Buckner High School “Wildcats”

Buckner Schools in 1916
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Buckner School Building 2009
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Photo Taken by Ceaser Margni / Submitted by James Horaz

The History of Buckner High School

Buckner (population 479) is located in far south-central Illinois in the west-central portion of Franklin County.  Buckner is located on Illinois Route 14 about three miles west of Interstate Route 57.  The Illinois Central Railroad also passes through Buckner and runs parellel with Illinois Route 14.  The city of Benton is located about 4 miles east of Buckner.

The web address of http://genealogytrails.com/ill/franklin/buckner.html provides an interesting article on the history of Buckner.  The article, written by Russ Browning, states, in summary, that the area in which Buckner is located was first settled in the very early 1800s.  The area began attracting more and more settlers over the next few years and by the 1860s a small settlement had been established.

It was in 1880 that a post office was erected and the town was named Sofronia.  Soon, however, the town seemed to disapate and the post office was closed.  Eventually a railroad was slated to pass through the town.  The owner of the land that the railroad would pass over was donated by J.L. Buckner on the promise that the railroad complany would name the town Buckner.  Such was the deal and the town was so named in 1914.

The coal mining industry was booming at this time and as luck would have it the area around Buckner was ripe with coal. At its peak the coal mine near Buckner employed over 1,000 men.  Being a blue collar town Buckner was soon known for its 13 taverns that kept things hopping for many years.  The town of Buckner at one time had a population of 950.

Buckner High School Begins – Fall of 1928
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Submitted by Russell Browning (left click on photo for larger view)

As you can see in the article above, submitted by Russell Browning of Buckner, the 2-year high school for Buckner was started in the fall of 1928.  The article Russell located below states the school closed at the end of the 1930-31 school year for financial reasons. Russell tells us the following:

“I grew up in the town of Buckner and I did not know, and only the very old people there knew, about the High School.   Nothing was known about teachers, class mates and any other thing until I found one woman, who has passed away now, that gave me access to pictures. Then I did a micro film search of those years and came up with the information.”

The web address of http://genealogytrails.com/ill/franklin/bucknerarticle.pdf provides a newspaper article about the history of Buckner that tells us Buckner residents were indeed interested in providing a great education for their children.  A school was established for grades one through eight.  It was in 1928 the school began providing high school courses.  The article states however that due to lack of enrollment and proximity to Christopher (a larger town just one mile to the west) that the high school courses were discontinued after the 1930-31 school year.  The high school-aged kids of Buckner have attended school in Christopher ever since.

Buckner High School Closes 1931

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Submitted by Russell Browning (left click on photo for larger view)

Buckner Grade School continued in operation through 1967 when it, too, was closed. The former Buckner Grade School building is pictured above.

Buckner High School Quick Facts

Year HS opened:           1928

Year HS closed:            1931

Year GS closed:            1967

Consolidated to:             Christopher High School

Buckner HS nickname:   “Wildcats”? (grade school nickname, HS may not have had athletics)

Buckner HS colors:        Red & White? (grade school team colors)

Buckner HS fight song:   unavailable (May not have had one)

Buckner School Gym From Rear – 2010
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Contirbuted by James Horaz


It is quite possible that the Buckner High School boys competed against other schools in the area in the sport of basketball.  It is also possible that baseball and track were offered as well.  School team nickname, uniform colors, fight song lyrics, coach’s names, and team records are all items were are seeking to share on this page.

Russell Browning, a resident of Buckner, provided the following information about Buckner High School:

The Buckner High School, being as small as it was, did not have a gymnasium, I have traced the foundation of the building and its barely large enough to hold classes, and I am pretty sure do to the short time it was in operation that it had no sports at all.  They only had 30 pupils and two classes Freshmen and Sophomores.”

Extra Curricular Activities

It is possible that sports were likely not the only item offered at Buckner HS.  It is probable that choir, plays, and many other activities made the experience of attending BHS a rewarding one.

Russell Browning submitted the photos below of the Freshmen and Sophomore classes of 1930. We assume at least one or two sophomore classes enjoyed commencement exercises at Buckner High School.

Buckner HS Sophomores – 1930
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Courtesy of Russell Browning (left click on photo for larger view)
Buckner HS Freshmen – 1930
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Courtesy of Russell Browning (left click on photo for larger view)

Do You Have Information on Buckner High School?

If you do, please contact us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  You can also send items to us at:

IHSGD Website 

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, Il. 60631

Inside of Buckner Gymnasium After Fire
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Buckner School 2010 – Destroyed by Fire
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Thank you to James Horaz
Buckner Article by Tom Wheeler
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Submitted by James Horaz

Remember the Buckner Wildcats?

Written by Tom Wheeler

Photos by Ceaser Maragni

“Where did you play junior high basketball?  I can remember my first team was the Tenth Street Trojans in La Porte, Indiana.  As a fifth grader I can remember how big our gym seemed, and I wonder what it looks like today.

SI Sports Connections top-notch photographer Ceaser Maragni was in Buckner recently and took some pictures of the Wildcats gym, so I went to the ‘garage’ to find a little history on the school.

Buckner native Charlie Galayda spent 18 years working at the school which closed in 1988. He remembers such players as Dan Gouge, Robert Semanski, Jo Jo Rolla,….”

(continued under 3rd layout)

Photos by Ceaser Maragni
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Submitted by James Horaz

Caption between photos reads:

“What’s left of the old backboard support and scoreboard clock (Editors note:  Notice the names on the scoreboard of the teams that last played in the Buckner School gym? (Satan vs. Christians)  While the final score of that contest wasn’t available at press time the overall opinion of the SISC staff is that the Christians won this one in a rout. JM)”

Written by Tom Wheeler
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Courtesy of James Horaz

“…Whitney Rouviere, and Ronnie Hargis who all wore the red and white shoes of the Wildcats.  These Wildcats played a full schedule that included Mulkeytown, Whittington, Logan, Rob Town, Thompsonville, Valier, St. Johns of West Frankfort, Coello, and Hill City just to name a few.

Benton’s Norman Carlile, who coached more than a few games himself, remembers officiating games at Buckner.

“I got $5:00 a night and I was the only official,” Carlile said.

He remembers the coach Frank Furlow was also the track coach.

“In the spring Coach Furlow would have track meets at the school and would make his own ribbons to give to the participants. If you won you got a ribbon.  If you got 8th you got a ribbon.”  Coach Carlile added that his wife Joan started her teaching career in Buckner.

Golfing buddy Bob Furlow re-….”

(conclusion of article at the bottom of next insert)

Written by Tom Wheeler
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Submitted by James Horaz

“..members getting one of those ribbons at Buckner.

“I ran the half mile and always had trouble beating Buckner’s Frank Yering,” he recalled.

Bob also played basketball for the Coello Indians which closed its school gym in 1964.  Teammates included John Morhet, Wayne Brown, Joe Brean, and four ladies. He remembers one night playing at Buckner when one of the young Coello Indians came out in his yellow and green basketball suit with his “long johns” underneath, he recalls “it was something to see.”

Bob’s coach in Coello was the late Dick Minor, grandfather of current Christopher High School varsity coach Jeff Minor. Brother Bob wasn’t sure if Charlie Jacoby was really the best shooter to ever come out of Coello.

Mr. Galayda’s daughter Susan was a Buckner cheerleader who married a Christopher football player. While coaching at Wyanet, in northern Illinois, they would rush home for the Christmas holidays so coach could play basketball in the Buckner gym.  He recalls, “No matter how late we would get home I would call guys and we would play, then during the day we would play all day. Many times there was not any heat, we had some wars in that old gym.”

That football coach remembers calling Lyndall Mydett, Joe Trogolo, Jimmy Morrison, Philip Long, Dr. Jeff Minor, Don Pullian, and the late Del Gray to name a few. That Wyanet football coach who loved that old Buckner gym came south for a very successful career, and is still coaching, he is Vienna’s Mike Rude.

So where did you play junior high basketball? And is the gym still standing? If so don’t be surprised if Ceasar comes by and snaps some shots someday.”



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