Elsah High School

Elsah School Building – 2008
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Photo Taken by Roberta VanBriesen

The History of Elsah High School

Elsah (population 635) is located in southeastern Illinois about 15 miles north of St. Louis, Mo.  Elsah sits in far south-central Jersey County along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.  Scenic Illinois Route 100 is the main roadway that leads you to Elsah.  County Highway 23 also takes you to and from town.  In most cases the railroad is what helped make small towns in early Illinois history.  However in Elsah’s case, the railroad made use of the river a less necessary means of transportation.  Thus Elsah’s importance diminished in the late 1800s due to the railway boom.

The town of Elsah is one of great history and early-American architecture.  The following website addresses all have a brief history of Elsah:




It is agreed that Elsah got its start in the early 1850s by a man named James Semple. Mr. Semple, a popular man of the area, bought the land where Elsah is located and offered free lots to any person who would build their house from stones purchased from the quarry he owned.  Mr. Semple named the town Elsah after the last town he saw as he left Scotland for America.

The history of the former school system is not as well documented.as that of the town itself.  The only mention of the school in any of the websites is at http://www.elsah.org/tour/tour3.html.  This small paragraph and photo of the town’s former school building states:

“James Semple presented the stone school building to his new village in 1857 it is reported to have cost $2,833. Throughout the nineteenth century both the upper and lower rooms were filled to capacity. The school was also a cultural center for the village since the pupils often performed in dramatic or musical entertainments to help furnish the building. It now houses the Village Board meeting room, the Civic Center and the public rest rooms.”

Is this the only school building ever utilized in Elsah? We believe that high school courses were offered at the school for a short period of time.  A list of scores from the IHSA District basketball tournaments in the early 1940s listed a game involving the high school of “Elsa”.  We believe this to be the same town of Elsah, only without the final “h”.

The only fact we know from here is that the children of Elsah are bussed to Jerseyville each day to attend all grades of school.  We know that Jerseyville High School became Jersey Community High School in 1935, accepting students from all over the Jersey County area.  Our guess is that Elsah High School became a part of Jersey Community High School in the late 1940s.

Elsah High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                         late 1800s?

Year closed:                          late 1940s?

Consolidated to:                     Jersey Community High School (Jerseyville)

Elsah HS team nickname:      unavailable

Elsah HS team colors:           unavailable

Elsah HS School Fight Song:  unavailable

 Athletics & Extra Curricular Activities

The Elsah High School students were a part of a real high school basketball team in Illinois High School history.  We believe that the boys competed in baseball and possibly track as well.  School team colors, team records, and coach’s names are also items we would like to add to this page.

We also know that the Elsah High School experience did not rest soley in the gym or on the field.  We believe that many other “extra-curricular” activities were offered as part of the educational plan too.  FFA, FHA, GAA, band, chorus, and many other events probably helped to make the Elsah school a special one.

Do You Have Information to Share About Elsah High?

Several questions posted above remain unanswered.  If you have ANY information you wish to share regarding Elsah High School please contact us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631


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