October 2006
Edition 18
Jerrems Family Newsletter - Edition 18
All the News that's Fit to Remember
  Dear Donald,
If you look back over previous editions of the Newsletter you will see that our writers have included a mix of items about our forbears in England, Australia and the United States.

In this edition we have included more items about the United States you will find interesting. Cousin Ray explains why we are now going to spend more time in the US.

Early Jerrems Commercialism in the United States
Ray Jerrems, Jerrems Genealogist and Historian   Start of the US Tailoring Empire
Hi Cousin Donald.

I have been sending you draft articles on all aspects of the Jerrems family for some time. Looking back through my unused drafts I see that I have a lot more left on the US, so I suggest that we run some of them.

Enclosed is a series of items about the family’s early days in the US, starting with Alexander Nicholl, whose claim to fame is that his daughter Mary married William George Jerrems, the forbear of almost all of our cousins (including you) in the US. He was your great great grandfather. But Alexander Nicholl’s other claim to fame is that he founded a tailoring empire which William George inherited and passed on to his sons, one of whom was your grandfather Donald Edwin Jerrems. You will see that marrying Mary Nicholl certainly turned out to be a good career choice for William George!

Here is a story about Alexander Nicholl.
Big Alex Has Come To Town!
Ray Jerrems, Jerrems Genealogist and Historian   Establishing Tailoring Chain Stores
In the frontier days of Phoenix, Arizona, the news that “Big Alex has come to town” could have caused quite a stir. Perhaps Big Alex is a gunslinger, people may have thought. But later in Phoenix in the more sedate and salubrious 1890s the news would scarcely have caused a ripple. Law abiding citizens buying a newspaper on a pleasant spring morning of May 21 1892 would have been greeted with the following news:

Alexander Nicoll, who has large tailoring establishments in all the principal cities of the United States and is known as Nicoll the Tailor, arrived in Phoenix by yesterday’s train. Mr. Nicoll has numerous mining properties in this country.

So who was Alexander Nicholl?

When there is such a time lapse between the dates of events and the time of writing one has to resort to a certain amount of guesswork and literary licence based on the fairly scant amount of information available.

Our US Jerrems readers should recognise him as (variably, according to the reader’s generation) their great great grandfather or great great great grandfather.

Alexander was born in Scotland, probably between 1815 and 1820, and he married Elizabeth. According to a family tree drawn up by Sydney (Chick’s late mother) as a schoolgirl they had 10 children, including Mary. Looking further down the track, in due course Mary married William George Jerrems, who was born in England in 1843 and migrated with his family to Australia in 1859. William George and Mary had 4 children in Australia, William George ll (born in 1867), Arthur Wallace, Alexander Nicholl and Ellen/Hellen. They then had two daughters (Mae and Annie Letitia) in England in 1879 and 1882, and migrated to Chicago in about 1883 where they had Cousin Donald’s grandfather (Donald Edwin) in 1885.

In addition to fathering 10 children (time-consuming in itself) Alexander Nicholl obviously devoted a lot of time and effort to his tailoring and mining interests. He was clearly a proud Scot because the stores carried a range of Scottish fabrics and kilts. He was also very energetic, demonstrated by the fact that when he visited Phoenix in 1892 he was in his early to mid 70s, quite an age in those days.

One advertisement (pictured, we think it is him) for a “Nicoll the Tailor” store has a photograph of Alexander. It depicts him as having a robust build and a long bushy beard which had not been interviewed by a barber for a considerable time. Typically he is wearing a kilt and other Scottish clothes.

The numerous tailoring stores (over 26) were later taken over by William George Jerrems and his sons, but that is another story in itself which is set out later.

The name Alexander Nicholl is a popular Scottish name, so it is difficult from the large number of entries in the records available to establish accurately when he came to the US, what his movements were in the US, and when he died. My best guess, from shipping and migration records, is that he settled in the US in 1866. Because he had a large family (4 sons and 6 daughters) it is possible that some of the children settled in the US also, and the sons took on a role as regards his business interests. But I have not found any specific record of this.

So what can I tell you about Alexander’s stores and the later Jerrems stores?
Stores Named “Nicoll The Tailor”, and “Jerrems Tailors”
Ray Jerrems, Jerrems Genealogist and Historian   Serial Story
Here is the historical information I have gleaned on the tailoring stores which played a large part in the establishment of most of the current Jerrems families in the US. The stores spanned a period of 60 years and It would be fair to say that they were quite famous in their own right.

But firstly, students of spelling will detect the discrepancy between the spelling of Alexander Nicholl’s surname which I have adopted and the spelling of “Nicoll” in “Nicoll the Tailor”. He seems to have used both spellings! Perhaps, being Scottish, he thought that a shorter name would reduce the cost of advertising?

Internet searches and recollections of our more senior family members show that throughout the US there were a total of at least 26 stores in Boston (two stores), Brooklyn, Buffalo, Chicago (four stores), Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Hartford, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York (two stores), Omaha (Nebraska), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, St Louis, Washington D.C. and possibly Phoenix. There could have been more of them.

Briefly, some were set up by Alexander Nicholl in the late 1860s and the 1870s, some by his son-in-law William George Jerrems l in the 1880s, and possibly some were set up later by William George’s sons (William George ll, Arthur Wallace, Alexander Nicholl and Donald Edwin).

Initially the stores were known as “Nicoll theTailor” but it appears that in the early 1900s some of them were renamed “Jerrems Tailors” or jointly named with the names “Nicoll the Tailor” and “Jerrems”.

The high number of stores indicates that a quite sophisticated administrative system would have been required. Spread around the US, they were all on the extensive US railway system, making delivery of imported goods from a central depot (possibly in New York) simple. We do know that a lawyer was employed on a full-time basis to travel to the stores.

Intrigued? Our saga will continue next month: The Role of William George Jerrems and His Sons.
Old Rascal Ray: Follow-up Story and Reprint
Donald Jerrems, Editor & Publisher of the Jerrems Journal since 1956   How do you Get Rid of a Pesky Ghost? 
Our readers saw Ol Ray's second appearance in the September issue. He is the Jerrems ghost of Manley Point near Sydney and he crashed Nicholl Kidman's wedding and reception in June. He will probably be around for another 200 years, so in response to inquiries we are reprinting his story.

Hello Fellow Jerrems of the Non-Ghost variety,

I am the black sheep of the family. I didn't even make the modern Ray's family genealogy tree. Maybe it was because I was sort of disowned and abandoned by the Jerrems family back in the early 1800's.

Here is my story:

When I was celebrating my 18th birthday, I binged on some great beer at a local pub in Gainsborough, England. On the way home, I staggered across a pasture and decided to try tipping a cow. Well, I got caught and was thrown into the local jail. The local judge deemed me a miscreant and sent me to Parkhurst Prison, the place for convict boys.

Later I had a choice to stay in jail for six months or take a boat trip. I accepted the latter. As it turned out, other convicts and I were bound for Western Australia to began life as rehabilitated in England and arrived destined for apprenticeships with local settlers. Our convict past is often forgotten.

Well, my family forgot me too, which is why I didn't make my great nephew's tree.

On the boat trip, I met this swabbi; her name is Di. We are still together. Any resemblance to modern Jerrems is probably not coincidental.

Hey, have you ever tried tipping a kangaroo? I will tell you that story in a future edition.

Old Rascal Ray

Donald Jerrems, Editor & Publisher of the Jerrems Journal since 1955   Trying to Remember Things I Might Forget
In a future edition we will have a reader's poll. People love to give their opinion, and you can publish the results in a newsletter.

We will also have a Jerrems Family Quiz. So start studying the past issues because you will be graded!

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