Do You Remember the . . .
Glenwood Cemetery presentation?
“Gentle Voices Calling” was a presentation offered by the Collinsville Memorial Public Library Foundation on Saturday, May 20, 2000 and Sunday, May 21, 2000 to celebrate National Historic Preservation Week, Memorial Day and the National Road, which winds through Collinsville.
The event took place at the historic Glenwood Cemetery in Collinsville, Illinois and is the final resting place for some of the most important names in Southern Illinois History. The cemetery was designed after the precepts of Fredrich Law Olmstead, and a few remnants of the past park-like glories are still visible.
The cemetery is unique now because of its broad range of historically important people, who are at rest there: seven Afro/ American Civil War soldiers; two Revolutionary War soldiers, and the Collins Family, who founded the City of Collinsville as the last prairie stop on the National Trail.
Early doctors, lawyers, bankers, black and white church men, and indentured servants are buried side by side in this sylvan glade. The history of this last frontier on the east side of the Mississippi is written large in Glenwood.
Here we have the words of Daniel Dove Collins (1814 - 1882) as he spoke to his audience on that memorable weekend.
Local Contractor Becomes
First County Highway Commissioner
1814 - 1882
I am a relative of the Collins Brothers, who founded Collinsville. There has always been some confusion during the 20th Century about this. But I came here because they swore to the beauty of this place, the richness of the bountiful soil and the abundant wildlife. My father and old Uncle William were brothers. And further, Uncle William's namesake was called William B. to avoid confusion.
Now the Collins family gave this land that you are standing on to be a cemetery and also the school land over there, and the land that the City Hall is on. These are all Collins legacies. Now, besides the old homestead on Vandalia, my very fruitful farm was all the land of what was once Collinsville Township High School, about 75 acres.
I was born on the Penobscot River in a town called Oldtown, just outside Bangor, Maine. I moved around a lot and after working on the Erie Canal, got to Chicago. A congregation there needed a church and I agreed to build it. It was right across the street from where Marshall Field is now located. Well, when the church was completed, the congregation did not have the money to pay me. They offered me the land that Marshall Field now stands on. I looked around and saw the swampy conditions and decided the land was worth nothing. I donated my work to them and left for Collinsville and greener pastures.
I opened a store when I got here in what is now Caseyville and built a comfortable little Greek Revival house on Main street in Collinsville for my new wife, Elizabeth Anderson. The house was at the corner of Main and Center Streets.
As Main Street grew the house was moved down to its present location across the street from Bernice Larimore's old restaurant and next to what used to be the dress factory. The first village meetings were held in this house; and I was elected the first village board president.
In 1843 I built the first Presbyterian Church as my tithe for the congregation. I was a God-fearing member. By 1850 the mud roads that ran from Collinsville to St. Louis were so treacherous, we built a Plank Road running from where the interstate crosses Hwy. 159 and going along through town. We built it as a toll road and made a lot of money until a law was passed in 1888 outlawing all such tolls. This was part of the National Trail.
I was an Associate Judge and that's why to this day they call me Judge. I also served on the school board as the Director of Education. My tenure began during the Civil war; and I was a director when the first freed Africans became African and Americans and began to move into this county. I was the first highway commissioner in this county. And I want it made very clear that I lived and died a faithful Democrat.