Chapter VII: Gallia
was formed in 1803 when Ohio was admitted to the union. By that time
there had been settlers around Gallipolis for about 13 years. The first
settlers came when technically there was still an Indian threat, but
although some parts of Ohio suffered from Indian raids, the threat
was much less here, and this is fortunate, because the first white
residents here had other hardships with which to live.
the late 1780s, with the French Revolution at its height, the Scioto
Land Company from an office in Paris, sold land on the banks of the Ohio
River. Revolutionary fervor was at its peak and French citizens were
eager for an adventure in the New World where democracy was being practiced.
The French immigrants arrived in Virginia in 1790 only to find out that
the Scioto Company had sold them land to which they hadn’t acquired
title, and that the land was far away on the frontier where they would
face danger from wild animals and hostile Indians. The Scioto Company
was made to try and make good on their promises, and the company sent
forty men under Colonel Putman to build a settlement and provide sustenance.
In June this party came down the Ohio River and arrived at Gallipolis.
The first man ashore was Col. Robert Safford, who immediately felled
the first tree.91
five hundred French settlers made their way overland from Alexandria,
Virginia, through western Pennsylvania, and when they arrived the buildings
were ready. The Scioto Company failed to pay for the work completed,
and still did not acquire title to the land. The settlers were required
to buy the land a second time, this time from the Ohio Company, which
had purchased the land from the US government. Many of the French left
for other parts of the country, and some returned to France, but many
also stayed, and their descendants can still be found in the county today.
Whether the Scioto Company’s actions were a scam from the beginning
or whether it was just an ineptly managed and undercapitalized venture
is still debated to this day. There is evidence that much of the problem
was caused by a Scioto Company employee who collected money from the
future settlers in Paris and then absconded.92
road that our ancestors later took from southwestern Virginia to Gallia
County, Ohio, differed from that which the French Five Hundred took.
It crosses the entire state of what is now West Virginia. This would
have been very difficult terrain. When General Lewis marched his army
to Point Pleasant he followed the valley of the Great Kanawha River,
and it was described as a difficult march that took nineteen days. This
is the same trail that the subsequent settlers from southwestern Virginia
took. It is called the Kanawha Trace and follows along the New and Kanawha
Rivers. From Wytheville, it would be about 220 miles, the first 140 of
which would have to be done by horse or oxen drawn wagons. For the last
eighty miles the Kanawha River widens out, and the early settlers could,
if they wished, build flat boats and float the rest of the way to Gallipolis.
Anthony Bickel’s brother, Frederick, and his wife, Elizabeth, were
the first two members of our family to make the trek. They were married
in Virginia in late 1810, and their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was born
in Virginia about 1812. Their next child, a son, William, was born in
Gallia County about 1814. Anthony and Dianah were married in Virginia
in 1814. Their first born son, Aaron, was born about 1815-16 in Virginia,
and their second son, Abraham, was born in 1817 in Ohio. William Loucks,
who was probably a relative of Frederick’s wife, also came to Gallia
County about that time. On the 1820 census of Gallia County, William
Loucks, Frederick Bickel, Anthony Bickel and Robert Safford are adjacent
entries in Green Township, which is just to the west of the city of Gallipolis.
mentioned previously, Robert Safford was the first permanent European
settler. After the initial buildings were built, he remained as a hunter
and trapper to provide for the immigrants, and he also served as a scout
to watch for hostile Indians. He was a well-known frontiersman, and was
a close personal friend of Daniel Boone. In the winter of 1792, the two friends went trapping together in Raccoon Township. Upon departing, Boone presented him with a trap, a tomahawk and an ax, some of which were at one time in the possession of the Our House Museum in Gallipolis, but now are kept by Robert Safford’s descendants. Over the years, Safford held many county offices, including recorder, justice of the peace, and judge. In later years he represented the county in the state Senate. He was the owner of the farmland in Perry Township that Anthony farmed in their early Gallia County years. (In 1851 Robert Safford sold this land to Anthony’s son, Aaron.) Anthony and Dianah showed their friendship and respect for him by naming their third son, Robert Safford Bickel.
