Current Nims Family Association
“When we have time, let’s get together to publish a history of the Nims family.” So ended a conversation between Mary Merriam and Frank Nims about 1959. With those words, the two went their separate ways, Mary to raise a family, and Frank to an overseas assignment as an Air force officer. Twenty years later, they agreed “now is the time.” From telephone conversations and visits, as well as encouragement from K. Godfrey Nims of Fort Mill, SC and others, the current Nims Family Association had its beginning.
A first meeting notice dated August 15, 1979, was signed by Mary Merriam of Conway, MA; Mary Haglund of Kanosh, UT, and Frank Nims of Cove, OR. With help from her mother, Ellen Nims McDonald, and friends, Mary mailed the notice to those with the family name Nims using telephone books from across the country as her source. The response was great and on October 27, 1979, 50 descendants of Godfrey Nims met at the White Church in Deerfield, MA to establish the second Nims Family Association. The group elected officers that day and laid the groundwork for researching and publishing a history of the first seven generations of the Nims family.
Officers elected at this organizational meeting were Frank L. Nims, president; William Schoeffler of Brookline, MA, vice president; Lucius Nims of Greenfield, MA, treasurer; Mary M. Merriam, secretary; and Ellen Mary Nims, Greenfield, MA, historian. Also elected was a finance committee consisting of Stuart and Carlton Nims of Keene, NH, and Marshall Nims and John Schultz of North Tonawanda, NY. Work on the history progressed for nearly a decade, under direction from presidents Frank Nims, Dr. Robert Nims, K. Godfrey Nims, and Arthur Nims Phillips. Also heavily involved were historians Ellen Mary Nims, Elizabeth Suddaby who acted as editor, John Schultz and Susan Oathout, culminating in 1990 with a 941-page publication: The Nims Family: Seven Generations of Descendants from Godfrey Nims.
The Nims family, with its roots in Deerfield, Massachusetts, can now be found across nearly all fifty states in the U.S. and several other countries as well. Informal gatherings of family members have occurred in many settings over many years. On at least two occasions, associations have organized to carry out family-related activities. Early in the 1900's, a group organized in the Keene, New Hampshire area, and began holding reunions annually, meeting once every year from 1904 to 1938, missing only the years 1933 and 1937. The record of this first group can be found in The Nims Family Association, The Early Years: 1904-1938, published by NFA in 1991.
Nims Family Association Presidents
- Frank L. Nims 1979-1985
- Robert M. Nims 1985-1988
- Godfrey Nims 1988-1989
- Arthur Nims Phillips 1989-1992
- David A. Nims 1992-1996
- William A. Nims 1996-2000
- David A. Nims 2000-2004
- Ronald Graham, 2004-2008
- Elizabeth Wiscombe, 2008-2014
- David Allen Nims, 2014-Present
Nims Family Association Historians
- Ellen Mary Nims 1979-1984
- Elizabeth Suddaby 1984-1989
- John Schultz 1989-1992
- Susan Oathout 1992-2003
- Allan Wiscombe 2008-Present
Ron passed away on April 5, 2012
Arthur Nims Phillips
Arthur passed away on August 4th, 2004
Kenneth Godfrey Nims
Kenneth passed away on September 21st, 1992
Godfrey Nims Boulder Dedication, 1914
Here’s a bit of earlier history of Nims Family Association:
The occasion is the Dedication of the Godfrey Nims Memorial Boulder at the eleventh reunion of the Nims Family Association, and field day of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, Massachusetts
Thursday, August 13th, 1914.
Order of Exercises:
Dedicatory Prayer -
Rev. Granville W. Nims, Troy, NH
The Story of Godfrey Nims -
Honorable Francis Nims Thompson, Greenfield, MA
Echoes from Canada -
Frederick Candee Nims, Painesville, OH
Stray Leaves from the Ancestral Tree -
Madella S. Nims, Keene, NH, NFA Historian
Unveiling of Boulder -
Estelle C. Nims, Ruth M. Nims, Charlotte S. Nims, Norris G. Nims
Presentation of Boulder to Nims Family Association -
Henry W. Nims, Keene, NH
Acceptance of Boulder from the Committee -
Marshall W. Nims, Concord, NH, NFA President
Presentation of Boulder to Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association -
Norman G. Nims, Yonkers, NY
Acceptance of Boulder from Nims Family Association -
Mrs. Jennie M. Arms Sheldon, Deerfield, MA
Ode to Boulder -
Mrs. Eunice K. Nims Brown, Springfield, MA
One of the presenters, Frederick Candee Nims (Godfrey - Ebenezer -Moses -Ariel -Joel -Allen -Frederick C.) spoke of a visit to Oka and the Lake of the Two Mountains, taken in September, 1908, or about eighteen years subsequent to Miss Alice Baker’s visit, which provided the research for her book, True Stories of New England Captives (click on link for scan of book). Here are portions of remarks given by Frederick C. Nims at the Dedication, Echoes from Canada.
