FRANCIS E. CRAWFORD, the popular superintendent of schools in Fayette county, Illinois, must look upon his success as the work of his own brain. Starting on his career as a teacher with only the meager equipment of the country school, he has secured his education piecemeal, whenever he had a chance. Much of his culture he has acquired by himself, when, after a hard day's work with refractory pupils and often with grown-ups, he has sat till far into the wee small hours poring over some book. He is essentially a self-made man, and looks upon the niche which he has carved for himself in life with justifiable pride.
Francis E. Crawford was born in Fayette county, near Brownston, on the 23rd of March, 1869. His father was Martin Van Buren Crawford, who had been born in Ohio in 1844. Mr. Crawford, Sr., lost his father when he was a very small child, and was brought by his mother into Illinois in 1848. Here he grew to manhood, working on the farm to help his mother. He followed this occupation all of his life, and attained to considerable success as a farmer. In 1867 he married Elizabeth J. Bolt, and they spent the remainder of their lives in Fayette county. Six children, five boys and one girl, were born to them, of whom Francis E. is the oldest. Of these children all have died except one of his brothers, James L. In politics Mr. Crawford was a Democrat, and both he and his wife were members of the Christian church. His wife died in 1893 and he followed her on the 26th of February 1905.
Francis E. Crawford spent his younger days on the farm, receiving his education in the country schools. 'When he was seventeen domestic troubles forced him to add his quota to the support of the family, so he turned his hand to that work which he felt best able to do, and on the 1st of April, 1886, began teaching his first school. For the next six years he served a weary apprenticeship in the school of experience by teaching in the country. Then he was offered the principalship of the Ramsey schools, which he held for two years. The four years following were spent in the grammar department of the Vandalia schools, and then he was promoted to the position of assistant principal of the same schools, at which post he worked for two years. He then went to St. Elmo, where for eight years he acted as principal of the schools. The Casey schools called him next, and for a year he held the superintendency here. He was elected for a second term, but resigned to accept the position of county superintendent. This took place in 1910, and his long experience in various places and positions has given him the experience now so necessary to him. He is now able to understand the problems of a teacher of any rank, those of the country as well as those of the cities, and the wisdom with which he handles these is shown by his popularity and by upholding the high standard of education now in vogue. He has
never received a degree from college or university, but he has attended several summer sessions of various normals and in this way has kept in touch with the trend of modern thought. Teaching in the first place was forced upon him, on account of sickness that deprived the family of some of its bread earners, but he came to love his profession and now his whole soul is in his work.
On the 1st of October, 1890, the marriage of Mr. Crawford to Sarah A. Pilcher was consummated. She was the daughter of Winston Pilcher, a farmer of Fayette county. They had two children, one a little girl, died in infancy, the other, Cecil C., is a graduate of the high school in Casey.
In politics Mr. Crawford is a Democrat, and the influence which he possesses as a semi-public man is always used to further the interests of his party. Mr. Crawford is a member of the Christian church and belongs in the fraternal world to the Odd Fellows and to the Modern Woodmen of America. In his own profession he is a member of the Illinois and of the Southern Illinois Teachers Association.
The people of Fayette county are still congratulating themselves upon their good luck in having secured Mr. Crawford to direct the educational work of this section, for he had been tried and tested in the furnace and had been proven to be pure gold. His gradual rise is a splendid proof of his natural ability unassisted by the influence of a number of letters tacked on to his name or by having friends in high places.