The most common spelling of our name in German is NIKOLAUS.It is here in America that the most spelling variations exist. As our ancestors came thru their ports of entry the name was 'americanized'and has changed more over the ensuing years as people 'mis-spelled' it further.
I'm sorry to say that our family name is also one of the most common German surnames and most of us will not be directly related. It makes it very difficult to do research if you do not have a basic knowledge of where your NICKLAUS family is from and/or the approximate time period they arrived in this country.
When the first massive waves ofimmigrants first left Germany in the 1700's many did not immigrate just to the United States. Catherine the Great of Russia had opened up the Volga to thousands of German farmers in hopes that they could produce the crops that the Russian peasants could not. Alexander I opened up the Black Sea area around Odessa for the same purpose. Most of these Germans eventually fled the the pograms and conscriptions and starvation of czarist Russia under Alexander II. These Germans arrived in the U.S. much later than those who settled the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio areas. Known as 'Germans From Russia' these Germans came in the late 1800's and early 1900's and settled mostly in the plains states of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and in Canada. Still others went to South America. Today there are over a million Germans 'stuck' in Russia. They have never been allowed to assimilate into the Russian population and do not want to do so. Like my NICKLAUS family many of these Germans fled back to Germany before coming on to the United States but many did not.
Also earlier Germans had gone to Africa and South America. This was long before WWII, which is mostly what people think of first when considering Nazi's fleeing Germany.The reason they fled to Argentina, Chilé, Paraguay and others was because those countries already had large populations of Germans who were well established after 150-200 years of immigration.
The majority of Germans who left in the 1700's came mainly from the Rhineland/Phalz district of Germany and the Alscace district of France that had been descimated by plagues, famines and wars between the two countries. Depending on who won what battle decided if you were in France that night or Germany. Essentially it's all the same people, the borders just kept changing.
I hope this has been of some assistance or given you clues as to what you might search for.Remember, start with yourself, then your parents and grandparents. With diligence you can be successful even with a name as common as NICKLAUS.It will just be slower and more tedious.
I do not have the resources to help anyone with their specific family. This genforum just seemed to be floundering around a bit and I thought this information might help.