Better Days Are Coming


Prepared by Carolyne J. Butler
THOMAS NELSON (1745-1846, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia)
HENRY NELSON (1801-1876, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia)
THOMAS NELSON (1833-1905, Alabama, Georgia)
HENRY HOMER NELSON (1876-1950, Georgia, Alabama)
THOMAS OAKLEY NELSON (1897-1963, Georgia, Alabama, Florida)
MARGUERITE NELSON KEMP (1919-1996, Alabama, Florida)

THOMAS NELSON (1745-1846)



I have no definite information on the ancestry of Thomas Nelson, although one Nelson/Woodward researcher (Thad Nelson Morris) said Thomas's father was also named Thomas Nelson and was also in the Revolutionary War. This is because he had ordered Thomas Nelson's war records and when he received them they included extra records from another Thomas Nelson, apparently this Thomas Nelson's father.

I also believe, but have no proof, that James Nelson (17??-1835), born in Orange County, NC, who was living in Fairfield County, SC, near Thomas Nelson, was Thomas's brother or cousin. Both married into the Woodward family: Thomas Nelson married Susannah Woodward. James Nelson married Margaret Woodward, daughter of Thomas Woodward ("the Regulator") and his first wife Jemima Collins. James Nelson's will, proved 3 August 1835, lists the following family names: wife, Margaret; sons, Jesse, Daniel, John, and Thomas; daughters, Mary Kennedy, Catherine Delenney, and Harriet Shedd.

Thomas Nelson was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, on 25 November 1745. He lived in NC as a child, then moved with his father to South Carolina, where he lived until 1831. He married Susannah Woodward, probably in Fairfield County, SC, at an unknown date. In 1831 or 1833, he moved to Pike County, Georgia, and lived there until his death on 27 March 1846.

Susannah Woodward is related to the other Woodwards in Fairfield County, but I have never found any documents to prove the connection. Thad Morris Nelson said that Susannah's parents were John Woodward and Esther Mcdonald Woodward. He states: "Reading about John Woodward, wealthy and powerful man, and about Thos. Nelson as described in a book on the church in SC, they were obviously worlds apart in every way. For his first child to marry such a man was devastating! And he disowned his child never to reconcile. An irresistible force met an immovable object! Resulting in a family tragedy as I see it." (See Susannah's obituary, which indicates there was a problem between her and her parents.)

Susannah was about 27 years younger than Thomas. Whatever the reason for the family rift, it may explain why Susannah's name is not found on any of the Woodward wills as far as I can find. I believe that Susannah may have been closely related to Margaret Woodward who married James Nelson (who I think may have been a brother of Thomas Nelson). (Margaret Woodward was born in 1752 and Susannah was born in about 1772. If Susannah was the daughter of John Woodward, then Margaret Woodward Nelson would have been her aunt.) Susannah is called Sarah Woodward in Thomas Nelson's obituary, but Susannah Woodward in her own obituary.

A letter from the Fairfield Historical Society said that Thomas Nelson was "making a Methodist Minister," although the date for this isn't stated. I'm not sure, but I think there is a book on the history of Methodists in South Carolina that has this information in it (but I cannot find my photocopies of this). I remember reading about how Thomas was either dining or boarding with the Woodwards when he was still unmarried and was 'making a Methodist Minister' and how he was copying the Hebrews and thus eschewed eating pork, but when Susannah fried up bacon, it seems she somehow got Thomas to change his mind about eating pork. (She must have gotten him to change his mind about remaining single too.) After they moved to Georgia, Thomas and Susannah joined the Methodist Church in 1837, according to their obituaries. (I don't know how to interpret the account that Thomas was "making a Methodist Minister" in Fairfield County, SC, back in the late 1700's when he was single, and then joined the Methodist Church in Georgia in 1837, six years after he moved to Georgia.)

