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Biographies N

 Following are some biographies of families who at one time or another lived in Henry Co. Illinois. In some cases it is the grandparent, parent, sibling,  spouse or child who was a Henry Co. resident so please read carefully!


Charles G. Nelson, who is prominent in business circles at Kimball and well and favorably known in other sections, was born at Stanton, in Montgomery county, Iowa, February 22, 1872. His parents were Lars Peter and Loiuse (sic) Nelson, both of whom were born in Sweden. Their marriage took place in Henry county, Illinois, in 1866. Charles Gustav Nelson remained on the farm with his father until he was twenty-five years old. His father died at Stanton, Iowa, February 14, 1901, and his mother at Boone, Iowa, March 21, 1919.

In 1897 Mr. Nelson embarked in the real estate business at Stanton, three years later accepting a railway mail route and two years afterward. was appointed assistant postmaster at Stanton. On July 17, 1906, he came to Genoa, Nebraska and became identified with the insurance department of the Modern Woodmen of America and continued in that work for eighteen months. He was then called to Omaha as state manager for the Monarch Land & Loan Company of Kansas City, Missouri. He remained in that position for one year, then returned to Genoa and became associated with C. W. Kaley of Omaha, and became state manager for all of South Dakota and the northern half of  Nebraska for two years for the Woodman Accident Association, after which he was with the  Woodmen of the World for two years, Mr. Nelson then went into business of handling flour, feed and  produce, which enterprise he turned over to his son in July, 1916, and then established the Monarch Land Company of Genoa with William I. Martin. On March 1, 1919, a third interest in the business was bought by Carl O. Heart. On April 1, 1919, Mr. Nelson came to Kimball and established the real estate business in partnership with his son Wayne I., which is operated as the Monarch Land Company. A large land business is now being done in the western part of the county by this firm.

On June 14, 1895, Mr. Nelson was united in marriage to Miss Julia J. Peterson, a daughter of Gustav and Louise Peterson, who had children as follows: George, who died in infancy; Amanda, who died in infancy; Lydia, who is the widow of Herman Anderson; Emily, who lives at Genoa, Nebraska; George, who is deceased; Julia J., who is Mrs. Nelson; Annie, a twin sister, who died aged two and a half years; Gerhard, who is in the greenhouse business at Denver; Albert, who is a farmer near Genoa; Helga, who lives in Sweden; John, who is a merchant at Hult, Sweden; and   Edith, who died when nine years old. The parents of Mrs. Nelson died at Hult, Sweden.

To Mr. and Mrs. Nelson were born three sons and two daughters, namely: Frances, who is the wife of Reuben Dawson, a farmer north of Bushnell, and they have a little daughter, Dorothy; Hazel, who died when fifteen years old; Wayne I., who is associated in business with his father; Morris, who is a  farmer north of Bushnell; and Leland, who is attending school.

Mr. Nelson and his family belong to the Lutheran church. He belongs to the Odd Fellows, the Woodmen of the World, the Woodmen of America and the Royal Neighbors. Mr. Nelson is one of the county's far-sighted, trustworthy business men.

Source: History of Western Nebraska and Its People, Grant L. Shumway, Western Publishing and Engraving Co; 1921; vol III; p179-180


JOHN L. NELSON, of the firm of Lund & Nelson, furniture and undertaker, is a native of Sweden. In 1867, he came to Galesburg, Ill.; in 1869, came to Rock Island, Ill., and there worked at this business till September 1, 1881, when he came to Oakland and engaged in this business.

He was married, in 1872, to Caroline Chillstrum, of Henry County, Ill. They have four children, one son and three daughters.

