A Child’s 100-Year-Old Bowback Chair from Sunday School

When the Dexter Presbyterian Church bought new children’s chairs for Sunday School. They offered the old small wooden ones for $2.50. Mom asked to buy one. Someone asked her why, since she didn’t even have any grandchildren.

Well, Mom (Doris) had some history with those small scuffed chairs. When the Wilson family first moved to the Dexter area, her father Clabe was a tenant farmer southeast of town. The owner not only attended the Presbyterian Church, he lived near the church.

At least the three oldest Wilson children attended Sunday School at the Dexter Presbyterian Church. Here they are, dressed up on Easter 1925, ready to go to Sunday School. (Doris is wearing the green pongee dress her mother made.)

So, these three Wilson kids sat on those little chairs during the 1920s.


Doris’s own daughters (Joy and Gloria) attended the same Sunday School with their Neal cousins during the late 1940s and 1950s, where we learned to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.”

One of Doris’s daughters (Joy) became the mother of her only grandchild (Dan), whose own small daughter (Kate, age 4 1/2) will enjoy owning the heirloom chair, I hope, especially because of the stories that come with it.

The only thing better than an heirloom is an heirloom with a story!


  1. Greetings Joy! I can totally relate to your mom’s sentimentality, for, I’ve got a similar story; alas, without an heirloom; unless heirloom memories count? Anyway, one June, just prior to leaving my elementary school for the very last time, feeling nostalgic, I wandered back to my kindergarten classroom; immediately noticing the smallness of the chairs. Sad to say no such revisits are possible, anymore; back in the early 80s, they razed the premises.

    Wishing you and your loved ones a memorable, healthy, happy ’22 and beyond!

    • I do have a collection of small chairs. This one is in the worst shape but is the only one that has a story. I just printed off the story to keep with the chair. Thank you, Eilene!

  2. Thanks for a delightful story The memoir “Our Couch” in my book you just finished has a much shorter past history (44 years) but the wonderful chairs brought it to mind.

    • I’d like to see a photo of that couch! When I stared reading, that it was rattan, though beautifully shaped and enchanting, didn’t sound comfortable. Later you mentioned that it was the most comfortable piece you’d been on. Rattan, comfortable?

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