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Story of Nevin (Iowa)

by J. Loran Ellis (1901)


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Chapter V, 1859 and Later (continued)

Austin---Ballou || Jewett-Bugbee || Stephenson-Color-line || The Ellis Family || The Great Tornado || A Bovine Ride


Mr. and Mrs. Chas. E. Austin, the co-pioneers with Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, before referred to, remained on his Nevin farm till November, 1869, when, having sold the farm to Mr. L. J. Gray they next settled on a small fruit farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, in the spring of 1870.  Here he died after a few years.  Mrs. Austin is now living in Hampden county, Massachusetts, and she still mourns the loss of their only child, Martha, who died in Nevin the 8th of December, 1865.

Mr. Joseph Ballou, the nephew of the Austins and who when a lad, came to Nevin with them, soon tired of his Nevin home.  So, one Sunday, the young man started from the Austin home afoot with his Bible in his hand, to go to Sunday school in the village.     He, however, did not appear at the place appointed for the school, but instead he walked to Afton that day and sold the Bible to a party there for his overnight entertainment.  He went on as far as Osceola in the next county where he found friendly people and remained.  He served in the army was severely wounded and returned home.  He married at that place and he now is a grandfather.  Mr. Ballou is still at Osceola, many years a trusted employee of the C. B. & Q. Railroad Company.


Mr. John Jewett, after over twenty years of farm life in their first small dwelling in Nevin, substituted for it a nice modern cottage on the old site, and fixed up his home place in a tasty manner with trees, shrubs and plants.  Here the family lived many years and here Mr. Jewett died on April 13th, 1886.  Mrs. Jewett, affectionately called "Grand Ma" Jewett, still makes it her home.

Sarah E., the eldest daughter taught the first school in Carl township during the summer of 1858.  She, on June 16th, 1864, was united in marriage with Mr. Sherman H. Bugbee, a tall Vermonter that came west in 1858 or '59.  They settled at Quincy the next spring.  Here he was a dealer in farming tools.  He was county judge one term, and was county auditor by appointment for a while.  He died in July, 1869.     Mrs. Bugbee returned to Nevin and in February, 1875, was married to Mr. Fred N. Ball.  Here in Nevin they had four children.  Mr. Ball died on his west Nevin farm in October, 1892.  Mrs. Ball is still living on the farm.  The daughter Mary is a farmer's wife.

Adelia, the second daughter of John, married Horace Whipple, they and their children have been in Colorado many years.

Quimby, the would-be soldier, eldest son of John, died in March, 1864, at a hospital in Davenport, on his way from Des Moines to enter volunteer army service.

Oliver, the other son, with his second wife and the children of both wives, are living in southern Kansas.  He is farming on an extensive scale on delinquent-tax lands.     His five children (two of them by his deceased first wife) are all sons.

Clara, the youngest offspring of John and Nancy, with her husband, Mr. Albert Delany, are Nevin farmers.  They have five children.

Mrs. Nancy E. Jewett, Mrs. Sarah E. Ball, and Mr. Joseph Hoskins, are the only persons now residing on Nevin lands, out of all the adult settlers of 1856, '57 and '58.

We should have said before that on the 29th of December, 1880, Mr. and Mrs. Jewett celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary, at their Nevin home.  They had a goodly number of invited friends as guests at their pleasant gathering.  A sumptuous dinner was enjoyed; beautiful presents were received and a delightful time was spent in social converse and in reminiscent stories of the early-days.


During the opening days of the civil war Mr. B. O. Stephenson of the New England House, had in his employ a black man, once a southern slave.  One day Judge Barnett, a democrat of ante-war times, having come from his farm, a few miles west of Quincy and being in Nevin village at noon time, came to the hotel for his dinner.  Mr. Stephenson, knowing the gentleman, with a sly wink to the table waiter, had the chairs so placed that the negro's seat was next to that of the judge.  The dining table was seated quite closely and it was soon manifest that the gentleman was much annoyed to have to sit at the dinner table by the side of a "nigga."  But he did not break out until after finishing his meal.  It was said that Mr. Barnett was never known to have gone there again for his dinner.

Mr. Stephenson, after operating the hotel about nine years, sold it in October, 1866, to Mr. Nelson Finney, in exchange for the Arad Harlow-Finney property, in the village.     The next year he built the later Knowles-Stewart cottage to which house he then moved.  In December, 1869, his self-denying wife, Persis, died.  In the following autumn he married Miss Amanda Emmons a school teacher, formerly from New York state.  In the spring of 1871, the two moved to the E. Emmons farm, near the village of Spaulding, in Union county, here Mr. Stephenson became a farmer and as years went by they raised four children.  In 1889 they moved to Corning where Mrs. Stephenson, an invalid for near sixteen years, died.  The aged Mr. Stephenson is still living there.     Of the children, Stella and Arthur are married, he is in business in Oklahoma.   Walter served in the army, in the Philippines.


Mr. Ellis worked his west-of-the-creek land (the present Cleland farm) till 1867-8, when he sold it to Josiah Wilson and bought lots --- extending his village farm to 140 acres.   After about thirty-four years of farm life in Nevin, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis sold their home farm, --- the most of it to Mr. Chauncy Whipple, and in December, 1891, they moved to Tabor, Iowa.  Here they are now living quietly in their new house and home place, embellished with trees and shrubs of his own planting, with martins and other semi-domestic birds in their seasons to help make their declining days cheerful.

Their five surviving children, Walter, George, Lizzie, Theresa and Robert, are all of age and are abroad in the business world for themselves.  The three first named are married and have children.  Each of the three married is living in a different state.

Walter Ellis was ordained a minister in 1884, and in 1892 was installed as pastor of the Congregational church in Elroy, Wisconsin, where he still officiates.  He was the first and is the only native-born Nevinite to become a preacher.

We will remark here that on June 7th, 1887, Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Ellis celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary; having thirty especial friends as their invited guests.     The gathering of children and friends was at the family home, the fine dinner and the social time was at and around the tables set amidst the evergreen trees in their park just across the street from the house.  It was a very enjoyable occasion to all.


The spring of 1860 was without rain for many days previous to May 5th.  That morning it was still dry and cloudless.  Towards night a dark, heavy bank appeared above the western horizon and very gradually spread over the sky, giving indications of speedy showers to awaken the delayed springing of grass, herb and seed.  At 10:45 o'clock in the evening a terrific storm from the west burst upon the place.  First wind and rain, then a perfect tornado swept across the colony lands and vicinity, the centre passing at or near the south portion of Nevin.  Its path was marked by death and destruction.  It blew down and twisted off trees along the streams and groves.     The I. Harlow house south of the village in which the Buell family were then living, was a total wreck.  Mrs. Buell was killed in the falling structure.   Mr. Beath's log house at the grove, in which the Beaths were living, was mostly blown off.    The vacant Beath shop in the village was strewed in fragments to the "four winds."  The Bixby carpenter shop lost one end entirely.   The hotel barn was partly unroofed and the Jewett house was severely shaken up, letting one end of the chamber floor-joist, with its load of beds and children, down into the bed room below.   Other buildings in the place were not materially damaged.


A neighbor tells the following "yarn":  Late in the summer of 1860 or '61, when grass was green on the outlying ranges and when cattle had become fat and saucy, Mr. Ellis planned one morning, to do some team-work with his oxen.  So, he kept them in his lot while the herd went off east some two miles or more to graze.  After breakfast as he was yoking the off ox, the other one broke away and ran to the herd.     His owner followed him there and mounted his back astride, and with occasional well-laid-on whacks from his cane to the sides of the ox, rode at a full run all the way home, unharmed, the observed of all within sight.



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