CR Gazette, Sunday, 28 May 1995


Soldier’s Memorial at Oak Hill Cemetery

By Lyle Muller

Gazette Johnson County Bureau

                Coralville – as the name Nathaniel Fellows Sr. drifts further into our past his spot in Johnson County history remains firm this Memorial Day weekend.

                Fellows is the only American Revolutionary War veteran to die and be buried in Johnson County.  He was one of only 19 veterans of that war to be buried in Iowa.

                “To have one here in Johnson County is a real privilege,” Marsha Hucke said.  She is the regent, another name for president, of the Iowa City Nathaniel Fellows chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

                People visiting Coralville’s Oak Hill Cemetery this weekend will see a marker for Fellows.  The DAR Fellows chapter bought it in 1940.  How the marker got to Oak Hill is a story all its own.

                But first, a little about Fellows.  He was born in Dorchester, N.H., in 1758, the son of another Revolutionary War soldier, Capt. Samuel Fellows.

                He enlisted in a New Hampshire regiment at the age of 17.  The regiment was formed for an expedition against Canada, according to a history maintained by the DAR Fellows chapter.  He served in 1775 and 1778.

                He and his wife, Mercy, had a son, Nathaniel Jr., who raised a family of two daughters – Elizabeth and Judith.  In the spring of 1837, Nathaniel Sr and his son’s family left.

                Nathaniel Sr. was 79; his son was 47.  “They were just heading west like most people at that time” Hucke said.

                They spent a year in Indiana, cobbling shoes to raise money, then continued west until they reached Iowa.  They crossed the Mississippi River at Muscatine, which was called Bloomington then, and kept going until they reached the Iowa River near Napoleon, which now is Iowa City’s south edge.

                Chief Poweshiek, head of the Sac and Fox who lived here, apparently was impressed with the Fellows family because he allowed them to cross the river into Indian land. He gave the family a farm along Clear Creek where Coralville now stands, the DAR history shows.

                It was there that Nathaniel Fellows Sr., the founder of Coralville, died at the age of 80 in 1838.  His son and a neighbor, Bowen Wright buried the old war veteran.

                The story does not end there, however.  Eventually, the state of Iowa built Highway 6 across a portion of the old 260-acre Fellows property.  The site is between current-day 10th and 12th avenues, DAR officials said.

                The grave remained but a suitable marker was needed where people could see it.  The DAR chapter that bears Fellows’ name was established in November 1939, the year of Iowa City’s centennial, to take on that responsibility.

                It raised money for a white marble  marker and dedicated it along the highway at the burial site in November 1940.  The road and surrounding area was annexed, however, in 1970 and the marker was moved for street development.

                “The city moved the marker to Oak Hill Cemetery but that’s OK, Hucke said.  That fact is not as important as remembering Fellows’ role in this nation’s history,” she said.

                “It’s a visible marker that he did exist” Hucke said.  “We take a lot of pride in that little marker three at the cemetery.”