The names of their known children are Henry Nelson, Mary Ann Nelson, William D. Nelson, Nancy Nelson, and Luvisa (Luvicy) Nelson. Altogether, there were nine children, so there are four more whose names I don't know. Cynthia Nelson is considered to be a daughter, according to the Fairfield County Historical Society and Thad Nelson Morris, but I'm not sure. In the 1850 census (after Thomas's and Susannah's deaths), Cynthia Nelson is living in the household of Henry Nelson. Cynthia is considered to be a younger daughter of Thomas and Susannah, but I think it is possible that Cynthia may have been the oldest daughter of Thomas's son Henry Nelson and Henry's first wife (name unknown). Cynthia was born in SC circa 1825, and at that time Susannah Woodward Nelson would have been about 54 years old and Thomas Nelson would have been 80 years old. I'm not sure if Susannah would have borne a daughter at that age.

Thomas Nelson fought in the Revolutionary War, being drafted four times. He was first drafted in the spring of 1782 in Fairfield District, SC, and served three months under General Sumpter. His second draft into service was in late 1782, and he again served under General Sumpter in Orangeburg District, SC. His third draft was in the spring of 1783, and his fourth and final draft in the latter part of 1783. For his services in the war, Thomas received a $60.00 annual pension from the state of South Carolina for four years, beginning in 1828. (He moved from South Carolina to Georgia in 1831.) In January 1845 he again applied for a pension from Congress, but according to one letter in his file, his claim was not completed; however, other records in his Revolutionary War file indicate that in February 1846, one month before he died, he was paid for 12 years' pension, from March 1834 to March 1846, totaling $700. (I don't know which account to believe.)

Thomas Nelson died in Pike County, Georgia, on Friday, 27 March 1846. At the time of his death, Thomas and Susannah had about 50 grandchildren. Susannah Woodward Nelson died a little over six months later, on Saturday, 17 October 1846.

Thomas Nelson married Susannah Woodward, year unknown, most likely in Fairfield County, SC. An application by a Mrs. Clifford S. Treadwell to the DAR for membership names five of the children of Thomas and Susannah Nelson: Mary, Nancy, William, Henry, and Louisa (or Lovisa). There were nine children altogether; three had already died before the deaths of Thomas and Susannah in 1846.

Children of Thomas Nelson and Susannah Woodward:



Excerpt from the book, History of Pike County, subheading "Meansville Community and Towns," page 89:

In the extreme southern part of the district there dwelt a soldier of the Revolution named Thomas Nelson. This is related of him: The day he was a hundred years old a new church nearby was dedicated and named Century Nelson in his honor. Tradition says he celebrated the day by splitting a hundred fence rails. The D.A.R.'s of Thomaston placed a marker over his grave.

Excerpt from the book, History of Pike County, page 144:

Last Resting Places of Five Soldiers of the Revolution...Mr. Thomas Nelson is buried at Piedmont and the United States government furnished a monument for his grave.

Thomas Nelson Obituary:

Died, in Pike county, Ga., THOMAS NELSON, a revolutionary soldier, on the 27th March, 1846. He was born in Rutherford county, N.C., on the 25th Nov. 1745, making him 100 years, 4 months and 2 days old, at the time of his death. When a small child, his father moved to Fairfield district, S.C. In 1776 he took the oath of allegiance to the State of South Carolina, and entering the service continued faithfully to perform his duty during the war. After the war he married Sarah Woodward, and brought up nine children, six of whom are now alive, and about fifty grandchildren. In 1828 the State of South Carolina granted him a pension of $60 annually for his services in the war. In 1831 he moved to Pike county, Georgia, where he lived to the day of his death. In the latter part of the year 1837 he embraced religion, and became a member of the Methodist E Church, continuing a faithful member until he was called to join the church triumphant above. With fortitude he bore a four week's illness, exhibiting perfect resignation to the will of him who gave him being, and awaited with patience his time to meet the messenger, death. On Friday before his death he called his companion, children, and friends around him, and taking them by the hands, bade them farewell, and exhorted them to prepare to meet him in heaven. He seemed filled with joy, shouting and praising God for the prospect of the glory that awaited him in another world. Two days before his death, being asked if all was well, he exclaimed, "glory to God and the Lamb forever, all is well for I shall soon be done here, and enter into rest." At another time being asked can you say with the apostle that you have fought the good fight, and kept the faith? he said "yes, glory to God, praise the Lord O my soul." On the morning of his death, though not able from a palsied tongue to speak audibly, he appeared joyous, and pleasantly to look to the change that was passing on him, and so he left this transitory world without a murmur, and scarcely a sigh. Having battled successfully against both temporal and spiritual enemies, as in this world he lived to enjoy the fruits of the former victory, so he now, we confidently believe, lives in another, still more richly rewarded for the latter victory achieved. May his example be an incentive to move others to as faithful performance of duty, that they may secure similar benefits through the merits of the Redeemer.

