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Story of Nevin (Iowa)

by J. Loran Ellis (1901)


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Chapter V, 1859 and Later (continued)

Church Buildings and Parsonages || Ordinations || Some Ministers || Streets and Landmarks || Nevin-Nevinville


The Congregational church building was erected on the site west of the common, the site of the school house that was burned down on February 19th, 1864.  The edifice was dedicated on Thanksgiving day, November 26, 1874.  The sermon was preached by Rev. N. M. Calhoun.  His text was First Samuel, 7:12.

The Methodist church building was built on the southwest corner of block L, and fronting on Spruce street.  It was dedicated on Sunday, September 4th, 1881.     Rev. Judson Harris, Baptist, then visiting Nevin, preached the sermon.    Rev. C. C. Mabie, now of Des Moines, was the first Methodist supply following the opening of the new sanctuary.

The Methodist parsonage on Spruce street was built during the fall of 1877, under direction of Rev. Blodgett, and was first occupied by Rev. Clammer and family.

The Congregational parsonage was completed in the fall of 1878, under direction of Rev. Herman Geer, then acting pastor of the church at Nevin.


Mr. Andrew W. Archibald, recently graduated from Divinity School at New Haven, came with his newly-married wife to Nevin, on the 14th day of July, 1876.  He was ordained a minister and was installed pastor of the Congregational church by a council held in Nevin on the 24th of August, 1876.

Mr. Gurney M. Orvis, a New Haven graduate, was ordained a minister by a council held in Nevin Congregational church on December 16th, 1880.


Rev. I. S. Davis departed this life November 24th, 1864 --- as mentioned elsewhere, and his body lies buried on the Davis brothers' farm in Adair county.  His widow died there many years ago, aged about 84 years.  She too, was buried there.  Their old bachelor sons, Ebenezer and Thomas, are still living on the old farm.

Rev. Robert Hunter, a home missionary for twenty-five years, first in Illinois then in Iowa, died on the 11th day of March, 1872, after being pastor of the Nevin Congregational church five years.  His body rests in the quietude of Rose Hill cemetery.  His widow, Harriett Plumb, is still living, making her home with the family of their son, Ralph P. Hunter, these late years.  Julius R., their only other son living, has a wife and children.  He is living just at present in western Nebraska.

Rev. John Conrad is another minister whose body is laid away in Rose Hill.  His last charge was that of the Methodist church and class at Nevin or Nevinville, about a dozen years ago.  He died there, April 17th, 1893, leaving a widow and about seven children.  Most of the children are married.  All scattered.

Rev. Josiah W. Peet, was a missionary, who with his family left their eastern home and came to Adair county about the time that Rev. R. Hunter came to Nevin.  He was a home missionary in that county a number of years.  In 1869 he bought the Dr. Shaw 212 acres of Nevin land at the price of $1,000.  He moved to the 160-acre lot next south from the Austin farm, where their son George farmed.  In later years George's extended farm was sold, and both families moved to Jones county, where Josiah and George both died, some six or eight years ago.  The aged widow died in Corning in 1898.     Their other son, William W., and his wife and son are living in Constantinople, Turkey, where he has for many years been the financial agent of the American Board of Foreign Missions.


There were over eleven miles of laid out streets within the central 360 acres of the 1857 plat of Nevin.  On page 412, record of the doings of the Adams county board of supervisors, may be found their action in January, 1872, on a petition from Nevin land owners in regard to Nevin streets.  The two principal parallel streets, --- one next east of the common and the other next west were changed by the vacation of twenty rods of the south end of the first mentioned street and by extending it forty rods farther north, calling it main street.  The street west of the common was extended forty rods in each direction, and it was called Spruce street.  Some other streets were named, such as:  Franklin, Centre, Park, School, Spring, Maple, Elm and Willow; but the most of the original streets were then vacated.

It was on this Main street that the New England House and the Turner-Stephenson store were built.  The places of business are there today --- 1901.

Spruce street is where Mr. Ellis built his pioneer Nevin dwelling.  It, in its later remodeled form, and the two village churches, are there today.  And it may further be remarked that on this Spruce street and just south of the Congregational church are other landmarks of the pioneer days; several cottonwood trees set there in 1859.     The north one was set out by Mr. Beath, it is the largest tree trunk in Nevin, measuring 9 2-3 feet around the body, four feet above the ground.


The original Nevin land all passed into improved farms many years ago.  There are at the present time ninety families living within its old boundaries; nearly all of whom are farmers.  The village proper is small, it has one or more stores and has other business places.  A. T. Joy & Co., do the largest business and are long standing.

The two railroads that the Boston "boomers" of 1856 promised never materialized.  But there are railroad stations all around, the one at Spalding is seven miles east, the one at Cromwell is ten miles south, and the one at Greenfield is ten miles north.

The place itself is now generally better known as Nevinville than as Nevin.

Its former distinguishing character as being eminently a "New England" settlement has long since passed away.



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