|Birth: ||Mar. 30, 1753|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Jul. 21, 1819|
West Feliciana Parish
John Nelson owned a farm here and died here long before the prison was founded. I am using this location only as a point of reference, since John & wife Nancy were probably buried on their farm land here, or even possibly at this location.
much debt for early research on the Nelson's goes to the late Ida Tooke who began a correspondence with U S Federal Archives as early as 1924.
Elliot Rabb Whitman was also a dedicated and long time family historian on the Nelson clan. Much of his work was published in the Shreveport Times under a pseudonym.
I miss them both dearly and thank them for for their generous help.
John Nelson was born 30 March 1753 (1), probably at Rockingham County, North Carolina, the son of Robert and Alice Nelson, immigrants to America from England (2). On January 31, 1782 (3) Nelson was married to Nancy Ware Hunter. According to family records Miss Hunter was born July 19, 1764, probably at Charlotte, North Carolina.
Little is known of the childhood of John Nelson, however, it can be duduced that he was brought up in a strict and caring family of apparently well to do means. Tennessee records indicate he had 6 brothers and 3 sisters.. The first records of John relate to a successful career as an Office of the Line during the American Revolutionary War (4). John served as a Major in the North Carolina 4th Regiment and later received a grant of 4,800 acres of land in Williamson County, Tennessee (5). A copy of this grant was in the possession of the late Ida Tooke of Doyline, Louisiana, one of his many proud descendants.
John was a man of vision and dreamed of a bright future for the areas of his property. Reported to have been the first settler in the area of Williamson County that is now Triune in the 18th District (6). He named this area Nelsonville, and proceeded to lay out a town on Nelson Creek, around 1785. Williamson County, at that time, extended to within three miles of Murfreesboro and it was thought that the county seat could be located at Nelsonville (7). Nelson creek commenced about 10 miles east of where Mill Creek flows into the Harpeth River near the headwaters. Major Nelson had an engineer lay off a town square large enough for a courthouse. This square was then surrounded by an inner area of half-acre lots and next were outer lots of 72 square poles and bordered the town with ten acre outlets. He then placed them on the market in the most approved real estate fashion, by requiring that improvements be made and that houses be built within two years. The half-acre lots were sold for $10.00 each and the ten-acre tracts for $30.00 each. He sold about 30 lots, and then sold the residue of 70 acres, together with outlets and adjacent tracts. He sold lots as late as 1803. Davidson county records show that lots were sold before 1799, when Williamson County was formed. After that date, the deeds were recorded at the Franklin Court House. (8).
The initial Nelson homestead was on the Catawba river, out from Charlotte on the old wagon road at Tuckasegee Fords. Four children were born during the early years to John and Nancy Ware Nelson. Martha Ware (Jan. 14, 1790); Alexander Franklin (Dec. 8, 1791); Mariah Theresa (Dec. 8, 1793); and Mathilda Caroline (1795). (10)
Nelson was able to attract many families of importance to his land venture at Triune (11). By 1796 he had sold land to William Jordan, the oldest of nine sons that came with William and Sally Woods Jordan from Lunenburg County, VA. These early settlers had to cross three high ranges of hills to reach Kidd's Mill at Nolensville and to get to Nashville. The county court at Franklin ordered a road built to Nelsonville. One of the buyers of the Nelson property was Newton Cannon, Sr., another Revolutionary War veteran from North Carolina. He was the father of Governor Newton Cannon, Jr. , twice governor of Tennessee. Newton Cannon, Sr., decided to expand his property into a large farm. Even though the property was restricted to private residential development, Cannon purchased several sections of land surreptitiously under assumed buyers and proceeded to fence in and import cattle, hogs and planted large fields of produce. Later on, the town of Triune came into being, not too far from the ill-fated little town of Nelsonville. Major Nelson then sold out the rest of what he could of the remaining property and moved on to Montgomery County. (12)
Francis Bailey, an English traveler, and afterwards a noted astronomer, followed what was known then as the Wilderness Trail (also later known as the Natchez Trace, actually the "Notchy Trace", an ancient indian trail traveled for centuries by aborigines Indians in their treks down the Mississippi River) (13), from New Orleans to Nashville in 1797, passing through what is now a portion of Williamson County. Bailey says he boarded at Major Lewis' home in Nashville, where Major John Nelson also lived, and in his writings gives an account of Nelson's new town. (14)
Evidently Mr. Bailey was also a gifted story teller and spun fantastice tales of adventure and promise in the lands to the south in the territory of Louisiana. After the failure of his dreams at Nelsonville, John Nelson sought a new dream for his family in the bright promised land of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803, shortly after the American purchase of the vast territory of Louisiana from France, the Nelson family followed the 'Notchy Trail' in reverse of their recent acquaintance, Francis Bailey.
The Nelson's found their new home located at a place where the Mississippi River forms the boundary on three sides (15). Located in the Greenville District of New Feliciann (16), the rich delta flatland (17) beckoned with a promise of rich rewards for a day's toil. Crops literally jumped out of the rich riverfed soil. Life seemed to be finally looking up for the Nelson's and thus out of that new found hope was born the 5th and last child of the union, Thomas Jefferson Nelson, May 4, 1806 (18).
Nelson, as was the custom of the time and place, required slave labor to help him work the land (19). And rich land it was. Over 1300 Arpents, bounded on the front by The Lake of the Cross (present day Lake Killerney). Farming on the plantation made a good living for the pioneer family. As most of their neighbors, the Nelson's raised cotton, corn, and hogs and reserved one area for the household garden. Among the slaves listed in the Probate Record at the St. Francisville Parish Courthouse are: One Negro man named Ned, aged about 65 years; Patience, his wife, aged about 50 years; one woman named Chaney, aged about 44 years; Molly, aged about 38 years and her child Charlotte; Adam, about 11 years; Levi, about 9 years; and Dorcas, about 7 years.
Good times seemed to finally arrive for the Nelson's. The problems of the world seemed to receed to an insignifigance amid the daily toils of farm life. Even the Territorial dispute that the United States was having with Spain over the Florida Parishes at first seemed far away. (20) It seems that the area from roughly the Mississippi River eastward to Florida was not included in the Louisiana Purchase, and thus not entitled to become part of the growing United States, even though there was a rush of settlers into the areas of the Greenville District, New Feliciann and St. Helena Parishes. The land's natural location on the opposite side of the Mississippi and the soil, vegetation, and fauna suggest that the area would more nearly fit as a part of the State of Mississippi. Indeed, the counties of Amite and Wilkinson did lay claim to the areas and levied taxes on the estate as evidenced by the tax lists from 1807 on which Nelson paid a head tax of $2.50 for himself and 2 slaves (21). The Nelson children were growing up now and family life seemed happier than ever. Martha Ware Nelson, now a bonnie lass of 19, had met and was soon being courted by one of the local lads from across the Mississippi State line, Ballard Evans. Soon Wedding Bells were ringing in the tiny farming community at Tunica, where on January 23, 1809 Martha Ware (Patsy) Nelson and Ballard Evans were united in Holy wedlock (22). The young couple were so in love and had high hopes for the future as they set up their home at Perry's Creek (23).
The dispute over the right of entry into the U.S. for the Florida Parishes became more intense during the ensuing years and eventually Nelson joined with many of the other inhabitants and voted to appoint Colonel John Ballinger as their agent and thereafter petitioned the U.S. Congress to make the area a part of the new State of Louisiana in the years 1811 and 1812 (24).
Enter the young hero (actually he was more of a gadfly!!) "Signed as Captain D.T. Cook of the 3rd Regiment, New Feliciann, and as occupying the Fort at Baton Rouge, 25 September, 1810, in a petition to the free country legisature in convention assembled. Also attempted to release former Governor deLassue and Shepard Brown from the Fort Stockade, where the revolting farmers had imprisoned them. Said the Louisiana Gazette of the frustrated attempt to free deLassue: "On the night of the 16th inst. a mutiny was discovered in the fort at Baton Rouge. A newly appointed Captain, who calls himself Cook, had it in his contemplation to liberate Col. Lassus, and to take possession of the Fort. The convention got word of it and ordered down the dragoons from Bayou Sara, who arrived in time to save the Fort. Capt. Cook and two of his subaltroons were cashiered and ordered out of Florida, and everything is now tranquil."
David Taylor Woodard Cook b. circa 1785 (25), at South Carolina, married first 13 January 1812 at Wilkinson County, MS. to Elizabeth Collinsworth. David T.W. Cook was a young gentleman of some breeding, educated in South Carolina where he claimed to have studied and became a Physician. Of Irish background (26), the young Dr. Cook was always the ladies man. But hard times arrived suddenly for Dr. Cook, and the Nelson's simultaneously as waves of yellow fever swept up the Mississippi River from New Orleans shortly after the conclusion of the battles fought there in the War of 1812. Felling hundreds of pioneer families as it moved northward, the dreaded killer soon arrived at Tunica and settled in with a vengance. Among those to succumb were Dr. Cook's young bride, Elizabeth; then on January 11, 1813 Nancy Ware Hunter Nelson, wife of John; and then the young husband of Patsy Nelson - Ballard Evans. Suddenly, what had been such a bright and promising land, with hope for the future and the bud of new life all seemed to wither and die amid such great tragedies.
The family was torn apart by these sudden, senseless and tragic losses. Alexander Franklin Nelson, distraught at the sudden turn of events decided that life in the shadow of the river was not safe. About the year 1814 Alexander, now age 23, set out on a journey northward to the Fort Miro area (present day Monroe). Upon arrival he passed on out into the developing area of Old Trenton, later to become the town of Vienna, Louisiana. I will develop Alexander's story in a future sketch, so let me at this time regress back to the young widower Dr. Cook. In addition to his skills at medicine, David T.W. Cook was also an accomplished fiddle player. It also seems that his bent in life was always more to playing the fiddle, and charming young ladies, than with helping solve some of his fellow man's more serious illness and injury problems. It was probably at one of the local dances in 1814 where he was always the life of the party, that the young widower Cook met the 19 year old Mathilda Caroline Nelson. After a brief courtship, as Dr. Cook was always just one step ahead of his creditors, the two lovebirds eloped on November 2, 1815, at Wilkinson County, Mississippi (28).
The Nelson fortunes now seemed to reach the bottom, when in 1815, at the suit of a close neighbor, Edward Randolph of Pinckeneyville, John Nelson lost a judgement. In settlement thereof 1,000 Arpents of his property had to be sold to satisfy the judgement. Alexander returned home to help purchase the land for a year's credit of $700.00 on December 2, 1816. Alexander hoped to repay the debt from the logging business that he was developing in north Louisiana. Meanwhile the family eventually became reconciled to the marriage of David and Caroline and on January 14, 1817 the couple was remarried in an official ceremony at the Plantation home of Caroline's father, John Nelson. (28).
The misfortune of bad timing seemed to be ever the lot of the elder Nelson. At the age of 66, tired and seemingly at odds with the entire world, with his elder sons Alexander and Thomas and daughters Patsy and Caroline at his bedside, John Nelson passed on to a better life on July 21, 1819. The inventory of his estate on file at St. Francisville (29) shows pityfull little left of his former great fame and glory: one tract of land containing 255 Arpents on which was situated the house, plantation, and a crop of corn and cotton valued at abuout $1,200.00. Twenty-five head of hogs; one cherry desk; one cherry bookcase; one mahagony table; one old Bar-Shear plow; one new Bar-Shear plow; two axes; five hoes. There being no other property found the inventory was closed (30).
Thus ends the life of an early American Pioneer, however, his legacy lives on today in the thousands of descendants who can trace their roots to him.
1. Bible- Thomas Jefferson Nelson in possession of Mary Louise Poe, Galveston, Texas.
2. Last Will and Testament of Robert Nelson - 1792; Rockingham County Court House, N.C.
3. Bible - Thomas Jefferson Nelson, ibid.
4. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. F.B. Heitman - 1893.
5. Williamson County Deed Book B p. 19 - Williamson County, TN.
6. excerpt taken from: History of Triune County, TN. by Col. John L. Jordan; copied by J.M. Buchanan, at Franklin, TN. 1938.
7. Our Valiant Men, L.G. Lynch, @1976.
8. Williamson County Historical Journal - Vol. 6.
9. Bible - John Martin Fouts - was in possession of the late Cloma Gertrude Barron of Bienville, LA.
10. Succession Record - Conveyance Book B p. 258, Arcadia, Bienville PH., LA.
11. Williamson County Historical Journal - Vol. 4.
12. Tipton County, TN., Minute Book A; 1825; 1826; 1827.
13. Williamson County Historical Journals
14. Life of Andrew Jackson - Vol. 1. James Parton 1860.
15. W.Feliciana PH. road map; T1S R5W; La. State Penitentiary -Angola, LA - location 13.
16. American State Papers - Grassroots - Public Land Claims.
17. Amite County, MS. (1699-1890) Vol. IV; Land Plats, Florida Parishes, and Settlers.
18. Bible - Thomas Jefferson Nelson, ibid.
19. Probate Record - St. Francisville, LA. Courthouse.
20. The Story of The West Florida Rebellion - S.C. Arthur.
21. Wilkinson County Taxables 1807, etc. - microfilm - Clayton Library, Houston, TX
22. Wilkinson County, MS, Marriage Book A, pgs. 204 & 207.
23. Wilkinson County, MS - Taxables - 1811 - $1.87; 1812 - $1.94.
24. Orleans Territory Territorial Papers - VOL. IX, p1009; compiled by C.E.Carter.
25. U.S. Census - Tipton County, TN. 1830.
26. Reminiences of Old Times in West Tennessee, @1873.
27. Wilkinson County, MS., Marriage Records
28. Marriage Book G - p.207; W.Feliciana PH, LA.
29. Estate records - Box 74-W, Feliciana PH., LA; St. Francisville.
30. Notorial Record Book A p.203; W.Feliciana PH., LA.
Nelsons in the American Revolution
Lela Nelson Cooper
Hertiage Books, Inc. 1994
JOHN NELSON R20131 NorthCarolina BLW1601-400 dated Oct. 22,1838 b.30 March 1753 in VA d.20 July 1819. Spouse: Nancy Ware Hunter (1754-1813), M. 31 Jan. 1782 [See pg.43, Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution, AR,Durham,1932]
Pension Administrator Notes:
John Nelson was born mar 30,1753 in Virginia, returned to N.C. and married Nancy Ware Hunter Jan. 31, 1782, she aged 28 years. She died Jan 11, 1813 and he died July 20, 1819. War records show that Warrant 1601 for 4000 acres of Bounty land was issued Nov 29, 1797 to Alexander Nelson, assignee, for the service of John Nelson as a Major in the Norht Carolina line during the Revolutionary War.
Letter From Miss Ida G. Tooke, McDade Louisiana
May 3,1925, To:Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, D.C. Dear Sir - Some days ago, I received a letter from the War Dept. in answer to a request of mine for information concerning an officer of the Revolutionary War and they referred me to you. I am trying to get the War record of my great grandfather. We have been trying to get this for a good many years but none of us have known just how to go about it. He was Major General John Nelson, who was born Mar. 30, 1753 in Virginia. He must have enlisted near here or North Carolina, as he came back to Mecklenberg Co., North Carolina after the war and married Miss Nancy Ware Hunter of that place Jan. 31, 1782, age 28. she died Jan. 11, 1813 and he died July 20, 1819. We think they resided, at the time of their death in or around Nashville, Tenn, as he is paid for war service in land grants here. It is in interest of these land grants that we are trying to get his record. Any information you can give will certainly be appreciated.
Letter From Pension Administrator:
All bounty land records were destroyed in a fire in November, 1800.
