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Story of Nevin (Iowa)

by J. Loran Ellis (1901)


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Chapter V, 1859 and Later (continued)

Three Whipple Brothers || The Spragues || Atkins Brothers || Contrabands || The Buell Family || The John Bixbys


There were six (or more) families by the name of "Whipple," from near Mystic in Connecticut, that came to eastern Adams county at an early period.  Some of them were brothers and some cousins.  All of the six families --- with one exception -- were Nevin residents at some time or other.  Some had longer and some shorter resident periods.  The three brothers, Jonathan, Henry and Daniel, had sufficient identification with Nevin's early history to be entitled to a place in this story.

Mr. Henry Whipple and his family were early-day settlers in the county.  He, in 1868, bought out Mr. Beath's interest in the 100-acre farm at the South grove and farmed it a few years.  Later on he sold the place to John Crisinger and bought the moved-over Goodwin house, and lot, just north of the D. Scott place.  In March, 1878, he felt that he had a "call" to go farther west.  So he bought Mr. Ellis's sixteen-year-old mules at the price of $225, on six months' time, secured by a mortgage on his home -- fixed up a "prairie schooner," took his wife, Desire, on board and started on a trip across the "plains" for the gold regions beyond.  They never again lived in Nevin.  (Whatever ending old "Topsy and Beauregard," the ancient mules, came to, "was never told.")  Mr. and Mrs. Whipple, after their "mule-team" expedition to Colorado, lived in Kansas awhile; where she died.   Later still, "Uncle" Henry emigrated to the Oregon coast, where he and his sons, William and Nelson with their sister-wives, have lived many years.    Each of these two sons' families had numbered ten children, all of whom, except three of Williams's, are now living there.  Horace, the third son of Uncle Henry, married Miss Adelia Jewett in Nevin many years ago; they, with their three or four children, are living in the Gunnison Valley, Colorado.  Recently Henry has been making his home with his son Horace's family.

Mr. Jonathan Whipple with his wife, Mary Ann and three children, came west as soon as 1856, stopping for several years near the William Whipple farm.  These two men (and sometimes their wives) were prairie breakers, for a season or more.  Jonathan's family came to Nevin to live as soon as 1861 and were there two or three years.     Later, they had a farm four miles south of Nevin where he, in 1872, set out an orchard.  They later lived many years in Kansas City where the families of Jonathan and son Ambrose still reside, as well as son Harly and his family.  Jonathan and his children Emaline, Ambrose and Eugene are dead.  Edgar lives, or has lived many years, in Arizona.

Mr. Daniel Whipple the last of the three brothers to come west, came with his wife, Hannah and children, Daniel, Chauncy and Jessie, to Nevin direct in1868.  They occupied the "Lloyd" shack of a house west of the creek several years; renting the Met Smith breaking.  After a few years he acquired the land across the road west from Mrs. Sarah Ball's present home farm.  Mr. Whipple died suddenly on November 10th, 1885.  Chauncy married and at a later date operated his mother's farm several years.  Then they lived on his Nevin village farm two years.  Since then he and his numerous family have farmed in Oklahoma about seven years.  Their very latest removal is to Utah.  Jessie married Mr. Horace Fist.  They are Oregon farmers.     "Uncle" Daniel in 1874, built the Nevin Congregational church.    "Aunt" Hannah, now over 82 years of age is living with her thrice-married daughter Emily in or near Creston.


Mr. Ira A. Sprague and family from Ohio came to the colony in the spring of 1863.     He bought the Alexander-Pratt-Atkins place.  The sons, Charles and Robert, farmed some, while the father started a blacksmith shop.  They all three soon developed into machinists.  About 1873 they sold their land and removed to Glenwood, where they established a small iron foundry and in connection a machine repair shop.     Here, in the year 1874, they cast the sash-weights that Mr. Sprague gave for the new church in Nevin.  Here is where the beautiful daughter Jessie married and where she taught school.  Robert also married in Glenwood.  Later in life they all removed to Council Bluffs and here enlarged their foundry and machine business.    "The Sprague Iron Works Co.," now operate extensive works, and employ fifteen to twenty workmen.

