Buffalo (population 491) is located in central Illinois about 15 miles northeast of Springfield. This places Buffalo in the northeastern portion of Sangamon County. Old U.S. Route 36 is the main roadway through town going east and west. Main St. is the main roadway for the north and south traffic and connects Buffalo to Interstate Highway 72, just a mile to the south of town. Currently the Norfolk Southern Railroad passes through Buffalo along-side Old Route 36.
An EXCELLENT account of the history of Buffalo and its school system is found in the town’s sesquicentennial (1854 – 2004) booklet titled “The History and Stories of Buffalo, Illinois”. A brief synopsis of the history of Buffalo and its school are as follows:
In 1848 the Great Western Railroad laid tracks through the area on which Buffalo was platted. The first house in what is now the city of Buffalo was built this year as well. The town of Buffalo was platted in 1854. There is much speculation over the origin of the town’s name. Besides the obvious herds of wild buffalo that once roamed our great plains, it is possible that “buffalo” was at one time a term used to refer to those who dwelled along the Carolina seacoast. Even the railroad at first did not recognize the town of Buffalo by its name. The train depot was called “Mechanicsburg” and the post office “Watson”. However, the residents stuck to their favorite name of Buffalo and the name finally sunk in with everyone else. Buffalo grew quickly around the transportation provided by the railroad tracks. By the early 1870s several businesses and houses had sprung up. The town was officially incorporated in 1872.
The first school in Buffalo was begun the 1860s. The first brick school building was erected in 1870. It was built on Carter Street and served the students of the town for 53 years. One of the first high school classes to graduate from Buffalo High School was the class of 1898. In 1923 a new “modern” brick school building was built on Buffalo’s west side. This building included a three-year high school which served the town for 15 years.
In the mid 1930s a consolidation effort was set in motion by the residents of Buffalo, Mechanicsburg, and Dawson, along with the small hamlets of Buffalo Hart and Lanesville. This effort became a reality in 1938 with the creation of the Tri-City School District. What makes this effort unique is that it was the first of its kind in Illinois. That’s right, the very first consolidation of several school districts into one took place between the towns listed in this paragraph.
Buffalo was fortunate to be the center hub of the towns involved and therefore landed the high school for the new district. A new building to house Tri-City High School was erected and put into use in 1938. The former Buffalo school building continued its usefulness through 1968, when enough additons were made to the new structure to deem the 1923 building obsolete. The 1870 and 1923 Buffalo school buildings have been razed.
Buffalo High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1860’s
Year 1st brick school built: 1870
Year 2nd brick school built: 1923
Last time as stand-alone high school: May, 1937
*Year of consolidation: Sept., 1937
Year current school opened: Sept. 1938 (Tri-City Community HS)
Buffalo HS Team nickname: the “Warriors”
School colors: Red & Black
School song: unavailable
*Tri-City: Illinois’ FIRST consolidated school district. Buffalo residents (with Buffalo Hart & Lanesville) voted 165-38 in favor, Dawson voted 94-10, and Mechanicsburg 26-2.
Buffalo High School Class of 1898
Athletics and Extra-Curriculars
Though the sesquicentennial booklet on the history of Buffalo and its school systems is very thorough, it does not mention if the original Buffalo High School offered athletics as part of its curriculum. We know that Buffalo High School competed in boys basketball. We think that BHS may have competed in baseball, and track as well as offered band and other “extras” for its students. There is, however, no mention of the potential successes attained at Buffalo High on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org). If you have this information please contact us via the means listed below.
Research conducted by Tom Fitch revealed that Buffalo HIgh School indeed competed with other high schools in the sport of boys basketball. The Buffalo HS teams competed against Sprinfield High School in 1935 and against Springfield Converse in 1935 and 1936.
More extensive research regarding the Buffalo High School Warrior boys basketball program has been compiled by Phil Shadid:
“Researching the basketball teams proved to be quite a challenge. The newspapers of the day did not always report scores of small high schools, so the records for prior years are incomplete, except for those shown below.
1925-26 11 – 3 B. R. Redman
1926-27 16 – 5 B. R. Redman
1927-28 9 – 5 B. R. Redman
1928-29 4 – 9 William Roberts
1929-30 5 – 10 William Roberts
1930-31 1 – 12 Willard Wright
1931-32 5 – 11 Willard Wright
1932-33 5 – 11 Willard Wright
1933-34 10 – 12 W. R. Cox
1934-35 15 – 8 Melvin Nicol
1935-36 17 – 6 Melvin Nicol
1936-37 3 – 9 Melvin Nicol
Buffalo returned to high school basketball after having not played since the 1917-18 season. This article appeared in the Buffalo Tri-City Register newspaper, December 11, 1925: “We understand that the Buffalo high school will organize a basket ball team in the near future. The old Hershfeld building across the track, now owned by the Farmer’s Bank, is being cleaned up preparatory for the games. It has been eight years since Buffalo school played basket ball. We had two good teams at that time and they played Springfield and surrounding towns, and beat them too. C. F. Seales was the principal. Players in the boy’s team were: John Ben Edwards, Robert Garvey, Albert Hershfeld, Walter and James Pelfer. In the girl’s team were: Helen Reed Herrin, Florence Reed Edwards, Virginia Williams Edgecomb, Martha Edwards and Edna McGinnis.”
Coach B. R. Redman’s seven man crew produced an 11-3 record, including second place in the newly formed Three-Year Oratorical & Athletic Association (later known as the Sangamon County Conference). Harold Owens, who started the season scoring 19 points in a 29-17 win over Rochester, led the team during the year. Lester Ross, Arnott Smith, Ray Osenton, Ken Leckrone, Charles Jones and Charles Loyd contributed greatly during the campaign, but two losses to Chatham proved their downfall in the conference (9-2 record). Buffalo didn’t play in the postseason District tourney.
Coach Redman saw the team win the conference with a record of 11-2, and an overall mark of 16-5. Standing room only crowds packed the Riverton Town Hall for the games that decided the league crown in March 1927. Buffalo avenged two early season losses to Chatham, upsetting their rival 21-13 on March 3. The next day they handled Mechanicsburg 49-29 in the semi-final and then beat Riverton 24-19 to claim the championship. Walter Ivie (who may have played for Chatham the year before: same name as Chatham’s 1925-26 star) was the scoring leader. Others who saw plenty of action were Harold Owens, Ken Leckrone, Ray Osenton, Lester Ross, Charles Lloyd, Charles Jones and Ashley English. Buffalo was an integrated squad, having two African-Americans on the team.
The school would not win the conference again until the 1935-36 season. They did not compete in a postseason District tournament in 1927.
W. R. Cox, coach and principal, guided the basketball team to a second place finish in theSangamon County Conferenc’s annual tournament in 1934, finally
defeating Riverton after three losses to their rival. Buffalo edged Riverton 21-20 in the semi-finals of the tourney, and then dropped the championship game to Chatham 30-17.
Freshman Harold Scattergood led the team in scoring, with plenty of help from Ernest Germann and Earl Thompson. In the Springfield District tournament they lost their first game to Chatham, losing for the fourth time in the season to their conference rival.
Coach Nicol’s squad finished second to one of their arch-rival’s, Riverton (Dawson was the other), in the Sangamon County Conference (later known as the Sangamo Conference) but beat Riverton for the annual conference tournament championship. The score was 30-26 in overtime on Feb. 16, 1935. (The SCC consisted of 3-year high schools. They did not compete in the annual County tournament, which was for 4-year schools, such as Divernon, Illiopolis, Ball Township, etc.)
The Warriors finished the season winning two games in the Williamsville District tourney before losing to Springfield High School (which went on to capture the
state title that year), 54-11. District tournament fields consisted of all schools in
the area, regardless of size. That’s why Buffalo with its 45 students went against SHS with its 2564! Regionals were added between District and Sectional tourneys the following year, with the smaller schools assigned to Districts.
Harold Scattergood, Russell Shanle, Victor Fuhrwerk and Ernest Germann
were the top scorers for the team during the season.
Buffalo HS “Warriors” of 1935-36
Courtesy of William Dean Kirby and Phil Shadid
Buffalo’s 17-6 record was good enough to win the Conference title. It was their first championship since 1927. Buffalo (10-1 in conference) won two out of
three games with Riverton (9-2) to claim the title. Two conference teams, Dawson and Loami, were disqualified from competition by the Illinois High School Athletic
Association early in the season. (See the Dawson page on this website for the story.) Buffalo had an 11 game winning streak mid-season, culminating with a 23-19 win over Riverton to claim the Sangamo’s championship.
(Team Members from photo to the right include:
Front Row: Guy Raymond Loyd, Mgr.; William Dean Kirby, Harold Scattergood, Chet Owens
Back Row: Melvin Nicol, coach; Fred Hill, Victor Fuhrwerk, James Lyons, Virgil Akers)
Some of their scores were quite one-sided. Buffalo beat Rochester early in the season, 57-3, and later proved that was no fluke by whipping the Rockets again,
46-7. A 48-9 win over Pleasant Plains was followed with a 34-16 victory over newcomer to varsity basketball, Springfield Converse (which would become Lanphier HS in 1937). They lost to Converse later in the season, 19-15. Buffalo lost in the Edinburg District tournament, 23-21, to Riverton, to close out the season, splitting 4 games with Riverton in 1935-36.
Chet Owens, Harold Scattergood, Virgil Akers and Victor Fuhrwerk led in
Coach Nicol’s team produced a record of 3 wins, 9 losses. They played in the Sangamo Conference again, with Mechanicsburg replacing Rochester. The six team league had five 3-year high schools. The exception was Buffalo, which had 7 seniors in 1936-37. (Those seven seniors were: Harry Aull, Margaret Falconer, Herbert Matthews, Chet Owens, Enid Scattergood, Harold Scattergood and Virginia Young.)
