submitted by Jo Ann Carlson, Sept. 8, 2007

March 15, 1887

There was opportunity on Saturday at the close of the Obsequies of the late John A. Parvin, at the M.E. church, to give but the briefest mention of the services in the JOURNAL. The reading of the Scriptures and prayer by Rev. S.H. Parvin, of the First Presbyterian church, were alluded to, and the reading of the hymn by Rev. A.B. Robbins, of the First Congregational church, the beautiful singing of the choir, and the text of the discourse.

Rev. W.G. Wilson, the pastor, preached from John XIV.2: “I go to prepare a place for you.” The darkness of Gethsemane, said the preacher, was already gathering, when these words were spoken and the heart of the disciples were foreshadowed with the gloom of separation. Across the darkness and desolation of this hour, gleamed the brightness and cheer of the Saviour’s promise. The speaker found in this promise, which was intended for all the followers of Christ, three truths of solacing power. 1st, that heaven was a place-not simply a state or condition; 2nd, it was a prepared place, fitted by all the beautify and delights which infinite love, infinite truth and wisdom and infinite mercy could devise for the children of God; 3rd, It was a place prepared “for you”-for all who delighted in the service of the Master. The speaker dwelt upon the beauty and fullness of the text in respect to these special assurances, and remarking that it was sometimes charged that the Bible gave but a limited idea of the spirit world, he declared that if it contained no other description of heaven than contained in these words of the Savior, these would be all sufficient and satisfying to the Christian soul. But in the verses of Revelation read in the lesson from the Scriptures, God was holding out heaven to the vision of the race in words that gave to it every beauty and splendor. It is impossible to conceive a definite description of the home of the glorified spirits of God. There are conditions so dissimilar to those with which we are familiar, that however literal might be the description of life and its surroundings in another sphere, the inhabitant of earth would fail to comprehend and realize situations of which he had no personal or visual knowledge. But there is enough in these inspired visions of the celestial home to make the dullest appreciate its surpassing attractions. There is to be no pain there-no sorrow-no tears-no death. All can understand the glorious import of such a description. The glory represented in John by the “river of life,” the “crown of life” and other terms resplendent with supernal beauty were noticed by the preacher, and in fervent and eloquent review of these mirror-like words and terms in which we see the reflection of the glory of heaven, he drew the conclusion that there were more than enough of the other world unfolded to view to gild the brightest hope and faith of the Christian. The preacher proceeded to a survey of the life and character of John A. Parvin, as known so well in Muscatine and Iowa, and which have been so recently given, editorial eulogy in these columns.

Rev. Dr. Robbins followed. He did not know that anything could be said to add to the occasion. Hew as inclined to the belief that the day would come when these funeral services would comprise simply a prayer and song for the Christian dead. And a prayer for others. The world tells us, when we are overwhelmed with sorrow, to busy ourselves in some undertaking-or to travel-to read a great book-to engage in some benevolent enterprise. The Bible tells us but one thing-to pray. He said that in connection with his college life, he entered the names of his fifty-seven classmates in Amherst in a book, and he had put opposite their names brief indications of their character to see how far his judgment would be verified. In the same way he had had a few words which always presented themselves when thinking of his friend John A. Parvin. These words were stalwart, true, right, firm, courteous. The speaker never saw the face of this friend without being cheered and helped. He thanked God for such a man. When Daniel Webster died, an old friend standing at his tomb exclaimed: “Daniel Webster, this world is lonely without you.” So would the speaker say, “John A. Parvin, this county, this city, is lonely without you.” Their friend had left a blessed and strengthening record, and his memory would remain a blessing to this community in years to come.

Rev. H.E. Wing regretted that Rev. Dr. Corkhill was not present to speak more particularly as to events in the Christian life of Mr. Parvin than could be done by himself. It was Dr. Corkhill who introduced the speaker to deceased. In the interview following the speaker saw, or believed he saw, that Mr. Parvin had lived a life that was on the side of right. Here was a great example to use all and especially to young men. It would be well if the young would study this moral in the life now closed. There are two important facts to be considered in contemplating which side we will take in the grand issues of life: one, that the right side is going to succeed; the other, that the life spent in supporting the wrong side is thrown away. We cannot all be John A. Parvins, but all God asks is that we stand right in our place and do God’s work.

In addition to our brief report of the memorial exercise, we append the following letter received by Rev. W.G. Wilson from Mr. Parvin’s friend and official colleague, Rev. Thos. E. Corkhill, of Oskaloosa:

    Oskaloosa, March 19th, 1887.

    To Rev. W.G. Wilson, Muscatine, Iowa:
    MY DEAREST BROTHER:-With deepest sorrow I read your telegram on my return from the western part of the State, last night, at an hour too late for any train that would take me to Muscatine in time for the funeral of our highly-esteemed and much beloved friend, Hon. John A. Parvin. There was no man in the State of Iowa for whom I had a higher regard than he. I had known him for over thirty years. About twenty years of that time, we had been associated together on “State Boards”-part of the time as trustees of the “Orphan’s Home” and part of the time as trustees of the “Reform School.” I had seem him and known him in both public and private life.

