About 1869, at the age of about 8, Lawrence Nicely came to Dayton from Pennsylvania with his parents, Shannon and Mary Taylor Nicely, his brother John, and his sister Lena (who would marry Dr. Jerome H. Crouse). Another brother, William, was born in Dayton in 1873. Lawrence, whose nickname was Fat, played on the community baseball team and in the Dayton Band. He married Olive Wright.
In 1891 Lawrence took title (from George and Catherine Kellenberger and Kosta Slayback) to a lot on the northwest corner of Walnut and Jackson Streets (the latter now Dayton Road). The site has been the location of a store since at least the late 1870s, for the 1878 Atlas shows a drug store there. The identities of other businesses have not been established. With brother John, Lawrence is said to have bought out "John Norse's stock" in a local general store, the location of which is unclear. Later Lawrence bought out his brother and was the sole proprietor.
Lawrence Nicely's store was a grocery and general merchandise. The building sat diagonally on the lot, facing the intersection. There were rooms on the second floor, which sometimes were rented and sometimes served as family quarters for the store owner. Nicely served as postmaster from June 1897 to 1914, and the post office was located in his store during those years. He was also the local agent for the Interurban after it was built in 1903. Although Nicely died in 1919, the business continued into the mid 1920s. The following description of the Nicely store is taken from "Sesqui 77" (Ed. Ruth Dilden and Bonnie Andrews; publ. 1977):
"A visit to the Nicely store while [Nicely] was postmaster would undoubtedly have revealed a sight of smoked hams and sausages hanging from the ceiling, barrels, cracker tins, and wooden boxes of goods to be sold. Most food was scooped from bulk containers into brown kraft sacks and tied with cotton string. Unwrapped bar soap and later bulk soap chips were offered. . . . In all probability Mr. Nicely would have sold kerosene for lights, as well, with the user bringing a gallon container for him to fill. Since the sign on his store said "general merchandise" we will assume he had yard goods, thread and buttons, probably shoes, and some hardware. One thing Mary Ellen (Baker) Bowers remembers was that in the 1920's [the] cookies came in boxes that fit into a rack. [The proprietor] purposely kept this rack low and handy so that little children could reach them. Her mother [Wilma Baker] scolded him for this because the children didn't understand why they couldn't do the same thing in other stores."
At Olive Nicely's death in 1921 there were no immediate heirs because the couple's only son had died the previous year. She left the property to Joe Crum, who was a nephew. The business continued as Nicely's Store under several different proprietors, and is so listed in several Tippecanoe County business directories for the 1920s. In 1927 the store is not in the directory. It was about that time that Crum moved the store building to Dayton Road and made a double house out of it. He built a brick service station on the site of the old store, and in 1931 he first appears listed as postmaster and proprietor of a Standard Oil Service Station.
The couple had one son, Max Wright Nicely, who died in 1920. Lawrence was vice president of the Bank of Dayton. He was a Mason and a member of the Oddfellows and the Knights of Pythias. The Nicelys were Presbyterians.
Shannon Nicely (1835 - 1905)
Mary Nicely (1839 - 1921)
Olive Wright Nicely (1866 - 1921)
Created by: Susan Yost Clawson
Record added: Aug 24, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21141290