to Z Index
these letters About
EJ Phillips Facebook Fan Page
Babies and toddlers
Grandchildren John Dolman "Jack" Ted Nickinson
Elizabeth Ellen Dolman Melanie
Nickinson and EJ Phillips actually married (and if so, when) is
unclear. John Nickinson, son of his first marriage, wrote to the
Clipper after his father's death and his
that his parents had never been divorced.
often refers to himself as EJ Phillips'
husband in his letters. EJ Phillips occasionally calls herself Nickinson,
though she uses Phillips much more often, and in her letters does not directly
call him her husband. The fullest
obituary of EJ
Phillips (New York Dramatic Mirror, August 20, 1904) makes no reference
to John or Albert Nickinson, but lists Hattie and the three grandchildren. The
New York Times obituary mentions only Hattie.
EJ Phillips evolved
from Miss Phillips (when she was originally appearing with John Nickinson
and his four daughters the Misses
Isabella Nickinson into using the stage name Mrs. EJ Phillips.
A more careful unearthing and perusal of playbills and programs from the 1860's
and 1870's might help date this transition. The only Mr. Phillips had been her
I d often wondered
what name(s) are on her tombstone.
cousins Susan Misciewicz and Peggy Spencer (then living outside Philadelphia)
went to West Laurel Hill Cemetery to try to find out. She is buried in the
Dolman family plot (without a stone), and in the cemetery records as a
cousin Susan Spencer [Misciewicz], who lives
in Toronto, researched Canadian marriage and divorce records, but fire seems to
have left only fragmentary public records.
was three and
Albert was less than a year old when John Nickinson died.
Charles Alderman Nickinson (born April 30, 1858 in Toronto) had died in
Pittsburgh in September 1859. It seems unlikely that John Nickinson left much
(if any) estate to contribute to the support of EJ and the children.
EJ Phillips seems to have had few
relatives to help her raise two young children. Her own mother (born July 1
1790 in Ledbury, Herefordshire, England) had died in Hamilton, Canada on
September 15, 1853. Her father, also born in Ledbury (January 1794) died the
year before John Nickinson on April 1, 1863.
Phillips' sister Maryann Phillips, born in 1824 (six years before EJ Phillips)
had died in 1832, aged eight.
only relative who seems to be identified as such in the letters is Aunty (Mrs.
Zavistowski) who lived fairly close to New York (Ridgewood NJ, later
moving to Elizabeth NJ) and seems to have had some money (to lend to Albert and
to buy a house and 2 and 1/2 acres). Assuming she is the "Sister Cris" of some
letters we have, she sounds much less articulate or educated than EJP.
Several undated newspaper clippings refer to the Zavistowski ballet troup
Zavistowski. After John Nickinson's death, EJP sometimes boarded the
children with the Zavistowskis. There are receipts for Mrs. Christine
Zavistowski in 1874 and 1875 from EJ Nickinson for $10, $20, $30 (varying
amounts), some sent to Philadelphia and some to Suffern NY.
Boston, May 27,
1888, All letters from John and Mrs. Dolman give good accounts of Hattie's
condition and of your nephew [John Dolman "Jack"]. His eyes were a little sore
& he had a little colic, but is better. Today his Grandpapa was to visit him
and has given him a carriage. Lottie has sent him a silver spoon. So you see
he came as near as possible to being "born with a silver spoon in his mouth".
Philadelphia, June 21, 1888
Hattie is much better than she was on my arrival. Then I felt rather nervous
about her. She looked so pale and thin and her eyes looked so large. She
breakfasted downstairs this morning for the first time. The boy is a month old
today. He grows fast. He has had colic for a day or two, but otherwise seems
thoroughly healthy. He is very strong, and is almost too much for his mother to
nurse. So Grandma has to do a great share of the nursing.
Los Angeles, Sept. 19, 1888
On the 7th Hattie went to see the folks and had to
stay all night as a storm came up, but she got home on Saturday morning the
8th. She took John upstairs and put him in bed with his Aunts. After they had
romped with him awhile she heard Nellie exclaim, "Oh how I wish your Uncle
Albert could see you. He would think you so sweet".
