Nelson House

After living in Mahaska County for six years, Daniel Nelson began construction on a larger home for his family in 1852. A team of oxen dragged the foundation stones from John H. Colville’s quarry to the building site after the ground was frozen. The foundation settled over the winter and construction began in earnest the following spring. Daniel cut logs from his timberland and used a steam-powered sawmill to prepare the joists, jams, flooring, trim, and other wooden elements for his home. He and his sons made the brick from clay found along the creek bed. These were stacked and fired in a rural kiln here on site.

Daniel hired contractor A.J. Jewell to oversee the construction of the I-frame house typical of Georgian-style homes. The five-room home has five chimneys, built-in cabinets and closets, and glass windows. Margaret requested a hearth in the kitchen rather than a cook stove. Originally, the family painted the brick white to waterproof the soft clay. They also added a front, back, and side porch between 1898 and 1902. The house never had electricity, running water, or bathrooms installed.

MCHS nominated the house for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, and it received that designation in 1974. The walls were wallpapered sometime after the Civil War and the current reproduction papers were installed in 2015. A new cedar shingle roof with era-appropriate gutters were installed in 2019 and 2020 thanks to a grant from the George Daily Family Trust, Golden Goose Club of Oskaloosa, and private donations.

A Note to Photographers

Please call our Director Margaret at 641-672-2989 or email her at to get permission to come take photographs of the property. This is not an open site and permission is necessary so we can let our property caretaker know.