In 1821 the Frederick Bickel and William Loucks
families moved to Harrison Township, which is the next township south.
Anthony and Dianah moved to Perry Township, which is directly west. These
three families then lived there the rest of their lives. The rolling
hills in these townships are characteristic of the Ohio Valley in southeastern
Ohio. There is some forested land scattered throughout, especially along
Raccoon Creek, but mostly it is divided into neat, prosperous appearing
farms. The overall appearance is rural, neat, clean and charming.
and Elizabeth raised six children here, one (John) of whom became a preacher.
Some of their descendants still live in the county today. In July 1849,
there was an outbreak of cholera that was limited to Harrison and Walnut
Townships. Frederick was one of the victims. Frederick’s
daughter-in-law, Mary (Polly) Clark Bickel, suffered the loss of her sister,
both of her parents and both of her maternal grandparents in the same
epidemic. Frederick’s wife, Elizabeth, shows up on the 1850 census
and there are two children, Missouri and Anderson Ward aged eleven and
twelve, living with her. Two of their daughters had married men named
Ward. Elizabeth died on April 18, 1859 at the age of
seventy-one, and is buried alongside her husband, in the Mercerville
Cemetery in Guyan Township.
Anthony and Dinah raised nine children. Their
oldest son, Aaron had been born in Virginia, and Abraham was born just
after coming to Ohio. The other children were Mary, born in 1818, Malinda
in 1821, Robert Safford in 1824, Charles in 1826, Nancy in 1828, Salmon
in 1831 and George in 1834. The subsequent success of the lives of their
children would seem to indicate that the family was stable and at least
moderately prosperous. The farm was located along the east banks of Raccoon
Creek and borders what later became a county park. Anthony reportedly
suffered from arthritis and this apparently limited his ability to operate
the farm. He was never able to buy the land. Robert Safford owned it
son, Aaron, bought the land in 1851, and Anthony apparently spent his
life there as a renter.
One aspect of their life that changed with the
move to Ohio was their religion. The Browns and Bickels had been Lutherans,
and Stephen and Julia Ann Chappell had belonged to Kimberling Church,
which had been a Lutheran German language church. Stephen’s family
had been Anglican. When they arrived in Gallia there had still not been
a Lutheran Church established in the county. The Lutheran Church had
been dependent on clergy from the old country in the early days in America,
and had proven to be very unsuccessful on the American frontier. Methodists
and Baptists, on the other hand, with their circuit riding clergy and
camp meetings had been spectacularly successful. Somewhere along the
way, the Bickels became Methodists.
This was probably not an easy decision.
Hardesty’s History of
Gallia County, recounts incidents of prejudice against Methodists when
they first held meetings in Gallipolis in 1817. Stones and eggs were
thrown and obscenities shouted. Being a Methodist was definitely not
cool. The forty-six Methodist churches that were eventually built in
the County showed that this was overcome. The first Methodist church
building was constructed in Gallipolis in 1821, and from that time on
there was steady growth. Their first experience with the Methodist Church,
however, was probably in Green Township, where the first Methodist services
were held in “the home of one of the Waddells” in 1818.93 Both
the Frederick and Anthony Bickel families were still living in Green
Township in 1818. Church ultimately became very important in their lives.
Their oldest son, Aaron, became a minister, and another son, Robert Safford,
became a prominent elder. The church was undoubtedly very important in
their social life. The Methodist women of this area became noted for
their dinners, sewing bees, and support for missionary societies. The
sewing and quilting skills that my grandmother demonstrated later can
probably be directly attributable to these church groups.
Dianah lived on their farm in Perry Township until Anthony’s
death in May 1860. By that time their children were all grown and all
except the youngest son, George, were married. On the 1860 census, which
was taken after Anthony died, their son Aaron and his family were living
on the farm. So far I haven’t found where Dianah was living at
that time. Sometime before the next census in 1870, she moved in with
Nancy and David Taylor, her daughter and son-in-law, in Green Township.
