Cooksville High School “Bluebirds”

Cooksville HS Building Photo from 1949 Yearbook
A picture containing text, outdoor, sky, building

Description automatically generated
Cooksville Entrance Sign 2013
A road sign on the side of the road

Description automatically generated with low confidence

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.

Cooksville Grade School 2013
A picture containing sky

Description automatically generated
Cooksville Grade School Building 2013
A picture containing text, outdoor, house, blurry

Description automatically generated
Left Click on Photo for Larger View

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.”

Last Yearbook for Cooksville High School – 1949
A picture containing text, sign

Description automatically generated

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”

Cooksville HS Gymnasium
A red building with a sign on it

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Was used to manufacture custom golf carts (courtesy of Kev Varney)


It is a fact that the Cooksville High School Bluebirds competed in basketball. It is possible that also competed in baseball, track, cross-country, and football. If you have ANY information you can add regarding the athletic endeavors partaken by the Cooksville Bluebirds please write to us.

No IHSA hardware was won, but there had to have been some very competitive teams for which we can share information outside of the following.

Boys Basketball

The Cooksville High School “Bluebirds” had some great seasons on the hardwood court. The team of 1928-29 of Coach Chester Albee’s went 30-3, but did not get the opportunity to play in the IHSA state basketball tournament due to an epidemic of mumps that affected the school and community from February 20th to March 22nd.

Several scores from the IHSA Tourney involving Cooksville HS were located on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores“. These scores are reprinted below.

1928-29       30 – 3                                                         Coach Chester Albee

Cooksville Bluebirds of 1928-29
A group of people posing for the camera

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

1933-34                 Normal District Tournament                Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Colfax 37-17

Colfax lost in 2nd round

1934-35                 Bloomington District Tournament        Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Lexington 36-12

2nd Rd lost to El Paso 21-13

El Paso lost in semi-final round.

1935-36                 Colfax District Tourney 2nd Place   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Towanda 26-21

                             Semi-final Beat Downs 37-19

                             Title Game lost to Chenoa 18-15

Cooksville Bluebirds of 1935-36
A group of men in basketball uniforms

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
District Tournament Runner-up

1936-37                 Normal Regional Tournament              Coach’s name & record needed

(District Tournaments not played)

1st Rd lost to Normal University HS 41-20

Normal U-High won District Tournament

1937-38                 Colfax District Tourney 2nd Place!  Coach’s name & record needed

Title game lost to Cropsey 30-12

1938-39 through 1947-48 Postseason scores, records, and coaches’ names needed.

1948-49                 Ellsworth District Tournament             Coach’s name & record needed

**1st Rd lost to Arrowsmith 44-31

Arrowsmith lost in semi-final round.

**Final basketball game for Cooksville High School, consolidated with Colfax after the 1948-49 school year.


The baseball team was a member of the Tri-Valley Conference during the 1940’s and went 4-1 in the fall of 1942. The community reportedly was the site of the field that the Colfax Tigers’ six-man football team played their home games before the consolidation mentioned above.

Extra-Curricular Activities

The girls had GAA (Girls’ Athletic Association) activities, and the school also offered band along with boys’ and girls’ glee clubs while it was open. Operettas were also perfomed at the school.

Special Thanks…

go to Laurel Quaid, whose 1983 book, “A Little Square Of Prairie” was gleaned to bring you some of the facts on this page. The picture you see at the top of the page was from the book.

First Cooksville High School building
A picture containing tree, outdoor

Description automatically generated
courtesy of Laurel Quaid’s “A Little Square of Prairie” (1983)
Need Your Assistance

If you have any further information to share regarding the Cooksville High School accomplishments please share them with us. You can e-mail items to us at, or write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, IL   60631

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: