Carrier Mills High School “Wildcats”

Carrier Mills High School 1941-63

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The History of Carrier Mills High School


Carrier Mills (population 1,886) is located in far southeastern Illinois about seven miles southwest of Harrisburg and about 15 miles southeast of Marion. Carrier Mills is situated in the southwestern corner of Saline County. U.S. Route 45 is the main roadway to and from Carrier Mills. The Tunnel Hill State Trail runs alongside Route 45.


According to the Wikipedia website address of,_Illinois, Carrier Mills was first established in 1872 and named Morrillsville. A lumber yard and grain mill in the town run by a person named William Carrier gave the town its more commonly known name of Carrier Mills. Carrier Mills was incorporated in 1894. Coal mining had a great influence on the town’s early growth.


The history of the Carrier Mills school system was located on the Wikipedia web address of,_Illinois as well. In summary, Carrier Mills established a grade school in 1887. It was not until 1915 that a two-year high school course of curriculum was set in place. This system added a third year in of high school in 1917 and became a four-year high school in 1926.


Louis Shaw provided the following historical information of Carrier Mills High School consolidations:

“Stonefort High School was a three  year school in 1941 with most, but not all, students going on to take the 4th year at Carrier Mills.  Stonefort High School closed sometime in the mid-1940s with all students now attending CMHS. In 1963 a consolidation effort involved only CMHS and the two grade schools. There was no change in the actual schools then but only a legal change in how the districts operated. I have been told that CMHS legally became Carrier Mills-Stonefort High School in 1963 but no one called it that until much later when Stonefort GS closed. I believe Stonefort HS shared the building with the grade school.  The stonefort High School building was demolished a few years ago.  The yearbooks for 1940 and 1941 show pictures of sports teams but do not identify the mascot.  If anyone has more information or yearbooks for any other years they would be willing to let us copy, please contact Louis Shaw at the Carrier Mills-Stonefort Public Library. Also, the railroad is long gone and replaced by the Tunnel Hill State Trail.”


Carrier Mills-Stonefort High School is located in Carrier Mills.


From Sabine Horner:

“I found your email address on the Carrier Mills HS website. In 1960, the senior class at Carrier Mills participated in a major national study of high school students conducted all across America known as Project TALENT. Fifty years later, we are trying to reconnect with these students. Attached is some information about the project. Any assistance you can provide in contacting active members of the class of 1960 would be much appreciated.

Dear Sir or Madam,

If you received this letter, it is because the class of 1960 from your high school participated in national study known as Project TALENT.

Project TALENT was the largest study of high school students ever conducted in the United States. In 1960, over 400,000 students from 1,300 schools across the country participated in a national survey of their aptitudes and abilities in mathematics, reasoning, and language, and shared their aspirations for the future.

The study surveyed students from backgrounds as diverse as the country itself: Participants came from small rural towns and inner city neighborhoods, from schools on the verge of desegregation and from private and parochial academies.

The Project TALENT study captured the hopes, dreams, and concerns of a generation of young Americans coming of age on the cusp of a new era in American history. In 1960 the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements were gaining momentum, the Cold War and the space race were escalating and a newly elected young President was waiting to take office. The Project TALENT generation would be instrumental in the transformation of American society; they would usher in an age of unprecedented cultural richness and bear the brunt of national tragedy in the staggering loss of life suffered during the Vietnam War.

Fifty years after the original Project TALENT study, researchers and historians have become increasingly interested in this unique group of Americans. The American Institutes for Research, which developed and administered the original Project TALENT study in conjunction with the United States Office of Education, has launched an initiative to locate and reconnect with the Project TALENT participants. Our goals are twofold:

First, Project TALENT’s testing in the areas of language, mathematics, and reasoning has helped researchers, educators, and policy-makers to better understand and develop the talents and abilities of students so that they can lead happy and productive lives. New information gained from a fifty-year follow up of Project TALENT participants could provide information and reveal factors that have real consequences for future health, education and aging policies. Project TALENT data could be used in a variety of ways, from aiding the fight against the high school drop-out crisis that threatens the economic future of the country to helping medical researchers find early predictors for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Second, we believe that, with the help of Project TALENT participants, we have an important opportunity to create an archive of distinctly American stories that will help us to understand our past and build a stronger future. Fifty years ago, the Project TALENT generation shared their unique stories with us. It’s time for the next chapter.

