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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Mrs. Julia Chapin Grinnell

Mrs. Julia Chapin Grinnell (Mrs. J. B. Grinnell) was born in Springfield, Mass., Nov. 2, 1827, and died in Grinnell, Iowa, Dec. 11, 1907.

Mrs. Grinnell traced descent from Deacon Samuel Chapin, the founder of Springfield, Mass., whose statue now stands in the public square of that city.  Her grandfather was Judah Chapin, who enlisted in the Revolutionary War, December 25, 1776.  Her father was Deacon Chauncey Chapin of the historical First Church of Springfield.  The mother of Mrs. Grinnell, Nancy Jones Lombard, numbered among her ancestors Reverend John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians, and others holding positions of honor and trust in Colonial history;  among these where Governor Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Governor Thomas Wells of Connecticut, Governor William Leete of Connecticutt and New Haven Colonies, and Governor William Brenton of Rhode Island.  Mrs. Grinnell was a student at Mount Holyoke in the days of Mary Lyon.  February 5, 1852, at Springfield, Mass., she was married to Rev. Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, then a Congregational minister in New York City, of Mayflower ancestry and a native of New Haven, Vermont.  Four children were born to them, a daughter and a son died in infancy.  Two daughters are living:  Mrs. Mary Grinnell Mears, the wife of Rev. David O. Mears, D. D. Pastor-Emeritus of the Fourth Presbyterian church, Albany, N. Y., and Mrs. Carrie Grinnell Jones, wife of Professor Richard Jones, Ph. D. of Tufts College, Massachusetts.

In 1854 Mr. Grinnell, with three others, founded the town of Grinnell, Iowa, which was named in his honor and became his home thereafter, until his death, Mch. 31, 1892.  This little prairie hamlet, a typical New England village, had from the first an unusual history.  "Consecrated to temperance, education, and religion" it bore a worthy part in the movements of the time and its influence became felt in state and nation.

Mrs. Grinnell shared with her husband in his plans for the development of town and college, and was the leading spirit in the formation of many organizations of a public nature.  She was the organizer of the first Maternal Association west of the Mississippi River, which now bears her name;  the founder of the Grinnell W. C. T. U.; a charter member of the Congregational church;  an officer in the Ladies' Education Society, etc.  For many years she edited monthly a Foreign Missionary Column in "Congregational Iowa" and served on the executive committee of the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior.  She was a graduate of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle of the class of 1883 and a member of the Elizabeth Earle Magoun Club.  The portraits of Honorable and Mrs. J. B. Grinnell have a place in the Iowa Historical Art Gallery at Des Moines, Iowa.  In requesting these portraits the Hon. Charles Aldrich who was then curator of the Historical Dept. said:

"I am of the opinion that none of the Iowa women whose portraits are likely to come here are more deserving of this honor than your mother.  She was a brave, intelligent Iowa pioneer, who not only sustained your father in his great works, but who has always been helpful to young people who needed assistance in acquiring an education and position in life."



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