Nelsons in the American Revolution
Lela Nelson Cooper
Hertiage Books, Inc. 1994
JOHN NELSON R20131 NorthCarolina BLW1601-400 dated Oct. 22,1838 b.30 March 1753 in VA d.20 July 1819. Spouse: Nancy Ware Hunter (1754-1813), M. 31 Jan. 1782 [See pg.43, Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution, DAR,Durham,1932]
AFFIDAVIT: County of Spartenburg, South Carolina, to the purpose of obtaining the benefits of an act, entitled "An Act for the Revolution, approved 15 May, 1828, I, John Nelson, resident of Frankland Co, Tenn, do hereby declare I was an officer in the Continental Line of the Army of the Revolution and served as such to the end of the War: I was commissioned a Capt. in the 4th Regt of the North Carolina line commanded by Col. Thomas Polk. I was commissioned a Capt. in said Regiment sometime in 1777. I was promoted to Major Feb. 3,1778, and I was made a prisoner on May 12,1780 until Oct. 21,1780. I also declare that I afterwards received a certificate, commonly called a commutation certificate for a sum equal to the amount of five years full pay, which sum was offered by the Resolve of Congress of 22nd March, 1783 instead of half-pay for life to which I was entitled under the resolve of the 21st of October, 1780. And I do further declare that I have received of the United States as a pension since the 3rd of March, 1826, no money whatever, nor have I at any time received less or more since the 3rd of March, 1828, from the agent fo paying pensioner in the state of Tennessee.
AFFIDAVIT: by Archibald McCreavy
Bounty Land Warrant 1601-400 was issued Nov. 29,1797 to Alexander Nelson, assignee, no papers.
Pension Administrator Notes:
John Nelson was born mar 30,1753 in Virginia, returned to N.C. and married Nancy Ware Hunter Jan. 31, 1782, she aged 28 years. She died Jan 11, 1813 and he died July 20, 1819. War records show that Warrant 1601 for 4000 acres of Bounty land was issued Nov 29, 1797 to Alexander Nelson, assignee, for the service of John Nelson as a Major in the North Carolina line during the Revolutionary War.
Died before 5 June 1827 when the heirs petitioned to have a 5000 acre tract of land divided. The petition was made by David T. W. Cook for himself and in behalf of his wife Caroline Matilda and Samuel P. Ash as attorney in fact for John M. Fault [Fauts] and Patsy Ware daughter & one of the Heirs of said John Nelson, Marie T. Nelson, Alexander T. Nelson for himself & as Guardian of Thomas Nelson which include all the Heirs of the said John Nelson decd. (Tip TN, Co CT Min, A/106)
NELSON, Thomas J.
On 2 September 1828 sold to William M. Kerr, land in Shelby County, by his Attorney in fact, David T. W. Cook. (Tip TN, Co Ct Min, A184).
North Carolina Land Grants In Tennessee 1778-1791
Compiled by Goldene Fillers Burgner
Map in front of Book was copied
Middle District 1788
2865. John Nelson 5,000 On the headwaters of Robertsons and Richland Creek.
2928. John Nelson 5,000 On the west waters of Richland Creek
1786 Davidson County
258. John Nelson 4,800 On Nelson Creek a branch of Big Harpeth.
Genealogical Abstracts from Tennessee Newspapers 1821 - 1828
Compiled by Sherida K. Eddlemon
Published by Charles M'Lean
July 1, 1826, Vol. 3 No 5 pg.18
Tipton Co. Tennessee, March Session, 1826. John T. Brown, sheriff and collector, reports that the following tracts of land still have upaid taxes for 1825.
Owner - Acres- Entry- Dist. Ran. Sec.
John Nelson - 5000 - 187 - 11 -- 2 - 6
I am forewarnig the public, that I am revoking the power of attorney given by me and my wife Patsey Ware Nelson to Alexander F. Nelson, dated June 9, 1824. I am also revoking the one given by Alexander Nelson by the power vested in him from us to D. T. W. Cook, dated November 12, 1825. These were issued in an attempt to recover the business within the state of Tennessee as heirs at law of Maj. John Nelson, dec., of the Parish of Feleciana, Loiusiana.
J. M. Fouts.
Genealogical Abstracts of Rev War Pension Files
Abstracted by Virgil D. White
Joseph Nelson Vol. III pg 2479
Joseph, VA Line, S32413, sol lived in Augusta Co. VA at enl, appt 21 Aug
,Madison Co Al aged 76.
