Mabel E. NICHOLS & John F. HYDE, wedding photograph, May 8 1909, Omaha, Nebraska.

Spring is the perennial season for weddings and new beginnings. One-hundred-nine years ago Mabel  NICHOLS  exchanged vows with Dr. John F. HYDE. She entered into matrimony as well as a different social class.  The transition commenced with a modest ceremony attended by immediate family members.

Example of wedding invitation early 1900’s

The simple wedding required little preparation and minimal cost. Two days before the event, on Thursday, May 6, 1909, Mabel and John obtained their marriage license from the county courthouse. It was duly recorded in the Douglas County Register and posted in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper on May 7th.[1]  The two necessary witnesses chosen were Mabel’s older brother Fred, and John’s younger sister Hazel.

A good omen, the sun shone, and mild 55-degree temperatures prevailed on Saturday, May 8, 1909. Twenty-one year old Mabel must have been both nervous and excited. Known for her elegance, Mabel styled her hair in the fashionable low pompadour. Yes, there was a high pompadour style as well. Quite the rage in 1909, the pompadour required time to style, although the look was intended to seem effortless. Perhaps her elder sister Carrie assisted that morning because Mabel looked particularly lovely in her wedding photograph. Afternoon weddings were typical in the early twentieth century.  Thus Mabel had time to prepare.

Following a trend set by Queen Victoria in 1840, Mabel chose to wear white. Since she couldn’t afford expensive lace, satin or silk Mabel selected a modest, yet elegant gown in cotton lawn.  The high-necked bodice featured an embroidered yoke with narrow tucks.   Unfortunately, Mabel’s photograph is not full length so I can’t view her complete ensemble. However, a Sears and Roebuck spring catalog from 1909 provides examples of period clothing.[2]

Sears and Roebuck Spring Catalog 1909, Source Ancestry.com.

According to the Sears and Roebuck catalog, Mabel might have purchased her outfit for $5. It sounds inexpensive, but consider purchasing power in the early 1900’s. In 1909 an office worker in Omaha earned on average between $40-$55 a month.  Mabel  probably worked two days to pay for her dress.  She wore no accessories, neither a veil nor jewelry.

I would like to believe Mabel’s complete family attended her wedding but I have no evidence to support this. The NICHOLS family consisted of Mabel’s parents, John and Mary, and her four siblings. Carrie, the eldest, 28, lived at home;  Charles, 26 lived a few blocks away with his wife Annie; Fred, 24, also lived at home as did 19-year-old John. Did they go with Mabel on her five-mile trip from their home in north Omaha to the church at the corner of Arbor and South 10th street?


  • John Mathews NICHOLS                1857-1929
  • Mary NELSON NICHOLS                 1856-1931
  • Carrie Bertha NICHOLS                  1881-1915
  • Charles Clinton NICHOLS               1883-1930
  • Frederick Mathew NICHOLS          1885-1957
  • Mabel Elvina NICHOLS  “Nana”                  1888- 1954
  • John Lee NICHOLS                           1890-1967

The most accessible means of transportation across Omaha was to use the extensive streetcar system. From the NICHOLS’ home at 1402 Jaynes street, the closest stop was only a few blocks away. For a few cents per person, the NICHOLS  could hop on the tram and ride across town.

Bostwick-Frohardt Collection”, “Street View” c. 1909. With permission by Durham Museum Photo Archives.


Their route took them past Kountze park where the Trans-Mississippi Exposition was held when Mabel was a child, through the busy downtown area and beyond the Union Pacific Railroad yards where John Nichols and his sons worked. Their destination was the Grace Baptist Church.

Grace Baptist Church, Omaha, NE. Reprinted by permission.

This is the only Baptist marriage I’ve found in my family research. Why did Mabel and John choose a Baptist church when neither of their families practiced as Baptists? The bride came from a  Methodist/Episcopalian background and the groom from a Congregational/Unitarian. Could it be that neither family was particularly devout nor attended services regularly? As a married couple, Mabel and John were not churchgoers, although they often read the Bible.  I believe the answer is convenience. Dr.John HYDE lived and worked five minutes away from Grace Baptist Church. The Pastor of the church, Benjamin F. Fellman, also lived in the neighborhood. The two men probably met one another over the course of time. John found the minister  an amiable chap and concluded the nearby church was the ideal choice for the wedding.

Rand McNally & Co. Omaha. Courtesy of “David Rumsey Map Collection”. 1903.

The original Grace Baptist Church, founded in 1893, still exists. I Emailed the current pastor, Greg Ubben, to ask three questions.

