RUDOLPH R. REEDER, Principal of the Grammar Department of the Illinois State Normal University, is a native
of Ohio, being born in Warren County, Jan. 5, 1859. His father, George W. Reeder, was a native of the same State
and county, and his mother, Jane (Thompson) Reeder, was born in New Jersey. The family came West in 1866, and settled
near Mattoon, Ill., whence they afterward removed to Moultrie County, and from there in 1874 came to Normal. Here
the father died in January, 1883, at the age of seventy-two years; the mother is still living and resides with
her children. Of these there were seventeen in number, all but three having lived to attain their majority. Four
sons served as soldiers in the late war; one fell at the battle of Ft. Donelson, mortally wounded, and one died
in the service. At the present writing (1887) ten of the family are living.
The subject of our sketch was the fifteenth child of his parents' family, and the youngest who lived to adult years. His boyhood and youth were passed upon the farm, and his first studies were conducted in the district school. His school life during those early days numbered about three months annually. When the family settled at Normal he was a youth of fifteen years. He attended the public school one term and then entered the grammar grade, whence he was almost immediately promoted to the High School department. One year later he was engaged as a teacher in one of the country schools of McLean County, and subsequently attended the State Normal University during the spring terms for five years. In summer he worked in the harvest field and did whatever else he could find to do, and taught school during the winters. He was obliged to pay his own way through school, but his ambition and his gratifying success encouraged him to persevere. His education cost him about $1,200, all of which he paid from his own earnings.
In the fall of 1880 Prof. Reeder was chosen Principal of the Public Schools in Rutland, which position he held three years, and employed his leisure time in the further pursuit of his studies, and in due time passed the examinations and graduated from the State Normal University with honors, although he had not attended school for three years. Prof. Reeder for two years and one-half was associated with Prof. J. W. Cook as editor and publisher of the “Illinois School Journal,” and has otherwise contributed much of his time and means to further the cause of education, for which he has a genuine love and a deep and abiding interest.
Prof. Reeder was married on the 20th of June, 1883, to Miss May Hewett, daughter of Dr. E. C. Hewett, of Normal, and they have become the parents of two children—Irene May and Ruth Angeline. The family are regular attendants of the Baptist Church, of which Prof. Reeder has been a member for four years. He is held in the highest esteem as an educator and a citizen, and does honor to the position which he occupies.
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), 413. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.