The History of Campbell Hill High School
Campbell Hill (population 333) is located in far southwestern illinois in the northwestern portion of Jackson County. Illinois Route 4 is the main roadway traveling to and from Campbell Hill. The town currently sits about 15 miles northwest of Murphysboro. The Brushy Fork of the Pipestone Creek flows through the southeast side of town.
The history of the town of Cambell Hill and the high school that served its children was provided to us by Stephanie Ehlers Thornton, as transcribed from the book “Do You Remember Campbell Hill” written by Genevieve Dudenbostel Ruebke.
As is to be expected, schools of some sort were here from the very beginning. It is most probably that the “country schools” were established before the one in town. Some of those in the nearby countryside were Barrow, Buckskull (Mount Ridge), Tangen, Union, Loy, Webb, Zion and Jones. These were in existence for many years, even after the establishment of the public school in town. The first in Campbell Hill was held in a small frame building on the present site of St. Luke’s Church. The brick building erected in 1888 on Dean Street at the east edge of the village at a cost of $1,000.00 was destroyed by fire of undetermined origin on the night of February 16, 1894. The joyful prospect of “Goody – no more school” for the youngsters was short lived however, as about 40 children were sent to Barrow just west of town, where John Tatum was teaching, and others no doubt going to some of the other neighboring schools.
This fire was quite a blow to the new town, but no time was wasted in building a two story brick which served the community for many years. (In fact it was still in use in 1951 when the tornado damaged it to the extent that it was torn down and replaced with the present structure).* The building was probably completed within the year for in July 1896 the school board agreed to have the upper floor partitioned off into two rooms in order to accommodate the increase in students. The contract for this job was let to Elyle E. Luthy for $60.00. The High School used this entire floor, with the lower grades meeting downstairs.
The following I have copied from the ten page Catalogue of the Campbell Hill Public Schools 1898-1899 which contains Rules, Regulations and Course of Study, etc.:
“Members of the Board of Directors: Dr. Albert R. Carter, President; William Mohlenbrock, Clerk and Henry C. Tangen. Teachers for 1897-1898: E. J. Klemme, Principal; Nora Smith, Grammar Department; Nelly G. Striger, Intermediate Department; Ella Crews, Primary Department.
Tuition – Non-resident pupils shall pay in advance the following Rates of Tuition: Intermediate Department per month $1.00; Primary Department $1.00; Grammar Department $1.50; High School Department $2.00.
To The Public
To those pupils of other districts who are desirous of entering a school where better educational advantages are offered, we call special attention to the High School Department of our school. The principal, Prof. E. J. Klemme, is one of the foremost teachers in the country, and with an efficient corps of teachers, we bespeak for the coming session a splendid term of school work.
Board can be had at reasonable rates in the best families in town. For further particluars address the Clerk of Board, Wm. Mlohlenbrock, or the Principal, Prof. E. J. Klemme. School opens September 13, 1897, and continues seven months.
Text Books Used: Board of Directors:
American Classics Selected
Bookkeeping Bryant and Stratton
Business Customs Goodyear
Civil Government Trowbridge
Composition Practical Works
English Classics Selected
General History Barnes
History(United States) Eggelston
Natural Philosophy Steele
Physical Geography Eclectic
Vocal Music Practice
In many of these subjects the pupil can follow any textbook desired as the work is done by outlines and topics.
Outline of Course of Study
A desire for closer organization and more systematic work in our system of schools seems quite common. This Course of Study has been arranged to meet this demand, to allow the teachers to follow the same plan of work, and to give the pupils permanent advancement. In the presentation of these subjects the teacher can use any method which furnishes good results. The course states only what should be taught, to the individuality of the teacher is left the how to teach the subject. The only requirement is that he do the work well. It is not the purpose of this outline to either retard the progress of the industrious pupil or hurry with undue advancement the pupil of moderate ability, the that each shall make material progress toward the end of better and higher education.
A drill in drawing and vocal music should be given when possible, but writing should never be omitted. If it is possible to do so the teacher may give the lesson in drawing, writing, spelling, vocal music, and primary science to all the pupils of his department at the same time. Subjects for composition work can be assigned as often as the grade demands. The school year is divided into two terms, the fall, and the winter. The fall term closing before, and the winter term beginning after, the Christmas vacation.
I do not know when competitive sports were first introduced in our school, but basketball was played through most of the twenties. Ralph Turner, who taught and coached here at least from 1925 through 1927, was responsible for creating a number one team. In 1928 a team consisting of Raymond Heine, Leslie White, Larry White, Harold Roberts, Junior (Leslie) Koonce, Woodrow Koonce, Paul Buescher, Arthur Schatte and Wilbur Brandhorst and coached by Jim White won nineteen and lost none of their conference games. They played in the District Tournament held in Carbondale, Illinois on March 8, 9, and 10 beating Gorham 33-14 then Alto Pass 31-9 and Murphysboro 19-11 but lost to Carbondale 32-11. Leslie White, who was just one of the star players, was unable to play in the last game because of the flu, which was also affecting some of the other boys, who were all of the opinion that had they had their health, they could have beaten Carbondale and gone on to the State Finals. The team, under the coaching of Jim White, played just as they had been taught by Mr. Turner, who after leaving us made quite a name for himself as a coach in other schools.
Some of the towns that Campbell Hill “Red Birds” played at that time were: Elkville, Cambria, Dongola, Ava, Willisville, Percy, Steeleville, Chester, Baldwin and Coulterville. At Percy the home games were scheduled to be played in October or when the weather was warmer because they had to play out of doors. At Steeleville the games were played in a tent that had been put over a couple of dance floors, and those played in Campbell Hill were upstairs in the Knauer building on Main Street. Many times the team had to walk to nearby towns. The trains were used as transportation and when cars became a little more available they were utilized. When attending the District Tournaments the team stayed in a hotel. (Remember there were no school buses in those days.)
The school was the center of entertainment for the community with, in addition to athletics, plays, box suppers there were all sorts of interesting activities which were attended by capacity crowds. Even the graduation exercises were well attended, in spite of the fact that the graduates sometimes numbered from two to six or eight. In 1934 one half of the class was unable to attend the exercises because of the mumps, but the usual speakers etc. were there for the other half which consisted of just my sister, Kathleen. Charles Bierman was the half unable to be there. Before the gymnasium was built all of the school activities were held in the town hall, which before the tornado was well equipped with a large stage, etc.”
From “Do You Remember Campbell Hill” by Genevieve Dudenbostel Ruebke 1978 pages 95-97, 106-107.
*That building has since been torn down and replaced with a new community center since all classes were moved to the Trico School Buildings in the late 1970s. Even though the building is gone, the curtain, which is covered with advertisements, from the stage of the original school building still hangs in the new community center.”
We are certain that Campbell Hill had a high school in place by the late 1800s. We know that Campbell Hill High School served the community through the late 1940s. At that time Cambell Hill residents joined in a consolidation effort with Ava, Percy, WIlisville, Cutler, and Jacob school districts. This effort led to the creation of the Trico School District in 1948.
A new school complex was built near Campbell Hill. The fate of the original Campbell Hill High School building was one decided by “Mother Nature”. As Stephanie Thornton tells us:
“The original Campbell Hill High School building was damaged in the tornado of 1951 and had to be torn down. It was replaced by a grade school building after that, which was used until the grade schools consolidated in the mid-1970s.”
Campbell Hill High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year closed: 1948
Consolidated to: Trico School District (Campbell Hill)
Campbell Hill HS team nickname: the “Hilltoppers” (“Red Devils” in the 1920s)
CHHS team colors: unavailable
School Fight Song: unavailable