  1. Were there pictures of the church that dated to the early 1900’s.
  2.  Did the church have a record book that listed Mabel and John’s wedding?.
  3. Did he know what a typical Baptist ceremony included in the early 1900’s?

Regrettably, the answer to all the questions was – no. Several years ago a fire in the church destroyed the oldest clerk’s record. As for the ceremony, Pastor Ubben couldn’t attest to the format in the early 1900’s, but if it followed today’s practices, Mabel and John’s wedding would have proceeded as follows.

After the guests sat down, Pastor Fellman and John HYDE took their places at the front of the church. Mabel’s father escorted her up the aisle in the traditional “giving away of the bride.” Next, Pastor Fellman led the couple as they repeated their vows and he pronounced them man and wife. After the quick ceremony, the witnesses signed the wedding certificate. Sadly, I don’t have the original, but I do have the county court records.[3]

License and marriage registration for Mabel NICHOLS and John HYDE.

A more personal record is Mabel’s wedding book with the signatures of the bride, groom, the two witnesses, and the pastor.[4]

Wedding book for Mabel NICHOLS and John F. HYDE.

The male witness was Fred NICHOLS. He was three years older than his sister Mabel and  at 24, the same age as the groom, John.  Hazel HYDE, John’s younger sister, was the second witness.  Like Mabel, she was twenty-one years old and engaged. Her June wedding to Theodore Kiesselbach took place in Lincoln where the HYDE family lived.


  • Frederick Albert Hyde      1851-1926
  • Florence FOLLETT HYDE  1860-1940
  • John Fay HYDE   “Doc”               1885-1950
  • Hazel Hortense HYDE      1886-1975
  • Sarah Elizabeth HYDE      1891-1955


Hazel Hortense HYDE KIESSELBACH, 1908. Graduation photograph, the 1907 Cornhusker, University of NE, Lincoln.[5]

The HYDES probably traveled the 60 miles from Omaha to Lincoln  by train.  Similar to the NICHOLS family, I wonder if all the HYDES were present. Mabel’s small marriage book includes a guest list. [6]

Wedding book for Mabel NICHOLS and John F. HYDE – guest page.

Under the title “Guests” one name appears, “Mother Hyde.” Does this imply that only Florence HYDE attended or that she was the only one designated a “guest?” John’s parents separated in 1902.  Florence settled in Lincoln, Nebraska with her three children. They all attended and graduated from the State University. John’s father, a former school superintendent, moved to Colorado and  taught at schools in Walsenburg and Silverton. Was he unable to attend because of schedule conflicts? As I wrote this article more questions arose than answers, but there’s no one left to respond. I can only surmise that after the wedding, the family members gathered together to celebrate with a  small reception.

Mabel’s eyes shine with hope and joy in her wedding photograph. Her marriage to John brought her the love and devotion she craved as well as the creature comforts associated with middle-class status. She settled into her new life, moved from smaller homes to increasingly larger ones, traveled, and established a family. Although I don’t have information about the young Mabel’s personality, I do have many stories shared by my mother and grandmother (Mabel’s daughter-in-law.) Their memories reveal her strengths and flaws.

(Yes, Mother, you will have to wait a few more weeks for the conclusion.)



As a side-note, the connection between the newly married HYDES and KIESSELBACHS deepened as they shared holidays and family reunions. They captured their memories in photographs and established strong family bonds.  It is a direct result of these family connections that led to my research and blogging about my family history.

John HYDE’S mother, Florence FOLLETT HYDE, had a keen interest in family history. Both she and her husband had Revolutionary War ancestors, including Captain William MEACHAM who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Her father, John Meacham FOLLETT, was a Civil War veteran, as were his two brothers. The  transcribed letters and diary of the FOLLETT brothers are available online at Ohio State University ehistory website.

Florence researched and recorded family history in a small notebook. Her daughter, Hazel HYDE KIESSELBACH, shared her mother’s interest and preserved the family documents. She, in turn, passed them on to her daughter, Helen KIESSELBACH GREENE (my 1st cousin 2x removed). Like her grandmother, Florence FOLLETT, Helen passionately researched family history.  I met Helen in 2010  at a family reunion in Washington D.C.. She generously offered to loan Florence’s compiled family history book to me.

As I gingerly turned each page in the book, fascinated by the names and stories, I wanted to know more about their struggles and triumphs. At the time, I lived in Washington D.C., so access to the Library of Congress and the National Archives prompted me to request the Revolutionary War records for the HYDE  and MEACHAM ancestors as well as Civil War records for the NICHOLS and FOLLETT veterans.

Knowing, sharing, and connecting with family, both close and distant is a continuum of life.  Which leads me back to the focus of this blog, Mabel’s story.

To be continued in part III.



