Dr. Marcellus Cephas Phinney



Dr. M. C. Phinney was an early Walnut settler and is given credit for giving Walnut its name.  He and his family are listed in the 1870 Federal Census of Knox Township, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.  Knox Township would be divided at a later date and Walnut would eventually be in the newly named Layton Township.  It is believed that the Phinneys had the first building at Walnut Creek Station before 1870. 

Dr. M. C. Phinney had been educated at Harvard College.  He practiced for ten years in Massachusetts, six years in Ohio and six years in Indiana, before arriving in Mason County, Illinois in 1858.  There are two Marcellus Phinneys listed in the 1860 Mason County, Illinois Federal Census, Dr. M. C. and his son Dr. M. P.,who had just married in March, 1860.

The two Phinney families were in western Iowa by the early 1870’s.  The senior Phinney family, M. C. and Elizabeth, had three children, M. P., Martha E. and Maria Jenny.  M. P. and Lucy had four children, Ora Lizzie, Lillie May (1865-1866), Osceola Henry, and Mazzie May.  Mazzie May was born on March 23, 1871; Walnut Station, Iowa was listed as her place of birth when Mazzie May Phinney McBurney filed for Social Security in 1938.

According to graduate Charley Spangler’s history, written as a project for the high school graduating class of 1897, “Dr. M. C. Phinney preached to drunkards, Methodists, United Brethren, Presbyterians or any other denomination needing his services.”  He also stated that, “the good doctor, M. C., left for Harlan in 1871,” after he took his building down and moved it with him. Phinney was also the postmaster of Walnut Station.  The first post office was more than likely housed in the Phinney building. Three pieces of information point to this deduction.  The Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971, names the first postmaster for Walnut Creek Station as Marcellus C. Phinney, appointed August 29, 1870.  The second piece of information states that the first building in early Walnut was the Phinney building and thirdly, the first depot was built in 1872, which was more than likely the location of the second post office.

Marcellus C. and his wife Elizabeth moved to Logan County, Illinois about 1880.  Dr. M. C. Phinney died there on June 18, 1882 at 65 years of age. Elizabeth died March 7, 1886, also in Logan County.  Marcellus Perley Phinney died in Logan County in 1894 and is buried there.  Lucy T. Andrews Phinney died in Osage County, Kansas in 1916 and is buried there.