William O. Steen, of Abilene, Kan., present superintendent of public instruction in Dickinson county and a well known educator of the state, was born near Youngsville, Ohio. His father, S. W. Steen, was born at Mt. Leigh, Ohio, May 3, 1848, a descendant of Robert Steen, who came to the British colonies in America, in 1755, from the North of Ireland. His mother, Regina E. Steen, was the youngest daughter of John and Mary Williams and was born near Youngsville, Ohio, May 20, 1852. John Williams, her father, was a descendant of William Williams, who came from the North of Ireland about the time of the Revolutionary war and settled in Pennsylvania. Thus Mr. Steen is of Irish descent through both parents. He attended the public schools at Irvington, Ohio, and was graduated in the same at the age of sixteen, receiving his diploma under the Boxwell Law, which was the first in Ohio to provide for public school graduation. In 1893 he accompanied his father to Ottawa, Kan., where he engaged with his father and brother, Frank W. Steen, in farming. In the fall of 1893 he entered Ottawa University, where he remained one year and then resumed farming for another year. Later he entered the Normal School at Emporia, Kan., and remained for three semesters. The following summer he obtained a certificate and began his teaching career in the little city of Rantoul, Franklin county. He remained there two years and, owing to the fact that the school board had advanced his salary to the limit, he accepted an offered school one mile outside of the town. In the two years that followed he held the principalships at Peoria and at Princeton, Kan. During his summer vacations he attended the State Normal School at Emporia and later entered that institution and remained until he completed the course. From 1904 to 1906 he was principal of the Hope Schools, and in the summer of 1906 secured the superintendency of the schools at Solomon, Dickinson county, which position he held until May, 1911. In November, 1910, he was elected superintendent of public instruction in Dickinson county and is well qualified for the duties of his new position. Since completing his work at the State Normal he has taken special work at the University of Kansas. Mr. Steen is not without other educational honors. He has served as president of the Dickinson County Teachers' Association three terms; is serving his fourth term as treasurer of the North Central Kansas Teachers' Association; and is also serving his second term as a member of the State Teachers' and Pupils' Reading Circle Board, representing the Fifth Congressional district of Kansas on that board. In 1911 he was made secretary of the board. Mr. Steen has instructed and conducted normal institutes for several years in different Kansas counties and holds a five-years conductor's certificate. He takes his new field of work as superintendent, fully realizing the responsibility of the work to be done and feeling that the greatest educational field in our state and nation is the rural school. His practical experience in the various lines of educational work in the past eleven years gives him a comprehensive understanding of his new field of usefulness, to which he will devote with his characteristic energy all of his efforts to make the schools of his county the best in the state. Dickinson county is to be congratulated for having placed this promising young educator at the head of its schools.Pages 966-967 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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