(Source: The Southern Christian Advocate, published in Charleston, SC, issue of Friday, May 8, 1846.)

Obituary of Susannah Woodward Nelson:

Susannah Woodward Nelson: Died on the 17th Oct. 1846, Mrs. Susannah Nelson, in her 75th year. She was born in Fairfield dist., S.C., and was convicted under the ministry of the Rev. John Mason, and soon after converted during private prayer, and joined the M.E. Church. Her early Christian career was bright. She endured the buffetings of satan and the opposition of parents patiently. She was the mother of 9 children, 6 are still left to mourn her loss. In 1833 in company with her husband she moved to Pipe [sic, for Pike] county, where she died. In 1837, her husband with her joined the M.E. Church. In 1844 she was mentally afflicted, but few lucid intervals were afforded her until the few last days, and some of them she suffered great privation [blurred words, perhaps, "for the"] want of speech. But God permitted her to [blurred words] weeping children and friends a satisfactory evidence of her happy exit. William A. Syyth. Fayettville, N.C., Jan. 5.

Obituary of William D. Nelson, son of Thomas and Susannah Woodward Nelson:

William D. Nelson, 1854: Died, in Pike co., Ga., June 13th, Rev. William D. Nelson, a local preacher, in the 42nd year of his age. He was born in Fairfield Dist., S.C., 1812. Came to Georgia in 1821 [sic, probably 1831], joined the M.E. Church in 1838, and was licensed to preach in the fall of last year. He was emphatically a good man. In all the relations of life, his character was above reproach. As a Christian, he was zealous and faithful; as an official member of the Church, his was a straightforward course; he turned neither to the right or left, for the smiles or frowns of the world. His health had been feeble for some time. On the 30th of May, he was confined to his bed, and his sufferings were severe. But in patience he possessed his soul, constantly expressing the utmost resignation to the will of God. During my last visit to him, he disposed of his temporal matters; after which, he gave his wife his dying charge, exhorting her to bring up his children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," and to meet him in heaven. He then, in the most affectionate manner, informed his children that he was going to leave them, exhorted them to live for God, and meet their poor father in heaven. In a peculiarly happy frame of mind, he continued throughout his sickness; and when his end drew nigh, and he had apparently sunk in death, he revived, and being asked, what was his prospect then? replied, that he had not a doubt on his mind in regard to his acceptance with God. I. B. Hanson.

Source: Southern Christian Advocate, 14 July 1854 issue.

Revolutionary War record for Thomas Nelson, R. 7592:

(Punctuation and spelling of original largely retained.)

DECLARATION: In order to obtain the benefits of the act of Congress passed on the 7th day of June 1832. State of Georgia County of Pike. On this the eighth day of January 184[inkblot], personally appeared before the Inferior Court of Pike County State of Georgia, Thomas Nelson, a resident of said state & County, aged ninety nine years, who being first duly sworn according to Law, both on his oath spoke the following declaration in order to obtain the benefits of this provision made by the act of Congress passed on the 7th day of June 1832. That to the best of his recollection in the early part of the year (in the spring of) 1782. He was drafted in fairfield district under Capt. Parrottto Congaree Fort, which was then in the possession of of Maxfield a British officer, and a parcel of Tories, in the neighborhood of the Fort we joined Genl Sumpter, and on our approach the British & Tories surrendered the Fort and we took them all prisoners, and got possession of the Fort ourselves—From Congaree Fort we marched to A[unclear] Ferry on the Congaree River, rom this Ferry we were kept constantly on the march and scout, after the Tories until the term of three months tour expired this was a three months term of service to the best of his recollection—We were discharged on the Congaree River and that this deponent never received a written discharge.

