Chatham High School “Cyclones”

Chatham High School Building Built in 1938
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Submitted by Phil Shadid
Caldwell School in Chatham – HS from 19__-1938
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1912 ” Annual Rpt of Sangamon Co. Schools” & Phil Shadid

The History of Chatham High School

Chatham (population 8,583) is located in near-west central Illinois about 10 miles south of Springfield.  Illinois Route 4 is the main roadway through town while Interstate Highway 55 travels by the east side of town.The Southern Pacific Railroad travels through Chatham  Lake Springfield sits on the east side of town as Lick Creek flows through the north side of Chatham.

A brief history of the town can be read on the Chatham Chamber of Commerce website address of  It states that the Chatham area was first settled in 1816.  It received the name of Chatham in 1836.

History of Chatham High School

                                                    by Phil Shadid

“The first school in Chatham was established in 1837, and by the early part of the 20th Century there were seven one-room country schools in the township. As noted in the book “Country Schools of Sangamon County” by Helen Murray, all the country schools closed by 1949.

Students attended a town school in Chatham named “Caldwell,” which was constructed in 1895 and was paid for by Ben Franklin Caldwell, a prominent local citizen. He had come to the Chatham area at the age of five with his parents in 1853. His formal school education ended at age 15 when his father died. Caldwell became active in real estate, banking and livestock raising, and eventually owned 1000 acres of farmland in the area. The farm home which was built after his 1873 marriage to Julia Cloyd cost $20,000 in 1876. (It is still on IL.4 between Chatham and Springfield, known as the “Caldwell Mansion.”) He became active in Democratic politics and was elected to the Illinois legislature as a State Rep. and then as a State Senator. Caldwell’s election to the U. S. Congress for four terms concluded his political career. He died in 1924.

Caldwell school was used from the beginning as a combination Grade and High school and continued to be used as a Grade school only, from 1938 to 1961. The building shown on this page was actually built in 1905 (destroyed by fire in 1964), replacing the original structure which collapsed in a fire in 1904.

Chatham High School was listed yearly in the “Annual Report of Sangamon County Schools” as a recognized 4-year high school until 1919. But from 1919 to May 1924 it was a 2-year school. The high school became a 3-year school in September 1924 and continued as such until 1938 when it became a 4-year school again. The new building, opened in 1938, was built at a cost of $32,000. (The first floor of the building is still being used as an elementary school.) Chatham consolidated with Ball Township High School (about four miles east of Chatham), in 1948, with the establishment of the Ball-Chatham school district. All high school students then attended Ball Township.

Ball Township, located north and east of the town of Glenarm, was a 4-year school from Sept.1923 to March 1957. The Ball-Chatham district opened a new 4-year high school just east of Chatham in March 1957, naming it Glenwood. In 2007 (operating out of its 2001-built location on a beautiful college-like campus) it became the largest high school in the county (1416), surpassing the largest of Springfield’s six high schools. The old Chatham High School had 34 students when it closed in May 1948. (Village of Chatham passed the 10,200 population mark in a special census in 2005, which was about 15 times the size of the town in 1950.)

The number of seniors graduating from Chatham High from 1938 to 1948 is as follows:

1938, 10; 1939, 18; 1940, 21; 1941, 20; 1942, 10; 1943, 15; 1944, 11; 1945, 6 (all girls); 1946, 8 (1 boy); 1947, 7; 1948, 8.

Chatham High School enrollment was as follows:

4-year HS: 1918 – 41.  1919 – 51.

2-year HS from 1920 thru 1926 (enrollments around 36 each year).

3-year HS from 1927 thru 1937 (enrollments around 44 each year).

