Over one hundred years have passed since the organizing of the first school in Peoria County. With each ensuing year, our older settlers become fewer and our existing possibilities, to gather data about our early education, melts away like snow before a tropic sun.
With these thoughts in mind, and a desire to preserve the interesting activities of our forefathers, we have tried to secure from all the school districts, a brief history of the educational activities from the earliest time.
From these historical reports, we find that the first school taught within the boundaries of Peoria County as it now is, was taught by Peter Grant at Fort Clark in 1821. This school and the subsequent schools until 1855, were, for the most part, provided for and operated as a subscription school.
Isaac Essex, who was appointed a teacher to the Indians by Rev. Jesse Walker, taught the hero of Methodism in Illinois the second school. Although this school was intended more especially for Indian children, white children were permitted to attend.
The first woman to teach in Peoria County was Mrs. Maria Harkness, wife of James P. Harkness. Her first school was Ogee’s log cabin, which later was used as the courthouse. Later she taught at a log school in the western part of the county in what is now District Number 30. This was in 1839. This was the third district in the county to have a school, District Number having erected a building and holding school a few months earlier in 182\39.
Great strides have been made in one hundred and ten years. Peoria County now has 134 one-room schools, 9 county schools of two rooms or more, 34 village, town and city grade schools, 9 high schools, 17 parochial grade schools, two parochial high schools, 1 college, 22 kindergartens, 4 commercial schools, 1 commercial art school, 1 art institute, and 1 kindergarten training. School. See also this post about the US Presidents from Illinois.
The publishers tender their grateful acknowledgments and most hearty thanks to the friends, too numerous to mention, who in so many ways aided and encouraged the progress and completion of this enterprise. Most loyally and generously have the men and woman of Peoria County, responded when solicited for facts and data, necessary to compile this work.
To these people and any other, who have given substantial encouragement, the author respectfully dedicates this work. Information on the Peoria Civic Center is posted here.
This information was provided by John Hayes, Superintendent of Peoria County Schools and submitted by many different people from each school district. John Hayes compiled and printed this material in the 1930s.