Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nelius Moonat Nelson (1870-1930), Nelius Gunnarsen Eggen (1853 - ?)

From the South Dakota Legislative Manual, 1915.

   A one term member of the South Dakota State House of Representatives from McCook County, Nelius Moonat Nelson's birth occurred in Bellsville Township, Iowa on May 4, 1870. One of five children born to Swedish immigrants Swan (born 1843) and Celia Nelson, Nelius's birth in Pocohontas County is notable as he was the "first male child born in the county." He attended schools local to the Pocahontas County area and would go on to study at both the Fremont and Highland Park colleges
   Nelius M. Nelson left his Iowa home in 1892 and removed to South Dakota, eventually settling in McCook County. He would reside here for the remainder of his life and following his removal became "engaged in the abstracting business." He married on January 8, 1908 in Salem, South Dakota to Swedish native Alma Sundstrom (1881-1972). The couple would have at least three children, Howard (died in infancy in 1911), Virginia Isabel and Cecilia M.
   Nelson became active in local politics in Salem during the early 1900s, serving for eight years as clerk of the Salem school board and for six years was Salem city auditor. In November 1914 he was elected as McCook County's representative to the South Dakota legislature and took his seat at the start of the January 1915 session. Interestingly enough Nelson served in the same legislative session as that of Olymphious Sigurinius Thompson (1875-1968), profiled here back in July 2011!
  Following his term in the state house little else could be found on the life on Nelius M. Nelson. He died on October 18, 1930 at age 60 and was survived by his wife Alma. Both were interred at the Wildwood Cemetery in Salem, South Dakota.

Portrait from the Minneapolis Journal, February 15, 1905.

   Another "Nelius" that made his name known politically was Nelius Gunnarsen Eggen of Fargo, North Dakota. A one term member of the North Dakota State House of Representatives, Eggen was a native of Norway, being born in Levanger on either September 7 or September 19, 1853. His middle name is recorded as "Gunnarsen" (this via an ancestry.com listing) and is believed to have immigrated to the United States in 1882
   Settling in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Eggen resided here for several years and later was a resident of Minnesota. Nelius Eggen married in Winneshiek County, Iowa in 1887 to Ms. Antoinette "Nettie" Olson (birth-date unknown), with whom he would have two daughters, Mable and EthelHe would migrate to North Dakota some time later and for many years afterward was a resident of Fargo. 
  In the late 19th century Nelius and his brother Marius would establish Eggen Bros., a business specializing in the sale of pianos and organs. Their company is recorded as "having received many good pianos and organs that are in many Norwegian homes and churches in the Northwest." The Eggen brother's firm would later add lines of clothing to their business, including fur coats, cloaks, jackets and capes
  In November 1904 Nelius Eggen was elected as one of Cass County's representatives to the North Dakota state legislature, garnering 1,460 votes on election day. During his two year term Eggen sat on the house committees on Apportionment, Engrossed Bills, Corporations Other Than Municipal and Women's Suffrage. 
  Eggen's term in the house concluded in 1907 and his post government career saw him serve as treasurer of the Scandinavian-American of Fargo. Several ancestry.com mentions denote Eggen's later removal to California, where it is presumed that he died; his death date and burial location being unknown at the time of this writing. 

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