The Family Tree of Stevie Nicks

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Stevie Nicks descends from a nomadic Texas family. Her grandfather dreamt of finding fame as a musician, but he had a family to support. 

By James Pylant
Copyright © 2010 — All rights reserved
Do not post or reprint without written permission

Photo: Shutterstock/s_bukley

Fleetwood Mac’s prolific singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks, composer of such hits as “Gypsy” and “Rhiannon,” has singing in her bloodline. Her paternal grandfather dreamed of becoming a singing star, and her ancestors were gypsy in their frequent moves, jumping back and forth from the Golden State to the Lone Star State.

Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born 26 May 1948 in Phoenix, Arizona,1 to Jess Seth Nicks and Barbara Meeks.2 “I could not pronounce the word ‘Stephanie’ when I was little,” Nicks says. “My pronunciation of it came out ‘Tee-Dee,’ which turned into Stevie.”3

Jess Seth Nicks, the singer’s father, was also an Arizonian, having been born on 2 July 1925 to Aaron Jess “A. J.” Nicks and Effie M. Heaton.4 The 1930 census shows four-year-old Jessie Nicks in the household of his parents, Jessie A., 38, and Effie M., 32, both Texas natives. The father was then working as an auto mechanic for a garage. They had two other children at the census enumeration—an older son, William J., age six, and two-year-old Gene R. The Nicks family lived in California when William was born, then Arizona at Jess’s birth and in California again when Gene was born before returning to Arizona.5

After graduating from high school in 1943, Jess Nicks joined the Navy and served as a Chief Warrant Officer. In August 1947 he married Barbara Meeks, and they later became the parents of two children, Stephanie and Christopher. A successful businessman, the husband and father became president of Armour-Dial and executive vice president of Greyhound. After his daughter gained fame as a singer, Jess Nicks enjoyed a second career as music promoter.6

Stevie’s grandfather, Aaron Jess Nicks, was born on 28 May 1892 in Marble Falls, Texas. In 1917 he was living in Kimble County, Texas, when he filed a draft registration card, which names his wife as his nearest relative.7 The 1920 census indicates that 27-year-old Aaron J. Nicks in McCulloch County, worked for a telephone company and made his home with his parents, Jonathan T. Nicks, a 65-year-old Texas-born farmer, and Lydia F. Nicks, a 59-year-old Californian. His younger siblings, as listed in the census, were Mortimer W., age 19; Stella and Zella, both 16.8 The parents, Jonathan F. Nicks and Lydia F. Newton were married in Burnet County, Texas, on 15 May 1879.9

While A J. Nicks worked for a telephone company and later as a mechanic, his dream was to find fame as a country and western musician. The husband and father, however, had a family to support.10

Effie M. Heaton Nicks, Stevie Nicks’s grandmother, was born on 2 June 1896 and died on 30 August 1967 in Riverside County, California.11 Her maiden name, Heaton, was actually the surname of her stepfather. At age four, she appears on the rolls of the 1900 census under her birth name, Effie Cox, in the household of her stepfather, William H. Heaton, a 45-year-old painter. Her mother was listed as C. V. Heaton, age 36, who was then the mother of five children.12 C. V. Heaton, the mother of Effie Cox Heaton Nicks, was born Catherine Victoria Bransford13 in Texas in March 1864.14 Her age was reported as 22 in 1880, the year she is listed in the census as Catherine V. Bransford, in the home of her parents, Nathan M. and Eliza Jane Bransford, residents of Comal County, Texas. At the time of the enumeration, Nathan Bransford was suffering from bronchitis.15 On 8 September of that same year, Catherine Victoria Bransford became the wife of Nathan Cox in Hays County.16 Effie Cox was apparently their youngest child.