Philadelphia, May 27th 1891
Jack is a big boy now, and as great a chatterbox as
ever. He talks of Aunt Neppie & Uncle Albert very often. He is crazy on the
subject of steam cars and fire engines. John bought him a locomotive, tender
and two coal cars for his birthday and for two days he worked harder over that
train than ever any engineer did on the Erie. He was three years old last
Nickinson " Ted"
birth of Oct. 7, 1890
Philadelphia, Oct 9, 1890
I hope Neppie is doing well and that grandson is not giving much trouble. I
long to see them both. Jack -- says very plainly "Aunt Neppie's baby boy is my
cousin". He talks of Uncle Alba & Aunt Neppie every day
Philadelphia, Oct 9, 1890
I think Arthur Macardell Nickinson would be a splendid name. I have no
objection to the name of "Phillips" but I dislike the abbreviation of "Phil".
I have one grandson John now, and while I appreciate your desire to call your
son after your father, yet I think Neppie's wish and her family name ought to be
considered. It is the swell form now to give a child its mother's maiden name
and Macardell is a very pretty one. And your son has his grandfather's name in
Philadelphia, Oct 16, 1890
So the boy's name is Arthur Phillips -- all right! I am satisfied, even if
Hattie has won the election. And I hope Neppie is satisfied, and that Arthur
will be when he is old enough to know what his name is. ... you must not call
my grandson a "homely little cuss". That is not nice, and you would not like it
if anyone else were to call him so. Newborn babies are never very handsome, but
as a rule the ugliest at birth turn out to be the prettiest a few months
later. It is a sign of growth when they stretch themselves so much & all the
signs you mention tell me that he is doing well and growing fast. I hope I
shall see him very soon & judge for myself.
Philadelphia, Oct. 20, 1890
Am pleased to know that Arthur [Edward "Ted"] is so good -- sure sign he feels
in good health and it is a pleasant thing for his Mother. Trust the "red gum"
and "spoor" have disappeared. Those little ailments are better outside than in.
New York, Nov 5, 1890
Sorry my dear little Grandson has his tongue tied. That was the cause of his
having so much trouble when he began his meals.
"Arthur" became Edward Phillips is not recorded, but it must have been
shortly after this letter.
New York, Nov 19, 1890
Very glad to hear you were all well and "getting along nicely" especially that
Neppie was gaining strength and the baby growing nicely... After Thanksgiving I
expect Mrs. Dolman over to pay me a little visit. Perhaps by that time, if
Neppie feels strong enough, you might come over and spend a night or two with
me. it would give Mrs. D an opportunity of seeing you all. I am sure she wants
to see Edward -- she is such a baby lover. .. Jack well and full of talk as
ever. Hugs his Mother now and says, "Ain't you a nice Mama?". How pleased
Neppie will be when Edward can say that to her.
New York, Nov. 26th 1890
Well you have to let things rest until you can do better. Be careful of
yourself and do not expose yourself to draughts, whatever goes undone. .. Albert
writes that he [Edward] is a screamer, but I guess he is no worse than many
millions of little boys who have come before him. I am sure not worse than
Jack, who is now a very good little boy indeed.
New York, Dec. 5, 1890 I
think you have done well to get the condensed milk for Edward. I do not think
he yet requires Mellins food, still it will perhaps be a help to digestion. I
suppose his Mother gives it to him through a bottle. It will be better for her
& for the boy. He will grow fat now.
New York, Dec 24, 1890 I
am pleased to hear he is growing fast and is less cross, as proof he is in
better health, and I am very glad you are feeding him with condensed milk. It
will be better for him, and for you and give you a chance to gain some strength
and flesh. Mrs. Law is feeding Mabel on condensed milk and I hear the child is
Ted Nickinson, Middletown NY
New York, Feb. 18, 1891 I
was pleased to hear that Edward was growing so finely. I think fourteen sounds
a very good weight for so young a boy.
Pittsburgh, May 12, 1893 So Master Ted is running a little wild. That's human
and healthful, but keep him in sight. Bring up a child in the way he should go,
and when he gets there he will go as he pleases. Grandma Nickinson sends him a
great big Kiss.
