John Nelson

Mr. and Mrs. John B. Nelson

John B. Nelson was born on December 18, 1889, in Egersund, Norway, where he worked as a sheepherder while attending school. Later, he worked as a hired hand on a farm.

In October of 1910, he emigrated from Norway to the United States, traveling through England to Canada, and then to Hampden, North Dakota, which was a ten-week trip, by ship, railway, and bus.

In North Dakota, he took a job as a section hand on the railroad for 13¢ an hour, or $1.30 per day. While he felt that he was treated well, he didn’t enjoy railroad work, so he went to work for Theodore Mortenson, his stepmother’s cousin, at his butcher shop in Hampden. He enjoyed that work, and went to Devils Lake, where there was a large meat market, and spent three months training to become a butcher.

In 1913, the government opened up the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, in McLean County, for homesteading. John Nelson, Theodore Mortenson, Gilbert Garnas, and A. Olsen too homesteads there and, along witih others, formed Amundsville Township.

They made their homes there, building telephone lines up north to Makoti. They helped to build the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Roseglen, and they built schoolhouses.

From 1915 to 1920, John Nelson went to Bible school, the last year at Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Theodore Mortenson passed away in May of 1920, and he was called home from Kentucky to attend the funeral. Theodore had left a wife and eight children. On February 10, 1921, he married Theodore Mortenson’s widow so that he could help bring up the children, as the oldest was only twelve. He settled down to farm the Mortenson’s land and his.

He also served as school treasurer, church treasurer, and township treasurer for several years. Besides farming the land, he worked at the store in Roseglen while Ruben Barsness was the manager, taking care of the meat market and making homemade bologna twice a week. He also started a meat route down by Elbowoods, on the Indian Reservation, and peddled meat to the Indians twice a week.

In 1935, he left the farm and moved to Fort Peck, Montana, where a large dam was being built. He worked there as a meat cutter in a large market. In 1937, they moved to Electric City, near the Grand Coulee Dam, where he worked as a janitor in the Powerhouse, and cut meat at several stores in the evening.

In the spring of 1943, he moved to Almira, Washington, where he worked as a meat cutter at the Almira Market, where he still was in 1967, when the Golden Jubilee book was published.

Mrs. Mortenson Nelson died the first year they were in Almira. In 1944, he married Minnie Gibson, a widow. She passed away in 1962.

Besides his first wife’s eight children, whom he helped raised, he and his wife had two children, Andrew and Marie June.