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Billy Nickels of the Poney Saloon

January 29, 2015

When doing research you have to look every which way, and sometimes you still miss what you are looking for.

We find today that there is a comprehensive report on the murder of Richard Bailey—subject of the previous post—at Whonnock History, including a map. It’s in the issue about Robert Robertson.

We found the Whonnock article today by searching the Fort Langley website for the name Bailey.

A Google search for "William Robert Robertson" and "Richard Bailey" brings only one result, unrelated. However, if past experience is a guide, when Google is alerted to an item, it looks for more, and results multiply.

Whonnock History also has an article about William Nickels and we have some information at hand we can add to their file.

William Nickels full name appeared to be Henry William Nickles.  Variant spellings are given, even in the same articles.  His initials are rendered HW and WH. His name in its original German would be yet another variation. However, he was best known as William Nickels, or Billy Nickels, and that is the version we have adopted here.

We think we have the same man in the following items.

Nickles Half-way houseHenry Nichols married Mary Jane Bailey June 4th, 1869. His place of birth  was Prussia, hers Pitt River, BC. 

W. Nickles kept the "Half-Way House – One Mile Above Langley Island" as shown in the advertisement. This was on the north side of the river – refer to the Whonnock history article.

1877 dir Nickles at Poney saloon and Maple RidgeIn the 1877 directory W Nickles is listed at the Poney saloon, New Westminster, and Wm Nickles at Maple Ridge.

One was his business and the other his farm. He was a commuter, if not every day.

In 1880, as indicated in the previous post, Nickels reported to folks at New Westminster about the Maple Ridge land slide.

Nickels died on December 28, 1880, almost a year after the slide. His death certificate names him as "H. W. Nichols," describes him as a "Hotel Keeper" and remarks that he died of "delerium tremors."

The press reports state:

"We regret to learn that H. W. Nickles, proprietor of the Pony Saloon, is dead. He was known as ‘Billy Nickles.’"

"Funeral of Mr. W. H. Nickels. —The remains of poor ‘Billy Nickels’ were conveyed to their last resting place, in the Douglas Street Cemetery, on Thursday afternoon last, where Revd. Father Harris was present to perform the funeral rites. The deceased was well known in this city and was generally respected. He was a quiet, inoffensive man, and strictly honorable in his dealings. He was a German by birth, and about 45 years of age."

The 1881 census shows the households of Nickels’ widow Mary J Nickels followed by that of her father in law Richard Bailey.  His son Richard was living there at the time, as was John Ross. James Goudie is living there too — likely the man who marries Mary Jane Nickels.

The Fort Langley site suggests that Richard Bailey, Sr.,  may have been a former employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

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