4-year HS from 1938 until merging with Glenarm Ball Township in September 1948 (enrollments with a low of 39 in 1944 and a high of 80 in 1938).  ”


Year opened:                 1895 (4-year HS known as “Caldwell”)

2-Year HS opened:         1919-1924

3-Year HS opened:         1924-1938

4-Year HS opened:         1938-1948  (New Building)

Consolidated to:             Ball Township HS, Sept. 1948 (Ball-Chatham district)

(original first floor of building is still being used as an elementary school)

School team nickname:  “Cyclones”

School team colors:        Black & Gold

School Fight Song:         “Onward Chatham”

                                     Sung to “On Wisconsin”

Onward Chatham, Onward Chatham

                                      Get up, time to score,

                                      Keep the ball away from (opponent)

                                      Do as you’ve done before.

                                      RAH RAH RAH!!

                                      Onward Chatham, Onward Chatham

                                      Fight on for our fame

                                      Fight fellows, fight,

                                      And we will win this game!  

Chatham High School Gymnasium 1936-48
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Now Chatham Community Center – Photo by Phil Shadid
Chatham HS Track Team – 1909
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“Grand Prize Athletic 1909” Courtesy of Chatham Area Library submitted by Phil Shadid


Basketball, baseball and track offered. Football was not played.  If the Chatham High School teams utilized a nickname or school fight song the information is not currently available.

BOYS BASKETBALL: (compiled by Phil Shadid)

The last basketball game played by Chatham was in the Ball Township District tourney on Feb. 23, 1948. They lost to Pawnee 46-44. Scoring for Chatham: Norval McCord Jr. 24, William Gaule 10, Joe Hummel 6, John Schmidt 4. Playing but not scoring: Richard Bell, Donald Smith, William Driver. Charles Millspaugh was the coach. The team finished their final season with a 2-10 record.

Home games were played in the Chatham village hall until it was destroyed by fire in 1935. They moved to the new Community Center in 1936.

Chatham played high school basketball and track at least as far back as 1909, based on a photo found at the Chatham Area Library in 2008. Mr. Chapman was the coach (and probably the principal). The five players in the photo (located to your right) are: Hewitt Allen, Leslie Simpson, Russell Shutt, Everett Register and Edwin Murphy. The coach and a player are holding a banner with the words “Grand Prize, Athletic 1909 which was earned when the boys won the Sangamon County Track Championship that year.”

Homer “Buster” Bartholomew
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Submitted by Phil Shadid

LEGENDARY COACH HOMER “BUSTER” BARTHOLOMEW began his reign as a teacher and coach at Chatham, for both the grade and high school, in 1922 and remained there through the 1935 school year.  He became principal of all classes in 1927.  He not only coached the high school boys and girls basketball squads, but also coached the grade school teams.  He coached baseball and track and field. Homer “Buster” Bartholomew was inducted into the Chatham Glenwood High School Hall of Fame on Sunday, April 25, 2010.

His basketball coaching style and instruction was such that his teams dominated the sport for the first five years of the Sangamon County Conference (which was known as the Three-Year Oratorical & Athletic Association for its first two years, and would later be known as the Sangamo Conference), a group he helped organize.  He began developing his skills as a basketball coach on the outdoor court at Berlin Grade School in 1914, and when New Berlin constructed its first gym in 1917, he became the high school’s first full-time coach in 1918.

In 1915, New Berlin High School opened as a 4-year school and began its boys basketball program using faculty advisers, but no full time coach.  When the gym became a reality in 1917 they had a limited schedule.  But on Nov. 30, 1917, in the first game of the season the high school played Homer Bartholomew’s 7th-8th grade team from Berlin.  (The two villages are about a mile and a half apart).  The grade school boys whipped the high school 58-16.  By the following year the New Berlin principal asked Buster to take over the high school team.  In 1918, he became the boys coach for New Berlin High, Berlin Grade School (boys and girls) and guided N.B. to second place in the first Sangamon County basketball tournament in 1920.  His 1920-21 team finished 20-6 led by their star player Roy Breeding, who once scored 50 points in a game against Bartholomew’s old school, Loami.

Bartholomew’s Chatham boys teams were 61-5 from 1925 to 1930 in the conference, winning four regular season titles and three conference tournaments.  A loss to Buffalo in 1927 and a defeat at Riverton in 1929 prevented Chatham from winning all titles.

His girls teams at Chatham achieved a record of 28-3 for the three years he coached (1925 to 1928).  Girls played “boys rules,” meaning 5 vs. 5 on a full court, instead of 2 vs. 2 at each end of the court and 2 vs. 2 for center jumps, as was the case in Iowa and some other states.  Chatham’s girls were champions of the conference twice, and won the annual tournament three times.  Losses to Riverton in 1927 kept Chatham from sweeping all games against conference opponents.  (See story elsewhere on this page which tells why the girls did not compete in interscholastic sports after 1928.)

Mr. Bartholomew helped organize the Sangamon County Grade School basketball tournament for boys, sponsored by the Illinois State Journal (Springfield).  In the county tourney’s second year of existence (1927) Chatham, coached by Bartholomew, made it to the semi-final before losing to Williamsville, 24-15.  The tourney was held at Spfld’s Feitshans School.  Iles School of Spfld then defeated Williamsville, 12-9, in the championship.  Chatham won first and second round games before the semi-final, and the second round victory was against St. Joseph’s of Spfld, 36-3.  St. Joe’s did not have a coach.

The following appeared in a sports column by the Journal’s sports editor Bob Drysdale, regarding the grade school tourney: “Buster Bartholomew, coach of the Chatham loopers, has one lad who can’t be bluffed.  He’s young (Ed) Sallade.  During the first quarter of the game with St. Joseph’s, this lad sat beside his coach, muttering at the misplays of his mates and seconding Bartholomew’s criticisms until finally Buster turned on him and said: ‘I suppose you could do better?’  Then turning to the scorer, he said ‘give me time out and we’ll see.’  At first the youngster wavered, then he said ‘sure I can,’ and rushed on the floor.  Each time he tore into a play and came up with the ball, he’d look over at the bench and laugh.  He knew he could do it and went out to show the world.”

Sallade became one of Bartholomew’s best players on the 1929-30 Chatham High School squad.

Homer Fletcher “Buster” Bartholomew was born on August 11, 1891, in Tuscola IL.  His father died when Homer was six years old, and he and his mother moved to Decatur IL, where she worked at a commercial laundry.  At the age of eight in January 1900, he was helping in the laundry (no child labor laws in those days), when his left arm got caught in a large piece of equipment called a “steam roller” that was used to send towels, sheets, etc., through for ironing.  The arm had to be amputated just below the shoulder.  A couple of years later his mother married a farmer from Loami where the family settled and Homer attended school.  He was encouraged by his step-cousins to play sports.  So despite his handicap he took part in track and field, throwing the discus and shot-put, and also played the outfield on the Loami summer “Merchants” baseball team.

The nickname “Buster” was probably given to him when he was very young.  At least two men remember that Buster was the only name they ever heard him called.  One gentleman had this recollection: “We lived in New Berlin and my father took me to a basketball game in Auburn, a game which New Berlin won.  Afterwards we came across a group of tough guys who were throwing rocks at our fans’ cars, but then Old Buster (New Berlin’s coach) grabbed a bat from his car and began swinging it at the toughs.  They quickly retreated.”  This incident took place in 1920 when “Old Buster” was all of 28 years old!  But the man recalling the incident was 9 years old at the time, so 28 seemed pretty old to him.  The other man told of his father and uncle playing baseball with Bartholomew in the early 1900s, and they always called him Buster.  Newspaper sports items in the mid-1920s and in to the 1940s usually referred to him as Buster without using his actual first name.

He graduated from Loami High School “Lions” and pursued an education certificate at Illinois State Teachers College (now known as Illinois State Univ.).  A stint as player-coach of the New Berlin “Merchants” basketball team (1919-21) saw him score a few baskets from the guard position.  He taught school in one-room schoolhouses for several years before arriving in Chatham.  In 1936 he obtained his masters degree from the Univ. of Illinois, and then took a job in the Bath-Lynchburg school district.  He coached at B-L for seven years, the last two of which he was also the principal.  He had been a baseball coach for the Springfield Junior American Legion team, and helped organize the Springfield Officials Association.  He was a high school referee or umpire for basketball, football and baseball, as well as a professional umpire in the Class B Three-I League.

