N. O. Nelson

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N. O. Nelson.

Nils Olas Nelson (September 11, 1844, Lillesand, Aust-Agder, Norway - October 5, 1922) was the founder of the N. O. Nelson Manufacturing Company.


Nelson was born the son of Anders Nelson in Lillesand, in Aust-Agder county, Norway. His family immigrated to the United States in 1847. He grew up on the farm of his parents near St. Joseph, Missouri. After serving in the American Civil War, he was introduced into a career in accounting. He became a bookkeeper for a plumbing fixtures firm in St. Louis, Missouri.[1]

N. O. Nelson Manufacturing Co.[edit]

In 1877, he started the N. O. Nelson Manufacturing Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Once he had established his business, the N.O. Nelson Company, he moved from simply wholesaling items to manufacturing items dealing with the area of plumbing. The company manufactured and distributed plumbing supplies of all kinds, including faucets, water closets, water heaters, valves and fire hydrants. In 1888, Nelson decided to relocate the manufacturing facility from St. Louis to a rural area. In 1890 a suitable location was found across the Mississippi River in Madison County, Illinois. The complex was designed by St. Louis architect A.E. Cameron specifically for the Nelson Manufacturing Company. The site chosen developed into a company town that Nelson named Leclaire.[2][3]

Leclaire, Illinois[edit]

N.O. Nelson founded the village of Leclaire in 1890, naming it after Edme-Jean Leclaire, who had inaugurated employee profit sharing in France. Leclaire was a model cooperative village offering affordable homes, free education, opportunities for recreation, and employment at the N. O. Nelson Manufacturing Company. Nelson implemented profit sharing and employee benefits.

In 1934, the city of Edwardsville, Illinois annexed the village. Leclaire was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The renovated N. O. Nelson factory buildings are now the historic N. O. Nelson Campus of Lewis and Clark Community College. [4] [5]


In Edwardsville,Illinois, there is a Pre-K to 2nd grade school that is in the ECUSD#7 School District.


Other sources[edit]

  • Rygg, Andreas Nilsen A Norwegian Settlement in Missouri (Norwegian-American Historical Association.Volume XIII: Page 108) [1]
  • Stephens, G. W. Nelson Olsen Nelson (Dictionary of American Biography, 13:419-420. 1934) [2]

External links[edit]