MAURICE AND MARGARET JOHANNA (DRIEDGER) NELSON
By Maurice R. Nelson
Maurice R. Nelson was born January 4, 1923 at Darcy Hospital in Miles City, Montana. He grew up in the Sheffield area known as Sadie Bottom. He attended grade school at Paragon School and Sheffield School, graduating from the 8th grade at the latter, and attended Custer County High School where he graduated with the class of 1942. He lived in three different places during the years of growing up. As an infant he lived in a frame house his father built on that part of the Nelson ranch that he inherited from his father. For several years up through the first grade, he lived in a log house which had been built by his aunt's husband, Howard Boylan. This place was near his grandmother's ranch buildings where he used to spend a lot of time playing around, exploring the ranch, including the buildings and corrals, during preschool years. As an only child he had a constant companion in a collie named Ranger; they were always together. His mother could always locate him by calling Ranger because he would always be close behind when the dog came home. About 1930 his father purchased a ranch from his brother-in-law, Frank McCauley; the ranch was purchased in partnership with his father's nephew, Clarence Johnson (Maurice's cousin). The house was a two-story log house, which his father rebuilt, making it into a one-story home. In his teen years, when he wasn't going to school, he helped his father with the ranch work. In his spare time he used to like to hunt and explore the islands in the Yellowstone River near the ranch. He served in the U.S. Army in the 30th Engineers Topographic Battalion as a topographic surveyor, and was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii. In 1946 he took a job with the General Land Office Cadastral Survey as chain man in Sadie Bottom. The General Land Office became what is now known as the Bureau of Land Management. He continued working his way up to principal assistant to the cadastral engineer in charge of the survey party. This meant he did most of the survey instrument work and kept all field notes for that particular party, as well as helping supervise the field operations. He worked for the BLM in northeastern and the Tongue River area of Montana, in the area northeast of Minot, North Dakota, and in the area west of Newcastle, Wyoming. He continued helping his father on his ranch during the winter months, up to 1950, when the land survey operation closed down because of winter weather. In 1950 he went to Alaska to work for the BLM. He spent summers in the field doing new land surveys around Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula, he worked as far north as central Alaska south of the Yukon River. He also worked in southeastern Alaska around Juneau, Wrangell, Baranoff Hot Springs and Skagway. During the winter months he worked in the BLM Cadastral Survey office in Juneau. On December 19, 1953 he married Margaret Johanna Driedger in Juneau, Alaska. She was a registered nurse at St. Anne's Hospital in Juneau. She is the daughter of John Wiebe and Margaretha (Nikkel) Driedger, born in Roseville, Manitoba, Canada, June 5, 1925. In 1955 they moved to Anchorage, Alaska, with the Cadastral Survey Office. He worked in the unsurveyed land status section until it was moved to Anchorage BLM Land Office in 1957 during the big oil and gas land rush. He then was placed in charge of the land records section of the Anchorage land office. While surveying out in the bush in Alaska he had a hair-raising experience with an Alaskan brown bear and a few more with flying in bush planes, that being the main means of transportation to a lot of places where he was doing land surveying and other types of work for the BLM. In 1960, due to his mother's ill health, his family moved to Billings, Montana to be closer to his folks. There he worked for the BLM record improvement project, which was building a new land records system for the federal lands in Montana and parts of North and South Dakota. On completion of that project he accepted a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Phoenix, Arizona, as Chief Title Examiner with the BIAs SW Title Plant, which kept land records for Indian reservations in nine southwestern states. In 1970 his office was moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he served as assistant manager of the SW Title plant. In 1976 he took a position with the BIA Albuquerque area office in their real estate section, for a short period of time, then accepted a position as realty officer for the Ute Mountain Indian reservation at Towac, Colorado, which is located in the southwest corner of the state, near Cortez, the latter being where he and his family lived during this period of time. In 1978 he transferred to the Gila River Indian reservation in Arizona, working in the realty office at their agency in Sacaton, Arizona. During this period of time he and his family lived in Casa Grande, Arizona about 40 miles south of Phoenix. He retired in 1981 at Casa Grande. In 1985 he and his family moved to Cottonwood, Arizona. Updated January 2003 Born to Maurice and Margaret were five children, Eugene William Nelson, born in Alaska, November 21, 1955, died at birth; Kimberlee Ann Nelson (Hassey) born at Providence Hospital October 27, 1956 in Anchorage, Territory of Alaska, presently (2003) living in Bullhead City, Arizona with her husband, Darryl Hassey; Robin Sue Nelson (Nast), born June 30, 1959 at Providence Hospital, Anchorage, State of Alaska, presently living in Clarkdale, Arizona with her husband, Jim Nast; Karla Fae Nelson (Ayers) born August 14, 1961 at Deaconess Hospital, Billings, Montana, presently living in Cottonwood, Arizona with her husband, James D. Ayers; and Terri Lee Nelson, born December 1, 1963 at St. Joseph's Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona, presently living in Cornville, Arizona with her companion Mark Giger. There is one grandson, Joshua Nelson Ayers, born June 6, 1988 at Fremont, California and one granddaughter, Lydia Elizabeth Ayers, born October 11, 1990 in Page, Arizona, both born to Karla and Jim Ayers. By Maurice R. Nelson Custer County Area History As We Recall Maurice Russell Nelson passed away October 9, 1992 at his home in Cottonwood, Arizona after a very brave and dignified fight with cancer. He is buried in Custer County Cemetery at Miles City, Montana.