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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
of
San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

ERICK GUSTAF NELSON was one of the honored pioneers of the present thriving little City of Chino, San Bernardino County, and played a large part in the early development and upbuilding of the town. Here he continued to reside until his death, which occurred July 17, 1917, and this publication consistently enters a tribute to his memory.

Mr. Nelson was born in Varland, Sweden, on the 9th of November, 1860, and was reared and educated in his native land. At the age of twenty years, penniless and unversed in the English language, he arrived in the City of Joliet, Illinois, where for three years he was employed at common labor. He then went to the City of Chicago, where he learned the carpenter's trade, and in 1887, in company with his wife, he came to Ontario, San Bernardino County, California. In 1885 he married Mrs. Anna (Anderson) Colstrom, whose first marriage occurred in 1870, Mr. Colstrom having died in 1872 and being survived by one son. William, who became known by the name of his stepfather. Mrs. Nelson was born in Sweden on the 31st of January. 1850, and in 1880 she came, alone, to the United States. At Joliet Illinois, she found employment as housekeeper, and in two years gained an excellent knowledge of the English language and the customs of her adopted land. With ten dollars in cash she built and eventually paid for a six-room house at Joliet, through the medium of a building and loan association, to which she paid eight dollars a month. She made these payments by conducting a boarding house, in which she cared for an average of twelve boarders. She was thus engaged when she became the wife of Mr. Nelson, and they thereafter worked and saved together, with a determination to place themselves in independent circumstances. They arrived in Ontario, California, in the spring of 1887, and here Mr. Nelson aided in the construction of the first depot of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the only other business structures in the town at that time being a blacksmith shop and a grocery store. From Ontario Mr. and Mrs. Nelson removed to Chino, as pioneers, and here he erected some of the first buildings, including a hotel, a printing office, the Baptist Church and his own house. Here he built also the first railroad station, and he continued his operations as a carpenter and builder until 1890, after which he held for twenty years the position of carpenter foreman for the Chino Sugar Refining Company. In 1894 he purchased five acres of land on Riverside Drive, and developed the same as an apple and pear orchard. After selling this property he purchased the Bellflower Ranch, on the corner of Riverside Drive and Roosevelt Avenue, where his widow still maintains her home, this being one of the historic places of the Chino District. Mr. Nelson bought this property in 1905, and became the third person to own the property after the making of the original grant. When he came to Chico this ranch, which then comprised 8,000 acres, was owned by William Gird, and it was then a great cattle range, with virtually no improvements, Mr. Nelson having made all later improvements on the land which he thus acquired, and having brought the same under effective cultivation, with an excellent system of irrigation. He was affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and was an earnest member of the Baptist Church, as is also his widow. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson had no children, but he was all that a father could have been in the caring for and the rearing of his stepson, William, who has borne the name of Nelson. This son of Mrs. Nelson's first marriage was born in Faulon Sweden, April 24, 1873, and was a lad of seven years when he accompanied his widow mother to the United States. He attended the first school established at Chino, and upon the death of his stepfather he assumed charge of the Bellflower Ranch, after having previously been for seventeen years in charge of the machinery department of the Chino Sugar Refining Company. In 1907 he married Mrs. Laura (Molen) Anderson, who was born September 16, 1870, her first husband being survived by two children, Arthur and Edelia, the former of whom is now in the employ of the Layne & Bowler Pump Manufacturing Company in Los Angeles. Arthur Anderson, the elder of the two children, was born at Stanbaugh, Michigan, August 21, 1893. In June, 1914, he married Wanda Hammer, and they have one daughter, Wanda La Verne, born June 14, 1917. Edelia Anderson was born at Chino, August 14, 1895, and in June, 1911, she became the wife of Benjamin Kriegh, who is in the employ of the pump company with which her brother also is connected. Mr. and Mrs. Kriegh have two children: Charles Benjamin, born October 24, 1912, and Junita, born October 27, 1913.

William Nelson, now in active charge of the home ranch which his stepfather effectively developed and improved, is well upholding the prestige of the name of Nelson and is one of the substantial and loyal citizens of San Bernardino County.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011