Kempton High School “Red Devils”

Kempton High School Building 2013
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Submitted by Dan Butzirus
Kempton School Building Built 1926
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Photo Taken in January of 2012

The History of Kempton High School

Kempton (population 255) is located in upper-eastern Illinois. The town was platted in the northwestern panhandle of Ford County, about 20 miles southwest of Kankakee. The main road through town is County Road 3700 North, which connects Kempton to Illinois Route 115 one and a half miles to the west. A branch of the Kelly Creek flows to the south side of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad travels through the heart of Kempton and was instrumental in its early growth.

Kempton was founded in 1878 along the Kankakee & Southwestern Railroad and is named after Wright Kemp. It is probable that the residents of Kempton had a high school curriculum in place by the late 1800’s, certainly by the early 1900’s. Kempton High School served the students and families of Kempton for many years on a solo basis.

Kempton School Cornerstone

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Left Click on Photo for Larger View

It was in 1946 that Kempton High School students were joined by the high school-aged students of their neighbor Cabery.  The school districts of the two towns consolidated in 1958 to form the Kempton-Cabery School District.

The high school for the new district remained in Kempton. This district joined Cullom in 1968 to form the Tri-Point School District. There is still a school for kids PK – 3 in Kempton; however, we are not certain whether it is held in the former KHS building or not.

Kempton High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                               late 1800’s/early 1900’s

Year consolidated with Cabery:     1946

Consolidated to:                           Kempton-Cabery School District

Kempton HS team nickname:        Red Devils

KHS team colors:                         Red & White

School Fight Song:                       “Kempton High School”

                                                               THANK YOU TO LEON MALONE!

                                               Kempton High School, Kempton High School,

                                               May we ever to you loyal be.

                                               With high standards of good sportsmen,

                                               We will cheer our team to victory! 

                                               May we ever be a credit,

                                               To our dear old red and white!

                                               So let us cheer our team to victory. 

                                                Fight! Fight! Fight!

Kempton School Building Constructed 1926
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View from Southeast Side


We know that Kempton High offered boys’ basketball and probably offered baseball and track as well. As you can see by the history and quick facts information, we are in need of a lot of information regarding the history of the former Kempton High School before its consolidation with Cabery.

Boys’ Basketball

The boys’ basketball team of Kempton High School won a total of three District titles, according to the IHSA website ( Unfortunately the coaches’ names and team records of these and other great KHS teams are not currently available.

1936-37              District Champions

1945-46              Vermilion Valley Conference Champions
1946-47              District Champions
1958-59              District Champions


From Leon Malone, Kempton Class of 1948:

“I was a junior in high school in 1946 when most of the Cabery students began coming to Kempton.  I don’t believe it was a unit district yet at that time, but this was accomplished a few years later. The colors of our basketball uniforms were red and white. Basketball was the main organized sport, but we did begin a track program that year.  We did not have a track in Kempton, so running training was mostly done out on the road.  We did have a makeshift highjump bar. Kempton/Cabery was the conference VV basketball champions that year, but lost to Forest in the conference tournament.

The high school and gradeschool buildings are still there and being used for some lower grades and kindergarden.  The gym is used, I believe for some volleyball games during the season.  The highschool girls play softball on the ball field at the highschool and the Junior high boys play baseball on the field.  There is a junior football program of some surrounding areas that play football on the football field.

Wayne Hance was principle and coach during my freshman and sophomore years, and Jim Clark came in as coach during my junior year and for several years following.  I hope this is of some help.”

Thank you to Leon Malone for sharing these memories with us.

Kempton Road Sign – 2012
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Looking for More Information…

…regarding the many successes and accomplishments of Kempton High School. There were many other great seasons in KHS history besides those listed on the IHSA web site. We are always looking for more information on the athletic and other accomplishments as well as a photo of the old school building. You can e-mail information to us at or write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

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