Elijah Randolph Nelson
Birth Date: 22 Jan. 1840
7 Jul 1915
Spouse: Amanda Clarinda
Elijah Randolph Nelson was born in Tennessee on January 22, 1840.
About 1860, he married Amanda Clemens. She was born in Blount County,
Tennessee, on May 8, 1841. She was a cousin to Samuel Clemens, who achieved
fame as writer under the name of Mark Twain.
Elijah R. Nelson was a large man, standing almost 61/2 feet tall and
weighing at least 250 pound. He was a rather bombastic sort of a fellow and
was given to expressing his opinions, and since he was an ardent Southerner,
it was but natural that he would enter the Confederate Army as soon as
armies were organized in Tennessee. He entered Company K of the Fifth
Regiment Tennessee Cavalry, and worked up from a Private to Captain of the
company. For the remainder of his days, he was referred to as Cap'n. Nelson.
He was a member of the Southern Army that was in Tennessee, and he had a
brother-in-law, Captain McConnell, who was with the Yankee Army that was in
Tennessee. They had married sisters. The Nelsons had a small child when the
Civil War commenced; and after the war had been going on for sometime, the
Yankee Army lines moved south into Tennessee, and the Nelson home was behind
the Yankee lines. Mrs. Nelson and her child remained in the home.
It is said that Captain McConnell supplied the wants of Mrs. Nelson and the
child, and although they were an opposing sides, Captain McConnell and
Captain Nelson met rather often and doubtless talked about their families
and the war. This child died during the war.
Captain Nelson was in all of the main battles of Tennessee, Georgia, and
Alabama: was in the Battle of Atlanta, and witnessed the devastation that
General Sherman and his army wrought an Georgia when they marched from
Atlanta to the sea.
After the war, he returned to his home in Tennessee, but found so much
strife and turmoil over the Reconstruction following the Civil War, that in
the latter part of 1868 he loaded his family in wagons and made the long
trip from Eastern Tennessee to Eastern Texas, He rented land for the year
1869 from Jim Hayes, near the town of Snow Hill.
Cap`n. Nelson was a very literate man and according to his son-in-law. Judge
Wilkinson, he could argue with the best of them and was not the least
hesitant to do so. He was Tax Collector of Titus County for 4 years during
the l880's. He was one of the stalwart members of the New Hope Baptist
Church, and for many years was the Church Clerk and as such it was his duty
to keep the minutes of the proceedings of the church.
Cap'n. Nelson liked to take a drink, and, in fact, he told one at his
friends that if whiskey wasn't so expensive and didn't make you drunk, he
would substitute it for water. On the other hand, his wife was an ardent
Prohibitionist, and one of his friends said, "Cap'n. Nelson had more places
that he could hide whiskey than any man he had ever seen in his, life."
Occasionally, Cap'n. Nelson would be in town and probably get to arguing the
Civil War with some of his cronies and they would get too much whiskey, and
as a result charges would be filed against him in the church. It is said
that he would always come into church and make his confessions and ask the
forgiveness of his brethren and, of course, he was always forgiven. but one
member of the church said it was quite interesting to hear Captain Nelson
make his confessions because he really told all that happened. He was quite
audible in his praying, and one person said that the Cap'n. prayed so loud
that it made one wonder if he didn't think that the Lord was deaf, but this
was just his natural way of talking because he was one of those fellows that
couldn't talk in a normal low voice.
He was one of the leaders of the community, and, in fact, Captain Nelson and
his neighbor, Captain Lokey, who lived to the south of him on lands now
owned by J. O. Freeman, and Dr. J. F. Wilkinson, pretty well ran the
community in which they lived. It is said that on one occasion in the
1880's, a man came into the community to rent some land and let it be known
that he was a Yankee soldier. He also said that he was a member of Sherman's
Army in that march across Georgia from Atlanta to the Sea. It seems, that
the Devil was about the only thing that Cap'n. Nelson hated worse than a
Yankee, and he immediately got with Captain Lokey and Dr. Wilkinson, and
they let it be known throughout the community that anybody that rented any
land to that Yankee or assisted him in any way would have to answer to them.
The man didn't get any land or any help in that community.
Both he and his wife lived a full and a good life, and were of that type
that helped to build a community. Mrs. Nelson died on March 11, 1912, and he
died on July 7, 1915. Both are buried in the New Hope Cemetery.
Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray 1910
Born Jan. 22, 1840, near Maryville, Tenn., where I enlisted in the
Confederate Army, Sept. 24, 1862, as Second Lieutenant, in Company K. Fifth
Tennessee Cavalry, Ashby's Birgade, Hume's Division, Wheeler's Corps, Army
of Tennessee. DeWitt C. Gormley, first Captain, and G.W. McKinzie,
first Colonel. Was never changed nor wounded. Was taken prisoner
Dec. 8, 1863, near Knoxville, Tenn., but was paroled, thereby escaping
I commanded a company, but was never commissioned. Was in the
battles of Richmond, Ky.; Chickamauga, London, Tenn.; Ringgold, Ga., and in
the engagement from Knoxville to Tunnel Hill, Ga.