Thursday, January 21, 2016

52 Ancestors: #13 Price William Nelson (1855 – 1946)

This posting is much longer than expected as I planned to just add a few background stories in this week's blog which is about my husband's maternal great grandfather, Price W. Nelson. -cba


Price William Nelson (Jr.)
Price William Nelson was born on 29 August 1855 in San Bernardino, California to Price Williams and Lydia Lake Nelson. Price W. had an interesting childhood as the family was very poor and lived many places including such difficult places as San Bernardino, California; Franklin, Idaho; the Muddy Mission in Nevada, several places in southern Utah, the Missions of Arizona and the Mormon Colonies in Mexico.

Price W.'s parents came to Utah in 1850. His father, Price William Nelson was in the Benjamin Hawkins Company  and his mother, Lydia was in the James Lake Company (James was Lydia's father). His parents met on the journey across the plains and married soon after arriving in Utah. In 1852 Price and Lydia joined with those who had journeyed to California and settled in San Bernardino. And that is why Price W. Nelson was born in California in 1855.

Note: Pres. Brigham Young wanted to quickly build a "continuous line of stations and places of refreshment"  between Salt Lake City and the Pacific coast for missionaries and emigrants going to and from the Pacific Islands. He also asked the colony to be self-reliant and experiment in growing and manufacturing products such as olive oil, grapes, sugar cane and cotton. In the Spring of 1851 Brigham Young journeyed to Payson to speak to and bid farewell to 200 colonizers off to California; but when he got there he found 437 men, women and children gathered. Many wanted to escape the harsh climate and poor economic conditions at that time. His clerk noted that President Young was “sick at the sight of so many of the Saints running off to California.” Disappointed, he left without addressing the travelers.
Fort San Bernardino 1852
One year later in 1852 Price William and Lydia Nelson moved with their first child to California. This was a great opportunity for this young family. Lydia  says they journeyed by team to San Bernardino, and liking the place, decided to make it their home. Price William (the father) went into the saw-mill business with Amasa Lyman and Charles Rich. The mill ran during the winter but closed in the summer on account of the lack of water. During this time for seven years they moved each fall from the valley to the mountains and returned to the valley in the spring. Three children were born while they were in California including Price W. in 1855. Two years later at the time of Johnstons' Army and the Utah war Brigham Young called the California colonists back to Utah and the Nelson heeded the call and moved back to Utah when Price W. was two years old. 

The Nelson family lived several places the next nine years including Payson, Utah; Franklin, Idaho; and Logan, Utah for six years where his father operated a sawmill. Price W. says of their stay in Logan: "We were very poor and during the cold winter we had to stay indoors most of the time for want of proper clothing. If I went to the corral or to a neighbor, I had to go through the snow barefooted. We suffered much from the cold weather."   

The Nelsons were then called to the Muddy Mission in southern Nevada. They arrived in 1866 when Price W. was still ten years of age. His history tells of several incidents during his childhood there. It was very hot in the summer there and an opposite experience to the cold in Logan. One tale is told of barefoot children walking home from school there. "They would take their bonnets, aprons, or some green brush in their hands, run as far as they could, throw them down and stand on them until their feet cooled off. Then run again." Price W. attended school there in an adobe schoolhouse with sand floors. He tells of one teacher he liked and one that he did not like. He says that his parents were industrious and hard-working and he thought a lot of them, but like many children he was disobedient at times. He did say that as he grew older he learned to love and respect them. 
Brigham Young at Muddy Mission 1870
Southern Nevada was a harsh land with rattlesnakes, scorpions, crop-destroying grasshopper and Indian troubles. Many left the mission or paid someone else to serve in their place. Price W.'s mother told that for them it was an ideal climate and very productive soil, and they followed farming for a livelihood. They lived comfortably in Nevada for six years.  Conditions were favorable for the building of comfortable homes and they had an abundance of such things as could be produced from the soil, but had difficulty in obtaining clothing. 
There were troubles with the state of Nevada and when the state demanded a high tax paid in silver or gold instead of goods the people were advised to leave by Brigham Young after he visited the area in 1870.. The family acted immediately on the advice and left their homes and fertile land with luxuriant crops almost ready to harvest, and went to Glendale in southern Utah, arriving there with their large family and only what provisions they could carry in one wagon. Price W. says they suffered with cold and hunger while making the move. He, his brother and father drove all the  loose cattle to Utah and twenty-five  horses to Beaver Dam for the people of St. Thomas. This was hard work on foot in the winter. Price W. tells that his father had found some canvas tenting and which his mother used to make some pants for the boys. He says, "It was so stiff and hard that mother had to use an awl to make them and after they were made they would stand alone. After I had worn mine a few days they broke in two across the seat, by the pockets, in front of the knees, and across the back. You can well imagine how I looked but I cared very little about it as I was used to rags."

