Cottonwood County MN Biographies--John E. Nelson
"History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties of Minnesota, 1916"



John E. Nelson is a native Norwegian, born in Norway, August 30, 1863. He is a son of Ole and Inger (Danielson) Nelson, who were also natives of Norway.

Ole Nelson came to America in 1884 and located in Windom, Cottonwood county, Minnesota. Here he opened a shop and engaged in the harness business, which he continued until his death, which occurred in September, 1901, at the age of sixty-nine years. He was the father of eleven children: John (deceased), Matilda, Adolph Daniel, Carl, engaged in the hardware business in Windom, Minnesota; John E., Allta, died in Buffalo, Minnesota, in 1915, aged forty-eight years; Ohtda died in Norway, aged thirteen; Nels (deceased), Nels (deceased), Nels (deceased), and Rolf, living in Sioux City, Minnesota.

John E. Nelson was educated in the public schools of Norway. While a young man he went to sea as a sailor and followed this occupation for six years. He made trips to England, South America, Mexico, Cuba and many other places, and experienced all the hardships and dangers of a sailor's life, while engaged in this business. In the spring of 1884, then not and located in Windom, Cottonwood county, Minnesota. Here he was employed in farming for about three years, and then worked at the same business for about two years at Heron Lake, in Jackson county. In 1888 he went to Washington, then a territory, and was employed by the Puget Sound in scaling logs for about three years. In 1891 he returned to Windom and opened up a harness business, which he continued in that place until September, 1900, when he removed his shop to Westbrook. Here he has since continued the business, handling a complete stock of everything in the harness line.

Mr. Nelson was married to Nettie Tolefson in 1887, and to this union four children have been born: Maude I., Howard E., Phoebe and James, who died at Windom aged six years. They are members of the Baptist church. Mr. Nelson is one of the trustees at the present time. He has served ten years on the school board, and has been president of the board for nine years. He has also served as a member of the village council.

Mr. Nelson is also largely interested in the banking business. At the present time he is a stockholder and vice-president of the First National Bank of Westbrook; vice-president of the State Bank, at Dovray, Murray county, and a director of the Farmers State Bank, at Storden, Cottonwood county. He has also had some dealings in real estate, and has some valuable real-estate holdings at the present time. In 1903 he built the splendid home in which he now lives. He is giving his children the opportunity of obtaining a good education, an opportunity which he, himself, did not have in his youthful years. He is deeply interested in the promotion of schools and educational advantages in the community, and as a member of the school board, on which he has had so long service, he has been largely instrumental in building up the schools and in bringing them to the high state of efficiency they now have.