Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm. Scanned from a copy held by the State Library of Kansas.
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Henry Nelson's residence.
The subject of this sketch, Henry Nelson, of Jamestown, is the fourth son of the late Nels Nelson and was born on the Island of Zealand in 1847. His parents came to America in May, 1865, and settled near St. Louis. In the meantime Kansas was being widely advertised and three years later he emigrated west to Silver Lake, Shawnee county, which was then a flag station. He found employment on the farm of a half-breed Indian whose wife was the daughter of a Pottawatomie chief. The old chief had two wives, a white woman of French origin and a squaw. His employer's Indian wife would often relate the customs of her tribe. Among many strange incidents the following grewsome transaction was graphically related to Mr. Nelson by the chief's daughter:

Two braves of the same tribe engaged in a duel and fought until one of the warriors fell mortally wounded under a blow from the murderous tomahawk. The assassin was brought before the Pottawatomie chief and bound down to the earth, while in two long lines each of the duelists' kinsmen were arranged upon either side of the doomed savage. Each faction "rounded up" their ponies, brought blankets, beads, and all sorts of Indian valuables, and a treaty was begun. Each side contributed alternately until much wealth of its kind was stacked up in two huge piles. Finally the palm was yielded to the friends of the slain warrior who had bought him for the purpose of wreaking revenge upon the blood-thirsty Indian for the slaying of their brave kinsman. They did not remove the victim, but there, pinioned to the earth in the presence of their chief, braves, squaws and papooses, they proceeded to establish vengeance by taking clubs and beating the hapless Indian until life was extinct.

In the autumn of 1869 Mr. Nelson came to Cloud county, homesteaded in Buffalo township and lived there until removing to his present farm, which consists of eighty acres adjoining the townsite of Jamestown, where he has a pleasant home. Mr. Nelson came to Kansas minus both money and experience, lived in a dugout and endured many hardships. His first team was obtained by buying two suckling calves and when they were two years old he broke fifty-five acres of prairie with them and a yoke of three-year-olds-besides some plowing. There were some buffalo in the vicinity at that time, mostly old ones that ranged over the salt marsh; but a short distance further west they were numerous.

Mr. Nelson was married in April, 1878, to Ellen Lathrop, a daughter of Bela C., and Samantha W. (Worden) Lathrop, both of New York birth; her father was of Otsego county and her mother of Neversink, Sullivan county. Mrs. Nelson is descended from the distinguished house of Lathrop. The emigrant to America was the Reverend John Lathrop of Cherry Burton, County York, England. Having joined the deserters, he was sorely persecuted and took refuge in the New World across the seas. The crest of the family name dates as far as 1101 A.D. Their emblem of a fighting cock was used to denote the highest honor. It is still found on the monument of the brave Captain Lathrop, who was killed by the Indians in 1675, and lies buried in the Granary burial ground in the city of Boston. It is further recorded that the family coat of arms was an eagle displayed, from which our national coat of arms was taken, and which is not only found on every American flag, but upon every old American coin. Mrs. Nelson's grandfather, Henry Lathrop, was born in Connecticut, in 1786. He was from the ancient and royal family of his name, who were descended from the Rev. John Lathrop of whom honorable mention is made in the early histories of the settlement of America. Mrs. Nelson's father, Bela C., the youngest son of Henry owned twenty acres of the townsite whereon the city of Chicago now stands. Mrs. Nelson retains the deed which is dated Feb. 9, 1843. He died in the state of Michigan in 1864.

Mrs. Nelson was born in the southern part of Michigan, Shiawassee County, in 1852. She is the youngest of a family of four, two sons and two daughters. After her father's death, a son-in-law, who conducted his business affairs, emigrated to Clay county, Kansas, secured a homestead in town 7, at the head of Maul creek, and built a small house, preparatory to the advent of the family. Mrs. Nelson's two brothers took adjoining claims; one of them died and Mrs. Nelson held the land he had filed on. She was brave enough to ride a pony from the school she was teaching to her homestead every Friday night, spending Saturday and Sunday there. She used her saddle for a pillow and slept soundly with nothing to disturb her slumbers but the occasional yelp of the coyote, the ominous hoot of the owl or the sighing of the Kansas zephyr, and in this way earned the title to a quarter section of land.

Mrs. Nelson was a pioneer teacher. She taught her first term in Riley county and "boarded around," and she taught the first school in Highland township, Clay county. The district at that time extended over into Riley county, some two miles. The school house was a combination dugout and sod hut which was overrun with mice until the snakes made it their rendezvous and drove them from the premises, an effective, but unpleasant remedy. Mrs, Nelson's only brother, Alonzo Lathrop, fives near West Plains, Howell county, Missouri.

To Mr. and Mrs. Nelson five children have been born; three sons died in infancy. Their daughters are: Jennie, the wife of Will D. Hobson, foreman of the Beloit Times, and Florence, who is teaching her first term of school one and one-half miles south of Beloit. She graduated from the Jamestown High School April 21, 1900. When Gilbert Frederick, a Swedish boy, was but three years old, he found a home in the Nelson family to supply the loss of their own sons, as it were and grew up in their household as one of their own. He was married in December, 1901, to Miss Lena French, a daughter of Benjamin French. They are the parents of a little daughter, Merl.

Mr. Nelson with his wife and family visited Denmark in April, 1893; but he asserts, after having breathed the freedom of this country, he prefers America and could not again conform to the laws and customs of Europe. While abroad Mrs. Nelson represented the Kansas State Historical Society. They made brief visits to Ireland, Scotland and Norway, and brought home many interesting views and souvenirs of their travels. Mrs. Nelson is an intellectual, cultured woman of considerable literary ability. She takes an active interest in educational work; was elected clerk of district No. 19 in 1886 and resigned to visit Europe six years later. She was the first woman to serve in this capacity in Cloud county.

Mr. and Mrs. Nelson are members of the Kackley Baptist church. They were first united with the "Saron" Church but the services of that congregation are all in the Danish tongue which Mrs. Nelson does not speak, hence the family transferred their membership.

Socially Mr. Nelson is a man honored and esteemed for his good citizenship. Politically he is a Republican and has always stood for the principles of his party.