in Augusta County, Virginia, a
Scotch-Irish settlement located about ten (10) miles northwest of the
city of Staunton, Virginia.
Nickell and Barbara McCombe had seven (7) children: John, Thomas,
Joseph, Isaac, Robert, Andrew and Elizabeth. All six (6) of his sons
served the cause of American Independence and he himself was a member of
the Expedition to Western Pennsylvania against the French and Indians in
1758. He granted his eldest son John the greater part of the plantation
in Augusta, and his other children all settled on the Greenbrier River,
then the westernmost settlement of the Colonies.
Joseph Nickell was twenty-four (24) years of age. He was settled on a
farm on Second Creek of the Greenbrier River, adjacent to his brothers
Thomas and Isaac, in what is now Monroe County, West Virginia. He, with
his brothers, served as Guides and participated in the Battle of Point
Pleasant, fought between the colonial militia and the Shawnee under
Cornstalk. He served in the Revolutionary War in Captain James
Henderson’s Company of the Virginia Militia from Greenbrier.
married Elizabeth Fowler, the daughter of Robert and Anne Fowler of
Augusta County, and their seven (7) children were John, Isaac, Big
Joseph, (who served in the Tenth Kentucky Infantry in the War of 1812),
Elizabeth, Lucinda, James and Mary. In 1788 he sold his farm on Second
Creek of the Greenbrier River, and set out with his family, and several
related families, for Kentucky. They were prevented from crossing the
Kentucky River in 1789, due to high water, and spent three years on Tate
Creek in Madison County, Kentucky. In 1792 he bought a farm on West Fork
of Stoner Creek in Bourbon County, later Clark County, Kentucky. He died
in 1829 and was buried on Lulbegrud Creek in Montgomery County,
Nickell Family History: The American
Genealogy of Joe Nickell of Topeka, Kansas
Nickell, SAR National Number 51307
Van Ness Place Indianapolis, IN 46240-4703
Uniform of Patriot Joseph Nickell (1750-1829)
clothing that I wear, as a member of the SAR Color Guard, was modeled
after the figure that stands at the base of the ninety (90) foot granite
obelisk, which marks the site of the Battle of Point Pleasant. Like that
figure, I am wearing the fringed hunting shirt of the frontier rifleman.
It was also called the “rifle shirt” or “rifle frock.” It is made of
cotton canvas, and has two (2) fringed capes, which served to shed
fringed hunting shirt was cheap and easy to make. It retained warmth in
cool weather. It was comfortable in hot weather. It could easily be died
in regimental colors and washed in any stream or pond. The fringed
hunting shirt found favor with no less a figure than General George
Washington, who considered the fringed hunting shirt to be, “the ideal
military garment.” At one time, General Washington himself ordered ten
thousand (10,000) of them to be made for the Continental Army.
According to the Official Color Guard Manual of the National Society
of the Sons of the American Revolution, the fringed hunting shirt is
considered “civilian attire,” and out of compliance with the standards
established by the National Society of the SAR. But compliance has never
been my strong suit and, if you have been paying any attention at all,
you will quickly recognize the fact that, my family has always been
disinclined to submit to arbitrary rules, imposed upon them by the
slaves of convention.
also wearing canvas military-style gaiters, which were worn to protect
the legs of the wearer from the underbrush. They are custom fitted,
closed with pewter buttons, and supported by leather ties above the calf
and below the knee. Because my ancestors were living on the westernmost
frontier, served as guides, and no doubt adopted the customs of the
Indians, I am wearing handmade Indian-style moccasins. I am also
carrying a hunting knife, and a tomahawk, which would have been used in
Rather than wearing a tricorn, or a wide brimmed felt hat, neither of
which would have been particularly practical in the field, I wear a
simple cotton kerchief or bandana. In the hot summer months, it serves
to keep the sun off of the top of my head, it keeps sweat out of my
eyes, it can be dipped in cold water, and it does not become caught it
tree limbs. Members of the colonial militia wore bandanas inscribed with
the word, “Liberty.” The figure at the base of the monument at Point
Pleasant is holding a Canadian cap. The top was made of red or green
wool, lined with fox or raccoon fur, and had a tuft of fur on the top,
and sometimes had a tail on the back.
firearm that I am carrying is a 50 caliber Long Rifle. This is a
reproduction firearm that is manufactured by the Navy Arms Company. The
Long Rifle is sometimes called the Pennsylvania Rifle, in reference to
its place of origin, or the Kentucky Rifle, in reference to its final
destination. It is a flintlock, black powder rifle, with an octagonal
barrel and brass hardware.
Carson C. Smith FSA Scot for
sending this in.