Base Ball. - We are glad to see that this noble national game is fast gaining ground in popularity in our city. There are several fine clubs in St. Louis, and our readers will not have forgotten that the championship of the West is held by the Empire B.B. Club, having wrested that proud title from the Empire Club of Freeport, Ill., last 4th of July, in commemoration of which event our well-known citizen, Martin Collins, Esq., has presented the club with a magnificent belt, gotten up in the most artistic manner. The presentation was accompanied by an eloquent and interesting speech, delivered in our friend Martin's most happy manner, and was appropriately responded to by Messrs. J. Fruin, B. Higgins, and other members of the club, all of whom expressed the sentiment that the club would give a "hard fight" to whatever club may endeavor to take it from the Empire.
-Missouri Republican, September 7, 1865
On September 6th, 1865, the Empire Club was presented with an elegantly devised belt as “champions of the West.” The presentation speech was made by Martin Collins, Esq., on behalf of citizens who were interested in base ball and who desired that all Western clubs should take a whack at winning it, whenever they felt able to tackle the holders. As president of the club the late Judge John F. Walton accepted the belt in one of his most graceful speeches and it was placed in a...receptacle of the club room on Third street.
-E.H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, November 9, 1865
This prominent Mason and insurance expert is upwards of sixty years of age, having been born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in the year 1826. [Martin Collins] is, however, a man of excellent preservation, and is very frequently mistaken for a much younger man. His excellent physique and his genial manner make him conspicuous among his co-workers, and during his long connection with this city he has earned and maintained the respect of all with whom he has come in contact, and more especially of members of the Masonic fraternity.
His early education was received in his native country drug store, where he combined the offices of clerk, book-keeper and salesman, and generally superintended the business. All the work which devolved upon him was well carried out, but the utter absence of any prospect of advancement induced him to go west in search of a more promising field of labor, although his friends tried to dissuade him on account of the difficulties in the way.
Hence it was that just half a century ago he found himself in St. Louis, after a tedious journey from Philadelphia, which occupied nearly three weeks, during which time he had to ride on canal-boats and stages, and short sections of railroad. For nine years Mr. Collins worked in a fancy dry goods store in this city, and in 1852 he had saved enough money from his earnings to start in business for himself. Associating himself with a friend, the firm of Rosenheim & Collins was formed, and for six years it conducted a prosperous business. It was then dissolved, and Mr. Collins was appointed, by Mayor Daniel G. Taylor, register of water rates. He proved the right man in the right place, and was reappointed by two successive mayors, an honor to which few men have attained in municipal affairs.
About thirty years ago Mr. Collins turned his attention to fire insurance business, and was appointed agent for some of the largest companies on the continent. His business gradually increased, until he is now the head of the firm of Martin Collins, Son & Company, which ranks among the most important firms in the country.
He is a Mason of good standing, and has given to the affairs of the order his most careful and conspicuous attention, having held a large number of offices in it, and having earned the reputation of being exceptionally loyal, even among such a traditionally loyal class as the Masons.
He married, during the days of his comparative poverty, a daughter of Captain Crab, of the United States Marine Service.
Mr. and Mrs. Collins have had seven children, of whom three are now living and beyond the stage of childhood.
-From Old and new St. Louis