Atwood (population 1,290) is located in lower-eastern Illinois about 25 miles east of Decatur. Atwood is unique in that it stradles the county lines of Piatt (western Atwood) and Douglas (eastern Atwood) counties.U.S. Route 36 passes by the south side of town. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad travels through the center of town. The Lake Fork Creek passes by the western edge of Atwood.
Atwood was officially recognized as a town in 1874. It’s name is likely taken from a town of a similar name in the eastern USA. However, some say the town name is derived from statements made by early settlers who would often meet “at the wood” or that the original town was described as “one at the wood.”
The history of the Atwood former solo school system is in need of research. We believe that the residents of Atwood had begun an educational process in their town during the late 1800s. A high school probably followed shortly after. We know that Atwood High School served the town’s children through the late 1940s. It was then that consolidation talks began with Atwood’s neighbor to the west, Hammond. The talks were solidified in 1948 when the Atwood-Hammond School District was established.
The high school for the new district was located in Atwood, where it remained until the close of the 2013-14 school year. Atwood-Hammond High School was closed and consolidated with nearby Arthur High School. The Atwood High School building is scheduled to be razed in the summer of 2014.
Atwood High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s / early 1900s
Year consolidated: 1948
Consolidated to: Atwood-Hammond School District
Atwood HS team nickname: the “Rajahs”
Atwood HS team colors: Black & Gold
School Fight Song: unavailable
Atwood High School definitely offered boys basketball and track. In fact top-four finishes highlighted both sports successes. Baseball and football were offered as well, though we currently have very little information available on these sports. School team nickname, colors, fight song, team records, and coach’s names are all items we are seeking.
The Atwood High School boys basketball program of the 1919 to 1930 era must have been quite special. How about THREE trips to the IHSA Tournament finals, including one trip to the championship game!! This all accomplished in the original one-class system in Illinois. Check out Atwood High School’s incredible success below.
1918-19 Qualified for State Tournament Final 12 Coach Mathews
Lost to Shelbyville 28 – 26 (O/T)
1921-22 21 – 1 FINISHED SECOND IN IHSA PLAYOFFS Coach Lawrence Hamilton
Undefeated Season Until Championship Game
Decatur District Champions
1st Rd Beat Mt. Pulaski 20-9
2nd Rd Beat Decatur 22-12
Semi-final Beat Clinton 26-19
Title Game Beat Bethany 19-10
ATWOOD (19): Ware 7, W. Reeder 6, Harshbarger 4, Manaugh 2.
BETHANY (10): Warren 4, Logan 4, Ward 2.
Decatur Sectional Champions
1st Rd Beat Jacksonville 30-28
Semi-final Beat Villa Grove 27-20
ATWOOD (27): Ware 13, Manaugh 10, Reeder 2, Harshbarger 2.
VILLA GROVE (20): Metzler 9, Reynolds 4, G. Hulse 4, Combs 3.
Title Game Beat Bloomington 29-18
ATWOOD (29): Manaugh 14, Ware 9, Harshbarger 4, W. Reeder 2.
BLOOMINGTON (18): Neidermeyer 8, McGhee 4, Ross 4, Downs 2.
Final Four Finalist
Semi-Final Beat Peoria HS 17 – 15
Lost to Centralia 24 – 16
1922-23 14 – 2 Postseason Scores Needed Coach Lawrence Hamilton
Atwood HS Basketball Summary 1923 Yearbook
‘Left Click’ on photo for larger version. Courtesy of Gena Hurst
1922-23 through 1928-29 Postseason scores, records, and coach’s names needed.
1930-31 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1931-32 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1932-33 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1933-34 Tuscola District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Brocton 26-14
Brocton lost in title game to Longview
1934-35 Tuscola District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd Beat Longview 24-21
2nd Rd lost to Villa Grove 40-18
Villa Grove beat Tuscola in title game
1935-36 Villa Grove District Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Gays 24-18
Gays beat Sidney in title game
1936-37 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1937-38 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1938-39 Tuscola Regional Tournament Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd lost to Oakland 32-30
Oakland lost in semi-final to Tuscola
Tuscola beat Longview in title game
1939-40 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1940-41 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1941-42 IHSA District Champions Coach’s name & record needed
District Scores Needed
Tuscola Regional Tournament
1st Rd lost to Sullivan 35-29
Sullivan lost to Mattoon in semi-final
Mattoon beat Tuscola in title game
1942-43 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1943-44 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1944-45 Atwood District Champions Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd Beat Hindsboro 52-30
Semi-final Beat Bethany 59-29
Title Game Beat Arthur 47-30
IHSA Regional Qualifier
Regional Scores Needed
1945-46 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1946-47 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.
1947-48 Atwood District Champions Coach’s name & record needed
1st Rd Beat Arthur 24-21
Semi-final Beat Hammond 50-40
Title Game Beat Findlay 57-55 (O/T)
Mattoon Regional Qualifier
**1st Rd lost to Windsor 61-37
Windsor lost to Tuscola in semi-final
Tuscola lost to Mattoon in title game
**Final game for Atwood High School. Atwood consolidated with Hammond in the summer of 1948 to form the Atwood-Hammond School District.
