The History of Kell High School
Kell (population 231) is located in far south-central Illinois in the south-cental portion of Marion County. Kell sits about 8 miles north of Mt. Vernon and 8 miles east and a little south of Centralia. County Highways 30 (Kell Road) and 35 intersect at Kell. Illinois Route 161 passes by two miles to the north of town Connecting it to Interstate Highway 57 just three miles to the west. Illinois Route 37 passes by Kell two miles to the west as well. The Union Pacific Railroad line runs tracks through town and was likely instrumental in the town’s early growth and development.
A nice history of the town of Kell can be found on the Wikipedia web address of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kell%2C_Illinois. According to Wikipedia:
“The first settler near Kell was Hiram Milburn, who arrived around 1836. Around 1854, he sold out, and founded Dix, Illinois.
Elizabeth Kell (ca. 1890 to ca. 1980) grew up in Kell. She taught school in Mt. Vernon through the 1950s, and was not much given to humor. She claimed that Kell had no name before the railroad came through. She was with her brothers watching workmen paint the new train station. They asked what the children’s names were. Upon finding out the children were all named Kell, they painted “Kell” on the sign, and the town had been Kell ever since.”
An excellent tribute to the history of the Kell School system and Kell High School was provided to us through research conducted by Jamie Driskill. The research is from an article titled “Kell Schools” written by Virginia Wilkins. The article, in summary, states as follows:
The first Kell School was established in town in 1894. It was originally a country school known as Old Hickory School. The entire building was moved to town and received an addtional room for the influx of students. The village at that time was named Little Ridge. However, the Kell family was well known in the area so the school was named Kell School.
This original building served as Kell School until it was replaced by a frame building in 1920. The frame building served the school district through 1934 when a new brick structure (pictured at the top of this page) was built. This structure serves as the Kell Gade School building (with a few addtions) to this day. The original Old Hickory School building has stood the test of time, believed to be functoning as a family home even today.
Kell School District established a high school in 1925. The high school was originally established in the old Hickory Hill School building which had been replaced as a school just 5 years earlier. The high school enrollment increased and quickly out-grew the old building. A new location was sought and landed in the John Caldwell Store building in the center of Kell. The building was remodeled to include two classrooms and a library. Further increases in enrollment led to an additional classroom being rented from the Kell State Bank. A gymnasium was made when townspeople converted a wagon and buggy shop owned by Henry Moehlman into a gymnasium.
A new, brick school building was built to house Kell High School in 1934. The structure was a two-room facility with a gymnasium. Kell High School began as a two-year high school in the fall of 1925. The fall of 1926 saw the addition of a third-year of high school offered. The three-year high school in Kell operated for twenty years. The school was absorbed into the Salem High School District in 1945.
The former Kell High School building, pictured on this page (photos by Jamie Driskill), still serves as the Kell Grade School building.
Kell High School Quick Facts
Year opened as 2-year HS: 1925
Year 3rd year added: 1926
Year Kell HS closed: 1945
Consolidated to: Salem High School
Kell HS team nickname: unavailable
Kell HS team colors: unavailable
School Fight Song: unavailable