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Nuckolls and Bradley Family Collection

Identifier: MC 137

Scope and Contents

There are over 500 letters in the Nuckolls Collection. They tell the story of the family, the times, the conflicts among family members, especially after the father died and his will was read and monies and lands dispersed. The 1850s Cambridge letters paint a colorful image of both Cambridge and Boston when Thomas was attending Harvard Law School. The Civil War letters give more details the home front, telling of the activities and worries of the family members at home, the encouraging letters to Thomas and William, the boxes of supplies that were constantly being sent by the family to its soldiers, than the life of the soldiers themselves. The family was a warm and loving entity, usually writing each other weekly. All the sisters wrote regularly to Thomas ("Dear Bro"), praising, complaining, but staying in contact even as their families were dispersed from Columbus, Georgia and across Alabama, to Russell County, Seale, Gadsden, Cherokee and Tuskegee. Relatives moving even further westward are included in the correspondence.

A history of the family, newspaper articles and census records have been included in a separate folder from the letters to help fill in their story. The letters are in wonderful condition, many still with their envelopes. Even the paper and size of the envelopes, the return address, the postage – all tell a history of the times.

In addition to the letters there are several packets of legal and financial documents. They were left in the groupings made by Thomas J. Nuckolls, with his handwritten labels. Many of the items referred to in the letters, such as deeds, promissory notes, plat maps, receipts, vouchers and other enclosures mentioned, were placed in these bundles. There is also a small bundle of Slave Documents. The bundles have been opened and are filed in chronological order in folders of Box 4.

The letters are filed in chronological order.


  • 1841 - 1940

Biographical / Historical

The story of the Nuckolls family of Columbus, Georgia and the Russell County, Alabama area is told through their letters and other papers. The majority of the letters in this collection concern Thomas Jeremiah Nuckolls, but there are many letters to and from his parents, Nathaniel and Louisiana, and from his many sisters, Elizabeth, Mary Virginia (Mollie), Emma, Cornelia (Nealie), Laura Caroline, Adella (Della) and Lou as well as his brothers, Gus (Nathaniel Augustus), James Thornton and William.

The patriarch of the family was Nathaniel Nuckolls, born in Louisa County, Virginia in 1800. According to page 417 of the Russell County History, his parents, William and Henrietta Terry Nuckolls, were innkeepers on the James River. Another source lists his parents as Thomas and Anne Nuckolls. Nathaniel left home in his late teens and was in Elbert County, Georgia by 1826. There he married Louisiana Hawkins Thornton in 1826. They later moved further west in Georgia to where gold was discovered in Dahlonega. He started a tavern near Auroria in a settlement called Nuckollsville, which faded from sight after Dahlonega became the county seat. An article in the April 20, 1833 issue of the Columbus Enquirer says that he "opened a house of entertainment for the accommodation of those disposed to examinations for gold; his home was ...crowded with the most respectable and enterprising part of the community." According to John H. Martin's History of Columbus, Nuckolls was advertising gold shares for sale in the Columbus paper. In the "Listing of the Courthouse Records for Landowners in Present Lee County [Alabama]", Nathaniel Nuckolls and other family members owned hundreds of acres there by 1835. The listing of Columbus Town Lot owners in 1836 lists Nuckolls as owning 22 feet of lot 171 and ½ of lot 216 with John Harris owning the other half.

As Alabama lands opened up, he bought large holdings for 25 cents per acre in Russell County around Union Springs and in Gadsden. He first built a log cabin on the Columbus side of the Uchee Creek and a grist mill across the creek. After many floods, he built a second home on the mill side of the creek. It became an imposing two story Victorian with porches. He also built furniture for the home. He advertised for a teacher to take charge of a small school in Russell County, Alabama in the March 30, 1847 Columbus Enquirer. He later planned and built a handsome residence for the family in Columbus in the Linwood area. It was sold in 1870. There were four sons and seven daughters in the family. The family belonged to the Baptist Church (later First Baptist Church) in Columbus.