The secord tour of duty this deponent served was as a drafted militia man in fairfield district South Carolina in the latter part of the year 1782 under Capt John Pearson, marched from fairfield district S. Carolina to near Orangeburg jail, and joined Genl Sumpter. the jail in Orangeburg was at that time occupied by the Tories and British as a Fort, on our arrival the Tories and British exacuated the jail, and we took some of them prisoners and also took possession of the jail and over [ink blot] it as a Fort for some time. Had an engagement about ten miles below Orangeburgh with the Tories under Cuningham. after we left the jail in Orangeburgh, were kept constantly scouting through Orangeburgh district, in pursuit of Tories, and sometimes, when too week [sic], in evading them until our term of service expired. it expired in Orangeburgh District and was also a three months tour of duty; we were discharged in orangeburgh Dist South Carolina and received no written discharge. In the spring of the year 1783, this applicant was again drafted in fairfield district South Carolina and to the best of his recollection Capt William Hughs was the captain of the company, from fairfield district marched under Capt. Hughs, to the Forks of the Edisto River, South Carolina, where we were stationed and remained stationed at the Forks of the Edisto this tour of service, and did very little active service but kept a well regulated station there which was thought to be an important point for one. our term of service expired at the Forks of the Edisto and were discharged then by Capt. Hughs, but got no written discharge.

The next Tour of Service performed by this applicant was also as a draftsman in the latter part of the year 1783 from fairfield district S. Carolina. Marched from Fairfield district under Capt. James Davis down to [unclear, perhaps Manigaults] ferry on the Santee River where we were stationed, until we heard that Peace was made with England, this applicant states that he cannot recollect whether the whole of this Tour of service was performed or not before they were discharged, but he knows the the [sic] greater part of it was performed, this applicant was discharged at Manigaults ferry on the Santee River and received no written discharge. This applicant hereby relinquishes his claim to all other, or any other pension, except the one which he is now seeking to establish and he declares that his name is not on the Pension Roll or agency of any state or Territory except the state of South Carolina in which state he was allowed sixty Dollars a year for four years, for his Revolutionary services, when the Law of Carolina was repealed—

I was born in North Carolina on the 25th November 1745 as I learned from my parents.

I have no record of my age.

I have lived in North Carolina when a child, and the ballance of my life in South Carolina untill 1831. when I moved to Pike County Georgia, where I now live—

I can name Hiram Brown and Thomas [I. or J.] Allen who reside in my neighborhood and who can testify as to their belief of my service as a Revolutionary Soldier.

I can name Captains Parrott, Hughes, Davis, and Pearson, and General Sumpter and Colonel Hopkins, as the officers under whom I served during the Revolutionary War, and I was personally regimented with them.

Sworn to and subscribed in Open Court this 8th January 1845. [unclear word] Wiley B. Maugham C.J.C. [signed] Thomas Nelson

HENRY NELSON (1801-1876)



Henry Nelson, son of Thomas Nelson and Susannah Woodward was born circa 1801 or 1802 in South Carolina, most likely in Fairfield District. He married twice: (1) a woman, born in SC, whose name isn't known, and (2) Eliza J. Watson. Henry died on 16 January 1876 in Pike County, Georgia.

Researcher Thad Nelson Morris believed that Henry's first wife was named Delilah Howard, and had a brother named Capt. James Howard, who lived in Fairfield County, SC. I haven't found any proof for this. One of of her children is named Delilah, and therefore might be named after her mother, so that may be one direction to research in order to determine who Henry Nelson's first wife really was.

