Grandson of Alic “Alex” and Aletta Nelson of Sweden.Son of Charles “Chas” F. Nelson and Lena (Nilson) Nelson of Sweden.Husband of Gladys Serena (Linderman) of Dubuque, Dubuque County, Iowa. Married on 26 November 1926 in Dubuque, Iowa.Father of Roy Leonard Jr., Richard Edward “Dickie”, and Shirley Lorraine Nelson(Ogle) of Iowa.Source: My Maternal Second Cousin, Roy Leonard “Jimmy” Nelson Jr. told me that his father was from ELGIN, ILLINOIS, and died in San Francisco, California. He told me that he was buried in a pauper’s cemetery because he had no money. Cemetery name unknown.
In New York, James T. Gifford and his brother Hezekiah Gifford heard tales of this area ripe for settlement, and travelled west. Looking for a site on the stagecoach route from Chicago to Galena, they eventually settled on a spot where the Fox River could be bridged. In April 1835, they established the city, naming it after the Scottish hymn “Elgin”.
In 1849, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad reached Elgin, which later would be served by railroads running along both banks of the Fox River, linking the growing town to Chicago and other urban centers. Early Elgin achieved fame for the butter and dairy goods it sold to the city of Chicago. Gail Borden established a condensed milk factory here in 1866, and the local library is named in his honor. The dairy industry became less important with the arrival of the Elgin Watch Company. The watch factory employed three generations of Elginites from the late 19th to the mid 20th century, when it was the largest producer of fine watches in the United States (the factory ceased production in the early 1960’s and was torn down in 1965). Today, the clocks at Chicago’s Union Station still bear the Elgin name.
In 1872, Elgin attracted a major state institution, the Northern Illinois State Mental Hospital and later a Veterans Administration Hospital.
[above pic: Roy L. Nelson Sr., 1910, Washington Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois, son of Charles F. and Lena (Nilson) Nelson. Grandson of Alic & Aletta Nelson of Sweden.]
“The Swedish Emigration to America Introduction During the period of 1821 until 1930 about 1.3 million Swedes emigrated; some to Canada, Australia, New Zealand South America but the overwhelming majority to the States. Nearly a sixth, in total over 200,000, did return to Sweden, but more than 1 million left their country for good. Among the factors that pushed people from Sweden: down-sizing of farm labourers (better tools, redistribution of land)
the rapid population growth (“the vaccine, the peace, the potatoes”)
the years of bad crops during the second half of the 19th century
discontent with society (military conscript duty, religious intolerance)
Among the factors creating a pull to America:
the supply of fertile land and of work opportunities
Daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Nellie Nilson of Sweden. Wife of Charles F. Nelson.Son of Alic & Aletta Nelson of Sweden. Mother of Ruth, William, Harold,Roy Leonard Sr,Russell, Edwin, Helen, and Gurney Nelson.name :Lena Nilson
event:Census event date:1880 event place:Geneva, Kane, Illinois, United States gender:Female age:8 marital status :Single occupation :At School race or color (original) : ethnicity (standardized) :American relationship to head : Daughter birthplace :Sweden birthdate :1872 spouse’s name : spouse’s birthplace : father’s name : father’s birthplace :Sweden mother’s name :Nellie Nilson mother’s birthplace :Sweden page :383 page character : entry number :987 nara film number :T9-0218 gs film number :1254218
digital folder number:004240495 image number:00570 Household Gender Age Birthplace self Nellie Nilson F 35 Sweden daughter Lena Nilson F 8 Sweden son Martin Nilson M 4 Illinois, United States daughter Jennie Nilson F 2 Illinois, United States daughter Fanny Nilson F 0 Illinois, United States Citing this Record “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MXVS-8K1 : accessed 06 Oct 2012), Lena Nilson in household of Nellie Nilson, Geneva, Kane, Illinois, United States; citing sheet 383D, family 1, NARA microfilm publication T9-0218.