When the Civil War began, two sons, Thomas and William, enlisted in Colonel Cantey's 5th Alabama regiment. Thomas enlisted 3 July 1861 and mustered out 30 December 1862. William enlisted as a 2nd lieutenant, but became gravely ill and died of typhoid in November 1961. Nathaniel had rushed to his son's bedside in Richmond and brought his body home to Columbus for burial in Linwood Cemetery. The letters from home tell of the deprivations of military life and of boxes that were sent from Columbus of clothing, food, uniforms for the regiment. The family belonged to the Aid Society. Nathaniel had his workshop manufacture the wooden canteens that the confederate army used. James, the youngest son still at home, worked in the workshop while the daughters wove the straps on special looms. Orders were received from the Confederate Army commissary for supplies. Nathaniel and Louisiana both died in 1868, she in June, he in September. Both funerals were presided over by Dr. J.H. Devotie of the Baptist Church. They are buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.

Most of the letters concern one son more than the others, Thomas "Tom" Jeremiah Nuckolls, also frequently addressed at T.J. He was born 6 May, 1829 and died 27 June 1889 and is buried in Linwood Cemetery. He was educated at Franklin College (later the University of Georgia) and then attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA. Letters from that period give a flavor of life in Cambridge in 1850-1851. After graduating, he finally came back south. He was a partner in a law firm in Tuskegee, Alabama before returning to practice in Columbus, Georgia. In January of 1869 he married Alice Bradley, the sister of W.C. Bradley and the daughter of Forbes and Theresa Clark Bradley. They had one son, Thomas Jeremiah Jr, (8 January 1872-21 September 1874). In the 1878 city directory, Thomas' office was at 81 Broad and they resided at 75 N. Troup. By 1886, the address of the house had been changed to 1426 3rd Ave. Thomas, Sr. served as a city alderman and on many city committees. His funeral notice appeared in the Daily Enquirer of June 28, 1889. It stated that he "had a naturally strong intellect, placing him in the front rank of accomplished young men of his day. He took a ....prominent part in municipal affairs." It also noted that he was a councilman of the 1st ward and was in the management of the Columbus and Rome Railroad.

Who's Who in the Letters of the Nuckolls Family

Nathaniel Nuckolls (1800-September, 1868) – patriarch of the Columbus, Georgia/Russell County, Alabama family. He was born in Louisa County, Virginia and died in September of 1868 in Columbus, Georgia where he is buried in Linwood Cemetery. He married Louisiana H. Thornton in 1826. He was a member of the Columbus Baptist Church. His obituary referred to him as a "much esteemed citizen" of Columbus, being of a very entrepreneurial spirit. He owned a large plantation in Russell County, Alabama.

Louisiana Hawkins Thornton Nuckolls (1809-June, 1868) – matriarch of the Columbus, Georgia/Russell County, Alabama family. She died on the Russell County plantation and in buried in Columbus in Linwood Cemetery. She wrote many of the Civil War era letters to her sons.

Children of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls Who Lived to Adulthood

Elizabeth Ann Terry Nuckolls Long Ware (1827-1912) – First child and eldest daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. She married Evans Davis Long in 1845 and had 3 children. She married her second husband, Henry Ware (d. 1879), in 1852 and had 6 more children. They lived in Hogg Island, Seale Station, Alabama. Henry and Elizabeth are both buried in Linwood Cemetery.

Thomas "Tom" Jeremiah Nuckolls (May 6, 1829-1889) – Second child and eldest son of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. He was a lawyer, Civil War soldier, and the executor of his father's will. He was born May 6, 1829 in Elbert County, Georgia, studied at Franklin College (which became the University of Georgia) 1847 and Harvard's School of Law from 1850-1851. He served in the Civil War as an adjutant of his regiment, the 15th Alabama, known as the Cantey Rifles. He resigned in December of 1862 due to his health. He married Alice Bradley (1847-1931) on January 14, 1869 and had one son Thomas J. Nuckolls Jr. (1872-1874). The 1878 city directory tells us he practiced law at 81 Broad and resided at 75 N. Troup. He died in Columbus, Georgia.

Nathaniel Augustus "Gus" Nuckolls (August 3, 1830-January 10, 1901) – Third child and second son of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. He was born in Elbert County, Georgia and died in Ft. Mitchell, Alabama. He was a student in Athens, Georgia in 1850 and asked Tom for advice for schools. He served in Tennessee in a supply battalion in the Civil War. He married Elizabeth Pamela Kyle (1839-1863) in 1858. At her death 5 years later, she left him a widower with 3 children, Joseph Kyle (b. 1857), William Thomas, (b.1861) and Elizabeth Kyle (b. 1862). They were raised by their Kyle grandparents.

