William Reddick & Education
William Reddick's interest in bringing the advantages of education to persons who, like himself, had been forced to educate themselves, is evident from the bequest by which he gave his home to Ottawa as a public library. From the Reddick Library Archives is this statement:
“Deprived of the advantages of early educational training, it became a purpose which grew with his years, so to apply his fortune that the people, especially the young people of Ottawa, whose circumstances in life are like those of his own early youth, might at least have access to books, to better equip themselves for the duties of work and life.”
As early as 1851, Reddick was at work promoting education. In November of that year he served with Professor J. B. Turner of Jacksonville, Illinois, as a vice president of the Granville Convention. There Professor Turner "first proposed the plan for establishing higher institutions of scientific industrial learning by federal aid, a plan which laid the foundation of the University of Illinois and all the land-grant colleges of the nation.”
Reddick was also involved in organizing a free public school system in Ottawa. The first steps were taken January 13, 1854, at a citizens' meeting in the courthouse. There a committee of nine persons, including Reddick, was constituted to prepare a plan for a school program. This committee recommended the establishment of free graded schools and, subsequently, a law permitting such schools in Ottawa was passed by the state legislature.
His work on behalf of free public education - aimed at assisting young persons who, like himself, might otherwise be deprived of a complete education- reached its finale in his last bequest. The gift of his residence to the City of Ottawa for use as a public library, together with a substantial endowment made Reddick one of Ottawa's best-known and most respected benefactors.
Information taken from History, Significance, and Feasibility for Adaptive Use of the William Reddick Mansion At Ottawa, Illinois, Paul E. Sprague Ph.D. and William B. Dring, A. I. A., January, 1975.
Click here for a description of the Reddick Mansion as the Reddick Library.