Browning High School “Bears”

Portrait of Browning High School In Its Prime
A brick building with a green awning

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Courtesy of Dennis Reiley
Browning Railroad Depot – 2008
A red building with a sign

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Photo Submitted by Roberta VanBriesen

The History of Browning High School

Browning (population 130) is situated in western Illinois about 25 miles southeast of Macomb.  The town is nestled on the banks of the Illinois River in east-central Schuyler County.  Illinois Route 100 is the “main drag” to and from Browning.  The Dutchman Creek flows through the town’s northside.  A great history of Browning can be read at the following website address:

We are fairly certain that Browning residents began a school system for their children by the late 1800s.  By the early 1900s the town’s population had reached 455 residents and definitely had a school building in place.  Browning supported its own high school through at least the 1947. Frank Caldwell tells us the Browning High School building was constructed in 1915.

The following history of the school was sent to us by Dennis Reiley, a graduate of Browning Grade School in 1955:

Browning High School Building – 2007
A large brick building with a tree in front of it

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Submitted by Dennis Reiley

“Browning High School closed it’s doors in May of 1947. Browning had been a three-year high school and those that graduated in 1947 had the option of going on to Rushville for a 4 year diploma. In the fall of 47 Browning joined the Schuyler Community Unit Dist. #1 with the high school then in Rushville and Browning now being a grade school with classes 1 thru 8. In or about 1958 a kindergarten was added.”

Browning High School was annexed into the Rushville School District. A K-8 facility remained at the high school building for several years after the merger.

Browning High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                 late 1800s / early 1900s

Year closed:                                  1947

Browning Grade School Closed:   1994

Annexed to:                                   Rushville School District

Browning HS team nickname:       the “Bears” (1938 Springfield State Newspaper article)

possibly the “Bobcats” for Grade School teams

Browning HS team colors:            Royal Blue & White

School Fight Song:                       “Go Browning Bears”

                                                                      To the tune of “On Wisconsin”

                                                                      Thank you to DENNIS REILEY

                                                    Go Browning Bears, Go Browning Bears

                                                    Go and fight fight fight!

                                                    Dribble down the sideline

                                                    For a basket is in sight!

                                                    RAH     RAH     RAH 

                                                    We’ll stand behind you, Whatever may be tide!

                                                    So spread far the fame

                                                    Of Browning’s name

                                                    Go you Bears

                                                    Win this game!

Browning HS Building Sideview – Gymnasium
A picture containing grass, sky, outdoor, building

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Courtesy of Dennis Reiley – 2007


We are certain the Browning boys competed in basketball.  It s probable that baseball and track were offered as well.  School team records and coach’s names are among the items we are seeking at this time.

Browning High School Gymnasium – 2008
A brick building with windows

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Submitted by Roberta VanBriesen

Boys Basketball

According to the IHSA website (www.ihsa.orgthe Browning High School boys basketball program won two District titles during their existence.  The titles came in the mid-1940s.  Unfortunately the team records and the coach’s names of these teams are not available at this time. Scores involving Browning High School in the IHSA State Tournament were located on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores.” These scores are listed below as well.

1933-34           Beardstown District Tournament           Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Littleton 23-18

                        2nd Rd lost to Rushville 29-17

Beardstown beat Hersman in title game

1934-35           Rushville District Tournament               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Industry 27-26

Rushville beat Beardstown in title game

1935-36           Browning District Runner-Up            Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Brooklyn 43-21

                        Beat Hersman or Chandlerville in semi-final

                        TItle Game lost to Chambersburg 59-19

1936-37  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1937-38  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1938-39  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1939-40  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1940-41  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1941-42           Littleton District Runner-Up               Coach’s name & record needed

Early Rd Scores Needed.

Title Game lost to Hersman 39-24

District Runner-Up advanced to Regional

Beardstown Regional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Mt. Sterling 63-26

Beardstown beat Rushville in title game

1942-43  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1943-44           Littleton District Champions              Coach’s name & record needed

Early Rd Scores Needed

                        Title Game Beat Camden 51-17

Beardstown Regional Qualifier

1st Rd lost to Chandlerville 61-38

Mt. Sterling beat Rushville in title game.

1944-45           Browning District Tourney                     Coach’s name & record needed

Browning scores unavailable

Ipava beat Chandlerville in title game

1945-46           Browning District Tourney                     Coach’s name & record needed

Browning scores unavailable

Ipava beat Table Grove in title game

1946-47           Littleton District Champions              Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Littleton 55-28

                        Title Game Beat Table Grove 36-33

 Rushville Regional Tourney

**1st Rd lost to Industry 61-28

Beardstown beat Mt. Sterling in title game

**Final basketball game for Browning High School, merged with Rushville in the summer of 1947.

Browning Grade School 7th Grade Boys Place 2nd in 1993 State Tournament!

**From Brett Burton:

“In 1993, the Browning Bobcats 7th grade boys basketball team finished 2nd in the 1A state basketball tournament ( To this day, the 1993 Browning Grade School team has the smallest total enrollment (27) of any team to ever play for a state title in Illinois (no link for this, but a primary source exists in the form of a 1993 issue of the Peoria Journal Star).  The school shut down for good in 1994 due to a lack of enrollment and funding. Students from Browning today attend school in nearby Rushville.”

Browning Grade School 7th Basketball Scores in State Tournament – 1993 (7th Grade ‘A’)

Sweet 16: Browning 48, Roanoke-Benson 44

Elite 8:      Browning 48, Winchester 34

Final 4:     Browning 48, Donovan 36

State Title Game:  Browning 29, Hartsburg-Emden 52


Memories of Browning School

From alumnus Martha Layne:

     “I was a Browning Bobcat from Kindergarten-Eighth grade (1971-79).  There was no High School at that time.  It was an awesome school!!

     I can still smell the new wax on the hard wood floors on the first day of school. The school had 6 levels.  The kindergarten room was to the side and a level lower than the gym and then first and second grade rooms (one for each grade) was the next level up from the gym.  A wide flight of stairs up from there was third and fourth grade rooms (again, one each).  A tall flight of steps (I used to know the number of stairs) on either side of that level went to the top level (one to go up and one to
go down) which was seventh and eighth grade (of course one room for each grade).  Like I have said, there were no high schoolers going there when I went there…I remeber them catching the bus in front of the building to go to Rushville.  The bell was in the tower above this level and if you were in the eighth grade and you asked and had been good, you got to pull the big rope and ring the bell after school.  The cafeteria was in the basement next to the boiler room…I had to go there twice…it was known as the paddling room…
It was a wonderful country school.  It had the best teeter totters in the world and the tallest slide I’d ever seen. The younger chilren played in the front of the building and the older ones had a choice of the front or the back. I loved it and have enjoyed my trip down memory lane”

Seeking More Information

More information is being sought about Browning High School; use the Guest Commentary Form to sumbit. Corrections are welcome as well. If you have more Information about BHS, including photos of the school, nickname, other athletes and other great teams and high school memories you would like to share please write to us at  or you may also write us via USPS at:

Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago,  IL  60631

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