    As an officer of the law, as a legislator of the State, as a member of society and private life, as a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, as a custodian of State institutions, and also as custodian of funds belonging to them-and under all these varied circumstances, and in all these relations, he was the same kind-hearted, true, honest, faithful Christian gentleman.

    When it was known that, owing to his age and the consequent infirmity. The last Legislature did not appoint him again to the trusteeship of the “Iowa Industrial School,” there was a universal expression of regret. And when the person whom the Legislature did appoint in his stead died, the surviving members of the board earnestly requested the Governor to appoint Senator Parvin to fill the vacancy, which would readily have been done had he not feared that Senator P. would not be able to do the work of trustee, and thus necessitate another appointment.

    In conclusion, I can think of nothing in this connection more appropriate than the language of David in regard to the death of Abner: “Know ye not that there is a Prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?”

    Very sincerely, your brother in Christ.
    Thos. E. Corkhill.

Death of John A. Parvin.

At seven o’clock last evening came the summons which called hence one of the oldest residents of the county, and one of its most respected-J.A. Parvin. For several weeks he had been lying on a bed of suffering, surrounded by friends and relatives, looking forward to death as a relief and comfort, only waiting to cross the dark river. Deceased has been a familiar figure to all residents of this locality, having come to Muscatine, then Bloomington, nearly half a century ago-in 1839. He was first engaged in teaching school, after his arrival here, and tried the mercantile business for four years. He was then elected Clerk of the District Court, and in 1850 elected to the General Assembly. In 1854 he was elected Mayor of Muscatine, and in 1857 was a member of the State constitutional convention. In 1863 he was elected to the Senate and served six years. Mr. Parvin was one of the originators of the State Reform School, at Eldora, and for many years was a Trustee of that institution, taking great interest in its prosperity and management. He was one of the seven who organized the first Methodist church in Muscatine, in 1839, and he continued a consistent member of the same organization until his death.

Mr. Parvin was married four times, his presenting wife being a Boston lady. Of the thirteen children given him but two are living, Thos. S. and Mrs. R. N. Ingersoll, the former living in Kansas and the latter in Nebraska. Both of his children were at his bedside during his last hours.

If deceased had lived until the 10th of next November he would have been eighty years old.

The time of the funeral will be announced hereafter.


submitted by Jo Ann Carlson, Sept. 8, 2007


The Old Settlers of Muscatine county met at the City Hall, March 19, 1887. The president read the following statement: At our winter meeting, on the 16th of last month, the death of Mrs. Seth Humphreys was announced. Since that time seven more of our old settlers have passed away. Such a mortality never before occurred among the old settlers. When we consider their age, the hardships and exposure that many of them had to endure, it is almost wonderful that they have stayed so long. All of these eight persons came to this county, men and women, from thirty to fifty years ago, and all have left a good name behind them. We have met here today to take action on the death of the last three-MICHAEL MURPHY, P.W. HOWELL and HON JOHN A. PARVIN our vice president.

Mr. Burnett then said he had found in his long acquaintance with Mr. Parvin that he was different from most of men in avowing and maintaining his principles, either religiously or politically-never courting popularity or giving way to expediency.

John Mahin bore glad and willing testimony to Mr. Parvin as a personal friend and his worth as an upright, public servant, honestly and faithfully discharging the duties of the many official places he was called to fill-gratefully mentioning how helpful he was to him when just commencing life.

On motion, Messrs. John Mahin, A.F. Adams and R.M. Burnett were made a committee on resolutions for John A. Parvin, and Messrs. J.P. Freeman, George Magoon and W.S. Richie for P.W. Howell and Michael Murphy.

On motion, adjourned to meet at the funeral of Mr. Parvin this afternoon at 2:30 at the M.E. Church.

J.P. Walton, Pres.
Peter Jackson,Secy.


Resolved. That the death of Hon. John A. Parvin, vice-president of the society, has removed from among us one whose conspicuous presence has always been a pleasure at our meetings and whose place can never be filled in this Old Settlers’ Society. The State has also lost a patriotic, useful citizen, the community one of its most deserving and honored members, and the church and a society one whose aims and example should be cherished as an inspiration by the youth of the land.

John Mahin,
A.F. Adams,
R.M. Burnett.


The Old Settlers of Muscatine have deeply shared in the grief of this community over the death of Michael Murphy and P.W. Howell. Each of these lamented citizens had a large circle of intimate friends who cherished for them a peculiarly strong affection while both had won the high regard of the general public. The Old Settlers’ Society feels itself especially bereaved in the loss of two of its members who were so long and honorable identified with the history of Muscatine and in heart-felt sympathy with the greater sorrow which has befallen the families who have been bereft, it tenders to them its sincere condolence, and instructs the secretary to enter this memorial upon the records of the society.

J.P. Freeman,
Geo. D. Magoon,
W. S. Richie

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