Founder History

Founding Family thru WWII

The Nelson family's rich history can be traced back to our country's founding fathers. The steadfast journey that led John M. Nelson, Jr. (Jack) to a career in lumber and materials handling runs parallel to many US history milestones.

1707
Nelson family settles in Yorktown and is recognized in American history as one of Virginia's first families.
1776
Jack's great-great-grandfather, Thomas Nelson, Jr. signs his name to the Declaration of Independence.
1781
Thomas Nelson, Jr. succeeds Thomas Jefferson as Governor of Virginia.
1883
Our founder, John M. Nelson, Jr., is born in Baltimore, Maryland.
1903
John M. Nelson, Jr. graduates with a BA from Johns Hopkins University.
1905
Jack graduates Yale, becoming a member of the first graduating class at Yale University Forest School.
1905
Working under US President Theodore Roosevelt, Nelson rides horseback helping identify sites for US national park status.
1909
Issued a US Patent treating timber with liquid preservatives for the purposes of preventing decay.
1911
Opens lumber business, John M. Nelson, Jr., Inc., in Pottsville, Pennsylvania with just one-thousand dollars and two employees.
1916
Nelson expands with a branch in New York City, hiring a classmate to head the office at 115 Broadway.
1918
Nelson moves back home to Baltimore and establishes new corporate headquarters at 10 E Fayette St.
1919
Nelson inks a deal to supply tinplate boxes, becoming the oldest continuous agreement in Bethlehem Steel history.
1919
The company name changes to The Nelson Company.
1929
As the Great Depression moves in, Jack keeps his workers employed by building a sailboat in the lumberyard.
1930
Aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin is intrigued by Jack's sailboat project and asks to meet.
1940s
Nelson becomes Martin Company's box supplier for shipping airplane parts overseas, including the fuselage of the "Martin Bomber".
1945
Jack's son, John M. Nelson III joins the family business after honorably completing service with the US Navy.