There are a few brick walls in my tree that drive me a little nuts.  One of them being good old Alexander Brown…where I get my surname. One of the worst is on my husband Andrew’s side though, where he gets HIS surname:  James A. Nelson.  I believe the A to stand for Alexander but I am not completely positive.

I finally decided to follow the genealogy rule of “people move together”.  I knew his wife’s mother, father, and siblings…so I followed their movement.  What I found were familiar towns, familiar names, and good old James A. Nelson, well after I thought he’d died somewhere in the western wilderness.  I also discovered his brother, Adam Rankin Nelson.  At least I think it’s his brother.

I’m not sure why, but James ended up in Missouri in 1870 living with his brother and his family, leaving his own family in Keithsburg, Illinois.  His brother continued south to Dallas.  I found him living there in 1880.  Once again, James is nowhere to be found after 1870.  But that’s ok, there has been progress!  So what else did I learn from this new info?

  • Adam was born in Scott County, KY just a few years after James was born in Kentucky.   So I am assuming for now that James was also born in Scott County.
  • Their father is from Pennsylvania and their mother from Virginia.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if James was also their father’s name.  It was a name passed down through generations in that family.  Through both brothers.  Andrew’s middle name is even James (even though it’s really for his grandfather through his mother).

I am grateful for the person who posted the biographical sketches from Dallas County Texas for me to find some information about Adam Rankin Nelson and his son.  Good old internet.  Where would we be without you?

Other information I have gathered from James Nelson is very interesting.  He seems to have been (along with his brother) the original developer of Broad Ripple, on the north side of Indianapolis.  He laid out the area south of the canal and called it Wellington, after the Duke of Wellington, and the north side was platted by someone else and called Broad Ripple.  Both areas sort of competed with each other to be the major focus of commerce in Indianapolis (which would actually now be the current downtown Indianapolis thanks to the White River which was actually kind of useless for any sort of commerce).  So obviously neither won that competition, but Broad Ripple definitely won in the name game.  The name of Wellington just sort of fell off and the whole area is now known as Broad Ripple.  Nelsons (my in-laws) still live 5 minutes away from his invention of a town, and I love that.

Anyone interested in the history of this area (and involvement of the Nelsons), here are some links:

Historic Indianapolis Mailbag:  Broad Ripple Cemetery

Sulgrove, B. R., History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Philadelphia:  L.H. Everts & Co., 1884, 785 pgs., Page 623