(1849 – January 29, 1929)
Born and raised in Meadville, Pennsylvania, but a longtime Indianapolis citizen, Ms. Nicholas published two works of fiction, including An Idyll of the Wabash (1898), a collection of short stories set in Indiana shortly after the Civil War, and The Making of Thomas Barton (1913). But her main career achievement was her half-century of newspaper work for both the Indianapolis Journal and the Indianapolis Star. Her newspaper work as an editor, book reviewer and feature writer led to her being chosen to write the book-length Story of Crown Hill, which was published by The Crown Hill Association in 1928.
The plot does not drive her short stories. They are more of a narrated series of vignettes that seek to place the main characters in some emotional or spiritual crisis, either real or perceived, in which they reveal their essential character. Of the ten stories in An Idyll of the Wabash, at least three turn on the return of a loved one long supposed dead. Another three concern the changing of a religious conviction, two relatively small, one an in-depth look at one woman’s lifelong movement toward a final conversion experience. The stories in Barton continue in the same vein.
Here is the conclusion of her history of Crown Hill:
“The history of the cemetery can never be complete any more than the history of a city of the living. After all has been done, after we have made this place as beautiful as human hands may, bending nature and art to our purpose, the place where we lay our dead is consecrated not only by the use to which it is put, but by the tears, the broken hearts, the bitter anguish of the living as they murmur the last farewells. They have known the place before and have admired its adaptation to the final human need. Through the rain of tears and the blindness of grief, when these experiences come they are only subconsciously aware of the greenness of the sward, the magnificence of the trees, the songs of the birds, the blueness of the sky. The slow drive to the tomb of the loved one is a via dolorosa.
But life is compassionate. It is never the same after the last goodbye to a loved one has been spoken, yet there is a healing of the bitterness in time and the bereaved one comes to think of the departed more than of himself and his loss. It is then that the sorrowing one comes to see that death may be a friend in that the one whom he has taken is spared trials and suffering that time brings to all in one form or another. It is then that the sad heart finds peace in quiet and beautiful Crown Hill. The founders of more than sixty years ago built even better than they knew.”
For more information on Nicholas, click here.
Location: Section 15, Lot 33; GPS (39.8185099, -86.1751146)