History of Calvin

 
Introduction to Historical Excerpts (written by Mrs. Nellie Barehead)

 

 

Historical Review

 

       

        Calvin Christian School celebrated its 100th-year anniversary in the Spring of 2012 (1912/13 - 2011/12) at the Evening For Calvin event, and is currently in its 104th year (2015/16) of teaching students in this community of South Holland to live for the glory of His name.  Calvin Christian School has always been a school founded upon the Calvinistic Christian principle that all things must serve a great purpose - to glorify the one and only Sovereign God. To realize this exalted purpose more effectively, the entire education of a child must assist him to become a better and more influential Christian in all spheres of his life.  Our eyes are focused upon God as we labor with covenant children who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

 

        As mentioned, Calvin Christian School is located in the town of South Holland, IL, a community with a rich heritage which was settled along the bank of the Little Calumet River by pioneers who loved the Lord.  These 19th century pioneers worked hard, planting churches and opening their homes to freedom seekers.  They sought to live reverent lives by following the laws of the Lord, closing their businesses on Sunday and choosing to keep this community a dry town. As we glimpse into the far past and glean some of the happenings that led up to the settlement of the community of South Holland and the establishment of Calvin Christian School, we definitely see God's providential hand at work...

 

       In the mid-1600s, these lands were fertile, and the Calumet River produced abundant catfish, sun fish, pike, and black bass.  Because of these resources, the Potawatomi and Miami Indian were drawn to this area.  Eventually, in the 1700's, the local surrounding area became part of the Northwest Territory.  In 1809, the area was transferred to the Illinois Territory and in 1818 Illinois became the 21st state of the United States.  During these years, the Indian tribes were defeated in war and excluded by treaty, however, few from the Indian tribes remained. Those Indians who did remain helped the early Dutch settlers in 1838.  Who were these Dutch settlers?  These Dutch pioneers emigrated from the Netherlands and settled in the New World to seek improvement in their economic life, and some emigrated for religious and political reasons.  (Most Dutch emigrants of the Netherlands during this time either relocated to the U.S., Australia and Canada, or to South Africa and the Dutch colony of Indonesia.  The Dutch that came and settled in and around the Chicago area was a mixed group that came from various regions and for numerous reasons.)  It seems that the tendency for these Dutch pioneers was to settle on the south side of Chicago and therefore almost all of the Calvinistic Christian Churches (Reformed Churches) were found south of the Chicago loop which was the well-known heart of the metropolis of the Midwest.  When these Dutch pioneers came to this Calumet district, many of them settled on what was then called the low prairies (probably because of its swampy condition due to the land not being drained and the water level in Lake Michigan being considerably high than it is today ... duck hunting was good throughout the year in this terrain!)

 

       In 1846 the land was settled by immigrants from South Holland (a province of the Netherlands).  The town was built on low ground near the Calumet River and was originally called "de Laage Prairie" (also known as "Holland Bridge" or "Low Prairie"), to differentiate it from another Dutch settlement further north on higher ground and called "de Hooge Prairie" (now the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago).  Hendrik de Jong, his wife Geertje (de Vries), and their 12 children became the first Dutch settlers in de Laage Prairie (now the community of South Holland, IL).  Hendrik purchased 300 acres of land in Thornton Township in 1847.  Another well-known Dutch settler named Antje Paarlberg also settled here later in the year.  Conditioned by poverty in the Netherlands and the hope of a more abundant life in the New World, these religion-minded people were content, prompted by the fear of God and the trust in Him who never forsakes His own.  As stated earlier, these Dutch settlers began to till the soil, and organize and build churches so that God might be worshipped in His house on the Lord's Day.  In 1848, the first church was formed in this area (located on South Park Avenue attached to the south bank of the Calumet River) - this church still exists today and is actually where Calvin Christian School holds their Convocation services every year!  Back in 1848 it was called "Low Prairie Church", today it's known as the "First Reformed Church of South Holland", and it is located within walking distance, a few blocks northwest of Calvin Christian School.

 

       At the same time schools were built to train, educate, and equip the youth of the land. During the 1850 -1900 time period, 2 schools were built in the area, multiple railroad tracks were laid through the village, a general store and a post office were built, and new churches were formed such as the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church (later named the Village Free Evangelical Church), and the 1st Christian Reformed Church.  The town's name officially changed to South Holland, Illinois in 1870 when the Post Office was recognized by the US Government.  Originally a general farming community, South Holland later specialized in vegetable growing such as large crops of beets, carrots, onion sets, and tomatoes.  Dutch and German farmers begin raising these onion sets and eventually came to dominate the commercial production and distribution of this crop, earning for South Holland the title "Onion Set Capital of the World" by the 1940's.

 

       With a growing population in the early 1900's, it was felt by a group of families, that shared in the Calvinistic Reformed mindset, that more positive Christian instruction in the elementary school was desirable and that there were good reasons for having a private school founded on basic Christian principles.  And so it happened and the movement for establishing a "Society for Christian Instruction" became a reality.  Since some of the old Calvin Christian School recordings are lost, it is not possible to have the exact date nor do we know who all the charter members of the school were.  About eight dedicated men met in our small and relatiely young community of South Holland, to make plans to usher Christian education into this basically Dutch Reformed Community.  The first school building was a two-room school building located on East 159th Street (no longer standing) which cost approximately $1,500.  "South Holland Christian School" was opened on March 17 and dedicated March 19, 1912.  See our Historical Timeline for information on how this school began and transformed into what it is today!

 

       To this very present day, God has truly blessed our school during these first 103 years and continued its rich heritage in this community.  South Holland remains to be a village dedicated to "Faith. Family. Future."  There have been many joys, celebrations, and exciting historical events.  And many hardships and trails throughout the history of this town, and throughout Calvin Christian School's existance, were overcome by faith and prayer.  It is our continued prayer that our Covenant God continues to bless and guide us, so that our children in this community may celebrate 100 more years here at this Christian institution.  We stand with perserverance and follow the Lord's call to be salt of the earth and the light to this broken world.  We at Calvin Christian School are a diverse community in a very diverse, temporary world, continuing the heritage of those who have gone before us.  You can feel the warmth, the love, and fellowship when you walk through the front doors; the same Christlike love and passion that drove the early pioneers Centuries ago.  We give thanks for the Lord's continued faithfulness, provision, and guidance.

 

Calvin Christian School has been blessed with a solid family of supporters, graduates, and community family and friends and we give thanks for all those that give back to God what is his, those individuals that truly impact and make a difference, who make continual sacrifices give gifts to support what God is doing.  An active alumni organization is vital to the welfare of our educational institution.  May our graduates never forget that this is also their school which looks for their active and effective support.  It cannot be too frequently stated that the school does not belong to the board, or teachers, or pupils, but first of all to Christian parents who have made it possible.  Thank you for being a part of this continuing momentum to train young individuals to love Christ and love their neighbor!  Thank you for interesting yourself in everything related to the school; financially, the ideals of Calvin Christian School, and educational policies.  There are so many ways God calls us to serve and give back to Him for all that He has done in our lives.  Your continued support to this ministry is greatly needed and appreciated - in prayer, time and service, and gifts to the school.  We give God all the praise, honor and glory and may you be a blessing in someone's life today...

 

 

 

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