A COAL MINING PIONEER
Jordan Nelson ( Farmer and Blacksmith) owned land from Pocahontas to Bramwell and is credited with mining the first coal in the area that he used to fire his blacksmith shop. Jordan Nelson lived near Powell’s Bottom, now Pocahontas, Virginia. He dug the coal and sold it for a penny a basket in the 1870s. From his tiny coal mine, Nelson's selling of coal was somewhat responsible for the western expansion of the Norfolk and Western Railroad.
The story goes that when a customer of Nelson’s tried to purchase a large wagon of coal from Nelson his aunt, Bessie Thompson protested. She was afraid that the supply of coal would soon run out. Both Bessie and Jordan had no idea that he was mining from one of the richest coalfields ever found.
Sometime in 1867 or 1868 Mr. Jordan Nelson moved from his home in Boone County, West Virginia. He had visited the area in 1866 and decided exchange his Boone County property for the Stower shop and mill. He became the the owner of Mr. Stover's shop, mill and 1000 acres of mountain land, which included all of the present town site of Pocahontas.
Toward the end of the 1870s the Southwest Virginia Improvement Company acquired 406 acres from Jordan Nelson for a reported $1,932 and the mineral rights for an additional 500 acres for $4,000. However, it was reported that this money was stolen from Mr. Nelson soon after the these sales.
Jordan Nelson was truly a pioneer but took little credit for his discovery. He died in Bluefield in 1922 at the age of 94 with very little to show from his remarkable ownership of one of the richest coalfields ever discovered. He is buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery on Hancock Street in Bluefield, WV. His gravestone reads “Jordan Nelson, 1829-1922, Discoverer of Pocahontas Coal.” His death certificate indicates that he was born Nov. 20, 1828 and died on Nov. 30, 1922 at the age of 94.
Jordan Nelson was the son of William Nelson and Phoebe Mary Smith, both from North Carolina. He married Temperance Bias.
Jorden Nelson's cabin located in Powell's Bottom, now Pocahontas, VA., near Bramwell, WV.