History of John Williamson Nelson
By Nora Lund as told by Carma Jane Nelson, granddaughter
My grandfather, John Williamson Nelson, was born January 22, 1847 in St. Louis, Missouri. His parents were John Nelson and Catherine Williamson Nelson.
It is regrettable that we have no information of Grandpa's early life. However, we believe that my great grandparents were members of the Mormon Church, and came to Utah for the gospel's sake. My mother searched diligently for information about Father's people at the Church Archives. I recall how pleased she was when she found the Patriarchal Blessing of John Nelson, proving that he was a Mormon.
We can only guess, that perhaps something went wrong and they drifted away from the Church, certainly Grandpa took no part in it.
It must of been about 1865 or 1866, when he married Jane Laird, the daughter of John and Marion Calhoun Laird. Their son, my father, John Laird Nelson was born January 19, 1867 in Logan, Cache County, Utah. However, the family home was in Newton, Cache County, Utah.
It was very unfortunate that Grandpa's appetite for drink was so strong that he couldn't control it. It broke up his family and you might say that it ruined his life. He would go off for days at a time to Ogden and other places on these binges. All the money that he earned went for booze rather than the support of his wife and son. Finally, Grandma could stand it no longer, and took off for Oregon, where she had folks, leaving her young son in Newton, for those who would take care of him.
Somewhere along the line Grandpa married Emma, a young girl of Newton and maintained a home there. There were several children from this union. I recall, Wallace, Mathew, Isabelle, and Bill. These children later established themselves in California and are well respected citizens there. Grandpa was still a slave to his bad habit, and neglected his family too.
I remember well his visits to our place in Willard. He was a rather short man of stocky build. He had dark hair, bushy eyebrows and piercing black eyes. We were all just a little afraid of him. I'm sure he meant to fulfill all the promises he used to make to us, bless his heart, but he never did. I'm sure he really intended to bring me that big doll he always promised he would bring the next time he came. I think he expected to pay the bills he use to run up wherever he went. My father thought a great deal of his own good name, so he used to pay Grandpa's bills when he was told of them, in order to keep the name of Nelson well respected. He also felt so sorry for Emma and her family, so he use to help them out when he could.
Father was a farmer and stock raiser. We always had a good living, but not much cash money. Mother was a wonderful manager and hard worker, consequently all my memories are of a happy childhood.
When my parents heard of the death of Grandfather, March 21, 1920 in Elgin, Oregon, the scraped together enough money for Father to go and give his father a decent burial. I suppose, around the country Grandpa was known as a drunken bum. He did draw his last breath in the gutter, but to our family he was Father and Grandfather, and we respected him as such.
These are just a few things that I knew and have heard about Grandfather. True, he was weak in some respects, and if he could just have overcome these weaknesses and made a happy home life for Grandma, Father and little Annie, whom Grandma was expecting when she left, how different this sketch would have been. I certainly do not feel that we have a right to criticize Grandpa too much. We do not know the particulars that made him like he was. But we, his descendants can profit by his mistakes and strive to live about his short comings. May everyone of us she have any Nelson blood in our veins, honor and revere the name and carry it proudly and make it stand for everything that is respectable and good.