Nelson Evans was born on June 6th 1889 in Columbus, Ohio, the youngest of the three children of Charles and Mary Evans. At the time Charles was an agent for the Big Four Railroad, although after being accused of theft by his employers in 1892 he went to work for the Clintonville Electric Street Railroad. The Evans' bought into the North Broadway subdivision of Clintonville in 1891, becoming one of the first residents of this high-end development. For several years a section of Clintonville around land owned by Mr. Evans was known as Evanston; it even had it's own post office.
For those unfamiliar with Columbus geography, Clintonville is in the north central part of the city, directly north of the Ohio State University campus. Since the inception of the university in 1870, the neighborhood has been the residence of professors and other staff members of the school. Because of this, the area has the feel of a small college town. Although founded in 1847, Clintonville was never incorporated and was eventually annexed by the city of Columbus in 1900.
One of the main attractions in Clintonville at the time Nelson lived there was Olentangy Park, for many years the most popular amusement park in the country. The park was perhaps a little over a mile from the Evans residence. One of the attractions of the park was its theatre, the largest in the city at the time. Although it was multipurpose, the theatre was one of the first in the area to show movies (in fact, the first public showing of a film in Columbus took place at the park). One wonders if it was here where Nelson's interest in movies, and perhaps photography, began.
At some point Charles briefly took over control of a southern Ohio coal company. However, by 1910 Charles, Mary and the now adult Nelson had moved out of Clintonville and headed north for Toledo. Why they left is still a mystery, but they were now headed on a journey that would take all 3 of them to Hollywood.