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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Calista E. Larned

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


CALISTA E. LARNED: Mrs. Calista E. LARNED, the present efficient Superintendent of schools of Champaign county, was born in Windham county, Vermont, in the year 1821. Her maiden name was BLANCHARD. Her father, Jedediah BLANCHARD was of Huguenot extraction, whose ancestors fled from persecution in the old world to find liberty of conscience in the New. Mr. Blanchard is yet living, having attained the great age of ninety years. The maiden name of Mrs. Blanchard, the mother of the subject of this sketch, was KINGSLEY, and she derived her descent on the father's side from the WINSLOW descendants of Gov. Winslow, celebrated in the early annals of Massachusetts. On the mother's side she was descended from the KINGSLEYs of the same State. She died in 1870, in Vermont. After her death, the father, Mr. Blanchard, moved to Illinois. Mrs. Larned was the fourth child of a family of twelve children, three boys and nine girls. It was a family of teachers. All of the girls taught school, and also two of the brothers. This being the case the success that has attended Mrs. Larned as an educator is not a cause of wonder. Seven of the daughters and one son are yet living. Miss Calista BLANCHARD taught school in her native State, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. Among her pupils were Dr. Forrester, now of Aurora, a Universalist minister of wide notoriety, also Amelia S. Wright, who was professor in a medical college in Georgia. In her school on the same seat, sat two boys destined to widely different but distinguished careers, Larkin G. Mead, the sculptor, and James Fisk, Jr., the Prince of Erie, whose tragic death at the hands of Stokes is yet fresh in memory. There also sat a girl, Miss Nellie Mead, sister of Larkin G. Mead, who is now the cultivated wife of Wm. B. Howels, so well known in literary circles. There, too, sat a boy who now occupies a chair in the great Industrial University of Illinois, Don Carlos Taft. In 1848, Miss Blanchard came to Chicago, and for one year taught a select school. She was afterwards engaged as instructor in the Normal training school. She then went to Waukegan to assume charge of the ladies' department of the Academy at that place, of which Isaac Clark, who during the civil war, was Colonel of the 96th Ill. Vol., and who fell at Lookout Mountain, was Principal. She returned to Vermont and was, on the 20th of October 1850, married to Charles G. LARNED, a native of Middlebury, Vermont, but who at the time of his marriage was a hardware merchant of Chicago, to which city he returned with his wife. During their residence in Chicago, Mrs. Larned rather than be idle, engaged in her favorite work and became a teacher in the Scammon school. In 1852, Mr. Larned sold out his business in Chicago and moving to Mount Pleasant, now Farmer City, in De Witt county, Ill., engaged in general merchandise. For five years they lived in Mount Pleasant, when they moved to Waterloo, Iowa, where Larned was again occupied in mercantile pursuits. They returned again to Mount Pleasant, which was their home until the beginning of the war. In 1861 Mrs. Larned with her husband became a resident of this county. She resided first in Urbana, and continued there for one year, at the end of which she took up her residence in Champaign, where she has since lived. Two children have been born to her and in their education she has taken that interest that only a teacher and mother can feel. She prepared the older girl for college, who on commencement day in 1878, was graduated at the Industrial University. The second daughter is a pupil in the public school of Champaign. Mrs. Larned, it is needless to say, has always felt great and abiding interest in schools. In 1877 her abilities and experience as a teacher in public and normal schools received honorable and suitable recognition. She was nominated and elected overwhelmingly to the very important office of County Superintendent of schools, a position she now fills with a credit, that justifies the wisdom of the people who gave her their suffrages.

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