He played golf and was in charge of the Virginia Country Club golf course at one time.  He loved rodeos and attended several in New Berlin and the major rodeo venue in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The man had a great sense of humor, too.  In March 1935 just before his Chatham basketball team (season record 7-14, enrollment 35) played Springfield High (enrollment 2564) in the District tournament, he said: “The team that beats Chatham in the District will win the state.”  (In those days of one-class basketball all teams, regardless of size, were sent to the same area District tourney.)  SHS won the game 67-11 and went on to win the state title with their star Herb Scheffler (season record 34-3).

He passed away on June 17, 1943, several weeks shy of his 52nd birthday, after a brief illness.  He and his wife Helen had no children.  She was also a teacher, becoming principal at Bath after Homer’s death.  In a heartfelt column his good friend sports editor Bob Drysdale of the Illinois State Journal (Springfield) wrote:  “Along with scores of principals, coaches, officials and others interested in high school athletics, this writer sustained a deep personal loss with the death of Homer ‘Buster’ Bartholomew.  He was an ardent booster for all sports.  And with it all he made hundreds of friends.  His influence helped to send scores of boys (and girls) into successful careers.  His kind can not be replaced in the school room, the athletic field, or in life.”

FOOTNOTE: In late November 1932, Mr. Bartholomew discovered that one of his basketball player’s had failed to attend school enough days during the first semester; therefore the principal/coach declared the student ineligible for the remainder of the semester.  The team forfeited three lopsided conference wins, and finished the league race with a 7-5 record instead of a 10-2 mark.  The player was a model student the second semester and was a big star during the following season’s march to a 20-4 record.


1924-25       3-3   Homer Bartholomew (first varsity season since 1920)

Chatham HS Boys Basketball 1925-26
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Courtesy of Phil Shadid

1925-26: The first season of the newly formed TYOAA league saw Chatham win the title with a record of 12-1, and a 19-4 mark for all games. Walter Ivie led in scoring, including a 22 point effort in a 22-18 win over Ball Township. That’s right, he scored every point! The team also took the conference tournament with an easy 33-19 victory over Riverton. For the season, Chatham averaged winning by a 22-13 margin. Members of the team are seen in the photo to your right. They include:

Seated,  L to R:  Charles Moore, Kenneth Long, Walter Ivie, Victor Tanner, Dale Gorey                        Standing, L to R:  Arthur Kinkade, Lloyd Tanner, coach Homer “Buster” Bartholomew, Duwayne Andrews, Arnold Creasy 

The south county team had a very good season in 1927-28 when they won the Sangamon County Conference (later known as Sangamo Conference) with a 9-1 mark, and also won the conference’s annual tournament March 3, beating Riverton for the third time; a 15-12 win. (The conference consisted of 3-year high schools only: Buffalo, Chatham, LoamiMechanicsburg, Riverton, Rochester.) Coach Homer Bartholomew’s boys suffered only two defeats, one to Loami in November, and then a 31-17 season ending loss to Farmersville in the Springfield District tournament on March 9,1928. (Record: 12-2)

Two straight games in 1928 against Riverton during the regular season saw Chatham winning 23-13 on Jan. 20, and 21-13 on Feb. 2. A special train on the Illinois Traction System took almost 150 fans from Chatham to Riverton to watch Kean and Keller combine for 18 points in downing Riverton. Then on Feb. 2, the Riverton fans (150-plus) chartered an ITS train to take them to Auburn for the Hawks’ last chance to tie for the conference. The Chatham fans also were at the game in big numbers. (The game had been moved from Chatham’s tiny gym to Auburn High’s fine facility.) Kean and Keller accounted for 16 of Chatham’s points. Other players that season were Dunn, Wright, Kincaid, McDonald, Burton, Tanner, Reynolds, Slade.

