The History of Godfrey High School
Godfrey (population 17,982) is located in southwestern Illinois in the far northwestern corner of Madison County. Godfrey Road is the main roadway to and from the town and it connects Godfrey to Alton just six miles to the south. Montclair Avenue also leads you to the heart of Godfrey. The Gateway Western Railroad line travels through Godfrey as well.
The history of the town of Godfrey can be viewed at the web address of http://www.godfreyil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50&Itemid=69 . In summary the article states that area that Godfrey is now located was first settled in 1817. In 1832 a man named Benjamin Godfrey settled in the area. He soon develeped one of the most successful freight-forwarding firms in the area. He was responsible for the construction of the first church in nearby Alton. He was more notably responsible for the development of the first women’s college in the midwest. The town of Godfrey was platted and settled in the 1830s, however it was not incorporated in Illinois as a village until 1991, making it one of Illinois’ newest villages.
An article regarding the early times of the Godfrey educational system is found at http://madison.illinoisgenweb.org/Schools/schools.html#GODFREY .Schools and educational oportunities were available in Godfrey very early on in the town’s development. A new school house was erected in 1912 and ready to be occupied by the spring of 1913. In September of 1913 school was in session with the Godfrey school offering one year of high school education to its students.
Godfrey High School’s first graduates (1915) were the trio of Helen Mitchell, Willard Walters, and George Crawford. In 1920, a public vote was held to determine where a new 4-year high school would be established between the small communities of Godfrey and Delmar. Ultimately, a two-year high school curriculum was established and remained in Godfrey, serving students until likely 1945, when students were sent to Alton High School to complete their education.
The 1912 school building, pictured above, was razed in 1981.
MEMORIES AND INFORMATION
**From Wesley G. Lohr:
“Godfrey High School 1930-1945
I just happened upon your website…Godfrey had a high school from at least 1930 to 1945 I have not done much research from 1923-1930 but have a list of students from 1930 to 1945 when it had it’s last class. It was a 2 year high school. Many of these students only went to one or two years of high school before having to go to work or war. Some continued at Alton High school and graduated, many doing quite well in the community and around the country.
In the earlier years they sometimes had the students take second year before first as there were just not enough students. I think in the last year there was more than they could handle.
There were no official athletics, they had softball, football, and basketball but no laid out fields or goal lines. The softball field was there with a backstop but I am not sure just when that was built. There was a community team that most of the graduates played on and they did quite well against bigger towns. Many of these students were from farm families and had chores to do after walking a mile or two to get to school.
Graduation ceremonies and plays were put on at the Congregational Church that was owned by Monticello college. In the war years there was a fairly large band but I have not found out much about them.
I believe some of the teachers also taught at Monticello College or maybe just were Monticello students student-teaching at Godfrey. I know Mr. Charles Linert was principal and also taught at Monticello College.
I have had aunts, uncles, and cousins in this high school since 1930 and probably before. Several years ago I started having reunions every two years for anyone who ever attended the high or grade school. For many this was the only reunion they ever had and they were quite grateful. Most of the older ones have died now but we still have reunions every two years. We have had over 130 at the reunions but lately it is down to about 60. I was in the last 8th grade class at Godfrey Grade School in 1952. The next year the schools were consolidated into the Alton system.
Here is a list I have of graduates for Godfrey High School. As I said I have not done much research before 1930.
1930 – 2 1939 – 6
1933 – 5 1940 – 25
1934 – 4 1941 – 11
1935 – 13 1942 – 20
1936 – 17 1943 – 12
1937 – 9 1944 – 23
1938 – 14 1945 – 37 .”
Godfrey High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1913
Year closed: 1945
Consolidated to: Alton High School
ATHLETICS & EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
We know that the Godfrey school had a baseball team at one time, but it is not clear if Godfrey High School participated in other athletics. It is clear by the article cited above that home economics and science were available and there was a cafeteria.
In 1916, the school put on a play titled “Silas Marner,” and the following year held an event celebrating the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Illinois.
The baseball team of 1919 played a pair of games against the WMCA Juniors of Alton in a span of 2 weeks. In the finale, the Godfrey team won by the score of 19-3.
SEEKING FURTHER INFORMATION
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Chicago, IL. 60631