Update: The Nahlen family worked with Charles Nabholz, chairman emeritus of Nabholz Construction Services, to develop the Frederick Place and Catherine Place subdivisions. A previous version of this story said developer Hal Crafton of Rush-Hal Properties worked with the Nahlen family to develop Frederick Place and Catherine Place.
The old Nahlen home place, dating back to 1879 and serving three generations, will soon be Nahlen Cove, a neighborhood of about 18 houses that will serve many more generations to come.
The Nahlen family line first came to Conway when Frederick Joseph and Catherine Seiborn Nahlen traveled from Koblenz, Germany, after seeing an advertisement about the United States.
It read, “Come to Arkansas in the U.S.A., the land of milk and honey, apples, peaches, and especially grapes grow wild in abundance. Wild turkey, rabbits, deer, and wild hogs are everywhere. Corn, peas, sorghum and other crops grow with all ease. The ground is so fertile, just plant the seed and harvest a bumper crop each year. The growing seasons are long and have very mild winters.”
The Nahlens were professional wine makers in Germany, so they were intrigued by the ad’s story of wild grapes.
In 1879, the couple made their journey and settled on 160 acres that is known to this day as the old Nahlen home place.
Frederick and Catherine raised four children and fostered a child in the home. Their youngest son, Joe Nahlen, married Christine Runker and raised nine children of their own in the family home place.
Sister Josita, 97, Gertrude Siebenmorgen, 88, Anna Gunderman, 85, and T.J. Nahlen, 80, are the four remaining children of Joe and Christine, and they have decided to sell their family home to Conway developer Hal Crafton of Rush-Hal Properties.
“It’s going to have to go,” T.J. said. “It’s become too much work to keep it up.”
The Nahlen home place is located at 2595 Nutter Chapel Road, between the Frederick Place and Catherine Place subdivisions.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property tucked into the neighborhood,” Crafton said. “I always notice the grapevines.”
Charles Nabholz, chairman emeritus of Nabholz Construction Services, has worked with the Nahlens to develop part of their 160 acres, naming the two neighborhoods on each side of the home place in honor of first and second generation Nahlens.
Crafton will continue this tradition with Nahlen Cove, naming the neighborhood after the family and honoring the grandchildren, nieces and nephews with the name of the street.
“This was unusual to have the old home place in the middle of two neighborhoods with development across the street,” Crafton said, “but [Nahlen Cove] will tie it all together.”
The size and shape of the property isn’t big enough for multiple streets Crafton said, so he’s constructing a neighborhood that “goes in a circle and comes back out to Nutter Chapel Road.”
The four remaining children of Joe and Christine Nahlen want to name the street 18 Loop or 18 Circle after the latest generation of Nahlens.
“I know [Crafton] will do the family proud,” said Phyllis Childers, daughter of T.J. Nahlen. “We know he will because of all the other great [projects] he’s done.”
Crafton has met with the City Planning Department and hopes to present his site plans at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting in August.
If his request is approved, construction could start by late fall, Crafton said.
“I know the Nahlens and there has to be some hate-to-see-it-go mentality,” Crafton said, “but I appreciate the Nahlen family letting me work with them.”
You never hear anything bad about the Nahlens, he said.
“They’re good, hard working people. It’s people like them who make Conway what it is.”
The Nahlens will always remember their family home place and the memories they shared there from making wine in the cellar to making their famous homemade sausage each year.
“We want to look up here and remember it as it was, and see the beauty that [Crafton] will bring,” Childers said.