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NICOULIN, FRANK

NICOULIN, PINKERTON, RANDALL, QUINLAN, RIST

Posted By: Jean Kramer (email)
Date: 12/8/2003 at 15:12:23

Biography reproduced from page 56 of Volume II of the History of Kossuth County written by Benjamin F. Reed and published in 1913:

Many men have gained eminence in the world of commerce and the various professions, have lived their lives and died comparatively soon forgotten; but the love of friends and esteem of our fellowmen is more difficult of attainment and is only the reward of a lovable personality. In his life’s course Frank Nicoulin attained to prominence along both lines. He was at the time of his death owner of the most extensive dray manufacturing business in Kossuth county and was widely popular and highly esteemed in that section. He was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, December 1, 1844. When still very young he moved with his parents to Mayville, Wisconsin, where he received his education and early training. When the Civil war broke out he enlisted in June 1861, in the Third Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served his country during the entire rebellion. The circumstances of his coming to Algona are graphically described by his old friend John G. Smith in a memorial letter written April 19, 1911. Mr. Smith says, “It was during the celebrated ‘corn meal famine’ in Kossuth county. At that time a great public meeting was held in Algona to see what could be done toward furnishing food for the people. The meeting voted to request the board of supervisors to look after the matter and the board appointed James Henderson to get teams, go to the railroad and buy corn meal and flour, and haul it back for distribution. Mr. Henderson was a man of great energy and perseverance. He left Algona with five teams and five good men and after four days’ travel through mud and water they reached Iowa Falls at the end of the Illinois Central Railway. At the hotel where Mr. Henderson stayed he met a large portly gentleman who said he wanted to get to Algona. Mr. Henderson replied that the teams had all the load they could draw through the mud and stated that besides, the people near Algona were without food. The gentleman, however, stated that he wished to start a blacksmith shop in the city and upon receiving this information Mr. Henderson said he would get the gentleman there some way as the city was then in need of an enterprise of this kind. Five days later Frank Nicoulin saw Algona for the first time.” Mr. Nicoulin started work in a small shop in the city and was prominently identified with its commercial life until the time of his death. To be successful in any line of endeavor a man must be able to stamp his individuality upon the minds of his customers and this Mr. Nicoulin could do to a remarkable extent. His personality was genial, cheerful and winning and he has made hundreds of friends in his adopted city. His services as a blacksmith were constantly required and he was soon able to erect a small shop of his own. In the summer of 1867 he burnt a pit of charcoal for use in his shop and his success since that time has been rapid and continuous. By his shrewd business ability, his sound judgment and his remarkable power of discrimination Mr. Nicoulin developed from a small beginning the magnificent industry, of which he was head for so many years. Each year his business developed new features and each year he was obliged to erect new buildings to take care of his growing enterprise. The blacksmithing department of the business was gradually dropped and the manufacturing end made prominent. His wagons and drays are now known all over the American northwest and are sold in the markets of the world.

Perhaps Mr. Nicoulin’s most distinguished characteristic outside of his constant cheerfulness was his unbounded faith in the future of Iowa. When he first came to that state values were low but he was always expressing his belief this Iowa land would be worth one hundred dollars an acre and he lived to see this belief justified.

Personally Mr. Nicoulin was a large, jovial and kindly man, looking at life through cheerful eyes always loving and always ready to join in an innocent amusement. He was ever fond of athletic sports and took an especial interest in duck hunting, in which sport he spent many days each year during the open season.

On July 1, 1867, Mr. Nicoulin was united in marriage to Miss Olivia Pinkerton and they became the parents of six children: Mrs. Anna Randall of Mason City, Iowa; Mrs. Lou Quinlan of Minnespolis, Minnesota; Mrs. H. E. Rist; Claude; Frank, Jr.; and Charles, who lives in Algona, Iowa. Politically Mr. Nicoulin was a consistent republican and was honored by his fellow citizens at different times during his career by public office. He never sought this distinction for himself but accepted it when called upon to do so. He served with great distinction for several years on the Algona city council and was otherwise active in public affairs. He was a member of the G. A. R. and prominent in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His business talents were remarkable and his success was rapid and well deserved. He left to his widow upon his death a comfortable fortune which he had accumulated by honorable and worthy methods. His death, when it came, was sudden. He had been troubled with some stomach trouble for a few years previous and was making preparations to start for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for treatment. He died while preparing to attend the opera, on April 4, 1911. There is something more in life than the mere making of a living and Mr. Nicoulin had found the key to the secret. He was one of Nature’s noblemen. He met the worries, hardships and even the pain of life with a laugh and conquered the world with a smile. He had the rare gift of universal sympathy. His hearty laugh was always ready to complete the happy hours of his friends and his kindness was greater for their griefs, so that at his death many hundreds of his friends clasped hands in universal fellowship of sorrow.


 

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