Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. I am not an expert and I consider most of my research as a work in progress. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My Mayflower Ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lila / Leila Norton Kelley Nickerson 1869-1956, West Dennis and Yarmouth, MA

David Howes Kelley and Lucina Doane’s third child, Lila Norton Kelley, was born in West Dennis, Mass., on 15 September 1869. Her name is also seen as Lillia and Leila.

She married David Atwood Nickerson on 18 May 1889 at West Dennis. He was born Yarmouth 30 November 1853, the son of Simeon Nickerson and Belinda Eldridge. Belinda’s first name is also seen as Melinda. David was a marble and granite worker and had gravestones in front of his house on Main Street, Yarmouth, where Captains' Row is now.

Lila was David’s second wife. Had had two children, Sarah born in 1878 and Rufus born in 1888, from his first marriage to Bertha Ellis. Rufus died soon after his birth, as did Bertha.

Lila and David had four children together:
Norton Atwood Nickerson, born 08 January 1898. He married Ellen May Clark; I don’t believe they had children.
Alice R. Nickerson, born 04 April 1904; died July 1904.
David Malcolm Nickerson, 01 January 1906; died May 1906.
William Fisher Nickerson, 14 June 1907. He married Evelyn Rose Desmond and had five children.
William Fisher Nickerson, 1907

David Nickerson died at Mass General Hospital in Boston on 14 January 1912, of a carcinoma, leaving Lila to raise two young children on her own.

Yarmouth Register “75 years ago,” 20 Sept 1956. On 19 Sept 1931, Mrs. Lila Nickerson left for Cornwall, Conn. to take up her duties as matron of the Ramsey Hall School for the second year. (Same item under 25 years ago 8 Sept 1955, from 6 Sept. 1930.)

I was fortunate to find Lila’s granddaughter, also named Lila, who lives in Montana. Here are excerpts from an email: My grandmother worked all her life, she worked for Knox Hatters in New Bedford, decorating hats before she married. She was widowed when my Father was 4, she took in boarders, teachers from school. Roland (her brother) lived with her for a time, my Father thought of him as a Father. She had a Tea Room in her home in Yarmouthport for years and sent her Fruit cake all over the U. S. She was a nurse for a Dr. Matthews I think that was his name. She dressed the dead for Mr. Doane in Hyannis. She also took in Girls from N. Y. C. "to teach them service" as she said. Many of the girls kept in touch with her for many years after leaving. Her last job was in Conn. at Ramsey Hall School for Boys as a dietitian. She loved life and was always a happy person. She had a horse and buggy and would go to Hyannis to shop and would wait for the train to Yarmouth at 4:00. She had the first bicycle in town. She helped start the Friday Club and the Willing Workers at Church.

I was so surprised in November 2010 when I opened my mailbox to find a copy of the magazine Cape Cod View, which had an article about the Yarmouth Friday Club. My cousin Gail, who is the granddaughter of Roland Kelley, sent it to me. It included a photo of Lila, and although I have many photos of family members, I don’t have any of Lila, as well as a recipe for Lila’s recipe for Cranberry Pie. I was thrilled and so touched by Gail’s kindness and generosity. I am constantly amazed at how thoughtful and friendly “new” cousins can be.
source: Cape Cod View magazine, Nov/Dec 2010 issue

The Friday Club was founded in 1901 and published a cookbook in 1912, which is where Lila’s recipe was found. It continues today as a group of women who sell baked goods to raise money for charity. The group now also holds yard and book sales, sells clam chowder and lobster rolls and runs a strawberry festival. Wouldn’t Lila be pleased to know her charitable works continue?

Lila certainly sounds like even though she suffered many losses in life, that she still thought of other people less fortunate than herself and lived a happy and incredibly productive life. She died at Hyannis on 16 July 1956 at age 86. She is buried at Woodside Cemetery in Yarmouth.

Her obituary, Yarmouth Register, 19 July 1956:

Yarmouth Port and Yarmouth - Mrs. Lila Norton Nickerson of Yarmouth Port, who would have been 87 in September, died last Saturday at Cape Cod Hospital where she had been a patient for two weeks. Mrs. Nickerson was the widow of David A. Nickerson. She was born in West Dennis, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David H. Kelley and had lived in Yarmouth for the last 67 years. Recently her granddaughter, Mrs. Frederick W. Kinat, moved here from Conn. to reside with Mrs. Nickerson on Minden Lane. A member of the First Universalist-Unitarian Church of Yarmouth Port and the WillingWorkers Alliance of that church, Mrs. Nickerson was also a charter member of the Friday Club of Yarmouth. She leaves two sons, Norton A. of Summer Street, Yarmouth Port, and William Fisher Nickerson of Slate Hill, NY, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Services were held Monday afternoon in the church, Rev. Kenneth Warren officiating, and interment was in Woodside Cemetery.

Tribute to Lila N. Nickerson, also from the Register, 26 July 1956:

In my teens I worked for Lila N. Nickerson of Yarmouth Port and I would like to say she was sweet and kind to me. I was taught to do many useful things. She always spoke a kind word about everyone. To anyone in distress she always gave a helping hand. I will always remember her as a very "sweet lady." My sympathy for the two sons she has left behind.  Laura K. Fitzgerald, P.O. Box 34, Union City, NJ.


  1. Thanks for catching that. I have a one track mind!

  2. Chris, what a new years eve gift.. I happened upon your blog tonight. Lilla (Baker) Kelley was my grandfather's sister, so Lilla and Roland were my great aunt & uncle. I have more pictures of the family and just got through scanning many of them. Would love it if you would email me at whitewater99@verizon.net ..
    Hope you get this.

    Priscilla Sears White
    South Yarmouth, MA

  3. Hi Priscilla: I'm thrilled to hear from you! I'll contact you directly by email. Chris