Genealogy Sketch

Name: Mabel Elvina NICHOLS “Nana” b. 1888 – d. 1954
Parents:  John Mathews NICHOLS b. 1857 -d. 1929 and
Mary NELSON b. 1856 – d. 1931
Spouse: Dr. John Fay HYDE “Doc” b. 1885 – d. 1950
Children: 1. John Frederick HYDE b. 1911 – d. 1980   m. Anna Jane BEATON b. 1907 – d. 1998

2. Joan HYDE b. and died 26 Sep 1921
Relationship to Kendra: 2x great-grandmother

  1. Mabel Elvina NICHOLS HYDE
  2. John Frederick HYDE Jr.
  4. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

[1]“Marriage Licenses.” Omaha World Herald, 7 May 1909, http://www.genealogybank.com.

[2] “Sears and Roebuck and Co.” Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2010. Spring 1909.

[3] Nebraska. Douglas County. Marriage Records, Douglas County Clerk’s Office, Omaha.

[4] Nichols-Hyde Marriage Record. May 8, 1909. In possession of author.

[5] Myers, Herbert, ed. The Cornhusker : The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1907. Print.

[6] Nichols-Hyde Marriage Record. May 8, 1909. In possession of author.

Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments







Mabel Elvina NICHOLS, circa 1909, Omaha, NE, photo in possession of author.

As a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, my great-grandmother, Mabel Elvina NICHOLS HYDE transformed herself from a forlorn child into a confident young woman. Known for her elegant style, the tall slender beauty became a matron of society. In later years her niece, Helen KIESSELBACH GREENE, wrote on one of Mabel’s photographs,  “…the only truly beautiful woman in our entire extended family.”

My previous blog featured one photograph and story about Mabel. Thanks to my mother and grandmother, I know Mabel through numerous anecdotes. They always referred to her as “Nana.”  As a child I thought it was her given name. Her friends called her “Mabe,” but no one used the middle name she despised, Elvina.

Most of the stories I heard about Mabel mentioned her adult life, one of privilege. She attended social functions; vacationed each summer in Colorado on a scenic ranch; and eventually lived in a beautiful home designed by her son, my grandfather,  the architect John F. HYDE Jr.


There were references to her difficult childhood, but research revealed the obstacles she faced. The fourth child of a Swedish immigrant and a Pennsylvania transplant to Nebraska, Mabel Elvina NICHOLS was born March 31, 1888 in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Located on the eastern bank of the Missouri River, Sioux City was in the center of the western corn belt and was a booming railroad town.[1]


  • John Mathews NICHOLS                            (1857-1929) born in Pennsylvania
  • Mary NELSON NICHOLS                          (1856-1931) born in Sweden
  • Carrie Bertha NICHOLS                              (1881-1915) born in Omaha
  • Charles Clinton NICHOLS “Charlie”         (1883-1930) born in Omaha
  • Fredrick Mathew NICHOLS “Fred”         (1885-1957) born in Norfolk
  • Mabel Elvina NICHOLS “Mabe” “Nana”(1888-1954) born in Sioux City
  • John Lee NICHOLS “Johnnie”                   (1890-1967) born in Omaha

It was the railroad that brought the NICHOLS family to Sioux City. By the end of the 1880’s a web of railroad tracks covered 5000 miles in Nebraska.[2] John NICHOLS, a railroad worker, followed job prospects. He moved his family from Omaha, to Norfolk, to Sioux City and back again to Omaha. The NICHOLS eventually settled in North Omaha, an area densely populated by  Scandinavians, many of whom were railroad employees.[3]

Old Omaha

“Bostwick-Frohardt Collection”, “Old Omaha”, late 1800’s. Permission granted by Durham Museum Photo Archives. http://durhammuseum.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15426coll1/id/8439

John and Mary NICHOLS initially rented then owned their home at 1402 Jaynes Street. Typical for the late 19th century, the one story home was less than 1000 square feet and probably had two or three bedrooms. Indoor plumbing and electricity were not available yet for that area of town.


NICHOLS home, 1402 Jaynes Street, Omaha, NE, photo courtesy of Nancy NICHOLS Hackett, a NICHOLS cousin who kindly responded to my genealogy inquiries.

Are sibling bonds strengthened when you share small spaces and hardship? I think they are.  Mabel had a close relationship with two of her brothers, Fred and John. One of the stories she related is so typical of brothers and sisters at the dinner table. Mabel had to guard her favorite food on her plate. She liked to save it until last to eat but her brothers would reach over and swipe it for themselves if she wasn’t careful.

The NICHOLS children most likely attended Saratoga school located at North 24th and Ames street, about 1.5 miles from their home. Originally established in 1866 by local citizens, the original one room school house was one of the first public schools in Nebraska. [4]


Old Saratoga School, Omaha, 1885. Courtesy of North Omaha History.


Rand McNally & Co. Omaha. Courtesy of “David Rumsey Map Collection“. 1903.

The NICHOLS shared a neighborhood not only with Swedes, but also Danes, Norwegians, Germans, Austrians, Swiss, Irish, Dutch, Canadians, and English. “In 1900 when the recorded population for Omaha was 102,555, there were 23, 552 immigrants, accounting for twenty-three percent of all Omahans. Most were Scandinavians (6710)…”[5] Their immediate neighbors were a mix of Americans and immigrants, many with children old enough to be playmates with the NICHOLS children. Perhaps one of Mabel’s best friends was a next door neighbor, 12-year old Annie Rick. She had four brothers close in age to the NICHOLS boys; her widowed mother was an immigrant from England. Eventually the two families joined when Charles NICHOLS married Annie in 1906.


“Bostwick-Frohardt Collection” “State of Nebraska”, Immigrants in front of parade float. Permission granted by Durham Museum Photo Archives, 1916.

Mabel, her sister and three brothers probably didn’t learn very much about their Swedish heritage.  This wasn’t unusual for Swedish immigrants. The majority of Swedes and Danes who originally settled  in Omaha were former peasants. They escaped a life controlled by the landed gentry. “In the United States, they rejected their past life to the extent that few made an effort to teach their children the rudiments of Swedish or Danish.” [6]

Mabel learned a few words in Swedish.  She fondly referred to her granddaughter,  my mother, as “Vacker flicka” = pretty/beautiful girl. I imagine that Mary used the term to describe her two daughters, Mabel and Carrie. Mary passed along her Swedish language cookbook to Mabel as well as her enjoyment of cooking and baking.  Unfortunately, the cookbook and memories of favorite Swedish recipes have been lost.


While researching The Gate City A History of Omaha, one event triggered my imagination. It described the grand Trans-Mississippi International Exposition held from 1 June – 31 October 1898 in Omaha.


Detroit Photographic Co. “Grand Court, Looking West. Trans-Mississippi Exposition”. Photograph. Detroit, Michigan, 1898. From Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/resource/ppmsca.52914/ (accessed 9 April 2018).

Inspired by the success of the Chicago World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893-4, Omaha’s community leaders decided to host a similar affair. After suffering through a financial depression in the 1890’s, the Exposition offered a rebirth for the growing Midwestern town. The exposition grounds spread over 184 acres at the northern edge of Omaha, just a few blocks from where the NICHOLS family lived on 1402 Jaynes street.

Ten year old Mabel may have attended the wondrous spectacle with her family. They may have visited during the two Swedish-American Days, June 24 or September 28. If not, perhaps they visited on Railroad Day September 17  or during Railroad week October 27-29.[7]

Trans-Mississippi Exposition Map 1897 3

Grover, Alva. “Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition guide map of Omaha. Omaha Nebraska, 1897.From the Collections of the Omaha Public Library. http://memories.nebraska.gov/cdm/ref/collection/opl/id/3595 (accessed 9 April 2018).

Were they among the over 2.6 million visitors who came from far and wide to experience the magical city constructed from temporary structures? Twenty-one classical buildings featured products and sites from 40 states and 10 countries.

“…throngs walked the tree-lined avenues, lounged on the green lawns, marveled at the multitude of flower gardens and fountains, took in the exhibits, sweltered to Little Egypt’s hoochie-coochie dance, then cooled off with a lemon phosphate.”[8]


Rinehart, F.F. “N.E. Section Grand Canal”. Photograph. Omaha, Nebraska, 1898. From : Wikimedia Commons. File: Trans-Mississippi Canal. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trans-Mississippi_Canal.jpg (accessed 9 April 2018).

  • Venetian Lagoon with small craft and gondoliers.
  • Moorish palace
  • Japanese Tea Garden
  • Old English Country Fair
  • Streets of Cairo
  • Chinese Village
  • Hawaiian Theater
  • Mammoth Whale
  • Ostrich Farm
  • Wild Animal Show
  • Great Omaha Wild West Show

Although I’m not sure that Mabel attended the grand event, I’m inclined to think she did. I picture the impressionable 10-year old wholly enthralled by the fantastic sights, just as I would have been.


The NICHOLS family lived in a working class neighborhood where opportunities for men, but especially for women, were limited. When Mary NELSON arrived in Omaha in 1875, she worked as a servant until she married John NICHOLS in 1881. During the following two decades job options for women didn’t improve. After leaving school at about age 16, girls had two choices; they worked low paying jobs and lived at home or they married. After marriage they usually only worked part-time to supplement their husbands income.

