Ancestry — Novinger, Missouri

By Sherry who is enjoying the cooler weather

IMG_5392You may or may not know that my maiden name is Novinger (pronounced Nah-vin-gher). And I’m fairly sure that you don’t know there’s a small town in Missouri named Novinger that was founded by my forefathers.



IMG_5372Issac Novinger was the first Novinger to land in Missouri after moving from Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. In a small pamphlet written about Issac, E.L. Novinger, wrote this: Issac saw that he would never be able to secure a home for himself and his family in the lands of his fathers, and so he looked toward the setting sun and discovered in North Missouri a land like the garden of the Lord.

In April of 1847 Issac loaded a wagon and moved his wife and seven children to Missouri. It took him a month to get there.  When the railroad was extended west in 1878 John C. Novinger wasn’t happy about giving up farm land and agreed to do so if the depot was named Novinger. In January of 1879 Novinger was named a  United States post office and officially became a town.

IMG_5390The picture above is of me in the late 80’s outside Issac’s cabin which was moved from his farm into the town of Novinger. It’s now been restored as a museum. The picture below is from 2012. I love that the sign says by appointment or chance.

302840_360899130667851_397629008_nMy father grew up on a farm outside of Novinger and we visited it often from our home in Davenport, Iowa. When I was young I was fairly certain we owned the small town and that I was probably some kind of royalty. (I’m still waiting for the tiara.)

This is a photo of me standing in my grandfather’s field. I don’t have a farming bone in my body and can barely keep a houseplant alive.

IMG_5389My grandparents were savers and here is some of the memorabilia from their home. This is a photo of the town baseball team. The area was a big coal mining town at the time.

IMG_5368On the hundredth anniversary of the town of Novinger, they produced a two volume history of the town. Each book is almost an inch thick.


While these guys look like an early version of ZZ Top what I like best about the photo is the chair on the right!

IMG_5394The back of this photo says store and hotel. Fancy!

IMG_5397My two favorites:

IMG_2351I love the tin sign above and the tablet below. Look at the small print on the tablet — it says Novinger, Mo.


Readers: Do you have a town or area that your ancestors are from? What do you have that is special to you?

51 Thoughts

  1. I love this,Sherry! While I don’t have a town named after my relatives (although there are Maxwells in several states, including Texas), my ggg-grandfather founded Indiana University and there’s a Maxwell Hall on campus!

  2. This is great, Sherry! I love these old pictures… And the cabin!

    I went to one of my ancestral homes in Tourouvre and visited the tiny church nearby where a large number of my ancestors were baptized in the 16th/17th centuries before they left for settling the areas of Acadie and Quebec City. Their names are everywhere there today. One town north where my great-grandparents, Jean, settled has many streets that are named after some of our families. The Plains of Abraham named after my 9th great-grandfather Abraham Martin. I also have a number of English ancestors from Salem as well as Quebec and back to Bosworth where at least 2 I know of fought in the Battle of Bosworth Field against Henry but later let others off the hook by another Henry who reinstated their titles. My family that I know has longest been in Salem going back to settlement. Even some of my Irish ancestors were from Salem. We all lived within a tiny area near the House of Seven Gables including, if my map of old Salem is right includes the area that is now called Becket St. Where I think Sheila’s ancestors lived. My ancestors were mostly Mariners.

      1. Not so amazing really, considering the number of descendants each person in one’s ancestry has. Your family story is much more interesting, because your very interesting family history is right there with you in Novinger! xoxoxxxx

  3. No town named after my family, but how about a religious (sort of) cult? My Colonial ancestor, Samuell Gorton, who founded Warwick RI after being kicked out of Plimoth Plantations, Providence, and Newport and being jailed in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1643 had followers called Gortonists for another 150 or so years. Incomprehensible philosophy but it boiled down to him being an independent cuss who ticked off people in authority.

    1. Quick addendum. I always check my family tree program for connections. It turns out that one Anna Gorton of Warwick (b. 1644) was the sister-in-law of the 1st great-grand aunt of a 5th great grand uncle of mine. (No, I didn’t work out the relationships–my genealogy program did.)

    2. Gortonists like many of the original settlers were separatists from the Church of England and had beliefs much the same as many churches today in that they rejected baptism, communion, and formal religious training in that dogma was considered dangerous as it stood in the way of being led by the spirit. Samuell Gorton and his followers were persecuted for their religious beliefs. They were found threatening by the government leaders in Boston who sent soldiers from Massachusetts to arrest Gorton and six fellow believers, an act which eventually led to Roger Williams’ union with leaders of Newport and Portsmouth which created the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Samuel Gorton was elected as the first president in 1651 over the towns of Warwick and Providence, which were then called the Providence Plantations. Samuell Gorton was buried in Rhode Island in the cemetery now called “Historical Cemetery Warwick #67” where his burial site recognizes him as president and governor 1651-1652 (under royal charter). It’s a very interesting history that is often overlooked.

  4. Isn’t family history great? You’re so lucky to have memorabilia, which often gets tossed out.

    Nobody in my family (that I know of) has a town named after them, but they were often there early–and then moved on, once it got crowded (you know, twenty or so families).

    1. I love all the connections you have traced in your family! Any relationships to a Gates family? My grandmothers family landed in Hingham, MA in the 1630s. That must be why I have such an affinity for New England.

  5. No town, because my ancestors–the French Acadians–were expelled from their farms in Nova Scotia by the English governor. They prospered in Louisiana, so that’s the upside–if there can be an upside to ethnic cleansing. I write a lot about my cultural heritage. Stories last longer than all other things.