We are writing to you because we think you may be able to help us reconnect with Project TALENT participants. If you are holding a reunion for the class of 1960, we would be interested in attending to briefly tell you more about the importance of Project TALENT and how you can participate. If you would like to be involved in this national project or if you have any questions, please contact Sabine Horner at or by phone at (202) 403-6197. You can also find more information about Project TALENT on our website:

Kind Regards,

Susan Lapham

Director, Project TALENT

American Institutes for Research

1990 K Street, NW, Suite 500

Washington, DC 20006


Carrier Mills High School Quick Facts


Year opened:                                  1915

Year consolidated with Stonefort:  1963

Consolidated to:                            Carrier Mills-Stonefort High School

Carrier Mills HS team nickname:    the “Wildcats”

Carrier Mills HS team colors:         Purple & Gold

School Fight Song:                        “We’re Loyal to You, Carrier Mills”

                                                      University of Illinois Fight Song Tune

                                                      Information submitted by LARRY CLORE.


                                                We’re loyal to you, Carrier Mills.

                                                We’re purple and gold, Carrier Mills.

                                                We’ll back you to stand

                                                ‘Gainst the best in the land

                                                For we know you have sand, Carrier Mills.


                                                Rah! Rah!


                                                So crack out the ball, Carrier Mills.

                                                We’re backing you all, Carrier Mills.

                                                Our team is our fame protector:

                                                On! Boys for we expect a

                                                Victory from you Carrier Mills!

Carrier Mills High School prior to 1940 fire

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Credit: Lake County Discovery Museum/Curt Teich Postcard Archives



Carrier Mills High School won IHSA hardware in boys basketball, baseball, cross country, and track & field. School fight song, coach’s names, team records, and great players in all sports are items we are searching for.


Boys Basketball


The Carrier Mills High School basketball program had some great seasons as listed on the IHSA website. Included are FOUR Regional Championships won at the school. Coach A.L. Willis led the basketball program from 1956-57 through 1961-62, garnering a six-year record of 117 – 36 for a .765 winning %.  Included in this run were back-to-back two-loss seasons and a Regional Championship.


1935-36                Regional Champions

1944-45                Regional Champions

1945-46   18 – 7                                               Coach Joe Gholson

1946-47   19 – 9                                               Coach Guy Hunter

1947-48   13 – 13                                              Coach Guy Hunter

1948-49     9 – 15                                              Coach Richard Lehr

1949-50   19 – 9                                                Coach Richard Lehr

1950-51   17 – 11                                              Coach Richard Lehr

1951-52   24 – 5                                                Coach Richard Lehr

1952-53   15 – 6                                                Coach Ted DeWitt

1953-54   21 –  4                                               Coach Claude Shelton

1954-55     9 – 16                                              Coach Claude Shelton

1955-56   17 – 9                                                Coach Claude Shelton

1956-57   23 – 2                                                Coach A.L. Willis

1957-58   19 – 2     Regional Champions          Coach A.L. Willis

1958-59   15 – 12                                              Coach A.L. Willis

1959-60   20 – 7                                                Coach A.L. Willis

1960-61   22 – 5                                                Coach A.L. Willis

1961-62   18 – 8                                                Coach A.L. Willis

1962-63   19 – 6                                                Coach Joe Wilmore

                    Became Carrier Mills-Stonefort HS in 1963.




The boys baseball program won a District title in 1955. Unfortunately the coach’s names and team records of this and other great Carrier Mills HS diamond teams are not available.


1954-55        District Champions


Boys Cross Country


The harriers of CMHS won two District titles and qualified for the IHSA State Meet on two occassions.


1959-60    District Champions – Qualified for IHSA State Meet


Boys Track & Field


THe Carrier Mills thinclads of 1933-34 gained the school’s highest finish in State Tournament competition. Led by speedster Eugene Payton’s two top-three medals the team placed EIGHTH overall in the one-class meet!! A lad named Hitchcock also earned a medal in the IHSA State Meet with a 2nd Place finish in 1932!


