PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM
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RICHARD J. NELSON, Principal of the Nelson Business College at Springfield, has met with marked success as an instructor and enjoys a standing and reputation second to none in this State. His school is one of the most worthy enterprises in this section of the country and is well patronized by the younger portion of the community who may desire to fit themselves for an active, intelligent, business life.
The subject of this notice was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 29, 1858, and is the son of Richard and Ellen (HIGGINSON) NELSON, who were both natives of Ireland, the father born July 9, 1822, at Castle Ward, County Down, and the mother near the city of Belfast. This branch of the family is related to that of Lord Nelson, who was so prominent in the naval history of England. One of the WARDS attained distinction on the sea and the title of Lord Viscount Bangor. He possessed large landed estates and was one of a family of high repute. The NELSONS, WARDS AND MOORES were connected by marriage and included many personages of note.
The father of our subject was a man of liberal education, possessing superior intelligence and business tact. At an early age he exhibited that self-reliance and independence of character which proved his mainstay in after life. When a lad of eight years he attended the village school at Castle Ward, two miles distant from his home. When eleven years old he began the study of navigation with an elder brother whose acquirements in this important and useful profession became quite notable. At twelve he sailed on a vessel with his father, and when fifteen years old engaged as a cabin boy with his brother, Horatio, whose first vessel, “The Britannia,” bore the same name as that on which Lord Nelson sailed.
When a youth of seventeen years the father of our subject began an apprenticeship at sail-making, at which he served seven years and became master of the business. At the expiration of this time, however, his plans and inclinations underwent a thorough change and he resolved to study for the ministry. For this purpose he placed himself under the instruction of the Rev. Dr. CAMPBELL, of Trinity Church, but after two years abandoned this project also and commenced teaching school. This profession he followed successfully up to 1849. He now resolved upon emigrating to America and landed at Philadelphia, Pa., in August of that same year.
While engaged as a teacher the elder NELSON made the acquaintance of a Miss HIGGINSON, a very estimable young lady, also a teacher and a graduate of the Columbia Institute. They were married in due time and the young wife proved of great assistance and encouragement to her husband in his subsequent career as an educator, of which he made a specialty. A year after his arrival in America, Mr. NELSON was appointed Principal of the public schools of Wheeling, W. Va., which position he held until 1853. Then going to Cincinnati he engaged as a book-keeper for J. C. SMITH. In 1856 he opened the NELSON Business College in that city and inaugurated the actual business method of which he was the author.
This was a new and valuable step in instruction, the old method having been simply theoretical, or a copy from older works. The NELSON system has proved of great value and has been extensively adopted by schools throughout the country. Richard NELSON and his estimable wife became the parents of nine children, seven of whom are living. The parents make their home in Cincinnati.
The subject of this notice attended the public school of Cincinnati and was also a student of Chickering Institute in that city. It may be said with truth that he was a born teacher, although his general intelligence, good judgment and correct habits would probably have won him success in any calling he might have chosen. Not only is he a first-class tutor, but personally and in the social circle, is agreeable and courteous in demeanor and bearing, making friends wherever he goes. He came to Springfield a stranger without influential friends and through his own perseverance and industry, together with his high character as a man, has built up a useful, honorable and profitable business. He is peculiarly well fitted as the companion and instructor of the young, obtaining a strong hold on the affection of his pupils. He has hosts of friends who bespeak of him all the success for the future which he so richly deserves.
In religion, Mr. NELSON is a Methodist and in politics a sound Republican. Socially, he belongs to the Society of the Elks, with which he became identified in 1886. He was married June 1, 1881, to Miss Carrie M. MITCHELL. Of this union there have been born two children, sons, Charles H., August 28, 1882; Richard C., October 29, 1889. Mrs. NELSON was born in January 1859, in Marion, Ohio, and is the daughter of James L. and Louise Mitchell.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio
Chapman Bros., Chicago, Copyright 1890.