Phila Pa, August 21st 1893
I was pleased to hear you were having such a nice time in Otisville. and Ted was
having so much fun with the Horses, Cows & Chickens but I am afraid the poor
chickens had a hard time of it. They are not used to having a little wild boy
running after them.
Elizabeth Ellen Dolman 1891-1892
birth of May 28, 1891
Philadelphia, June 5, 1891
Pardon me for not sooner replying to your note to Hattie congratulating her upon
the advent of her little daughter Elizabeth Ellen Dolman ... I am pleased to be
able to tell you Hattie is doing very nicely - she has not had any set-backs of
any kind - Miss Elizabeth Ellen takes her meals regularly and is very quiet and
good. Hattie has an excellent nurse who lifts her about as if she were a baby.
She sat up in a chair last evening for 15 minutes and from 5 to 1/2 past this
Evening. This is the first day the doctor has not called - so I imagine he
thinks she is now on the road to recovery. She feels stronger and better than
she did after Jack - at this time of the case - and looks better than she did
when I saw her three weeks after he was born. I am very grateful that all has
passed off so much easier than I anticipated.
Phila Pa, June 28th 1891 I
hope it will not be long before I have a chance of renewing [Edward's]
acquaintance. Today Elizabeth Ellen is a month old. She has grown wonderfully
during her little life and is fat and plump as a partridge. The doctor says
[Hattie] looks better than he ever saw her before.
New York, Apr. 14, 1892 Yes, Hattie still nurses the baby and intends to
through the Summer but she also gives her Mellins food which Elizabeth
drinks from a tumbler. Drinks two tumblers full, one about 10 AM and the other
about 1/2 six PM. Seems to agree with her.
Recipe 2 Based
on Mellins food ( a mixture of the sugars maltose and dextrose with
thiamine mononitrate ferric glycerol, phosphate, and potassium bicarbonate),
honey, evaporated milk, vitamins and mineral supplement and animal protein.
Feeding Captive Birds, Provet Healthcare Information
lists Mellins food bottles and trading cards.
death of Elizabeth Ellen Dolman 1892
Philadelphia Aug 6, 1893 [Nellie Dolman Law] is getting pretty stout
[pregnant] but seems well and in good spirits. Her children are well and are two
terrors! Ted and Jack are mild little lambs in comparison.
Milwaukee Nov. 8, 1893
Have you heard that Nellie [Law]'s new baby is to be named Harriet Nickinson?
If not, I have the pleasure of informing you of the fact. Such is the decision
of Mr. & Mrs. Law. It was quite a surprise to Hattie but she says she feels
highly honored and pleased. And I suppose will take upon her the
responsibilities of GodMother. Nellie is getting along splendidly. Is down in
the kitchen attending to cooking and dishwashing. Mrs. Robinson, her nurse, was
with her three weeks. Left her on Monday. Mrs. Law, Will's Mother, is with her
Columbus Ohio Mar 1 1895
Yes, Nellie's family is nicely alternated, girl & boy, girl & boy. But whether
there ever will be a reconciliation or not remains to be found out. Will [Law]
called and saw the baby Sunday after its birth, and Mrs. Law called a few hours
after its birth, knowing it had occurred. Nellie had a very easy time, and is
doing well with plenty of nourishment for the baby They have not yet decided on
a name for him.
Philadelphia, May 5, 1895
Nellie to go back to Will, I am told but do not know any particulars. [From an
undated 1895 letter, prior to John Dolman Senior's death: Nellie and Will are
reconciled and begin housekeeping again next week]. The house is taken from the
15th (Saturday). I hope the past may prove a wholesome lesson to them. My
opinion is that Will has behaved most manfully and well and done all he could to
make things pleasant.]
Melanie Nickinson Dolman 1897
Phila Pa, Novr 8th 1897 Dr thinks it will not be much longer for [Hattie]
to wait. I hope not for she is very tired.
Phila Pa Novr 24th 1897
One month from today will be Christmas or rather tomorrow and your anniversary
will be on Sunday the 28th. That is the date when our little stranger is
expected. Will be nice if it would arrive that day. But Man proposes and a
Higher Hand Disposes and we must be satisfied with His Will! Whatever it may be
and be thankful. Hattie is feeling well under the circumstances, and is quite
lively. Does not appear to be as nervous as she did some weeks ago. Still I
guess she will be glad when all is over.
