OLOF AND SELMA (JONSSON) NELSON
User Contribution
By Maurice R. Nelson
Olof Paar Nelson was born in Malmo, Sweden, April 15, 1851, he was the son of Nels "Ole" Persson and Lisa (Anderson) Perrson. He changed his name to Olof Paar Nelson from Paar Perrson when he settled in Sadie Bottom. He was educated in civil engineering in Sweden. In 1881 he emigrated from Malmo, Sweden, arriving in the U.S. at New York City. From there he traveled to Chicago, Illinois, where he was robbed of his engineering equipment and money. It is believed he worked for a short time in Chicago at the Pullman shops helping build sleeping coaches for the railroads. From Chicago he came to Miles City. The story is told that the first night he got a room to sleep, which happened to be above one of the local saloons; late in the night the crowd in the saloon got rowdy and shots were fired through the ceiling. Needless to say, he made a quick departure to a safer place. He worked with the civil engineers on the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad west of Miles City. While the railroad was being built along the bluffs by the Yellowstone River west of present day Horton, Montana, he decided to homestead the land along the north side of the river which is known as Sadie Bottom. His first house was built of log on low ground. He soon learned that the Yellowstone was subject to flooding in the spring when the ice went out and also in June when snow in the mountains melted. He moved his house to higher ground where what remains of the original house still stands (1995); it was used as a blacksmith shop after the Nelson Ranch was built up and new buildings were added. His ranch buildings were caddie-corner from his sister and brother-in-law's homestead, Hannah and Nels Lindeberg. The Lindebergs later moved to a ranch on the north side of the Yellowstone east of Miles City.
There were nine children in the Lindeberg family, among them the late Dr. Sadie Lindeberg of Miles City. The country was still open, without fences, when he settled in Sadie Bottom, where present day Sheffield is located. Near where he homesteaded he tells of seeing piles of buffalo hides which had spoiled before they could be shipped out in the 1880's.
He did a lot of hunting and was quite handy at taxidermy, he mounted a deer's head and two mountain sheep heads; the latter he shot on Whitetail Creek near present day Sheffield. He mounted the heads, stuffing them with a cottonwood block and buffalo hair soaked in strychnine to preserve them. They were still in good shape 80 years later. (Donated to the Range Riders Museum). He told of a time when he was out in the badlands north of his homestead riding horseback, in the distance he saw what appeared to be a man standing on a gumbo butte, which he thought was kind of strange, there being very few people in that part of the country at that time. The closer he got the shorter the object became, until it disappeared. He rode around the butte and there was a mountain lion stretched out on the backside. He had been backing down the butte as Olof rode closer. He told of Indians camping on his homestead, and taking a lot of his things. He and his sister's family got together in her house for the night and after it got dark the Indians climbed the roof of the house to try to look in over the top of the curtains. He used to raise a large garden on his ranch using a large windmill he made to pump water to irrigate it. He raised cattle and horses; his cattle brand was O-N, horse brand N quarter circle. His wife's horse brand was 3 in a circle. He also raised sheep and was postmaster at Sadie Bottom for a number of years.
He married Selma Jonsson, July 18, 1891; she was born in Hjartum, Sweden, September 26, 1871, the daughter of Rishlof and Christina (Larrson) Jonsson. She was twenty years old when she emigrated to the U.S. landing in New York City the first part of June 1891. From there she traveled by way of Duluth, Minnesota, to Rosebud, Montana, arriving June 9, 1891 to visit her uncle John Larrson, who had a homestead near present day Carterville. Her sister Anna Jonsson (Kildahl), emigrated to the U.S. several years later; she married Nels Kildahl, who ranched on the south side of the Yellowstone River across from the Nelson ranch at Horton. They visited often, crossing the river by boat in the summer and fall and on the ice in the winter. Born to Olof and Selma Nelson were Olof Gustaf Nelson, Jr., July 1, 1892 - July 31, 1972 (story told separately); John Rudolph Nelson, September 7 1893 (died of diphtheria April 13, 1898); and Selma Christine Nelson Boylan, May 4, 1895 - December 2, 1985. In 1909, after the death of his mother they took in Avory Madison Buckner and raised him. He was born in Miles City in 1905 to James Madison Buckner and Anca Bracht Buckner. Olof Paar Nelson died September 30, 1912 on the ranch where he is buried on a small sand hill alongside his son Rudolph. Selma Nelson died March 12, 1955 in Riverside, California, where she is buried in the same cemetery as her daughter Selma.
By Maurice R. Nelson
Custer County Area History As We Recall