Bellmont High School “Bronchos”

Bellmont High School
A group of people outside a building

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Courtesy of Susan Taylor

The History of Bellmont High School

Bellmont (population 297) is located in far southeastern Illinois in the west-central portion of Wabash County.  Bellmont sits about 8 miles west (and a little south) of Mt. Carmel and about 45 miles east of Mt. Vernon.  Illinois Route 15 runs by the northwest side of town.  The Southern Railroad passes through the heart of Bellmont.  There is a former fairgrounds area in town that once played host to the Wabash County Fair.

The history of the town and its high school are in need of research.  It is probable that Bellmont was established in the early to mid-1800s.  A high school was likely established in town by the late 1800s, certainly by the early 1900s.  Bellmont High School served the town’s children for at least four decades.

This bit of Bellmont High School history was provided by Susan Taylor:

“My mother grew up in Bellmont and went to the high school there and graduated in 1947.The building housed the grade school and the high school.  It was a 3-year high school.  If they wanted a senior year of school, they went in to Mt. Carmel.  The building has been gone for many years.  I think it was demolished in the late 60’s, maybe early 70s.”

Our guess is that in the late 1940s Bellmont High was closed though it continued on as a grade school for some years after that.

Bellmont High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                   late 1800s?

Year closed:                                    1948/49

Consolidated to:                               Mt. Carmel School District

Bellmont HS team nickname:           the “Bronchos”

*This spelling matches that of the Bronchos of Lafayette Jefferson High School in Lafayette, IN.  One of Bellmont’s first coaches graduated from Lafayette and brought the name with him.

BHS team colors:                            Green & White

School Fight Song:                          unavailable

Athletics

Bellmont High competed in boys basketball for sure (www.ihsa.org).  It is probable that baseball and track were offered as well.  Team nickname, school fight song, team records, and coach’s names are all items we are hoping to locate.

Boys Basketball

For such a small town, Bellmont High School packed a good punch. The boys basketball team at Bellmont High won a total of FIVE District titles.  This included FOUR consecutive titles and all five in a seven year period!  There has got to be a good coach story and some great overall records to go along with these titles. Unfortunately this information is currently not available.

1937-38                    District Champions

1938-39                    District Champions
1939-40                    District Champions

1940-41                    District Champions
1943-44                    District Champions

Memories

From Molly McGregor (FKA Susan Kalk):

“I was born in ’55 in Mt. Carmel and lived there until I was about 2 years old. My dad Sharon Kalk, moved us to the Lemont Illinois area where I attended 1st and 2nd grade, and then when his stepmother passed away we moved to Bellmont, to his old home that he inherited. I attended the first couple of months of my 3rd grade year, in a building that I believe to have been the old Bellmont High School. This would have been around 63 or 64. There was actually a brand new little grade school built on the other side of town, and I recall our entire school being moved to that on foot more or less! We all walked from the old school on a pretty fall day, (single file of course, lol) with our paper bags full of our school supplies, across town to our new school. When I was in the 5th grade, I recall some sort of “experiment” with Keensburg grade school (probably at one time that building was their high school too…) where our 5th grade class was exchanged for their… (either 4th grade, or 6th grade class) We were bussed to Keensburg that year to attend with their 5th grade class, etc.. and vice versa. Then we were back in Bellmont for 6th grade, and until our 8th grade graduation. Twelve kids in my 8th grade class! Then it was on to MCHS (Mt. Carmel HS).

About the fairgrounds:   They held the Wabash County Fair there when I was a kid. I can’t recall when they stopped… but I loved it when I was grade school age! They had a horse track for the harness racing, along with all the other traditional county fair trappings! Lots of fun! Our house was just right outside the entryway to the park, and I remember one year, setting up a used comic book stand in my front yard, to make some cash to spend on the rides, etc! (LOL)

About the tiny village of Bellmont:   There was, when I was growing up there in the 60’s, something like 350 people, and we had a great little local grocery store. Carter’s Grocery. Several other little stores, including a furniture store and a small restaurant. And the most wonderful little post office. One little building, with P.O. boxes, or you could walk up to the window and ask the postmaster for your mail…

Such memories!”

If You Have ANY Further Information

If you have any further information you can share regarding the many accomplishments and history of Bellmont High School, especially a photo of the original school building, please write to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net .  You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St. 

Chicago, Il.  60631

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: