Mr. Henry Nelson’s Historic House


Mr. Nelson’s Old House


Mr. Nelson’s historic house was one of the last of its kind before it was dismantled in July 2006. It dates back to the mid 1940’s and was built by Mr. Henry Nelson as his primary residence. It has faced many perils during its existence including two of the most devastating storms ever seen in Jamaica. In 1951 the storm (Hurricane Charlie) was so treacherous that within six days it left 154 persons dead, over 2000 injured and over 50,000 homeless. Not only has it survived the storm of 1951 but Hurricane Gilbert as well. The huge Tamarind tree in the yard was destroyed by Gilbert however the house stood firm. Many people in the village found shelter under its roofs during those challenging times as the house still functioned until shortly before it was taken apart.


There was a time when most of the houses were of the same construction but that time has long gone. The house was so well built that even after it was dismantled at least 70 percent of the wood was still reusable. The rest was compromised however due to the deterioration by the weather.


Built on property bought in the early 1940’s the house was the source of many stories. The original name for the property was “Goulin Pen”[1]  and was purchased from Mr. Babu Duffus. It sits on approximately 6 acres and at one time was a major hub of activity in the village.


Mr. Nelson, nicknamed Uncle Ben due to his striking resemblance to the character on the rice package with full head of white hair and almost similar overall facial features, originally came from Church Pen during the 1930’s to work in Spring Village on the Thethford Estate. At the time Spring Garden bath was part of the estate and was home to a very large dairy farm [2]. He drove a milk cart (buggy) as he delivered milk to places like Old Harbour as well as Bushy Park for export. It was said that he traveled daily from Church Pen each morning through Fuller woods to Spring Garden (approx.6 miles one way) to earn his living on the farm.

As the years ensued, he went to Cuba to work in the sugar plantation then came back to set up home in Spring Village.


Over the years, he became one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the village where his many roles included Farmer, Shop Keeper and even baker. His bakery supplied bread and other baked goods to Old Harbour, Church Pen and other nearby places.

As an active member of the community he also handed out Farm Work cards to many villagers which enabled them to work abroad.


As a farmer he grew huge quantities of corn on land leased in Bushy Park (Light pen) and was known to have the most bountiful of harvests which filled rooms after being shelled. Shelling was done using a hand-cranked Sheller which as operated by various workers from the community.


As shopkeeper he was known to operate what was referred to as “the Red Wooden shop” which stood out due to its maroon color. It also had a crawl space (cellar) which boys would creep underneath from front to back to illegally attend events put on in the backyard. The “Nelson Lawn” as it was called back then, was host to Dances, film shows on Sundays and various other community events.

During the 50’s it was home to cultural dances such as Maypole and most often hosted mento bands like Baba Mac with its raging saxophone sections. Throughout the 60’s into the late 80’s the Nelson Lawn hosted some of the memorable sound systems in Jamaica. From local sounds such as Nick (mid-late 60’s) to El Paso (Denis Alcapone), King Stitt and Wasp from Spanish Town, dances held there was always jam packed with people from all over. 


As one of the principal shopkeepers he was key to supplying goods throughout trying times. For instance, during the days of hurricane Charlie (1951) his shop was one of the only ones which survived and therefore he was still able to operate. It was said that people were so hard pressed that they depended on him heavily to provide goods that due to the ravages of the hurricane he went to Kingston to buy more goods. It was said that in anticipation of his return villagers would sing:

“when Mr. Nelson come from town we shall have flour”. Thankfully he returned so indeed they could have the goods they so desperately needed.


Mr. Henry George Nelson was married to Adina V. (Aunt Dye) who passed away in 1962. He never remarried and often lamented over her long after she was gone. He died in 1982 and had four children James, Delroy (Bullo), Minet and Cookie.

He was a major contributor to the Spring Village as we know it.

Today, the Henry Nelson Agricultural Tuition Assistance Scholarship is offered in his honor for Spring Village students who pursue the field of agriculture.




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[1] Alban Whyte senior villager.

[2] Alban Whyte senior villager.