Biography of John Frederick Eberhart
Chicago, Cook County, Il Biographies

EBERHART, JOHN FREDERICK. - Born in Hickory township, Mercer county, Pa., January 24, 1829. Son of Abraham and Esther (Amand) Eberhart. Father was a farmer, who located in Mercer county in 1821, and built the first saw mill in that unsettled section. Subject of sketch was educated in the district schools during the winter at Big Bend, on the Allegany river, where he went with his parents when eight years of age. lie assisted his father on a farm during the summer until he was sixteen, and then began teaching school at what is now Oil City. He began taking special lessons in writing, drawing and pen and ink flourishing, and later taught those accomplishments in neighboring viliages. For two terms he attended Cottage Hill Academy at Ellsworth, O., and, entered Allegany College in the spring of 1849, graduating July 2, 1853. He was obliged to pay his own way in obtaining his education by teaching and working in the harvest field during the summer vacation. On the 1st of September following his graduation he was made principal of Albany Seminary at Berlin, Pa. This institution, the first founded by the Evangelical Association, flourished greatly under his management. Two years' work, however, so affected his health that upon the advice of three physicians he was obliged to cease trom his labors and he came West, arriving in Chicago, April 15, 1855. During the next four years he was variously occupied in lecturing, editing a paper, and traveling for a New York publishing house. His great desire was to be an educator, and much of his time was spent as editor of the Northwestern home and School Journal of Chicago. In the fall of 1859 he was elected school commissioner of Cook county, and continued in that office for ten years. He visited every school in the county at stated intervals and conferred personally with the tearhers and directors. To him is practically due the inauguration of a Normal school system, and though he met with much opposition the first school was opened in September, 1867, at Blue Island, with 32 Pupils, and with D. S. Wentworth as! principal. He took a great deal of pride in his work, and it may be said of him that he is the father of public schools in Cook county. He was one of the organizers of the Illinois State Teachers' Association and assisted! in founding the State Normal Unhersity at Bloomington. He was the principal mover in the formation of the State Association of County Superintentents and was its first president. He was also an early member of the American Institute of instruction, and one of the first life members of the National Teachers' A ssociation. As president of the Cook county board of education he introduced the kindergarden system into the Cook County Nor mal School. At various times in his life he has declined important professorships and has always maintained he could be more useful to the community in which he lived by prosecuting the work he had undertaken, and in which he had been so successful. After twenty five years of devotion to educational matters, he, in 1866, made his first venture in the real estate business, a beginning that has resulted in the building up of a large and successful business enterprise. His transactions have been many and varied, and he has held the ownership of nearly 2,000 acres of lots and lands within the present city limits. In politics he was an early republican and has ever affiliated with that party He was bred a Methodist, but is now a prominent member of Rev. Dr. H. W. Thomas' Peoples' Church. He is a man of fine general culture, has a well selected library, is a great student, a good public speaker and a strong debater. He has been an extensive home traveler, and there are few places in North America he has not visited and explored. Mr. Eherhart was married on Christmas evening, 1864, to Miss Matilda Charity Miller,! daughter of the late Joseph C. Miller, of this city, and has four living children, the eldest of whom, John J. Eberhart, is his partner in business.


FROM:
The Handbook of Chicago Biography
Edited by John J Flinn.
The Standard Guide Company
Chicago 1893

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