Nelson Parsons

Early Princeton settler Nelson Parsons, front left, is shown with his wife, Aramintha, and children (back row, from left) Dora, Allie, Nelson and Minnie. Photo was taken several years after Parsons left Princeton.

I have neglected the blog while trying to finish the first draft of my book, a history of early Princeton, but I wanted to share some information regarding Nelson Parsons, the second white settler to arrive at Treat’s Landing.

Royal Treat staked out the claim for what became the original plat of Princeton in July 1848. He built a shanty, just east of the bridge on the north side of Main Street, and then a log cabin where he spent the winter of 1848-49 with Nelson Parsons.

Parsons, 25, arrived in September. He built a hotel on Farmer Street, across from the brewery, the following spring, had a hand in platting two additions and farmed in Pleasant Valley before moving west. A history of early Princeton published by the Princeton Republic in 1869 noted that Parsons was by then a “rich operator in Idaho, worth over $150,000 in gold.”

In 1880, Parsons listed his occupation as “stock speculator.” I assumed Parsons had invested in the stock market. But that was before I heard from Henry Parsons, great-grandson of Nelson Parsons, last week.

Henry is researching the family genealogy and had come across my blog while tracing communities where he knew Nelson Parsons had resided. Henry hasn’t had much luck learning about Nelson’s parents, and I could not help him with that, but I shared the information I’m using in my book regarding Nelson.

During our email exchange Henry suggested Nelson Parsons was dealing in livestock, not the stock market, in 1880. I said I did not know and did not want to speculate, but he then produced convincing documentation that supports his theory.

A Montana newspaper, for example, reported Parsons moving a large flock of sheep: “Yesterday, Messrs. Brace and Parsons of Jefferson Bridge brought to Deer Lodge a flock of 500 nice ones, purchased and driven over from Oregon by Parsons, who has been in the web-foot country since June.”

At one point Parsons reportedly went to Texas and drove a herd of cattle back to Montana with the help of some cowboys. In Montana he fattened up and sold the cattle.

An article from Oakdale, California,, reports Parsons selling 20 head of colts and brood mares in 1885.

The former Pleasant Valley farmer was a hotelkeeper in Modesto, California, in 1890. He died there on Dec. 1, 1906.

Henry also provided the family photo shown above. The family members are, from left, front row, Nelson and his wife, Aramintha; back row, Dora, Allie, Nelson and Minnie.

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