Jackson County


To the land that has sent to our country so many of her best sons, and that has given that tinge to the stream of America life that renders it healthy and wholesome, in other words, to Germany we owe the presence among us of Daniel Baldwin Fager, who has done so much for education in Southern Illinois, and in whom may be traced that clarity of intellect and steadiness of purpose that characterizes the land of his ancestry. He has given his whole life to the cause that he holds closest to his heart, and in the remarkable progress that the science of education has made in the past decade or so Mr. Fager has always been in the fore front. In addition to his scholarly attainments he has much tact and the personality that charms both children and grown people, so as a superintendent he has been remarkably successful, and outside of his profession he numbers hosts of friends.

Daniel Fager is not a German by birth, having been born, on the 15th of August, 1859, in Jackson county, Illinois, but his father, Sebastian Fager was born in Germany, at Baden. The latter came to America about 1850, and settled in Jackson county, where he engaged in farming, in which pursuit he spent all of his life. He rapidly became accustomed to the changed conditions under which he was to live, and soon became an ardent devotee of the Republican mode of thought, though he never entered actively into political life. Both he and his wife were members of the Lutheran church. He was married before coming to this country to Mary Mauer, who was of French descent. Eight children were born to this couple, of whom Daniel is the youngest. Of these children only four are now living. The father died in 1889, at the age of eighty, but, the mother passed away many years before, in 1862, leaving Daniel a little three year old toddler.

The early life of Daniel Fager was spent on the farm in Jackson county, and the education that he received in the county schools caused him to realize the deficiencies that were glaringly evident in the schools of his youth. He also studied some time in the village schools of De Soto. After acquiring more than he at the time realized from this preparatory training he entered the Southern Illinois Normal and was graduated from this school in 1883. The two years previous to his entry into the normal school he spent in teaching a country school, so on his graduation he was not only equipped with a diploma but also with experience, and he was immediately .offered a principalship. This first position was at Galatia, Illinois, and he remained here for two years. He then accepted a similar position at Anna, and his stay here was of the same length. Shawneetown then elected him their superintendent of schools, and he accepted the post, which he held for a year, resigning to become superintendent of the Collinsville schools. The people of the latter place had the good fortune to hold him for six years, during which the schools of the town made great strides forward, but Assumption finally secured his services, though he only remained for one year. From Assumption he went to Salem, as superintendent of schools, remaining four years. At the end of this time he took the principalship of the Mount Vernon city schools, holding this office for a year, before coming to Vandalia. He has been at Vandalia for five years, and the citizens of the town can only hope that he will make a longer stay with them than he has at the other places where he has held executive positions.

There are eighteen teachers engaged in the Vandalia schools and the responsibility for their work rests upon the shoulders of the superintendent. The high school has a four year course, and is fully accredited, a diploma from the school being accepted by the University of Illinois in lieu of an examination. The enrollment of the high school has increased since Mr. Fager took charge of it from seventy -five to one hundred and twenty -nine.

While attending to the education of others, Mr. Fager has followed the principle that the teacher should always be the student, and to that end has not only read widely but has taken post graduate work at the University of Illinois, having spent in all four summer sessions at the University. An evidence of his popularity and ability as a teacher, as well as the progressive modes of thought which he has adopted, is given by the frequency with which he is invited to give courses or talks at the various institutes that have been held in the counties of Marion, Jackson, Randolph, Saline and Jefferson.

In 1887 Mr. Fager was married to Fannie D. McAnally, the daughter of Dr. J. F. McAnally, of Carbondale, Illinois. One son was born to them, Frank D. Fager, who is now a junior at the University of Illinois, where he is pursuing the electrical engineering course.

Mr. Fager has joined that recent movement in politics with which most thinking men are in sympathy, at least in this section of the Union, that is, he is a Progressive Republican. His religious affiliations are with the Methodist Episcopal church, and he takes considerable interest in the affairs of the fraternal world, being a member of the Odd Fellows and of the Knights of Pythias.

Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1157-1158.

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