|Carrollton St. John’s School Campus|
|Courtesy of Mark Caselton|
|St. John’s Convent and School – 1935|
|Courtesy of Mark Caselton|
The History of Carrollton St. John’s High School
Carrollton (population 2,605) is located in lower-western Illinois about 35 miles north of St. Louis and 30 miles southwest of Jacksonville. Carrollton is the county seat of Greene County and is located in the central-southeastern portion of the county. U.S. Route 67 is the main roadway through town and is intersected by Illinois Route 108. The Coates Creek flows through the northwest side of town while the Lick Branch of the Macoupin Creek flows through the southeast side of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad travels through Carrollton as well.
According to the website address of http://www.c-hawks.org/1catlas04/ Carrollton was established in the early 1800s and officially incorporated in 1849. A courthouse was established in 1859. A newspaper article submitted by Mark Caselton had this information to provide regarding the St. John’s School history:
“St. John’s parochial school was started in 1877, very near the beginning of Rev. A.J. Sauer’s pastorate of St. John’s Catholic Church. It was housed in a one-story frame school building on the north side of South Main Street, nearly opposite of the present two-story brick building, which was erected in 1904, during the pastorate of Rev. J.J. Driscoll. It continued for a number of years teaching only the elementary branches, and many of its pupils entered and graduated from the Carrollton High School. From the start the school was taught by Dominican Sisters. Enrollment in 1898 was 85.
The school building had been planned with a view to the ultimate establishment of a high school, and the plan was accomplished in 1922, during the pastorate of Rev. Thomas E. Cusack.
The frame building for the Dominican Sisters adjoining the church on the south, built in 1881, was removed in 1922, and a larger and more modern home for the instructors was erected east of the school building.
The first graduating class, composed oif eight boys and eight girls, received diplomas at the commencement exercises June 1, 1926.
Enrollment September of 1937 in the high school was 58 students with grades 1 – 8 having 115 students.”
Mark Caselton tells us that a new grade school with eight class rooms and gymnasium was built in 1968. The original high school building has been razed.
Carrollton St. John’s High School Quick Facts
Year grade school opened: 1877
Year high school opened: 1922
First graduating class: 1926
Year closed: 1956
St. John’s HS team nickname: the “Flying Dutchmen””
St. John’s HS team colors: Maroon & White
School Fight Song: none
The only mention on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org) for Carrollton High School is in the sport of boys basketball. It is likely other sports such as football, baseball, and track were also offered as part oft he athletic program. Team nickname, colors, fight song, records, and coach’s names are all items we are seeking.
More history of the athletic program of the Flying Dutchmen was provided by our good friend and St. John’s alum, Mark Caselton:
“I am told that Father Thomas Costello, who was the Pastor from 1926 to 1937, did obtain some old football equipment and football was played at St. John’s. A scrimmage was held and St. John’s was soundly defeated. Football was soon written off as a lost cause. Most of the male students, even after the St. John’s High School opened, would go to the public school for the sports.
Just after World War II, the parish decided try and build up the high school and requested all Catholics to go to St. Johns. We did not have a gym when they started the sport of basketball around 1944. We had “hand-me-down” uniforms from the public school that were green and white in color. There were some away games played only, since we had no gym and practiced outside. I was in the grade school at the time and we were to play the public school 7th and 8th grade team. We were very poor and ill-equipped, I remember that we were able to go to the church and borrow the Altar Boy tennis shoes. One boy had his own shoes and we used a sixth grader to have a sixth man on the team.
Formally in 1946, they did rent the public school gym for some practice. In 1947, a local businessman, Joseph Alfeld, who owned the local IGA Store, volunteered to coach the team and even purchased new maroon and white uniforms with warm-up jackets. Since we had no gym, we rented the one in Eldred (8 miles west of Carrollton) for two nights a week and played our home games at the Carrollton HS gym. Coach Alfeld purchased “home” white jerseys in 1949 for the 1949-50 season.
We met with some success in the 1948-49 season but I don’t recall our record. I couldn’t find any records as to our won-loss record but it was better than .500%. The 1949-50 season was by far the best and again, I couldn’t find any records but my memory tells me we lost only six games that year including the Regional Championship loss to Jerseyville. We won over twenty games that year. We won the District Title in February of 1950, in the Eldred gymnasium where we had practiced all year.”
The boys basketball team at St. John’s had one shining season as far as IHSA competition goes. The team of 1949-50 won a District title. Unfortunately this is currently the extent of the information we have available on the St. Johns basketball team.
A player on the 1949-50 team, Mark Caselton, advises that St. John’s also made it to the championship game of the Regional before losing to Jerseyville, a school with over 700 students. St. Johns had an enrollment of 54 that year!
Members of the team of 1949-50 include:
Front row; Bob Hardwick, Mark Caselton, Joe Kuhnline, Dick Carmody, Jude Caselton
Back Row; Don Raker (mgr.), Bob Steinacher Damon Hartman, Jim Skaggs, Coach Alfeld
1949-50 District Champions Coach Joseph “Red” Alfeld
Lost to Jerseyville in the
Championship of the Regional
Special Grade School Coach
From our good friend Mark Caselton:
“Edward Pohlman was the first St. John’s grade school coach, beginning the 1968-69 season. He organized an 8th grade boys tournament in January of 1969. Ed passed away December 14, 2007 and he will be missed. On January 19, 2008, just before the Championship game of this grade school tournament which has run annually since its inception, the organizers celebrated the 40th anniversary of the tournament. Ed Pohlman was honoed along with his family for their contribution. There was a lot of publicity in both the Alton and Jacksonville papers. There were at least 15 past coaches and several ‘boys’ who had played in the tournament, many who went on to play college basketball. They gym is supposed to seat approximately 300, however the attendance was over 600 for the last game.”
Congratulations to Coach Pohlman, his family, and St. Johns for honoring their past and those who have made it possible to continue on.
Our special thanks goes out to our good fan and friend, Mark Caselton. Mark provided much of the information and photos on this page. We are thankful he helped us experience this “Sentimental Journey” with him. Thank you Mark.
Need Some Assistance
As with every page, we are seeking some in-put from a Carrollton resident, St. John’s fan, or St. John’s alumnus as to the history and great successes accomplished at St. John’s High School. If you can provide us with information please complete a School Submission Form or Guest Commentary Form. You may also write us at email@example.com or via “real” mail at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631