Sometime before 1874, the Taylors moved to Nebraska, and Dianah apparently
spent her last days with her daughter Malinda, on the farm in Clay Township.
and Dianah are both buried in Hulbert Cemetery in Green Township, Gallia
County. The cemetery is located a few miles from the Perry Township farm,
and is almost adjacent to the Taylor farm where Dianah spent some of
her last years. It is in one of the most peaceful places imaginable.
Situated on a lightly wooded hillside and just above lightly traveled
Highway 141 it is strangely serene. Traffic noise from the highway is
as apt to be from the clop, clop, clop of an Amish horse-drawn buggy
as is it is to be from an automobile. Anthony’s grave is shaded
and covered with soft green moss, and looks across the cemetery at Dianah’s
grass covered grave some twenty-five feet away.
In October 1999, my two
sisters, (Glenna Kallestad and Eunice Johansen) and I visited Gallipolis
and attended a First Families banquet. First Families is an organization
within the Gallia County Genealogical Society whose membership is limited
to those who can prove their ancestors lived there prior to December
31, 1820. It was at this banquet that we were going to be accepted as
members. Traffic delays around the Columbus airport and inclement, rainy
weather made us a little late and we arrived just as the meal was being
served. The speaker was a genealogist from Huntington, West Virginia
who gave a talk on out of town periodicals as sources of genealogical
information. As an example she had found an obituary in a regional Methodist
publication in Kentucky that featured a Gallia County woman. Imagine
our surprise when she showed Dianah’s obituary on
the screen. A copy of it is reproduced here. As far as I know it is the
oldest surviving description of one of our ancestors from a contemporary
Died, in Gallia county, Ohio, February 26, 1874, Mrs. Dinah Bickel,
in the 78th year of her age. Sister Bickel was born in North Carolina
May 19, 1796; and happily married to Mr. Anthony Bickel, of Virginia,
July 7, 1814. Shortly after her marriage she removed with her husband
and settled in Gallia county, Ohio, where they both soon became useful
members of the M.E. Church. They raised nine children, all of whom
became pious and useful members of the church; one of the sons, R.S.
Bickel, of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is well known and greatly
beloved throughout the bounds of the Western Virginia Conference. The
husband, Bro. Anthony Bickel, died March 24, 1860, in full triumphs
of a living faith and rest from his labors. Sister Bickel was one of
those women of whom it may in truth be said, “she looketh well
to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness,
her children rise up and call her blessed.” And after struggling
on for near a half century in the service of her blessed Savior she
fell asleep in Jesus and has gone to that rest above where labor, pain
and sorrow are felt and feared no more. Her children (though they weep
and sorrow) have a bright hope of meeting her in glory.
“Hope looks beyond the
bounds of time
we now deplore,
Shall rise in full immortal prime
And bloom to fade
When Anthony died in
1860, he left a very short (less than one page) will that left everything
to his wife, Dyanah.94 Dianah’s
will and probate comes to more than twenty-five pages, much of which has deteriorated
over time and become unreadable. By that time four of her children lived outside
Ohio, and the law required several newspaper notices to publish the Administrators
Sale of Real Estate. The notices were aimed at Charles and Nancy who both lived
in Nebraska, Aaron, who was said to be residing in Illinois, and Abraham in
Texas. There is a list of various household items and small pieces of farm
equipment that were sold. Her daughter, Malinda, bought a spinning wheel, a
flax hackle, a loom and one other item that was indecipherable.
Before she died,
Dianah and her twin sister, Phoeby, must have become reacquainted. Although
there is no record of her husband, Francis Thompson, after they sold
their Wythe County farm in 1855, the 1870 census shows Phoeby living
in the household of a Silverthorne family in Lawrence County, which is
just south of Gallia. The census lists “infirm” in the occupation
column. According to Linda Gaylord-Kuhn, one of Phoeby’s descendants,
it is not known what her connection is to this family, but the age and
name indicate that the entry does pertain to her. In 1880, she is living
with her youngest son, James Thompson, a blacksmith in Green Township,
Gallia County. This is the last mention of her.
Although Anthony and Dianah’s children
were raised in Gallia County, many of them scattered to other parts of
the country when they got older. The first born son, Aaron became a preacher.
He lived in and around Gallia County until quite late in life. He was
first married to Susannah Catherine Porter of neighboring Lawrence County,
in 1840. She subsequently bore him 6 children. At one point he lived in
Ironton, Ohio, which is in Lawrence County, and while there, his occupation
was listed as brick mason. As stated above he is identified as a resident
of Illinois at the time of his mother’s death in 1874,
and in 1875 he is identified as living in Salem, Illinois. His wife, Susannah,
died in 1857, and in 1858 he married Ruth Taylor. An account of this wedding
in the Ironton, Ohio, newspaper states that at that time he had four surviving
The second son, Abraham, was born in 1817. He married
Agnes Jane Perthena Ricketts in 1842 and they had six children. On the 1880
census his widow is living in Fort Worth, Texas, with five of their children.
The children were listed from oldest to youngest as being born in Kentucky,
Virginia and Ohio. This indicates that the family lived in Kentucky early on,
and then moved to Virginia (He was known to have lived in Point Pleasant, Virginia,
(now West Virginia), which is immediately across the river from Gallipolis.
A twenty-year-old daughter in the Fort Worth household in 1880 was born in Ohio,
so the family had to have moved back to Ohio by 1860. A twenty-six year old
son, George, has his occupation listed as stonemason, a trade he may have picked
up from his father.
The third child was a daughter, Mary, born in 1818.
She married Atherton Fuller in 1838. They settled on a farm in Perry Township.
They had 6 children between 1840 and 1863. By 1850 they had moved to Franklin
Township in Jackson County, Ohio, which is just to the west of Gallia. Atherton’s
occupation is listed as bricklayer. On that census, their second child, a daughter
Eliza, is listed in the household of Anthony and Dianah, probably as a visitor.
In 1870 they are living in the Meigs County community of Middleport, just to
the north of Gallia. On the 1880 census only their son, Thadius Fuller, and his
family are listed. Like his father, Thadius is a brick mason. Ellen Tolleson
Reesh, whose husband Richard L. Reesh is descended from Mary, has supplied us
with an obituary. It was not known which publication it came from, but it is
Death of Mrs. Fuller
Mary H. Bickel was born
Dec. 9th, 1819 in Gallia Co. and was married on the 8th of March, 1838
to Atherton Fuller, of the same place, where they resided until the year
1868 when they moved to Middleport. In 1875 they moved to Pt. Pleasant
which was their home for the next five years. At the end of this time they
returned to Middleport to remain there permanently. Divine Providence permitted
them to spend fifty happy years together and to celebrate their golden
wedding in March, 1888. The following October, death separated them by
claiming Mr. Fuller. Since that time Mrs. Fuller has made her home with
her daughter, Mrs. Will Cheatham.
During her life she has suffered
several severe attacks of rheumatism but with native energy and will power
she managed to live a very active and industrious life until the past winter
when ill health became too severe for her enfeebled energies. About four
weeks ago the grip claimed her as one of its victims. The disease shortly
developed into typhoid pneumonia and caused her intense suffering. On Friday
morning it was noticed she was sinking rapidly and at 2 p.m. her spirit
passed into the world beyond.
Mrs. Fuller was the mother of eleven
children, five of whom, four sons and a daughter, died in their infancy.
Those surviving are Mrs. Riley Barrows, Mrs. Park Allen, of Belpre, OH
Mrs. John Rayburn of Rickland Co. Ill., Thaddeus Fuller, of this place,
Warner Fuller, of Omaha, Neb. and Mrs. William Cheatham of this city. The
deceased has, since childhood, been a member of the Methodist Church and
through life it has been her aim to be a Christian, not alone in name but
in reality, and to make honest faithful Christians of her friends.
respect and esteem of her many friends were shown by the large number that
attended the funeral services Sunday 2 p.m. at the home of her daughter,
conducted by Rev. Echols. The remains were laid to rest in the hill cemetery.
