Nelson Family

John Nelson

John Nelson, the ancestor of the Nelsons of Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam Counties, New York, was plaintiff in a suit against Thomas Sprey, of New Amsterdam, 17 January, 1670. (Court Minutes of New Amsterdam. V. 278). For a time, at least, he resided at Flatbush, but had removed to Mamaroneck, Westchester County, before 27 July, 1683, on which date he purchased lands from John Richbell and Ann his wife (Westchester Deeds, A. 20) and he was an administrator, with James Mott and Ann Richbell, of the estate of John Richbell, the first patentee of what later became the manor of Scarsdale. John Nelson's home-lot adjoined the land of Robert Penoyer, and is so described in a deed from himself and wife Hendrica to William Pierce, 2 April, 1694. On 28 January, 1707, he conveyed to his "eldest son," Polycarpus, a house, lot of land, and orchard, in Mamaroneck, in consideration of which the son was to pay his "nephew", Richard Rogers, (Ibid., D, 179, 180.) He served on the grand jury of Westchester County, 1 August, 1688; as overseer of Mamaroneck in 1697, and as constable in 1699, and his name frequently appears in the records as a member of various town committees, and always with the prefix of "Mr.," a designation of some distinction at that period. He died after 28 March, 1713, at which time he was a witness to a deed of John Pell, Sr., brother of Thomas Pell, second lord of the manor of Pelham. A low hill in the town of his adoption perpetuates his name. It was made historically memorable during the Revolution for the surprise and defeat, by Colonel Smallwood, of a large body of the British stationed thereon under Major Rogers.

John Nelson married, at Flatbush, Long Island, Hendrica Vander Vliet (Bergen's "King's County Settlers," 214, 325), who was living 2 April, 1694 (Westchester County Deeds, B, 177, 178), after which her name disappears from the records.

In an old roomy house built by Captain John Warren, was born in 1840, a descendant James Nelson. In his veins ran the blood of Warrens, Nelsons, Rogerses, Haights and Davenports, all pioneer settlers of the Highland Patent. His entire life was lived there. He was a miller, farmer, school trustee, Justice of the Peace. He married Mary Forman, a granddaughter of Gilbert Forman, formerly of Yorktown, who had moved up "The Path" shortly after the Revolution to settle on a large farm east of the Post Road and north of Indian Brook.

James Nelson was an ardent student of local history and genealogy. He devoted more than forty years of his life to collecting data on the families from whom he was descended. In the course of this research, which presented many difficulties in the days before automobiles, telephones, and electric lights, he scraped the lichen off tombstones in abandoned burial grounds to decipher almost illegible inscriptions, studied faded entries in family Bibles, questioned the elderly residents, read wills, deeds and county records, carefully noted names, relationships and dates. It was said he never missed a funeral and the gathering of relatives after the burial when family histories would be discussed.

Further information may be obtained from our reference book "Thomas Davenport and His Descendants," as well as from our genealogical records.