Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.
Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.
ROBERT W. ORR, who for many years has been the efficient
Prof. Orr was born in
He lived a quiet, unassuming life and had the esteem of all who knew him. His wife survived for some years and passed away in 1882, at the age of seventy-four. The last ten years of her life were spent in Pana. On her husband's death she was left with a family of nine children to support, and had often a hard struggle to provide for them, but she nobly labored in their behalf.
The members of the family who still reside in this county are Robert; Margaret I., wife of Henry Kirk, of Taylorville; Mary J., of Pana, widow of G. W. Turnham; and John, who is engaged in the grocery business in Pana. Thomas A. resides in Leadville, Colo; Andrew J., in Covington, Ohio; and Kate M., in Denver, Colo. Samuel M., who followed farming near the old homestead, died at the age of fifty years; Hugh, who was a soldier of the Fifth Illinois Cavalry, died at the age of twenty-six, when home on a furlough.
The Professor was a young man of twenty-one when the family
came to Illinois, and he aided his father in the labors of the farm until the latter's death. He was educated in
the public schools and in the seminary of Bloomingdale, Ohio, which he attended one year. He then began teaching in the Buckeye
On the 14th of August, 1862, he joined Company D, One Hundred
and Thirtieth Illinois Infantry, and was elected Orderly-Sergeant on the organization of the company at Edinburgh. He was ordered into camp at Taylorville, then sent to Camp Butler, and in October the regiment joined the army at Memphis. Tenn.,
where the troops went into winter quarters. They joined Grant's army, participating in the siege of Vicksburg,
and taking part in the battles of Champion Hills and Black River Bridge. They took part in the entire siege against
Mr. Orr then resumed his work in the schoolroom and was employed as a teacher in Sharpsburg, Owaneco and Taylorville, having charge of the West Side schools of this city for three years. He then returned to his farm in Locust Township, and while there residing was elected County Superintendent of Schools, in the fall of 1872, filling the office for nine years. Then after an interval of four years spent upon the farm, he was again elected, in 1886, and re-elected in 1890, the term comprising four years, so that he will continue to fill the office through 1894.
There are two hundred and ten teachers in the county, to whom from $35 to $65 a month are paid in the country schools, and from $65 to $125 in the graded schools. There are thirteen graded schools in the county, and two township High Schools, with sixty-four teachers. For twenty years annual institutes and normal schools have been held for the benefit of the teachers, and for ten years the session has lasted from two to four weeks, with from one hundred and fifty to two hundred in attendance.
Prof. Orr was married July 12, 1870, to Mrs. Harriet E. Shumway,
widow of Z. P. Shumway, of Taylorville. She was born in Connecticut and bore the maiden name of Harriet E. Pray. Her father, Rev. Paris Pray, is still living in Taylorville, in his eightieth year. He came here as a minister of the Gospel, and about 1858 organized the Taylorville
By her first marriage Mrs. Orr had one daughter, Lou A. Shumway, who for six years successfully engaged in teaching, but is now an invalid and lives with her mother. Unto the Professor and his wife have been born four children: Lillie, now Mrs. Zimmerman; Daisy, Frank and Charlie. Frank and Daisy are students in the High School of Taylorville, and Charlie is still in the ward school.
Prof. Orr was reared in the faith of the United Presbyterian Church, but he and his wife now belong to the Baptist Church, in which he serves as Deacon. He is a Royal Arch Mason, having been initiated into the Blue Lodge in Taylorville in 1867, and is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He votes with the Democratic party, but is not strongly partisan, and is as popular among the Republicans as among the people with whom he holds similar views. During the late war he was a faithful and valiant defender of the country, always found at his post of duty.
He is true to every public and private trust reposed in him and has led an honorable, upright life. No higher testimonial to his efficient service in the office of County Superintendent of Schools can be given than the fact that he has so long held the position. It is an office that is won by merit. Under the able management of Prof. Orr the schools of Christian County are in a flourishing condition and would be an honor to any community.
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