Mrs. Elizabeth Collins
G. R. Woman, 93 Today,
Has Attended St. Mark’s Since It Was Founded in 1842
(Article in the Grand Rapids Herald, 22 September 1929, page 3)
One of the most devout worshippers in St. Mark’s pro-cathedral this morning will be a little old lady who for the entire life of the old church has been a constant attendant.
Michigan then was an unknown wilderness and Grand Rapids a tiny hamlet on the banks of the Grand river, but tales of the new land and the wealth to be carved from its forests trickled east and when Elizabeth was six years old her parents decided to try their fortune in the west. They arrived here in 1842, the year that St. Mark’s was built, and began their new life here as worshippers in the struggling little mission church.
St. Mark’s academy was soon founded, and the young girl was entered as a student, to go later to Rockford, Ill., seminary. Meantime her father became engaged in the commercial life of the city, being by turn merchant, hotel manager, steamboat captain and finally miller and banker. He founded the old Valley City Milling Co., and was the first president of the Grand Rapids Savings bank.
The Cary home, a spacious white frame house which stood on the side of Ryerson library, became the center of the social life of the city. Although the town was small there was a gay young crowd and, even as now, dancing parties which required country rides to reach the inn. One of the popular places for dances was the old brick in out Robinson rd. which still stands as the garage on the Ben West place. This meant a long, long buggy ride for the young people, but was not so far as the Kelloggsville inn, where many parties were held.
Not so long after the Carys came here a young man, Robert M. Collins, came to make his home here. He was at first a printer, but later became engaged in manufacturing, and after he and Miss Cary were married in old ST. Mark’s he became interested in the mills with his father-in-law. Mrs. And Mrs. Collins lived at first at Fountain st. and Lafayette ave., in the house now occupied by Dr. Alexander M. Campbell, and here their only child, Alfred, now of Chicago, was born.
Mr. Cary, desiring to build a finer home, sold his frame house to be moved away. It still stands on Pleasant st. He then erected a big brick house which for years was one of the show places of the city. Later it, too, was sold to A. D. Rathbone, who moved it over to the corner where the Majestic theater now stands. It was again sold, taken up on Logan st., near Prospect ave., and is still standing there.
Mrs. Collins recalls that as a child Indians used to sleep on the piazza floor of her home. She recalls, too, the long arduous trips she used to take to Plainfield with her father, when, with a team, the 20-mile drive took up the entire day.
Mrs. Collins for years was a prominent figure in the social life of the city. She was a charter member of the L. L. C. and is now an honorary member, and she took an active part in the church guilds. Mr. Collins was a member of the Third Michigan Infantry during the Civil War.
Almost the last of the old set, which contained such names as Wenham, Pantlind, Farnham, Hollister, Lyon, Earl, Pierce and Waters, she still lives on in her home at 210 Fountain st., NE. She is physically active, mentally alert and is mistress of her own home. Her only near relatives are her son, Alfred; a granddaughter, Mrs. Howard I. Chauvin, and a great granddaughter, Elizabeth.
Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 26 November 2004