THE OLD STONE SCHOOL HOUSE OF THE RAPIDS

Some Famous Men
Studied and Frolicked in Its Hallowed Shade


The old stone school house on the hill – the school house which was new when Grand Rapids was yet a village – the building in which the fathers and mothers of the present generation of High school girls and boys finished their ascent of the hill of knowledge – has it entirely disappeared from the face of the earth?
This question may be answered in the negative – and relics of that same old school house which preceded the now old Central High school, will be shown, together with other High school relics, at the annual reunion and ball of the High school alumni and their friends to be held in Elks’ hall and Battalion armory next Monday evening. Hon. At S. White will be there and will bring with him the key to the great lock of the big front door of the old school house. The front door itself of the old school now forms the chief entrance to the residence of Mr. White at 22 James street, and other doors and timbers of the old building were used in the building of his residence. The old lock of that same door will also be there and if the hand of a certain alumnus has not forgotten all its old all Halloween cunning, the clapper of the old bell will be there also – for the same bell which now hangs in the tower of the Union High school on the West Side once called the boys and girls of 1850 and 1867 to their daily tasks in the old stone school house. The records of the old school will also be there and many an old boy and girl will find therein names perhaps now well night forgotten and the sight of them written in Prof. Chesebro’s well known hand, will recall to many the scenes of their youth.

But the boys and girls whose names appear on the old records – where are they? As the old school house perished except as its materials were used in the structure of some of the homes of the city, so many of its lads and lasses perished from this earth. Their lives went out that the republic and the homes of the land might be made stronger. Their memory is kept green in hundreds of homes and by the grass and flowers which bloom over a hundred battlefields. And yet, the High school boys and girls of old who remained on earth were not "cursed with the wandering". A large proportion "grew up with the town" and the names of some of the solid business men and social leaders of the city are found on those records. Following is a partial list of those still resident in Grand Rapids, names of war veterans being marked with a star:

Allen, Stanley

Apted, Alfred D.*

Babcock, Otis H.

Barr, Harriet M.

Barr, Harriet M. (Mrs. John Fiske)

Baxter, Solon W.

Beckwith, William G.*

Beebe, Charles A.*

Belknap, Hon. Chas. E.

Belknap, John J.

Bemis, Emily

Bettinhouse, Henry C.

Bishop, Loomis K.*

Boynton, Jeremiah W.

Calkins, Anna

Calkins, Charles W.*

Calkins, Clara (Mrs. J. C. Herkner)

Campau, Adolph T.*

Clark, Melvin J.

Coffinberry, Andrew B.*

Colby, Harlan P.*

Colby, Sarah F. (Mrs. Arthur Wood)

Currier, Anna (Mrs. Putnam)

Currier, Arthur W.*

Cutler, Helen P.

Dart, Byron J.

Davidson, George H.

Davidson, Judson A.

Dean, Charles D.*

Donnally, Ed. H.

Everts, Henry C.*

Fuller, Wm D.

Godfrey, Wm

Gould, John T.

Granger, Delia H. (Mrs. Cordelia A. Parker)

Hatch, Ira C.

Hatch, Julia (Mrs. Ed. H. Hunt)

Herkner, Joseph C.*

Hilton, Ald. Charles A.

Hodenpyl, Anton G.

Hodenpyl, Maggie (Mrs. Leet)

Hoyt Birney*

Hoyt, Edwin, Jr.*

Idema, Cemper F.*

Idema, Herman H.

Ives, Calvin L.

Johnson, Mary (Mrs. Geo. Kendall

Johnson, Stewart

Judd, Elliott E.

Judd, George E.*

Kendall, John C.

Kromer, N. B.

Lyon, Charles D.

McCormick, Henry F.*

McCrath, Alderman John*

McKinzie, Kossuth A.

McLenithan, Job*

Naysmith, Jay D.

Nelson, George K.

Page, James and Enos*

Palmer, Walter A.

Palmer, Walter A.*

Philbrick, Charles C.

Pierce, George C.

Pike, Charles F.

Pike, Mary (Mrs. Wm. T. Hess)

Porter, Capt. A. B.

Powers, Daniel H.*

Provin, Henry and Andrew

Putnam, Sophia D.

Rathbun, Alfred D., Sr.

Rindge, Lester J.

Schickell, Joseph C.

Scribner, N. B.

Semeyn, Cornelius*

Seymour, Alonzo

Seymour, Glenn

Sligh, Hon. Charles R.

Sligh, Julia (Mrs. Julia Follett)

Smith, Israel C.*

Smith, Walter D.

Stevens, Frances (Mrs. Dr. Perry)

Stevens, Sidney F.

Stewart, Seraph (Mrs. Kennedy)

Stone, Levantia A. (Mrs. D. B. Shedd)

Strong, Return E.

Swain, Charles

Sweet, Cassius H.

Sweet, Frank H.

Sweet, Martha (Mrs. J. C. McKee)

Tucker, Angustus I.

Uppineer, James*

VanderSluis, James

Ward, Orrin O.

Weatherly, Warren C.

Webster, Ruth (Mrs. Alfred M. Apted)

Welsh, Vine E.*

Westlake, Rachel (Mrs. Rachel Tucker)

Widdicomb, William*

 

Wherever their addresses are known, invitations to attend the alumni reunion have been sent to all these. But the list is not complete and every one of those who attended the old stone school are invited to join in the fun next Monday evening whether they receive formal invitations or not. Many have paid their dues and have expressed their intention of showing the young folks how they used to dance before the war.
As for those students who left Grand Rapids, their history and whereabouts is in most instances unknown. These are among the few names rescued from oblivion:

Fred S. Church, the artist whose work has shed luster on his native city, attended the school. A number of his pictures and sketches will be exhibited at the reunion. Lawrence Earle is another famous High school boy whose artistic work will be illustrated Monday evening by several fine copies and one original.
Will Howe, the well known artist, also attended the High school. None of his work has yet been secured for the reunion, although it is understood several pictures are owned in this city.
One of the brightest boys in the old school was George Bidwell, who afterward distinguished himself for forging notes for a million pounds or so on the Bank of England. The executive committee has not been able to secure any specimen’s of Mr. Bidwell’s work, although he was an artist in his way. Mr. Bidwell has not been invited to the reunion. His brother, Bensen, also attended the school.
Among other ex-students of the old stone school were John H. Snitzler, retired merchant of New York city; Salem T. Chapin, now a wealthy resident of Mexico; Charles I. Hathaway, secretary of Detroit’s board of health; Jonathan Richmond, a rancher of Colorado; Mrs. Russell A. Alger and her brother, Albert M. Henry of Detroit; Rev. Eugene Babcock, an Episcopal clergyman; Carrie Merchant (Mrs. Farnham Lyon of Saginaw); Dr. Walter B. Murrisen of Muskegon and Rev. Brady Backus of New York city. During the year 1854-55, as appears by the records, 970 in all were enrolled in the school. If the records were carefully looked over there is no question that the list of those who are still living from that year could be greatly enlarged.


Location: Article in Scrapbook at Grand Rapids Public Library

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 28 December 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/schools/centralhs/stonesch.html