Spouse: Marilla Smith
b: Aug/1824 - OH
d: 22/Aug/1910 - bur: Jefferson Cem., Greene Co., IA
Child-1: Sarah - b: 7/Feb/1842 - Van Buren Co., Iowa Terr.
d: 7/Apr/1921 - Taylor Co., IA - bur: Clearfield Cem., Ringgold Co.
m: John Beatty - 11/Aug/1864 - Morgan Co., OH
2: Jennie Amanda
3: James - b: 1847 - OH - nra: 1860
4: Peter - b: Dec/1848 - OH
m: Emeline ***** - 1870/1871
5: Nancy Ellen - b: 14/Nov/1850 - OH
d: ~1921 - bur: Colbaugh Cem., Madison Co., AR
m: James Calvin Ellis - 20/May/1868
6: Mary Elizabeth - b: 28/July/1852 - OH
d: 4/Apr/1932 - bur: Graceland Park Cem., Sioux City, Woodbury Co., IA
m: Elijah Ferrel - 7/Jul/1872 - Wayne Co., IA
7: Samuel - b: 1855 - OH - nra: 1870
8: Robert A. - b: 1857 - OH
d: 1940 - bur: Jefferson Cem., Greene Co., IA
m: Clarrisa Coffman -10/Sep/1882 - Wayne Co., IA
9: William - b: 1859 - OH
d: 2/Feb/1940 - bur: Jefferson Cem., Greene Co., IA
m: Alice A. Harris - 17/Feb/1881 - Allerton, Wayne Co., IA
10: Sylvester T. - b: 28/Mar/1861 - OH
d: 4/May/1935 - Harvey, Cook Co., IL - bur: Washington Memory Gardens
m: Minerva Jennie Webb - 16/Jan/1889 - Jefferson, Greene Co., IA
11: Hester or Esther A. - b: 1863/1864 - OH - nra: 1880
12: Wesley - b: 1865 - OH - nra: 1885
13: Eli S. - b: 1867 - MO
m: Emma Carrie Shannon - 2/Jul/1891 - Jefferson, Greene Co., IA
14: George D. - b: 1869 - IA
m: Maude I. ***** - 1904/1905
15: Alice Belle - b: 2/Aug/1871 - IA
d: 2/Dec/1937 - bur: Jefferson Cem., Greene Co., IA
m: Lewis A. Harris - 23/Oct/1890 - Ringgold Co., IA
m: William Newton Abraham - 3/Jul/1902 - Greene Co., IA
The surname "Nelson" is an obvious patronymic, but the associated etymology is surprisingly complex.1 Of course, for recent Scandinavian immigrants, the surname arises merely as an Americanization of patronymics such as "Nilsen", "Nielsen", or "Nilsson". However, the surname "Nelson" is found in North America much earlier and, accordingly, is in this case of English or Scottish or, perhaps, German origin. Within this context, it can be recognized as a patronymic derived from the Irish Gaelic proper name "Niall", which is thought to mean "champion".2 This name was adopted by Norse invaders of Ireland (the Vikings) in the ninth and tenth centuries and, hence, was indirectly introduced into the British Isles by the Normans in the eleventh century. Consequently, it has been common in English-speaking lands ever since.Source Notes and Citations:
Jacob Nelson was born in Pennsylvania in 1815, but essentially nothing is known regarding his parents or early life. Even so, in the population schedule of the 1880 US Census for Wayne County, Iowa, Jacob identified Pennsylvania as the birthplace of both of his parents. In addition, according to family tradition the family was of "Pennsylvania Dutch" ancestry; however, there is no definitive confirmation of this.3 Jacob evidently moved to Van Buren County in the Iowa Territory, before 1842. He married Marilla Smith about 1840; however, the location is unknown.4 Census records of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 indicate that they were the parents of fifteen children, but it is not known how many of these survived to adulthood. Nevertheless, in 1900 and 1910, Marilla Smith Nelson indicated that she was the mother of twelve children, eleven of which were then still living. This suggests that of the fifteen children, three probably died as children or adolescents (perhaps, James, Peter, and Samuel), one died as an adult before 1900 (perhaps, Hester or Wesley), and the remaing eleven were still alive; however, this is merely speculation. Furthermore, according to the obituary of their oldest daughter, Sarah, the family moved to Morgan County, Ohio, about 1843 or 1844 and remained in either Morgan (or Hocking) County until after the Civil War.5 Even so, before 1870, the family returned to southern Iowa but evidently after a short stay in Missouri, since son, Eli, was born in Missouri about 1867. They then settled in Wayne County, Iowa. Of course, Jacob Nelson was a farmer and as was the case of many pioneers in the nineteenth century, was likely motivated to move frequently in an effort to acquire good land. Therefore, it is not surprising that he moved between, Iowa, Ohio, and Missouri as well as between counities within a single state. Jacob Nelson died in the autumn of 1893 and was buried in the Clearfield Cemetery in Ringgold County, Iowa. His widow evidently survived him and in 1900 was living with her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Ferrel, in Greene County, Iowa. Likewise, in 1910 she was living with her son, George, still in Greene County; however, she died that same year and was buried in Jefferson Cemetery.
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated. (Available electronically at www.oxford-americanfamilynames.com)
"1. English and Scottish: patronymic from the medieval personal name Nel or Neal, Anglo-Scandinavian forms of the Gaelic name Niall (see Neill). This was adopted by the Scandinavians in the form Njal and was introduced into northern England and East Anglia by them, rather than being taken directly from Gaelic.
2. Americanized spelling of the like-sounding Scandinavian names Nilsen, Nielsen, and Nilsson."
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"Irish and Scottish: reduced form of Irish Gaelic Ó Néill or Scottish Gaelic Mac Néill 'descendant (or son) of Niall', a personal name of Irish origin, thought to mean 'champion'. The personal name was adopted by Norsemen in the form Njáll, and was brought to England both directly from Ireland by Scandinavian settlers and indirectly (via France) by the Normans. Among the latter it had taken the form Ni(h)el, which was altered by folk etymology to the Latin name Nigellus."
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3. The Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch) are a cultural or ethnic group consisting of early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and their subsequent descendants. Immigration of German settlers to the English colonies in North America, particularly Pennsylvanis, began in the late seventeenth century and continued into the late eighteenth century. (Of course, there were many later German immigrants; however, these did not become identifed as Pensylvania Dutch.). The first large emigration of Germans to North America motivated establishment of the Borough of Germantown in northwest Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, on October 6, 1683. The majority of early German immigrants originated in southwestern Germany, i.e., Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, Alsace, and even Switzerland. Within this context, the word "Dutch" does not indicate immigrants from the Netherlands or their descendants or language, but is a corruption of the German word "Deutsch", which is exactly equivalent to the English word "German" (as in "Deutschland", which translates into English simply as Germany) Concomitantly, many German cultural practices continue to the present and German-Americans remain the largest ancestry group in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Dutch people were of variouss religious affiliations, but the greatest number were Lutheran or Reformed; however, there were many Anabaptists as well. Indeed, Anabaptist tradition has come down to the present day in various Mennonite denominations. Moreover, Anabaptist tradition advocates a simple lifestyle and adherents are commonly known as "Plain people" (or "Plain Dutch'), in contrast to the "Fancy Dutch" who assimilated readily into "English" American culture.
Subsequently, the various dialects spoken by early German immigrants combined to form a unique dialect known as Pennsylvania German (commonly called Pennsylvania Dutch). Indeed, at its peak of usage more than one third of the population of Pennsylvania spoke this language, which, as might be expected, significantly modified the local English dialect. Even so, following the Second World War, use of Pennsylvania German declined precipitously in favor of English, except among traditional Anabaptists, viz., Old Order Mennonites and Old Order Amish. Indeed, Pennsylvania German as spoken by Old Order Amish and Mennonites in the United States and Canada, closely resembles West Central German and, accordingly, is closely related to the Alsatian language. At present there are probably more than 300,000 native speakers of Pennsylvania German in North America.
Speakers of the language dialect are now primarily located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and other states of the American Midwest, as well as in the Canadian Province of Ontario. Historically, Pennsylvania German was also spoken in several other regions, but usage has either largely or entirely disappeared. Indeed, usage of Pennsylvania German as a street language in urban areas of Pennsylvania, viz., Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, and York, was already in decline at the beginning of the twentieth century, but in more rural areas usage continued to be widespread through World War II. Nevetheless following the War usage greatly declined even in these regions. The only exception to the decline of Pennsylvania German is in Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities, and presently members of these two communitities represent the majority of Pennsylvania German speakers. For completeness, it should be noted that other North and South American Mennonites of Dutch and Prussian origin speak what is actually a Low German dialect, referred to as "Plautdietsch", which is quite different from Pennsylvania German.
