Nelson Edward Jacobs

Nelson Edward Jacobs Born: September 20, 1846 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Died: April 3, 1933 in Memphis, Tennessee

This obituary was published in
the Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal:

Civil War Veteran and Pony Express Messenger is Dead

Nelson Edward Jacobs, for many years an I.C. telegrapher, had aided in wresting of West from hands of Indians in early days.

Carrying a scar made by an Indian's arrow, a survivor of the rough pioneer days of the West and the Civil War, Nelson Edward Jacobs, adventurer and veteran railroad man, died at his home 1139 Greenlaw, yesterday afternoon after living to the ripe age of 86 years. He had been in poor health since September and seriously ill for a month.

Born in Cincinnati, Mr. Jacobs learned the trade of a telegrapher almost as a child. The same adventuring spirit which later led him over the entire North American continent, caused him to join the Confederate army as a scout and telegrapher. Soon after his enlistment, however, he was captured and held in Leavenworth prison until the end of the war.

Released, he decided to go adventuring in the west. In California he obtained a job as a pony express rider.* On one of his trips across the plains he was ambushed by Indians, who wounded him with a poisoned arrow. After robbing him they left him for dead. He was found by another rider, who with a knife cut the flesh away from a wound in his thigh. He carried a scar from this crude operation through his life. When wires were strung across the country he acted for a time as telegraph operator.

Deciding to bring his family into the West, he returned to Cincinnati. With his mother and sister he traveled by flatboat to New Orleans and by steamer to Panama.

Mr. Jacobs's sister was bitten by a poison fly during the trip. She was placed on a mule and, with his mother, Mr. Jacobs took the girl across the Isthmus of Panama to the nearest physician. The son and mother were forced to walk the entire distance. The sister recovered.

Mr. Jacobs was an authority on Indians and spoke several of their dialects. He was also able to speak some Chinese, having spend several years in San Francisco.

When he was 40 years of age, Mr. Jacobs was employed by the Illinois Central Railroad as a telegrapher. Later he served as a station master and dispatcher. He was pensioned by the company several years ago.

Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs moved to Memphis 12 years ago. He was a member of Epworth Methodist Church. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Anna Trigg Jacobs; a daughter, Mrs. E.E. Clark, New Orleans; and a son, T. R. Jacobs, of McGehee, Ark.

Funeral services, conducted by the Rev. Robert A. Clark, will be held at the Cole-Wilson Funeral Home at 10:30 o'clock tomorrow morning. Other arrangements are incomplete.

* NOTE: Considering the dates of operation of the Pony Express, he may have worked there before enlisting in the Confederate army. He spent some time in Weston, MO; perhaps he was on the St. Joseph end of the run. However, it could just as well have been California from what the obituary says.

Information provided by Ruth Ann Kerkoc, granddaughter of Nelson Edward Jacobs, September 1999.