Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

HCGL Manuscripts | HCGL Databases | Reference Services | CAC Homepage

Nicholson Transit Company - GLMS 52

Introduction | Organizational History | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


This 6.5 cubic foot collection was donated to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes by George McBride of the Nicholson Terminal and Dock Company of River Rouge, Michigan, on February 7, 1983. An instrument of gift was signed on March 10, 1983.

Literary and property rights were dedicated to the public. Photocopying is permitted for purposes of conservation and research.

Organizational History

The Nicholson Transit Company began its operations during 1919 at Ecorse, Michigan. This Great Lakes shipping company was one of a number of enterprises run by Captain William Nicholson (born 1863) and other members of the Nicholson family. Beginning with the steamer ROUMANIA, Nicholson Transit grew to have a fourteen vessel fleet in 1950. Automobile and sand transportation occupied many of the Nicholson vessels during their sailing careers.

Many business ventures of Nicholson Transit were accomplished in conjunction with the Nicholson Universal Steamship Company based in Detroit, Michigan. In 1927 the Nicholson Terminal and Dock company was founded in River Rouge, Michigan. Between these three businesses the Nicholsons handled cargo throughout the Great Lakes from the time of loading in one port, through transit to a second port, to unloading in the port of arrival. An interlocked network of shipping and stevedoring companies emerged.

The Nicholson Terminal and Dock Company became, by the late 1950s, the primary interests of the Nicholsons. The steamship lines were gradually being phased out. The ten vessel fleet was sold after the 1962 shipping season.

Scope and Content

This 6.5 cubic food collection provides information on the business transactions of the Nicholson Transit company for the years 1923-1925. Daily correspondence and financial papers document the relationship of the Nicholson Company with customers and product suppliers from whom company purchases were made.

Two cubic feet of general correspondence files allow the researcher to examine businesses for which the Nicholson Company provided Great Lakes transportation services. Automobile manufacturers and dealers appear in many of these files. The topics of discussion center on fee schedules used by the Nicholsons and complaints by customers that items were damaged during shipment.

A half cubic foot series of subject correspondence provides further material to researchers regarding the business network in which the Nicholson Transit Company operated. Supplies of equipment to the Nicholson fleet appear in this series.

Two cubic feet of financial papers provide details on company expenditures for the Nicholson fleet. Expense vouchers, fee collection information, and receipts form most of the financial records.

Correspondence and financial papers for two subsidiaries of the Nicholson Transit Company also are included. One cubic foot of files on the Detroit and Kingsville Navigation Company replicate the type of information seen earlier for the Nicholson Company. One cubic foot of records for the International Sand and Gravel Company reflects sales of gravel and equipment purchases for this business.

Series Description


Boxes 1-2
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains an alphabetical correspondence file created by the Nicholson Transit Company. This file documents the relationship between the Nicholson Company and many of its customers. Automobile manufacturers and dealers appear frequently in this series. Discussions center on delivery schedules to the various Great Lakes cities receiving shipments from the Michigan manufacturing centers. Other files appear regarding vendors who sold products such as fuel oil to the Nicholson Company.

Box 3
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains a subject file of correspondence between the Nicholson Transit Company and businesses with which transactions were conducted. A number of files on casualty claims appear to document complaints from customers regarding goods damaged during shipment.


1923-1925, 1978
Box 4, Folders 1-30
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains financial documents from the Nicholson Transit Company. Expense vouchers, collection information for fees, and banking information form most of the files in this series.

Box 4, Folders 31-63, Box 5
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains receipts from business transactions of the Nicholson Company. Items appear from customers and service vendors for shipping companies.


Correspondence, A-W
Box 6
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains correspondence of the Detroit and Kingsville Navigational Company and its customers. Correspondence regarding purchases of supplies for the shipping company are also included.

Box 7
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains bank statements, expense vouchers, receipts, and other records of business transactions.

Box 8, folders 1-125
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains correspondence regarding buisness transactions involving shipment of gravel to customers and purchases of equipment by the International Sand and Gravel Company.

