Will & Biography of Nelson O. Wendell

Richfield, New York

Contributed by Charlott Wells Jones


Be it remembered that heretofore to wit on the 26th day of December in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, William Wendell , executor named in the last will and testament of Nelson O. Wendell, late of the town of Richfield in the county of Otsego deceased, in open court before the surragate of the county of Otsego and made application to have the said last will and testament which relate to both real and personal estate proved and on such application the surrogate will acertain by satisfactory evidenence who were the heirs and next of kin of the said testator and their respective place of residence and said surrogate did thereupon issue a citation in due form of law directed the said heirs and next of kin stating their respective places of residence by their respective names requiring them to appear before said surrogate at his office in Cooperstown in said County of Otsego on the 15th day of Feb then next, to attend the Probate of the said will and afterwards to wit on the aid 15th day of Feb. Satisfactory evident by affidavit was produced and presented to said surrogate of the service of the said citation in the made (manner ) prescribed by law and on that day no one appeared to oppose the Probate of the said will, such proceeding were afterwards that the surrgate took the proof the same will hereinafter set forth upon this 22nd day of Feb in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, and he adjusted the will be a valid will of real and personal estate and the proofs here of to be sufficient, which said last will and testament and proofs are as follow this is to say:


In the name of God Amen, I Nelson O. (Orville) Wendell, of the town of Winfield, in the county of Herkimer and the state of New York of the age of twenty-nine years and being of sound mind and memory to make, publish and declare this my last will and testament in manner following this is today

First,I give and devise my real estate in the county of Fillmore, State of Minnesota to my brothers William and Washington, the executors of this my last will and testament nominated and appointed in trust for and during the natural life of my brother Charles and from and after his decease I give, bequeath and deed the said real estate to Nelson, male infant son of my brother James, his heirs and assignees and I do hereby order and direct that during the continuane of said real-estate the net income and profits of said estate shall be the sole property of my said brother Charles as though it were his in fee: my object being to keep it in one family and name to keep it from the possession of the Smith's who live near it.

Second:  , I give and devise to my brother William my black mare and cutter and __________ thereunto belonging to my library and whatever personal property belonging to me may be in his possession at the date of my decease he paying there from my just debts.

Third: I give, bequeath and desire to my beloved sister Imilda L. Wendell all equitable or legal right or claim which may accure to me after the date of this instrument, whether such right, title or claim shall be to money, land or any evidence, whatever.

Lastly I hereby nominate and appoint my brothers William and Washington to be the executors of this my last will and testament - hereby evoking all former wills by me made.In witnesses there of I have set my hand and seal, this seventh day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one.

                          Nelson O. Wendell

The above instrument consisting of one sheet was at the date there of was declared to us by N.O. Wendell, the testator therein mentioned to be his last will and testament and he at the same time acknowledged to us and each of us that he had signed and sealed the same and we therein upon at his request and in his presence and in the precence of each other signed our names thereto as attesting witnesses --

                          S. S. Morgan residing at Winfield, Herkimer County

                          Wm. Z. Ball residing at Winfield, Herkimer County

In the matter of proving
The last will and testament -

                          Of        Otsego County

Nelson O. Wendell deceased.  S. S.  Morgan and William Z. Ball of the town of Winfield in the county of Herkimer being duly sworn and examined before E. M. Card, surrogate of the county of Otsego do depose and say that they were well acquainted with Nelson O. Wendell now deceased - that they were present as witnesses and did see Nelson O. Wendell subscribe his name at the end of the instrument in writing and now produced and shown to these deponents bearing date of the 7th day of August in the year one thousand and sixty-one, purporting to be the last will and testament of the said Nelson O. Wendell, said instrument to be his last will and testament - and requested these deponents to sign their names witnesses there to upon these deponents accordingly signed their names as witness at the end of the said instrument. These deponents further say that the said Nelson O. Wendell at the time he executed the said instrument was a citizen of the United States, of full age, of sound mind and memory in all respects competent to devise real estate and not under restraint.

Sworn to me
This 22nd day of Feb 1864  S. W. Morgan
            E. M. Card            Wm. Z. Ball

County of Otsego: It appearing upon the proofs duly taken in respect of the last will and testament of Nelson O. Wendell, late of the town of Richfied and county of Otsego deceased that the said will was duly executed and that the said Nelson O. Wendell at the time he executed the same, was in all respects competent to devise real estate and not under restraint. The said last will and testament - and the said proofs and examinations are hereby recorded, signed and certified by me persuent to the provisions of the -------------- statutes. The 22nd day of Feb in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four.

                    E. M. Card

Nelson O. Wendell was the older brother of my great-great grandmother Imilda Leona (Wendell) Berrian. Captain Nelson O. Wendell, Co. F. 121st New York Volunteer Infantry was killed at Salem Church, Virginia on May 3, 1863.
Submitted by Charlott Wells Jones

It is apparent from numerous sources that Nelson Orville Wendell was held in high esteem by his family, friends, students and later in his life by soldiers in the Civil War.

