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The Chair from the Kinderhook School

a gift from Beth, has a link to the Daniel Dove Collins Family . . .

Kinderhook Station had a little one-room school house named Kinderhook School.

 

Mr. Mark Henson, a school teacher from eastern Illinois, was married to Pattie Collins, the daughter of Daniel Dove and Elizabeth Collins, and he was the master of the Kinderhook School, which today would be located at or near Granite City, Illinois.

Now Mr. Henson and his wife had a daughter, Florine Henson Bowker (1883-1974), and she has a story to tell about an incident that happened one day at the Kinder Hook School. Here, in her own words, is the story that she told when she shared her story in the historic Glenwood Cemetery at Gentle Voices Calling, a reenactment pageant of Collinsville’s history:

One day in 1892, during recess, we children were playing in the school yard. Off in the distance we could see what looked like a chariot approaching, and it was pulled by two glorious white horses. It was like out of a story book I had read. The carriage rapidly neared and then pulled into the school yard and stopped.

 

Two stately, middle-aged gentlemen, very distinguished, stepped out of the carriage. One portly gentleman wore a stove pipe hat. The men asked the whereabouts of the school master, and breathlessly, I ran to fetch my father. My father shooed me along as he neared the two men.

 

That night, I told my mother of the occurrence and she asked my father what had transpired. “Well,” he said, “Those men want to buy some land around here to build a city. They want to meet with me on Saturday.”   "The two men were," he said, "William Niedringhaus and Missouri Congressman F.G. Niedringhaus, his brother." My father, the school master, was Mark Henson, my mother’s name was Pattie Collins, daughter of D.D. Collins.

Well, Saturday came . . .

Father went to the Cass Avenue office in St. Louis of the two men and before the interview ended he was hired to buy up all the farms in the area. Not only were the men going to build a city, they were going to set up a granite ware manufacturing plant: the reason today the city is called Granite City.

 

The Niedringhauses got the land for $8.40 an acre and acted as the trustees until the city could be established.

 

Our house became the office for the plant and my mother was persuaded to serve a noon meal everyday, which was called dinner. Since my mother always kept fresh flowers on the dinner table as a centerpiece, I guess our house became not only the first office, but the cafeteria for the enterprise, also.

 

Our house became the first meeting place for the trustees of the church, which met on the second floor of the school building. Mother was the first organist and choir leader and I became the first Sunday School organist. Mama also became the first florist in Granite City since there was no other to be found. She had an artistic bent and would cut symbolic shapes from screen wire and cover them with flowers as was the custom of the day. Shapes such as anchors for hope and crosses for religious meaning and horseshoes for good luck and hearts for weddings.

As new people came to town to work in the plant, the Niedringhauses more and more confined themselves to the business of making granite ware; and the grandson of George became the President of Granite City Steel Company.

 

Industry was growing rapidly and another group approached my father to discuss opening a bank, which became the First National Bank of Granite City. My father served as president for 27 years.

Those were exciting years . . .

Years of growth and youthful exuberance. I married and moved to Collinsville where I started the Baraca, a church youth group which served the community faithfully, teaching the young to be responsible and giving them activities to train them for jobs when they reached their maturity.

 

We even edited the local paper, The Advertiser, for one issue to teach the youngsters how to put together a newspaper and raise funds for the proposed Baraca Hall. I had no children of my own, but since I taught music and was the sponsor of the Baraca, I worked intimately with other people’s offspring and felt that all those young people who passed through my tutelage were somehow mine and, as I carried them in my heart; I am sure a piece of Florine went on to own and operate Cedar Lawn on Vandalia Street, a boarding house located where the VFW now stands. Her boarding house offered a cheery atmosphere, good food and good beds, all under her personal supervision.

Kids will be kids, no matter the era . . .

The chair from the Kinderhook School was specifically designed to have uneven legs so that it would be tippy should a child be tempted to climb and/ or stand on it.

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Phone:  Call Lavadna at 618.420.0288           
Email:  artloft@charter.net