THOMAS ORVAL ELLIOTT, superintendent of schools at Harrisburg, Illinois, is well known as one of the leading educators in the southern part of this state.
Mr. Elliott is a native of Illinois. He was born in Hamilton county October 19, 1878, a son of the Rev. J. C. and Mary J. (Hincks) Elliott, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Tennessee. Grandfather Elliott was a Baptist minister. He came from Kentucky to Illinois at an early day; spent a number of years in Coles county, and about 1870 moved from there to Hamilton county, where his death occurred before the birth of the subject of this sketch. It was in Coles county that J. C. Elliott was reared. Following in the footsteps of his honored father, he entered the ministry of the Missionary Baptist church, with which he has been actively identified in Southern Illinois since 1875, a period of thirty-six years.
Thomas 0. Elliott spent his boyhood days on a farm in Hamilton county. At an early age he became self reliant, and at eighteen was employed to teach a country school. He spent three years under the
instruction of Dr. Washburn, ex-president of Ewing College, and afterward took a course in the normal school at Carbondale, Illinois, and for some time was a student at Valparaiso, Indiana. He alternated teaching country school in Hamilton county and attending college for five years, after which he was for three years principal of the Broughton graded schools. In the fall of 1902 he came to Harrisburg as principal of a ward school, and the next year he was made superintendent of the Harrisburg schools, the position he has since so efficiently filled. As showing the marked growth in schools and school work here, it may be stated that in 1902 only thirteen teachers were employed; at the present time there are thirty-two; then there were six hundred pupils, while now there are seventeen hundred. During the past six years five new buildings have been erected, all modern and with first-class equipment. And with an excellent school board, alive to the needs of the town, and with a superintendent devoted to his work, the educational interests of Harrisburg are well protected. In addition to his regular work here Mr. Elliott is from time to time called upon to render service as instructor in teachers institutes, and among the teachers of Southern Illinois he is held in high esteem.
In 1898 Mr. Elliott married Miss Virola Elder, who, like himelf, is a native of Hamilton county. They have one child, Ralph Elder Elliott. Mr. Elliott owns a farm in Hamilton county, and otherwise has some valuable investments. He and his wife are identified with the church in which he was reared, the Missionary Baptist church. His long service in the prominent and responsible position he fills is ample evidence of his high standing in the community.