Arthur Pinckney Nelson

Arthur Pinckney Nelson was born on July 22, 1848 in White County, Tennessee. His father, Jesse T. Nelson, was born in Virginia and reared in North Carolina. Jesse Nelson moved to Tennessee and engaged in the trade of wagon and carriage making, as well as farming. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Nelson family was residing in Spencer, Van Buren County, where Jesse Nelson was prominent in public affairs, serving as a justice of the peace and in other positions of importance. Because of his Union sympathies, he was constantly harassed by the secessionists. In 1863 he moved his family to Illinois, traveling at night to avoid detection, as his son, Arthur P. Nelson, was reaching an age when he would be conscripted into the Confederate Army. During the early stages of the war they acted in the interests of the famous “Underground Railway,” aiding the Union men to escape from Tennessee to the federal lines in Kentucky. Fifteen-year-old Arthur would guide them by night from his father’s house over the mountains to their next place of refuge.
In Olney, Richland County, Illinois, Jesse Nelson located his family and engaged in farming until his death in 1866. His wife, the former Sarah Buckley, was born in North Carolina and died in Illinois, having raised a family of seven children. The eldest, Arthur Pinckney Nelson, received his primary education in the district schools of Tennessee and attended Burrett College at Spencer for one term when the lure of the Civil War interrupted his educational pursuits. In February 1865, he enlisted in Company E, 155th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and served in Tennessee within sixty miles of his former home. He was honorably discharged in August of the same year. Soon after his return home his father died, leaving him the head of the family at the age of seventeen years.
Arthur Nelson managed the home farm and until 1875 cared for his mother, brothers and sisters, and, having previously learned the carpentry trade, worked at this pursuit for two years. He then accepted a position in the department of bridges, buildings and water supply for the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad (later the Baltimore and Ohio) and retained his connection with the railroad until 1887. He left the Midwest and came to California shortly after the death of his first wife, the former Mary L. Bowen, who was born in Ohio and died in Illinois. In San Bernardino County, he married Lou Perkins, a native of Michigan. Mr. Nelson had no children.
In California, Nelson accepted employment as a carpenter in Mound City, now known as Loma Linda. He worked in Southern California until February of 1889 when he decided to go to San Francisco and from there to Portland, Oregon, where he was engaged in construction until the fall of that year. He returned to California and worked at his trade in Berkeley until April 1890, when he returned to San Bernardino County. He had previously become interested in the nursery business in Mound City and felt it necessary to return and attend to those interests.
After relocating in Mound City in 1890, Nelson took charge of the work himself and soon bought and added additional acreage to his citrus nursery and orange groves. In 1894 he was called upon to accept the management of the 187-acre Whittier Ranch. Nelson made many improvements and built the property to one fo the finest citrus ranches in San Bernardino County. He was regarded as among the finest horticulturists in Southern California.
Nelson took an active part in public affairs and ran for and was elected Fifth District Supervisor in 1904. He served on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors from January 4, 1905 until January 3, 1909, succeeding John D. Clark and being succeeded by Sidney V. Horton. Following his term as one of the county’s highest elected officials, he returned to his very successful pursuits as a rancher.
Nelson had been made a Mason in Olney, Illinois and was a member of the Redlands Lodge #300 before transferring to the Phoenix Lodge, F. and A.M., in San Bernardino. Politically he was a staunch Republican and served as a member of the Republican County Central Committee for many years. As a member of the Redlands Board of Trade, he was active in advancing the business interests of the community.
Following a prolonged period of failing health, Arthur Nelson died at the age of 75 on October 28, 1923, at his home at 2066 Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino. He was survived by his widow, Lou P. Nelson and three brothers.

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