|The Original Ashley Township High School|
The History of Ashley Township High School
Ashley (population 613) is located in eastern Washington County in southern Illinois. It is located on Illinois Route 15 just west of U.S.Route 51. This would place Ashley about 12 miles south of Centralia and 16 miles west of Mt. Vernon. The town was named after one of its early settlers, John Ashley. Two major railroad lines, the Illinois Central Gulf and the Louisville & Nashville, intersect in town. A branch of the Muddy Creek also runs into town.
The history of its school system is limited in research attempted by this writer. It is thought that Ashley probably began a school system in the late 1800s. It is known that the town supported its own high school for several years, all the way through the early 1970s. The Ashley School building was set up in this manner, according to alumnus John Vaughn:
“The original building has been torn down except for the gymnasium. In the old building, the High School occupied the second floor, and the Grade School, had the first floor. The basement of the school housed the cafeteria, band room and 7th and 8th grade class rooms.”
It was in 1972 that the folks of Ashley decided to deactivate their high school. At this point the high school aged students of Ashley were (and still are) bused to nearby Nashville to attend High School. Ashley residents maintained control of their Grade School however, and Ashley Grade School still serves the children of the town today for grades K – 8.
The original Ashley Township High School building has been razed. The gymnasium and newer addition to the school were salvaged and are now part of the Ashley Grade School building built on the same grounds. The photo of the original AHS building shown above was sent to us courtesy of Ivan Ray Pitchford – Class of 1951
Ashley Township High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year closed: 1972
Consolidated to: Nashville High School
School nickname: the “Wolves”
(early on the nickname was “The Flaming Arrows”)
School colors: Red & White
School Fight Song: “Onward Ashley” (sung to “On Wisconsin”)
Onward Ashley, Onward Ashley
Run right down that floor.
Put the ball right through the circle,
Baskets, ten or more.
Rah Rah Rah!
Onward Ashley, Onward Ashley
Fight now for your fame,
Fight fellows, Fight, fight, fight,
We’ll win this game.
(The fight song was followed by this cheer…)
Ashley! Ashley! Ashley!
Ashley High School attained athletic success in boys basketball and boys track & field (www.ihsa.org). It is possible that baseball and football were also offered at the school at some point. Of the many seasons that Ashley High competed in sports, there have to be many items worthy of mention on this page. If you have this information and would like to share it please send us an e-mail.
The Ashley High School boys basketball team put together back to back District title years in the early 1960s. This is usually attributed to a great class or great coach. Unfortunately coaches names and team records of these and other great AHS teams are not available. The years of the District title teams are listed below.
1960-61 District Champions
1961-62 District Champions
1966-67 Coach William Bean
From Dr. William Bean:
“Bob Jones, the Centralia coach at that time, told me the Ashley Wolves use to be called the “Flaming Arrows.” He played for the Ashley team when in High School. I have two pictures of the Ashley varsity during 1966-67. Our Center was 6’7″ and, our two forwards were 6’3″ – 6’4.” Our season was average however, the Varsity defeated larger Red Bud. Bluford was undefeated and Ashley won (at home) by 11 points after leading by 25 points during the game. They had one key player missing. We also played the Centralia Orphans “Junior Team” at home. These were juniors in high school. Personally, I think they were almost as good as the varsity. This was not their “B” squad. They defeated the Ashley varsity by ten points. Our guys played a great game. In the district Bluford defeated Ashley by ten points, however, the winner of the district would have to play Benton High School. That year they had a center and forward both over 6’10”.” (Benton would lose in the “Sweet 16” round to Carbondale, who would go on to finish 2nd in the state tourney.)
Boys Track & Field
Two Ashley High School athletes brought home medals from the IHSA State Track Meet. One of them, Harold Hartley in 1943, was even crowned State Champion in the High Jump! Jerry Spear paved the way for Ashley tracksters placing 5th in 1941 in the 200 yard hurdles. Jerry also laid claim to being the first kid at Ashley to play four years of varsity basketball, making the varsity team his freshman year! The years of the great efforts of these two boys are listed below.
1940-41 Jerry Spear 200 Yard Hurdles 5th Place
1942-43 Harold Hartley High Jump STATE CHAMPION !!
Looking For Your Assistance
Ashley High School memories are to be treasured and shared with others so the AHS legend will live on forever. A photo of the school building and accomplishments of the great teams and other extra-curricular efforts should be shared. If you have this information you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631