1931-32        Individual Medalist – ?? Hitchcock       880 Yard Run     2ND Place


1932-33        Individual Medalist – Eugene Payton   220 Yard Dash    4TH Place


1933-34        Team Finished EIGHTH in STATE MEET Competition!!


                    Individual Medalist


                    Eugene Payton         220 Yard Dash          2ND Place

                                                     100 Yard Dash          3RD Place


                    Final Team Standings

                    1)   Winnetka (New Trier)                      19

                    2)  Sterling (H.S.)                                 15

                    2)  Rockford (H.S.)                               15

                    4)  Chicago (Englewood)                       10½

                    5)  Centralia                                           9 9/10

                    6)  Atlanta                                             9

                    6)  Kankakee (Sr.)                                  9

                    8)  CARRIER MILLS HIGH SCHOOL      7  

                    8)  Chicago (Tilden)                                7

                  10)  Evanston (Twp.)                                6 2/5


More on Eugene Payton and other track stars from Erik Griffin:

Mr. Payton continued his standout track career at SIU-Carbondale, then known as Southern Illinois Teacher’s College, from 1935 to 1938.  Payton was the track team’s leading scorer as a freshman and sophomore (there was no mention of who led the team his final two years) according to Saluki Sports History written by Fred Huff.  Payton concluded his career as the school’s record holder in the low hurdles and the 100 yard dash.  Mr. Payton was honored for his accomplishments by being selected as a charter member of the Saluki Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.

Other Carrier Mills High School Alumni who lettered in athletics at SIU-C include the following:

Dee King – Track; 1933

John Buckner – Track; 1934 & 1935

William Keene – Cross Country; 1946 & 1947 (was team captain in 1947)”


Memories and Information


**From John Barger:

Marshall Stewart, who graduated in 1963, was a two- time all-stater (1962, 1963). There was a player named Oliver “Catfish” Rollins who played in the ’50s who had a brief career with the Harlem Globtrotters. Rollins was also an all-stater when in high school. He was playing for CMHS around 1956 because the IHSA website lists him in their “50-point club” as scoring 52 points in a game against Sesser in that year. This was a school record that stood until Marshall Stewart scored 58 in a game vs. Ridgway, Feb. 19, 1963 (24 FG, 10-11 FT).  As this website could prove useful to you in your research, you can view it at: .


**From Erik Griffin:


“William Lawrence “Bill” Cofield, CMHS Class of 1959, was the first African American head coach in the Big Ten Conference.  Cofield was men’s basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin from 1977-1982.  Cofield attended McKendree College and is a member of their athletic Hall of Fame.


Carrier Mills also had a segregated school, Carrier Mills Dunbar, that existed until the mid to late 1950’s.  My father attended grade school there in the 1940’s.  I am uncertain if it also included a high school. I do know that the principal of Dunbar, Archie Jones, went on to Carbondale Attucks and became a major figure in the desegregation of Carbondale.  There is currently a street named for Mr. Jones in Carbondale but very little knowledge of his existence today in Carrier Mills.

As to your mention of Eugene Payton, he went on to letter and standout at SIU-Carbondale after graduating from Carrier Mills HS.  I remember hearing an urban legend about Payton that involved Jesse Owens.  After Owens captured gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, he was called the fastest man in the world.  Owens supposedly said he could not claim that title as he was the second fastest man behind Eugene Payton.  I do not know if it is indeed true but it does make for an interesting story.

Oliver Rollins was allowed to graduate from high school in April of his senior year to begin touring with the Globetrotters.  He is still the school’s all time leading scorer.”


**From Larry Clore (CM-S HS Class of 1968):


“Lorna Dallas, a Carrrier Mills graduate, won the Cocal Cola National talent contest and was on TV with host Pat Boone. She became a Opera singer and Lives in London England. She also was in a movie with Tallav Savallas.”


Seeking More Information

We are seeking further information regarding Carrier Mills High School and its storied past. Please complete a School Submission Form or Guest Commentary Form if you would like to share any personal knowledge you may have regarding Carrier Mills High before its merger with Stonefort. You can e-mail us at




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