Occupations listed for women:  1900 census, Omaha, NE, Enumeration district 46 (NICHOLS’S neighborhood)

  • teacher
  • saleslady
  • domestic/servant

Occupations listed for men – 1900 census Omaha, NE, Enumeration district 46 (NICHOLS’S neighborhood)

  • bar keeper
  • barbour
  • bike repairer
  • blacksmith
  • boilermaker
  • bookkeeper
  • butcher
  • clerk
  • delivery clerk
  • coach cleaner (railroad)
  • dairy farm
  • farmer,
  • fisherman
  • florist
  • gardener
  • grader
  • hide packer
  • horse trainer
  • iceman
  • machinist
  • painter
  • peddler
  • rendering packing house
  • sheep butch
  • shoemaker
  • stenographer
  • tinner
  • U.S. Army

In 1900, twelve-year old Mabel, her two brothers Fred, age 14, and John, age 9, attended school. Carrie, 18-years old, worked long hours as a servant and 16-year old Charlie as a day laborer doing odd jobs. [9] As unskilled workers they likely earned about ten cents an hour on average, or $5.50 a week. [10] In contrast, their father, a railway switch man with 20 years experience, made about $1.42/hour. [11]


1900 U.S. census, Douglas County, Nebraska, Omaha, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 46, sheet 2 (handwritten), dwelling 25, family 25 , line 9, John Nichols, digital image, Archives.gov (http://census.archives.gov: accessed 29 Mar 2018); citing NARA microfilm publicationT623 , roll 1854.

In the following decade technology and economic growth opened job opportunities for young women like Mabel.  The 1910 census for the NICHOLS’S neighborhood listed the same unskilled jobs for women such as laundress and servant, but it also included occupations that commanded more respect. Women could work as a nurse, teacher, stenographer, telephone and telegraph operator, or as a clerk at a retail store/office. Granted, the choices were limited but “as one early twentieth century editor put it, “Maggie” in the mill became “Miss” in the store.”[12]

Mabel completed four years of high school and searched for work. I don’t know what her first jobs were, nor what kind of training she received. Did she scan the want ads in the local newspaper, the Omaha Bee, for possibilities?

Stenographer wanted 1907 Omaha2

Advertisement for Clerical and Office. The Omaha Bee, 26 July, 1908, www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. accessed 10 April 2018.

I couldn’t find Mabel listed in the, 1906, 1907 nor 1908 Omaha directory.  She would have been 18-20 years old and working age. There is a Mabel E. Nichols listed in the 1906, 1907, and 1908  Lincoln, Nebraska directories, but is she my Mabel? The Mabel in Lincoln worked as a clerk for three years at the Nebraska Telephone company and lived near the university. I searched to see if a “Mabel E Nichols” appeared in other records for Lincoln from 1900-1920 but the name only appears in the directory for the three years that my Mabel is missing from Omaha. My Mabel turns up again in the 1909 Omaha directory. She lived at home with her parents and successfully found employment as a clerk/office assistant for J. F. Hyde.[13] The new job changed her life.

NICHOLS_Mabel_1909_Omaha_dir_clerk 1

Omaha Directory Co., Omaha, Nebraska, City Directory for the Year 1909, p.841, Nichols surname; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,: database, Ancestry (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 March 2018).

Her employer, a handsome young physician, graduated from the University of Lincoln, Nebraska in 1907. He moved to Omaha and opened a practice in the Brandeis Building.  Recovering from the rejection of his former fiancee, was Dr. HYDE susceptible to the charms of his attractive blue-eyed assistant?

Stay tuned for PART II.


Mabel NICHOLS, 1909, Omaha, NE, Brandeis building, photograph in possession of author.



Mabel NICHOLS, back of postcard, 1909, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.


The story of MABEL NICHOLS HYDE is dedicated to my mother in appreciation for her passing on family history and sharing so many inspiring memories with me.


© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


[1] History of the Counties of Woodbury and Plymouth, Iowa Including an Extended Sketch of Sioux City. Chicago, IL: A Warner & Co., 1890. Accessed September 12, 2017. http://history.rays-place.com/ia/wood-sc1.htm.
[2]Larsen, Lawrence H, and Barbara J Cottrell. The Gate City A History of Omaha. University of Nebraska Press, 1997.
[3] Fletcher, Adam F.C. “A History of Scandanavians in North Omaha”. North Omaha History, 26 Jan. 2017, http://www.northomahahistory.com/2017/01/26/scandinavians/

[4]Fletcher, Adam F.C. “A History of schools in North Omaha.” North Omaha History, 22 Sept 2013, http://www.northomahahistory.com.
[5] Larsen, Lawrence H., and Barbara J Cottrell. The Gate City A history of Omaha. University of Nebraska Press. 1997.
[6] Ibid, p. 160.
[7] “List of Special Says at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.” Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition. 1899. http://www.trans-mississippi.unl.edu.

