William Speer Nickle (1852-1914)

Son of William Nickle (1807-1884) and Elizabeth Anderson (1812-1892)


(This article was mailed to JoAn and Nadyne Nickle from the Venango County Historical Society in October 2003. It was very dark and much was not readable. However, the draft could be read was sent to Richard Mortimer September 13, 2004. Richard is a distant cousin who is a volunteer at the Venango County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society and upon our request sought out this article and completed the information, as follows:)

Many friends of the late Rev. William S. Nickle were grieved to learn of his death, which occurred at his home in Harding, Ill. March 13, 1914. He was born at Nickleville, PA.. May 5, 1853 and was one of a family of eight children, four of whom still survive him. During his early life his education was limited, but from a child he had a natural aptitude for music. This work was confined for some years to the county near his home, he having taught in Venango, Butler, Armstrong and Clarion counties.

During early life he pledged his wonderful natural talent to his Master, who was his constant stay through life. While engaged in this work in Clarion County he met Harriet Lamphere of Frankfort, N.Y., which acquaintance ripened into the establishment of new home ties later on. Shortly after his marriage they moved to Franklin PA and while there they met A. F. Graves who was engaged in evangelistic work. Mr. Graves recognized in Mr. Nickle and his wife exceptional musical talent and persuaded them to go with him for a period of three years as gospel singers.

Near the close of this engagement they met Evangelist Moody at Syracuse, N.Y. A short time after this meeting he was called to the Moody church in Chicago as director of its music, which position he filled for five years. At the expiration of this time he was called to the position of assistant pastor and choir leader of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Chicago, where he labored and studies for seven years. It was here that Rev. Nickle decided to enter the ministry, and in the years which followed he served several churches in the Methodist conference of northern Illinois and also became a musical writer of no mean ability.

His work in the Chicago field of music had already placed him high in the estimation of the sacred song writers and publishers of the second city of the country. Those most familiar with his life recall many sacred songs of which he was the inspired author, found in the choices collection of music.

He built his first church at Wedron, Ill. During this period of, because of ill health, Rev. Nickle decided to leave public life and return to the home of his boyhood.

After resting for a little less than two years at the old home, he accepted a call to a mission church in Jamestown, N.Y. Under his effort this field rapidly developed into a prosperous congregation. While there he built his second church.

In a short time his health began to fall and a slight stroke of paralysis caused him to give up active work in the ministry. He again moved to Harding, Ill. Where the declining years of life were spent among those whom he had led to Christianity.

Rev. Nickle and wife endeared themselves to the hearts of all wherever they went, by their glad and happy lives as well as by the harmony of their voices in song. It was said of their lives by one who knew them closest for the last 26 years that no two voices ever harmonized closer in song. He was the happy possessor of a great open heart that was always ready to house the sorrow as well as the joy of friends and foe alike.

The funeral was held on a beautiful spring like afternoon from the little church of Harding, Ill, within whose friendly walls he was wont to spend the last declining days. Dr. Todd of ___________ Ill, delivered the oration and was assisted by Rev. _________.