Carmi East Side High School

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

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 DunbarVenice LincolnMound City LovejoyMounds DouglassCairo 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


Due to Christine South’s research, we know that Carmi East Side High School competed in the sport of basketball for a short period of time (1935-39).  Because of the small enrollment of the school, it is possible that this is the only time period that sports were offered at the school. If you have any further information, please contact us.

Our good friend Donn Hornberger provided the following information about one particular star athlete of Carmi East Side High School:

“One of the guys that played for Carmi East back in the post WW2 years was a member of the current Venice History Committee. George Cross, a stellar athlete and 6’7″ of mean basketball playing ability. George states he was on the Carmi EAST team and very nearly won big over his three years of hs basketball. Carmi East played schools such as Dunbar, Lincoln of Venice and Lincoln of East St. Louis

George Cross attended college and then took a position at Lincoln HS of Venice. He coached there for three or four years and went over to Vashon HS of St. Louis, MO. He had a stellar record as a teacher there. George and his wife, Althea, retired as teachers in the late 1980’s and reside in west St. Louis area at this time.”

If You Have Further Information Regarding Carmi East Side High School…

….please send it to us so we can share it on this page.  Our e-mail address is You can also mail items to us at:

IHSGD Website

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, IL.   60631

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