All Hallows Eve – 31 October 1927 – Nichols’ Family Tragedy

From the Glasgow Times, November 1927 edition:

“Four buried in the same grave Wednesday morning. The entire city and surrounding country was shocked, almost beyond speech, Monday afternoon when the report that Earl Nichols, his wife and two small children had been cremated when their home burned five miles east of here on Edmonton road between twelve and two o’clock. How did the four victims meet death, and why, are questions that will probably never be answered. A hole the size of a half dollar in the skull of Mrs. Nichols told a gruesome story of having been shot at close range probably with a shotgun. The crushed skull of the five month old child, clasped in its mother’s arms, was also mute evidence of the awful crime. The headless body of the father and the second child, near its mother’s feet, the evidence of how they died removed by fire. After the fire had subsided the bodies of Mrs. Nichols and the two children, Earline, aged 3 years, and Windal Huston, aged 5 months, were found where a closet stood, where it is believed they were placed after they were killed, in the family room. The body of Mr. Nichols was almost across the room from the closet near a door. Near Mr. Nichols lay a shotgun containing two empty shells, showing they had been exploded in the plunger, according to those who examined the gun.
“The facts leading up to the tragedy as near as we are able to gather them are about as follows: It seems that Mr. Nichols came here Monday to attend to some business, and secure medicine for a small son under treatment. He remained in town until just before noon, and must have reached home shortly after twelve o’clock. He was seen in his auto in front of his home between twelve and one o’clock by Mrs. Gus Williamson, who was going to Mr. Nichols’ home. Before she reached the yard fence Mr. Nichols called and told her his wife was not at home. Soon after that, LE Morton and TJ Abner, who were working not far away, noticed Mr. Nichols drive away in the direction of Mr. Walter Browning’s. The tracks of his car showed that he turned around about a half mile from his home and returned and entered the house from the rear, according to Messrs. Morton and Abner. This was shortly after one o’clock.
“Thirty minutes later smoke was seen issuing from the eaves of the home, and realizing the house was on fire, LE Morton and TJ Abner were the first to reach the house and failing to see any of the family began carrying out the household goods, which soon had to be abandoned owing to the rapid spread of the fire. It was not until the house was practically burned that the discovery was made that Mr. Nichols, his wife, and two children were burned in the building, and it was still some time before the fact that they were killed before being burned became known. Three other children – Oval, 11, Joe, 8, and Harvey, 6, were at school and thereby escaped the slaughter. Their friends have them in charge and will care for them until permanent arrangements are made. The bodies of the four victims were brought here and prepared for burial, after an inquest by Coroner WM Watkins. The verdict was that the four came to their death by person or persons unknown to the jury. The impression prevails among many of his neighbors that Mr. Nichols suddenly became insane and after killing his wife and children, and placing their bodies in the closet, set fire to the house and then killed himself. This theory was strengthened by the fact that the gun was found near his body. However, the gun could have fallen from its rack, over a door that led to the back porch where it was said to have been kept, to where it was found.
“It is also claimed by his friends that he was not in good health and at times seemed slightly despondent, still his domestic relations were said by his neighbors to be pleasant. So far as known, Mr. Nichols had no financial worries. He owned one of the best farms in that section, received a royalty of more than $300 a month on oil wells, it is said, and was a keen, successful trader, dealing in livestock.
“Mr. Nichols was a son of Mr. and Mrs. HB Nichols of Slick Rock, and also leaves one sister, Mrs. Myrtle Dotson, who lives with her parents. Mrs. Nichols was a daughter of Mr. Richard Shirley who was with a son at Charlestown, Indiana when the tragedy occurred. Besides her father, she is survived by two brothers, Messrs. Abby and Hadie Shirley both of Indiana. The funeral of the four victims was held at the Baptist Church here yesterday morning by Revs. JA Easley and JL Piercy, after which the remains were interred in the Glasgow Cemetery. The remains of the four were interred in one casket.

Earl C. Nichols (1891- 1927), Earlene S. Nichols (1924- 1927), Polly L. Nichols (1894- 1927), Wendell H. Nichols (1927- 1927)

Earl Nichols lived on the farm on Hwy 68/80, east of Glasgow, right before you get to the Beaver Creek bridge. The old highway travels to your right on the present highway, but the farm is still there, with another house that replaced the one that burned.


About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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