    I love your photos, Sherry! Kudos to Isaac for that bit of posterity for the Novingers to follow.

  6. Sherry, lived in Kirksville for four years (yes, I married a doctor) and know exactly where Novinger is, went to graduate school with a girl who married a Novinger. I think her name is Beth. Years and years ago now. Enjoyed the history.

  7. Wow. What an incredible history and legacy. Loved the post, especially the old pictures. Anyone beyond my father on one side and my grandmother on my mother’s side are all in Sweden, so I don’t have the wonderful connection that you have. Great stuff.

  8. Come to think of it, my mother’s grandfather, William Skinner, founded a town in South Dakota, I believe, after leaving Nova Scotia. But the town is named Brookings, alas.

  9. How wonderful for you! How interesting.I always enjoy reading family histories.I am a big supporter/booster of people telling their family stories…it seems to be lost in the recent generations.It’s very sad. I applaud you!

  10. Thanks for posting your memories and the photos, Sherry. Growing up about 20 miles from Novinger, I knew several people from there, including a Novinger or two. Coal mining was still important when I was little. Decades earlier Italian immigrants had come to this unlikely place to work in the mines. I remember seeing a gray-haired woman who spoke no English waiting for the train in La Plata to start the journey to her childhood home in Italy for a visit. That was abut 1965.

    My Lowe ancestors, with other family members, came to the area from Kentucky via Indiana to farm in the 1850s and 1860s, a few years later than the Novingers.

    1. Very interesting, Carolyn! Are you from LaPlata? My mom is from there. My grandparents farm in Novinger had a coal mine on it. There was an old rail car and bits of rail going into it when I was young. I wish we had a picture of it.

  11. Many of my ancestors on both sides of the family, lived in Salem. My great grandparents, William Theodore Wyman and Nellie Scott Libbey were married in Great Great Uncle Theodore Wyman’s house on Williams Street. Great Great Great Uncle Nathaniel Weston’s house was next to the church which now houses the Witch Museum and Uncle Nat gave the land to the church. I have photos of so many of the greats and have learned how important it is to write the names on the back of pictures so furure generations know who’s who! (In pencil please. Ink bleeds through.) I was born in Salem on Halloween eve.and grew up to write the Witch City Mystery series for Kensington. (I know. Shameless plug.)

    1. Amen to labeling! It’s so sad when you find a cache of photos and have no idea who is pictured, or where it was taken. But as you say, use something like pencil that will not alter the picture (and don’t press too hard!).

  12. How fun, not just to have a town named for you, but to understand the role some of your ancestors played in settling this vast county. I don’t have nearly the info some of you do, though there is a family bible on one side with dates back to the 1600s waiting for me to follow up! (I keep trying to foist this job off on cousins, but this is the side where my father was the only child of an only child who was the only surviving member of his entire generation on both sides, so that’s not going to work!)

    1. Please tell me you’ve made digital copies of those precious pages and distributed them to every living relative you can think of! It would be tragic if the information was lost. And how lucky you are–my family never saved anything, and didn’t label the few bits they did keep.

      1. Gack. I also have letters from every single day at the Battle of Gettysburg from an uncle to a niece. They were easily readable when I was I child, but now are crumbling. I’d have to undertake significant research just to find a relative besides my brother and our kids. My brother has the dress sword that goes with the uncle who wrote the letters.

        My parents had minor interest in some of this, my grandparents none at all. I think it was too close in time.

  13. I think perhaps the interest in family history tends to skip a generation. My kids aren’t all that interested, but I’m saving everything for the grandkids, sure that at least one of them will value the old photos and letters and notes. Sheila, you’re right about making lots of copies. I’m going to get right on that! Maybe I’ll even make some spiral bound books. Good Christmas presents. Yes?

  14. My great mothers side were Craycrofts and the Castle in England still stands. My side belonged to the female side so we did get money way back. I’m more impressed that Rita Mae Brown named one of her characters BOOM BOOM CRAYCROFT. She told my son she often took names off of tombstones and she is from Virginia and that’s where many of my family are buried.

  15. My mother was born in Millersburg, PA, and her mother was a Miller but Mom said the town wasn’t named after our family. My parents did know Novingers so maybe some of your family stayed in Dauphin County.


    1. That is amazing, Sally! I know some of the family stayed there. When I worked in Wyoming we were doing a big marketing campaign and I signed all the letters. I got a reply from a James Novinger in Pennsylvania who also had a daughter named Sherry!

  16. Sherry, I loved this post, especially all the photos! I have an aunt who is passionately interested in family history and has turned up a great deal of interesting information but unfortunately we haven’t founded any towns on her side of the family. Thanks for sharing your claim to Novinger fame with all of us today!

  17. How interesting and cool to read about your family connections. Sherry, I grew up in S. Ohio, and there were some Novingers in my home town. And Kathy, we may be distantly related. I’m a Mayflower descendant — Direct descendant of Peregrine White — and many of those families intermarried. Unfortunately, I don’t have any family heirlooms, the White Family Bible, which dated back to the 1600’s, was lost in the 1937 Ohio River flooding, but my Dad remembered a lot of the family connections and dates. Unfortunately, he never wrote any of that information down, though. Edith, I’ve been to Brookings. I stayed there one night when I was vacationing in South Dakota. I went on to DeSmet from there, which is, of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little Town On the Prairie”. It’s beautiful country.

  18. Hi Sherry! I’m a senior at Novinger High School (Adair County R-1) and I’m the editor of our yearbook. We really want to get a lot of the true heritage and journey of our town for this year’s edition. Please email me so we can talk, your blog has given us chills seeing the old pictures!

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