Although Mr. Nelson has had plenty of opportunities to secure land in other places, still after a long travel over the country in various portions, he has never found any place that is quite equal to the reservation portion of Nez Perces County. He owns a valuable farm about nine miles southeast from Peck, which he secured from the wilds by homestead right and has improved in a fine manner, thus manifesting not only his industry but wisdom and skill also.

Oscar Nelson was born in the southern part of Sweden, on July 21, 1874, being the son of Peter and Kate Nelson. The father was a jeweler and a musician. This son was reared on the farm and in town, securing a good education. In 1891, he started for himself, and at once embarked for America. He had inherited his father’s talent for music and at that youthful period had mastered seven instruments. His best instruments are the fife, violin and accordion. When he landed in New York, he had only one five cent piece. The passengers who had been entertained by his music on the voyage made up a purse and so he started out for the future. Coming to Fargo, North Dakota, he at once found a position where he could earn his board and tuition by his instruments and so went industriously at it, gaining also a good knowledge of the English.

In 1892 he was in La Grande, Oregon, then cut wood in the Palouse and so traveled around and sought land. Finally he came to the reservation in March, 1896, having a pack horse. He footed it over the County and finally selected the homestead where he is now dwelling. He has improved it in good shape, has a fine spring and his farm produces abundance of grain and general crops. Mr. Nelson had the first contract of carrying the mail from Peck to Steele. This was before the road was graded up the hill or bridges put across the creeks. It was an arduous undertaking and sometimes he was obliged to pack on his own back eighty pounds up the hill.

These were trying times, but Mr. Nelson stood the test and today he has one of the most valuable pieces of land on the reservation, owes no debts, and is enjoying the rewards of his worthy labor. During the closing of 1902 and the beginning of 1903, Mr. Nelson is contemplating a trip to Sweden to visit his aged mother and doubtless much joy will be his to renew old acquaintances and live over again the happy days of youth. He is highly esteemed by all in this community and has hosts of warm friends who wish him well.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903