William Nickerson, Jr., was a pioneer and entrepreneur of Black business in Los Angeles, and an enthusiastic visionary, a humanitarian and motivator to many African Americans.  He was the founder and first president of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, the first African American life insurance company on the west coast and the largest African American life insurance company in the state of California.

2 Responses to About

  1. I am Michael Phillips, an historian and professor at Collin College in Plano, Texas, and the author of “White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001.” I have been contracted by Bishop College alumni organization to write a history of Bishop College. Mr. Nickerson was one of school’s most important and successful alums. I was hoping to interview members of the Nickerson family so I could include detail of his life at Bishop and his experiences as a businessman. Please reach me at mphillips3925@earthlink.net or call me at 214-697-9058. I think that Mr. Nickerson’s story is very important, so I hope to hear from you soon. I must finish this project by the end of November. Thank you for your time and consideration.


    Michael Phillips

  2. Velma E. Phlegm Watson says:

    William Nickerson, Jr. was my grandmother’s first cousin. I was told that he grew up in Camilla, TX and finished high school in Coldspring, TX. I was told that he went to Wiley College, then Bishop College and then to Prairie View College. Upon completing college he returned to Coldspring, TX and taught school there for several years and then went to Houston, TX. Being in Houston, he was introduced to and became employed with an insurance company and was finally given the opportunity to move to California to start an insurance company that would provide burial and life insurance to Blacks, as California did not offer burial or life insurance to Blacks. After going there and creating his business , the Golden Gate Life Insurance Company, he returned to Texas and carried a railroad car full of local Blacks to California, which was the reason many of our people got to California. His business was the largest Black on business west of the MS River in the late 20 and early thirties. I had emailed his descendent(s) who had William’s Family Tree shown and I explained that they had his lineage incorrect and I offered to assist them in correcting it. I never received a response and finally I got an email asking to sign a petition that would block the then Governor of California, Arnold Swatsnegger from selling the William Nickerson. Jr’ s Art Collection. Since then I have had no other correspondence from his descendants. If you want his family history and tree I will share that with you also.
    My telephone number is 281-446-3738 and I am so thankful that someone in Texas is trying to give him the honor he deserves.

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