1928-29:Coach Bartholomew always had his teams playing outstanding defense and offense. They waltzed through the Sangamon County Conference with a 12-0 record, and also beat non-conference opponents Ball Township and Pleasant Plains. They scored many one-sided wins, including 49-4 over Buffalo, 37-5 over Mechanicsburg, and had a remarkable 320 victory over Riverton. In mid-January they beat Riverton again, this time 19-8. But their east county rival would be the host of the conference’s annual tournament Feb. 28-March 2, 1929, and revenge was on their minds.

Riverton blasted Buffalo and Loami to reach the finals of the tournament, while Chatham was handling Rochester and Mechanicsburg easily. Chatham was now 16-0. On the night of March 2, the boys lost the championship to Riverton, 16-15, on a free throw in the last minute of the game, touching off a wild celebration by the host school’s fans. A stunned crowd of Chatham fans filed out of the Riverton Town Hall in disbelief, heading for their special train to take them back home.

In the Springfield District, Chatham beat Loami and then closed out their season (17-2) with a heart-breaking 31-29 loss to Farmersville on March 8, 1929. Herschel Reynolds, Dunn, Charles Wright, Frank Fitch, Cusic, Keller and McDonald contributed greatly during the season. Reynolds was a major scoring threat during the year, but missed the conference and district tournaments due to an injury. He was sorely missed.

1929-30:Chatham began the season determined not to let any conference team get the best of them, and a 14-0 record proved that they weren’t kidding. They again had a full season mark of 17-2, winning the conference, winning the conference tournament, beating nearby rival Ball Township two out of three, placing third in the Springfield District tourney. They handled most teams easily, except for a few close calls (22-18 win over Riverton, 26-20 over Dawson, 15-13 over Ball Township). Only a 20-17 mid-season loss to Ball Twp and a semi-final loss in the District to Elkhart (27-14) kept them from a better record. Frank Fitch, Dunn, Sallade, Delattre, Herschel Reynolds and Dwight figured prominently during the year.

Chatham enjoyed tremendous success in 1933-34, going 11-1 to tie for the conference championship with Mechanicsburg, and also winning the conference tournament that season. They produced a 20-4 season, which included a thrilling 18-17 win over Ball Township to close out the regular season. Scoring leaders for the year were Joe Mottershaw, Robert Evoy, Jim Barnes, Leonard McClernon and Lawrence Long.

In the Springfield District tournament they beat Buffalo for the third time (28-24), but lost against eventual tourney champs Springfield High, 53-17. Chatham’s little guys just couldn’t match up with SHS’s future all-stater, Herb Scheffler (6’4” center).

1939-40: Principal and coach H. E. Brown guided a squad of nine players who achieved a record of 14-9 and took part in the newly reorganized Sangamo Conference. Chatham finished fourth in the conference race with an 8-5 mark, while three other charter members from the league’s first year in 1925 also competed in 1939-40: Buffalo (as Tri-City), Riverton and Rochester. They fared this way against their old conference rivals: lost twice to Riverton, split two games with Buffalo T-C, beat Rochester three times. They also defeated their nearby archrival Ball Township twice.

Charles Hurst, Chester “Pick” Barnes, Don Viar, Jack McClernon, Harold Bliefnick, Allen Roth, Walter Mueller, Robert Miller and Joe Harbour played prominent roles for the team. Hurst and Barnes led in scoring.

After beating conference champion New Berlin 33-27 on Feb. 14, 1940, Chatham lost the rematch in the District tournament at New Berlin on Feb. 23, losing to the host school, 43-15. (J. V. Kirby’s New Berlin “Pretzels” went on to win the District and the Regional and finished with a 23-5 record.)

