Holliston’s Oldest Veteran
While most locals associate Charlie Nickerson with the founding of Out Post Farm and turkeys, Nickerson now has a new title as Holliston’s oldest veteran.
Charlie found himself in New York in 1941, hoping to join the Marines. Nickerson’s six brothers had already joined the military, but his youthful appearance didn’t fool the Marine recruiter. Farming until his eighteenth birthday in two years, Nickerson joined the Army and landed at Camp Croft in South Carolina.
“My next stop was England, just in time for D-Day,” exclaimed Nickerson. By this time Nickerson had learned that his brother Andrew had died in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.
Charlie’s baptism under fire would come as a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Dropping from the sky, Nickerson worked as the Lead Reconnaissance Scout for his unit. This job often sent him well in advance of U.S. and allied lines. Nickerson’s unit was afforded a two-month return to England before returning to the war in time for the Battle of the Bulge.
The 82nd Airborne Division met up with the Russians after Nickerson’s unit crossed the Elb River. Nickerson made it to Berlin and war’s end before returning to Camp Devens and receiving his discharge. Charlie was awarded two Silver Stars and a Russian Valor Medal along with several campaign medals for his service in Europe.
Married and living in Dedham with five children, Nickerson was looking for land in Medway when a realtor suggested land in Holliston. He claims, “I’d never heard of Holliston,” when he ventured into the First National store on a hot August morning in 1957 to buy cookies to keep his kids quiet. An available realtor above the store showed Nickerson land on Prentice Street, and within a week Charlie said he purchased the twenty acres for $2,200.
Nickerson told the Reporter that he saw a construction company felling trees to make way for Route 128 and had the unwanted trees hauled to a mill in Dover. These trees became the lumber for his house on Prentice Street.
“I started out with twelve chickens and ended up with twelve thousand along with hogs—the turkeys coming later,” Nickerson recalled.
Nickerson sold his business to A.J. Collins and now lives on five acres of his previously-owned property. The bulk of his acreage was sold to Out Post Farm under a conservation restriction.
In good health, Nickerson was excited to get his Covid-19 vaccine shot at the W. Roxbury V.A. Hospital several days ago. At 95½ years of age, he is looking forward to spring.