John Nelson Vol III pg 2479
John, NC line, R20131, (see John Nelson BLW#1601-400-29 Nov 1797 for shrt as a Maj in the NC Line and the Bounty Land Warrent was issued to Alexander Nelson Assignee), sol appl for pension 22 Oct 1828 in Spartanburg Dist SC but was a resident of Franklin Co TN, the following was shown but not confirmed, to wit; sol was b.30 Mar 1753 in VA and he m. Miss Nancy Ware Hunter in Mecklenburg Co NC 31 Jan 1782 and she died 11 Jan 1813 and sol d 20 Jul 1819 and both d mear Nashville TN (this was given by a great granddaughter one Miss Ida G. Tooke from McDade LA 3 May 1925, sol's original papers were burned in War Office fire.
The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.
Head-Quarters, Morristown, March 31, 1777.
Parole Reading. Countersign Bethlehem.
The General Court Martial held at Woodbridge the 28th. Inst., whereof Col. Martin10 was President, for the trial of Capt. Will: Work of the 12th. Pennsylvania Regt. accused
[Note 10: Col. Ephraim Martin, of the Fourth New Jersey Regiment.] of "Misbehaviour and Cowardice, in an Action with the Enemy, on Carman's hill, near Bonum-Town, on the 8th. Instant"--The Court after mature consideration, are of opinion that the Prisoner is Guilty, and sentence the said Capt. Work to be cashiered, and dismissed the service, as a person unfit for a military Command.
His Excellency approves the sentence, and orders the said Capt. Work forthwith to depart the Camp.
Capt. Henry Fister of the German Battalion, tried by the same General Court Martial for "Quitting his Company and Regiment, being absent from both a fortnight, without leave from his commanding officer"--After mature consideration, the Court are of opinion, the said Capt. Fister is Guilty; and sentence him to be dismissed the service.
His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence.
The Commander in Chief is pleased to make the following promotions in the Regiment of Cavalry from Virginia. Viz
Theodorick Bland Esqr., Major, Comdt. to be Colonel thereof. Capt. Benjamin Temple of the 2nd. Troop is appointed the Lt. Col. Capt. John Jameson of the 3rd. Troop is appointed the Major. Lieut. Cuth. Harrison of the 2nd. Troop is appointed Captain of the same. Lieut. Alexander S. Dandridge of the 4th. is appointed Captain of the 3rd. Lieut. John Belfield of the 5th. is appointed Captain of the 6th; vacant by the resignation of Capt. Nelson.11 Cornet William Lindsay of the 3rd. Troop is appointed Lieutenant of the same. Cornet William Watts of the 4th. is appointed Lieut. of the same. Cornet Henry Peyton of the 5th is appointed Lieutenant of the same. Cornet Henry Clements of the 6th. is appointed Lieut.
[Note 11: Capt. John Nelson. He had resigned on February 12; was major of a Virginia State regiment from 1779 to 1781.] of the second. Mr. Cole Diggs, Cadet, is appointed Cornet of the 3rd. Troop. Mr. Robert Yauncey, Cadet, is appointed Cornet of the 4th. Troop.
A petition of John Nelson, Major Commandant of a corps of cavalry of the Virginia line on the State establishment, during the late war, was presented to the House and read, praying that lands may be granted him on the Northwest side of the Ohio, in lieu of those which he had obtained for his military services, during the late war, and which, by a late treaty between the United States and the Chickasaw Indians, have been ceded to the said Indians.
Ordered, That the said petition be referred to the Committee of Claims.
Nancy Ware Hunter Nelson (1764 - 1813)
Martha Ware Nelson Fouts (1790 - 1844)*
Alexander Franklin Nelson (1791 - 1867)*
Maria Theresa Nelson Brinson (1793 - 1878)*
Mathilda Caroline Nelson Cook (1795 - 1858)*
Thomas Jefferson Nelson (1806 - 1843)*
Louisiana State Prison Cemetery
West Feliciana Parish
Created by: George Rogers Park
Record added: Jan 28, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47228807