Source: Andreas' History of Nebraska, 1883, Burt County, Town of Decatur


NELSON, N. W., P. O. Essex, confectioner and sewing machine agent; born in Henry county, Illinois, August 29, 1851, his father being the first Swede in Henry county. He lived there with his father on a farm until sixteen years of age, when he began work for himself at general labor on a farm. He clerked in a store one year, and moved to Essex in the fall of 1875, and clerked in a store about two and a half years. He went into the sewing machine business in the spring of 1878. He was also in the grocery business, for several years. During that time he was in partnership with the following parties, viz.: Brown, Pearson and Anderson. He finally set up for himself in the confectionery and sewing machine business, which he has followed ever since. Mr. Nelson and Malony opened the first restaurant in Essex in 1875. He was married September 7, 1880 , to Miss Laura Iliff, of Essex , born in New Jersey , August 13, 1858 . Mr. Nelson owns a lot and dwelling house, store room and barber shop on Main street in Essex .

Source: History of Page County, Iowa; Des Moines: Iowa Hist. Co., 1880 Pierce Twp p 764


Nels Nelson

NELS NELSON, son of Nels and Hanna (Johnson) Bengston, is a self-reliant and self-made man. He was born in Ebbared, Weinge Parish, Halland, Sweden, July 13, 1840.

His father lived on a small farm, which he tilled, and worked also at carpentry in order to secure the necessary means of subsistence of his family. In June 1854, he left Sweden for America,  leaving for lack of funds the oldest son, Nels, behind, who was then fourteen years of age. Shortly after the arrival of the family in Chicago, the father and youngest son contracted the cholera, which was epidemic there, and died of that disease. His mother, with her three children, then went to Andover, Henry County, Illinois, and soon after to Galesburg where they have lived ever since.

Young Nelson had no schooling in Sweden, but he learned to read at the paternal fireside. When only eight years of age, it seemed necessary that he should earn his own living, and for that purpose he secured employment in herding stock. In that manner, he supported himself until he was fourteen. Afterwards, the burden was lighter, but no time was given him for study or recreation.

At sixteen years of age, an opportunity to go to America came to him, which he most joyfully embraced. It was here that he received his first instruction in the public schools. He arrived in America, July 15, 1856, and immediately joined the broken family of his mother, two sisters and a brother. His first work was farming in Mercer and Henry counties, until he had earned enough to pay his fare from Sweden, which had been advanced by a friend, Bengt Nelson, to whom he yet feels indebted for his great kindness. He next found employment at the roundhouse of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad at Galesburg, working during the summers and attending school winters. In the Fall of 1860, he went into the furniture factory of Bartlett and Judson, and in the following year, he enlisted in a company of Swedish Americans, organized at Galesburg, in August 1961. He served as sergeant until March 3, 1865, and then, for meritorious service in the field was promoted to the First Lieutenancy. He not only took part in many skirmishes, but was in the battles of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), siege of Cornith, and Vicksburg. He was mustered out of service, November 30, 1865, arriving home in December.

He then commenced clerking in the grocery of Bancroft and Lanstrum, and also for a short time for O. T. Johnson and Brother, at Altona. On January 1, 1867, he started the grocery firm of Bengston, Nelson and Company at Galesburg, and soon built up a prosperous business. But owing to failing health, from the effects of his army life, he was compelled to retired from that business in January 1871. From this time until November 1875, he held the position of City Treasurer. Again failing health necessitated his retirement from all active duties. After recuperating, he again embarked in the mercantile business, which was continued until October 1883, when he was elected secretary of the Scandinavian Mutual Aid Association.

Mr. Nelson has filled other important positions and offices, and always with great credit. He served four years as a member of the Board of Education, served seven years on the Library Board, acting as its President for one term, and as Secretary four years; has been a member of the County Board of Supervisors for many years; and is at present Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary and Clerk's Offices in the Board; was a Director in the Cottage Hospital four years; and has also served on many committees appointed to act in the advancement of public enterprises.

Mr. Nelson's benevolent sympathies are broad and charitable. In every worthy enterprise, he has always aided to the extent of his limited means. His ruling desire has always been to be useful; aiding those in distress, cheering and encouraging the despondent and giving counsel to those asking advice. For thirty years a wide field of work has been open to him in assisting the many emigrants coming here from the Old Country. Much he has done to initiate them into the American ways of life.

