Holland Daily Sentinel, January 18, 1917

Hollandís Oldest Station Agent is Dead

H. C. Matrau Dies of Heart Trouble in Colorado

Henry Clay Matrau, Hollandís first station agent, died in Windsor, Colorado, according to a newspaper report from that city.

Mr. Matrau will be remembered as being Hollandís first station agent when the Chicago and Lake Shore was built into this city here in 1872, and moving to Grand Rapids in 1882 where he took a position with the G. R. and L. going west.

When Mr. Matrau was station agent, he was the telegraph operator, baggage man, and switchman and held down several positions incident to a jerkwater station.

These were the days of wood burning engines, with the smokestacks topped by large spark arrestors, which pulled into the station.

In 1875 the name of the road was changed to Chicago and West Michigan and about eighteen years ago was again changed to the Pere Marquette.

Johnny Ver Schure, now janitor in the Holland State Bank, worked with Mr. Matrau in those days, later becoming the clerk on the Muskegon division.

Transcribed by Joan Van Spronsen


Holland City News, March 12, 1896

An Infant Recruit, But Every Inch a Soldier

Henry C. Matrau Biography

Apropos of the visit of Mr. Henry Matrau to this city, we find the following in the "Chicago Times-Herald":

There was quite a very little fellow in Company G, a farmer boy. He was not quite 16 and small for his ageóa baby faced chap. No one took a deeper interest in the drill. He missed no duty, even sought extra duty that he might show that he was fit for a soldier and be more certain that he would be accepted.

"What are you going to do with that round faced baby?" asked a six-foot pinery man.

"Watch and see for yourself," said a G man.

"Do you think they will take me, Captain?" said the boy the morning the mustering offer arrived. "I hope so, Henry," "Thank you, Captain," What distress there was on the little oneís face when the mustering officer said, "Step this way young gentlemen," as Henry passed for examination.

"Are you old enough for a soldier?" "Yes, sir." "I will be 18 on my birthday, sir." "Does your Captain want you in this regiment?" "Ask him, please." "There no better man in the company whom I think will make a better soldier. It will please me greatly to have you muster him in, " said Capt. Northrup, when called " We will take him," said McIntryre. And the round face boy of company G was a baby, in fact he cried like one, but he cried for joy. He seemed only too glad to have a chance to be shot at.

Little as he was, no man in his company had a larger knapsack; he never fell out on a march, no matter how hot the day. He never missed a battle. "Captain, there is good material in Henry for a non-commissioned officer, said the sergeant," "Rather too young isnít he?" "He is old enough to be as good a soldier as there is in the regiment."

The next evening, when the regiment was on dress parade, the Adjutant read off the promotion of Private Henry C. Matrau to be a corporal. What a hero he was at Gettysburg, in the Wilderness, and at Spotsylvania. He had grown some, but was still a mere boy. In August, in 1864, the Captain commanding the regiment, (the field officers were dead or prisoners) said, " Sergeant Major, I will dictate a letter to the Governor asking for the commissioning of several officers to fill vacancies." He said among other things, " The First and Second Lieutenants of Company G have been killed in battle. I respectfully request that First Sergeant Henry C. Matrau be commissioned First Lieutenant of said company." The Commissioning came in due time. That evening five of the young fellows went to the tent of one of their number and celebratedócelebrated all night. It was at a time when the surgeons counseled against drinking much water, and when it was easy to fill all canteens at the commissary. The next day they went to corps headquarters, fount the mustering official, were sworn in to the service as officers, put on soldier straps, and took their new stations. What a proud day it was for the youngster; what a handsome officer Company Gís boy soldier made. Ah, me, that was long, long ago.

A few months later, Company G and Company D were consolidated. In the next battle the Captain was killed; Matrau succeeded him. He was the youngest and smallest Captain the regiment ever had; it had none braver.

I was reminded of this story of a real hero upon meeting Capt. Matrau a few days ago. He lives way out in Nebraska; is a railroad man at Norfolk. He saw in the "Times-Herald" that one of his old brigade commanders was to visit the State from which he enlisted and said, " Children, your mother and father are going to be absent for a week," Then he took the train and rode 700-800 miles to meet that old commander and other men with whom he had served his country when his country needed him.

Glorious little Matrau!

Transcriber: Joan Van Spronsen
Created: 17 May 2007
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/obits/k-r/matrauHenry.html