Pastor Arnold Rafael Nelson Ruth (Thompson) Nelson

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Arnold Rafael Nilson (Nelson) was born January 03, 1898 in Berlin, New Hampshire. In his younger years he worked in the lumberyards, as did his brother Alf. Arnold left Berlin at about age 21 or so for Red Wing Minnesota.


Around 1922 or so he entered the Seminary in Red Wing.

Red Wing Seminary




 The Thompson sisters Rebecca, Selma, Hazel and Ruth from Amble Michigan were also attending the Seminary.

Arnold Nilson      unknown          Ruth Thompson

Arnold Nilson


Arnold was often seen on campus and picnics with his guitar as seen in these pictures.  Schoolmates and Professors often gathered for picnics to discuss current events and their studies.


Arnold with a mouth full





Students of the seminary also spent much time at the near-by Red Wing Old Folks Home spreading the word of The Lord.


Ruth Thompson second from the right on the steps of the "Red Wing Old Folks Home"



News clipping about Arnolds early Preaching Duties








Arnold graduated on May 27, 1926 at 10 A.M. along with schoolmate Ruth Thompson of Michigan.



Arnold and Ruth were married August 12 1928 in Amble. Arnold was a "student" and Ruth was "living at home". Arnold's parents were Albert Nilsson and Amelia Anderson. The minister was Jersing Thompson of the First Lutheran Church, Muskegon. Witnesses were Naker Shthbo and Selma Thompson, both of Detroit. Arnold was 30, Ruth was 25.






Pastor Arnold R. Nelson’s first Pastor-ship was in Baker Montana.  Robert Hans Nelson their first child was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1929. The depression years in Montana were difficult for the young family. Most parishioners paid in chickens and eggs and potatoes life was hard and they could not live and survive with Arnold being a preacher there with a growing family. Their next child Joyce Rebecca Nelson was born and lived for a day or so and died. The Nelsons left Montana in 1932. Hans Thompson (Ruth’s Father) died in 1932 at the farm in Amble, Michigan and records show that Arnold and Ruth moved to Michigan to live for a while after his death. In the probate records for Hans Thompson in 1935, Arnold Nelson is listed as buying the farm for $5,000. Arnold was also a house painter to make ends meet. David was born in 1936 at Lakeview Hospital Michigan. (Near Howard City and Grand Rapids.)



Out side of one of Arnold's early country Churches Arnold in the back Ruth and "Bobby" are checked




Inside of Arnold's early Church

The young family then headed to Suttons Bay and a Church also in North Port Michigan 1936 –37   son James Albert Nelson was born 1938 Travers City Michigan.  1940 Paul Timothy Nelson was born. 1943 Daniel Arthur was born.


Arnold Rafael Nelson felt the call to pastor to the GIs in World War II much to the dismay of Ruth and even though Arnold was in his 40’s in 1944. Ruth and the boys went to live at the farm of Grandpa Hans’s and Grandma Lena’s Thompson on the Thompson farm at Amble Michigan Montcalm County.  Most likely eldest Thompson son Alfred and his family along with his brothers that did not go to war (only one Thomson brother went to war) were running the farm since Hans passed away in 1932. Lena passed away in 1941.


Arnold was stationed in France. He was honorably discharged as a captain and returned home in 1946 and lived at the farm. On May 10th 1946 after his return from war he applied for his social security card. He listed his occupation as “unemployed” but things would change.  Soon after this time he was called to serve to the Calvary Lutheran Church in Lee Illinois.


Arnold Nelson served Pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Lee Illinois till about 1954.


Next Pastor Arnold received a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in rural New Era, Michigan in 1954 where he was Pastor for many years.



They built the house/farm in Cedar Springs in about 1963 to retire to. They enjoyed life there while Arnold was quite often a guest Pastor in Churches around Michigan.


After his death in 1977 he was buried at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Era Michigan.


Ruth lived a rich life in the Church after Arnold’s death. Doing much volunteer work until her move to a home in Sparta, Michigan in her declining years. She past away on July 30, 1997 at age 94.


All throughout Arnold’s childhood and well into the late 1920’s Arnold and his brother Alf, sister Alvilda, Mother Amelia and Uncle Nils Nilson all went by they name Nilson at some point in the early 1930’s Arnold was going by Nelson. The time and reason of this change is a Mystery. Arnold’s father Albert who died in 1901 is clearly Albert Nilson on his gravestone. His wife Amelia who died in 1958 buried next to him is buried as Amelia Nelson.


In 1990 the five brothers and their mom Ruth, a few wives and grand children myself included gathered from many states to meet for dinner in Michigan at the Bob Evans Restaurant. I, knowing this was a somewhat historic event and may never see all my uncles etc. together at one time again took many pictures. I miss my family, Aunts Uncles and cousins some of which I have not seen since I was a child. I wish I was able to visit or at least keep track of them all and correspond. Perhaps this work in these pages may be a start.


- Scott A. Nelson


At Bob Evens in 1990 Jim, Paul (Bob behind) Dan, Dave and Ruth

Dave, Paul, Dan, Bob, Jim