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Story of Nevin (Iowa)

by J. Loran Ellis (1901)


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Chapter V, 1859 and Later (continued)

Militia || Passing of the New England House || Old Settlers Association || Nevin Soldier Boys || Methodist-Brazee Meetings || The Dickenson Revival


On the 2nd of June, 1861, the "Colony Guards," a local volunteer company of men, was formed for home protection in Nevin only.  There were no arms, nor was there any drilling.

On November 9th, 1861, the First regiment of Adams county was organized at Quincy.     Colony township was liberally represented.  Mr. John Bixby was chosen colonel.   There was no arms nor any drilling.

September 2nd, 1862, was the date of the formation of the "Home Guards," at Nevin.  Mr. Lloyd was drillmaster.  The company had one muster at Carl and another at Mt. Etna.  These village musters were followed by a battalion formation at Quincy nearly a month later.

The Adams county militia company was formed at Quincy on March 21st, 1863.  Mr. E. Y. Burgan was chosen captain and Mr. John Bixby lieutenant.  The membership was over one hundred men including men from Colony township and other county points.  They were all sworn to unconditional loyalty.  There were forty Harpers Ferry muskets and a few rounds of ammunition distributed.  Some more muskets were expected after a few weeks.  There were six or more meetings for drill in August and September.


Mr. B. O. Stephenson the original manager of the New England House, was succeeded therein by Mr. Nelson Finney, who, with his big family, moved into it in October, 1866.     Mr. Finney operated the hotel until March, 1868, when he sold the property to Mr. Frank Guymon, of Madison county, in exchange for land there.  Mr. Guymon (who, by the way, proved to be the "advance guard" of the anti-Yankee party in the place, that developed later on) conducted the house as a hotel until about 1878, when he sold out to Dr. J. J. Henry, recently from California.  Soon after this the business of hotel keeping was transferred to the Jewett home place.

The old two-story building on the corner of Franklin and main streets still stands there, occupied by Mr. Reed; looking much as it did in days of old, --- minus the paint and the old sign of "New England House."

The Finneys went to Winterset and the Guymons to Missouri.

That old Turner-Stephenson store building that Mr. Nichols in 1857, built on Main street, disappeared in 1865, having been hauled to the Wilmarth-Long-Bartlett farm.


On the 7th of June, 1872, the 15th anniversary of the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, the old settlers of Nevin and vicinity, on the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, had a pleasant afternoon gathering at the Ellis home in Nevin.  After having a good anniversary dinner together they proceeded to organize an "Old Settlers Association."  They chose Mr. P. P. Chamberlain, president; Mr. J. Jewett, vice president; G. W. Grant, secretary, and J. L. Ellis, B. O. Stephenson and A. T. Harlow, committee for the next gathering.  They voted to meet again the second Thursday in June, 1873.  They also decided to admit to membership persons 21 years of age living within or near Nevin, who settled previous to the close of 1863.  The following persons became members:

Mr. and Mrs. P. P. Chamberlain, Mr. and Mrs. J. Jewett, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Grant, Mr. and Mrs. B. O. Stephenson, Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Ellis, Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Whipple, Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Harlow, Mr. and Mrs. E. Sawyer, Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Norman, Mr. and Mrs. R. Hargrave, Mr. and Mrs. H. Whipple, Mr. and Mrs. I. A. Sprague, Mr. and Mrs. S. Southall and Mr. J. McDougall.

The association met the following year in Mr. J. Jewett's young maple grove just northeast of his house.  The day was beautiful..  They had a bounteous spread-on-table dinner together.  There was a proper literary program also, but the present writer has no record of it.


The civil war was on soon after the Yankees had gotten their colony settlement well started.  They were all loyal to the Union cause.  The following young men of Nevin served in the volunteer army of "Uncle Sam":  William R. Harlow, Abram Hubbard, Edwin Sawyer, Andrew Garrett, Joseph Ballou, George Atkins, David McDougall, Lorenzo Finney and Alonzo Finney.  Mr. E. Sawyer and Mr. G. Atkins were the only married ones.  Mr. McDougall and Mr. Atkins died in the army and Mr. Garrett died soon after his return from disease contracted while in the army.  The others all returned and as far as the writer knows, they are all alive yet.

