An American Family History

Nelson Family

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania was established on September 20, 1787 as a large region of Central Pennsylvania. It was previously part of Bedford County and the earlier Cumberland Region.

William Nelson was born in Ireland.

John Nelson (1774, married Margaret Graffius in 1802),
William Nelson (married Elizabeth Thompson)

William was in Little's Company in 1788.

William died in 1804.







from History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania by J. Simpson Africa Philadelphia, PA: Louis H. Everts, 1883, pp. 307-317.  Contributed by Mike Gifford & Ken Boonie. 

Farther up the valley lived William Nelson, an Irishman, who had been with Braddock in his campaign in 1755. In 1765 he settled on [what was in 1883] the John C. Wilson place, on Nelson's Run. He was a scout during the Revolution. 

He died in 1804, and was buried at Manor Hill. His sons were John and William. The former was born in Logan in 1774, and married Margaret, a daughter of Nicholas Graffius, in 1802, moving to Mercer County the same year. His son John is yet a resident of the township. William, the other son, born in 1777, married Elizabeth Thompson, and lived on the homestead until his death in 1853.


The French and Indian War lasted from 1754 to 1763 and was the North American phase of the Seven Years' War.

 from A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania: A ..., Volume 2 edited by John G. White

. . .John Nelson, was born in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. December 24. 1774, a son of William Nelson. 

William Nelson was a native, it is supposed, of Ireland. He came to America in colonial days, settled in Pennsylvania, and during the French and Indian wars fought under General Braddock, being with him at the time of his defeat, in 1755. Subsequently locating in Huntingdon county, he there resided during the remainder of his life.

Although very young at the time of the Revolution, John Nelson remembered many incidents connected with its closing years, the sufferings and terror caused by the Indians, who cruelly murdered women and children in the neighborhood in which he lived, making a vivid impression upon his childish mind.

In 1794. prior to attaining his majority, he left home and spent two years on the frontier in Kentucky and Ohio.

In 1802 he settled in Franklin, Venango county. Pennsylvania, but at the end of eight years,

in 1810, he returned to the parental homestead, in Huntingdon county near Petersburg, and there assisted in building upon the place a commodious stone house, which is still standing and is in good repair. He was subsequently there actively engaged in farming and stock-raising for a number of years.

In 1836 he came to Mercer county on a prospecting tour, bought a large tract of donation land in Springfield township, paying eight dollars an acre for it. In 1837 he came here with his children and their families to live, making an overland trip and bringing all of their earthly effects. The heavily timbered country roundabout was then the home of the wily red man and of numerous wild beasts of the forest. Locating in the eastern part of the township, he built a house close to that of his oldest son, and here resided until his death in 1859.

John Nelson married, in 1802, Margaret, called Peggy, Graffius, who was born October 27, 1776, and on her mother's side belonged to the Carroll family and was a relative of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, and of Capt. Henry Lee, famous as "Light Horse Harry," the father of Gen. Robert E. Lee, of Virginia. She bore him seven children, as follows: John, Nicholas, James, Daniel. Harriet, Margaret, and Lydia.

Accompanied by his wife and two children, James Alexander Nelson left Franklin, his native town, in 1837, and with his father, brothers and sisters, and their families, came to Mercer county and located in Springfield township on a tract of land which his father the previous year had purchased, paying for it with gold which he brought with him in his saddlebags. This part of the country was then in its primitive wildness,

Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2020
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