name:Lena Nelson titles & terms: event:Census event date:1900 event place:ED 467 Precinct 9 Chicagocity Ward 15, Cook, Illinois, United States birth date:Feb 1868 birthplace:Norway relationship to head of household:Servant father’s birthplace:Norway mother’s birthplace:Norway race or color (standardized):White gender:Female marital status:Married years married:4 estimated marriage year:1896 mother how many children:4 number living children:1 immigration year:1883
page:8 sheet letter:B family number:174 reference number:57 film number:1240264 digital folder number:004113723 image number:00070 HouseholdGenderAgeBirthplace headEmily HeldF33Illinois sonClay HeldM13Illinois sonCharles HeldM12Illinois sonHarold HeldM10Illinois daughterMertle HeldF4Illinois servantLena NelsonF32Norway sonRoy NelsonM2Illinois Citing this Record: “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MS3G-7VB : accessed 08 Dec 2012), Lena Nelson in household of Emily Held, ED 467 Precinct 9 Chicago city Ward 15, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing sheet 8B, family 174, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240264.
name:Charles Nelson residence:Elgin Township, Kane, Illinois estimated birth year:1868 age:52 birthplace:Sweden relationship to head of household:Self gender:Male race:White marital status:Married father’s birthplace: mother’s birthplace: film number:1820375 digital folder number:4300539 image number:00574 sheet number:7 Household Gender Age Birthplace self Charles Nelson M 52y Sweden wife Lena Nelson F 48y Sweden son Harold Nelson M 21y Illinois dau Helen Nelson F 11y Illinois Citing this Record “United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MJ48-TJG : accessed 06 Oct 2012), Charles Nelson, Elgin Township, Kane, Illinois; citing enumeration district (ED) , sheet 7B, family 183, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820375.
name: Lena Nelson event: Census event date: 1930 event place: Chicago (Districts 1251-1500), Cook, Illinois gender: Female age: 62 marital status: Single race: White birthplace: Sweden estimated birth year: 1868 immigration year: 1880 relationship to head of household: Housekeeper father’s birthplace: Sweden mother’s birthplace: Sweden enumeration district number: 1300 family number: 289 sheet number and letter: 10B line number: 90 nara publication: T626, roll 471 film number: 2340206 digital folder number: 4584272 image number: 00669 Household Gender Age Birthplace head Edward Kociamski M 72 Poland sister Victoria Kociamski F 54 Illinois housekeeper Lena Nelson F 62 Sweden
No one knows how long ago the tradition began, but it was so far back that the festival of Santa Lucia was marked by a notch on the primitive “primstav” (calendar stick), the precursor of the calendar. It later became customary in western Sweden to finish the threshing by Lucia Day so as to begin the cooking and baking for the long Christmas festivities. From its beginnings in Värmland, the customs in honor of Santa Lucia have spread throughout Sweden, and more recently to the rest of Scandinavia. Today, the festival is celebrated in schools, hospitals, businesses, and towns; each of which has its own Lucia Bride and festivities to mark the beginning of Christmas. Santa Lucia Day is also an international holiday, celebrated not only in Scandinavia, but also in Italy and France in the rites of the church.
The origins of this tradition are not in Scandinavia, but in Syracuse on the island of Sicily around A.D. 304. According to the Sicilian legend, Lucia’s mother, a wealthy lady, had been miraculously cured of an illness at the sepulcher of Saint Agatha in Catania. Lucia, a Christian, persuaded her mother in thankfulness to distribute her wealth to the poor. So, by candlelight, the mother and daughter went about the city secretly ministering to the poor of Syracuse.
As Lucia Day comes at the darkest time of year, the candies of the ministering Santa Lucia portend and witness to the True Light – the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the morning of the thirteenth of December, the strains of “Santa Lucia” are heard everywhere in Sweden as the white-robed maiden comes out of the night with her burning crown of candies dispelling the darkness. In honour of her martyrdom, it has long been the custom to donate money on Lucia Day to institutions working for the blind.
In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is one of the few saints’ days still observed in Scandinavia. In some forms, a procession is headed by one girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each.
Patroness of the blind, her name derives from the Latin lux, which means light.
Santa Lucia is also associated with the harvest and Sicilians customarily celebrate her feast day with cuccia, a hearty porridge made with wheat berries. In Sweden her veneration is a delightful celebration where children dress in white, bear candles and sing songs in her honour. Sweetbreads are served in remembrance of a terrible famine in which she appeared in the harbour with boatloads of food to save the starving. A near identical legend takes place in Siracusa, hinting that Norse pilgrims may have brought this legend home with them from Sicily. —Santa Lucia of Siracusa
Swedish Christmas Smorgasbord
After nearly a month of waiting, Christmas Eve finally arrives — the height of the celebration in Sweden. Work is at an end, schoolchildren are on holiday and the Christmas preparations are complete.
A family affair
People have bought their presents and their Christmas food in crowded shops and department stores, and the home has been cleaned and decorated according to each family’s traditional habits.
Christmas is the main family event of the year, and there is always a certain amount of discussion about where to celebrate it this time round. Sweden, as we have mentioned, is a large country, and those wishing to be reunited with their families often have to travel far. Train and air tickets need be booked at least two months in advance, and motorists are advised to start their journeys in good time.
Waiting for Santa Claus can take all day — or so the children feel.
Photo: Heléne Grynfarb/Bildarkivet.se
Modernisation of Christmas
Christmas in Sweden is a blend of domestic and foreign customs that have been re-interpreted, refined and commercialised on their way from agrarian society to the modern age.
Today, most Swedes celebrate Christmas in roughly the same way, and many of the local customs and specialities have disappeared, although each family claims to celebrate it in true fashion in their own particular way.
The food you eat at Christmas may still depend on where you live in the country, or where you came from originally. But here, too, homogenisation has set in, due in no small part to the uniform offerings of the department stores and the ready availability of convenience foods. Few have time to salt their own hams or stuff their own pork sausages nowadays.
Ingmar Bergman‘s Oscar-winning film Fanny and Alexander, although set in the late 19th century, nevertheless reflects Swedish Christmas celebrations today: a bright and lively occasion, full of excess, good food and happiness, but also a time during which family secrets tend to surface. Christmas holidays Holiday leave over Christmas and the New Year is fairly long, usually extending a week into January. Once Christmas Eve is over, a series of enjoyable — or, in some cases, dutiful — visits to friends and relatives ensues.
Swedes travel many a mile during the holiday period. Christmas Day with the Olssons, Boxing Day with the Perssons and a week’s skiing in the mountains with the Svenssons.
In the north of Sweden, a white Christmas is sure to be enjoyed. Photo: Henrik Trygg/Imagebank.sweden.se
Perhaps celebrating Christmas is more complicated than ever nowadays. Present-day family constellations, comprising ex-wives and ex-husbands, children from marriages old and new, newly-acquired relatives and mothers-in-law, are all hard to fit into the nuclear family celebration that, deep down, all Swedes prefer. As though they weren’t already under enough pressure to celebrate a perfect Christmas. High expectations As a rule, Swedes expect a great deal from their Christmases. There should be snow on the ground but blue skies and sunshine, everyone is expected to be in good health, the ham must be succulent and tasty, and presents must be numerous. Moreover, the children are expected to be happy and well-behaved and the home is expected to be warm and bright.
Everyone does their best, and the Swedes perhaps are better placed than most to celebrate Christmas. The ever-present candles and lights provide a nice contrast to the winter dark, the red wooden cottages are at their most attractive when embedded in snow, and the fir trees stand dark and sedate at the edge of the forest. Santa Claus moves about the land and the North Star pulsates up there in the night sky.
The typical Swedish red wooden cottages are at their best when embedded in snow. Photo: Thomas Adolfsén/Bildarkivet.se
The perfect Christmas tree? On the day before Christmas Eve, Swedes venture forth to look for the perfect Christmas tree. This is a serious matter — the tree is the very symbol of Christmas, and it must be densely and evenly branched, and straight. If you live in a city or town, you buy the tree in the street or square.
Those who live in the country fell their Christmas trees themselves. Many Swedes believe — mistakenly — that their legal right of access to the countryside allows them to fetch a tree from the woods wherever they like, with an axe, a bucksaw or — as in western Värmland on the Norwegian border — with a shotgun. Not to be recommended.
