Beatrice shown with her mother and brothers
Beatrice Sarah Nickel
Beatrice Sarah Nickel was the second child of Nellie Sheldon Miller and James Leroy Nickel and was Henry Miller’s first granddaughter. She was born on December 5, 1892 in San Francisco, California. Beatrice was a daughter of high society; she attended a private girl’s school with the other daughters of San Francisco’s elite. She grew up on Sacramento Street in the City. Upon graduating, her mother took her to Paris, France to study at one of the larger schools for young ladies. Mrs. Howell Safstrom, wife of the Miller & Lux foreman for the Santa Rita Ranch, remembers;
“When Mrs. Nickel went abroad with her daughter Beatrice, who graduated from a girl’s school in San Francisco, she brought back gifts to most all the women on the ranches. Mine was a very lovely sewing basket from Germany.”
With her school friends from the wealthy set in San Francisco, Beatrice hosted teas, performed in school plays, and went to lavish parties. On at least two occasions, she entertained at her Grandfather’s ranches. The party arrived by train for a weekend of horseback riding, BBQ’s, and dances in Gilroy at Bloomfield Ranch. Santa Rita Ranch, near Los Banos, was the other ranch that Beatrice brought her friends to. In the San Francisco Morning Press, Volume 42, Number 309, 24 August 1914;
A large house party is being given over this week-end by Miss Beatrice Nickel, at one of her grandfather’s ranches near Gilroy. Miss Ernestine McNear, Miss Ruth Zeile, Miss Marie Louise Black, Miss Helen Garritt, Miss Ruth Winslow, George Bowles, George Nickel and Walter Hush are among the party which is chaperoned by Mrs. Nickel.
Beatrice was introduced to society on December 19, 1912 at a formal reception held at her parents’ home in San Francisco. In the San Francisco Call, Volume 113, Number 22, 22 December 1912 in was reported;
The reception Thursday, at which Miss Beatrice Nickel was introduced by her mother, Mrs. Leroy Nickel, was a memorable affair for the debutantes and for the older friends of the family who assembled to greet the bud at her first formal party. The affair was given at the Nickel home in Sacramento street and there were several hundred guests at the hospitable residence between the hours of 4 and 7 o’clock. Those in the receiving party at the reception Thursday with Mrs. Nickel and her daughter were; Mrs. Timothy Hopkins, Miss Dorothy Page, Mrs. Edward L. Eyre, Miss Louise Janin, Mrs. K. B. Anderson, Miss Helen Garritt, Mrs. W. M. Newhall, Miss Lee Girvin, Mrs. Henry Miller Jr., Miss Christine Donohoe, Mrs. De Lancy Lewis, Miss Evelyn Cunningham, Miss Ethel Cooper, Miss Cora Otis, Miss Genevieve Cunningham, Miss Fredericka Otis, Miss Henriette Blanding, Miss Harriet Pomeroy, Miss Dora Winn, Miss Margaret Nichols, and Miss Mildred Baldwin.
Beatrice’s first husband was George McNear Bowles. George was born in Oakland, CA on October 5, 1887. At Yale, his nickname was “Duke.” Duke had attended the Thacher and Horton schools in California and Andover for a short time before entering Yale in 1907 as a freshman. George was a member of Delta Phi fraternity, Junior Smoker Committee, Kopper Kettle Klub, Thacher Club, and the Trans-Mississippi Club. In his 1910 Class biography, it states;
“Duke is not a bit worried concerning the future, but will settle down at “The Pines,” Oakland, Cal.”
He graduated Yale in 1910 at the age of 23. George came home after graduation and went to work at the American Bank in San Francisco.
It was almost inevitable that Beatrice would marry George McNear Bowles. They had grown up in the same high society of San Francisco, Beatrice’s brother George Wilmarth Nickel had married one of George Bowles cousins (Ernestine McNear Nickel) and George Bowles had been invited to both ranch excursions that Beatrice hosted. Beatrice and George married on April 17, 1917 in San Francisco. The service was officiated by F.W. Clampett. They had three children; Henry Miller Bowles, Amy Bowles Lawrence and George McNear Bowles, Jr. Their generation was the first to directly benefit from Henry Miller’s estate. George Sr. died at the early age of 49 in 1937.
After George’s death, Beatrice remarried. Her second husband was, Philip Cotting Morse. Philip was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 3, 1883. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, Class of 1904. While at Yale, Philip was a member of the S.S.S. Society. Philip’s ancestry traces back to the Mayflower descendants and Samuel Morse, the son of Rev. Thomas Morse, who immigrated to Watertown, Massachusetts Bay, British America in 1635 on the ship “Increase”. Morse Hall at Yale is named for Samuel Morse. One of the Philip’s early ancestors changed the name Cutting to Cotting. The culprit was Dr. Amos Cotting who was born in 1751 in Marlborough, Middlesex, Massachusetts, British America. Dr. Amos’s father was Richard Cutting, Jr. Philip died on May 25, 1954 in Contra Costa, California at the age of 71.
Between the years of 1954 and 1962, Beatrice was involved with the $110 Million, Miller & Lux Law Suit which named 145 heirs. Beatrice passed away on December 10, 1962 at the age of 70 in San Francisco.
Edited by Charles Sawyer, Interviews by Ralph Milliken, One Man Show Henry Miller in the San Joaquin, (Los Banos: Ralph Milliken Museum Society, 2003)
San Francisco Morning Press, Volume 42, Number 309, 24 August 1914
San Francisco Call, Volume 113, Number 22, 22 December 1912
History of the Class of 1910, Yale College, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1910
History of the Class of 1904, Yale College, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1904
I hope that you found this story interesting and enjoyed learning more about Beatrice Sarah Nickel Bowles Morse.
Next, we will explore the life of Henry Miller Nickel.
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