Boys Track & Field
Must have been something in the water in Atwood in the 1920s era. The Atwood tracksters finished FOURTH on THREE occassions. In addition the athletes of the time brought home a total of 19 medals from the IHSA State Track Meet. Albert “Chin” Kamm and lads named Wierman and Moore were crowned STATE CHAMPIONS in their respective events.
1915-16B J. Cogdal High Jump 2ND Place
1918-19B Team Finished FOURTH in STATE MEET Competition!!
?? Moore 440 Yard Dash STATE CHAMPION!!
?? Wierman High Jump 2ND Place
Pole Vault 3RD Place
?? Harshbarger 220 Yard Hurdles 3RD Place
Final Team Standings
1) Chicago (University) 19
2) Georgetown 16
3) Lockport (Twp.) 15
4) ATWOOD HIGH SCHOOL 12
5) Edwardsville (H.S.) 10
5) Altona 10
1919-20B ?? Wierman High jump STATE CHAMPION!!
?? Reeder Hammer 3RD Place
Elby Chester Stark 100 Yard Dash 4TH Place
1922-23B Elby Chester Stark 100 Yard Dash 5TH Place
220 Yard Dash 3RD Place
Elby “Jack” Stark, Atwood High School, 1923
Submitted by Gena Hurst
1923 Atwood HS Track Summary
‘Left Click’ on photo for larger view. Submitted by Gena Hurst.
1927-28 ?? Monroe 220 Yard Hurdles 3RD Place
1928-29 Team Finished FOURTH in STATE MEET Competition!!
Len Harshbarger 220 Yard Hurdles 2ND Place
?? Turnipseed 1 Mile Run 3RD Place
?? Monroe 220 Yard Hurdles 4TH Place
Albert “Chin” Kamm Shot Put 5TH Place
Final Team Standings
1) Chicago (Tilden) 15
1) Chicago (Hyde Park) 15
3) Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest) 14
4) ATWOOD HIGH SCHOOL 10
5) Murphysboro 9
5) Streator (Twp.) 9
1929-30 Team Finished FOURTH in STATE MEET Competition!!
Albert “Chin” Kamm Discus STATE CHAMPION!!
Shot Put STATE CHAMPION!!
Len Harshbarger 220 Yard Hurdles 3RD Place
“Kenneth Leon “Tug” Wilson (March 27, 1896 – February 2, 1979) was an American track and field athlete and amateur athletics administrator. He competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics, finishing tenth in the discus throw competition. Wilson served as the second commissioner of the Big Ten Conference from 1945 to 1961, and as the president of the United States Olympic Committee from 1953 to 1965.
Wilson graduated from Atwood High School in 1914 and began a career in education the following school year by teaching in a country school for two years. He enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1916 and studied agriculture.
Wilson was a multi-sport athlete, playing for the Fighting Illini on the 1919 team and named captain for the 1920 team. During the 1920 season, Wilson would play with Helms Athletic Foundation All-American Chuck Carney. He also played end for the football team and was best known for his prowess in track and field. Wilson threw the discus, javelin, and shot, making the U.S. Olympic Team in javelin and discus. He competed in the 102- Summer Olympics held in Antwerp by throwing the discus and placing tenth.
Wilson graduated from Illinois in 1920 but remained at the university as an assistant to the athletic director, George Huff. He utilized his experiences at Illinois to take the role of athletic director and head track coach at Drake University from 1922-25. All of these experiences catapulted Wilson into the athletic director position at Northwestern University where he remained until 1945. In 1945 Wilson would be named Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, remaining in that position until 1961. Wilson also served as a member of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness under Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.”
Memories & Tidbits
**From Gena Hurst:
“My mother’s family was from Atwood, Illiois. I was thrilled to run across your website. I would like to offer answers to some of the questions raised on the Atwood page.
Under your heading “Boys Track & Field”, 1919-20, Elby Chester Stark, (nickname, Jack), placed in the 100 Yard Dash. In ’22-23 he placed in th 100 Yard and 220 Yard. Elby was my grandfather.
Elby’s mother’s maiden name was Wierman. I will see if I can find a first name for the Wiermans you have listed.
I often heard my mother speak of Uncle Len Harshbarger. I know in grade school Grandma and Grandpa attended Harshbarger School, and Lake Fork Church. I will check to see how we were related to the Hashbargers and see if I have any more info.
Yes, indeed, Atwood did have a football team. Elby was a quarterback. He also played on the basketball team. Thanks for all the work you have put into your project. Grandpa died in 1961. It was amazing to see his accomplishments listed on the internet! How pleased he would be!”
Need Your In-put
If you have any information regarding the Atwood High School athletic program and other school programs offered there, please share them with us. We are especially interested in sharing photos of the old high school building and great teams and coaches. You can reach us by the following means: