PETER SMITH  Born near Cincinnati in 1802


Was born near Cincinnati in 1802. When he was four years old his father moved to Clark County, Ohio, and located on Mad River.

Mr. Smith has spent twenty years of his life in teaching school, and has invented an improved method of instruction, which is now being adopted very generally over the United States. His plan is so good that for many years he got double wages, as his system enabled him to teach twice the number of students.

Its advantage consists in what is termed the ticket system, which does away altogether with corporeal punishment. These tickets constitute a currency. When the pupil did well he was given tickets, when he required punishment he fined him.

Mr. Smith, while living in Clark County, Ohio, in 1843, first conceived the idea of graded schools. He first gave it publicity before a debating society, called the Legislative Club, but it was not passed till 1845. He then got up a petition to present it to the Legislature for the purpose of making it a law. Being a new idea it was not at first comprehended, but when thoroughly
ventilated the great advantages of the system became apparent, and, at length, it was passed just as Mr. Smith proposed it.

After the success of his favorite scheme he moved to Illinois, and a year after his arrival was elected as County Surveyor to Lawrence County, which office he held for six years. He now became a very extensive land owner, having had at one time in his possession 6,000 acres.

When he quit the County Surveyor he went to locating land warrants. In Richland, Lawrence, Jasper and Crawford Counties, he located 50,000 acres.

When the new party organization commenced he was a Whig, but at once merged into the Republican party, to which he is sincerely attached. During Buchanan's administration he was turned out of office, but Lincoln appointed him as District Assessor of the 11th Congressional District, which extended over thirteen counties. When Andrew Johnson came into power he turned him out.

Mr. Smith is now spending his old age in literary pursuits. He has written a treatise on common school teaching, which is calculated to revolutionize the entire system of that institution. If it be adopted it will put within the reach of all an opportunity to acquire an excellent education.

Biographical Atlas of Lawrence County, Illinois 1875
Copy in County Library and Irene Black Library

Contributed by
Sue Stine

14 March 2001


Smith Index