My great grandmother, Malinda,
[see pedigree chart] was the next child. She was born in 1821. She was married to Henry Wise of
Belmont County, Ohio on September 11, 1840. They settled on a farm in Clay
Township, just to the south of Gallipolis. Henry died in 1863. Malinda continued
to live there until she moved to North Dakota with several of her children
The fifth child was Robert Safford Bickel, named for
the famous pioneer woodsman, Robert Safford, who was their neighbor when they
first moved to Gallia County. He was born on January 9, 1824. He married Lucinda
Ann Toler in 1845. Robert, often referred to as R. S. Bickel, became a highly
respected businessman and was often the family spokesman. He was the one who
was named the executor of his mother’s estate. When Malinda’s husband,
Henry Wise, died suddenly in 1863, he was listed as surety.
In 1891 there was
a history of the Great Kanawha Valley published.95 You
may recall that the Great Kanawha River runs through West Virginia, and empties
into the Ohio River immediately across from Gallipolis. This book contained
biographical sketches of some of the county’s most successful citizens.
A short biography of Robert Safford Bickel was included in this book. It was
information from this biography that was responsible for unlocking the Bickel
family history. It is reproduced here:
R.S. Bickel, a
merchant tailor of Pt. Pleasant, was born in Gallia, Ohio, January 9, 1824,
and is the son of Anthony and Dinah (Chapel) Bickel. The father was born
in Botetourt county, Va., April 30, 1790 and died in Gallia county, March
12, 1860. His parents were natives of Germany, born on the Rhine near the
city of Wurms, and emigrated to Virginia, where they spent the rest of
their days. Their children numbered five, namely, James, Frederick, Anthony,
Michael, and Mary. Anthony Bickel was reared and married in his native
state, Dinah Chapel becoming his wife. She was born in North Carolina May
19, 1796, of English lineage. Anthony and Dinah Bickel were parents of
the following named children: Aaron, Abraham (deceased), Mary, Malinda,
Robert S., Charles B., Nancy, Salmon (deceased), and George. In 1818 the
parent removed from Virginia to Ohio, and settled on a farm in Green township,
Gallia county, where they lived and died respected members of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in Gallia county. The father devoted his life to farming.
Our subject received a limited school education, which he broadened by
individual study of books, etc., and after remaining under the parental
roof until he was seventeen years of age, he began life for himself. At
Gallipolis, Ohio, he learned the tailor’s trade, which has been his
vocation throughout life. He began business at Barboursville, Cabel county,
Va. (now West Virginia), December, 1844, and here while in business his
marriage was consummated. August 17, 1845, he was married to Miss Lucinda
A. Toler, a native of Logan county, Va (now West Virginia), of English
descent. Their children who live to maturity were as follows: Dinah E.,
deceased; Mary F.., Anthony E., deceased; William H. and Ida E. The mother
of these children departed this life in 1876. In 1878 Mr. Bickel took for
his second wife Miss Emma E. Chancellor, a native of Parkersburg, W. Va
She is yet living. In July of 1846 he located at Pt. Pleasant, W. Va.,
where he has since continued to actively follow his trade of tailoring.
He began life with very limited capital but has been quite successful and
is now well situated in the world. He is interested in the insurance business,
being agent for three companies, the Phoenix, of Hartford, Conn., Fire
and Marine, of Wheeling and the Parkersburg Fire Co. He and his family
are zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at Pt. Pleasant,
of which he has been steward for over thirty years. For twenty-five years
he has been lay member of the annual conference of the church and was twice
chosen as a delegate to the general conference of his church. The first
general conference was held at Louisville, Ky., 1874, the second at Atlanta,
Ga., in 1882. In 1858 Mr. Bickel became a Master Mason, and has filled
all the offices of the Blue Lodge, and in 1871 was district deputy of the
grand lodge of West Virginia. He is now a member of the Minturn lodge No.
