Submitted by Dan and Deb (Bunney) Hensley & James Wheat
The History of the Bellflower High School “Dragons”
The town of Bellflower (population 408) is located along the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad on Il. Route 54 approximately 9 1/2 miles northeast of Farmer City. If you are unfamiliar with the area, Bellflower is located in the southeast corner of McLean County about 20 miles northwest of the Champaign/Urbana area. The name of the town came from resident Jesse Richards in 1859 on account of his like of Belleflower apples. The original name of the town was Prairie when the community started to come together in 1858.
The history of the school system in Bellflower began in the 1860’s, and the first high school classes were held in 1897. At that time, only two years of studies were offered at Bellflower, but with the formation of the first township high school in McLean County, it became four years in 1906. Another building was completed in 1917 and continued to serve the community from that point.
Bellflower Grade School – 1918
Bellflower residents supported their school district very nicely through the mid-1980’s. It was then that a consolidation effort with Farmer City-Mansfield High School became a reality. The high school and grade school in Bellflower were closed in 1985 and the Blue Ridge High School District in Farmer City was born.
The high school building was demolished shortly after the consolidation that same year. The grade school in Bellflower was purchased by the village in the early 1990’s. The town took great care of the facilities and today, the old grade school gym is used for concerts, dances, and general exercise (basketball, running, walking) at different times throughout each week. The cafeteria at the facility is also rented out for parties. Bellflower residents should be commended for their efforts to utilize a building that has such a rich history in their town.
Bellflower High School Quick Facts
Year opened as a 2-yr school 1897
Year expanded to 4 years: 1906
Year closed: 1985
School nickname: Dragons
School colors: Green & White
School Fight Song: “On BHS”
Sung to “On Wisconsin”–click “play” button below left
On BHS, On BHS,
Fight right through that line!
Run the ball
‘Round (current opponent) High School,
Basket sure is fine!
Rah Rah Rah!!
On BHS, On BHS,
Fight on for Her fame.
Fight, Fight, Fight!
We’ll win this game!!
Bellflower Gymnasium 2008 – Now a Community Center
Photo Taken by Kev Varney
Bellflower High School offered basketball, track, and baseball. However, only two sports were listed on the IHSA web site (www.ihsa.org). Boys basketball and boys’ track & field had athletes who brought home IHSA hardware. We are confident there were many successful seasons in girl’s athletics and other boy’s sports. We are hopeful a Bellflower fanatic will help with providing information on these teams. The best of the boys basketball and boys track successes are listed below.
The boys’ basketball team at Bellflower won seven District titles during their existence. Six of the titles were under leadership of Coach Don Harden. Five of the titles were in consecutive seasons from 1962-67. During that 5-year stretch, the Bellflower boys posted a record of 123-26! The best of the Bellflower boys’ basketball seasons are listed below.
1913-14 24- 2 McLean Co. Tourney Champs Coach Edd Williams
1914-15 23- 6 (good record) Coach Dean Inman
1915-16 22- 4 (good record) Coach unknown
1945-46 N.R.A. Mansfield District ChampionsCoach Ralph A. Osborn
1st Rd Beat Philo 40-35
Semi-Final Beat Tolono 51-45
Title Game Beat Sidney 48-44
Fisher Regional Tournament
1st Rd Lost to Homer 47-39
Champaign beat Fisher in title game.
1959-60 19- 9 (good record) Coach Don Harden
1962-63 16- 9 DeLand District Champions Coach Don Harden
Semi-Final Beat Mansfield 58-49
Title Game Beat DeLand-Weldon 58-57
Champaign Regional Tournament
1st Rd lost to Champaign 59-33
Champaign Beat Tolono Unity in title game.
1963-64 18- 5 Bellflower District Champions Coach Don Harden
Title Game Beat Mansfield 67-64
Urbana Regional Tourney
1st Rd lost to Urbana 60-46
Champaign beat Mahomet-Seymour in title game.
1964-65 23- 5 DeLand District Champions Coach Don Harden
McLean Co. Tourney Champs
DeLand District Scores
Semi-Final Beat Mansfield 69-35
Title Game Beat DeLand-Weldon 79-53
Champaign Regional Tourney
1st Rd Beat Tolono Unity 65-53
Semi-Final lost to 71-65
Urbana lost to Champaign in title game.
Bellflower HS Basketball 1964-65
23 – 5 / District Champs
1965-66 24- 2 District Champions Coach Don Harden
1966-67 22- 5 District Champions Coach Don Harden
1970-71 14-11 District Champions Coach Don Harden
1976-77 17- 8 (good record) Coach Don Harden
1884-85 16- 9 (last season) Coach Don Harden
A note of interest about the 1913-14 team: there were six players out a total of nine male students in the school that year. All five starters played every minute of each game and never fouled out. They included: Lindon Smith, Marion Troster, Orville Wheat, Joe Ward, and Jesse Ward. The Ward brothers were African-Americans as Joe went on to play at Illinois State Normal University, while Smith and Troster were cousins. Both of the teams’ losses came to Lexington.
Boys’ Track & Field
One athlete brought home a state championship and two others brought home runner-up finishes from the State Track Meet. Their successes are listed below.
1911-12 Oliver Troster Pole Vault 1st Place – State Champion
1913-14 Marion Troster Discus 2nd Place
Pole Vault 3rd Place
1924-25 Lyle Williams 50 Yard Dash 5th Place
1925-26 Lyle Williams 50 Yard Dash 2nd Place
Baseball was also offered at BHS, as early as the early 1900’s and all the way thru to at least 1963, according a “Dragon” yearbook owned by Nancy Campbell. In fact, Dan Basham tells us the Dragons competed in baseball through 1985, the year in which the school closed.
The Dragons were McLean County Champions in the fall of 1941, while backing it up with a runner-up finish to Danvers in 1942.
Wapella High School grads Tim Ryan (1979) and Matt Powers (1985) add this tidbit of information about the home field of the Bellflower “Dragons”:
“Bellflower had baseball at least through 1985. There was a large tree in left center field that had its own set of “dubious” ground rules.
“The field was near a building that celebrated the bicentennial that we would frequent during a rain delay. I (Matt) do know that that tillable acreage was nearby as I recall sucking up some corn/soybean dust during a game and harvest combo special in fall baseball.
Never an easy ‘V’ at Bellflower in any sport. I’m (Matt) still a little sore about Bellflower beating us twice in basketball!”
If you have any information regarding the Bellflower High School baseball program, please drop us a line.
One name is synonimous with boys’ basketball in Bellflower. That name is Coach Don Harden, who coached at Bellflower High School an incredible 26 years from 1959 until the school closed in 1985. Coach Harden compiled 318 wins during his tenure. Harden went on to coach 5 more seasons at Blue Ridge HS gaining another 55 wins. Coach Harden’s win total of 373 ranks 170th all-time in Illinois High School history.
Bellflower Grade School Addition
Seeking More Information
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