From the Buffalo Tri-City Register, Nov. 13, 1936: “We (Buffalo) have the undisputed distinction of having the worst playing court in the county, if not the
state. Chatham disputed this questionable honor until last winter when their town hall burned and they removed to their well equipped new community building. Riverton, Illiopolis, Kenney, Mt. Auburn and Williamsville refuse to play us on our floor, and so will probably not appear on our schedule; excepting Riverton, with whom we will play a return conference game on Dawson’s floor.” (Later, it was noted that all home games would be in Dawson.)
1936-37 SANGAMO STANDINGS, ENROLLMENTS & FATE OF 3-YEAR SCHOOLS:
Dawson……9-1. 34 students; merged w/Buffalo & Mech’burg to form Tri-City, Sept.1937.
Riverton….9-1. 95; became 4-year school in September 1937.
Loami…….5-5. 40; consolidated with New Berlin, September 1948.
Buffalo…..3-7. 47; consolidated with Dawson & Mechanicsburg to become Tri-City.
Mech’burg…2-8. 31; same as Buffalo & Dawson.
Chatham…..2-8. 44; merged w/Ball Township to form Ball-Chatham district, Sept. 1948.
Buffalo’s three victories in 1936-37: over Chatham twice, 30-18 and 19-16; and over Mechanicsburg, 23-22. The team lost to (Glenarm) Ball Township in the first game of the post-season Ball District tournament on Feb. 24, 1937, to close out their final campaign.
Nine players saw action at some point during the season: Wayne Edwards, Fred Thoele, Dean Kirby, Harold Scattergood, Chet Owens, Carl Loyd, Harry Cook, Herbert Matthews and Harry Aull. Individual records showed Scattergood and Owens the primary scoring leaders for Buffalo, each averaging about 9 points per game.
Two starters for Buffalo for the 1936-37 season also played on the very first Tri-City consolidated team of 1937-38: Kirby and Thoele. That team, coached by Louis Oder, also had five players from Dawson and three from Mechanicsburg. (Tri-City played its home games in the Dawson gym.) The “Tornadoes” had a 21-9 record, won the Niantic District, were runners-up in the Regional to host school Decatur, and lost their first game in the Decatur Sectional to Monticello. (Runner-up in Regional also went to the Sectional as per IHSAA rules in place at the time.)
Coach Oder, who was bringing three groups of players together who were rivals on the court the previous year, decided that no one would have to give up their jersey number to another player. He assigned new numbers to the first Tri-City team: 68,86, 89, 98, etc.
FOOTNOTE: William Dean Kirby, who furnished the photograph of the 1935-36 basketball team, recalled that the players from the three high schools who were rivals in 1936-37, were good teammates on the consolidated Tri-City squad of 1937-38. They got along fine with no problems or jealousies. Coach Oder treated everyone fairly, which was probably responsible for the team making it all the way to the Sectional tournament
Kirby and Thoele saw much action during the 1937-38 season for Tri-City.
1908 SANGAMON COUNTY TRACK, ORATORICAL & ESSAY MEET, May 2
Reed Osenton was the only Buffalo player to gain a point in the meet, finishing third in the 50-yard Dash. The winner had a time of 6 1/5th seconds. Buffalo had just one point. The school did not place anyone in the top three in Oratorical & Essay.
1927 TRACK & FIELD, and LITERARY & MUSIC competition:
On May 13, 1927, Buffalo hosted the conference’s second annual Track & Field and Literary & Music meet. Roy Wentz, coach at Springfield High School, handled all the arrangements for the contests.
Walter Ivie won three events to lead his team to victory in the Track & Field competition. Ivie took the Shot put, Pole vault and Javelin. Other track events were the 50, 100, 220 and 440-yard dashes, Half mile run, 220-yard low hurdles, Running broad jump, Running high jump, Running hop-step-jump, and Standing broad jump. Buffalo’s Lester Ross won the half mile in 2 minutes, 24 & one-half seconds, while F. English copped first in the 220-yard low hurdles (30 seconds), and Ray Osenton won the Standing broad jump. Final results: Buffalo 47, Chatham 35, Mechanicsburg 24, Rochester 6, Riverton 4, Loami 1, Dawson 0.
In Literary & Music, competitions were in Declamation (speech/debate), Piano Solo, Vocal Duet, Quartette and Theme. Buffalo placers were Bernice Wiley, 1st in Piano Solo;
Alice Wynn Hall and Joanna Strode, 2nd in Vocal Duet; Hall, 3rd in Theme. The results: Chatham 14, Buffalo 11, Rochester 8, Mechanicsburg 6, Dawson 5, Riverton 1, Loami 0.
OTHER SPORTS WERE OFFERED at Buffalo, but we have no further information.”
Excellent research by our good friend Phil Shadid!!
Much of the information was found by Phil Shadid in microfilm records of the Springfield Illinois State Journal and Register, and the Buffalo Tri-City Register, available at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. A history of Tri-City “As It Was In The Beginning” written by Helen Turley and Perry R. Hall, was furnished to us by a school secretary of Tri-City.
Seeking More Information
If you have ANY further information on the original Buffalo High School please contact us at email@example.com. A special thank you goes out to the current Tri-City High School staff for providing the Buffalo Sesquicentennial booklet which gaver us much of the information on this page. You can also write to us via USPS at: