Caroline Zilpha Nicholls (1840 - 1930)
Caroline Zilpha Gaion was born at Ridgefield Plantaion near Thibodaux. She married Francis Tillou Nicholls on April 26, 1860, just as the Civil War was beginning to heat up. Ridgefield was her dowry. She herself was barely five feet tall, a petite and exceptionally pretty by accounts of the time. When the war broke out, she decided that rather than stay on the plantation, she would follow her husband and remain as close to the battlefield as possible. When she received word that he had been mortally wounded, she commandeered a wagon, mule and driver, and went to fetch him. She learned that he was still alive, though he had lost an arm, but was a prisoner behind Union lines. Badgering the Union command repeatedly for his release, she was described by one Union officer as a "fairy-like creature, plucky as a terrier". Eventually, she was able to get Francis exchanged for a Union prisoner. Francis went back to the battle lines, and a year later lost a leg as well. Even missing his left arm and leg, Francis was determined enough to be elected governor of Louisiana in 1877, the first term after Reconstruction. He was re-elected for a second term as well. In a famous speech nominating him, Tay Goode of Terrebonne Parish announced "I give you all that is left of Francis Nichols, because all that is left of him is right!" During their marriage, Caroline managed to bear seven surviving children, even though one out of every three of her pregnancies resulted in a lost child. In 1910, Francis and Caroline celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He passed away in 1912; when she died in 1930, her last words were, "Open the door and let General Nicholls in."