Philadelphia, Dec 2nd 1897
Your Sister had a pleasant arrival at 7:35 this Morning. Weighs 9 lbs, strong
and healthy. Is a girl. Name not yet decided upon. Will let you know when it
is. Mother & daughter doing well. Love & Kisses to you all from Mother
Philadelphia, Tuesday 7th Decr 1897
Pardon me for not acknowledging the receipt of your
package sooner, but I have been kept pretty busy since the arrival of Miss
"Katherine Harriet" and cannot get and to do all I ought to do at the proper
The sacque is beautiful and Hattie is very pleased with it, and sends you
thanks. She thinks your work excellent and is delighted that in showing it to
her friends she can say, "It came from my sister". Hattie is kept weak by the
night sweats, but I hope in a few days she will be better as the doctor is
giving her remedies to stop these unpleasant experiences which she has had after
The baby is doing well but has given us every night about 1 to 3 a taste of her
musical qualities. Jack is very fond of her, thinks her "very sweet". Tell Ted
that when Jack wrote to him, his little sister had not then arrived and he could
not tell Ted about her. Jack says Ted must come to see her. Her name is not
fully decided upon. Hattie says if you have any suggestions to make to send
them on to me at once. The doctor must have the name before the end of the
month as he has to send in his report by the 1st. John insists on the name
Harriet, but after that does not so much care except that he wishes her to have
seems to be a family tradition of experimenting with different baby names, as
Edward Nickinson was originally referred to as "Arthur".
Philadelphia, Sunday Decr 19th 1897
We are all doing as well as possible under the
existing circumstances. The young lady is still in doubt as to what name will
be given to her. The latest selection is from John -- "Melanie Nickinson". He
liked Katherine Harriet but his Mother did not like "Katherine". I have had
nothing to say in the matter. The name matters little, if only she has good
constitution and good health -- both of which she seems at present time to
Hattie & I both thinks she looks like Albert. She certainly looks like my
babies did, but she is only two weeks and 3 days old and may change before she
is a month old, at which time I hope you will, with Albert & Ted be here to be
introduced to her and judge for yourselves. The young lady is hearty.
Consequently her Mother is not gaining strength very fast and is troubled with
night sweats, but has a good appetite and physically is doing well.
Philadelphia, New Years Eve 1897
[obviously written a day or two after New Years Melanie's] lungs are strong and
she lets the neighborhood know she is alive. You may imagine we felt terribly
mortified at John's forgetting to post Hattie's letter to you. It must have
left you in great uncertainty as to what you were to do. John was so very busy
and Jack's illness troubled him so much, that it was not strange he forgot to
post the letter.
Philadelphia Pa, Feby 22nd 1898
I did not intend being so much behind time in
answering your good newsy letter, but each day finds me busy and the hours
pass. A baby in the house is paramount to all other considerations & we all
have to take a back seat when Melanie has the floor, which she takes pretty
often, but she is a good little soul, and we have to answer her.
Education - children
EJP refers several times to her grandsons' education, but never to her own so
far. She was obviously intelligent and articulate. She was clearly a newspaper
reader and periodically refers to contemporary books and journals. She was
obviously familiar with Shakespeare and contemporary plays. What kind of
schooling (compulsory, free?) did Canada have in the 1840's?
Philadelphia, Mar 24, 1894
Jack is all right again and going to school. This week he goes in the
afternoons and next week in the mornings -- this alternating gives the schools a
chance to instruct more pupils than otherwise their capacity would allow them
to. But whether it is better for the children or not is a question! But it is
at least better than no schooling.
Philadelphia, July 19, 1894
Yesterday a Kindergarten school opened in the Chapel
and Jack started to school again. He likes it very much. A Miss Ogden is the
teacher. Josie [Dolman, Jack's aunt] would not take it again, as it did not
pay her to do so. I would prefer seeing Jack go to Public School, but the
nearest one is at 28th & Columbia Ave, and is so crowded that half the children
cannot be taken in, and of course the larger ones get preference for admission.
Education - theatrical
Last updated Nov. 26, 2010
to Z Index
these letters About
EJ Phillips Facebook Fan Page