History of Nelson, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


At the February meeting, 1860, of the Board of Supervisors that part of the Town of Dixon lying south of Rock River, in Town 21, Range 8, was set apart as the Town of Nelson. The earliest settler in the township was Luther Stone, who, with his sons, Burrell and Samuel, settled in 1836, on Section 29. Abner Coggswell settled on Section 30 in 1843. Uriah Gruver has been considered an old settler, but it was as late as 1854 when he came to Dixon, and it was 1865 when he settled on Section 26 in Nelson Township. Charles F. Hubbard settled on the northeast quarter of Section 11 an early day, but we have been unable to acertain the year. Nathan Morehouse located a short distance north of the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of Section 17 in 1847. William Bivens bought the farm and moved onto it in the spring of 1849. Lewis Brauer settled somewhere east of Bivens about the year 1849.

It is a singular fact that this township was backward in attracting early settlers, being sparsely settled prior to 1854. In the latter year Jacob and Solomon Harding, Daniel Uhl, John and Eli Geiger came. William Uhl settled on the northwest quarter of Section 23 about 1852. Frederick Haupt and his son, Fred, and Gerhard H. Missman settled in the township in 1855, and Eli Lloyd the next year. Arthur Phillips, John Mooers, Michael Trautman, Elijah Walker, Henry Heaton, Albert Hubbard and Conrad Hartman were among the settlers of the early or middle '50s.

Mention should be made of a set of young fellows who were known as the “Bluff Boys,’ and who made the cabin of Charles F. Hubbard, oa the river bluff, their headquarters. Among them were Alexander Charters, commonly known as the “Governor,” Carleton Bailey. Capt. William Graham and Mr. Hubbard. The group was composed of young scions of wealthy families in the East or across the waters, who had enjoyed the privileges of city schools and life, and had come to a new country for fun rather than business or the opportunities which pioneer life afforded. They, to a man, were jovial, high-spirited and not indifferent to the cup. “Gov.” Charters became the host of Hazelwood; Carleton Bailey settled in Dixon Township in the Bend opposite Grand Detour Town ship; Capt. Graham acquired land in Palmyra Township. All were congenial companions and became endeared to those about them.

Zion Lutheran church was organized in the township at an early date, and services were held in a little school house located on southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 23, which was built about the year 1856. In a short time a larger school house was erected on the spot, which was also used for church services until about the year 1880, when it was torn down. The present church building owned and occupied by the society, was built in 1880 and stands on the southeast corner of Section 22. The cemetery which was started within the same enclosure where the small school house stood, has been enlarged and is controlled by the Pine Grove Cemetery Association, which was recently incorporated under the State law.

December 22, 1862, the “Town of Nelson” was platted on land of Willard S. Pope and Samuel Nelson. In 1902 and 1903 the Chicago & North-Western Railroad Company built a branch, leaving its main line at Nelson, and running thence to Peoria, and here at Nelson tbey erected large coal sheds. This has given something of an impetus to the little village and it is manifesting unmistakable signs of growth.

Nelson had a population in 1890 of 454 and, in 1900, of 586, as shown by the Government census.

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