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Charles D. Nims

Charles D. Nims was born April 2, 1811 in Rodman Township, Jefferson County, New York, the son of Sarah (Sallie) Boyden and Joel Nims, a farmer. He was educated in the common schools and began life as a farmer, like his father; he was also involved in the lumbering business for 30 years. He spent two years in California, where he was very successful, and became interested in mineralogy around 1850, taking up mineral collecting there for his own satisfaction and later as a business.

Nims married Mariah (or Maria) Howe and they settled in the small town of Philadelphia, New York, where they had four sons (Herschel, Charles D.[died young], Charles R. and Alvin) and two daughters (Hortense and Leora Bird). Nims was primarily a field-collecting mineral dealer who pioneered a great many localities in the northeastern United States; he listed his occupation on the 1870 and 1880 censuses as "mineralogist." He did not use pre-printed mineral labels, but rather scrawled the information in pencil on slips of paper.

Nims lived in a modest two-storey wood-frame house on Sand Street, and later in an elegant brick Victorian house on the same street in Philadelphia, Jefferson County, New York. Many of the specimens from northern New York in the collection of John H. Caswell (1846-1909; q.v.) and Oren Root (1808-1885; q.v.) were purchased from Nims. An unpublished Nims manuscript in the archives of the New York State Geological Survey gives details on many of the localities where he collected.

In the 1900 census, Nims appears living with his son Herschel and daughter Hortense (next door to his son Alvin), still identifying himself as a "mineralogist" at age 89. He died in 1902 or early 1903, leaving his son Alvin as his executor. Alvin advertised the sale of late father's mineral collection in the February 1903 issue of The Mineral Collector, stating: "They are the accumulation of over 50 years' research and labor. The collection is large and varied, and invoiced for over $600.00, which is much below their intrinsic value. They will not be disposed of in small lots but must all go together."

EMERSON, E.C. (1898) Our County and its People; A Descriptive Work on Jefferson County, New York. Boston History Company.
CHAMBERLAIN, S.C. (2007) Collector yarns. In Abstracts of the 34th Rochester Mineralogical Symposium, 34-35.
International Genealogical Index
Federal Census for 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 [misspelled on the 1880 census index as "Charles Wimsos"]
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Charles D. Nims 41 x 82 mm,
Hand-written and signed Nims label
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