James C. Nelson, a prosperous and substantial farmer of this county, the character of whose citizenship has
been of great benefit to the community, is a native of Wayne county, Ohio, who was born February 5, 1834, a son
of Mathew and Mary (Dawson) Nelson. His father was a native of Pennsylvania, but migrated to Ohio at an early date
and in the fall of 1841 came by wagon to Washington county, Iowa, locating in what is now Washington township.
The land was in a primitive condition and he was among the. pioneers of the county. He engaged in farming until
his death, which occurred here March 6, 1885, his remains being interred in the old Washington cemetery. He was
a republican politically, always loyal to the candidates of his party, a lover of home life and a man who put forth
every effort to make his domestic environment conducive to the highest degree of happiness. His wife, to whom he
was married in Ohio, was born in Pennsylvania, March 15, 1810, and entered into rest in this county, September
25, 1873, her remains being interred beside those of her husband.
To them were born the following children: Barbara Jane, who passed away in infancy; James C.; Joseph, living on
the old homestead; Robert, who served during the Civil war in the Eleventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry and met death
in a railroad collision near Lafayette, Indiana, October 13, 1864; William, born March 23, 1843, who was a member
of the Twenty fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry and now pursues agriculture on a farm near Keota, this state; Alexander,
born January 2, 1846, a resident of this county; and. M. H., born November 1, 1848, a real estate dealer of Spokane,
James C. Nelson, after acquiring his education in the public schools, remained upon the home farm until 186x, when
he enlisted in Company H, Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry for three years' service and during the conflict participated
in the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. He was subsequently detched and assigned to the hospital corps,
serving as a nurse until he received an honorable discharge at the close of the war. He then returned to this county
and became a clerk in a grocery store, the duties of which position he performed for one year, when, in company
with an uncle and others; he bought out the business and conducted it successfully for two years. He then disposed
of his interest and turned his attention to farming in Washington township, where he has since resided with the
exception of two years spent in travel through Nebraska, Kansas and California. He owns eighty acres of highly
improved and productive land, upon which he engages in general farming, making a specialty of fruit growing, being
particularly successful in raising peaches.
On May 11, 1875, Mr. Nelson wedded Jennie Neal, a native of New York state, born November x, 185o, her people having
come to this county when she was one year of age. Her father, William Neal, was born in Ireland, of Scotch extraction,
and came to the United States after he was married, locating in Herkimer county, New York. In 185o he came to this
county by the river route, settling five miles south of the town of Washington, where he lived for a few years,
later removing to a farm north of that place. He lived there until five years before his death, and for a time
lived within the town corporation. His life was terminated in 1900, his remains being interred in Elm Grove cemetery.
His wife, a native of the Emerald isle, where they were united in marriage, still survives. To them were born eleven
children, namely: Charles, deceased; Jennie; Ellen, a trained nurse residing in Davenport, this state; Mrs. Emma
George, who lives near. Superior, Nebraska; Mrs. Becky George, who makes her home on a farm near Ames, Iowa; Mrs.
Anna Stephenson, who is in the general merchandise business in Blackwell, Oklahoma; Mrs. Margaret Donaldson, who
resides on a farm in Brookings, South Dakota; Mrs. Nettie Alger, of Frankfort, South Dakota; Samuel, an agriculturist
of Washington township; Mrs. Howton, who resides with her mother; and Mrs. D. M. Palmer, who lives on a farm in
this county. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Nelson, namely: Mrs. Robert Maxwell, of this county; and
George, at home.
Politically, Mr. Nelson supports the republican party, having always been loyal to its candidates. He attends divine
services at the Associate Presbyterian church and his upright walk together with his industry and enterprise have
merited him the reputation which he has won as an honored representative of his community.
History of Washington County, Iowa
From the First White Settlement to 1908
BY: Howard A. Burrell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Washington County, IA
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