Nelson family members were involved throughout county

Published 1:50 am Saturday, September 20, 2014

The earliest ancestor of the Nelson family who settled in Covington and surrounding counties was William Nelson. He was born in 1735 in the Country of Ireland, and he died in 1804 in Huntington, Penn. It is believed that his wife was Catherine? And that they had a son named John S. Nelson who was born in 1774 in Pennsylvania and died there in 1850. He was married to Margaret Graffins (1776-1845).

John S. and Margaret had a son whom they named John Nelson. John was born in 1803 and died also in 1850. He was married to Sarah Elizabeth Clifton who was born in 1806 and died in 1859. John and Sarah Elizabeth Nelson had the following children: George Washington, b. 1824, d. 1892, m. Sarah Elizabeth Carpenter (1838-1912); John Clifton, b. 1828, d. 1907; George, b. 1830, d. 1863; Sarah, b. 1834; Tallapoosa “Tassie,” b. 1835, d. 1916; and James M. “Jim,” b. 1837, d. 1910, m. Emma Liza Smith (ca 1842-after1910).

A review of county records reveals the involvement of a number of Nelson descendants. As early as August 12, 1826, a Lt. James Nelson of Beat Number One Company was serving in the 46th Regiment (Covington and Dale Counties), 11th Brigade, 4th Division, Alabama Militia, 1826-1832). This writer did not determine his relationship to this family, but he is most likely a member of it.

Several members of the family served in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States. Wiley Nelson was a private in Company I, 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment under Capt. Hiram Gantt. George Washington Nelson was a private in Company F., 33rd. Alabama Infantry Regiment. A. Nelson, at age 41, was a private in Company C., Covington County Reserves, but the medical board dismissed him. Following the war, in 1867 W.G. (? G.W.) was listed as a registered voter in Beat Four.

When the Valley Grove Primitive Baptist Church was constituted in 1887, the following Nelsons were participants: C.E., S.D., A.H. and A.S. In 1926, Mr. and Mrs. Lenwood Nelson were charter members of the new Smyrna Baptist Church, located northeast of Florala. Monroe Nelson began preaching for the Babbie Baptist church in 1953. The Nelson family was one of the earliest to settle at Babbie and Estothel, which is located in the southeast section of the county. Hershel Nelson preached at one time for the Gridertown Church of Christ southeast of Opp.

Members of the Nelson family began to homestead government land beginning in 1872 when Ansel Nelson claimed 80.77 acres in the Union Township. That land transaction was canceled, and James T. Nelson claimed it as well as homesteading another 80.77 acres in same area during the same year. In 1899, George W. Nelson homesteaded 159.34 acres in the same township. Also in 1899, Charles E. Nelson homesteaded 161.97 acres in the Antioch Township. A few years later in 1911, Luther C. Nelson homesteaded 159.90 acres in the Red Oak Township. During the next year of 1912, Elisha P. Nelson homesteaded two tracts, 41.43 acres and 124.40 acres, in the Red Oak area.

Back to the lineage of this family, the John and Sarah Elizabeth Nelson’s youngest son, James M. “Jim” Nelson, was married to Emma Liza Smith, daughter of Richard Smith (1806-1859) and Elizabeth (Moody) (1804-1894). He was one of the ancestors to being the family to Covington County. This couple was residing in the Rose Hill community when their children were born in the 1960s. In 1910, the older couple was living in the Williams Precinct of Covington County. Two of their children were Sarah, b. ca 1862, m. Henry Sasser (probably son of James Irvin Sasser); and George Washington “Wash,” b. 1864, d. 1934, m. Eliza Maddox.

Their son, Wash Nelson, and his wife, Eliza, reared the following children: Alice E., b. 1883; Robert Linwood, b. 1884, m. Ida Nelson; Kie Washington, b. 1887, d. 1972, m. Bee Etta Nelson; Cassie, b. 1889; Mollie S., b. 1891; Mercy A. “Mixy,” b. 1894; and Cordie, b. 1897, d. 1930, m. Leonard B. Paul.

John and Sarah Elizabeth Nelson’s oldest son, George Washington Nelson, is another ancestor who brought the family to South Alabama. He was residing in Coffee County, Ala., when he died and was buried in the Antioch Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, which is located in Northern Coffee County a short distance above Bullock in Crenshaw County.

George Washington “Buck” Nelson was married in 1855 to Sarah Elizabeth Carpenter, daughter of William Bailey and Rebecca Savannah (Donaldson) Carpenter. Sarah or “Sallie” was born in 1838 in Dale County, Ala., and died in 1912 in Coffee. Her parents, William and Rebecca S. Carpenter, were both born in South Carolina and died in Alabama.

George Washington and Sallie lived most of their lives in Coffee, Covington and Crenshaw Counties. Many of their descendants and relatives were buried near them in the Antioch Cemetery. After their first four children were born, George W. rendered service in the Confederate Army as a private in Company F., 33rd. Infantry Regiment of Volunteers. In his later years he applied on May 9, 1891, for a pension based on that service.

Neither George nor Sallie could write, so they used a “+” for their signatures. They certainly appear to have been successful and a happy family as they reared 14 or 15 children. These included the following: William J. or C., b. 1855, m. ? Marandi ?; Emily M., b. 1858, m. Joseph Jake Aldridge; James Matthew Jim,” b. 1859, d. 1950, m. 1891 Frances C. Nelson; Mary, b. 1860, d. 1959, m. 1885 Andrew Jackson “Jack” Bryan(t); Zelphia Susanna, b. 1864, d. 1946, m. 1882 Stephen “Teeb” Jackson; Benjamin David “Buck,” b. 1867, d. 1944, m. Elizabeth “Polly” Rushing (1872-1938); Joannah L. Susannah “Nancy,” b. 1869, d. 1946, m. 1889 Dorsey B. Bryan(t); Aquilla “Quillie,” b. 1871 or 1873, d. 1959, m. Martha Ann Rogers; George Ann, b. 1875, m. 1891 W.J. Atwell; Victoria Elizabeth “Babe,” b. 1876, d. 1972, m 1891 William Anderson “Bill” Henley (1868-1942); Elwood W., b. 1878, d. 1958, m. Alice Rogers (1875-1955); (twin) Manble “Mannie” Bazel, b. 1878, d. 1960, m. Eula Catrett; Johannah Bama; b. 1880, d. 1964, m. 1898 George


Holmes; and Manuel, b. 1881.

It is planned for additional generations of the Nelson family can be presented in next week’s column.

Sources for this writing include, census records, Wyley D. Ward’s Early History of Covington County, 1821-1871. Ward’s Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama, Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976, The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama and the family research records of Scott Smith and Johnnie Meeks.

Anyone who may find an error in the above data or who has additional information is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email:



The Covington Historical Society will be meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 25, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library.