Skip Navigation

Ben Nelson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment
Ben  Nelson Profile Image
Wisconsin Historical Society, Iconography, ID 87545

Database Record Change Request

Name at Enlist

Ben Nelson

Birth Name

Bersvend Nilsen Fleksmoen

Other Names

Bersven Nilson


17 Jan 1842 – 25 Apr 1925

Birth Place

Fleskemo, Målselv in Lenvik parish, Troms fylke

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

Elk Mound, Dunn County, WI

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

20 Dec 1861

Death Location

Spokane, Spokane County, WA

Burial Location

Riverside Memorial Park, Spokane, Spokane County, WA


Dorthea Olsdatter


Nils Johansen


Jul 1861


Julia Toycen

Spouse Lived

11 Mar 1853- 20 Sep 1939

Married On

ca. 1869

Marriage Location


Ben Nelson was born “Bersvend Nilson” at Ovre Fleskemo, Maalselvedalen, Troms, Norway. His parents were Nels Johnson and Dorothy. He left with his parents and ten siblings from their home in Norway on May 12, 1861. They sailed from Bergen on May 25, 1861 and reached Quebec on July 9, 1861. They came to La Crosse, WI on July 16, 1861 and then moved to Elk Mound, WI.

Nelson joined the WI 15th Infantry, Company I. The men of the company called themselves the “Scandinavian Mountaineers” but were also known as the “Waupaca Company” because so many of them were living in that WI county when they enlisted.

The army listed Nelson as living in Elk Mound, Eau Claire County, WI, age 19, and unmarried. He enlisted on November 8, 1861 at Withon, WI, and mustered at Madison, WI on December 20, 1861 as a Private (Menig). He was on sick leave in Eau Claire, WI in May 1863. In September and October 1863, Nelson was with the provisions transport from Stevenson, AL. He was on Military Police duty on May 23, 1864. On February 10, 1865, he mustered out with Company I at Chattanooga, TN.

After the war, he returned to WI and married Julia Toycen in about 1869. Together, they had at least four children, including Dortha C. (1870), Lina (1872), Nora (1876), and Clara (1879). He was a farmer, but later in life he worked as a carpenter. The family moved many times. In 1870, they lived in Grant, Dunn County, WI; 1880 in Sand Creek in the same county; 1890 in Rice Lake, Barron County, WI; 1900 in Superior, Douglas County, WI; and in 1910 in Spokane, Spokane County, WA. Ben died on April 25, 1925 and is buried in Riverside Memorial Park in Spokane. His wife Julia died on September 20, 1939 and is buried in the same cemetery.


Sources: Series 1200: Records of Civil War Regiments, 1861-1900, Wisconsin Adjutant General’s Office, box 76-11; Regimental muster and descriptive rolls, 1861-1865, Wisconsin Adjutant General’s Office, vol.20, p.132; Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett (Decorah, Iowa, 1894), p.600; Oberst Heg og hans gutter, Waldemar Ager, 1916, Fremad Pub. Co., Eau Claire, WI, p.315, p.15, photo, e51; Nordmaendene i Amerika, Martin Ulvestad, 1907, History Book Co., Minneapolis, MN, p.313; Lars Gjertveit, Bodo, Norway; “Notes of a CivilWar Soldier“, Bersven Nelson, pub. in Norwegian-American Studies, vol 26, by NAHA, 1974; Civil War Pension Index, Roll #T288_346; 1870 Census, Roll: M593_1712, Page: 131B, Image: 264, Family History Library Film: 553211; 1880 Census, Roll: 1424, Family History Film: 1255424, Page: 323B, Enumeration District: 154; 1890 Veterans Schedules, Roll: 116, Page: 2, Enumeration District: 14; 1900 Census, Roll: 1786, Page: 2B, Enumeration District: 0075, FHL microfilm: 1241786; 1910 Census, Roll: T624_1671, Page: 1A, Enumeration District: 0199, FHL microfilm: 1375684; 1920 Census, Roll: T625_1942, Page: 5A, Enumeration District: 251, Image: 231; Washington, Select Death Certificates, FHL Film #2022258, Ref ID: rn468 and FHL Film #2023707, Ref ID: rn1192;