The great-great-grandparents of Stevie Nicks, Nathan M. Bransford and Eliza Jane Ellis, were married in Lavaca County, Texas, on 18 October 1857.17 He was born in Alabama about 1833, and his wife was born about 1834 in Florida.18 The couple’s marriage records identified the bride’s parents as Kinchen and Lucretia Ellis, “both willing that a marriage license should be issued” for their adult daughter’s marriage.19 Eliza Ellis, at 15, was listed in her parents’ home in Butler County, Alabama, where 56-year-old Kinchen Ellis, a North Carolinian, supported his 45-year-old wife and their nine children as a farmer.20 Based on the 1850 census, Kinchen Ellis was born about 1794. However, his age was inconsistently reported in later census records. In 1860, when the family lived in Lavaca County, Texas, his age was recorded as 60.21 The family was enumerated twice in Lavaca County that year, the second entry gives his age as 52.22

  1. Harriet L. Tiger, ed., Who’s Who in America (New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who, 1997), p. 3139, states that Stevie Nicks was born in California. Michael Lyons, However, Michael Lyon’s “Stevie Nicks: Arizona’ Bella Donna Comes Home, ” Arizona Living, September 1983, online (, accessed 23 September 2010), states her birth occurred in Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
  2. Jess Seth Nicks obituary (, accessed 27 July 2010).
  3. The Nick Fix—The Official Steve Nicks Website, online (, accessed 27 July 2010) quote reprinted with permission of Stevie Nicks.
  4. Jess Seth Nicks obituary,, accessed 27 July 2010.
  5. Jessie A. Nicks household, 1930 U.S. census, Maricopa County, Arizona, population schedule, Del Rey, enumeration district [ED] 7-59, supervisor’s district [SD] 12, p. 62, sheet 62A, dwelling 1123, family 1395; National Archives [NA] microfilm T626-59.

  6. Jess Seth Nicks obituary (
  7. Aaron Jesse Nicks, World War I Selective Service System draft registration cards, 1917-1918; Family History Library [FHL] microfilm 1983270.
  8. Jonathan T. Nicks, 1920 U.S. census, McCulloch County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct, 4, ED 160, SD 17, p. 176, sheet 2A, dwelling 13, family 22; NA T625-1830.
  9. J. T. Nicks/L. F. Newton license, Marriage Records, Vol. E, p. 149, Burnet County, Texas; FHL 978759.
  10. Michael Lyons, “Stevie Nicks: Arizona’s Bella Donna Comes Home,” Arizona Living, September 1983, online,, accessed 23 September 2010.
  11. Effie M. Nicks entry, California Death Index, online,, accessed 23 September 2010, shows her mother’s maiden name was Bransfor[d].
  12. W. H. Heaton household, 1900 U.S. census, McCulloch County, Texas, population schedule, Brady, ED 107, SD 4, p. 207A, sheet 4, dwelling 60, family 60; NA microfilm T623-1655.
  13. 1900 U.S. census, McCulloch County, Texas, p. 207A.
  14. The death certificates of half-brothers Allie Hubert Cox, no. 75335 (1966) and William Albert Heaton, no. 80084 (1962), both TDH, give Victoria Bransford as maiden name of mother.
  15. N. M. Bransford household, 1880 U.S. census, Comal County, Texas, population schedule, ED 43, SD 6, p. 340, dwelling 31, family 31; NA T9-1297.
  16. Nathan Cox/Victoria Bransford license, Marriage Records, Vol. C, p. 361, Hays County, Texas.
  17. Nathan M. Bransford/Eliza J. Ellis license, Marriage Records, Vol. A, p. 206, Lavaca County, Texas; FHL microfilm 983239.
  18. 1880 U.S. census, Comal County, Texas, p. 340.
  19. Nathan M. Bransford/Eliza J. Ellis license, Marriage Records, Vol. A, p. 206; Lavaca County, Texas.
  20. Kinchen Ellis household, 1850 U.S. census, Butler County, Alabama, population schedule, p. 233A, dwelling 813, family 813; NA microfilm M432-2.
  21. Kinchen Ellis household, 1860 U.S. Census of Lavaca County, Texas, population schedule, Hallettsville post office, dwelling 116, family 116, p. 191; NA microfilm M653-1299.
  22. Ibid., p. 224, dwelling 564, family 564.