The popular superintendent of schools in LaSalle county, Urias J.
Hoffman, has been the incumbent of this responsible office for the past five
years, during which time many notable changes for the better have been
inaugurated in the public-school system of this section of the state.
Professor Hoffman is a practical educator and sound business man, earnest
and well-grounded in his convictions, and persevering in his efforts to
permanently benefit the schools of this vicinity.
John Hoffman, father of the above-named gentleman, was a native of Saxe-Weimar, Germany. There he married Margaret Koelner, and together they came to the United States in 1852. Settling in Indiana, they continued to reside there until the death of the father, a few years later. The widow, thus left alone with two small sons, remarried.
The birth of Urias J. Hoffman took place in the village of Wawaka, Noble county, Indiana, May 12, 1855. He was naturally of a studious turn of mind, and spent all of his leisure time with his books. At fourteen years of age he was given his time, and while working for farmers was permitted to attend school in the winter season. At seventeen he had saved a sufficient amount from his limited earnings to enable himself to take an academic course, and in 1878 his pedagogic career began, as he taught a country school. Then, for two years, he was employed as a teacher in a village school, and in 1881 he was elected associate principal of Jennings Seminary, Aurora, and was connected with that institution for six years. He then served three years as president of Hayward Collegiate Institute, at Fairfield, Illinois. Going then to the DePauw (Indiana) University, he was instructor in English for a year, leaving that position to accept one in Florida. At the end of three years' stay in the south he returned to Marseilles, Illinois, where he was principal of schools until he was elected to the present position, in November, 1894.
Among the most important improvements which have been instituted in the educational methods of LaSalle county in the past few years the following may be mentioned: A uniform system of text-books in the country schools is in force; the county institute has been attended by the majority of the six hundred teachers of the county, as great care has been taken in securing the best educators in the land for the purpose of instructing them in practical methods of work; a regular course of study, as systematic as that of a graded school, is now maintained in the country schools; and libraries, consisting of the books of the Illinois Pupils' Reading Circle, have been started in about three-fourths of the country schools. In round numbers there are twenty-five thousand children of school age within the limits of this county, though less than seventeen thousand are enrolled in the public schools; the total expense for school purposes is somewhat over two hundred and ninety thousand dollars a year; there are three hundred and seventeen school houses, and the estimated value of school property is six hundred and twenty-one thousand dollars.
In 1885 Mr. Hoffman and Miss Ella Walker were married, in Earlville, LaSalle county. Mrs. Hoffman is a daughter of R. H. and Susan (Sears) Walker. Her higher education was acquired in Jennings Seminary, at Aurora, and prior to her marriage she was successfully engaged in teaching for some time. The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman is Margaret, born September 5. 1898.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 50-51.