After spending about six years in Utah  living in Utah, the family moved to the missions of Arizona.  Price Nelson had helped his family move to the Little Colorado River in Arizona and returned with his father to Glendale, Utah in October of 1876 to retrieve the remainder of their possessions.  When it was time to return to Arizona, Price decided to stay and go into business for himself.  He was 21 and had little more than the shirt on his back. He told, “At the time my father left me sitting on the corral fence we had but little bedding and three shirts for the two of us so he gave me two of them and kept one. “   Price eventually found work and later got a contract to deliver logs to a saw mill.
 Price W. tells this story of dating his future wife, Mary Louisa Elder Nelson:  

Price W. and Mary Louisa
"It was during this summer (1877) that I courted my first wife.  She was just 16 that June and I was 21.  Neither one of us had ever kept company with anyone before but the instant we saw each other we spotted each other.  She was cooking at Seamon’s camp just a few hundred yards from where mine was.  In connection with this I should tell of my old buckskin pants.  They were all the pants I had, and I had worn them over two years.  I don’t think an article of clothing was ever hated worse.  I did own two shirts so I could keep one rinsed out and fresh.  I always worked until dark; in fact, I never thought of unyoking my team until then.  I would get my supper, go to a little ice-cold spring and bathe all over, brush and shake out those buckskin pants, and go see Mary Louisa.  I did all my sparking in those ugly pants, but if I wanted to go anywhere of a Sunday her father loaned me his suit.  I know I must have been a hard looker, with no way to fix up much, but I tried to keep clean and I always seemed to look good to her." 
Price William and Mary Louisa Nelson were married on January 11, 1878 in the St. George Temple.

Price W. and Mary Louisa Nelson family before 1902

Price W. and Louisa had nine children together, two died while young. They lived in Arizona, the Mexican Colonies and Utah. Louisa died in Kanab, Utah on June 15, 1916. 

Price W. and Charlotte Annie Tanner Nelson
Price W. married into polygamy. He met Charlotte Annie Tanner in Arizona and they were married in the St. George temple on January 14, 1886. They had six children together with only one living.  Charlotte Annie lived in Arizona and the Mexican colonies but after a family journey to the United States in 1904 she did not return to Mexico with the family. She and her teenage son, Joseph stayed with her Father in Arizona. Charlotte Annie died in Eagar, Arizona on August 3, 1939.

Price W. and Mary Louisa moved to Utah after they were forced from their home by the Mexican war. They left all behind and had to start with nothing once again. Mary Louisa passed away just four years after leaving the Mexican colonies.
1918 group photo with Price W and Annie
one year after their wedding
After the passing of his wife, Louisa, Price W. married a third time on August 19, 1917 to Annie B. McCotter in Durham, North Carolina. She was a "mail-order" bride. When Price W. journeyed to North Carolina to get Annie it was during World War I and he had a hard time finding work. Many did not trust him because of the war and how he was different from those living there. He writes that he thought he would have no trouble in getting work. But it was a problem, although he did get some work in the cotton factory at a very small wage. He says, "It was in the time of World War and all strangers thought I was a spy. I looked so different to their own home people. After I was there some weeks, I took my grip [a small suitcase] and hiked out afoot and alone in the country, looking for work. I traveled, inquiring for work saw milling or working in the timber, but I was spotted as a spy and turned down everywhere I went in the country, looking for work."  (Apparently someone even called the sheriff on him.)
"It was still drizzling rain. I went to the highway and traveled on in the dark. I felt lonesome and outcast in the dark–a stranger in a strange land, 3,000 miles from home, and not a penny. I had come on a very sacred errand and I prayed for the protecting care of our good Father as I went on in the dark and rain. I continued to pray and I was directed to a lone farm house to one side of the wood. It was still raining. I never saw the house till I came right to it. I rapped on the porch floor and said, "Hello." The answer came back, "Hello, Mr. Nelson, come in." A man got up lit a lamp, opened the door, took me by the hand and said, "Come right in. I will fix you something to eat, then I will show you to a bed." He asked me no questions. I prayed and wept for joy for the answer to prayer; I was guided to a friend." 

 "I landed in North Carolina in June. In August we were married by one of the missionary elders. Then we had to remain there till December waiting for money from home. It finally came, and we landed in Salt Lake on the 13th of December, and on the 14th we went to the Temple and were sealed as husband and wife on the 14th of December 1917. 
Annie and Price William Nelson
Price W. and Annie were married for nearly 30 years until his passing. Annie apparently found Utah as different as Price found North Carolina. Annie continued to live St. George  and was known as Aunt Annie by his children and grandchildren. Annie died on February 7, 1958 in Provo, Utah.
Price William and five of his sons
Price William Nelson died on May 17, 1946 in St. George, Utah and is buried there beside two of his wives. He stayed true to the faith throughout his interesting and often difficult journey in this life.

Personal papers and records held by D. Larsen
"Biography of Price William Nelson" by his grandson, Rodney Nelson
"Lydia Ann Lake Nelson"  - as told to and written by her grandson, Joseph N. Brinkerhoff
"Claiborne Elder and the Courtship of Mary Louisa" - by Price Nelson
Phone interview with Rodney Nelson
Phone interview with Darlene Larsen

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