Mabel May Millhouse Nichols © Cheyenne Star 20 Feb 1975 Submitted by: Wanda Purcell
Mrs. Mabel May Nichols yesterday joined her husband Abb in eternal sleep in the family plot at Mesa Cemetery.
Death came Monday to the 92-year-old pioneer, who with Abb and seven of her brood, first came to the rich farming area east of this community 56 years ago from Oklahoma.
After eight months they were gone to other parts of Arizona, but after a couple of years were back to stay and to record in the years ahead, one of the most remarable farming success stories in the Salt River Valley.
They started from scratch. With nothing but hope and a prayer, they arrived here flat broke, looking for a chance to better their lot.
Mabel May Nichols, an institution in this section, bore Abb ten children, nine still living and all residing in the Valley. Of the six sons, four are still prominent farmers in this area and linked with in-laws, such as the widely known Morrisons, they created a virtual agricultural empire.
Mabel, a native of Joliet, Illinois, was the only daughter of a Pennsylvania Dutch couple. Her maiden name was Millhouse. Her father was a widower with one son when he married her mother.
Their first born was a son, Irwin, and some years later Mabel May was born. Sons George and Joe came along later.
The father, a locomotive engineer, died while Joe was a baby. Her brother Irwin, an adventurous sort, persuaded their mother to sell her home and move to Boone County, Arkansas and homestead some land.
The Nichols family moved to that region about the same time from Hood County, Texas, and the two families became good friends.
Both groups became dissatisfied. The land did not seem to be well suited to farming. Times were so hard men worked for 10 cents a day and received their pay mostly in sorghum molasses and bacon.
The Nichols family moved to Lincoln County, Oklahoma, but one of them had "taken a shine" to Mabel Millhouse.
A year later, Abb Nichols walked all the way back from Oklahoma to Arkansas and persuaded Mabel May to marry him. They were wed August 6, 1899.
Abb took his bride to Lincoln County, Oklahoma and rented a farm. Here, Hugh, the prominent Gilbert farmer, was born November 28, 1901.
Hugh's uncle Irwin and his father looked at some homestead land in Roger Mills County, in western Oklahoma, and his grandmother gave up her Arkansas land and moved there, too.
Roger Mills County adjoined the Texas Panhandle. Cheyenne was the county seat and the only town in the county at that time.
More children were born there to Abb and Mabel May and they felt they needed to move to a more productive area.
Uncle Irwin persuaded them to come to Arizona. He had been here and he liked it. Mary, a little daughter, had died of infantile paralysis.
The Nichols family arrived in the Gilbert area December 31, 1918, after a rough trip in an old car from Oklahoma. They had encountered floods and terrible roads much of the way, their car broke down often, and they were not in the finest of moods when they reached this state to build their future.
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