In the 1943-44 season they had a record of 13-9, beating their rival Ball Township 15-12 on Jan.12,1944. They wound up fourth in the County tourney, losing to Buffalo Tri-City in the consolation game 37-26. The Illinois State Journal sports editor, Bob Drysdale, wrote “this is Chatham’s best record in the history of the school” and predicted they would win the 1944 District tournament. (He was wrong on both counts: Chatham was 20-4 in 1933-34.)Chatham also played in the Sangamon County tournament (for 4-year schools) for several years, garnering third place and fourth place awards four times each. Unfortunately, they lost in the Ball Township District to Farmersville on Feb. 24, 1944, 31-24. Scoring leader for the season was Willis Farley, with about 12 points per game. Freshman Norval McCord, Harold Smith, Charles McLaughlin and Robert Sumpter also contributed during the season.

1944-45: Hit hard by graduation the previous Spring and having seniors enlisting in the military, Chatham suffered through a winless season (0-14). There were no senior boys in school in 1945 and only one in 1946. Sophomore Norval McCord paced the team in scoring.

(The last four years of Chatham’s existence had the basketball team winning only six games while losing 50.)

1945-46: A very tough season saw a record of only 1-10 with several games cancelled because of the Flu. The team split two games with Ball Township, winning at Chatham on Feb. 15 in two overtimes, 20-18. McCord’s desperation basket from mid-court as time expired proved to be the winner. It was Chatham’s first victory in two years.

The 1946-47 season was not too successful either (2-16), but forward Homer Smith had a good year, averaging over 13 points per game. Also helping in scoring were McCord, Bill Conboy, Paul Roth and the Schmidt boys: John and Bill. Smith scored 24 of the team’s 34 points in a 34-30 win over Franklin on Nov. 22, 1946.


1924-25       3-3    Homer Bartholomew

1925-26     19-4    Homer Bartholomew (12-1 in conference)

1926-27     12-6    Homer Bartholomew

1927-28     14-2    Homer Bartholomew

1928-29     17-2    Homer Bartholomew (14-1 in conference)

1929-30     17-2    Homer Bartholomew (14-0 in conference)

1930-31     13-9    Homer Bartholomew

1931-32     17-5    Homer Bartholomew

1932-33     10-11  Homer Bartholomew

Springfield District Tournament

1st Rd Beat Mechanicsburg 23-17

2nd Rd lost to Riverton 31-16

1933-34     20-4    Homer Bartholomew

Springfield District Tournament

1st Rd Beat Biffalo 28-24

2nd Rd lost to Springfield 53-17

Springfield won District Tourney

Springfield lost in Sweet 16 Round

Chatham HS B-ball 1933-34 / Led by Joe Mottershaw
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Submitted by Phil Shadid

1934-35       7-14  Homer Bartholomew

    Williamsville District Tournament

1st Rd lost to Springfield 65-17

Springfield won District Tourney

Springfield won IHSA State Tournament!

1935-36       6-8    B. E. Smith

1936-37       5-13  B. E. Smith

1937-38       6-19  Dale Walker

1938-39       8-13  H. E. Brown

1939-40     14-9    H. E. Brown

1940-41      2-19   H. E. Brown

1941-42      3-14   H. E. Brown

1942-43      4-12   H. E. Brown

1943-44     13-9    H. E. Brown


1944-45      0-14   Charles Millspaugh

Glenarm District Tournament

1st Rd lost to Pawnee 43-25

1945-46      1-10   Charles Millspaugh

1946-47     2-16    Charles Millspaugh

Divernon District Tournament

1st Rd lost to Divernon 42-30

1947-48      3-10   Charles Millspaugh (last season)

Chatham HS Basketball Team 1943-44
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Courtesy of Nita Bell

Members of the 1943-44 Chatham HS basketball team pictured above:

Standing l to r:  Thomas “Toots” Loyd, Marshall Ulrich, “Bing” McClernan, Marvin McCulley, Larry Evoy, Homer Smith, Coach/Principal H D Brown

Seated l to r: Harold Smith, Robert Sumpter, Charles McLaughlin w/ mascot Ralph Bush, Willis Farley, Don McCord


Chatham HS Girls Basketball Team of 1925-26
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1925-26:  Chatham’s girls played several years of basketball before 1930. The 1925-26 team went UNDEFEATED in 14 games outscoring opponents by an average of 21-5. They were Sangamon County champions, beating Auburn, Dawson, New Berlin, Riverton and Rochester. Coach Homer Bartholomew’s team is pictured to your right.  Members of the team include the following playes as they appear in the photo:

