By daughters Lilias Nelson Linton and Sarah E. Owen
Nancy Ann Neves Nelson was born the first day of January,1871, Millville, Cache County, Utah. She was the first child of Wm. Neves and Abigail Eve Shaffer. She had four sisters, seven brothers. Her father was born in Cross Ran, Brighton, England 10 Sept. 1847. He came to America when he was a young boy. Her mother was born in Five Points, Weber County, Utah 18 Oct. 1852. She had very little schooling but did a lot of reading and studying at home. She learned home nursing from her Mother who was a Midwife. She studied and the scriptures and gained a strong testimony. Nancy was a pretty girl about 5 ft 5 in tall, blue eyes, brown curly hair. She was 21 yrs. old when she married Lars Nelson in Logan City, Utah. He was born 5 April 1868 in Logan, Utah, the son of John Nelson (Jorgen Nielsen) and Rachel Petersen (Frederikke Pedersen) from Denmark.
In 1894 they left Utah for Big Horn Basin in Wyoming with her father’s family. She told how terrified she was when they had to ford rivers and go down steep mountains. When they got to Meeteetse they were very disappointed but went on to Otto, Wyo. And lived in a dugout the first winter. She missed the fresh fruit they had in Utah. In her new home the only fruit they had were dried Buffalo berries.
While they lived at Otto there was a dance at the school house. Mother and Dad didn’t go, but that night there was an awful snow storm and the dancers had to stay in the school house all night. In the morning they all went to Mother’s for breakfast. All she had to fix were dried Buffalo berries, biscuits made from home-ground wheat, gravy made by browning flour in a skillet without shortening.
In 1895 they moved to their homestead –
In 1896, Mother, Dad, and their two children went to the Logan Temple before Dad left for his Mission. During Dad’s Mission they all suffered many hardships. Quoting from a letter of Aunt Alice’s to Dorothy – “Your Dad was on his Mission, he had been without food for some time and he didn’t have any money to buy a stamp to write home for some money. It didn’t do much good when he did, none of us had any money and we didn’t realize how it was with him. We had plenty to eat at home, if it was just wheat or meat. But he said he went and prayed for the Lord to help him and he walked a ways and looked down and found 25 cents, and he also got help from some friends. The cow he told us to sell died.”
Lars was released from his Mission after 18 months, because Rachel was very ill with Scarlet Fever. He rode the train to Casper and walked from there to Burlington because he did not have any money. He did stop and shear sheep some. He also went snow-blind after a big snow storm.
The family was living on the Homestead and Lars was working on the railroad into Cody. Gerald, their son, drowned in the canal. Nancy was doing chores getting ready to go get Aunt Eva Neves to come do some sewing, she missed Gerald and found him some distance down the Canal.
Lars built a big house and hotel in town in 1902. He had a livery Stable and race horses. He also built a dance hall. Lars and Nancy liked to dance and he taught his children to dance. He later sold the big house and moved to a little house by the dance hall.
At one time Lars had a butcher shop and was Town Marshall. He sold the dance hall and bought sheep and moved across the river from Burlington. Went broke and soon moved to Meeteetse. (April 1912) In raising their family Mother was very efficient and a good manager. She was a good cook and a good seamstress, she would make clothes over as long as the material was good. She took good care of everything she had and taught her children the same principles.
While living in Burlington mother and Aunt Alice loaded all their children in a wagon and drove up above Meeteetse over 40 miles to see Dad. He was herding sheep. They camped out at night and made the trip OK and had much fun doing it.
Mother’s sense of humor was a little short but her heart was as big as all out-doors. She was never to busy to help other people or to share what she had with the. Soon after moving to Meeteetse she started taking care of sick people. The Doctors always gave her a good recommendation. For many years when someone got sick the first thing they said was, “Get Mrs. Nelson.” Sometimes she was paid and sometimes she wasn’t, but it never made any difference to her. She was very willing and wanting to help the ones that could not pay. She always went the second mile for everyone. Many people said they would rather have Mrs. Nelson than a Dr. in a case of pneumonia. I know the first thing Mother thought of in time of sickness was a Prayer, and then, mustard plasters or turpentine and lard. Mother could cuddle a sick child in her arms and it would not be long until they were resting quietly. She had a hospital in her home – mostly for maturnity cases (so called in that day.)
Around the year 1929 Mrs. Forrest Doores told Mother she was looking out her window one night and she saw a ball of fire going back and forth across the roof of Mother’s house. It was the night the McIntosh baby boy died. Mrs. McIntosh had brought her baby to Meeteetse to see the Dr. and was staying at Mother’s. Mother had a strong testimony and had many prayers answered. She had premonitions of things before they happened. When Bill (her son) was in the army stationed in France in 1918, he got a call to go to the front lines of fighting. He reported for duty and the officer told him he was not to go. On this same day at home Mother was worried about Bill and she said many prayers for him that day. Afterwards she knew her prayers had been answered.
During the first World War she did a lot of knitting and sewing for the Red Cross, also helped in any way she could.
Dad lived on the ranch in Sunshine Basin and Mother lived in town to send the children to school. Mother couldn’t live at the ranch because the altitude was too high for her. She had some kind of heart spells, the Drs. could never find out what was wrong with her.
While living in town she had cows and chickens to help support the family. She also had a big garden, did lots of home canning and sometimes went to her sisters in Burlington to can vegetables and fruit. Mother was always busy, she would say “Idleness was the Devil’s workshop.”
Mother felt bad to be away from the church, the nearest one was 35 miles. I think the Lord wanted Mother in Meeteetse to help do His work. She was a good influence and all the people liked her. She was honest and sincere in all respects and always ready to help her fellowmen. At her funeral one lady said, “Mrs. Nelson was an Angel to many people when she was alive and now she looks like an Angel.”
Nancy was President of the Meeteetse Relief Society from April 15, 1934 to Nov. 26, 1935. Meeteetse was a branch of the Burlington ward at that time.
Lloyd Owen (her grandson) said he remembered Grandma telling him “if he didn’t have something good to say about people not to say anything.” Dorothy (her daughter) “Waste not-want not.” “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” “Wanting to do the things other people did – if they took strychnine you don’t need to do the same thing.”
Nancy Ann Neves Nelson died 24 January 1945 at Meeteetse, Wyo. Buried 27 January 1845 in the Burlington Cemetery.
Lars Nelson died 17 April 1945 at Meeteetse, Wyoming. Buried at Burlington.