“It was the good fortune of my wife and self to follow her (Alice Baker’s) footprints to the Lake of the Two Mountains, and the home of Josiah Rising and Abigail Nims, his wife. At this time we had never seen Miss Baker’s book, and upon subsequent comparison were struck with the similarity of our experiences, both in the Mission buildings at Oka and at the old homestead. But when the friendly Father Lefebvre produced from the church archives the ancient records, we failed to recognize the entry of the marriage of Joseph and Abigail, being ignorant of their Indian names as therein employed. Nor were we advised of the translation of the English, ‘Josiah Rising’, into the French, ‘Ignace Raizenne’, until enlightened by the good priest. Across the street from the mission grounds, in a pleasant home fronting the beautiful Ottawa, we found three comely young ladies, the recently orphaned Mlles. Harbour, who were nieces of the present Mme. Raizenne, and who, by the aid of an interpreter, supplied us with all needful information regarding the family.
The streets of the little village of Oka, still undefiled by gasoline or electricity, and with their immaculately white-washed cottages, from the windows and corners of which dark-skinned children peered curiously, were wonderfully interesting. Occasionally a two-wheeled cart appeared, wherein sat a pure-bred Indian and his dusky companion, somber and silent…
After a laborious drive of nearly a mile over the heavy sand dunes northward from Oka, we passed through a gate at the right into an open spruce grove, thence across a rolling field and down a lane for a fourth mile, and the Raizenne homestead was reached, pleasantly located near the base of the westerly cone of the Two Mountains. Upon the removal of the mission from Sault au Recollet to Oka, in 1721, this fine domain of 280 acres was bestowed on Josiah and Abigail soon after their arrival in Oka, and here they reared their family of two sons and six daughters. In 1791, as we learn from the date carved over the doorway, a considerable stone addition was made to the house, but the reception rooms have remained in the older portion, which, due evidently to reverential sentiments, has been kept in such good repair that it is now in a better state of preservation than the newer part. The homestead has remained in the continuous possession of Josiah and Abigail and their descendants since 1721, the present owner and occupant (1908) being Jean Baptiste Raizenne, of the fifth generation from Godfrey Nims. Mr. Raizenne was born March 29, 1838, and his four children, Rising, Wilhelmine, Isabelle and Marie Stella, were born in the 1880s. All are attractive, intelligent and well educated, and as yet unmarried. The mother, before marriage Melina Mallette, was raised in an English home, and is the only member of Jean’s household who speaks English. It is a family of exemplary character and excellent standing in the community, and all are endowed with high regard for their New England ancestry. Notwithstanding the silence with which these Canadian kins-people were so long clothed, the knowledge of their American lineage was inherited by each generation from Josiah and Abigail, and the fact was evidenced by Jean Baptiste Raizenne in the bestowal of the name ‘Rising’ upon his son. We are all conversant with the reputed return of Abigail to Deerfield in 1713, under circumstances which challenge our credulity, but which were given credence by officials at the time, and later by Mr. Sheldon in the ‘History of Deerfield.’ I questioned Mr. Raizenne especially on this subject, and he assured me that ‘there was no tradition of such an incident in his family, but that his father often told him that Josiah and Abigail visited Deerfield after their marriage.’ If this visit has been anywhere recorded by our historians it has escaped my notice.
The deeply religious sentiments of Josiah and Abigail, and their fealty to the Catholic Church, were also inherited by their progeny. Of the eight children of Abigail, one became a priest and two were nuns, one of the latter attaining the high position of Lady Superior. In the second generation there were nine children, with one priest, four nuns, and two Sisters of Charity; while in the fourth (or present) generation, there have been two nuns. In addition to these, many of the offspring of the daughters who have married have likewise consecrated their lives. In the fourth generation, which includes Jean Baptiste Raizenne, there were ten children, of whom the elder daughter, Walburge, became Sister Raizenne, while the much younger daughter, Guillelmine, became Sister St. John the Evangelist, both Grey Sisters of the Cross, and residents at the Grey Nuns’ Convent, Ottawa, Ontario. There, Sister Raizenne died on the 12th of June last, at the age of eighty years, sixty of which she had passed in the service of the Master. Sister St. John fills the responsible position of Secretary to the Mother Superior of the Grey Nuns’ Convent, and is a woman of culture, refinement, and affectionate regard for her forbears. In 1913 she published at Ottawa a little book entitled “Notes Genealogiques sur la Famille Raizenne”, a valuable work, which covers connectedly the history of Josiah and Abigail and their direct descendants to the present time….
In the erection of this Memorial upon Godfrey Nims’ Home Lot, due respect is shown to our first American ancestor, and for the sufferings of his family. Near the far corner of Memorial Hall stands a handsome evergreen brought as a seedling by our good friend Alice Baker from the home of Josiah and Abigail at far-away Oka; while beside the house erected by their hands in the shadow of the Two Mountains are growing two elms transplanted from Godfrey’s adjoining Home Lot. If sentiment takes voice in Deerfield, its echoes resound from Canada.”
Painesville, Ohio, August 5, 1914