The History of Cooksville High School
Cooksville (population 213) is located in eastern Illinois in the middle-eastern portion of McLean County. Illinois Route 165 is the main road through town and crosses County Road N2850 East at Cooksville. A branch of the Mackinaw River flows just east of Cooksville and the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs through the middle of town. For location sake, Cooksville sits about 10 miles east and a little north of Bloomington.
Cooksville was founded in 1882, named for F. W. Koch (pronounced “Cook”), who owned the land that the village was platted upon when the Illinois Central Gulf decided to lay down tracks. Settlers had been coming to this fertile area of farm land east of Bloomington as early as 1854 and started a school two years later.
The first high school education that Cooksville offered began in 1897 as a two-year school in the same building that the grade school had been located only four years prior, and which later became a four-year school in 1920.
A fire destroyed the building that housed both the grade and high school in March 1923, which resulted in a newer building being erected shortly thereafter, ready for use for the 1923-24 school year.
The school served the town proudly for about five decades. It was in the late 1940’s that the towns of Cooksville, Colfax, and Anchor began consolidation talks. These talks were finalized with the creation of the Octavia School District in the summer of 1949. The high school was located in Colfax, ending the high school history for Cooksville.
The former Cooksville High School building was used a grade school after the Octavia School District formed, but was replaced by a new grade school building in the early 1960s. The Cooksville High School building was razed in the early1970’s.
Cooksville High School alum Helen Smith provided the following information regarding Cooksville High School:
“I was a member of the last graduating class from Cooksville H.S. which was 1949. The first consolidated year of the towns of Cooksville, Anchor, and Colfax was 1950 and was called Octavia. (The district now includes Saybrook and Arrowsmith and is known as Ridgeview).
Also, there was a NEW grade school built at Cooksville around 1960–a one story, brick building which started as six grades and later was reduced to four grades. It was still used as a grade school in 1965 as my daughter started there. It is still in existence but long an empty building. It contained a business for a short while but then was deserted. This school had a kitchen and a gymnasium.
The gym spoken of for the old high school was a few blocks uptown. Students had to walk uptown to the gym for PE classes. After the consolidation It was first used as a boat and repair shop for several years owned by Charles Manley. I know this because my husband worked there part time repairing boat motors. The gym building later became a golf cart manufacturing site.”
Cooksville High School Quick Facts
Year opened 1897 (as a two-year school)
Expanded to four years: 1920
New building opened: 1923
Year closed: 1949
Consolidated to: Colfax Octavia District
Now part of: Colfax Ridgeview HS District
School nickname: the “Bluebirds”
School colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: unavailable
Name of school paper: “The Bumble Bee”
Name of yearbook: “The Talisman”