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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy


Edwin C. Hewett
McLean County, Illinois

EDWIN C. HEWETT, A. M.. LL. D. for many years president of the Illinois State Normal University and now associate editor of the School and Home Education, a periodical published in Bloomington in the interest of education, was born in Worcester county, Massachusetts, November 1, 1828, and is the son of Timothy and Lavina (Leonard) Hewett, both of whom were also natives of Massachusetts.

Timothy Hewett was an experienced and skilled mechanic, and also engaged in farming to a limited extent. He is still living, a well preserved man of ninety-three years. His good wife passed to her reward some years ago. They were the parents of five children, two of whom are now living. Dr. Hewett, who was first in order of birth in the family, was reared in his native place, and in the common schools received his primary education. After passing through the Academy, he attended the Bridgewater State Normal School, then in charge of Nicholas Stillinghast, its first principal.

Previous to his entering the Normal, he taught school for two terms. After graduating at the Normal school, he entered, as assistant, the high school at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he remained one year, after which he was called back to Bridgewater to become an assistant at the Normal, a position which he held for nearly four years. At the expiration of that time he took charge of the Thomas Grammar School, in Wooster, and remained there two years.

From Worcester, Prof. Hewett was called to Normal, Illinois, in 1858, the second year of the establishment of the State Normal School at that place. In that institution he held the position of Professor of History and Geography until January, 1876, when he was elected president of the institution, to succeed Dr. Richard Edwards, where he remained as its efficient head until 1890, when he resigned.

The State Normal University constantly grew in its influence and plan of education under his management, and it is safe to say that no other president or professor connected with the State Normal School has had more to do with shaping and moulding its plan and developing its power for usefulness and influence along true educational lines than Dr. Hewett. He was with it almost from its inception, and his thirty-two years of faithful devotion could not help but leave its impress upon its working force.

Dr. Hewett received his degree of A. M. from the (old) University of Chicago in 1863, and the degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by Shurtleff College about 1878. Both honors were worthily bestowed. The Doctor has been an untiring worker in educational circles, and his time has not been confined alone to teaching, but he has written an excellent work on Pedagogy, and another on Psychology, both of which are published by the American Book Company. He is also the author of a series of arithmetics, published by Rand, McNally & Co., of Chicago, and all of his books are in practical use to-day.

As instructor in Teachers' Institutes, he has done a great deal of valuable work, as well as lecturing on educational topics and writing for educational and other publications. As an educator his ability is unquestioned, and he has been honored by his associates in educational work in various ways. For a time he served as president of the State Teachers' Association of Illinois, and for many years he has been an active worker in the National Educational Association, of which he was treasurer for five years. Previous to his removal to Normal, he was secretary of the Teachers' Association of Plymouth and Wooster counties, Massachusetts, and also held other positions of minor importance.

In August, 1857, Dr. Hewett was joined in marriage with Miss Angeline N. Benton, a native of Franklin county, Massachusetts, where she was born in 1831, and daughter of Horace and Anna (Case) Benton, who removed to Lee county, Illinois, in 1854. By this union two children were born — Mrs. R. R. Reeder, born in 1860, and now residing in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, and Paul, born in 1870, who died in infancy. Mrs. Hewett, who was a most estimable wife and loving mother, departed this life November 21, 1895.

For his second wife, Dr. Hewett married Mrs. Helen E. Paisley, nee Clute, of Normal, their wedding ceremony being solemnized in this city, August 31, 1898. Dr. Hewett has been a member of the Baptist church for many years, and by that body was licensed to preach the gospel. While the greater part of his life has been given to the cause of education, he has yet occupied the pulpit to some extent, and his sermons are of a high order of merit, such as one would naturally expect from one of his learning and experience.

Politically, he has always been a staunch Republican.

[The Biographical record of McLean County, Illinois - S.J. Clarke Publishing Company - (1899)]

EDWIN C. HEWETT, LL. D., President of the Illinois State Normal University [Illinois State University], is the eldest of the four children of Timothy and Levina (Leonard) Hewett. He was born in the town of Sutton, Worcester Co., Mass., on the 1st of November, 1828. His father was a wheelwright by trade, and owned a small farm, on which the family resided.

Edwin attended the district school in his childhood, afterward studied in an academy, and at the age of twenty-one years engaged as teacher in a country school of his native town (not in the same district) where he gave instruction for two terms and then, being pleased with the work, decided to fit himself for the profession of a teacher. He accordingly entered the Normal School at Bridgewater, where he took the regular course which required one year, and graduated in 1852. The school at that time was in charge of the well-known educator, Nicholas Tillinghast.

After leaving Bridgewater, Mr. Hewett became the assistant of Jonathan Tenney in the High School of Pittsfield, where he remained one year, and at the end of that time, by the request of Mr. Tillinghast, returned to Bridgewater and engaged as a teacher in the Normal School, where he remained four years. In the fall of 1856 Prof. Hewett took charge of the Thomas Grammar School at Worcester, which school had an attendance of 500 pupils and employed ten teachers. There were, at that time, only two grammar schools in the city. In the fall of 1858 Prof. Hewett came West to become a teacher in the Illinois State Normal University [Illinois State University], which was then entering upon the second year of its existence, and was located at Bloomington, the present building not being completed. Dr. Hewett taught various subjects at different intervals until 1876—his special class being that of geography and history—when he was chosen President, vice, Dr. Richard Edwards, resigned, and has since occupied the Chair of Mental Science and Didactics.

This school has now grown to be one of the best in the country, and its present prosperity is due in no small measure to the efforts of its present able President. The degree of A. M. was conferred upon President Hewett by the University of Chicago in 1863, and the degree of LL. D. by Shurtleff College in 1878. He has contributed some valuable literature to the various educational periodicals of the day, and is the author of a "Key to Guyot's Wall Maps" and "Hewett’s Pedagogy."

In politics our subject is a stanch Republican, and religiously is a Baptist, and has given much time and attention to the progress and prosperity of the Sabbath-school of his church.

Edwin C. Hewett was united in marriage with Miss Angeline N. Benton in August, 1857, who was born in Buckland, Mass., and married in Sublette, Ill. Of this union there were two children, one of whom, Paul, died in 1870, at the age of five months, and May, who graduated at Normal in 1880, and is now the wife of Prof. Rudolph R. Reeder, of Normal.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 449. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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