James Alexander Nelson was born in Marion County, Indiana on January 1, 1842. His parents, Adam R. Nelson and Sarah A. Baldwin Nelson, moved to Illinois when James was two years old.
The family then moved to Iowa and Missouri, but James was mainly reared and educated in Iowa.
Adam R. Nelson was born in Scott County, Kentucky on December 1, 1817, and moved to Indiana when he was twelve years old. It was in Indiana that he was raised, and in 1840 was married to Sarah A. Baldwin. She was born on November 9, 1819.
In 1844, the family moved to Iowa, settling in Appanoose County, where they lived for eighteen years.
When the Civil War started, James enlisted in Company H, 8th Iowa Cavalry. He was the Orderly Sergeant for his company.
He served from August of 1863 until August of 1865. During this time he participated in several battles and skirmishes. He was in the battles of Tunnel Hill, Nashville, and Franklin. In all of this action, he was neither wounded nor captured. After receiving an honorable discharge, he returned home to Iowa.
On September 22, 1865, he married Evaline Foster. They remained in Iowa until 1870, when they moved to Dallas County, Texas. She was born in Ray County, Missouri on February 18, 1847. Her parents were John Foster and Elizabeth Rhoads.
Sarah's father died when she was very young. Her mother lived to be 73 years old and died in 1882. Other children in the family included Thomas, Rachel Linvell, Arthur, Rebecca, Catharine Baggs, Hannah, Mary Swartz, John, Angeline Regin, Jack, and Washington Foster.
The first year they were in Texas, James and Sarah rented a farm, and in 1871 they bought 100 acres of undeveloped land. Later, they purchased another 100 acres.
Their children were: Adam R., William C., Thomas J., James E., George W., Sahar E., Flora A., Arthur Pumroy, Robert E., John II, Jessie C., and Grady.
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