Grand Army of the Republic
Oley Nelson
Commander-in-Chief 1935 / 1936

Oley Nelson, a veteran and son of a veteran, was born in Rock County, Wisconsin, on the August 10, 1844. On the June 17, 1864, he enlisted in Company D, 40th Wisconsin Infantry (known as the University Regiment), which was assigned to General Sturgis's Brigade, Fifteenth Army Corps, with headquarters at Memphis, Tennessee. He was discharged on September 16, 1864, because of sickness and returned to his widowed mother in Primrose County, Wisconsin, his father having died in service prior to Oley's enlistment. In 1867, Comrade Nelson moved in a covered wagon to Story County, Iowa.

He was an active member of Ellsworth Post #30, at Ames, Iowa, for 40 years, and has been a member of Grenville M. Dodge Camp #75, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War for 25 years. He was a member of the 21st and 22nd General Assemblies of Iowa, and for 12 years has served as Sergeant at Arms of the Iowa House of Representatives. He was one of the foremost and most persistent advocates of a State Soldiers' Home and during his legislative career voted for the Home. He served as Department Patriotic Instructor, and in 1927 was elected Department Commander. He served as National Chief of Staff in 1931, was elected Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief in September, 1931, and on September 12, 1935, was elected Commander-in-Chief, the third comrade from Iowa to be chosen to this high office.


Article submitted by:
Ron Rittel
Camp Commander, Col. Noah W. Mills #45
Department Council, Webmaster and Signals Officer
Department of Iowa
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
August 2001

Photograh submitted by:
George G. Kane
July 2001

Swisher, J.A. 1936. The Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic. State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

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