Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
“A Brief History of Peoria” by
Democratic State Central Committee? 1896.
Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff
By N. C. Dougherty, Supt. of Public Schools
In the rapid material developement [sic] of the age, it is well for us to remember that knowledge is mightier and more productive than any other form of power. The dearest rights of man, civil and religious liberty, can be possessed only through education, and their enjoyment is measured by the enlightenment of the intellect, the conscience and the affections. Hence whilst there are many and varied interests involved in the growth of this city, the work done in her schools affects for better, all other interests. Every enterprise that produces good of any sort is strengthened or assisted directly or indirectly, by influences emanating from the schools. Every enterprise that tends to degrade character or rob the people of material good and hapiness [sic] finds a powerful antagonist in popular education. Every man should seek his own greatest success and happiness in the heritage of character secured by his own children. The future welfare of the city depends upon the training that the children of the city are receiving these present years. Peoria through her Board of Education withholds no appropriation, however large, if it is manifest that the school children of the city need it She is always ready and eager to build school houses whenever and wherever they are needed within the city limits, only asking to have that need demonstrated. She has provided for the building of three such houses the present year, at a cost of sixty thousand dollars in order to accommodate her rapidly increasing population. She feels that every additional school house and every additional teacher is only proof that our standing army of school children is increased. She knows that the best assets of a city or a family are its children.
Peoria has now fourteen schools in operation and one hundred and eighty-one teachers employed. There are more than seven-thousand children receiving instruction in her publi -schools daily.
On these schools she spends a quarter of a million dollars annually, and she is proud of the fact that there is open to each child in her borders an education which is more than equal to the best given in our colleges half a century ago. The best advanced schools of the nation receive her graduates without conditions, thus enabling her children to build worthily upon the foundation laid in her own schools.
Her private schools and her church schools are also of the best kind. Her system of kindergartens, supported by contributions, is one of which any city may be justly proud. Her business college is one whose success is shown in the great number of pupils which fill many of the best offices in the city. The parochial schools are carefully graded, and give to the children committed to their care not only the elements of a religious abiding faith, but also a careful intellectual training. In these schools thousands of dollars are invested and scores of teachers employed.
It is the intention of Mrs. Lydia Bradley, the woman to whom Peoria owes so much, to establish at no distant day a Polytecnic [sic]school which shall be in every way the equal of the best. It will afford a direct preparation for the active duties of life. It will be open to all the children of the city whose preparation will enable them to pursue with success its course of study.
This school will stand at the head of the schools of the city and be an honor to the people. It will crown the many noble works of this noble womea, and be for all time her lasting monument of faith in human nature and her love for the children of the city.
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