Bureau Township Consolidated HS “Wildcats”

Bureau Township High School
A picture containing outdoor, tree, grass, field

Description automatically generated
Courtesy of Jeffrey Hoover

The History of Bureau Township High School

Bureau Township High School was located in a true country setting.  As of the writing of this page, it is only known that Bureau Township High School was located on a country road between Wyanet and Walnut in central Bureau County.  This would place the school building about 10 miles northwest of Princeton.

The following history information regarding the former Bureau Township High School was provided by alum Charles Meisenheimer:

“Six, one-room schools consolidated to form the Bureau Township Consolidated School. The first class graduated in 1921 with 6 in the class.  The last class graduated in the spring of 1962 with 6 in the class.  A total of 319 students graduated during the years the school was in existence.”

The “new” Bureau Township school was featured in a Illinois schools journal from 1920. Excerpts from the article are as follows:

The Bureau Township Schoools are situated in the rural section nine miles northwest of Princeton, and six miles northeast of Wyanet, which is the nearest town. The site of the building is in the very center of Bureau Township, which contains 36 square miles of the most fertile farming land of Illinois. The school is controlled by two Boards. The Consolidated Board consists of six districts containing about 18,000 acres, while the high School district embraces all of this territory with one additional district and two fractional districts. The school site and building are owned by the Consolidated Board, who in turn rent the portion of the building used for high school purposes to the High School Board.

It is the aim of this school to meet the educational neds of the children and to establish it as a social center in the community through various gatherings, entertainments, programs, and athletic meets.

The officers are: Gilbert G. Weller, president of the H.S. Board; Joe Johnson, secretary of the H.S. Board; W.H. Johnson, president of the Consolidated Board; Albert Wilson, secretary of the Consolidated Board; V.C. Ramsmeyer, Superintendent of Schools.


As this particular community was rather isolated from high school facilities, the people had for some time begun to see the needs of some system of centralized schools. Through the efforts of the County Superintendent, Geo. O. Smith, and several influential citizens of the township the plans for consolidation were discussed as early as 1915, but not until the spring of 1917 was anything accomplished. An election of officers for the new district was called, resulting in the election of W. H. Johnson as the first president, Albert Wilson, as the first secretary, and Wilbur Trimble as the remaining Board member. Later the High School Board chose Gilbert G. Willer, president of their Board, and Cutis Plum, secretary.

It was seen immediately that a new building and a suitable size were a necessity, and on August 7, 1917 the proposition was sumbitted to the voters who bonded themselves for the sum of $24,000 extending over a period of twenty years. Since then the voters have seen the need and advantages of such a system, so in order to give it the proper support they have bonded themselves for about $50,000.

Ten acres of ground for the site were donated by Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Johnson, Mr. David Young, Mr. Albert Wilson, Mr. Wilbur Trimble, and Mr. Charles A. Johnson.

Plans for the new building were drawn immediately, but because of the war and high cost of the material the contract was not let until May 4, 1918. The work on the structure was not completed until the following spring. Monday morning, Spril 7, 1919, work was begun in the new building with a teaching force of five, and an enrollment of more than one hundred pupils.


The building is beautifully located on a ten acre plot of ground situated in the very center of the township from which one may gain a panoramic view of thousands of acres in any direction.

The outside walls of the building are made of ragged finished hard brick. It measures on the ground 90 feet in length, and 68 feet in depth. The architecture throughout is of pleasing design, and no pains have been spared in making it attractive as well as practical. There are two floors, the basement and two others. The building has two entrances, the north of front entrance leads by means of a vestibule and a flight of stairs to the first floor corridor …

… Occupying one-half of the space of the first floor is the spacious auditorium and high school assembly hall with a seating capacity for more than 400 people. At one end is an elevated stage 25 square feet with two dressing rooms of ample size; while at the back end of the auditorium are two classrooms with folding doors which may be open and made a part of it. Across the corridor are two class rooms, 21 x 30, and four cloak rooms.

Passing the the upper floor one finds to the north side of the corridor two classrooms, a well lighted library; and the outer and inner offices of the Superintendent. To the south of the corridor is a raised floor with a large room in the center for the sciences, and at each end of this floor a suite of two rooms for agriculture and commercial work.

Artificial light is furnished to all parts of the building at any time of the day. The current is obtained from the Spring Valley Utilities Company about thirty miles distant. Water under pressure is available on all of the floors, including the basement. Bubbling drinking fountains furnish drinking water for the children. The gravity system of ventilation allows fresh air to circulate air freely through the rooms.

It was the plan of the architect to make the building as nearly fireproof as possible. Wood was sparingly used, and the stairs within and without the corridors are solid concrete. The finish coat of the corridors, vestibule, and the stairways is a composition known as terrazza, which is not only beautiful, but will wear indefinately.


