Biography - EMMA REBMAN

In this day when the capacities of woman are recognized in their infinite variety; when the industrial and the professional spheres have been added to the domestic in the feminine universe; when the pedagogical world, particularly, is claiming the talents of exceptionally able women not only for its obscure but its prominent fields of activity in such an era it is with great satisfaction that the historian can point to such intellectual leaders as the superintendents of the Chicago and Cincinnati schools and the present incumbent of Johnson county and to many others.

Public interest in the subject of this article makes desirable a genealogical as well as biographical review of Miss Rebman's history. In her paternal line she is of German ancestry, two of her great-uncles having won distinction as Prussian soldiers in the Napoleonic wars and later having helped to guard the ill-starred Bonaparte until his death on the Island of St. Helena. The founder of the Rebman family in America was John Frederick Rebman, who came from Germany in 1817 and settled first near Mocksville, North Carolina. He was a man of superior education and a member of the Lutheran church. His vocational pursuits combined farming and cabinet-making, in the latter of which he was particularly skilled. In 1836 John Frederick Rebman removed with his family to Montgomery county in Illinois, later changing his location to Union county and finally to Johnson county, the subsequent home of the family. His wife, who in her girlhood was Miss Margaret Setzer of near Mocksville, North Carolina, was also a descendant of a German line. Their children were John, Elizabeth, Frederick Augustus, Jacob and Andrew Rebman. The last two were volunteers of Company I of the 120th Illinois Infantry in the Civil war, Andrew Rebman giving his life for his country at Memphis, Tennessee, May 14, 1863.

The birthplace of Frederick Augustus Rebman, the father of Miss Rebman, was in the environs of Mocksville, North Carolina. He was born December 27, 1833, and was educated in the public schools during his early years and supplemented this education by a course in the Hillsboro Academy. In 1858 he was married to Miss Louisa Slack, whose birthplace was in the vicinity of Vienna, Illinois, her natal day being March 10, 1840. Her death occurred at her home near Vienna on April 7, 1877. Frederick A. Rebman died March 29, 1879. To this union seven children were given, all of whom have grown to maturity except Lily, the youngest, who was born November 25, 1876, and died January 9, 1877. Flora Isabel, the eldest, who is Mrs. Thomas D. Carlton, resides in Johnson county; Milford Young Rebman is a successful agriculturist; Emma, the superintendent of the Johnson county schools, is the subject of this biography, the details of her career being given fuller consideration below: William Augustus who served in the Spanish-American war, is now a farmer, Louise is assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Vienna, Illinois; Thomas Frederick Rebman is a well-known teacher and is deputy county superintendent of schools.

In the rural schools of Johnson county, Emma Rebman who was born on the parental farm three and one-half miles from Vienna began those intellectual pursuits for which she has become notable. She sought further educational development in the Illinois Normal University at Normal, Illinois. Later she was graduated from the Valparaiso University.

From her earliest professional years Miss Rebman showed marked ability as an instructor and as an administrator of public school affairs. This was evident first in her rural school teaching, from which she was called to the more prominent though not more arduous duties of the village schools. Her executive ability presently brought her the appointment to the principalship of the Grammar Department of the city schools of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. When it became necessary that she accompany her younger brother on a western tour demanded by the state of his health, her reputation in the pedagogical world was of such a superior quality that her services were soon called into requisition in the city schools of Phoenix, Arizona, where she taught for several years and while there she took a very active part in the educational interests of the southwest, delivering some of the principal addresses before the Annual Arizona Teachers' Association.

While in the west, Miss Rebman took frequent opportunities for traveling and made numerous extensive tours through the west and southwest. Some of the interesting and valuable information thus gained was incorporated in magazine articles written by Miss Rebman.

On her return to Illinois in the spring of 1910, Miss Rebman's large circle of acquaintances were glad to take advantage of the opportunity of offering her an important office of public trust. She was elected superintendent of Johnson County schools, by the largest majority any nominee of the coiinty had ever received. The heavy duties of her office have been discharged with exceptional efficiency and a rare quality of discrimination which is the result of her wide experiences, keen pedagogical instinct and her logically practical mind.

Miss Rebman's distinguished personality is one that is appreciated not only in affairs pertaining particularly to the school but also in other organizations. She is an intelligent student and critic of public affairs, though by no means one of masculine affectations or one who is a militant seeker of votes for women. Her economic theories are those of the Republican party. In addition to her distinctly public relations and duties, she finds time to lend attention to lend attention to both church and club interests, being a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and the Woman's Club of Vienna. She is also a prominent member of the Rebekah lodge. In addition to these non-professional organizations, she holds active membership in the National Educational Association.

Extracted 07 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George Washington Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1709-1710.

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