It is fitting that the midday of a life filled with industry should be crowded with those Providential blessings which are bestowed as labor’s reward, and it is an occasion for unrestrained domestic felicitation when those social, moral and financial obligations of our domestic fabric have been so met as to fill the aesthetic and ethical requirements and to place the home in substantial and material independence. In this connection it is our privilege to present to our readers a life record not incompatible with the spirit of our introductory reference, and ask their indulgence while the career of the subject of this article is passed in review.
William Shelby Nuckolls is one of the substantial ranchmen and farmers of Clay county. Within a score of years he has passed from obscurity to opulence, and Dame Fortune has so shaped and fashioned his affairs as to place him in the category of eminently successful business men. He was born in Hardeman county, Tennessee, January 31, 1854, of parents, William G. and Eliza (Polk) Nuckolls, now resident farmers near Keller, in Tarrant county, Texas, where they settled in the year 1880. His father and mother were natives to Tennessee, the former born in Hardin county, February, 1830, and a son of William Nuckolls, an early settler there. William Nuckolls was a Colonel of the Tennessee militia, in the old training days, and Kentucky contributed him from her population toward the early settlement of the state. His ancestors were Virginians. The Polks were from Maury county, Tennessee, of the Scotch line and from North Carolina to that county. Shelby Polk was the grandfather of our subject and his daughter Eliza died in Tarrant county, Texas, in 1890.
The issue of William G. and Eliza Nuckolls were: Charles, Macon county, Tennessee; Mollie, wife of R. O. Nawsom, of Mansfield, Texas; William S. andLenora, deceased wife of James Burnett, left a son in Tarrant county.
The school advantages of William S. Nuckolls were not at all good and he acquired only a scant knowledge of the three r’s, experience doing the rest. He attended a subscription school at Bolivar, Tennessee, when a young man and made the most of his advancement there. He began life as a tenant of the farm and prospered some from the start. When he came to Texas he went to Austin by rail and there bought a horse and began his search for a location. He stopped in Tarrant county and again became a tenant on some other man’s farm. In 1884 he came into Clay county and entered an eighty acre tract near Buffalo Springs—scrap land belonging to the state—and upon this he began the erection of the superstructure of his modest fortune. It was the stock business that led him into the channel of success and as his profits came he invested in lands from time to time, his first purchase being one of three hundred and twenty acres on Buffalo creek, six hundred and forty acres of the Harris and O’Connor tract, three hundred and twenty acres of the James Harris tract, four hundred and ninety acres of the William Shields tract and another three hundred and twenty acre piece of the James Harris land, making, in all, two thousand one hundred and seventy acres, six hundred and fifty of which is devoted to the products of the farm.
Mr. Nuckolls made the acquaintance of hard work early life and it has remained his fast and sincere friend through life. Its effects have told upon his constitution and the tread of fifty- one years has left traces of premature age and the tinge of gray and the furrowed brow tell the extent to which his vital energies have been taxed. In 1900 he took up residence in Dallam county, where he entered four sections of land and made his home in the far northwest until he proved up on his claim, returning to Clay county with his family at the close of 1904.
June 23, 1895, William S. Nuckolls and Georgie Fair were married in Bellevue, Texas. Mrs. Nuckolls is a daughter of Michael and Louisa (Rohrer) Fair, from Cumberland county, New Jersey. Her parents resided in Washita county, Oklahoma, and have children: Alice E., wife of Richard Johnson; Ellen K., wife of Charles Walker; Harvey; Lydia B., who married John Bridges; Mrs. Nuckolls, born in New Jersey, July 4, 1871; Irene, wife of Frank Johnson; and Josephine, married Lee Burson. The children are nearly all located near their parents and are engaged in farming or are living on the farm.
Mr. and Mrs. Nuckolls’ children are: Willie C., born January 31, 1897; Winnifred, born Septemer 22, 1898, and Lawrence, born October 2, 1901.
The Nuckolls allied themselves with Democracy in politics and the grandfather and the father of our subject were more or less in the service of the native heath. William Nuckolls, our subject’s grandsire, was a Union man during the Rebellion, but his son, William G., served in the arms of the south. The latter was a deputy sheriff at Bolivar, Tennessee, but his son, of this review, has not made politics his business or even a pastime. The family are Christians of the Baptist faith and Mr. Nuckolls is a firm believer in the teachings and good works of the Master.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 491-492.