BIOGRAPHY - Koscie Clinebell

PROF. KOSCIE CLINEBELL makes his home in Melvin. J. G. Holland truthfully says that the teacher's profession is one of the most ennobling. In presenting the life records of those who have been conspicuous in the educational circles of Little Ford, that of Koscie Clinebell should not be omitted, for he is well and favorably known as one of Ford County's most successful teachers, having followed that profession in Ford County from the year 1875 until 1889, inclusive.

Mr. Clinebell is a native of West Virginia. He was born in Monroe County, May 24, 1856, and is the eldest of a family of three children, born unto John and Minerva C. (Alford) Clinebell, natives of Virginia. His brother, De Witt Clinton, is a resident of Bloomington, Ill., living with his mother. He is now one of the head salesmen in the firm of Pixley & Co., the largest clothing firm in the city of Bloomington. He was educated in the common schools of McLean County, and the graded schools of Normal, Ill. He is a sterling young man of business tact and ability. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias of Bloomington, and is a stanch Democrat in politics. The only daughter in the Clinebell family, Laura Josephine, was educated in the common schools for a teacher, and resides in Danvers Township, McLean County.

The father of our subject was one of the men who died in the service of the South during the great Rebellion. The mother is still living at the age of fifty-seven years. She was reared and educated in Virginia, having been a student in Staunton Seminary, of Staunton, Va.

The first eight years of Mr. Clinebell's life were spent in the State of his nativity. While a small boy, he was stricken with typhoid fever and white swelling, which crippled him for life, but the All-Wise Being gave him a fertile brain and an indomitable will-power, which has made him the successful man he is to-day. His education was commenced in the typical log school-house so familiar to many of the Southerners. It was a subscription school, for the free-school system was not then known in the South. During the war, the family lost all of their property as well as the father. The mother and grandmother, with the three little children, came to Illinois in 1866, and resided for a year in Fairbury, where our subject had a chance of attending the first graded free school he ever saw. Thence they removed to Sac City, Iowa, and after two years returned to McLean County, Ill., where they were almost penniless. The children were scattered among entire strangers, and our subject found in William Paul, of Stanford, Ill., a true friend. He made his home at the house of that gentleman for about two years, and attended the district schools. He then obtained a second-grade certificate and secured a summer school in Mackinaw Township, Tazewell County, at $25 per month, the first money he ever earned. He made a success of his first school, and was re-engaged for the fall and winter terms at $33.33 per month.

Mr. Clinebell saved his money, and the spring of 1872 found him in Normal, Ill., where he rented a little house, and his mother, brother and himself went to house-keeping, and Koscie entered the State Normal University. His resources afterward gave out, and he was compelled to quit school and go to teaching. He then attended school and engaged in teaching alternately until 1875, when he came to Ford County, where he engaged as a teacher near Melvin. After two years' successful teaching, he assumed the Principalship of the Melvin public schools, and retained that position until 1881. During his career as teacher in Melvin, his school took fourteen premiums, and the sweepstake premium in the County Educational Exhibit at the Ford County Fair.

On August 16, 1881, Mr. Clinebell celebrated his marriage with Miss Ida Mae Marsh, a native of Laconia, Harrison County, Ind., born August 16, 1862, and a daughter of Jesse P. and Margaret (Fowler) Marsh, natives of Indiana. The lady was educated in the graded schools, and is well read. She has decided skill and talent in painting and artistic needle-work. She has been one of Ford County's brightest primary teachers, and was her husband's assistant for four years in the Sibley public schools. By their union were born two children, both daughters. The eldest is Edith Maud, a bright, winning little miss of nine summers, who is now a pupil in the Melvin schools. She has pronounced talent in music, and is bright in her scholastic work. Ethel Inez died at the age of sixteen months and twenty-two days.

Mr. and Mrs. Clinebell assumed charge of the Sibley public schools September 5, 1881, and he was for eight years Principal of this excellent school, under the efficient Board of Directors, consisting of W. A. Picket, Eli Harvey and Swen Anderson. On the 4th of December, 1882, the beautiful and imposing Sibley school building, erected at a cost of $4,500, was dedicated by Dr. E. C. Hewitt, President of the State Normal University, of Normal, Ill. In this school is where Mr. Clinebell made his mark as a teacher and manager of schools. While Principal of these schools, he established a system of practical business education, which was a factor of great importance to the pupils as well as the parents. His school competed six years out of the eight in the State Educational Exhibit at the Illinois State Fair, and the school was awarded second sweep-stakes of the State Fair Educational Exhibit, besides $52 as premium money, fourteen ribbons and two first diplomas of the State Exhibit. Between 1886 and 1889, with the aid of his teachers, pupils and Mrs. Hiram Sibley, Mr. Clinebell founded a school library, containing five hundred and seven volumes of the choicest literature. Hon. Hiram Sibley was a particular friend of Prof. Clinebell, and when visiting in Great Britain and Europe, he secured a valuable collection of engravings of historical scenes, which he presented framed to the school. This is said to be the finest collection of the kind in Central Illinois. Through Mr. Sibley's influence, Mr. Lamb, of Rochester, N. Y., presented the school with a $125 outfit in microscopy.

After Mr. Clinebell had decided to quit teaching, his friends advised him to try for a position as Superintendent of some of the Governmental schools. This he did, and his friends in Central Illinois, and the press of Bloomington and Ford County, strongly endorsed him for the position. The following is a copy of a letter sent to United States Senator S. M. Cullom, and Congressman L. E. Payson, from the prominent citizens of Paxton:

To the Hon. S. M. Cullom and Hon. L. E. Payson:

Gentlemen: — Prof. Koscie Clinebell, of Sibley, Ford County, Ill., is an applicant for the position of Superintendent of a Governmental School. We have personally known Prof. Clinebell for many years, and know him to be a thorough and successful teacher, a gentleman of high character and integrity, a thorough Republican, a most desirable citizen, and one in whom we have entire confidence. Mr. Clinebell will, in the position to which he has aspired, do credit to himself, his friends and his party. (Signed by fifteen of the prominent citizens of Paxton, Ill.)

To the above, Judge Walter Q. Gresham, a friend of the family, added these words:

Believing Prof. Clinebell to be capable, honest and deserving, I take pleasure in joining in the above recommendations. W. Q. Gresham,

Circuit Judge of the United States Circuit Court of Northern Illinois.

Prof. Clinebell also received recommendations from W. O. Davis, editor and proprietor of the Bloomington Pantagraph, of Bloomington, Ill.; also from Dr. Richard Edwards, State Superintendent of public schools, Dr. Selim H. Peabody, Regent of the University of Illinois, and a strong endorsement from Gov. Joseph W. Fifer, beside a letter from the faculty of the State Normal University, and Prof. Clinebell's Board of Education in Sibley. His appointment was duly recognized, and he was tendered by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Hon. John Oberly, the .Superintendency of the San Carlos schools in Arizona, but he preferred to wait until the next appointment, which would include his wife, and in the meantime he entered the biographical field with the Goodspeed Building Company, and was upon the staff of its writers in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana. Mississippi and Ohio. In the spring of 1891, he entered the field with the Lake City Publishing Company, by which he is now employed.

Mr. Clinebell is known by his friends to be an indefatigable worker, and is ever ready to aid those in distress and need as far as he is able. In politics, he is a Republican, but in local affairs aims to cast his vote for the man, rather than the party. He is an honored member of Lodge No. 179, K. of P., of Melvin, and also a member of Camp No. 1,512, M. W. A., of Buckingham, Ill. Himself and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for many years have been connected with the Sunday-school interests of Ford County. Prof. Clinebell was Superintendent of the Methodist Sunday-school in Sibley for several years, and was a member of the Illinois State Teachers' Association, the Central Illinois Teachers' Association and the Teachers' Association, of Ford County. Himself and wife are honored citizens of Melvin, where they have a neat and pretty home, and this sketch of these worthy people will be read by many who know them well and favorably. Their portraits appear elsewhere in this volume.

Extracted 22 Aug 2019 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 255-257.

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