Colonel Robert William Nelson

From the family files at the Campbell County Historical Society

Colonel Robert William Nelson was born 3 Apr 1845 in Alexandria to Judge John Hayden Nelson and Marie Ellen Sallie.  His grandfather was Hayden Nelson from Caroline County, Virginia, one of the earliest settlers of Campbell County.  His father had served as a Campbell County judge and was a steamboat owner. Judge Nelson died 3 Nov 1889 in Newport.

Judge John Hayden Nelson's Obituary

Children of Judge John Hayden and Marie Ellen Sallie

1. Thomas John Nelson b-20 Mar 1828 d. 14 July 1854
2. John Hayden Nelson b-14 Sep 1830
3. Abraham S Nelson b-18 Jan 1832 d. 7 Jan 1833
4. Thursa Ann Nelson b-27 Jan 1837 d. 30 May 1842
5. Lucy H Nelson b-7 June 1839 d. 8 May 1886
6. Maria E Nelson b-5 Dec 1842 in Alexandria
7. Robert William Nelson b-3 Apr 1845 in Alexandria d. 9 Jan 1927

Robert Nelson also became an attorney, getting his early law experience in the office of John G Carlisle, an auspicious start.  Nelson obtained his law degree in 1866.  Initially he opened a law office in Alexandria, but in 1869 moved his law practice to Newport.

In the highly publicized Pearl Bryan murder trial, Nelson served on the prosecution team that got the conviction of Alonzo Walling and Scott Jackson.  Nelson make his greatest mark as a defense attorney, and earned a reputation as the attorney of choice in high profile cases.  As a Democrat he served as Campbell County attorney from 1869 to 1873, as a state legislator from 1877 to 1878 and as a Newport mayor from 1900-1904.

On 8 August 1877 he married Angeline G Elden.

As a businessman, he was one of the founders of the old Latonia Race Track and the German National Bank of Newport.  Nelson was also one of the backers of the constructions of Newport's Central Bridge, president and owner of the Georgetown Water, Gas, Electric and Power Co. and a trustee for Kentucky State University.

Along the way Nelson acquired the title of colonel because of his business successes not because of any military service.  He died 9 Jan 1927 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery.  The home he had built became known as Nelson Place and later the name extended to the street in front of the house.

St. Johns German Evangelical Protestant Church purchased the old mansion for $10,000 and on April 21, 1940, ground breaking ceremonies were held for construction of a church sanctuary to be built as an addition to the front of the Nelson Mansion.


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