The supply of equipment is still rather meager in comparison to proposed plans. The library on the upper floor is a well lighted room equipped with a large library table, chairs and sectional bookcases. It contains about 500 indexed bound volumes, besides many pamphlets and bulletins. Several of the best literary magazines, agriculture and home economics journals, and a good daily paper are taken by the school.

This year a gasoline gas machine was installed with furnishes gas for cooking in the Home Economics laboratory, and for the Bunsen burners in the science department.

The Home Economics department is well equipped with cabinets, cupboards, tables, sinks, and an almost complete line of utensils. Eight new desks have been added, thus permitting sixteen girls to work at one time. Sewing machines have been installed also.

The department of Agriculture has ample equipment for the work offered, including miscellaneous apparatus, miscroscope (sic), new laboratory tables and desks, and apparatus cases. An abundance of ground is available for experimental purposes. The departments of chemistry and physics will be developed more fully in another year.

The class rooms of the grades are well equipped with maps, pictures, and reference books. In several of the rooms the new Chicago desks have been placed.

The assembly room and auditorium have a splendid collection of pictures, and pennants. An excellend piano is the property of the school and is used in the opening exercises and in giving entertainments. the school also owns a Victrola which is used in teaching the folk dances and games to the smaller children.

On the upper floor is the Superintendent’s office, which is equipped with office desk, typewriter, typewriter desk, bookcase, office chairs, and telephone.

A large stable owned by a stock company provides a very confortable place of twenty-four stalls in which are kept the cars, horses, and rigs.


The Superintendent of the Schools is elected by both the High School Board and the Consolidated Board, and is in charge of both the high school and the grades.

Pupils are admitted into the high school from the grades upon completion of the eighth grade in this school, or from any recognized school doing equivalent work. The work is planned in accordance with state requirements, thus permitting pupils to enter college upon completion of their work in the high school. Sixteen units are required for graduation from the high school. A year of at least agriculture or home economics is required in order to obtain a diploma. Physical training is compulsory of all pupils, unless a certificate is furnished from a physican stating that the child’s health will not permit.


The school has excellent facilities for athletics. A large gymnasium is located in the basement with large bleachers to accomodate more than 400 spectators. Shower baths and dressing rooms are located at each end of the building for both the boys and girls. The basket ball cage is a regulation size floow 35×60.

L to R: Assembly Hall, 1920 Basketball Team, Gym
A group of men posing for a picture

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Football is played in the fall of the year and baseball in the spring. On the ten-acre campus a splendid gridiron and baseball diamond have been laid off. Tennis courts and a track are to be made in the near future. During the winter months four basketball teams are organized, two boys’ and two girls’.

The Athletic Association to which all students belong is a very thriving organization with about $200 in the treasury, this amount having been recieved from the games and entertainments.

All pupils are required to take physical training or participate in some branch of athletics, as it is the aim of the school to develop the child physically and mentally.


All the high school pupils belong to one of the two Literary societies; a program is given by one of the societies every two weeks. At the end of the year an inter-society contest is held. Each grade must give a program on some Friday at least four times a school year.

At various times during the year the home talent plays and other entertainments are given.

During the early part of the school year the patrons give their annual reception to the teacher, thus giving the new teachers an opportunity to become acquainted with the parents.

Near the end of the basketball season a local tournament is staged in which all of the surrounding high school participate. And the close of the basketball season a banquet is given to the players. For all such occasions the Home Economics rooms are a very delightful asset.


The school now has seven teachers, but more are to be added in another year. Plans are under consideration for a Teachers’ home, and in all probability it will be erected within another year. A Communit and High School music and lecture course is being organized which will add much to the literary standard of the community.

Miscellanous facts from 1920:

No. of districts consolidated:          6

Square miles:                               28.5

Assessed valuation:                      $489,078

Cost of house:                              $50,000

Annual tax levy:                            $11,000

Tax rate:                                      2.20

Annual tax levy before:                  $3,500

Teachers now:                              7

Teachers before:                           6

Enrollment now:                           133

Enrollment before:                        110

Enrollment in grade school:           106

Enrollment in high school:             27

No. studying agriculture:               10

No. studying home economics:     15

Aid from vocational fund:               Yes

Public conveyance:                      No

Years of high school course:         4

Months in year:                            9

The following questions posed for the 1920 journal were answered by Principal V.C. Ramseyer:

Q – In what way do adults of the community profit by the school?

A – Adults use school as social center, and place for community gatherings. Ladies of Township have Club which meets at school.

Q – In what particular does the school meet the needs of the children and young people in the community in a superior way?

A – Children have advantages of a much better school, also giving the teacher more time to devote to the needs of individual pupil.Young people and old ones as well have a place for wholesome reaction and entertainment in the form of athletics, lecture courses and programs of all sorts.

Q – What complaints are made?

A – No complaint with the majority. Some protest the high tax.