Box 8, folders 126-134
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains expense vouchers and invoices regarding sales of gravel and equipment purchases for the International Sand and Gravel Company.


Box 1: Nicholson Transit Company, General Correspondence, A-M, 1922-1923

Box 2: Nicholson Transit Company, General Correspondence, N-Z, 1922-1923

Box 3


  1. Attachment-Edward H. Baker Corporation, 1925
  2. Casualty Claims A-H, 1922-1924
  3. Casualty Claims, I-P, 1922-1924
  4. Casualty Claims, Q-Z, 1922-1924
  5. Casualty Claims, Open--Buffalo-Studebaker, 1923-1924
  6. Casualty Claims, Open--Buffalo/Misc., 1923-1924
  7. Casualty Claims, Open--Cleveland, 1923-1924
  8. Casualty Claims, Open--Milwaukee, 1923-1924
  9. Chicago Agent, Bills of lading, 1923
  10. Chicago Agent, Morton C. Jones, Correspondence, 1923
  11. Chicago Agent, Walter Jones, auto damage claims, 1923
  12. Chicago Agent, Walter Jones correspondence with Detroit office, 1923
  13. Chicago Agent, Walter Jones, Misc. correspondence, 1923
  14. Chicago Agent, Walter Jones, telegrams, 1923
  15. Detroit Warehouse Piling, 1925
  16. Edwards Motor Co., 1923
  17. E. J. Ellis, 1922
  18. Insurance, 1922-1924
  19. LIBERTY, conversions project, 1927
  20. US Steamboat Inspection Service circulars, 1925
  21. US Steamboat Inspection Service, forms, 1925

Box 4: FINANCIAL PAPERS, B-V, General, 1923-1925, 1978, and Receipts B-G, 1923


  1. Book deposits, 1923
  2. Collections--Buffalo Freight Terminal, 1923
  3. Collections--Buffalo Freight Terminal, 1923
  4. Collections--Buffalo, E. P. Morrill Agent, 1922-1923
  5. Collections--Chicago, Slaters Fireproof Storage Co., Agent, 1923
  6. Collections--Cleveland, Charles H. Carstens, Agent, 1923
  7. Collections--Cleveland, Charles H. Carstens, Agent, 1923
  8. Collections--Cleveland, W. S. Jones, Agent, 1923
  9. Collections--Cleveland, William F. Oakes, Agent, 1923
  10. Collections--Milwaukee, Scott and Co., Agent, 1923
  11. Collections--Studebaker Corp., Agent, 1923
  12. Credit Memos, 1923
  13. Expense Vouchers, A, Sundries, 1923
  14. Expense Vouchers, William Baxter, 1923
  15. Expense Vouchers, W. S. Brown, 1923
  16. Expense Vouchers, A. R. Emig, 1923
  17. Expense Vouchers, Morton C. Jones, 1923
  18. Expense Vouchers, Walter S. Jones, 1923
  19. Expense Vouchers, W. L. McDougall, 1923
  20. Expense Vouchers, Misc. 1923
  21. Expense Vouchers, Misc. 1923
  22. Expense Vouchers, E. P. Morrill, 1923
  23. Expense Vouchers, John F. Oakes, 1923
  24. Expense Vouchers, David Smith, 1923
  25. Expense Vouchers, C. M. Tobin, 1923
  26. Expense Vouchers, Russ Tobin, 1923
  27. Hupp Motor Co., 1923
  28. Journal Entries, 1923
  29. Nicholson Terminal Dock Co., 1978
  30. Vessel Repair Charges, 1925
  31. -63. Receipts, B-G, 1923

Box 5: FINANCIAL PAPERS, Receipts, H-W, 1923

Box 6: SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES--Detroit and Kingsville Navigation Company, Correspondence, A-W, 1923

Box 7: SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES--Detroit and Kingsville Navigation Company, Financial Papers, B-W, 1923

Box 8: SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES--International Sand and Gravel Company, Correspondence A-W, 1922-1923, Financial Papers, E-I, 1923

HCGL Manuscript Checklist | Business & Commerce