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Submitted by Dan Huddleston.

Nathaniel Nelson was born April 25, 1840 in Wellsburg, West Virginia. He worked as a laborer and was married August 10, 1857 to Katie Ann Fitch in nearby Independence, Washington County, Pennsylvania, by Justice of the Peace, J. R. McConaughy. Neither of them had been married before. They lived at 1025 Yankee Street, Wellsburg when Katie gave birth to their first two sons, George W. Nelson, October 13, 1858, and J. E. Nelson, December 20, 1861.

(Note: When Nathaniel Nelson filled in the Department of Interior, Bureau of Pensions form, August 21, 1906, he stated he was married to Katie on August 10, 1857. From a supporting letter, dated November 9, 1907, also in the file: I. G. W. McCord, Clerk of the County Court of the said County (Brooke) do certify that: it appears of record in the Register of Marriages kept in my office, of which record I am the legal custodian, that Nathaniel Nelson and K. A. Fitch both of Wellsburg in the State of Virginia (sic) were united in marriage at Independence, Pennsylvannia, by J. R. McConaughy, a justice of the peace of Washington County, Pennsylvannia, on the 10th day of August, A.D. 1858.)

On August 8, 1862, Nathaniel Nelson, age 22, joined the Union Army at Wellsburgh, (sic) Virginia (Now Wellsburg, West Virginia) for a period of 3 years, assigned to Company K, 12 Virginia Infantry. He joined his company August 30, 1862, at Wheeling, West Virginia and the unit became the Company K, 12th West Virginia Infantry Volunteers in 1863. Nathaniel was 5 feet 7 inches tall, light complexion, with red hair and gray eyes. He was paid premiums and bounties for joining, according to company clerk Dickerson.

Nathaniel Nelson had the following company musters/pay period records:

September and October 1862 (Present)
January and February 1863 (Present)
March and April 1863 (Present)
April 10, 1863 Went home for furlough.
May and June 1863 (Absent) Missing in Action at Winchester, Virginia: June15, 1863
July and August 1863 (Absent) Missing in Action at Winchester, Virginia: June15, 1863

Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records:
Captured at Winchester Virginia June 15, 1863, he was confined in Richmond, Virginia, June 23, 1863. He was paroled at City Point, Virginia July 19, 1863, reported at Camp Parole, Maryland July 20, 1863 and returned to his unit Oct. 8, 1863. (Prisoner of War records Volume 12, Page 70, Volume 40, Page 218 2, O.R. Ex. Volume 6.)

September and October 1863, (Present) Returned from missing in action Oct. 8, 1863
Stop for transportation and paid $5.70
November and December 1863 (Present)
January and February 1864 (Present)
March and April 1864 (Present)
May and June 1864 (Present)
July and August 1864 (Present)
November and December 1864 (Present)
January and February 1865 (Present)
March and April 1865 (Absent) Detailed as Provost at Camp headquarters.

Nathaniel Nelson was mustered out at Richmond, Virginia June 16, 1865. He was last paid Dec. 31, 1864 and he settled his uniform account in Oct. 1, 1863. He had drawn $87.19 since, was due a $25.00 bounty, and received a total of $75.00, as final pay.

After the war, Nathaniel went to work as a machinist and steam engineer. On May 2, 1866 Lena Nelson was born, the future Mrs. Lena Burchett. She was followed by Nellie Nelson on Jan 11, 1868, the future Mrs. Nellie La Roche. On August 5, 1871, another son, Andrew Nelson, was born. Next were Rachel Nelson, November 15, 1872, the future Mrs. Nichols, and Ida Nelson, born September 27, 1874. The youngest child was James W. Nelson, born October 8, 1882. (Information is from Nathaniel's affidavit, signed September 4, 1906.)

On May 26, 1890, Nathaniel applied for a pension ( application 778193, certificate 1125993 ), claiming a hearing loss. He stated that his hearing was fine when he joined the army but he realized while he was standing picket guard, December 31, 1864, that he had lost his hearing. He said that when his relief walked upon him, he didn't hear him. Apparently this first application was never activated. His pension request is supported by William A. Billingsley and Martin Brownlee who testify they fought with him in Company K, and could verify he had lost his hearing during the war. His application is also supported by C. K. Jacob and Joseph Letzhus, neighbors, who said they knew him before the war and that he lost his hearing during the war.

Nathaniel applied again on September of 1905. He was examined twice and his loss of hearing was confirmed. The doctors determined that he couldn't hear loud conversations more than several feet away, as reported by Doctor B. B. Dovener.

On August 30 1907, Nathaniel Nelson died of Bright's disease, according to his physician, J. B. Wachinshaw.

In November of 1907 an attorney for the Widow, Katie Nelson, wrote to Congressman W. P. Hubbard concerning Nathaniel's pension. He wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions on her behalf and she was awarded his back pension and her widow's pension.

On September 26, 1916, Katie A. Nelson wrote to the Bureau of Pensions requesting an increase of her pension, as provided by the first section of the Act of Sept. 8, 1916. I am seventy-five years of age, having been born at Steubenville, Ohio December 31, 1841. (application 880987, certificate 648188)

Katie Ann Nelson died January 19, 1922.

All the above information was transcribed from the following:

  • Civil War Compiled Military Records for Union Soldiers who served in Organizations from the State of West Virginia: Series M508, Roll 201, 12th Infantry, Nathaniel Nelson National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
  • Pension files for Nathaniel and Katie A. Nelson
  • Invalid Pension application 778193 and certificate number 1125993
  • Widow's Pension application 880987 and certificate number 648188
  • National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

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