Despite predictions of extinction in the near future, Pennsylvania German, which has been spoken for four centuries in North America, has only increased in usage. Even so, it has shifted westward with approximately 160,000 speakers in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and other Midwestern states. Indeed, a small but growing number of Pennsylvania German speakers exist in Upper Barton Creek and Springfield in Belize among Old Order Mennonites. Although, native speakers of Pensylvania German that do not descend fron Anabaptists generally do not pass the language on to their children. In contrast, Old Order Amish and Mennonites do so in the current generation and there is no indication that this practice will end in the future. Even though Old Order Amish and Mennonites were originally only a minority of Pennsylvania German-speakers, they now represent the majority. According to one scholar, "today, almost all Amish are functionally bilingual in Pennsylvania Dutch and English; however, domains of usage are sharply separated. Pennsylvania Dutch dominates in most in-group settings, such as the dinner table and preaching in church services. In contrast, English is used for most reading and writing. English is also the medium of instruction in schools and is used in business transactions and often, out of politeness, in situations involving interactions with non-Amish. Finally, the Amish read prayers and sing in Standard, or High, German (Hoch Deitsch) at church services. The distinctive use of three different languages serves as a powerful conveyor of Amish identity." Although "the English language is being used in more and more situations," nonetheless Pennsylvania German is "one of a handful of minority languages in the United States that is neither endangered nor supported by continual arrivals of immigrants." There have been significant efforts to advance usage of the language. Kutztown University offers a complete minor program in Pennsylvania German Studies. The program includes two full semesters of the Pennsylvania German language. (unpublished notes)
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4. "Sylvester T. Nelson was born March 28, 1861 in Ohio, the son of Jacob Nelson & Marilla Smith. He married Minerva Jennie Webb in Iowa, USA. Sylvester T. Nelson and family were in the Jan 1, 1925 Iowa State Census Des Moines, Polk Co., IA, and had children named: Stella M. Nelson (Guy R. Alcox) Alcox; Fred Nelson (Lula Troutman); and Winifred Nelson (may not have married?). By 1930 Sylvester Nelson & family were in Thornton, Cook Co., IL, USA. Sylvester T. Nelson died May 4, 1935 in Harvey, Co., IL, USA. Information from Illinois Death Records. Death Certificate states he was buried in Hazelwood Cemetery, Cook Co., IL, USA. By the 1940 Federal Census of Thornton, Cook Co., IL, USA, lists Minerva J. Nelson as, mother, female, white, age 73, widowed, 7th grade, born IA, lived same place in 1935, housework and was living in the household of Stella M Alcox her daughter." Harvey County does not exist, but the municipality of Harvey lies in Cook County. Likewise, Sylvester Nelson was not buried in Hazelwood Cemetery. (Washington Memory Gardens, Cook County, Illinoia (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=108756&CScn=Washington+Memory&CScntry=4&CSst=16&CScnty=705&, continuously updated).)
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5. "Mrs. John Beatty Sarah Nelson was born in Van Buren County, Iowa on Feb. 7, 1843. When about two years of age, the family moved to Morgan County, Ohio, where she lived until after the Civil War. On August 11, 1864, she was united in marriage to John Beatty. To this union five children, four sons and one daughter, all of whom are living, and all but Will present at their mother's side in her last illness.
They moved to Illinois soon after the marriage, and resided there until the spring of 1871; when they moved to Ringgold County, Iowa, and with the exception of five years spent at Bloomington, Illinois, they lived continuously in Ringgold and Taylor counties, Iowa until their going away. Mr. Beatty died Feb. 7th this year.
Sarah Nelson joined the Methodist church early in life and has been active in church work ever since. She will be much missed in church, Sunday School, and in the societies of which she was a member. She passed away at her home in Clearfield, April 7, 1921 being 78 years and 2 months of age.
The services were held in the Clearfield Methodist church at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th, Rev. Douglass officiated. The pallbearers were grandsons of the deceased. The floral offerings were numerous and beautiful. Interment was in Clearfield Cemetery, by the side of the husband so recently gone before." It is likely that Sarah's birth year was 1842 rather than 1843. (obituary: Clearfield Enterprise, Clearfield, IA, Thur., Apr. 14, 1921)
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6. 1850 US Census Population Schedule for Morgan County, Ohio, National Archives, Washington DC: pgs. 40A, (microfilm: roll M432_715; img. 81).
7. 1860 US Census Population Schedule for Hocking County, Ohio, National Archives, Washington DC: pgs. 16A-B, (microfilm roll - M653_988; imgs. 32-3).
8. 1870 US Census Population Schedule for Wayne County, Iowa, National Archives, Washington DC: pgs. 377A-B, (microfilm roll - M593_425; imgs. 266-7).
9. 1880 US Census Population Schedule for Wayne County, Iowa, National Archives, Washington DC: pg. 402B, (microfilm roll - T9_369; img. 383).
10. 1900 US Census Population Schedule for Greene County, Iowa, National Archives, Washington DC: pg. 113B, (microfilm: roll T623_433; img. 637).
11. 1910 US Census Population Schedule for Greene County, Iowa, National Archives, Washington DC: pg. 110A, (microfilm: roll T624_403; img. 1288).
12. 1885 Iowa State Census Population Schedule for Lincoln Twp., Ringgold County, State Historical Society of Iowa Library & Iowa State Archives, Capitol Complex, Des Moines, IA: pg. 242, (microfilm: roll 11020178; img. 236).
13. Clearfield Cemetery, Ringgold County, Iowa (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=1574108&CScn=Clearfield&CScntry=4&CSst=14&CScnty=626&, continuously updated).
14. Colbaugh Cemetery, Madison County, Arkansas (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=1615325&CScn=Colbaugh&CScntry=4&CSst=4&, continuously updated).
15. Graceland Park Cemetery, Woodbury County, Iowa (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=94908&CScn=Graceland&CScntry=4&CSst=14&CScnty=643&, continuously updated).
16. Jefferson Cemetery, Greene County, Iowa (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=95194&CScn=Jefferson&CScntry=4&CSst=14&, continuously updated).
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