Charles never married.  The old couple are still in health though Mr. Sprague is beyond the activities of life.


On the 24th of April, 1861, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. H. Atkins and their sons, Henry and Walter; Mr. Caleb B. Atkins; Mr. George Atkins, and Mr. and Mrs. George Pratt, all from near Boston, arrived in the second "Hub," Nevin.  Some of them had bought out the Alexander interest in the later Sprague property.  They fixed up the native lumber house into proper condition and then some of them lived there.  This is the house where Mr. Grant locates his poem, "The Party at Atkin's and Pratt's."     The Pratts remained in the west till late in 1862 only.  Charles Atkins and family remained some three years when, moving to Des Moines, he engaged in the housebuilding business.  His wife died there.  Later he married the soldiers-widow of his deceased brother George.  He with his new wife moved to the north Pacific coast where they still remain.

Caleb B. Atkins remained in Nevin a number of years farming some and teaching school some.  On the evening of December 24, 1863, he married Miss Mary Stephenson.  A nice wedding party, with light refreshments, was had at the hotel.  Later they moved to Glenwood where he was in business and was a county official one term.  Later on they, with their daughter Fayetta, moved to Chicago.  Later still they removed to Des Moines.  Here they have lived many years and prospered.  Fayetta married a son of General J. B. Weaver.  They have two children and reside in Des Moines.


On April 1st, 1862, Nevin became the tarrying place of about a dozen negroes, --- men, women and children.  They came from Missouri and remained about eighteen months.     While in the place they lived in a log cabin built for them free of charge by the Nevinites.  It stood near the present house of Chas. Miner.  It disappeared soon after the negroes left for Des Moines.  This was the only log dwelling built on Nevin lands.  The two log houses once on the Norton-Beath-Whipple-Chrisinger place at South grove was half a mile beyond Nevin land limits.


Mr. Abram Buell who in May, 1858, came from Boston to the settlement of the New England Colony of Iowa, moved with his family in April 1860, into the house on the Ivory Harlow farm, south of the village.  Here Mrs. Buell was killed in the falling house during the tornado of May 5th, 1860.  In March, 1861, Mr. Buell married his third wife, Miss Harriet White, sister of Mr. George White.  They rented rooms till the spring of 1862 when the Buell family, together with Mr. and Mrs. Joseph White and John White, removed to Illinois.  Soon after this the two families moved to a purchased farm at or near Waukegan, where they farmed.  John White went into business in Chicago.  Old Mr. and Mrs. Joseph White died after a few years of life in the Buell family.  Later on Mr. Buell also died there on the farm.

The son Daniel Buell, enlisted and served in the Union army, and in due time returned.     He afterwards worked in a Wisconsin lumber mill until by accident his foot was severly injured, when he returned to Nevin where his sister Mary Hargrave lived.    He later married Miss Mary Beebe, by whom he had one daughter.  The widow (and daughter), is still living at Nevin, where she is the Nevinville postmistress.

Mary Buell, the sister of Daniel, was a teacher in Chicago, until she married Mr. Richard Hargrave after rejecting Mr. Judson Harris who had gone there to marry her and who then planned to be a missionary.


On June 20th Mr. John Bixby returned from a short visit to his old Vermont home bringing with him his wife and their two children, John and Warren.  Here in Nevin Mr. Bixby built them a dwelling which was situated on the northwest corner of block F, the present Beebe house, where they lived about four and one-half years.  He was elected clerk of the Adams county court and moved to Quincy in season to assume office January 1, 1863.  He was twice re-elected to the same office.  He removed with his family from Quincy to Corning about the same time that the county seat was removed to Corning, 1873.  Here he built the house where their son John Bixby and family now live.     Since then he, his wife and the Nevin-born daughter, Minnie, have all died.    The four remaining children, John, Warren, Hattie and Bell, are married and are residing in or near Corning.



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