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Below is a family biography included in The History of Benton County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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John A. Nelson, a prominent farmer of Hico Township was born in Spartanburgh County, S. C., and is the son of James and Annie (Cantrell) Nelson. The mother was born in Spartanburgh County, S. C., and was the daughter of John and Sallie Cantrell. The father was born in the same State, and was of Virginian parentage, a son of John and Creecy Nelson. He moved to Buncombe County, now Henderson County, N. C., at an early date, remained there for thirteen years, and then moved to Lumpkin County, Ga., where he died in 1845. He had followed agricultural pursuits all his life. The mother was born in South Carolina. and died in Georgia in 1864, her death being caused by fright and excitement into which she was thrown by the battle of Altoona Pass, she being on a visit to her sister who lived there. Of the eight children born to their union, six grew to maturity, but all are now deceased with the exception of John A. and a sister. The former was reared on farms in North Carolina and Georgia, and remained with his mother until grown. He then spent three years mining in California, was reasonably successful and returned to his home, and on October 15, 1854, he married Miss Turzah A. Lott, of Forsyth County, Ga., born August 17, 1837, and the daughter of Judge John G. Lott, a prominent citizen of Forsyth County, Ga. To Dr. and Mrs. Nelson were born eleven children: Charles H., James L., John P., Oscar E., Ella E. (deceased), Augusta L. (deceased), Harlow (deceased), Alice (deceased), Emma A., Lula S. and Maggie Lee. After marriage Mr. Nelson farmed until the breaking out of the late war, when he enlisted in the Confederate army, and was in service three years in Wheeler’s Cavalry. He served first as a private, and was afterward made first lieutenant of Company F, of Burke’s battalion. After the war he farmed in Georgia until 1866, when he moved to Washington County, Ark., where he remained two years. He then resided near Bentonville one year, and about 1869 he moved to his present property, which is situated five miles northeast of Siloam Springs, and which consists of 160 acres, about eighty under cultivation. Mrs. Nelson died November 30, 1877, and was a consistent member of the Missionary Baptist Church. April 14, 1887, Mr. Nelson took for his second wife Mrs. Anis A. Overton of Washington County, and the daughter of R. M. Huffmaster, an old citizen of Washington County, Ark. He and wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church and are excellent citizens. Mr. Nelson has been a Democrat all his life, and takes great interest in public affairs.

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This family biography is one of 240 biographies included in The History of Benton County, Arkansas published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Benton County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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