Sunday, July 3, 2011

A mother buried alone

The tablet gravestone for Martha Nelson (d. 1794) stands in a tiny country cemetery in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, weathered but still readable—if you take time to look closely.

Here Lies
Interr’d the Remains of
wife of
who Departed this Life
the 26 day of February
Anno Domni [sic] 1794
Aged about 63 years

Click image to enlarge

But where is Robert Nelson? Why is he not buried next to Martha?

After a bit of online research, I learned why Robert Nelson is not buried here:

Robert Nelson’s house being of unusual size was the rendezvous and the store house for the supplies of all the patriots of that valley during the period of the Revolution and the troublesome times that preceded it. As Cedar Springs was not far distant from Valley Forge, Robert Nelson sent large supplies of food and clothing from his own stores to the suffering soldiers. His four sons were of this devoted army, David, Andrew and John as officers, and James as a private, were encamped at Valley Forge during all of the terrible winter of 1778–9. Robert Nelson’s great zeal, sympathy and devotion to the cause of liberty resulted in the final sacrifice and loss of his beautiful estate of Cedar Springs from which he had raised great sums of money in gold.

His wife, Martha Patterson, died at Cedar Springs, February 26, 1794. Owing to the death of his wife, the sacrifice of his estate, his failing powers, Robert Nelson left Juniata Valley in 1800. His sons David and John had two years before located lands in the new territory beyond the Ohio—David in Ohio and John near Bowling Green, Ky. Robert Nelson went to visit his sons and died while visiting his son John in Bowling Green at the age of 80, in September, 1804. He was buried in Bowling Green.

What a coincidence that Martha Nelson’s son David is buried not far from my home in Ohio!

[1] Foster, Harriet MacIntyre. (1908). Lieutenant David Nelson. The “Old Northwest” Genealogical Quarterly, 11 (2), 77–93.

Glebe Cemetery, Juaniata County, Pennsylvania

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