Q – What features give the most universal satisfaction?

A – The feature that gives the most universal satisfaction is the fact that the rural child has the same educational opportunities with this system as does the city child.

The original building that was used as a gymnasium is now part of a factory.  A photo of the gymnasium as it appears today is posted below.  Truly a unique building.

Another unique part of the school facilities was the addition of a “Principal’s House”.  That house is pictured below.  It is now a Township building used for meetings and voting purposes.

Bureau Township High School Quick Facts

Year school opened:   1918

Year school closed:    1962

School nickname:       the “Wildcats”

School colors:            Green & White

School building:          Gymnasium part of a factory

School fight song:       not available


Bureau Township High School competed in the Little “8” Conference.  The school offered football, basketball, and track for boys.  There is very limited information regarding Bureau High School on the IHSA web site (www.ihsa.org), however it is a fact the Wildcats enjoyed some incredibly successful seasons in all sports.

Bureau Township High School Gym – 2005
A picture containing grass, building, outdoor, field

Description automatically generated
Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Rodgers
Bureau Township HS Gym & Garage
A picture containing grass, outdoor, building, dome

Description automatically generated
Photo Taken in 2011
Basketball Letter – Bureau Township High School
Submitted by Deloris (Gertin) Nanninga

Boys Basketball

The Wildcats brought home one Regional and four District Championships.  Three of the Districts were all in a row and “just happened” to occur when BTHS welcomed IBCA Hall of Fame Coach Gerald “Chips” Giovanine to its staff. It is obvious Coach Giovanine got the Wildcats focused in the right direction.  Included in those three seasons was a 42 game regular season winning streak.

A description of the greatest season in Bureau Township Consolidated High School basketball history was provided by Charles Meisenheimer (Class of 1962):

“In the 1959-1960 school year the basketball team compiled a record of a record of 28-1.  That year the Wildcats had the best won-lost record in the State.  The best won-lost in Bureau County’s history.  The most consecutive wins 28-0.  They were the winningest team in school’s history.”

The teams of ’58, ’59, ’60 and ’61 were inducted into the Bureau County Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

1936-37                    Regional Champions

1940-41                    4th Place – Bureau Cty. Tournament

1948-49                    District Champions

1957-58                    District Champions          Coach “Chips” Giovanine

1958-59                    District Champions          Coach “Chips” Giovanine

1959-60     28 – 1       District Champions          Coach “Chips” Giovanine

1960-61     23 – 4       Final Season                    Coach “Chips” Giovanine

Football and Track

Information is needed on the Bureau Township High School football and track programs. It is told that one particular football game ended in great success for the Bureau Wildcats.  In 1927 they prevailed over their neighbors from Manlius by a score of 100 – 0!

The following information was provided by John Roberts which lists some of the Bureau Township High School grid iron exploits against their neighbors and rivals from Manlius High School along with other facts about the school’s football program:

“The records I found show that BTHS competed in the “Little 8” conference in football at least until the 1953 season. These are some of their football results I found for when BTHS competed in 8-man football.”

1920 *Manlius wins 19-6, and 44-7.

1923 *Manlius wins 51-0. Game decided Conference Champ. Bureau’s conf. Record was (4-1)

1924 *Manlius wins 19-0. Game decided Conference Champion Bureau had a record of (2-1) in Little 6 conference.

1925 *Scoreless tie 0-0, BTHS called West Bureau in yearbook. Muddy field in this game had players sinking in to their ankles.

1926 *Bureau defeats Manlius 60-0.

1927 *Bureau defeats Manlius 100-0.

1928 *Manlius defeats Bureau 2-0.

1935 *no record of BTHS playing MTHS in football.

1936 *no record of BTHS playing football by MTHS.

1938 *lost to Manlius in forfeit 1-0.

1951  2-7

1953  3-5-1

If you can provide further information please contact us at eganann@sbcglobal.net .

Great Coach

Gerald “Chips” Giovanine – started his coaching career at Bureau Township High School after a great high school career at DePue.  Chips Giovanine went on to coach at Buda Western and LaSalle high schools.  He was inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame after his retirement.


**From Carter E. Sarver:

“I enjoyed reading the history of this school.  My Great Grandfather WH Johnson (The First Board Chairman) and I think my Grandfather Charles Johnson donated land to build the school on.  My Mother graduated from BTHS around 1930+/-.  I have her graduation program and other information.  If I find it I will forward it to you. Great Site!”

Seeking More Information

If you wish to share any information regarding Bureau Township High School, especially a photo of the high school building, please contact us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. You may also write us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, Il.     60631

Bureau Township Grade School Students – 1943
A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated
Submitted by Deloris (Gertin) Nanninga (Pictured in Front Row on the Left)
Bureau Township High School
A picture containing grass, outdoor, building, house

Description automatically generated
Principals House


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: