Bernt (Ben) Nelson, 1845-1940
Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 2/27/2009 at 12:22:05
Another Emmet county pioneer answered his last summons Sunday afternoon [January 28, 1940] when Bernt (or Ben, as he was familiarly known) Nelson passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Martin Natterstad. At the time of his death Mr. Nelson was 94 years of age. In spite of his old age Mr. Nelson had been active and able to be around until eight days preceding his death. His eyesight was exceptionally good for a person of his years and prior to his last illness was able to read without use of his glasses. His hearing, however, was not so good the past years, but he was able to enjoy radio sermons, especially the Norwegian services broadcast from St. Olaf College.
Bernt Nielsen was born on April 25, 1845. He was baptized on June 8, 1845 into the Fluberg Lutheran church in the Sondre Land Clerical District in Oppland Fylke, Norway and later he became a communicant member through confirmation. At the age of 22 he came to America and made his home with an uncle in Allamakee county. He stayed there a year and then sought work in the lumbering camps in Menomoni and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In 1872 he came to Emmet county, where he has made his home ever since.
The quarter section farm where he located, he purchased at that time for $800. Lumber for the first buildings was hauled from Windom, Minn. with a team of oxen. After he was located on his farm Mr. Nelson and his brother sent to Norway for their parents and they made their home with him until their death. [Bernt's parents were Niels and Anna Helgesen who were living on the Kronborg farm when Bernt was born. Bernt used his Norwegian patronymic name, Bernt Nielsen, in America, until he Americanized it to Ben Nelson.]
On December 10, 1895 Mr. Nelson was united in marriage to Miss Lena Brunsvold, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ole Brunsvold of Estherville. Two children were born to them, A daughter, Mrs. Martin Natterstad, and a son, Adolph, who died in infancy.
Mr. Nelson was the last of the pioneer members of the Estherville Lutheran congregation who resided in the settlement of Norwegian farmers northwest of Estherville. He was instrumental in the founding of the local Estherville Lutheran church and has always been one of its most faithful and sincere members until his declining years prevented him from attending due to his inability to hear.
In 1908 Mr. Nelson gave up active work on the farm, but he and his wife continued to live there while neighbors worked the land. Mrs. Nelson passed away on May 3, 1937. Since that time Mr. Nelson has made his home there with his daughter.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 o'clock from the home and at 1:30 o'clock from the Estherville Lutheran church, with the Rev. L. A. Mathre in charge. Interment will be made in the family plot in the Norwegian cemetery.
Contributed by: Ruth Hackett. Sources: Iowa Vindicator and Republican, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, January 30, 1940; Norwegian American Genealogical Center, Madison, WI.
Emmet Obituaries maintained by LaVern Velau.
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