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Biography of William H. BANTA

Source: Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Records of Leading Men, Women and Prominent Families of the Counties Named, and Other Portions of the State Published by Goodspeed Brothers, Chicago 1894. Pages 90-91

The rapid advancement made of late years in matters pertaining to popular education is due in no small part to the brilliant leaders who have risen here and there, and who have dedicated their energies and labors to the upbuilding of theschool interests of their respective states. Among these is Prof. William H. BANTA, the most efficient and capable superintendent of public schools of Valparaiso. He was born in Ohio, September 18, 1846, to the marriage of James D. BANTA and Emily CRISLER, both natives of the Buckeye state, the father born in Lebanon, and the mother in Preble County.

On the paternal side the ancestors came from Holland, crossing the waters to this country as early as 1659, and settling in the Empire state. They came over in the ship "DeTroye," and the paternal great grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. Through his records in Washington, D. C., Prof. W. H. BANTA is a member of the Indiana Sons of the Revolution, and the only member of this organization in Valparaiso. His ancestors moved from New York to New Jersey, and thence to Ohio, settling in Miami Valley. Henry BANTA, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Miami Valley, Ohio, and after reaching mature years followed the occupation of a farmer. He was a pioneer and passed his entire life in his native state.

The maternal grandfather, William CRISLER, was a native of Virginia and an early settler in Southwest Ohio. He was a slave owner while residing in his native state. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and often boasted that the only victory he attained in the war was to throw down the strongest man in the army. He was also a farmer and died in southern Indiana.

The father of our subject, James D. BANTA, followed the occupation of a farmer, but afterwards became a merchant. He removed from Ohio to Indiana and settled in Kokomo, where his death occurred in August, 1873. The mother is still living and resides in Kokomo. Five children were born to this worthy couple: Prof. William H. ; Sarah, wife of William CONWELL, of Kokomo; Mabel, wife of E. S. HACKETT, a prominent business man of Kokomo; A. C., contractor of Kokomo, and Lyda, wife of L. C. SELLERS, furniture dealer of Kokomo.

The youthful days of our subject were spent for the most part in Indiana on a farm, and his early education was received in the district school of his neighborhood. Later he attended the Normal school at Kokomo, and still later took his college studies under a private instructor. He became a member of the faculty of the Male and Female College of Valparaiso, but resigned this position in 1871 and was elected superintendent of Valparaiso schools, a position he has now held for twenty-two years. During that time he has never made a formal application for re-election. He is one of the best known educators in northern Indiana, and his career has been characterized by an untiring energy and devotion to the work he has had in hand.

When starting out he taught school in the rural districts for some time, and was then engaged as first assistant teacher in the Rochester public schools, being elected principal of the same without having made an application. This office he filled until 1870, March 28th, when he came to Valparaiso and began his duties as a teacher of mathemathics and natural science in the Valparaiso M. & F. college. On the 1st of September, 1871, he was elected to his present position.

Prof. BANTA is a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows orders, and in politics is a Republican. He is also a member of the M. E. church. On the 20th of December, 1870, he was married to Miss Rhoda BATES of Valparaiso, who was born March 4, 1846, and who was noted for her scholarly attainments. She died December 11, 1885. Three children were given them but only one, Mabel, is now living. She is a graduate of the high school, has a diploma from Normal school, and has been a student of De Pauw University. She was born January 20, 1874, and is a very bright, intelligent young lady. Alice, born February 25, 1880, died April 8, 1892; and William H., born November 28, 1882, died May 5, 1891.

Prof. BANTA selected his second wife in the person of Mrs. Mary A. LEAS, of Chicago, and their nuptials were celebrated December 27, 1887. They have one child, Catherine, whose birth occurred December 28, 1893. Prof. BANTA is a member of the Holland Society of New York, for he is the descendant of a Dutchman who resided in New Amsterdam.

NOTE: The following listing for James D. BANTA was found in the Cemeteries of Howard County website:
Crown Point Cemetery: BANTA James D.: born 15 Jun 1827 - died 14 Aug 1875, age 48. Section 2 Lot 178. Image of tombstone

Monument at Crown Point Cemetery
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