Recently I had the opportunity to visit the memorial of one of the brave sailors who was lost when the Monitor sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras on December 31st, 1862. Jacob Nicklis, son of William Nicklis, a prominent tailor in Buffalo, New York had re-enlisted as an ordinary seaman in the US Navy on October 13, 1862 and joined the Monitor’s crew shortly thereafter. He is commemorated on the Nicklis-Leonard family obelisk at Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo.
During archaeolgical excavation of the Monitor’s turret, a spoon was found engraved with the initials ‘JN’ which was identified as having belonged to Mr. Nicklis. The spoon has been conserved and is now on display at The USS Montitor Center.
Thanks to generous support from the Bronze Door Society of The Mariners’ Museum, a collection of Jacob Nicklis’ letters to his family is also preserved at The Mariners’ Museum.
Among the letters is one sent by the Monitor’s surgeon G.M. Weeks to Jacob’s sister Antionette Nicklis a few days after the loss of the Monitor and her brother:
‘To Miss Antoinette Nicklis,
I am too unwell to dictate more than a short sad answer to your note. Your brother went down with other brave souls, & only a good Providence prevented my accompanying him. You have my warm Sympathies, & the assurance that yr brother did his duty well, & has I believe gone to a brighter world, where storms do not come’
It was a privilege to visit Jacob Nicklis’ hometown and see his memorial in person at Forest Lawn Cemetery.