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RG1269.AM:  Peter Bernard Nelson, 1853-1937


Chadron, Dawes County, Nebraska:  Early settler

Size:  0.25 cu.ft.; 1 box


Born in Bergen, Norway, on March 6, 1853, Peter Bernard Nelson went to work on a freighting vessel at the age of thirteen. He spent several years working on various ships before coming to the United States in 1874. He would spend the next three years in Chicago, moving freight across the Great Lakes. On June 12, 1874, Nelson married Olifina Johansen, a family acquaintance from Norway. They lived in Chicago until 1877 when they moved into Dakota Territory, settling at the recently established Indian Agency in what is now Hughes County, South Dakota.

In 1878 the Nelson family moved to what is now present-day Dawes County, Nebraska, settling on the Bordeaux Creek. In 1882 Nelson contracted to carry the U.S. mail from Fort Robinson to Pine Ridge. The Nelson family would eventually move into the nearby town of Chadron, Nebraska. Peter Bernard Nelson died at Chadron in 1937. For more biographical information, see his obituary from the Sheridan County Star, Rushville, Neb., from December 2, 1937 (pg. 7).


The collection consists of several typescript drafts of P.B. Nelson’s reminiscences detailing his sea voyages and his experiences at the Yellow Medicine Indian Agency and his early years on Bordeaux Creek in the White River Valley. The reminiscences were written down by Nelson’s son, Ernest Eugene Nelson. The different drafts are virtually identical, with a few handwritten corrections on one or two of the typescripts. The first folder contains a photocopy of an original manuscript draft which is restricted for preservation.

Note:  A published version of the reminiscences is available in the Library [921 N425f].


Box 1


  1. “Fifty Years at Sea and on the Prairie,” typescript draft (photocopy)

  2. “Fifty Years at Sea and on the Prairie,” typescript draft

  3. “Fifty Years at Sea and on the Prairie,” typescript draft

  4. “Fifty Years at Sea and on the Prairie,” typescript draft


Subject headings:

Chadron (Nebraska) — History

Dawes County (Nebraska) — History

Nelson, Peter Bernard, 1853-1937

Pine Ridge Area (Nebraska) — History

Seafaring life


TMM   12-08-2010