Chelsea loses Historical Society founder Nivens

Published 3:46 pm Thursday, January 17, 2019

CHELSEA – Tony Nivens, well-known founder of the Chelsea Historical Society, passed away on Sunday, Jan. 13, at the age of 62.


A visitation was held on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Redemption Church at K Springs, and a funeral service followed on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the church with the Rev. Alan Higdon officiating.

“No one loves Chelsea, Alabama more than this man,” read a post on the city of Chelsea’s Facebook page. “His devotion was endless. His vision for our museum brought it to fruition. Please remember this family in this deeply sad time. He will be sorely missed. Thank you for your service.”

Nivens established the Chelsea Historical Society in April 2017.

“This is moving a lot faster than I expected it to,” he said at the time. “My vision is sharing Chelsea’s history, so people can discover it and love it. I always grew up with a love of Chelsea history. My mom wrote a book about Chelsea, so I’ve always been hearing Chelsea stories.”

Nivens said he got the idea after he noticed conflict between Chelsea residents regarding the dismantling of the Weldon building earlier in the year.

“We all saw some of the firestorm on social media between the newcomers and the older folks,” Nivens said. “I was trying to establish a bridge between the two sides and put some things in perspective.”

The Historical Society opened a museum in June 2018.

“I want to remind people that Chelsea wasn’t great because of the buildings, it was because of the people,” Nivens said. “I want to reach that balance between that small town feel and growth.”

Nivens is survived by his wife of 39 1/2 years, Shellie; children, Valarie (Nate) Barber, Daniel (Leigh) Nivens, Christie (Jason) Moore and Dawn (David) Everett; seven grandchildren; father, Ken Nivens; sister, Jon Nivens; and brother, Kerry (Ona) Nivens.