Nelson joined the family of Jacob Wendell and Nancy Fox probably at Wilsie Hill in Warren, Herkimer County, New York on April 6, 1832.

Nothing much is known about his early life, other than that he knew how to make shoes, along with his brothers and sisters, as their father was a cobbler.

His own education and conveying educational opportunities to others would become his passion. He attended Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana and then started his own teaching career. He taught briefly in Missouri, but had some health issues and soon returned to New York. Regaining his health he became an avid teacher.

For a period of time he was a school commissioner in Otsego County. He taught at a number of places and finally ended up teaching at West Winfield Academy. Once at West Winfield he started reading the law under a prominent lawyer in that town. He found himself very involved in things there beside his teaching, reading law intending one day to become a lawyer and follow in the steps of a number of his brothers in Otsego and Montgomery counties. He also took on a Sunday School class in the Baptist Church in West Winfield.

Clouds of war descended on the nation, dividing it in half. Nelson Wendell was a very patriot individual and when he was asked by people within his community to enlist in the somewhat elite 44th New York Volunteer Infantry, known also as "Ellsworth Avengers." He met all the requirements, having to be at least 5 feet 9 inches in height, single and of exceptional moral character. He went to full fill his "patriotic duty" figuring the war would be over in very short order. He marched off full of vim and vigor, not knowing at the time that this would be a lengthy horrible war. He did some outstanding soldiering during the Seven Day Battles. He was recommended for a commendation and that came in the form of captaincy of Company F 121st New York Volunteer Infantry.

At time went by, it was apparent that this war would go on and a call went out to recruit a regiment to be known as the 121st New York Volunteer Infantry. Nelson's old brother, William Wendell, a lawyer in Otsego County and involved in county government, was asked to spear head the the organization of a company. He in turn turned to his brother Nelson, who came back to the Herkimer-Otsego county areas and recruited for the newly being formed regiment.

He spent time visiting relatives while doing his recruiting in the area of Richfield Springs, Warren and the surrounding areas. He, himself returned to the 44th until the 121st went south in the fall of 1862.

He oversaw his own company, while at the same time keeping close tabs on family men who were also in the 121st. As there were approximately 13 nephews and others related to the family in some way in the 121st, he made it a point after each battle to locate them and make certain that they were accounted for and unscathed. He kept up a very in-depth and informative correspondence with his family, where ever they were. When other duties did not need his attention he could be on many occasions be found in the hospital helping where he could with wounded soldiers.

Right up to the end he was where he felt that he had to be, doing what he could in his way to reunite the country. He did not seem to fear death and told that if he were to die on the battle field that he be buried with those men that had perished with him.

Like everyone else, at the onset of the conflict he was full of zest, but by 1863 he also was tiring of war and wishing that it could come to a close. Even though his youngest sister, Imilda, more or less asked him to come home, he told her he intended to see it to the end, whether that meant the end of the war or his demise.

At the onset of the spring campaign of 1863 Nelson has a premonition that maybe his luck to come through unscathed to that point was running out. Prior to crossing the river, headed towards Chancellorsville he went so far as to give Dr. Holt the majority of his money to hold and in the event of his capture or death to get it back to the family in New York Across the river he went, with his company and the rest of the 121st. It was at Salem Church that they got into a hornets nest of Confederates. Along about 5 o'clock, in the heaviest of fighting, while he was standing next to Col. Emory Upton the commanding officer of the 121st, he was struck in the shoulder, which knocked him to the ground. Not going to let the wound stop him, he got up again and immediately was struck in the temple by a Reb bullet.

Not just his own company, but the entire 121st grieved at his untimely loss, especially the commanders of the other companies within the regiment, whom he was especially close to.

The family was totally devastated when the casualty lists were posted in Albany and one of his nephews who worked for the Albany Evening Express read his name as one of the killed at the Battle of Salem Church. He quickly spread the terrible news that they had lost their beloved Nelson.

The gallant Nelson was buried on the battle field where he fell. His death was verified by one of his nephews who saw his body on the field of battle and by Dr. Holt.

His family would always keep him dear in their hearts, with the memories of a valiant soldier who loved and gave his life in the service of his county, a loving member of a closely knit vast family and a true friend to those who knew him.

He was honored with his name placed on the west side of the Winfield Civil War Memorial where he had taught at West Winfield Academy at the time of his enlistment.

Charlott Wells Jones

Nelson Orville Wendell was the brother of my great-great grandmother Imilda Leona Wendell Berrian. They were very devoted to each other. He encouraged her to get an education superior to what most young women could or would attain in that era. She followed his directions and became an excellent school teacher, teaching in Wisconsin, possibly Minnesota while residing there, and then in Klickitat County, Washington. She never forgot the brother that she said, "I love, almost too much."

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Created: 2/15/09
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