[8]Rowley, Walter H. “Omaha’s First Century.” 1954. http://www.historicomaha.com.
[9] 1900 U.S. census, Douglas County, Nebraska, Omaha, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 46, sheet 2 (handwritten), dwelling 25, family 25 , line 9, John Nichols, digital image, Archives.gov (http://census.archives.gov: accessed 29 Mar 2018); citing NARA microfilm publicationT623 , roll 1854.
[10] Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America Transformations in Everyday Life. Harper Collins, 1991.

[11] United States, Bureau of Labor. “Rates of Wages in Various Occupations.” Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor, No. 29, Volume V, 1900, p. 766, Fraser Discover Economic History Federal Reserve. http://www.fraser.stlouisfed.org

[12] Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America Transformations in Everyday Life. Harper Collins, 1991.

[13]Omaha Directory Co., Omaha, Nebraska, City Directory for the Year 1909, p.841, Nichols surname; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,: database, Ancestry (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 March 2018).


Genealogy Sketch

Name: Mabel Elvina NICHOLS “Nana” b. 1888 – d. 1954
Parents:  John Mathews NICHOLS b. 1857 -d. 1929 and
Mary NELSON b. 1856 – d. 1931
Spouse: Dr. John Fay HYDE “Doc” b. 1885 – d. 1950
Children: 1. John Frederick HYDE b. 1911 – d. 1980   m. Anna Jane BEATON b. 1907 – d. 1998

2. Joan HYDE b. and died 26 Sep 1921
Relationship to Kendra: 2x great-grandmother

  1. Mabel Elvina NICHOLS HYDE
  2. John Frederick HYDE Jr.
  4. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT


Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry, Photographs | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments



Mabel NICHOLS circa 1893, Omaha, NE, Hughes & Co Photographers. Cabinet card in possession of author.

A little girl, captured by a photographer’s camera stands frozen in time. Taken about 1893 by Hughes & Co. in Omaha, Nebraska, this cabinet card of my maternal great-grandmother, Mabel NICHOLS HYDE (1888-1954) has a story to tell.

The full length portrait of Mabel NICHOLS depicts her standing atop a platform covered with a long hairy hide.  She needed to be elevated so she could place her left hand on the faux rock wall.  The incompatible element is the plant patterned drapery hanging behind Mabel. Did the photographer intend to add a floral dimension to the portrait?

Photographers in the late 19th century used various movable props to create indoor and outdoor settings. They might have included a painted backdrop and real or faux objects to add a three-dimensional effect. The Hughes & Co photographer grabbed a bit of whatever was at hand.

Mabel, possibly wearing her best dress, appears to have outgrown it.  A removable lace collar tied around the neck adds a bit of decoration to the otherwise plain garment. Black stockings and button-up boots complete her outfit. Missing from the photograph of a girl for this time period is long hair set off with a bow. Mabel’s head has a cap of fine, straight, short hair.

Now for “the rest of the story.”

One day while playing, Mabel found a pair of scissors and decided to trim her hair.  How much she snipped is unknown. When her stern father discovered she had cut her fair hair, he decided she needed to learn a lesson. He chopped off  her remaining tresses and cut it to look like a boy.  To further shame her, he took the time and money to commemorate the event by escorting her to a photographer’s studio owned by Benjamin E Hughes & Co at 205 N. 16th Street. I imagine John NICHOLS dragging Mabel  3 1/2 miles from his home at 1402 Jaynes Street berating her along the route. She didn’t forget.

Mabel NICHOLS saved the photograph, the only one taken of her as a child.

Mabel NICHOLS, back of cabinet card, note written by her daughter–in-law, Anna Jane BEATON HYDE.



Genealogy Sketch

Name: Mabel Elvina NICHOLS “Nana” b. 1888 – d. 1954
Parents:  John Mathews NICHOLS b. 1857 -d. 1929 and
Mary NELSON b. 1856 – d. 1931
Spouse: Dr. John Fay HYDE “Doc” b. 1885 – d. 1950
Children: 1. John Frederick HYDE b. 1911 – d. 1980   m. Anna Jane BEATON b. 1907 – d. 1998

2. Joan HYDE b. and died 26 Sep 1921
Relationship to Kendra: 2x great-grandmother

  1. Mabel Elvina NICHOLS HYDE
  2. John Frederick HYDE Jr.
  4. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , | 17 Comments


A trio of unidentified faces seek re-connection with their families. The final installment of photographs from the NICHOLS-CARNEY collection.

TINYPE #1      2.5″x 3.5″, 1/6 plate 

Unidentified young woman, circa 1880-1882, Pennsylvania.

This young woman is smartly dressed for her portrait in a rustic setting. The props, such as the tree branches, and the tree backdrop, lend the appearance of an “outdoor” setting.

The image is a tintype, taken about 1880-1882. As with all of the photos in the NICHOLS-CARNEY collection, it originated from Pennsylvania.

I referred to Dressed for the Photographer, Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900, by Joan Severa, and found an image of a woman wearing a very similar dress and hairstyle. I learn new vocabulary each time I refer to the book.

“The ‘casaque overdress, a distinctive style of the first two years of the eighties, is distinguished by its long, slim shape and symmetrical drape. Together with the generous coat sleeves, reminiscent of the past decade, the style pinpoints the early date of this photograph and the corkscrew bangs confirm it.”

Wearing the latest fashion for the early 1880’s, the woman gazes confidently at the photographer. The striped pattern of her silk dress contrasts nicely with the smooth satin lapels, cuffs and trim of the inverted V casaque.  The bodice is closely fastened with ornate metal buttons. A braided cord is tied around the fluted collar and adorned with a lapel pin. Sitting with her hands folded in her lap, her torso slightly turned,  there is a sense of anticipation on her face. A drop earring dangles from her visible ear.

Her hairstyle, popular in the 1880’s, shows corkscrew curls over her forehead. The hair was cut short around the temples and curled with a hot iron. The remaining hair is worn coiled atop the crown of the head.


TINTYPE #2      2.5″x 3.5″, 1/6 plate 

Unidentified young boy, circa 1885-1900, Pennsylvania

Although this young boy is also dressed quite fashionably, I’m not certain he is as pleased as his mother was when she purchased the outfit.  He has a very serious look on his face. The Fauntleroy suit, (also known as the Buster Brown suit) became popular from 1885 until the turn of the 20th century. In 1885, the English-American writer, Frances Hodgson Burnett, published her first children’s novel, Little Lord Fauntleroy.  The book created a fad in middle-class America to dress children in black velvet suits, fancy shirts with lace collars, and ringlet curls. Not all wore the complete Fauntleroy suit, just certain aspects.  Fortunately for this boy, his hair is cut short, parted on the side and slicked down with pommade.  Under his dark jacket he wears a fancy white shirt with a large ruffled collar. An immense plaid taffeta bow envelops his neck and upper chest.

He stands with his arm resting on the back of a tasseled chair. The backdrop and carpet props provide an indoor setting. It is difficult to determine the date of the photograph because both his hair and clothing style were popular from 1885 until the 20th century.


Photo # 3 – copy of an image

Unidentified bearded man, circa 1890, Pennsylvania

His face weathered by the sun and the years, an elderly gentleman poses for his portrait in an informal setting. The man wears a long, black, wool, sack coat fastened by just the top button, with a matching vest and pants. His white shirt is barely visible under his long flowing white beard. He gazes intently at the photographer.  Perhaps it was a traveling photographer who visited this farmer? One work-worn hand rests on the paisley covered wooden table. His other hand holds a walking stick.  A ceramic vase adds a touch of refinement to the otherwise rustic setting.

Probably taken about 1890, this photograph could be Phillip CARNEY, the father of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bell CARNEY NICHOLS, and the grandfather of Helena May NICHOLS LEFKOWITZ. In 1890 Phillip CARNEY was 76 years old and farmed in Armstrong County, Pennyslvania.

All of the NICHOLS-CARNEY photographs were important enough to be saved and passed on for over 100 years. If only they had labeled these treasures.

© 2017 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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Seeking information regarding the identity of this unidentified mother and child. Last possible location – Pennsylvania. Associated family names: NICHOLS and/or CARNEY.

Unidentified mother and child circa 1890, Pennsylvania.

A mother and daughter pose with their heads nestled together in a cameo portrait.  A hint of a smile plays across the mother’s face but the daughter looks a bit pensively at the photographer. The little girl, about 5 years of age, wears her hair dressed in ringlets gathered in a side part and fastened with a barely visible bow. Her cotton striped dress sports a wide lace-edged collar with a satin bow. Her mother wears her hair loosely piled atop her head, almost a Gibson style. Only her blouse is visible in the portrait. The finely pleated front is offset by a white lace jabot with a circular pin attached in the center. Based on the clothing and hairstyles, the portrait was likely made 1900-1905.

