REV. SAMUEL L. STIVER, A.B., A.M., principal and proprietor of the Bunker Hill Academy and Home School for Boys and Young Men, was born near Potter's Mill, Center County, Pa., November 1, 1848, and was brought up on his father's farm, upon which he labored some portion of each year until 1880. His parents, Thomas Jefferson and Mary (Foster) Stiver, were descended from hardy Pennsylvania Dutch families who came to this country and settled in Pennsylvania in Colonial days. Both were highly respected in the community in which they lived for sterling qualities. His father died in 1871 at the age of seventy, and his mother is still living (1891) at the same age, in Center Hall near the old homestead, which is still in her possession and which affords her a support in her declining days. From her early youth she has been a member of the Lutheran Church, to which her husband united himself also before his death, although he formerly preferred and usually worshiped in the Presbyterian Church.
The subject of this sketch is the oldest of seven sons, one of whom died in infancy, and two daughters. Of the daughters, one resides with her mother and one is the wife of Dr. Ward, of Bellefonte, Pa. Of the six living sons, one is a jeweler at Woodland, Cal., two are physicians, one at Chicago and the other at Lena; one is County Superintendent at Freeport and one is in business at Decatur.
As a teacher, Prof. Stiver was prepared in the public schools of his native place, beginning at the age of sixteen, teaching in the winter time, farming in the summer time, and preparing for college in the spring and autumn, chiefly at the Spring Mills and Jacksonville Academies. Having obtained a professional certificate at an early age, he determined to go to college and in 1870 entered the Freshman class of Lafayette College, Easton, Pa., the largest Presbyterian institution in the State. In 1874 he was graduated with the highest honors in a class numbering about fifty, being awarded the Latin Salutatory at Commencement, and having carried off during, the latter years of the course, the highest prizes in physics, mathematics and astronomy.
For one year thereafter Prof. Stivers was vice-principal of the Chambersburg Boys' Boarding School, where he also studied law in the office of Stenger and McKnight. In the autumn of 1875 he entered upon a theological course of three years at Union Theological Seminary, New York, from which he graduated with distinction and class honors in 1878, having, during a portion of this time, been vic e-principal of Sach's Collegiate Institute (a high grade Jewish school), and instructing, as private pupils, the sons of some of the most distinguished people of New York. After being licensed by the Presbytery of New York and declining several calls to Presbyterian Churches in that vicinity, for whom he had acted as temporary supply, he came to St. Louis in the autumn of 1878 and was acting pastor of the High Street Presbytery of St. Louis for one year. Being elected permanent pastor he presented himself before the Presbytery of St. Louis for ordination and installation, but was rejected on account of his liberal construction of the Westminister Symbols, which he prophesied would be revised and changed within ten years from that time - a prophecy which has been fulfilled. In 1879 he was elected and ordained pastor of the Congregational Church of Bunker Hill, which position he held for over two years until the autumn of 1881, when he resigned and took charge of the Bunker Hill Academy.
This institution, which has been founded by the citizens of Bunker Hill irrespective of religious preferences, in 1859, as a day school fo high grade had, in 1881, almost ceased to exist as a school, and Prof. Stiver took charge of it to save it from destruction. Taking a lease and a mortgage, he expended a considerable sum of money in repairing and improving the property to adapt it to the uses of a Home School for Boys. A gymnasium and other buildings were erected and military and manual training departments were added. For ten years Prof. Stivers has labored hard and incessantly and has succeeded in building up a school which compares most favorably with the very best of its class in the East or the West. It grows in favor each year, and during its present administration has enrolled hundreds of students from Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Indiana and Ohio. It offers superior advantages in physical, intellectual, moral and social training, for those preparing for any college, for business or for teaching.
As a writer for the press Prof. Stiver's career began while a boy as an occasional contributor to home papers. While at college he was editor of a superb college miscellany for his class; was editor-in-chief of the Lafayette Monthly to which he contributed poetry and prose for four years, and was on the staff of the Eastern Daily Express for almost four years, to which he made daily contributions on educational, ecclesiastical and general subjects, largely paying his way then, as afterwards, by his earnings while attending school. In St. Louis he contributed to religious and secular papers and controversial subjects, and while in Bunker Hill he became one of the founders of the Macoupin County Advance, acting as the first editor, and contributing many articles upon political themes to its columns. Since, on account of his literary instincts and activities, he was honored at college with many literary offices and appointments, being elected a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, poet of his literary society at the annual; entertainment on Washington's birthday, class prophet on class day at Commencement and orator upon several public occasions. He is the author, more recently, of a series of systematic outlines on arithmetic, grammar, geography, civil government, botany and zoology, and of a tract entitled, "Why Germans should be Prohibitionists" which has been translated into German by the Foreign Department of the W.C.T.U. and is distributed widely at home and in foreign lands.
In politics, his father was a Democrat, and Prof. Stiver's first vote was cast for Greeley for President. Since that time until 1884 he voted with the Republicans, but at the latter date became a supporter of the Prohibition party and principles. he has never been a partisan either in theology or politics, being by nature and education liberal in spirit towards all aspects of truth and duty, as well as uncompromisingly opposed to all evil, corruption and dishonesty wherever found. Against his wishes he has been nominated at various times for important city and State offices, and during the senatorial contest in the Illinois Legislature in 1891, he was favorably mentioned by three home papers as a suitable compromise candidate for the office to which John M. Palmer was elected.
On December 26, 1881, he was married to Carmelite Winchester, daughter of Dr. Robert J. and Cordelia (Dorsey) Hornsby, of Bunker Hill, Ill., and to them have been born four children - Mary Cordelia, Robert Thomas, Kenneth Hornsby, (deceased) and Gladys Margarite. Mrs. Stiver is descended from well known Kentucky families. Her parents came, during their early married life, to Illinois, where her father practiced medicine and engaged in agricultural pursuits. Afterward they removed to Missouri, near St. Louis, where Mrs. Stiver was born in 1855. Later her parents returned to Gillespie, Ill., and finally to Bunker Hill, where they have resided for many years. Mrs. Stiver was educated in part at various local private schools and completed her education at St. Mary's School, Knoxville, Ill. having a fine musical education and being of a practical as well as literary turn of mind, she has greatly aided Prof. Stiver in founding and building up a superior Home School for Boys and Young Men. In all his plans and efforts she has been a true and faithful helpmate, winning testimonials of appreciation and esteem from those who have placed their sons or wards, sometimes at a comparatively early age, under the care and tuition of Prof. Stiver and his amiable and accomplished wife.
While Prof. Stiver is by nature a student and by profession a teacher, alive to every phase of his work, both theoretical and practical, yet he is much more than this. Cheerful and humorous in disposition, a good financier and accountant, a man of business capacity and experience, a sagacious leader and counselor, an effective speaker from pulpit or platform upon almost any theme affecting the public good, he takes a lively interest in all that relates to human welfare and has a capacity for rapid and prolonged physical and intellectual effort which enables him to master anything he undertakes. To these qualities and to his undoubted integrity, he owes his success as a self-educated and self-made man.