|The History of Carmi East Side High School
Carmi (population 5,400) is located in southeastern Illinois in White County along the Little Wabash River, serving as the county seat. Illinois Routes 1 and 14 run thru the community. Carmi was first settled as early as 1809, then chartered in 1816. It is believed that the city’s name comes from the Bible as Carmi was a nephew to Joseph, and was mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
The founders of Carmi were Leonard White (whom the county was named after) and Lowry Hay, and they were joint proprietors to the site that was named Carmi. Another famous resident of Carmi, Colonel Everton Conger, was involved in the capture of John Wilkes Booth after the latter shot President Abraham Lincoln.
We learned of the existence of Carmi East Side High School from a long-time contributor and friend of the Glory Days website, Adam Rosoho. Adam located an article on the internet found at the web address of http://www.state.il.us/hpa/illinois%20history/107south.pdf
The article appears to be a school research paper completed by Christine South and is titled “Segregation in Carmi, Illinois”. In her research, Christine writes the following information about East Side High School:
“….there were several churches and one school for the (African Americans). Both grade school and high school children attended East Side School, which later became known as Lincoln School. The one-room school was built in 1874 and another room was added in 1904 for the high school students. Since the school was located near the Little Wabash River, high water would rise every year causing the (students) to miss school.
The school had two teachers; one taught first through sixth grade, while the other taught seventh through twelfth grade. Students were given a few books from other schools but never had the privilege of having new ones. East Side students did not have a basketball team until 1934 or 1935. They practiced outside in the yard and played scheduled games at the high school gym; although, they were not allowed to play against “white” teams. In 1938-1939, East Side beat Evansville’s Lincoln basketball team which was considered to be very good. However, this was East Side’s last year for basketball due to the declining number of students. In 1950 East Side School closed; therefore, (African American) children were admitted into the regular school system.”
East Side High School in Carmi was a school for African American children of the area. It existed as a grade school from 1874 to 1904 and as a combined grade school and high school from 1904 to 1950 when it was closed.
This situation, unfortunately, was not uncommon in the southern part of Illinois during this time period. We have featured several similar schools on the Glory Days site including Madison Dunbar, Venice Lincoln, Mound City Lovejoy, Mounds Douglass, Cairo Sumner, and DuQuoin Lincoln,
Upon the closing of the East Side High School, the African American children of Carmi began attending Carmi High School.
Carmi East Side High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1904
Year closed: 1950
Consolidated to: Carmi High School
ESHS team nickname: unavailable
ESHS team colors: unavailable
School Fight Song: unavailable