Atwood High School “Rajahs”

Atwood Township High School
Now Atwood-Hammond High School
Atwood Township HS Inscription Stone
Photo by Dennis Downey

The History of Atwood High School

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.

Boys Basketball

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

                           District Champions

                           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

                           State Championship Finalist

                           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.

1929-30   26 – 4  IHSA State Tournament Elite 8 Finalist         Coach Clarence Rogers

                           IHSA District Champions

                           District Scores Needed

                           Sectional Champions

                           1st Rd Beat Macon 26-13

ATWOOD (26): Davis 11, Alb. Kamm 7, Alf. Kamm 6, Harshbarger 2.

MACON (13): Markwell 10, Lowson 3.

                           Semi-final Beat Kinmundy

                           Title Game Beat Hillsboro 24 – 19

(Hillsboro finished 29-2)

ATWOOD (24): Alb. Kamm 9, Davis 5, Monroe 5, Alf. Kamm 4, Harshbarger 1

HILLSBORO (19): Ewick 4, Rovina 4, Salsi 4, Martintoni 4, Markel 3.

                           Elite 8 Finalist

                           Lost to Peoria Manuel 18 – 16

Peoria Manuel Eventual State Champs

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 MeetAlbert “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!!

                      Individual Medalists

                      ??  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!!

                       Individual Medalists

                       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!!

                       Individual Medalists

                       Albert “Chin” Kamm    Discus                   STATE CHAMPION!!

                                                           Shot Put               STATE CHAMPION!!
Len Harshbarger          220 Yard Hurdles  3RD Place

                       Final Team Standings

1)  Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)        29

2)  Wheaton (H.S.)                            21

3)  Chicago (Tilden)                           19

                       4)  ATWOOD HIGH SCHOOL            13

                       5)  Mattoon                                        9

Kenneth Wilson 1920
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Famous Athlete

KENNETH WILSON (Class of 1914)

From Wikipedia (

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:

E-mail –

Written –  Illinois HS Glory Days

                6439 N. Neva St.

                Chicago, Il.  60631


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