19, A.F. and A.M., of Pt. Pleasant. He is also member of Pt. Pleasant chapter
No. 5, R.A.M., and holds offices in the chapter. As a citizen his standing
is first rate and he enjoys the esteem of a large circle of friends.
There are a few items in the
biography that are probably not quite accurate, but one must remember that
some of this information was well over a hundred years old when this was written.
We now know that only one of his paternal grandparents was born in Germany.
His paternal grandmother, Catharine Brown, was born in Pennsylvania. However,
it was the Botetourt County reference in this biographical sketch that ultimately
led to the discovery of the rest of the Bickel/Brown ancestry.
Two of the children
in this family were named after their paternal grandparents. The oldest daughter
was Dinah Elizabeth, and the fourth son was Anthony E. Bickel. They had a total
of 8 children. Apparently only five lived to adulthood according to the biography.
Safford Bickel lived for another twelve years after this book was published.
He died in 1903 at the age of seventy-nine. It is one of Robert’s present
day descendants, Robert Shively, to whom we are indebted for many of the Bickel
The sixth child in the family was Charles Bickel, born
in 1826. According to a present day descendant his middle name was Bingley.
This led to a lively discussion among some of us Bickel researchers about where
the middle name came from. It was discovered that a nephew, Charles Wise, also
had the middle initial B. But no other Bingleys ever surfaced, either in the
family tree or in and around Gallia County. An Internet search found several
Charles Bingleys as first and middle names in the general population, but none
where the last name was Bingley. A chance finding of a character named Charles
Bingley in a Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, appears to solve the problem.
The book was published in 1815, and apparently accounted for the many Charles
Bingleys used as first and middle names for the next few decades.
Isabella Kelly on December 30, 1852, as reported in the Ironton, Ohio, Register.
Miss Kelly had been born on the Isle of Mann in England. The 1860 census shows
them living in Graham, Missouri. In 1870 they are living in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
Ironton, Ohio is in Lawrence County, just to the south of Gallia, and it was
here that he first began working as a bricklayer and builder. For a time he
worked there with his older brother Aaron. In 1881, the firm of C. B. Bickel & Sons
was the largest of three brick manufacturing companies in Nebraska City. One
of Charles’ sons, Charles Creighton Bickel,
was also a builder. This C.C. Bickel married Mary Susan Hanks in Nebraska City
in 1885. Miss Hanks was a distant relative of Abraham Lincoln’s mother.
C. B. Bickel died in Nebraska City on Oct. 8, 1907.
Like his brother Robert
Safford Bickel, Charles Bickel also was the subject of a biographical sketch
produced in a county history, this one from Otoe County, Nebraska.
Charles B. Bickel
has for more than twenty years been prominently identified with the building
interests of Nebraska City as contractor and builder, and thus it has been
his privilege not only to witness its growth, but to be an energetic factor
in promoting it. He was born in Gallia County, Ohio May 16, 1826. His father,
Anthony Bickel, a native of Botetourt County Va., was the son of a German
who came to America to settle some time during the last century, and settled
in Botetourt County, which remained his home until his death.
father of our subject was reared in his native county, and when a young
man went to North Carolina, and there married Diana Chappell, a native
of that State. After marriage the parents of our subject removed to Ohio,
traversing the long and weary distance over the Alleghany Mountains in
a wagon containing their household goods drawn by Indian ponies, for this
was before the introduction of railways into that part of the country.
They located in Gallia County, and were thus identified with its early
settlers. Mr. Bickel rented land for a time, and later bought a tract,
but, being unfortunate, was unable to pay for it. He continued to be a
resident of that county until his death in 1868, respected and esteemed
by his neighbors for his many sterling qualities. He was quite young when
the War of 1812 broke out, but during the latter part of it he enlisted
and started to join the army on the Virginia coast, but the war, however,
closed before he reached his destination, and he was discharged with his
comrades and walked home. Mrs. Bickel survived her husband only a few years,
dying in Gallia County. There were eleven children born of that marriage,
nine of whom grew to maturity.
Charles Bickel, of this biographical
notice, was reared amid the pioneer scenes of his native county, where
the advantages of an education were very much inferior to those enjoyed
by the youth of the present day. The nearest school was two and one- half
miles distant from his home, and was conducted in a rude log building,
with seats or benches made of slabs without backs or desks; a board that
rested on wooden pegs that were driven into the logs served for the scholars
to write on. As soon as he was large enough to do so our subject commenced
to help his father on the farm. When he was fourteen years old the care
of the farm devolved upon him entirely, as his father was stricken with
rheumatism. But he was a bright, active lad, and was fully equal to the
occasion, and a manliness and self-reliance beyond his years were thus
early developed in him. He lived at home until he was twenty years old,
and then hired a man to work in his place, and went to Virginia, where
he commenced to learn the trade of bricklayer, serving an apprenticeship
of three years. His first job as a builder was in Virginia, when he superintended
the construction of his brother’s house. He formed a partnership
with another brother, and they took contracts to erect buildings, always
burning their own brick. As an excellent specimen of their work the court-house
at Barboursville, the county seat, may be mentioned. Mr. Bickel continued
in business as bricklayer and contractor in Virginia and Kentucky until
1857, when he went to Quincy, Ill., to work at his trade. When he first
went there business was good and he earned $4 a day, but in about three
months all building ceased, and he was thrown out of work. He then started
for Maryville, Mo., where a brother lived, going by way of the Mississippi
and Missouri Rivers. His family was with him, and when they arrived at
Maryville the boxes containing all their best clothes and most valuable
household effects were missing, and they had to start anew. Maryville
was then a village of 300 or 400 inhabitants, and the surrounding country
was wild and sparsely settled.
Mr. Bickel found employment at
his trade for a few months, and then business was suspended, but he was
a man of resources, and not easily discouraged, and determined upon renting
a farm. While attending to that he took up plastering, and finding that
he could do well at that, he worked at it as opportunity offered. During
the war times were hard, and the state of affairs was so unsettled in
Missouri that he could not get work there, so he concluded to go West.
He divided his last $30 with his wife, and with the small sum of money
remaining to him started across the plains for Colorado. Arriving in
Denver, then a town of 4,000 or 5,000 inhabitants, he found employment
by the day, and was thus engaged for a time, until he formed a partnership
with J. B. Lull, and engaged in contracting. They built the Governor’s
residence, a Methodist Church, and other noted buildings of that day.
Mr. Bickel remained in the Queen City until the fall of 1864, and then
wishing to return home he engaged passage by a mule team, the most convenient
mode of carriage before the railways stretched across the plains, and
paid $17 fare to Nebraska City. From here he proceeded to Graham Village,
Mo., where his family lived. In January, 1865, he sold his property there
and removed with his family to this city, where he at once took a contract
to erect an extensive warehouse. Since that time he has been a respected
resident of this place, and is still conducting business here, the greater
part of the brick buildings in the city being monuments of his handiwork.
His four sons are interested in the business with him, and their work
is not by any means confined to Otoe County, but extends as far as Omaha.
Bickel was married, in 1852, to Miss Isabella Kelly, a native of the
Isle of Man Great Britain, and the following are the six children who
have been born to them: Mary, who married Jacob Schulenberger, and died
in Nevada; John K., Anthony A., Charles C., Rosa B. and George R. Mrs.
Bickel came to America with her mother when she was five years of age,
her father, Thomas Kelly, having come here two years before. Her father
was born on the Isle of Man, coming of an old family of that isle that
can trace its ancestry back several generations. When he first came to
America he lived for awhile near Columbus, Ohio, and from there he removed
to Lawrence County, in that State, where he spent the remainder of his
life. His wife, whose maiden name was Catherine Kirk, was also a native
of the Isle of Man, and came of an old and respected family. She likewise
died in Lawrence County, Ohio. Mr. Bickel has always shown a spirit of
enterprise, and is ever ready to assist in Anything to benefit Nebraska
City or Otoe County. In 1883 he was one of the company that attempted
to start a barbed wire manufactory in this city. In 1872 he bought a
half-interest in a tannery at Lincoln, located on the northwest corner
of O and Twenty-fourth streets, and retained it until 1887, when he sold
it at a good advance. Mr.Bickel is a time-honored resident of Otoe County,
and in his useful career has gained the respect of the many who have
had dealings with him, as he is always strictly just and honest in all
his transactions, and no blot has ever been cast on his name. He is Council.
He affiliates with the Democratic party, although he was in early life
a Whig. He is member of Nebraska City Lodge No. 12, A.F.A.M., and also
of Frontier Lodge No. 3, 1.0.0.F. He and his wife are members in high
standing of the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church.
The seventh child was a daughter,
Nancy. She was born in 1828, and married David Taylor in 1855. They lived on
a farm in Green Township that is very nearby to the Hulbert Cemetery where
her parents are buried. After Anthony died, Dianah probably lived with this
daughter. She is a member of their household on the 1870 census. The Taylors
moved to Nebraska City, Nebraska, before Dianah died in 1874. It was probably
no coincidence that Charles was also living in Nebraska City, and was operating
a brick making plant. Possibly this is where David became employed.
of their four children were named after their maternal grandparents. John Anthony
Bickel and Dianah Elizabeth Bickel were both born around 1858-9, and might
have been twins. Nebraska City marriage records show they were both married
on the same day in what was probably a double ceremony.
The eighth child was
Salmon. Salmon was born in 1834 and married Susan Herrington (or Harrington)
in 1855. Salmon worked as a schoolteacher. There is a deed transfer in the late
1850s in which Anthony and Dianah sell him a lot in the village of Mercerville,
in southern Gallia County. They had two children, John, born about 1857 and
Josephine, born about 1859. When the Civil War erupted, Salmon went off to war.
The Gallipolis Journal reported that he died at the Andersonville, Georgia,
prison camp from “dropsy” on May 13, 1864.
Salmon’s widow, Susan, remarried to a William
Morgan after the war. Morgan, also a Civil War veteran, was a drifter that had
come to Gallia from West Virginia. They had one daughter, Dora. William Morgan
was one of the buyers at Dianah’s estate sale, purchasing three hams, a
side of beef and a barrel. Years later when Susan was petitioning for a divorce
so she could reclaim a widow’s Civil War pension, she presented witnesses
and evidence that Morgan was alcoholic and abusive. He abandoned the family and
had not been heard from for over ten years when this petition was presented,
and before she filed for divorce she had tried unsuccessfully to have him declared
dead so she could claim the pension. The divorce allowed her to claim the pension
as Salmon’s widow. Susan was apparently left to raise the children by
herself. She had moved on to Columbus, Ohio.96
George was the youngest child. Born in 1834 and married
to Ann Dickey in 1862, he likewise left home to go to war, but he returned
home safely. There is one unidentified ancient family photograph of a Union
soldier that has survived. The soldier looks extremely young, and for this
reason I think it is probably George and not Salmon because he is the younger
of the two. George and Ann had three children, George, Mattie and Lura, all
born after the war. He lived out his life in Gallia County, and died in 1907.
It is interesting to observe that at least three (and probably four) of the children in the family were associated with the building trade. Aaron, Charles, and Mary’s husband Atherton Fuller were all brick masons, as were some of their children. Abraham’s occupation is not identified, but one of his sons was also a brick mason. Also the brother, identified in the Otoe County history for Charles, and who was said to work with him in Maryville, Missouri, was almost certainly Abraham. One of Charles’ present day descendants, Stephen Bickel of Houston, Texas, states that it was a tradition handed down in his family that their ancestors were builders back in Germany.
From the time that the Frederick and Anthony Bickel families moved to Gallia County until about the time of the outbreak of the Civil War, times seemed to be good for the Bickels. The two families raised a total of fifteen children to adulthood. The children without exception became successful and self-sufficient adults. Life was progressing smoothly. Frederick’s death in 1849 (and his wife Elizabeth’s in 1859), together with Anthony’s death in 1860 and the advent of the Civil War in 1861 would profoundly change everything.