As a charter member of the Jordan Area Historical Society, I presented some of the great artifacts that have found their way back to the mansion from our guests. And as secretary, I get to write articles on each member’s presentation, which often get picked up by the local newspaper. Here is the article I wrote about our Frank Nicolin Photographs.
One of the best perks of running the Nicolin Mansion Bed & Breakfast as an historic inn is drawing descendants of previous owners willing to share family history and artifacts.
One of our first Nicolin descendants to seek us out and to share his family artifacts was Adam Smith on October 27, 2006, who is the great-great-grandson of Frank Nicolin’s second wife Anna Mitsch Stahlman Nicolin. Adam set out on his ancestral search because, as he said, “I got stuck with one of the most common names ever, Smith.” He wrote a family history after graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College. Regarding the Nicolin family, he wrote:
“George Mitsch was a very prominent early German Minnesotan. He was a businessman as well as a political officer in early St. Paul. George Mitsch had one son and four daughters. George J. Mitsch, his son, was owner of a pharmacy on 7th Street and St. Peter [St. Paul]. Mrs. Frank Nicolin (Maria Angela “Anna”), Mrs. Mathias Heck (Elizabeth), Mrs. James Prendergast (Catherine) and Miss Maggie Mitsch were his daughters. Maria Angela was first married to Henry Conrad Stahlmann in 1878, the eldest son of Christopher Stahlmann.”
Christopher Stahlmann established the Chr. Stahlmann Brewing Co. in 1855, named the Cave Brewery for the caves that existed under a tract of land which was at the site of the current Stahlmann mansion at 855 West 7th Street in St. Paul.
Frank Nicolin’s first wife passed away in early 1889, and he later married Anna Mitsch Stahlmann. They had one child together, Angela, and after leaving Jordan, relocated to St. Paul. Anna had three children from her first marriage to Henry Conrad G. Stahlmann; Sabina, Margaret, and Henry Christopher George Stahlmann.
Note in the Stahlmann family geneaology that the family wrote “Frank Nicolin Jr” rather than “Sr”, an error in not recognizing the 23 year age difference between Frank (born June 15, 1833) and his second wife Anna (born September 22, 1856).
Also note that Angela, and siblings Sabina, Henry George and his wife Alvina all perished the same day, January 3, 1943 in, according to the St. Paul Courier, “Ramsey County’s worst traffic accident of its kind, [in which] five occupants of an automobile were killed instantly Sunday when their car was struck in North St. Paul by a special Soo Line passenger train carrying troops.” The fifth victim was a neighbor, Sophie Quinn, who had traveled with them to attend Sunday Mass.
This photograph, provided by Adam Smith, shows Frank Nicolin on the far left, surrounded by his extended family in St. Paul. The young girl in the front center is presumed to be his daughter Angela. This photograph shows a room almost identical to the front parlor of the Nicolin Mansion, except that the hot water boiler pipes are in a different location.
Another Nicolin descendant, Patrick Nicolin, visited us on July 29, 2008 from Farmington, Michigan. He is descended from Frank’s eldest son Henry, who was also a prominent Jordan businessman and Mayor. Based on later family visitors, we believe that Henry and his family lived in the Nicolin Mansion after Frank relocated to St. Paul in 1895. Patrick shared with us that a photograph existed of four generations of the first born Nicolin sons. Though Patrick was not the first born, he put us in contact with his first born brother Peter in Palm Coast, Florida, who inherited the photograph. Peter’s wife, Carolyn, sent us this copy of the portrait of the first born Nicolin sons taken in 1918, five years before Frank Nicolin passed away. Carolyn wrote that “My husband, Peter, is Glendon’s first born son. Glad we could help with a little history for your B&B.”
From left to right:
• Gerhard, Henry’s first born son
• Glendon (baby), Gerhard’s first born son
• Henry, Frank’s first born son
• Frank Nicolin
Another Nicolin descendant, Nanette Trudeau Rasmussen from Madison, WI, contacted us at the B&B in July 2011, offering to share with us an album of Nicolin family photos taken at Jordan and St. Paul studios.
“These photos belong to my uncle, Joseph Nicolin (sister Florence). He died some years ago and the photos were left in his home. As previously noted, many of the photographs are not marked but some are, as one in the front titled “Frank”, Grandpa Nicolin, Joe Nicolin. Some may be from before the 1880’s, men in band uniforms, families, children, weddings, etc. Many were taken in a studio in Jordan. The subjects are mostly dressed in Victorian era clothing, or perhaps post-civil war. For some reason, I have kept them for many years. My Uncle Joe Nicolin was married to my father’s sister, Mary. They were my godparents and treated all 6 of my siblings and myself like gold. I recall my mother saying that Joe’s father was once a wealthy man. There are at least 57 photos in the album.”
After she sent us the album she said she had “rescued the album many times from being tossed out, and have held onto it for 10+ years. Hope that it adds to your B&B’s ambience.”
Identified as “Grandma Nicolin” and “Grandpa Nicolin”, assumed to be Anna Sophia Nicolin (1834 – 1889), Frank’s first wife, and Frank Nicolin (1833 – 1923). Note the similarity of this photograph of Frank, and the photograph hanging above the piano in the St. Paul family photograph.
From Nanette Trudeau Rasmussen: “I’m quite sure that the photo of the three kids; 2 girls and a boy, are descendants of Jos. Nicolin Sr. (one of the girls is Florence, the boy, my Uncle Joseph).” Jos. Nicolin Sr. is the son of Frank Nicolin Sr.