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Rev. Thomas Nelson

Baptist Minister - 1795-1861

     Rev. Thomas Nelson was born 11 May 1795 in Carteret County, North Carolina, the son of Joseph A. Nelson, Jr. and Abigail Styron, daughter of Samuel Styron and Hannah Hamilton Hill, daughter of Capt. Wise Hill of Portsmouth, North Carolina. He was probably born on the family estate, Hunting Quarters Plantation, which consisted of 697 acres near Sea Level, North Carolina. Thomas was a twin to Abisha Nelson.

     Thomas was married twice. He married first on 3 Mar 1815 in Portsmouth, North Carolina, Katurah "Kitty" Hall, daughter of Simon and Phoebe Hall of Portsmouth, North Carolina. She was 18 and he was 20 years of age. They had four children by the time they decided to join the trek to Alabama.

     In 1823, they joined the "Oxen Train" to Alabama settling in Marengo County near Demopolis. By this time Thomas was 28 years old and fast becoming an accomplished and respected "Minister of the Gospel." They had three children born in Marengo County. In 1830, they are found in Greene County where three more children were born.

     The Nelsons were clannish, when one family moved, most of them moved. When the "Choctaw Purchase" opened more land to the settlers in 1833 they decided to resettle in the virgin land. While moving his family in the winter of 1834-1835 from Greene County to Sumter County, they were caught unaware, in a bad snowstorm. They stopped and camped. Katurah became ill and died, leaving Thomas with 10 young children (an infant girl had died at birth.) A snowstorm is very unusual in this part of Alabama. No death record has been found on Katurah.

     Rev. Thomas Nelson is recorded in Alabama History as the founder of Gaston, Sumter County, Alabama, a post hamlet, 12 miles S.E. of York, Alabama and according to the map is now Whitfield, Alabama. He built the first store and bought and sold land there.

     On 24 Aug 1835 he married in Sumter County, Mahala Ann Lyons from Tennessee. They had three children while living in Gaston.

     In 1842 the Nelson Family decided to move to Baldwin County, Alabama. This county was more like Carteret County, North Carolina, from whence they came. Thomas and Mahala settled in Bon Secour, Alabama. Seven more children were born in Baldwin County, a total of ten for Mahala, their second child died in infancy; a total of 21 for Thomas, 19 living.

     Rev. Thomas owned the "Salt Works" in Bon Secour and even though he had died, it played a large part in the Civil War. His brother, Rev. Joseph A. Nelson, Jr. rented the "Salt Works" and made salt for the South. Thomas was also the owner of a Fish Industry and a successful farmer.

     Rev. Thomas wrote articles for the Southern Baptist, a Baptist publication. One article written from Fish River dated 10 Sept 1850, was about "a wonderful revival in a church near Point Clear (Brook Cedron Baptist Church.") In August 1852, an article appeared in the Southern Baptist telling of an illness suffered by Rev. Thomas Nelson and that he was totally confined to his bed." Rev. Thomas never regained his health and quietly passed away in June 1861 at his home in Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.

     Rev. Thomas Nelson will always be remembered in Alabama History for his zeal and dedication to his Ministry, for founding the town of Gaston, and as a trio of Baptist Ministers, Rev. Thomas Nelson of Bon Secour, Rev. Joseph A. Nelson, Jr. of Barnwell, and Rev. Elisha Nelson of Gulf Shores, Alabama; all of Carteret County, North Carolina; and making their mark in Alabama History and the Baptist Church as "Men of God."

Children of Rev. Thomas Nelson

     Children by Katurah "Kitty" Hall:

  1. Simon Henry Nelson - b 1816 Carteret County, North Carolina.
  2. Josephus Herbert Nelson - b 23 June 1818 Carteret County, North Carolina.
  3. James R. Nelson - b 1820 Carteret County, North Carolina.
  4. Edward "Robert" Nelson - b 1821 Carteret County, North Carolina.
  5. Infant Girl Nelson - b 1822 Carteret County, North Carolina.
  6. Mary Elizabeth Nelson - b 9 Aug 1825 Marengo County, Alabama.
  7. Louisa E. Nelson - b 6 Aug 1826 Marengo County, Alabama.
  8. Julia Ann Nelson - b 1828 Marengo County, Alabama.
  9. Cornelia Nelson - b 1830 Greene County, Alabama.
  10. Margaret "Maggie" Nelson - b 1831 Greene County, Alabama.
  11. George Washington Nelson - b 1833 Greene County, Alabama.

         Children by Mahala Ann Lyons:

  12. Kitty Hall Nelson - b 1836 Gaston, Sumter County, Alabama.
  13. Infant Nelson - b 1838 Gaston, Sumter County, Alabama.
  14. Thomas F. Nelson - b 1839 Gaston, Sumter County, Alabama.
  15. Sarah Frances Nelson - b 1842 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.
  16. John F. Nelson - b 1844 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.
  17. Cornelia Nelson - b 1846 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.
  18. Geriah (Jeriah) Abigail Nelson - b 1849 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.
  19. Ann Elizabeth Nelson - b 1849 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.
  20. Joseph R. Nelson - b 1851 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.
  21. Josh A. Nelson - b 1852 Bon Secour, Baldwin County, Alabama.

     Written 2001 for The Baldwin County Heritage Book.
Submitted by: Jack Dempsey Callaway, Jr., Rt 4 Box 581 B, Theodore, AL 36582 and
Written by: Betty Callaway Perkins, 222 Hickory Ridge, Belleville, IL 62223.