Seated, L to R:  Coach Homer “Buster” Bartholomew, Sallie Shields, Isabel McDonald, Florence McDonald

Standing, L to R:  Hazel Brawner, june Allen, Alma Evoy, Margaret Snodgrass

1926-27:  The girls team played a varsity schedule in the 1926-27 season, within the conference, against DawsonMechanicsburg, Riverton and Rochester, and in 1927-28, they would play the first game of the evening, and the boys game would follow. Most of the time, unfortunately, the box scores were not reported in newspapers. But the season of 1927-28, saw the team win 8, while losing only one. Final conference standings: Chatham 6-0, Riverton 4-2, Mechanicsburg 2-4, Rochester 0-6. Playing for Chatham: Cloyd, Jordan, McDonald, Tice, Kramer, Reynolds, Johnston and Canham.

On Jan. 20, 1928, the girls beat Riverton 23-13 and then defeated Riverton again, 32-7, this time on Feb. 2 at Auburn. On March 3, Chatham routed Riverton 34-13 to win the conference tournament championship. (By beating Riverton three straight times, they matched the boys’ success for the season.) Two other Sangamon County Conference teams participated in the tournament: Mechanicsburg and Rochester.

But the Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), the governing body for the public high schools, had taken a dim view of girls athletics, other than for intramural sports, prohibiting member schools from having a girls team play against another school.

This ban became effective in 1908, but was not widely known or enforced. Some high schools which came along in the early 20th Century would organize girls teams without realizing they were violating IHSAA rules.

In late 1927, the IHSAA sent a strong letter to school administrators (including schools in the Sangamon County Conference) admonishing them to not allow girls to compete in athletics against other schools (“too rough and unladylike?”). So, shortly after the 1928 season, girls were banned from playing interscholastic sports. The ban lasted into the 1970s! (Source for above two paragraphs: IHSA article by Scott Johnson, entitled “Not Altogether Ladylike.”)

Chatham did not have a girls team after 1928, but they had the distinction of being county and conference champs, a fete that no one could take away from them. How many teams have ever gone UNDEFEATED in a season!


May 02, 1908

William Nichols led Chatham to a second place finish with 19 of his team’s 35 points.

Auburn won with 42 points. Nichols took first in the Pole Vault (9 ft, 3 inches), Standing Broad Jump (9 feet, 4 ½ inches), Running Broad Jump (17 feet, 10 inches) and Running-Hop-Step-Jump (39 feet, 3 inches). He also wound up third in the 220-yard Low Hurdles.

Other placers for Chatham were: Frank Whitney, first in 100-yard Dash (11 1/5th seconds); Pat Murphy, second in Quarter-Mile Run; Everett Matthews, third in Half-Mile Run, third in Hammer Throw, third in Discus; Leslie Simpson, second in Running High Jump. The team took third in the Half-Mile Relay. Chatham did not place in the top three in Oratorical & Essay.

May 08, 1909

The Illinois State Journal (Springfield) printed a two-column story on the front page while the State Register also gave extensive coverage of the Meet.

After finishing runnerup to Auburn for two straight years, Chatham easily bested their south county rival, 36-23, in Track & Field in a 9-team competition. Edwin Murphy and Leslie Simpson won three events each, with Murphy also gaining third in 220-yard Dash. Murphy won the Running Broad Jump in 16 feet, the Running-Hop-Step-Jump in 37 feet, 2 ¾ inches, and the 220-yard Hurdles in 31 & 1/5th seconds. Simpson took first in Pole Vault (9 feet, 3 inches), 100-yard Dash (11 & 3/5th seconds), and won the Running High Jump (5 feet, one inch). Everett Matthews won the Half-Mile race in 2 minutes, 22 & 2/5th seconds. (See photo of 1909 team on this page, except for Matthews, who may be misidentified as Everett Register.)