Trees are decorated according to family tradition. Some are bedecked with flags, others with tinsel and many with coloured baubles. Electric lights are usually preferred to candles on the tree because of the risk of fire.
Homes are also decorated with wall hangings depicting brownies and winter scenes, with tablecloths in Christmas patterns, and with candlesticks, little Father Christmas figures and angels. The home is filled with the powerful scent of hyacinths.
At 3 p.m., the whole of Sweden turns on the tv to watch a cavalcade of Disney film scenes that have been shown ever since the 1960s without anyone tiring of them. Only then can the celebrations begin in earnest.
Abundance of food Christmas presents are under the lighted tree, candles shine brightly and the smörgåsbord has been prepared with all the classic dishes: Christmas ham, pork sausage, an egg and anchovy mixture (gubbröra), herring salad, pickled herring, home-made liver patty, wort-flavoured rye bread(vörtbröd), potatoes and a special fish dish, lutfisk. The ham is first boiled, then painted and glazed with a mixture of egg, breadcrumbs and mustard. Lutfisk is dried ling or sathe soaked in water and lye to swell before it is cooked.
Once all have eaten their fill, Santa Claus himself arrives to wish the gathering a Merry Christmas and distribute the presents.
Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Christ, has long been the most important festivity of the year. In the old days, it was a feast for the whole household as there was plenty of fresh food to be had. The Christmas table was laid with ham, pickled herring, jellied pig’s feet, sausage, rice porridge and lutfisk (ling). The food was to be left on the table overnight, as it was then that the dead came to feast.
Homes were cleaned and decorated with wall hangings, and fresh straw was laid on floors. The birds were given an oatsheaf and the mythical farmyard brownie a plate of porridge. The practice of bringing a Christmas tree into the house and decorating it was imported from Germany in the 1880s. Initially, Christmas presents were given anonymously, and playfully, often in the form of a log of wood or the like wrapped up and tossed through a front door. In the 20th century, people began giving one another real presents, handed out by Santa Claus, who was modelled on St. Nicholas, the patron saint of schoolchildren.
At the early-morning church service (julotta) on Christmas Day, traces of earth could be seen in the pews where the dead had held their own service overnight. After the service, people raced to get home first. The winner would harvest his crops before anyone else that year.
On Boxing Day, you got up early to water the horses in streams running north, as Saint Stephen, the patron saint of horses, was said to have done. Another practice, which breached the no-work rule,was to muck out other people’s barns.
Twelfth Night commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. The Swedish tradition of ‘star boys’ (stjärngossar) derives from this. In former times, boys often went round the farms carrying a paper star, singing songs in return for schnapps. Today, the star boys are a part of the Lucia celebration.
Hilarymas (Knutsdagen) on 13 January marked the end of the Christmas holiday in Sweden, and was celebrated with a final medieval-style feast. People scared one another with straw figures hung from trees. In bourgeois circles, the Christmas tree was plundered of its edible decorations. Tree-plundering is still practiced in Sweden today.
Resided at 3117 Girard Street, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas. He worked for Goodyear. She was a homemaker.
Helen was the daughter of Harold Edward Meyers and Helen A. Roman.
[Picture below left was Helen, Harold, Velva (Gray) and Helen Meyers (Nelson)]
Helen’s Paternal Grandparents were Cassisus “Cass” Meyers and Mary Elizabeth Fleichman.
Helen Louise Meyers was wife of Roy Leonard Nelson Jr. he was the son of Gladys (Linderman) Nelson of Dubuque, Iowa; and Roy Leonard Nelson Sr. of Illinois and Iowa. Roy and Helen Nelson were the parents of Jodi and Billy Nelson of Kansas.
William “Billy” Nelson [top left], Gladys, Roy, Helen, Shirley, & John Ogle, 1955, Topeka, KS. [top right] Billy Nelson [bottom left]. Billy, Roy, Jodi Nelson, Topeka, KS [bottom right]
[picture above: Roy Leonard Nelson Sr., 1910, Washington School, Chicago, Illinois.]
He is the Grandson of Charles F. & Lena (Nilson) Nelson of Sweden and Illinois.