Bayliss, Alfred MAGA 2000-2011
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Page 1385

HON. ALFRED BAYLISS - Public endorsement of the four years service of Alfred Bayliss as superintendent of public instruction was given in November, 1902, when he was re-elected to the position for a second term. There is no one office within the circle of state government which has so direct a hearing upon every household of the state as does that which Mr. Bayliss is now filling, and it is therefore of the utmost importance that the incumbent shall be a man of high character, of scholarly attainments and unquestioned patriotism; that his clarity of view will recognize the possibilities for accomplishment along educational lines and that his freedom from personal prejudice shall equal that which should be manifest by the judge upon the bench. Mr. Bayliss is well qualified in all these particulars, and therefore has received high encomiums from the press and from the public.

Professor Bayliss is a native of England, born in 1847, and his parents, John and Frances (Blake) Bayliss, he was brought to America, the family home being established in Hillsdale county, Michigan, where his boyhood days were passed, while his preliminary education was acquired in the city schools, wherein he prepared for entrance into Hillsdale College. He was graduated in the latter institution in 1870, and left the school well equipped for educational work. In his youth he had worked as a farm laborer and as a carpenter, and had thus earned enough money to enable him to pursue his collegiate course. In 1870 he went to Lagrange, Indiana, where he began teaching, occupying a position in connection with the city schools of that place for four years. In 1874 he went to Sterling, Illinois, where he was superintendent of the schools in district No. 3. From 1896 until 1899 he was principal of the township high school of Streator, Illinois.

In the fall of 1898 Professor Bayliss had been made the nominee of the Republican party for the position of state superintendent of public instruction. and in the following January he entered upon the duties of the office, which he mastered with the same thoroughness that had characterized his work as an instructor. He studied closely the school system of the state, the condition of the schools, their needs and requirements, and at once set about the task of introducing reform and improvement along practical lines, greatly advancing the educational standard of the state. So acceptably did he fill the position through the term of four years, that on the 8th May, 1902, he was renominated and was reelected by an increased majority in the following November. In speaking of his candidacy the Illinois State Journal of October 19, 1902, said:

"When the state of Illinois has opportunity to secure such public service as has been rendered through the past four years by Hon. Alfred Bayliss in the position of superintendent of public instruction, it becomes the practical duty of every friend of the public-school system to take the advantage thus offered. There ought not to be any partisan politics in the management of the public schools. Illinois country and city schools have won high reputation because of the ability that has been shown through a series of years in their management, and the management and the managment has been conspicuously successful because it has been kept free from partisanship. The people gave Professor Bayliss a chance four years ago to show what he could do as state manager of the public schools. He has shown what he can do and the showing is satisfactory to the people. As long ago as last March the State Journal summed up its estimate of Professor Bayliss incumbency in a paragraph which remains to this day undisputed as a comprehensive statement of conceded facts, using the following words: He has conducted the affairs of the office in a dignified, decent manner, has kept abreast of the times in educational work, and has fully justified the Republican party in nominating and electing him to this important office."

That the public endorses the views of the paper was indicated by the increased majority given Professor Bayliss at his second election.

Few other offices has he held or desired, but on one other occasion he rendered his country signal service, and that was from 1863 until 1865, when as a member of Company H, Eleventh Michigan Cavalry, he loyally defended the Union cause upon southern battlefields, and then, after the close of hostilities, he received an honorable discharge, August 10, 1865, in Tennessee.

In 1871 Professor Bayliss married Miss Clara Marie Kern, of Van Buren county, Michigan, a daughter of Marcus and Caroline (Harlan) Kern. Two daughters have been born to the Professor and his wife: Clara Kern, the elder, is now engaged in teaching; and Zoe is at home. Mr. Bayliss votes with the Republican party, and while he has performed considerable public service, it has mostly been in the line of his profession. He was a trustee of the University of Illinois, also of the State Normal University, the Southern Illinois Normal University and the Northern Illinois Normal School; also the Eastern Illinois Normal School and Western Normal School. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Rome, the Lincoln Monument, the Farmers' Institute, the state library and the state museum and was a director of the National Educational Association. Anything which tends to advance knowledge that will prove of benefit and help to man elicits his earliest attention, his approval, and, in as far as possible, his co-operation.

1904 Index