Nelson Next Socrates Nelson--Early Life  


Deerfield Academy (c 1798)

  Socrates Nelson was born in or near Conway in Franklin County, Massachusetts, on January 11, 1814, the son of Socrates and Dorothy Boyden Nelson. His 5th great-grandfather was Thomas Nelson (abt 1601-1648), the first of this line of Nelsons to arrive in America.

Thomas, along with his wife Dorothy Stapleton Nelson and two children, sailed for America in 1638. They were members of Rev. Ezekiel Rogers party from Yorkshire, England, which founded the settlement of Rowley in Essex County, Massachusetts. Thomas's son, Philip Nelson (1634/35-1691, Socrates' 4th great-grandfather), was the only graduate of Harvard College in 1654 (the first class began in 1640). Over the next several generations of this line of Nelsons, the family moved first to Suffield in Hartfield County, Connecticut, and then up the Connecticut River to Conway, Massachusetts.

Socrates attended school at the Deerfield Academy, in nearby Deerfield, which was established in 1797. The Rev. Edward D. Neill, in his book History of Washington County and the St. Croix Valley, states that Socrates took a "partial course." Unfortunately, the early records of the academy were burned in a fire so we don't know what that means. After completing his schooling, Nelson was in the mercantile business in Conway until 1839 according to Neill.