I do not have the original photograph, just a copy, so I don’t know if there was any writing on the reverse side. Please see a previous post for more details about this collection of NICHOLS-CARNEY photographs.

© 2017 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Posted in My Family Ancestry | 7 Comments


Would the real Elizabeth Bell CARNEY please step forward.

Please let me know if you think the two babies featured are the same child.


A serene young mother lovingly holds her baby. Both mother and child have such an endearing look upon their faces.  The woman’s short bangs and small topknot indicate the portrait was taken in the 1890’s. The dress style is also indicative of the 1890’s. The full sleeves appear to be leg-o’-mutton that became popular after 1892. The bodice has a striking number of tucks and pleats set off by a contrasting collar and dark trim.  A pearl and gold pin adds a touch of elegance to the neckband. The baby wears a fine cotton gown.

Is this the same baby I featured in a previous blog about Helena May NICHOLS?   If so, then this woman could be her mother, Elizabeth Bell CARNEY.

Is this the same baby?


Helena May Nichols, 6 1/2 months old. Photographer A.S. Schreckengost, Kittaning and Apollo, PA.

I have copy of the photograph, not the original, so I don’t know if something is written on the reverse side.  The photographer, John J. Garvin, had a studio in Pottsville, Pennsylvania from about 1880-1910. I’m going to use my imagination to explain why this photograph might be Elizabeth Bell CARNEY. In a previous post I included an image that I suspected was Elizabeth CARNEY.   I have reconsidered for the following reasons.

  • Several years ago when I shared information with the owner of these photos, she mentioned that there was one photograph of a mother and a baby. The back of the photograph was labeled “Lizze B. Nichols” (Elizabeth Bell CARNEY NICHOLS used Lizzie as her nickname). Unfortunately, the owner of these photographs is deceased and I did not receive the original. Obviously, I need to find out who has the originals.
  • The time frame fits for this to be a photograph of Helena May NICHOLS (born May 1895), and her mother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Carney NICHOLS.
  • Helena’s paternal grandfather, Thomas Ackley NICHOLS, lived in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He died in February 1895, but left his son, Charles Knerr NICHOLS, as guardian of his underage children. Charles and Lizzie may have traveled 250 miles from Apollo, Pennsylvania to manage his father’s affairs or visit family. Lizzie and Helena probably accompanied him, and they had their photograph taken one afternoon while Charles was occupied.

The logical, analytical part of my brain tells me not to jump to conclusions. The romantic side of my brain wants to believe this is Helena and her mother. Of course, until I have conclusive evidence I will apply logic. What do you think dear reader?

© 2017 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.




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Mystery photos of an attractive young woman posing for a portrait. How is she related to the NICHOLS and CARNEY family?

Elizabeth Bell CARNEY NICHOLS – Is this you?






An attractive young woman poses for her portrait at the West Side Gallery of Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Could these be photos of Elizabeth Bell CARNEY NICHOLS, the wife of Charles Knerr NICHOLS , and the mother of Helena May NICHOLS? There are three cabinet cards. None of them are labeled. I would have been quite content if just one photo were labeled.

The card stock used for the photos is square and heavyweight, has different colors for the face and back of the mount, and gold beveled edges. These clues indicate the photograph might have been taken between 1885 -1890. If this is Elizabeth, she would have been 20-24 years old. Perhaps Elizabeth CARNEY exchanged photographs with her soon-to-be-husband, Charles NICHOLS. He had his photograph taken in 1892. During this time Elizabeth CARNEY lived with her parents (Phillip and Lucinda Jane Fiscus CARNEY), in Park, Armstrong, Pennsylvania. Park is located 26 miles from the photographers studio in Greensburg.

Using clothing and hair styles is another method to date a photograph.  The young woman’s corset fitted style dress has a high collar, cloth covered buttons, and contrasting pattern lapels. She poses slightly different in each portrait. She also accessorizes her ensemble with variations. In the first photo she wears a satin ribbon around her neck, a straight gold lapel pin, and a gold chain looped around a button. (An observant reader noticed that the gold chain has a pair of scissors attached – thanks Janice Webster Brown of Genealogy Bloggers).  The second image she chose an umbrella lapel pin. In the late 1880’s jewelry tended toward novelty. In the third photograph she ties the ribbon on the opposite side of her neck and wears the umbrella lapel pin. Her dainty gem stone earrings are the same in each picture. Her fluffy bangs and hair piled atop her head reflect a hairstyle typical for the late 1880’s. I consulted “An Illustrated History of Hairstyles 1830-1930”, by Marian I. Doyle, and found a photograph of a woman wearing a very similar hairstyle and dress. The estimated date was 1883-1886.

If only pictures could talk. What would this young woman tell me?

© 2017 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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