Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Lineville's healing spring proves fatal

This towering red granite tombstone in the Chariton Cemetery must have made quite an impression when erected during the 1890s to mark the grave of William H. Van Nice. The size indicated the aspirations of Mr. Van Nice's survivors and the material was an innovation for the time.

Although the shape is traditional, monuments of this size and shape heretofore had been formed mostly in marble, easier to shape and sculpt than granite. Red granite would continue to be a popular material for many years among Lucas County's purveyors of tombstones, but most thereafter were far simpler in design, generally squared off and chunky rather than soaring to finely detailed funerary urns.

William's headstone, also executed in red granite, is innovative, too --- a log cradled in a stone saddle. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Van Nice has endured since its erection the indignity of marching through eternity with a misspelled epitaph. It's a noble sentiment, "There is a pall over the dear old home; the light of its altar hath flown." Unfortunately, the stonecutter spelled "altar" as "alter." It's enough to drive a teacher of language and grammar to distraction.


Van Nice was a Kentucky native brought by his parents, Peter and Sarah Van Nice, to the vicinity of Danville in Hendricks County, Indiana, during 1833. when he was three. He married Mary Elizabeth Verbrike in Indiana, then they came west to a farm in Cedar Township, Lucas County. The couple had eight children, two of whom died young, but Mary herself died during 1871 at the age of 36 and was buried in the Allen Pioneer Cemetery, near their home. William then returned to Indiana to marry Sarah Jane Rose, a maiden lady of some 40 years, during 1873 and they returned to Lucas County to make their home.

By the early 1890s, William and Sarah had retired and moved into Chariton. During 1893, however, he became ill and several months later, during the late winter of 1894, decided to seek a cure by checking into the hotel at Lineville Mineral Springs, located southwest of that town (or towns) astraddle the Iowa-Missouri border --- North Lineville in Wayne County, Iowa, and South Lineville, in Mercer County, Missouri --- and imbibing its healing waters.

The mineral spring reportedly had been discovered some years earlier by J. H. Reiger while he was digging for coal on his property some two miles southwest of Lineville. Reiger came to appreciate the healing properties of the water the spring produced and developed a modest resort around it to which William and Sarah Van Nice traveled in search of a cure for whatever it was that ailed him.

Unfortunately, the waters proved ineffective and William died of what was described in newspaper reports as "a hemorrhage of the gall" on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 10, 1894. His remains were returned to Chariton the following day and funeral services were held at the family home on Thursday.

The mineral springs of Lineville continued to be an attraction well into the early 20th century and as late as the 1920s gallon containers of Lineville Mineral Springs Water could be purchased in at least one Chariton drug store.


Curiously enough, none of the four Van Nice family members buried on the family lot, including William, actually died in Lucas County.

Samuel P. Van Nice, William's son, born during 1853 in Indiana, had accompanied his parents west and was raised in Cedar Township. He opted for a career with the railroad, however, and was headquartered in Chicago when he became seriously ill with tuberculosis during the late 1890s. He died in Chicago after two years of hospitalization on April 18, 1901, age 47. Samuel had never married and so his remains were brought to Chariton for burial beside those of his father.

The widowed Sarah Jane (Rose) Van Nice, following William's 1894 death, returned to Danville, Indiana, where she made her home for the next 20 years, excepting time spent in Chicago with her stepsons, Samuel and Orion. A third stepson, William, had moved back to Indiana from Iowa, too, and her final years were spent with his family. Sarah died in Hendricks County on April 23, 1918, and her remains were brought back to Chariton for burial beside her husband and stepson on the family lot.

The last surviving member of his family was James Orion Van Nice, born in Lucas County on March 22, 1868, and only three when his mother died. He began his working life as a pharmacist in Chicago, then moved to McLaughlin, South Dakota, located in the far north central portion of that state on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. He entered the banking business, and became president of First State Bank of McLaughlin, as well the city's first mayor, and remained an active civic leader for the remainder of his life. He died, age 92, in South Dakota on Jan. 3, 1961. Like his brother, Samuel, Orion never had married and so his remains were returned to Lucas County where funeral services were held in the Woodman Funeral Home at Russell with burial following beside his stepmother and father in the Chariton Cemetery.

You might be interested, too, in "The healing waters of Lacona --- and Swede Hollow."

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