In February, 1864, when the last call was abroad for volunteers, Colony township was one man short of its quota.  Bounties at this period were frequent and were freely paid to those who would enlist to make up dificiencies.  While several men in the place having wives and children, were weighing the question of their enlisting, Mr. N. Finney's twin sons, Alonzo and Lorenzo, aged about 17 years, offered to enlist, if the men of the place would raise them a bounty of $150.  This was done the next day and so the two Finney boys went.


A Methodist class was first formed in Nevin on Monday, December 4th, 1865, following a few days of special meetings in the little red school house, east of the common, conducted by Rev. Sheets from Quincy.  The following persons were the members:  Mr. and Mrs. N. Finney, Mr. and Mrs. E. Sawyer, Mr. and Mrs. M. Covey, Mrs. Nancy Jewett, Mrs. W. Hardesty and Mr. G. W. Grant.  Mr. Grant was made class leader.

In March, 1866, Rev. Brazee, Methodist, held a series of special revival meetings at the same place; resulting in many conversions and additions to the two churches.     Messrs. Stephenson, McDougall and Ellis were among them.


During the first week in March, 1870, Rev. E. Dickinson, Presbyterian, of Winterset, under the auspices of the Nevin Congregational church, closed a twelve days' series of special meetings in the just completed school house south of the common.  There were forty conversions and there were about fifteen new family altars set up; resulting from the meetings.  Mention is made of Mr. Daniel Whipple, who was so much interested that early one morning he called on some of his unconverted neighbors urging them to a religious life.  And, of Mr. Richard Hargrave who went forward one evening and declared himself for the "new life," and who when he arrived home that night requested his wife Mary, to rise from bed to join with him in having family worship before retiring for the night.

Many of the converts united with the Congregational church and some with the Methodist during the spring months.

Before all had been gathered into the local churches a certain preacher-lawyer (his name is now forgotten) from Prescott, having heard (through Mr. Guymon, or otherwise), of the recent revival meetings in Nevin, made his appearance in the village one Saturday in June, putting up at Mr. Guymon's hotel.  It very soon became evident that the man was after the remaining converts as a nucleus to form a Campbellite church in the place.     Mr. Guymon was apparently favorable to the Prescott man's views, and so they, it would seem, planned to capture the use of the school house the following forenoon.

Rev. Robert Hunter, the Congregational pastor, had his regular appointment to preach in the school house at 10:30 o'clock.  But notwithstanding this Mr. Guymon and his friend sent word all over the place that the new man would preach at the school house at 9 o'clock the next morning.  The Sunday came, and at his appointed hour the Prescott preacher had a good sized audience.  At 10:30 it became evident to the Hunter people who had gathered near the door that the new preacher was intending to continue his meeting right along, without any regard to the other people waiting outside.

A short conference was held to decide what to do under the unlooked for circumstances.     They decided to hold their meeting at Mr. Ellis's house in case the lawyer decided to "hold the fort."  Mr. Ellis, a deacon of the church and Capt. Miner a member of the school board, were sent inside to find out the plans of the preaching man.   The two men went in and stood near the preacher, indicating by their posture that they wished to speak to him; but no!  he kept right on with his business and gave no apparent attention to the standing men.  Finally seeing that they waited still he paused long enough to enable the committee to make known their mission and then, after denying their request, he resumed his discourse.  The deacon, who was spokesman, for the two, then announced to the audience that Rev. Hunter's meeting was to be held at once at Mr. Ellis's, and then stretching his hand over the speaker's table he took the old church Bible under his arm and the two passed and and were followed by about half the man's audience.  The Rev. Hunter had a good audience that Sunday in the house and front yard of the Ellis home.

The writer of this is not aware that the lawyer ever again preached in a Nevin school house.  He was, however, back to Nevin at least twice after that; once when he immersed Mr. Frank Guymon in a small pond then south of the cemetery, and at another time when he immersed Mr. David Whipple in the stream at South grove.



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