Biography of William A. Nelson

William A. Nelson, a real estate man at Fall River, knows the early pioneer, conditions of this section of Kansas from first hand. He was a homesteader in Greenwood County in the early ’70s. He passed through that trying period when grasshoppers, season after season of drouth, low prices for farm products and other conditions made the lot of the Kansas farmer one hardship after another. He came through it all, gained and still retains a large share of the landed wealth of Kansas, and is a man whose experience demonstrates that there is nothing whatever the matter with Kansas.

Mr. Nelson’s ancestors came from England and were Colonial settlers in Virginia. Several generations of the family lived in the western sections of the Old Dominion, in what is now the State of West Virginia. Mr. William A. Nelson himself was born in Highland County, Virginia, May 10, 1844. His grandfather, Elijah Nelson, was born in Pendleton County, in what is now the State of West Virginia, and was drowned in that county before William A. was born. He spent his life as a farmer, and during the War of 1812 was an American soldier. He married Margaret Kincaid, who was likewise a life long resident of Pendleton County.

Pendleton County was also the birthplace of Elijah Nelson, father of William A. Born, in 1820, he was also among the early pioneers of Kansas. He grew up and married in Pendleton County, became a farmer, and in 1869 came West and settled at Leroy in Coffey County, Kansas. He farmed in that locality until 1871, when he moved into Greenwood County and spent prectically all the rest of his life in that section. His death, however, oceurred just over the line in Wilson County in 1900. Elijah Nelson homesteaded 160 acres in Greenwood County, and by hard work developed a good farm there. He was a Democrat in politics. During the war between the states he served on the Confederate side, and was among the gallant soldiers led by Stonewall Jackson in many a hard fought battle. He was in the army four years, and among the great bettles in which he participated were those of Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Winchester, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Chickamauga. Elijah Nelson married Margaret Jordan. She was born in Pendleton County, West Virginia, in 1825, and died in 1872, while on a visit to her native county. To their marriage were born six children: William A.; Adam, a farmer at Tyrone, Oklahoma; Jacob, who died in boyhood; Ellen, who lives at Quincy, Kansas, the widow of Adam Teeter, who was a farmer; Sarah, wife of John Cooper, a farmer at Quincy, Kansas; and John A., an oil producer living in Pendleton County, West Virginia.

The early life of William A. Nelson was spent on his father’s farm in Pendleton County, West Virginia. He gained his education in the public schools of that state, graduating from high school at Franklin, West Virginia, in 1863. He then took up the vocation of farming among the hills of his native state, and in 1872 came West and settled in Salt Springs Township of Greenwood County, Kansas. He pre-empted a claim of 160 acres, and despite the discouraging circumstances of the next few years he fought a good fight as a farmer, gradually came to the place where he could make a living off his land, and he continued farming on the old place until 1886. In that year he engaged in the real estate business at Toronto, Kansas, and in 1900 removed his headquarters to Fall River, where he had continued to handle real estate both on his own account and for others. His long experience in Kansas constitutes him an authority on land values, and he also knows what lands are best adapted for the special purposes of his different clients. Mr. Nelson had his offices on Main Street in Fall River.

Besides his residence on Broad Street he is the owner of some fine farming lands. His principal farm is 240 acres seven miles northwest of Fail River. That farm is devoted to diversified agriculture, and is under the management of a tenant. He also owned 400 acres in Gove County. In politics Mr. Nelson is a democratic voter.

On January 3, 1873, a short time after he came to Kansas, he returned to Pendleton County, West Virginia, and married Margaret Ann Mullenax. She is a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Nelson) Mullenax, and Mr. and Mrs. Nelson are distantly related. Her parents are now deceased, her father having been a farmer in Pendleton County. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson are the parents of six children. William A. died at Toronto, Kansas, in 1894, at the age of twenty years. E. J. Nelson is in the real estate business with his father at Fall River. Margaret married John Ziegler, who is a successful farmer and stockman on his ranch at Gunnison, Colorado. Edwin and George are together in the pool and billiard business at San Antonio, Texas. Alice is the wife of Frank Evans, a merchant at Bucklin, Kansas.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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