Friday, January 29, 2016

52 Ancestors: #14 Mary Louisa Elder Nelson (1861 – 1916)

Mary Louisa Elder Nelson is my husband's great grandmother on his mother's side of the family. She is the mother of his grandfather, James Mark Nelson.

Mary Louisa Elder Nelson was born on June 5, 1861 in Grantsville, Utah which is in Tooele County. The family pronounces her middle name, Louisa as "Lo-eye-za" with a long "O" and long "I" sound. Her parents were Claybourne M. and Mary Caroline Elder. They didn't live in Grantsville very long and in her first year the family were called to southern Utah. Her father was asked to take his sawmill and also to help with Indian problems. This proved to be a pattern in Mary Louisa's life as she lived many places throughout her life. She was mostly in Southern Utah in her formative years. Her family were some of the first settlers of Duncan's Retreat, a ghost town near Virgin, Utah. The settlement had a lot of problems with flooding of the Virgin River and was eventually abandoned. At age 9 Mary Louisa is listed in the 1970 Virgin, Utah census as Louisa.

Mary Louisa was 16 years old and cooking at a lumber camp in southern Utah when she met her future husband, Price William Nelson in 1877. They were married in the St. George temple on January 11, 1878.  He took her to St. George with his ox team on a load of lumber.  Her parents came along in a wagon drawn by horses.  When they got to Grafton the wagon broke down but her father let them take his horses and wagon and Mary Louisa's mother went with them to St. George.  Price William and Mary Louisa had their first child, Claybourne Edmund in November that year. 

We find Price William, Mary Louisa and their one year old son listed as living in St. John Village, Apache County, Arizona on the 1880 census.
Price William and Louisa had nine children together. We can follow the places the family lived by the birth places of the children. 
Claybourne Edmund (1878) and Price Williams (1882) were  born in Mesa, Arizona. Hyrum (1884) was born in Sunset City, Apache County, Arizona. James Mark (1885) was born at Lee's Ferry, Coconino County, Arizona. Mary Louisa (1888) and Rhoda May (1890) were born in Cave Valley, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico. Charlotte Lorane (1892) was born in Pacheco, Chihuahua, Mexico. Jonathan Pratt (1895)  and George Smith (1897) in Oaxaca, Bavispe, Sonora, Mexico. (Mary Louisa -back row - died at age 14 shortly after this photo was taken.)

In 1912 the Nelson family were among the refugees who had to leave the LDS Mexican colonies because of the Mexican Revolution. The family never returned and had to start over again in the United States. Price William states in his autobiography: 
We were "living in Oaxaca, Sonora, Mexico, at the time of the rebellion in 1912. The Mexican rebels soon after destroyed my whole life's earnings. I was pretty well-to-do at the time. I had a beautiful home right on the shores of the Bavispi River. The Mexican troops remained in our area about three weeks, taking me prisoner when they left, leaving my family penniless. After some time I was released to return to my home and family. On the twelfth of August 1912 we left our beautiful home and everything we had, never to return."

Price William and Mary Louisa with  their children still at home moved to the United States and settled in Utah. Mary Louisa only lived four years after their return to the United States. She died at age 55  on June 15th 1916 in Kanab, Utah. She was buried there but is also listed on her husband's headstone in St. George, Utah.

Mary Louisa was a polygamous wife and mother of nine children. She lived a hard pioneer life in many places and circumstances. Like many stalwart pioneer women there is very little written about her time on this earth.
Headstone in Kanab, Utah cemetery. The death date is incorrect.
The death certificate below shows the date as June 15, 1916

family records in possession of D. Larsen and R. Nelson
History of Claybourne Montgomery Elder
History of Price William Nelson

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