An article from the Northfield Area Foundation’s 2009 Annual Report give us a little more background about the Nutting family:
“They came from a time in Northfield that was marked by Plain Living and High Thinking.” These are the words of Brynhild Rowberg, native Northfielder and friend of the Nutting family. In her growing up years she formed a lifelong friendship with the Nutting sisters, Ruth and Helen. Rowberg’s quote helps explain why this family would leave a financial bequest to Northfield that will improve the lives of so many people far into the future.
Plain living meant living modestly and simply, taking the moral high ground, extolling the virtues of truth, hard work, thrift and loyalty to family and friends. They also grew up in the shadow of John Wesley North, who wanted this place to be, “As a beacon on a Hill.” Where education, debate of the issues of the day as well as generosity of spirit were the benchmarks of this burgeoning community.
The Nutting family’s presence here began with John Claudius Nutting, who came to Northfield in 1866, intent on entering the banking business.
Nutting was drawn here by North’s vision of equality for all and thirst for knowledge. J.C. Nutting was president of the First National Bank from 1873 until his death in 1911. His son, J. D. Nutting (John David), became president of the bank in 1926 and served in that post until 1968.
John and his wife, Elizabeth, had two daughters, the aforementioned Ruth and Helen. Both exemplified the high thinking philosophy in their own lives. Helen became a beloved professor of history at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Ruth, after serving as an Army nurse, became Head of Nursing at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.
I repeat this fact to emphasize how closely they were connected to the founding families of Northfield.
It also helps explain why, in September of 1876, they immediately came together to rescue “their bank.” When others might have cowered, they came without pause to aid their brothers and sisters in their time of need.
This was a homogenous community in those years and this was by design, not accident. So it should come as no surprise that one of the descendants of these early settlers has now come to the aid of all of us by leaving a lasting gift to benefit Northfield for years to come.
The Nutting family gift amounts to just over $900,000. One third of it goes to beautification of Northfield, one third to the Northfield Historical Society and one third an unrestricted gift to be used as the board of advisers of the Northfield Area Foundation sees fit.
This money is invested and managed by the Minnesota Community Foundation and the interest earned is annually dispersed to people and causes deemed worthy by the NAF Board.