N. P. Nelson

From Adventist Heritage, Winter 1988, Vol. 13, No. 1, page 17.

Nelson, Nels Peter (1870–1924)

By Milton Hook


Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: March 14, 2023

Nels P. Nelson devoted his working life to a medical ministry at Frydenstrand Sanitorium and Skodsborg Sanitarium in Denmark.

Heritage and Education

Nels Nelson was born at Luzerne, eastern Iowa, on January 7, 1870,1 to Nels Peter Nelson, Sr., and his wife Andrea (Kier). His parents had a Lutheran background before joining the Seventh-day Adventists. The family moved to South Dakota and there Nels received his basic education in public schools. He was baptized in 1883 at Parker, South Dakota. He advanced to Battle Creek College for further study, 1888-1890, prior to leaving for Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was under a private instructor for three years. For six years he attended the State University of Copenhagen, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1899 and a doctor of medicine degree in the winter of 1901. On completion of his studies he married Bertha Leonora Hansen in a civic ceremony in Christiania, Norway, February 1901. They had two daughters, Alfhild Bergliot (b. 1903) and Elna Hilfrid (b. 1905).2

Medical Ministry

Before entering the university, Nelson spent the academic year of 1894-1895 teaching at Fredrikeshavn High School, northern Denmark. He returned in 1901 to be the director of the Frydenstrand Sanitorium operated at Fredrikshavn by the Danish Conference, with a 50-patient capacity.3 During the first few months of his term he attended the General Conference Session in Battle Creek and, with others, placed before church officials the need of financial assistance for the medical work in Denmark. They stressed that the two institutions, Frydenstrand and Skodsborg, enjoyed encouraging patronage but interest on loans needed to be paid off to achieve a healthier financial situation. A special offering was collected in America for this purpose.4

In 1908, Dr. Nelson was appointed to the medical staff of the Skodsborg Sanitarium5 and remained there for the rest of his career.6 Additions were made to the institution and by 1922 he reported that there were 250 staff, including six physicians, and the number of patients reaching as high as 360. A three-year nurses’ training course was also conducted.7 At church meetings and conferences, Nelson lectured on health topics.8

On the evening of July 14, 1924, Dr. Nelson suddenly passed away at his home. He was only 54 years of age. Co-laborers at the sanitarium spoke of him as “a faithful friend and advisor, who always had been a standard bearer for the truth.” Sanitarium staff carried his white coffin festooned with red roses to the nearby cemetery in the grounds of the 12th-century Søllerød Church used by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. His wife Bertha and their two daughters were left to mourn.9


Arnesen, Erik. “The Annual Meetings in Denmark and Norway.” ARH, August 26, 1915.

Christian, L.H. “The Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Skodsborg Sanitarium.” ARH, September 6, 1923.

Daniells, Arthur G. “Help for Skodsborg Sanitorium.” ARH, August 6, 1901.

Muderspach, Louis. “Nels P. Nelson obituary.” ARH, October 9, 1924.

Nelson, Nels Peter. Secretariat Missionary Files, RG 21, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, MD (GCA).

Nelson, Nels P. “The Skodsborg Sanitarium.” ARH, October 19, 1922.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Online Archives. https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/Forms/Allitems.aspx.


  1. Louis Muderpach, “Nels P. Nelson obituary,” ARH, October 9, 1924, 21.

  2. Nels Peter Nelson Biographical Information Form, December 3, 1905, Secretariat Missionary Files, RG 21, Record 114934, GCA.

  3. Ibid.; Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook for 1907, 136.

  4. Arthur G. Daniells, “Help for the Skodsborg Sanatorium,” ARH, August 6, 1901, 514.

  5. Nathalie Johansson, “Skodsborg Badesanatorium (Skodsborg Sanatorium),” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, January 20, 2021, accessed March 13, 2023, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCNO.

  6. Muderspach, “Nels P. Nelson obituary.”

  7. Nels P. Nelson, “The Skodsborg Sanitarium,” ARH, October 19, 1922, 10-11.

  8. Erik Amesen, “The Annual Meetings in Denmark and Norway,” ARH, August 26, 1915, 12.

  9. Muderspach, “Nels P. Nelson obituary.”


Hook, Milton. "Nelson, Nels Peter (1870–1924)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 14, 2023. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=59V3.

Hook, Milton. "Nelson, Nels Peter (1870–1924)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 14, 2023. Date of access June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=59V3.

Hook, Milton (2023, March 14). Nelson, Nels Peter (1870–1924). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=59V3.