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Compiled by Heather Sorensen McPhie
Research concerning Oliver Nelson and Elizabeth Morris is an ongoing project. A group of Nelson descendants have joined together to collaborate on this project. If you are interested in joining the effort to learn more about Oliver Nelson, Elizabeth Morris, or any of their descendants, please join this project by sending an email to the following address:
Any information marked by a superscript letter has been documented. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage to view the documentation. I have specifically tried to make note of any information that is simply an assumption on my part. The superscript numbers written as part of a name indicate the generation an individual is in as relating to Oliver Nelson. Hence, Oliver Nelson’s name is followed by a superscript 1, Oliver’s children will have a superscript 2, and Oliver’s grandchildren a superscript 3.
Oliver appears on the following censuses:
1810 Federal Census in Burlington, Lycoming, Pennsylvania
1820 Federal Census in Franklin, Bradford, Pennsylvania
1830 Federal Census in Franklin, Bradford, Pennsylvania
1850 Federal Census in Hadley, Pike, Illinois.
In 1800, Oliver was about 34 years old. The 1800 Federal Census is the first United States census to indicate an Oliver Nelson. The only Oliver Nelson appearing on the 1800 Federal Census is living in Stockbridge, Berkshire, Massachusetts. It is believed that this is the same Oliver Nelson that later moved to Bradford County, Pennsylvania. A thorough search of the existing tax records for Stockbridge, Berkshire, Massachusetts, indicates that Oliver may have only lived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for a short period of time. The existing tax rolls begin in 1799. Oliver Nelson appears on the tax roll for the years 1801, 1802, and 1803. In 1802, Oliver Nelson is listed as a single poll, however, the tax records for 1801 and 1803 do not list him as a single poll. According to the librarians in the genealogy room of the Berkshire County Library, poll tax was charged for individuals who were free to vote (granted they paid the poll tax) and were between the age of 21 and 50. Before the age of 21, men were not considered old enough to vote; at the age of 50, men became exempt from the poll tax. There are two other Nelson families in Stockbridge at that time: Moses Nelson and William Nelson. Currently, no relationship has been established between these families and Oliver Nelson. A deed at the courthouse is signed by Mary Nelson, widow, Moses Nelson and William Nelson. There are no deeds recorded at the courthouse in the name of Oliver Nelson. Moses Nelson is listed on some deeds as a butcher by occupation.
By 1807, Oliver was living in Granville, Bradford, Pennsylvania. He was one of the very first settlers to arrive in the Granville area; he settled on what was later called the John Vrooman Farm (because it was later owned by John Vrooman). In 1807, Oliver became a patron of the first school built in the Granville area (this means he supported the school financially and his children attended the school). This school was taught by Delight Spalding. In 1807, the Granville area was actually part of Burlington Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Oliver Nelson helped create one of the first roads in Burlington Township. A newspaper article states: "In the winter of 1800-1, Jeremiah Taylor, Mr. Moffitt and Benjamin Saxton, with a few of the settlers from Sugar Creek, cut a road from that point to the North Branch as it was then called, as it is in fact the north branch of the Towanda Creek at its junction with the main creek. This was for a long time called the "Moffitt and Taylor" road, to distinguish it from one cut a little below, from Beriah Pratt’s (then) to Bailey’s. This last road was cut out by Oliver Nelson and Lawson Hemenway. These men were squatters, but their title was as good as those who held under the title of Connecticut, who came near being forced to resort to the "rifle title" before their just rights were secured for them."
In the early days of Bradford County, the tax collector was required to create a list of "poor children". This listed the names of children between the ages of 5 and 12 whose parents were unable to afford the costs of education. Oliver is listed in the tax records as having poor children. In 1818, the tax record states "Oliver Nelson – unable to school their children Eliner age 10 & Henrity age 8." The end of the record lists Oliver Nelson’s children Eleanor Nelson 10 years old Henriete Nelson 8 years old. In 1820, the tax record states "Nelson, Oliver and his wife Betsey having a large family of children are unable to support them at school their names being as follows Elenor Nelson aged 11 years Henrietta Nelson aged 8 years James Nelson aged 5 years." In 1822, the following entry was made: "Nelson, Oliver Poor children Henrietta aged 10 James aged 7 William aged 5." He is also listed with poor children for the years 1823, 1824, 1826, and 1828.
During the years 1838-1840, Oliver is shown in the tax records as farming with his son-in-law, Howard Smith (married Azuba2 Nelson). Later, William2 Nelson took over the family farm.
In 1847 Oliver moved with his son William2 Nelson to Hadley Township, Pike County, Illinois. His son William2 was farming the family land at the time as shown in the tax records. Oliver sold the land to James Gee in a deed dated 25 April 1847 for the sum of one hundred dollars.
In Hadley, Illinois, Oliver lived with his son William2. Oliver probably died between the years 1850 and 1860 since he appears on the 1850 census in William’s2 household, but has not been found on the 1860 census. If this is the case, Oliver must have been between the ages of 84 and 94 when he died.
Many descendants have listed Oliver Nelson’s name as William Oliver Nelson. A thorough search of existing records has yet to yield any information as to the origin of this tradition. To date, all documents and research indicate his name was simply Oliver Nelson.
The names of all the children of Elizabeth Morris and Oliver Nelson are not known. The 1800 and 1810 censuses suggest there is an unknown son and perhaps there are two unknown daughters who should be included with the names of Oliver’s children. Henrietta2 Nelson’s church records made an allusion to a Jemima Nelson, but it is not presently known how she relates to the family. Children known to have been born to Oliver and Elizabeth are as follows:
John2 M. Nelson
Azuba2 M. Nelson
Henrietta2 P. Nelson
James2 H. Nelson
William2 H. Nelson
2. John2 M. Nelson. (Oliver1). John Nelson was born in either Massachusetts or Connecticut between 1790 and 1800. He came to Bradford, Pennsylvania with his father in 1807. He appears in Oliver’s1 household on the 1810 census, then in his own household on the 1820 census in Franklin, Bradford, Pennsylvania. He married Laurilla Loomis. Laurilla Loomis was born 28 December 1797. He appears on the 1830 census in Canton, Bradford, Pennsylvania. John M. Nelson died in October 1834 in Canton, Bradford, Pennsylvania. Laurilla Loomis Nelson later married John D. Underwood. Laurilla Loomis Nelson died 20 September 1889. She was buried in Alba, Pennsylvania. John and Laurilla had the following children:
Oliver3 M. Nelson (born 1819 in Granville, PA)
Henry3 A. Nelson
3. Azuba2 Ann (or M.) Nelson. (Oliver1).
Azuba Nelson (sometimes spelled Azubah Nelson) was born 16 Jul 1798 in
Massachusetts. She moved to Bradford, Pennsylvania with her father in 1807.
21 March 1813, she went to work for Ezra Spalding in Canton, Bradford,
Pennsylvania. She married Howard Smith. Howard was born on 18 May 1810.
Howard and Azuba moved West to Illinois and eventually settled in Neola,
Iowa. Azuba died on 26 Jul 1864. Howard died on 28 Nov 1887. They are both
buried in the Cox Cemetery in Neola, Iowa. Her descendants sometimes list
her name as Azubah Ann Nelson or Azuba Ann Nelson. Her gravestone lists
the name Azuba M. Smith. A photo of Azuba and Howard’s gravestones can
be viewed at the following website: http://www.rootsweb.com/~iaharris/cemetery/unionburg.htm
4. Roseanna2 Nelson (Oliver1). Roseanna2 Nelson was born between 1800 and 1806. She came to Bradford County with her father in 1807. She married Asa Bartlett.
5. Elinor2 Nelson (Oliver1). Elinor2 Nelson was born between 1800 and 1806. She came to Bradford County with her father in 1807. She married Matthew Armstrong. Her name is sometimes spelled Eleanor Nelson or Elenor Nelson.
6. Henrietta2 Nelson (Oliver1). Henrietta2 Nelson was born 4 August 1811. She was born in Granville, Bradford, Pennsylvania. She married Hezekiah Avery. She and her husband moved to Exeter, Scott, Illinois, where Hezekiah Avery died about the year 1844. She then moved to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, where she married Hiram Norton Byington. Later this marriage was terminated and she married Samuel Williams. Henrietta died on 2 December 1880. The following obituary was published:
Nancy3 Maria Avery
Rosannah3 Vanclate Avery
Noah3 Summers Buckley Avery
Mary3 Eleanor Avery
John3 Nelson Avery
7. James2 Nelson (Oliver1). James H. Nelson2 was born in 1815 in Granville, Bradford, Pennsylvania. He married Huldah Blakeman on 12 April 1835 in Canton, Bradford, Pennsylvania. Justice Asa Pratt performed the ceremony.
8. William2 Nelson (Oliver1). William H. Nelson was born in 1818 in Granville, Bradford, Pennsylvania. He took over the family farm in Granville from Oliver. In 1847, William Nelson transferred the family farm to James Gee and moved to Hadley, Pike, Illinois. His father Oliver Nelson lived with him in Illinois.