In September, 1895, the new superintendent of the public schools of Ottawa, Professor Samuel H. Heidler, entered upon his duties. He has made a most painstaking, efficient, judicious official, and has won the highest praise from our citizens and those interested in the progress of education. His whole mature life has been devoted to study and work along the lines of education, and both by nature and training he is eminently qualified for the responsible position which he occupies. Under his wise management of our local schools great improvement is to be noticed in many directions, and advanced methods, well tried and valuable, are being introduced as rapidly as is practicable.
A young man in the prime of life. Professor Heidler was born September 6, 1 86 1, in the vicinity of Columbia, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on the old homestead which has been handed down from one generation to the next, and was originally purchased by the paternal ancestor of our subject, of William Penn, the Quaker. There were five sons and five daughters in the Heidler family, the parents being Levi and Martha Heidler.
Subsequent to leaving the common schools Samuel Heidler spent three years in the training school at Millersville, the first state normal in the state of Pennsylvania. Then he taught for two years in his native county, after which he went to Springfield, Illinois, and there pursued special lines of study for a year. At the expiration of that period he accepted a position in the schools of Cantrall, a town situated some ten miles from the state capital of Illinois, and there he remained two years. His next position was in Pleasant Plains, where he taught until 1889, at that time being offered the principalship of the Stuart school in Springfield, at a salary of twelve hundred dollars a year. This amount was later increased to fourteen hundred dollars a year, the highest salary that had ever been paid to any ward-school principal in the city. In 1893 the Professor went to California, and for two years devoted himself to special study in the State university. Returning, he at once entered upon his work as superintendent of the public schools of Ottawa. Keen in intellect, quick to grasp and deal with the difficulties of any situation, thoroughly posted in his chosen profession, he is just the man for the responsible position he holds. Fraternally he stands high in the Masonic order, and politically he is independent in his attitude.
In 1893 Professor Heidler was married in Springfield, Illinois, to Miss Delia Bunn, a daughter of Henry and Mary Bunn, of that city. Mrs. Heidler is a lady of superior educational and social attainments, and enjoys the friendship of a large circle of acquaintances. She is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, and, in company with her husband, is a regular attendant at the services of the Lutheran church.
The Ottawa board of education was organized under a special law passed in the winter of 1854-5, and in the spring of the year last mentioned the people empowered the board to levy a special tax of one per cent, for the purpose of building school-houses and paying needed expenses. After much discussion two large buildings were erected, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. One of these, now known as the Columbus school, is in the third ward, and the other, now the Lincoln school, is in the fifth ward. Up to that time only one hundred and twenty-five children had been enrolled as public-school pupils, but from the day that the new, well equipped buildings were opened a marked change was observed, and in a short time additional accommodations were required. The intervening years have witnessed many great and notable improvements in our school facilities and educational methods, and each year rapid strides are made toward perfection.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 20-21.