A Little More about Nicolaus Allgeier

I have written before about Nicolaus Allgeier, for whom the town of Nicolaus was named. His first employer in California, John Sutter, assigned him to run a ferry on the Feather River. John Bidwell often stopped at his place in the early 1850s and sometimes assisted Allgeier, who was illiterate, with his business affairs.

In 1884 Hubert Howe Bancroft, or one of his many assistants, wrote to Bidwell and asked about a number of early pioneers. Bidwell wrote back with information — how he had known the men in the early days and what had become of them, to the best of his knowledge. He wrote:

Tonight’s mail brings me yours of the 5th inst. Will try to answer some of your questions: — Nicolaus Altgeir died, but I cannot give the date. He lived on Feather river about one mile below the town of Nicolaus which was named after him. I last saw him in (I think) 1852, and I think he died as late as 1853 or 4 or possibly 5. Henry Brickwedel of San Francisco had charge of his children and property and could probably if living give the exact date of his death.

Bidwell had a phenomenal memory for California history, but he was wrong about Allgeier’s date of death. According to Probate Court records of Sutter County, which can be viewed on Ancestry.com, he died on December 3rd, 1866.

Henry Brickwedel, like Nicolaus Allgeier a native of Germany, did indeed take charge of his children and his estate. Nicolaus had married Maria Stack, a native of Austria. They had at least three children, a boy and two girls. Maria died in 1859. The girls, Ottilia (or Delia) and Mary Augusta, survived their parents.

Nicolaus had cohabited with one or more Indian women before he married Maria, and no doubt he had children from those relationships. There is a Nicolaus Algier listed in the 1885 directory for Yuba, Sutter, Colusa, Butte, and Tehama Counties (also Ancestry.com) Maybe that was one of those children.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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