John H. Nelson; sheriff of Ford county, and a resident of Paxton, was born in Sweden, January 24, 1858, his parents being Nels and Hannah (Hendrickson) Pearson, both of whom were natives of Sweden, where they spent their entire lives. The father, who followed the occupation of farming, died at the age of seventy-three, and his wife when seventy-four years of age. They were the parents of nine children, of whom five are yet living, as follows: Perry H., a resident of Sibley county, Minnesota; Nels H., of Paxton, Illinois; John H., of this review; Mrs. Anna Falk, of Sweden; and Ola, also of that country.
John H. Nelson was reared upon the home farm, acquiring his education in the public schools of his native country. Attracted by the favorable reports which he heard concerning the opportunities of the new world he came to the United States when nineteen years of age, his two elder brothers. Perry and Nels, having preceded him about a year. They were located in Paxton, where John H. Nelson joined them. He had no capital but possessed energy and determination and upon these qualities has builded his success. He was first employed as a farm hand, continuing to w(n"k in that way until 1879, when in connection with his brother Nels he began farming on his own account. They rented and cultivated a half section of land and for six years continued successfully to carry on general agricultural pursuits. On the expiration of that period, in 1885, John H. Nelson started for his old home, sailing on the 6th of March for Europe. He spent the summer in his native country, visiting relatives and friends and then returned to the United States in the fall, after Which he and his brother Nels purchased a livery barn, and engaged in bU3'ing and selling horses. This business was conducted as a profitable enterprise for ten years when the partnership was dissolved and the barn sold.
Mr. Nelson of this review afterward took up the work of buying and selling cattle and hogs, with which he was identified until the fall of 1906, when he was elected to the sheriff's office, having the distinction of being the only democrat ever chosen to this position in Ford county since 1870. His official record, however, has ever been one characterized by the utmost fidelity and capability. He was elected a member of the board of aldermen of Paxton at a time when there was not a paved street nor a server in the city. He believed in improvements and took a firm stand in support of progressive public movements. To his official duties he brought the same spirit of enterprise and progress which have marked his business career. He was made chairman of the streets and alley committee, and while he met bitter antagonism in those who fought all public expense, he received the endorsement of the public-spirited citizens of his ward and was successively elected to office, serving continuously for thirteen years. During this time he was largely instrumental in securing the paving of the streets and other improvements which have resulted most beneficially for Paxton. Indeed the city owes to him a debt of gratitude for what he accomplished along that line. In his present position he is fearless in the discharge of his duties, his course commanding the contidence of all law abiding citizens and the fear of all those who do not hold themselves amenable to the laws of the land.
Mr. Nelson was married in 1892 to Mrs. Ada Swanson, a daughter of Andrew Anderson, one of the early settlers and merchants of Paxton and the democratic candidate for sheriff of the county in 3866. Mr. and ^Mrs. Nelson have one daughter, Helen Frances. The family are members of the Swedish Lutheran church and have a large circle of warm friends in Paxton and the county. Mr. Nelson is prominent in fraternal circles, belonging to Paxton Lodge, No. 116, A. F. & A.:\r.; Ford Chapter, No. 160, R. A. M.; Mount Olivet Commandery, No. 38, K. T.; and Mahomet Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, at Peoria, Illinois. His residence in the county covers a period of more than a third of a century, and has been marked by uniform devotion to the public good, by activity and enterprise in business and by a fidelity to ever}- public trust. He is today one of the well known and prominent citizens of this section of the state.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 592-596.

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