Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls

First Term: 1877-1880

Second term: 1888-1892

Francis Nicholls portrait
  • Born: Donaldsonville, Louisiana, 1834
  • Education: Jefferson Military Academy, West Point Military Academy, University of Louisiana (Tulane)
  • Career: U.S. Army Soldier, Confederate Brigadier General, Lawyer, Governor, Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court
  • Died: Thibodaux, Louisiana, 1912

After graduating from West Point in 1855, Nicholls served as a soldier in the U.S. Army in the war against the Seminoles. He resigned his commission in 1856 to study law. While studying law, Nicholls was initiated, passed, and raised to Master Mason in the Quitman Lodge No. 76, all on August 7th and 8th in 1857. He immediately demitted from Quitman on August 12th, and became a charter member and first Junior Warden of the newly formed Perkins Lodge No. 150 in 1858. He then demitted from Perkins in 1871, and affiliated with Assumption Lodge No. 203. In 1879, Nicholls also demitted from Assumption.

In 1861, Nicholls joined the Confederate army. During his service, he rose in rank to Brigadier General. During the war, he lost his left arm in the Battle of Winchester in 1862, and his right foot in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. When the war ended in 1865, Nicholls passed the Louisiana Bar Exam and began practicing law.

As part of the national compromise of 1877, President Hayes recognized Nicholls' victory over Stephen Packard's in exchange for Louisiana's electoral votes for Hayes. Bringing an end to the Reconstruction Era, Nicholls' first term as governor began in 1877. During his first term, Nicholls presided over the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1879. One of the acts of the convention was to move the state capitol back to Baton Rouge. Nicholls was elected a second time in 1888. During his second term, Nicholls fought the corrupt Louisiana Lottery, and was ultimately successful after several setbacks when the federal government prohibited the use of the postal service to sell lottery tickets.

After his governorship, Nicholls was appointed by President Cleveland to the Board of Visitors for West Point Military Academy. In 1892, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Nicholls served out the position for the 12 year term of appointment. At the end of his term in 1904, Nicholls declined to be reappointed as Chief Justice upon the insistence of his fellow Justices. Nicholls instead took the oath for the office of Associate Justice, a position he held until his retirement in 1911. Nicholls retired from the Court at the age of 76, and died the next year in Thibodeaux, Louisiana.

Click on thumbnails below to view a full-size image:

Member card, Quitman Lodge No. 76

Perkins Lodge Dispensation, Nicholls named first Junior Warden, 1857

Junior Warden, Perkins Lodge, Work & Returns, 1857

Petition for Charter, Perkins Lodge U.D., 1858

Junior Warden, Perkins Lodge U.D., Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1858 (page 1)

Junior Warden, Perkins Lodge U.D., Grand Lodge Past Proceedings, 1858 (page 2)