One of Luther Burbank's Photographers

Submitted by krinehart on April 15, 2016 - 6:02pm
  • Fun Find Friday - One of Luther Burbank's Photographers photo

    Fun Find Friday - One of Luther Burbank's Photographers

Sandy Wilkins, Photo Collection Aide, here at the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library discovered an interesting bit of history today. Amongst the Library's large collection of historic images are many taken by professional photographers. Part of Sandy's job involves researching these individuals and writing up short biographies that we then include in the cataloging notes. Today she came across Theodore J. Nelson. Here is what she discovered.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin on July 4, 1882, Theodore was the son of Lars Peter and Nicoline Nielsen, Danish immigrants.  The family name was changed to Nelson when they moved to Hastings, Adams County, Nebraska by 1900.  Theodore married Edith M. Sterling (1880-1969) in 1908 in Hastings, Nebraska.  By 1910, he had opened a photography studio in Hastings located at 222 N. Lincoln Avenue.  Theodore moved to Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California sometime before 1918 where he resided at 900 Spring Street until his death at 92.  The Nelson Studio was located at various addresses over the years including 611 and 312 Mendocino Avenue, 438 Fourth Street and 539 Fifth Street.  According to an August 14, 1974, Press Democrat article written two days after Nelson’s death, Theodore was the official photographer of horticulturist Luther Burbank.  He was a long time member of the Santa Rosa Rotary Club, the Rose and Danish Brotherhood of Petaluma, the Odd Fellows Lodge 53 and Lodge 57 of the Free and Accepted Masons of Santa Rosa. Nelson retired in 1954 and lived with his second wife, Shirley, until his death on August 12, 1974.  He is buried at the Chapel of the Chimes Cemetery, Santa Rosa, California.

Sandy located a picture of Theodore J. Nelson on a public tree associated with "My Crazy Family" on the Library Edition of The photo is dated October 15, 1957, and was taken at the Palm's Inn, Sonoma at "Jerry & Charlene's wedding." The image was sharred by sorrellsclan4 on March 31, 2008.

Using a private subscription of we should be able to contact sorrellsclan4 and share what Sandy's found. It might be news to her/him that their ancestor was associated with the "Plant Wizard."

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