Mary Virginia "Mollie" Nuckolls Kyle (1832-1893) – Fourth child and second daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. She married Robert B. Kyle in 1856. According to the 1880 census they had 6 children and lived in Gadsden in Cherokee County, Alabama. Robert remarried in 1894 and died in 1922.

Cornelia Louisa "Nealie" Nuckolls Truitt Richardson (b. 1836) – Fifth child and third daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. Nealie married her first husband, Alfred Truitt, in 1856. She later married John T. Richardson and lived in Cherokee County, Alabama. She had no children.

Louisiana Allen "Lou" Nuckolls Hawkins (b. 1836) – Sixth child and fourth daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. She married Hiram Hawkins. They lived in Eufaula, Alabama.

Laura Carolina Nuckolls Freeman (1838-1921) – Seventh child and fifth daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. She married George Washington Freeman in 1866 and had six children. They lived in Cherokee County, Alabama.

Emma Olivia Nuckolls Cox Marable (b. October, 1839) – Eighth child and sixth daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. She married twice. Her first husband was Thomas J. Cox, whom she married in December of 1864. They had one son, William "Willie" Thompson (b. 1865). Her second marriage was to John E. Marable.

James Thornton Nuckolls (November 24, 1843-October 13, 1910) – Ninth child and third son of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. He was born in Oswichee, in Russell County, Alabama and also died in Russell County. He married Emma Jem. Bradley (1846-1924) in 1869, also in Russell County. Emma was the oldest child of Forbes Bradley and Theresa Clark Bradley and sister to both Alice Bradley (who married Thomas Jeremiah Nuckolls, Sr.) and to W. C. Bradley. James and Emma had two sons, Forbes Bradley Nuckolls (1869-1943), and James R. Nuckolls.

Adella Luvania Nuckolls Nowlin (1844-1916) – Tenth child and seventh daughter of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. She married James Rush Nowlin in 1869. They had 6 children. He died in 1912 and she died in 1916 in Gadsden, Alabama, where she is buried.

William Thompson Nuckolls (1840-1861) – Eleventh and last child and fourth son of Nathaniel and Louisiana Nuckolls. He died in 1861 in Richmond, Virginia of typhoid fever during the Civil War. His father went to Richmond to retrieve his body and return him home for burial in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.

Other Family Members

Dozier Thornton, a brother of Louisiana Hawkins Thornton Nuckolls (1809-June, 1868)

Charles Thornton – a nephew of a brother of Louisiana Hawkins Thornton Nuckolls.

George B. Nuckolls (ca. 1805-1863) – a brother to Nathaniel Nuckolls, born in Virginia. He lived for a time in Macon County, Alabama, before moving Bossier Parish, Louisiana where he died.

Robert N. Nuckolls (b. 1829) – son of George B. Nuckolls and his first wife, and a cousin to the Nuckolls children.

Robert Benjamin Kyle (b. 1826) – brother-in-law of Thomas "Tom" Jeremiah Nuckolls, who married Tom's sister, Mary Virginia, known as "Mollie". She was the second of his three wives. Robert Kyle and Mollie lived in the Gadsden, Alabama area. He served as a captain in the Civil War. He was also referred to as "Colonel".

Forbes Bradley (1809-1890) – father of Emma J. and Alice Nuckolls, and thus the father-in-law of both Thomas Jeremiah Nuckolls and James Thornton Nuckolls, who married the Bradley sisters. He was born in Connecticut and moved south to Georgia, settling in Russell County, Alabama. Bradley married Theresa Ann Clark (d. 1871) in 1845 in Muscogee County, Georgia. They had 10 children in 18 years before her death. Forbes is buried in Linwood Cemetery.

Mentioned in Civil War letters

Alexander A. Lowther –captain of Thomas' regiment.

William T. Berry – a 1st lieutenant, captured at Cross Keyes.


1.5 Linear Feet : 4 boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The letters in this collection were donated in three different groups by Nuckolls and Bradley family members. The first three hundred and thirty letters came to the Archives in March 2000 from Minnie and Will Bradley. They dated from between 1852 and 1871 plus a score of later items. It was recorded as MC 137. The second batch of two hundred plus letters was donated in October 2015 by Cornelia Schomburg Partain after they were found in an old desk. The letters have been interfiled in chronological order and the descriptions of the contents updated for this completely revised finding aid for MC 137.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Columbus State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

4225 University Ave
Columbus Georgia 31907 United States