Henry Nelson moved his family to Alabama sometime after 1825, then lived in Alabama until at least 1835, then moved on to Pike County, GA, after the death of his first wife. The last child born in Alabama was born in 1835. His first wife must have died sometime in 1835 or 1836. He moved to Pike County, GA, andmarried Eliza J. Watson there in 1837.

Henry Nelson married Eliza J. Watson on 17 August 1837, in Pike County GA. Eliza Watson was born in Georgia. There were at least 7 children from this marriage, but there may have been others.

Henry Nelson acquired land in Pike County, GA, October 20, 1837, buying 86 acres from John Manning in Lot 19, dist. 8 (now Lamar County), and eventually buying a total of 440 acres in Lots 75, 19, 108, and 86. The estate records of Henry's brother, William D. Nelson, who died in Pike County, GA, in 1854, shows that Henry Nelson was both an appraiser and a buyer.

Children of Henry Nelson and Wife Number 1:

Cynthia Nelson?: Cynthia was born circa 1825 in SC. She is believed to be Thomas and Susannah Nelson's daughter (who would have been born when Susannah was about 54 years old), or she may have been Henry and Wife Number One's daughter. No further data except that Cynthia, age 25, is living in the household of Henry and his second wife, Eliza Nelson, in the Pike County, GA, 1850 census.

Mary Ann Nelson: Born between 1825-1829 in SC; married James Powell on 4 November 1847 in Pike County, GA.

James Nelson: Born circa 1831 in AL.; died 20 August 1862 in Pike County, GA; married Sarah Jane Campbell on 9 November 1859.

Thomas A. Nelson: Born October 1833, in Macon County, AL; died 1905, buried at Arrington's Chapel, Cherokee County, AL; married Sarah Jane Wadsworth, 25 February 1858, Pike County, GA.

Delilah Nelson: Born 1835 in AL; married Alford Andretw Liles.

Children of Henry Nelson and Eliza J. Watson:

Lavina Nelson: Born 6 February 1842 in GA; died 2 February 1897, Pike County, Arkansas; married Henry Clay Watson on 21 October 1866 in Pike County, GA.


Eliza F. Watson: Born 1870; died 1897; married William Dunlap.
Lucy Dewitt Watson: Born 17 September 1871; died 11 December 1900; married Charles Curry Hardy.
Fletcher J. Watson: Born circa 1872, GA.
James M. Watson: Born 21 October 1873; died March 1919; married Mollie Echols.
Betty J. Watson: Born circa 1877, GA; never married.
Amy Callie Watson: Born July 1879, GA; died 1927; married Isaac Pounds.

Eliza Jane Nelson: Born 1840 or 1842 in GA; died ?; married W. M. Alread, 20 October 1866, Pike County, GA.

Luvisa (or Luvicy) Nelson: Born 1842-1844 in GA; did not marry.

Nancy Nelson: born 1844 in GA; married John Paxton.

Henry Nelson: Born 1848 in Pike County, GA; died 22 May 1928, Meansville, Pike County, GA; married Martha Agnes Rucker.

Elander (Ellen) W. Nelson: Born circa 1852 in GA. Married Thomas Purdue.

Benjamin Hill Nelson: Born between 1846-1852 in GA; married (1) Mattie J. Barrow and (2) Pearl Alberta West.

Children by first wife:

John Nelson.
William Nelson.
Children by second wife:
Jewel Nelson.
Pearl Nelson.
Zeri Nelson (female).
Mary Nelson.
Tammi Nelson (female).
John Nelson.
Martha Nelson.

To be continued...

THOMAS NELSON (1833-1905)



Click here for a photo of Thomas Nelson and Sarah Jane Wadsworth. (Opens in new window.)




Click here for a photo of Henry Homer Nelson and Ninnie Davis. (Opens in new window.)







January 2004: Compiled by Carolyne J. Butler (Email)

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