In the New Berlin Opera House, Grace Foster’s oration (speech) on “True Nobility,” and Ethelyn Durham’s Essay “Time and it’s uses” gave Chatham a third place tie with Loami.

A packed house witnessed the speeches (as reported in the Journal): “the hall was a bedlam of sound. Every yell known to students had been adapted to particular use of Chatham, Auburn or whatever school it might suit. The girls made more noise than the boys. It was a happy event, only marred by rain.”

The Track & Field competitors and fans boarded their Wabash Railroad special train (which had brought them to New Berlin in the morning) for a ride back to Springfield, where street cars took them to the State Fairgrounds. The events were then held in the Coliseum, even though the “tan bark track is not the best material for foot racing.” As darkness set in it became too difficult for the judges to measure the distances of the jumps. “It was then announced the meet had adjourned to the grand stand where, amid a downpour of rain and in a sea of mud, the Running-Hop-Step-Jump was slowly pulled off. It was intended to hold the Discus and Hammer Throw at the same place.” But they were finally called off, “when one of the judges burned his finger while trying to read the figures on the tape with a lighted match.”

Despite the problems, Simpson set new county records in the Pole Vault and Running High Jump.


On May 13, 1927, Chatham’s girls and boys participated in the second annual “Three Year Oratorical and Athletic Association” meet of Sangamon County held in Buffalo.

(The conference was known by this name in its first two years.) These events were an annual endeavor by the conference. In this instance, Chatham won the Literary title while Buffalo took the Track & Field.

In Track & Field (for boys only), events were: 50, 100, 220, 440-yard dashes, Half-mile, 220-yard low hurdles, Running broad jump, Running high jump, Running hop-step-jump, Standing broad jump, Shot put, Pole Vault, Javelin, Half-mile relay. Results: Buffalo 47,

Chatham 35, Mechanicsburg 24, Rochester 6, Riverton 4, Loami 1, Dawson 0. Chatham’s

Kinkade, Moore, Andrews and Butler won the Half-mile relay in One minute, 47 and 3/5 seconds. These four also took part in other events, as did Kean and Tanner of Chatham.


Also taking place on May 13, 1927, the Literary contest consisted of the following for girls and boys: Declamation (speech/debate), Piano Solo, Vocal Duet, Quartette, and Theme. Results: Chatham 14, Buffalo 11, Rochester 8, Mechanicsburg 6, Dawson 5, Riverton 1, Loami 0. Chatham’s Chasteen Craig won second in Declamation; Helen Shields, third in Piano Solo; Louise Kramer won first for Theme; Belva CanhamEstelle Tice, Florence McDonald and Kramer took first in the Quartette category.


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library for microfilm records of Springfield’s State Journal and Register, and the Buffalo Tri-City Register. Lincoln Library, Sangamon Valley Collection. Sangamon County Supt. of Schools. Chatham Area Library.


Nita Bell provided this information on Chatham High School’s history:

“I would like to refer you to a site devoted to Ball Township High School’s annual reunion- .

Chatham and Ball High Schools were consolidated for the 1948-1949 school year.  I was among those in the freshman class that year.  I do not know the date of the referendum agreeing to the consolidation (the creation of Unit District #5), but I do remember it had previously been voted down more than one time.  The year 2007 will mark the 50-year anniversary of the first graduating class from Glenwood High School-the name chosen for the new high school built just east of the “S” curve that now houses the district’s Middle School.”


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Lincoln Library-Sangamon Valley Collection, Sangamon County Supt. Of Schools, Nita Bell (Ball Township graduate and owner of website listed elsewhere on this page).

Special Gratitude

Thank you to Phil Shadid for the photos and information provided on the high school building and gymnasium of Chatham High School.

Seeking Further Information

If you have ANY information you can add regarding Chatham High School please write to us. Athletics were only part of the experience.  Any information on the many accomplishments and successes of Chatham HS are welcome.  Photos and information can be e-mailed to us at  You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago,  Il.   60631

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