Norman Nelson

Mr. and Mrs. Norman Nelson

On August 1, 1883, Norman Nelson was born to the Peter Nelson family of Alstaug, Norway. He had a twin brother, Ralph, as well as other brothers and sisters. His father lived on an island and operated a freighter on the sea, and much of his time was spent on the water, so much so that his children became capable of manning a ship, and of sailing. Often, they were out to sea for long periods of time. There were times when storms came up that were so fierce that the boys would have to be tied to the boat so that they wouldn’t be washed overboard.

As a boy, Norman Nelson attended school on another island, so the boys would travel to school by boat, which was no problem given their knowledge of handling boats.

Norman remembered his boyhood on the island in Norway as being a happy time. Having fun was a part of their day, just as working was another part of it. One story he told was of a girl in his community who was fond of molasses and, in that day, molasses came in barrels. This girl was so fond of molasses that she could be seen sticking her head in the barrels in order to taste the molasses. After talking it over, the Nelson twins came up with a way to cure her of this unanitary habit. As quickly as she stuck her head in the barrel, one of the twins gave her a push, head first, into the barrel. As might be expected, she ran to her parents. When her father came to punish the guilty boy, each in turn blamed the other, and the girl’s father couldn’t tell which boy was to blame since they looked so much alike.

While in his early teens, Norman emigrated from Norway to the United States, where he worked for an uncle in the Fargo area. After spending several years there, he came to the Wilton area of North Dakota, where he found work being in charge of driving mules in the coal mine. This wasn’t the easiest job in the world.

Some time after that, he took a homestead one half mile north of Garrison, just on the edge of where the city had extended by 1967. He ran a dray and hardware business there, and operated a general store. Hearing rumors that a cemetery was going to be started within ten rods of his house, and not liking the idea of living so near to a cemetery, he sold his place and moved to Canada, where he was engaged in railroad construction.

He was a lover of horses and, while working for the railroad, he owned several beautiful horses. He would often tell stories of these wonderful animals and their usesfulness in railroad work.

While in Canada, he met a lady by the name of Jean Reed. She had moved to Canada from Michigan, with her parents. Before long, Norman Nelson and Jean Reed were married. To this union came four children: Donald, Irene, Gordon, and Warren.

In 1925, the family crossed back into the United States, ending up in McLean County, North Dakota, on Reservation Land, where they farmed until 1957, when Norman retired, spending a portion of each year in Arizona. Their son, Donald, and his wife, Gerta, took over the operations of the farm.