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The face of Lucy Higgs Nichols begins to emerge from the limestone after about 20 days of working on the sculpture. FILE PHOTO 

NEW ALBANY — The installation of a Lucy Higgs Nichols sculpture in the Underground Railroad Gardens is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, behind Second Baptist Church, 300 E. Main St., New Albany.

Padgett will transport and set the limestone sculpture of Nichols, a slavery freedom seeker, Civil War hero, and member of the church. The sculpture of Nichols by artist David Ruckman was commissioned by the Friends of the Town Clock Church.

Nichols, born a slave in 1838, was owned by the Higgs family that lived near Bolivar, Tennessee. She gained her freedom in 1862 by escaping to the 23rd Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers, encamped nearby. She worked as a nurse for the soldiers as they fought in many major battles in the Civil War. She mustered out with them in Louisville in 1865. Nichols came to New Albany with returning veterans of the 23rd regiment. She married John Nichols in 1870. Nichols applied for pension after Congress passed the 1892 act for Civil War nurses; she was denied. In 1895, Nichols again petitioned Congress, and in 1898 a special act of Congress awarded her pension Lucy was one of the first African-American women to receive such a pension for her service in the Civil War. Nichols was an active honorary member of the Grand Army of the Republic. She was a member of the second Baptist church, died in 1915, and is buried in New Albany.

Friends of the Town Clock Church thanked Samtec Cares, which issued a grant to make the commemorative art possible, as well as the many other donors whose funds made the piece possible. Also, gratitude was given to Padgett “and all they have done and continue to contribute to projects like this,” a news release stated

The Friends of the Town Clock Church is a non-profit organization dedicated to the ongoing maintenance, beautification, fundraising, and long-term planning for the historical building. To contribute to the ongoing restoration or construction of the gardens, contact Jerry Finn, treasurer of the Friends of the Town Clock Church, 812-945-4332, jfinn@horseshoefoundation.org. Information about the Friends group and the history of the Town Clock Church and the role it played in the Underground Railroad in the Metro area, is available at TownClockChurch.org.