In religious faith, Mr. Nelson is Lutheran. He was confirmed by the minister of the Lutheran Church of Weinge Parish, Sweden, when fifteen years of age. He is a member of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Galesburg, and a teacher in the Sabbath school. He has served as Trustee and Treasurer of the church for thirteen years.

In politics, he is a thoroughgoing republican. A firm believer in republican principles, he has always taken active interest in the success and welfare of the party.

He was married May 19, 1868, to Sarah Nelson, who died December 1898. To them were born two children: Arthur U., born July 29, 1869; and Edmund L., born March 1880, died in infancy.

Mrs. Nelson's parents died in Sweden. She came to this country in 1862. All her brothers and sisters were here, and all died before her.

Source: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County, Munsell Publishing Company. 1899


Robert G. Neville, who devotes his time and energies to farming and the raising, feeding and shipping of stock, makes his home on the northeast quarter of Section 29, Osco Township. He was born on a farm in Kickapoo Township, Peoria County, Illinois, on the 22d of June 1862, his parents being George and Catherine (Moorehead) Neville. The father passed away when his son, Robert G., was but ten years of age and the latter at once went to work to assist in the support of the family, receiving a wage of ten dollars per month. When but fourteen or fifteen years of age he was able to do a man's work, but his salary was not always in portion to his services. At the age of seventeen, however, he received a man's wages. He had but very limited educational opportunities in his youthful days and after he had attained the age of eighteen years he sent only a part of his wages home, saving the remainder in order that he might procure enough funds to enable him to continue his studies. It was at this time that he came to Henry County and during the first year worked in Munson Township for a Mr. Hadley. Subsequently he was in the employ of a Mr. Harriman in Osco for five years and it was while thus engaged that he spent two winter seasons as a student in the Davenport Business College.

On the 10th of February, 1886, in Osco, Mr. Neville was united in marriage to Miss Margaret McCurdy, of Osco Township. She was a native of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, but came to this county with her parents, Alexander and Catherine (Coneghy) McCurdy. Soon after his marriage Mr. Neville removed to Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska, where he was engaged in the operation of a rented farm for two years. In the spring of 1888 he returned to Osco township, taking up his abode on the farm which has remained his home to the present time and which was given to him by his father-in-law, Alexander McCurdy. There was a small house on the place but he has since made many substantial improvements and it is now lacking in none of the equipments and accessories of a model farm of the twentieth century. He is a man of untiring industry and good business ability, and has won a gratifying measure of success in his undertakings.

Unto Robert G. and Margaret (McCurdy) Neville were born four children, as follows: Alexander, whose birth occurred January 3, 1887, and who spent two years at the Geneseo Collegiate Institute; Robert, born August 4, 1888, who attended the Geneseo Collegiate Institute for three years after graduating from the grammar schools and is now a sophomore in the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois; Harold, born February 13, 1890, who is a grammar school graduate and has spent one year in the high school at Cambridge; and Margaret, whose natal day was July 4, 1896. The eldest child was born in Nebraska but the other three are all natives of Henry County, Illinois. The mother was called to her final rest on the 10th of July, 1896, just six days after the birth of her daughter Margaret, her remains being interred in Osco Township. On the 2d of January 1901, in Western Township, Mr. Neville was again married, his second union being with Miss Jennie Carson, a native of that township and a daughter of William and Agnes (Ferguson) Carson who were born, reared and married in Scotland. After the birth of their eldest child they crossed the Atlantic to the United States, settling in Western Township, this county. William Carson passed away on the 10th of March, 1909, but his wife still survives and makes her home with her children in Western Township.

Mr. Neville is a stanch Democrat in his political views and has held every public position within the fift of his fellow townsmen except those of collector and supervisor, ever proving most faithful and capable in the discharge of his official duties. Fraternally he is identified with Sherman Lodge, No. 535, A. F. & A. M., in which he has been junior deacon and junior warden, declining, however, to serve as worshipful master. Both he and his wife belong to Eastern Star lodge, No. 96, at Orion, in which he has acted as worthy patron, while his wife has filled all of the offices, including that of associate matron. He is likewise a charter member of Maple Stump Camp, No. 2248, M. W. A., of which he was first venerable consul, thus serving continuously for four years. He was twice sent as a delegate to the state camp. Mr. And Mrs. Neville also belong to the Royal Neighbors, in which organization the latter has filled all of the offices except that of oracle. In religious faith Mr. Neville is an Episcopalian and a valued and consistent member of Grace Church, in which he has served as vestryman. Both he and his wife are widely and favorably known throughout the entire community, having gained many friends during the long period of their residence here.

Source: "History of Henry County Illinois", by Henry L. Kiner, Volume II, Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Co 1910

Submitted by: Alice Gless


Few among the citizens of Kewanee have done more toward its improvement than the well known real-estate dealer, contractor, and builder, William A. Neville. He has erected many of the residences of the town, was the first to offer homes for sale upon the installment basis here, and has in other ways been connected with its best interests. To be sure the blood of pioneers flows in his veins, for his father, Patrick Neville, was one of the early settlers of this county. He was born in Ireland, in 1808, but about 1830 decided that he would come to America to try the unusual opportunities afforded here. He landed at Baltimore, where with the determination to get ahead as fast as he could, he found employment, receiving only six dollars a month as wages. The next year he commanded eight dollars, and the third, which was his last in the city, ten dollars a month. In 1833 he came to Illinois, locating in Fulton County, where he found work on a farm and was in the employ of Jacob emery, of Stark County, during 1836 and 1837. In the fall of the latter year he entered the southwest quarter of Section 24, Township 15 west, Range 4, east, of Burns Township, Henry County, and in the summer of 1838 employed Mr. Ogle of Toulon to break twenty acres of his land. In the summer of the next year he cam here, with a yoke of cattle, to make it his home, erecting for his shelter a log cabin.

This was a house of some importance during the next few years, for during the winter of 1849-50 it was used as the school house, in which William L. Dalrymple, late of Cambridge and now deceased, held classes. The school teacher in those days received the meager salary of twelve dollars a month, although he had in addition the privilege of boarding around at the homes of his pupils. In 1848, Mr. Neville built his frame house, which is still standing and was occupied until 1883. It was one of the best on the countryside in those days, as some of the more important of the early artisans in Henry County at that time contributed their labor to its erection. Mr. Neville hauled the lumber for it with an ox-team from Chicago, and from that city brought many of the appointments of building which were not in general use here. The house was provided with pine siding, with shingles, doors and sashes, and with flooring throughout. The lumber, however, was rough and was dressed by hand before it was put into the building. The contract for the erection of the house was given to Sullivan Howard, who was assisted by his son, James, and Nat Mayhew, it being the first piece of carpenter work intrusted to the last mentioned. The brick work was done by Michael Grant, of Sugar Tree Grove; the plastering by Tom Brown, also of Sugar Tree Grove, and the painting by Mr. Pratt, of Wethersfield. The frame was made of heavy timber hewed by William D. Cross. This house was finished in good style, was painted white on the outside with green blinds and might well bear comparison with that Samuel Carson put up the same year, or with that erected by Merrill Otis, in 1843, into whose making native lumber of Burns Township had gone. Mr. Neville did not live long to enjoy his new house, however, for he died April 16, 1850. He pursued farming after coming to Henry County, and was as successful as could be expected considering the character of the times.

About 1841, Mr. Neville married Miss Jane Pounds who was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, March 17, 1813, and when a child when to Fredericksburg, Ohio, with her parents. In 1840 she came to Illinois to live with a married sister in Stark County, where she met the man who later became her husband. Through her marriage she became the mother of file children. Thomas P., is now a resident of Stuart, Iowa. Mary A. Died in infancy. James L. living in Belleville, Kansas, was a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War and was taken prisoner at Harper's Ferry, enduring all the hardships of confinement in the southern prisons. P. H. lives upon a farm adjoining the old homestead. William A. is the subject of this sketch. Mrs. Neville long survived her husband, for her death did not occur until the 14th of February, 1896, when she was nearly eighty-four years old.

William A. Neville was born in the house which has just been described, February 3, 1855. He grew up on the old homestead, and he received his education from the public school of the district although the farm work was never interrupted on account of studies. At the age of twenty-one he left home, studied medicine for a time, and then in 1878, went to Stuart, Iowa, where he engaged in agriculture. Later he took up the carpenter's trade, which he followed until 1884, when he returned to Kewanee and established himself here as a carpenter and builder. After two years' experience he began taking contracts, continuing in that business to the present. He laid out the First and Second Neville additions here, besides plotting the Thelan and Neville addition to Wethersfield, and has put up many of the fine residences that adorn its streets. Since 1890 he has been dealing in real estate in connection with his other business, putting up numbers of comfortable homes which he sells to those of moderate means who desire to buy a house upon the installment plan. He is also the agent of several reputable insurance companies, having the assistance of his son Russell T. in this work. Mr. Neville stands forth as one of the best type of western progress and enterprise, to whom Kewanee owes not a little of its prosperity.

On the 14th of February, 1878, Mr. Neville was married to Miss Cynthia West of Kewanee Township. Four children have been born to them, namely: Russell T., of whom mention is made below; Frank R., a carpenter of Kewanee; and Ralph l. and Edna H. who are attending school. Mrs. Neville is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, while Mr. Neville has allied himself politically with the prohibitionists.

Russell T. Neville, the eldest son, was born in Stuart, Iowa, December 27, 1879. Being but four years of age when his parents came to Kewanee, he has virtually been reared in this town. He attended its public schools and when his education was completed engaged in business with his father. Now he has assumed charge of the insurance department while the latter conducts operations in real estate and building. In 1905 he was elected justice of the peace, being at that time the youngest man to hold that office in this section of the state, and in 1909 was reelected, his second term expiring in 1913. He has proved himself worthy of the confidence placed in his judgment. On the 26th of May 1903, he wedded Miss Mayme I. Ronstrum, of Kewanee, a daughter of Nels and Julia Ronstru, the former and painter and decorator here. One daughter, Dorothy, has been born of this union. Mr. Neville is a Knight Templar, belongs to the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias and to the Modern Woodmen of America and being a man of engaging personality he has made numerous friends among his lodge brethren and among the citizens of Kewanee.

Source: "History of Henry County Illinois", by Henry L. Kiner, Volume II, Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Co 1910

Submitted by: Alice Gless


Druggist, P. O. Essex; born in Andover , Henry county, Illinois , April 2, 1842 . Came to Page county, in 1875. Enlisted in company H, 1st Illinois light artillery, April 21, 1864 . He participated in the battles of Dalton, Reseca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain and at Atlanta. Was taken prisoner July 22, 1864, and released April 1, 1865, having been in Andersonville and other of the southern prisons. Was mustered out June 14, 1865 . Married Miss Deborah J. Bryant, a native of Illinois , February 6, 1877 . They have three children: Elbert S., William L. and Elsa May, the last named deceased.

Source: History of Page County, Iowa; Des Moines: Iowa Historical Co., 1880 Pierce Twp p 765


NORD, John M., section 36, P. O. Red Oak; was born in Smaland, Sweden, July 26, 1841, and in 1851 emigrated to Henry County, Illinois. In the fall of 1864 he enlisted in the army. Was in the battles of Atlanta, Savannah, Columbia, Benton Ridge, North Carolina, and many other smaller battles and skirmishes with General Sherman. Was in company D., Fifty-seventh Illinois infantry volunteers. He was married to Miss Anna Vanlow, March 11, 1867. They have six children, three living: Emma G., eight years old; John A., three years; Bertha H., one year. Mr. Nord is the owner of 320 acres of land, all in cultivation. Was educated in the common schools of Illinois. Mr. Nord has good stock on his farm, is feeding about a hundred hogs and also has about twenty-five head of cattle. Mr. Nord has made all that he possesses, by his perseverance and industry. His father (seventy-two years old) lives at Cambridge, Henry County, Illinois.

Source: History of Montgomery County Iowa, 1881 Grant Twp


Charles O. Norton is a man whose successful struggle with adverse circumstances shows what can be done by industry and economy, especially if a sensible wife seconds his efforts to secure a home and competence. He has been obliged to make his way in life without any of the aids which are usually considered essential to success, but prosperity has at length crowned his efforts and he is now the owner of a fine farm on the southwest quarter of section 12, township 13, range 4, Polk county.

Mr. Norton was born September 29, 1842, in Hillesocken, Sweden, and in the fall of 1849 started for America with his parents, Olaf and Catherina (Moller) Nordeen. While en route the mother died on a canal boat from cholera, but the father, with this three children--Lewis, Charles O. and Kate H.--proceeded to Henry county, Illinois, where they arrived in September.  At three different times he owned homes, but never lived very long in one place, spending his time in this country in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, and at length returning to Hille, Sweden, where his death occurred.

Reared in Illinois, Charles O. Norton acquired a good education in the public schools of Andover, which he attended until eighteen years of age. On the 29th of February, 1864, feeling that his adopted country needed his services, he enlisted in Company A, Forty-third Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and joined his regiment at Little Rock, Arkansas. He took part in all the movements in which they were engaged, and was afterward appointed warden of the military prison at Little Rock, where he remained until mustered out of service in November, 1865. Returning to Andover, Illinois,  he turned his attention to the more quiet pursuits of farm life.

On the 8th of October, 1866, Mr. Norton wedded Miss Mary S. Hurty, who was born in Andover, November 15, 1849, and was educated there. They have three children: Eleanora H., now the wife of Albert Lind, by whom she has three children, Hannah, Florence and Nellie; John O. N., who has attended Bryant University at Stromsburg, and is now a student at University Place, M. E., at  Lincoln, Nebraska, and Nettie, who completes the family. All have been liberally educated in both Swedish and English languages.

In 1873 Mr. Norton came to Polk county, Nebraska, and homesteaded the tract on which he still  lives. He built a small house thereon, and the first year planted ten acres of sod corn, three of  wheat and five of oats, but rented the ground for the last two products. 1874 was the year of the  dreadful grasshopper plague, and from the twenty-three bushels of oats which he sowed, he only reaped nineteen bushels, those insects taking the rest. They also destroyed a lot of poplar slips,  two hundred rods of hedge and a number of apple trees which he had set out, and although his wife tied a tablecloth, four double, over a pan of bread dough, they got in that. The next year, however, Mr. Norton raised good crops and has steadily prospered until he is now the owner of two hundred and forty acres of rich and productive land, all under cultivation with the exception of forty acres. He raises a fine grade of stock, and is to-day numbered among the most thorough and systematic agriculturists of his community. In 1888 he erected his present    comfortable residence at a cost of two thousand dollars, and underneath it has an excellent brick cellar and also a brick cistern. All of the improvements upon his place stand as monuments to his  thrift, industry and enterprise.

Mr. and Mrs. Norton are leading members of the Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church, known as Swede Plain Church, of which he is a trustee and also local preacher, besides serving as  superintendent of the Sunday school. Fraternally he affiliates with the Grand Army post at Stromsburg, and his political views coincide with the principles of the Republican party except on the money question, he being in advocate of the free coinage of silver. He has served as school  director in district No. 44 for years, has been assessor of Pleasant Home precinct, and has been the candidate of his party for the state legislature, and also for county treasurer. Polk county has no  more popular or influential citizen and he commands the respect and esteem of all with whom he comes in contact either in business or social life.

Source: Memorial and Biographical Record of Butler, Polk, Seward, York and Fillmore Counties Nebraska; Geo. A. Ogle & Co, Chicago 1899; p 457-458