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Blow Family Papers, 1837-1916; 1960

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Identifier: A0139

Title: Blow Family Papers, 1837-1916; 1960


Henry Taylor Blow, manufacturer, legislator, and diplomat, was born July 15, 1817, in Southampton County, Virginia, and died September 11, 1875, in Saratoga, New York. He came to St. Louis with his family in 1830 and completed his education at St. Louis University. At the age of nineteen he became a partner with his brother-in-law Joseph Charless in the sale of drugs, paints, and oils, and later in the manufacture of castor oil, linseed oil, and white lead. In 1844, the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Blow retained the manufacturing business, which he developed into the Collier White Lead and Oil Company. At a later date he became interested with his brother Peter E. Blow and Ferdinand Kennett in lead mining and smelting works in Newton County, Missouri. After the Civil War they organized the Granby Mining and Smelting Company, which operated the works for many years. Blow was also prominent in public life. He was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1854 and served four years. In 1860, he was a delegate to the Republican national convention, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency; Blow was a staunch supporter of the Union cause in Missouri. President Lincoln appointed Blow the United States minister to Venezuela in 1861, but he returned to St. Louis in 1862 because of his concern over the Civil War. In the fall of that year he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and reelected two years later. In 1869, President Grant appointed him the United States minister to Brazil, and he held that office for two years. His last public service was as a member of the board of commissioners of the District of Columbia in 1874. In 1840, Blow married Minerva Grimsley, daughter of Colonel Thornton Grimsley. Their first child, Susan E. Blow, was born June 7, 1843. The family moved to Carondelet when she was six years old. She attended classes in private schools, and at 16 was sent to New York for two additional years of school. Miss Blow met Friedrich Froebel in Germany and became acquainted with his kindergarten work and teaching devices. When he returned to the United States in 1873, she was able to persuade the Board of Education of St. Louis to let her use a schoolroom for one year; the second year the board incorporated the kindergarten work into its curriculum. She continued to work in St. Louis until 1886 when she was forced to retire because of poor health. During this period she wrote her first book, Symbolic Education, which was followed by several others. When she regained her health she began a series of lectures in which she described her theories of child education. She died in 1916 at the age of 73.

The papers include approximately 175 pieces of correspondence between Henry Taylor Blow and his wife, Minerva Grimsley Blow, from 1840 to 1875. These papers also include correspondence with their children, Susan, Nellie and Peter. The letters chronicle family and business history of the family as well as provide commentary on national and state politics during the Civil War, including the effects of the war on St. Louis. Minerva Blow's letters tell much of the social side of St. Louis and the role of women in the Sanitary Fair (1864), and of the personalities of family members and friends. Also includes information regarding the Blow library.

Indexed in the archives card catalog.

2 boxes

Cite as: Blow Family Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.

Rights: UND

Place: United States
St Louis

Dates: 1837-1916; 1960

Type(s): Documentary Artifacts

Maker/Creator: Blow, Henry T. (Henry Taylor), 1817-1875

Subjects: Business
Politics and government
Civil War, 1861-1865
Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair (1864 : Saint Louis, Mo.)


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