|Bonfield High School Building – Built in 1921|
|Photo Taken in April of 2006 by Gerry Halpin|
|Bonfield High School – 1922|
|Courtesy of Salina Township History Book & Sherree Benoit|
The History of Bonfield High School
Bonfield (population 364) is located in Salina Township, western Kankakee County, in upper-eastern Illinois. Bonfield was incorporated as a town in Illinois in 1882. The town is situated about 10 miles west of Kankakee. County Road West 2000N is the main roadway to and from Bonfield. County Road North 9000w connects Bonfield to Illinois Route 17 just 2 miles to the south.
The history of Bonfield High School was sent to us by long-time Glory Days site fan and photographer, Gerry Halpin. The information was gathered from history books on Kankakee County written by Jim Ridings; “County West, A Sesquicentennial History of Kankakee County West” , and “County West Companion, A Further History of Western Kankakee County”:
“Bonfield (first known as Verkler) was incorporated in 1882. A stone school building was built in 1885 and used until it burned down in 1920. A two-story cement-block school building replaced it in 1921. Beginning in 1921, a 2-year high school course was offered, which was expanded to a 3-year course in 1932. In 1940 a vote was taken to establish a new community high school district with Bonfield as its center. The vote failed by just three votes, 339 – 342. After two years of recounts and law suits, this result was finally upheld in court. Bonfield’s high school program was discontinued in 1941.
|Bonfield High School Student Body – 1934|
|Submitted by Sherree Benoit|
After this time some Bonfield’s students attended Herscher High School, but most went to the smaller but highly regarded high school at Reddick. In 1949 Herscher filed a last-minute petition to form a unit district of 175 square miles, which would include Salina Township and Bonfield. In the ensuing vote, Salina Township voted 201 to 95 against joining the Herscher district. However, the overall vote was favorable and under the rules of the time, Salina Township was forced to go with Herscher. The loss of this territory was a severe blow to Reddick, which did form a smaller unit district in 1950. Reddick prospered for many years, but was forced to annex to the Herscher district in 1988.
|Bonfield Grade School Bldg – 2011|
Bonfield’s 1921 building (pictured at the top of the page) was used as part of Bonfield Grade School. Sherree Benoit tells us the following regarding the fate of the Bonfield School building pictured above:
“I just wanted to let you know that the former Bonfield High School building has been razed. It it being replaced by a new 2 story addition to the Bonfield Grade School.”
To view more great information on the town of Bonfield check out www.villageofBonfield.org .
Bonfield High School Quick Facts
Year 2-year HS opened: 1921
Year expanded to 3-year HS: 1932
Year HS program discontinued: 1941
Consolidated to: Reddick and Herscher, ultimately only Herscher
Bonfield HS team nickname: (“Jets” is current GS team name)
Bonfield HS team colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: unavailable
Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities
We believe the Bonfield High School boys competed with other schools in the area in sports. Boys basketball, baseball, and track were offered. Girls competed in basketball as well. Other activities such as band, chorus, FAA, GAA, FHA, and FFA may have been a part of the Bonfield High School experience. We would be happy to add information on any part of the BHS life that once existed.
The boys basketball program at Bonfield High was a competitive one. We currently only have coach’s names for a few of the teams. Team records are welcome for these and other Bonfield teams.
1931-34 Coach Aloysius Taylor
1934-35 Coach James Laffey
1937-39 Coach Lester J. Soucie (and Principal)
1939-40 Junior Six Tourney Champs Coach Edward Bossert (and Principal)
1940-41 Kankakee Valley Conf Tourney – 4TH Coach Edward Bossert (and Principal)
Team of 1931-32 Pictured Above:
Back Row: Coach Al Taylor, Howrad Schwark, Billy Chapman, James Voight, Ira Wiggins, Art Jensen, Henry Gerretse
Front Row: Frank Hansing, George Dahn, Emmerson Wenzelman, Edward Healey, Ted Tofari
Team of 1937-38 Pictured Above:
Back Row: Paul Soucie, Les Soucie, Ed Kukuck
Front Row: Joe Antosz, Eddie Schutters, Clarence Jensen, Robert McGregor, Henry Walter
More Interesting Facts About Bonfield HS Boys Basketball:
*The boys of 1939-40 won the Junior Six Tournament held in Crete. Coach Edward Bossett’s team was honored at a banquet held at the Bonfield Evangelical Church after their great win in the championship game!
*The 1939-40 team also placed fourth in the Kankakee Valley Conference tournament, in spite of being the only three-year high school entered!
*The 1939-40 team scored a total of 1,211 points averaging 34 points a game. The team had a record of 18 – 18, winning 13 of their final 15 games. The team was captained by Francis Winters, and at 5′ 11″ was the team’s tallest player. Francis scored 428 points which ranked him #9 in the entire state!! Francis also led the Kankakee Valley Conference in scoring that year with 72 points in conference games. Francis’ brother Dick was the team’s second leading scorer with 345 points. Remember, Francis was only a junior but since Bonfield was a 3-year high school, Francis played his last game at the school that year.
*The team of 1940-41 won its final three regular season games to go into the District Tournament with a lot of confidence.
*The team of 1940-41 beat Kankakee St. Patrick, a 4-year private school with a much larger enrollment than Bonfield, 26 – 19. This team started the season 4 – 1 under the leadership of team captain Dick Winters.
Bonfield High School did field a girls basketball team as well. The years and coach’s names are not currently available.
We know that the Bonfield High School boys competed with other neighboring schools on the baseball diamond as well. Information on this program’s successes and coaches are needed.
Boys Track & Field
The boys competed in track & field as well. Information on their successes in this sport are needed.
Bonfield High School Principals
1922-25 Candace Bally Black
1925 Charlotte Kinsella
1926-29 Margaret Kinsella
1930 Ruth Cole
1931-36 Esther Callaghan
1937-38 Lester Soucie
1939-41 Edward Bossert
Extra-Curricular Clubs and Activities
From our good friend Sherree Benoit:
“The first year of the 3-year high school (1931) there were only 12 students and 1 teacher. This grew to 50 students and 3 teachers in 1934.
There was a “Parent Faculty Club” started in 1939. There were movies shown, debates, programs with the grade school children and a fund raising oyster
I have lots more info and photos on the early Bonfield community, clubs, 4-H, churches, music, farming and sports programs and activities, but they are not directly related to the school.”
Thank you Sherree!
From a former Bonfield High School student:
“In 1935 there was no gym so they practiced basketball on the stone behind the school. They played games at other schools. Players were Art Jensen, George Dahn, Edward Healy, Ralph DuBois and Ted Tofari. Coaching was Pete Laffey. (The school) had no telephone. Had an outside pump with water to drink and wash hands. Going in front door went up to grade school. On each side were steps going to rest rooms. There were no flushing toilets. 3 stalls which had to have chemicals poured in them. The furnace (area) was where students put their lunch on top of furnace pipes. On right side of basement where they had freshman and sophomre classes. On the other side was not finished, walls were stone so they would hide notes between the stones for playing hide and seek. In winter would go across the road and skate on the ice. Later the junior grade was added.”
Regarding a former Bonfield HS coach and a former player:
“Bonfield coach Pete Laffey, went on to coach at Kankakee St. Pats Catholic high school a few years later. And Bonfield basketball player Lester “Les” Soucie went on the become the coach/prinicipal at Bonfield some years later.”
Need Your Assistance
If you have ANY further information to offer regarding Bonfield and its former high school please contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be mailed to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631