The History of Kings High School
Kings (population app. 200) is located in northeastern Illinois in the eastern middle portion of Ogle County. The main road through town is Illinois Route 64, which connects with Interstate Highway 39 three miles east of town. The AT & SF Railroad runs through town. Towns of note for location sake would be Rochelle (five miles southeast) or Rockford (fifteen miles north).
Roberta VanBriesen provided the following history of the village of Kings:
“Kings was laid out in 1876 by William Henry King. For many years it was known as Kings Station. The town was laid out on a branch of the CB&Q which was constructed in 1874 from the main line at Flagg Center north to Rockford. It was exactly as the name implied, a station designed to serve “Hank” King in his vast operations of farming and feeding cattle.
The first buildings were built by him, including a hotel, a large two story building on Main St., and several houses for his hired men. At one time Mr. King raised popcorn on a large scale and he bought all the cat that people brought to him for 10 cents each to control rats and mice in his popcorn drying sheds. He also built a large building near the railroad track that was divided into sections. Whenever a grain elevator would burn in Chicago or elsewhere, he would buy the salvage, have it shipped to Kings and feed his livestock with it. He died in 1899 after inhaling fumes from spoiled grain.
The Farmers Bank of Kings, established by farmers, operated successfully for over 50 years. It was forced to close during the depression, but later paid out $1.09 for each $1.00 on deposit.
Kings was quite a railroad town too. For many years there was a night trick and a night agent. People hung out at the depot. A large section gang that operated out of Kings. At the time of WW1 there was a lot of train traffic through Kings with troop trains going to and from Rockford’s Camp Grant, as well as a huge freight business. There were five passenger trains a day between Kings and Rochelle. Later as the autos became more popular the passenger business dried up. The steam trains were replaced by a gasoline powered car known as the Galloping Goose.
During the last two decades of the 19th century many young Germans came to the White Rock Twp. area from Germany to avoid the mandatory 3 year service in the German Army. Most went to work on area farms and within a few years owned land. One store owner in Kings hired a clerk who spoke both languages.
The Railroad still goes through Kings.There are a couple short ones trains a week that go to Rockford. There is a big John Deere dealer and Bud and Lum’s tavern. The Kings Presbyterian Church has closed.
The Everlasting House is a whole different legend of the Kings area, and in the 50’s there was a huge feedlot there, but it’s all gone now. It has been sadid that President Eisenhower even visited there one time. The Everlasting house lives on though..Just north of Kings, there was a lot of activity during the reign of the Prairie Bandits.
The history of Kings schools was provided to us by site author Roberta VanBriesen as reprinted from a 1960 newspaper article.
The Rochelle Leader
Friday July 8, 1960
“The first school in Kings was in a building that was located a mile to the east. It was placed at the north edge of town,next to the railroad track and across from the Presbyterian Church.
A new school house was built in the south part of town about 1911. The old school house was moved to a location on the south side of Main St. east of the depot and used for many years by W.T. and J.R. Haerr in their hatchery business, until the White Rock Grange obtained the building and moved it to its present location on the north side of Main St, just east of the Doeden garage, which is across the street from the old corner store. So the old schoolhouse still serves the people as a Grange hall.
The new school at the south edge of town built on land donated by Ada King Lovett, daughter of Hank King has two classrooms on the first floor, a full basement and a basketball floor on the second story.
A two year high school was in operation with the grade school until discontinued during WWI.
In 1921, one of the first school consolidations in Ogle County took place when four rural districts, White Rock Center, Gibson, Spring Valley, and Bethel were consolidated with the Kings district.
A high school was started that year and continued as such for a number of years. The second floor was finished off for classroom purposes and a few years later a large addition was made to the building.
A gymnasium 60X96 feet was constructed just west of the schoolhouse in 1923 as a community project, largely by donated labor. It was built by a design unique at the time, the rafters being made by placing 1X6 boards eight boards thick in forms and nailing them together so the completed rafters were half circles with a radius of 30 feet.
The building provided a 40 by 80 foot basketball floor with 10 feet on each side for bleachers and a 16 fot stage across the south end. This building served well through the years as the school gymnasium and community hall.
George F. Cann, who later served two terms as Ogle County Superintendent of schools, was the principal of the school before the war, and again in 1922 to 1924.
The Kings Grade School continues as a consolidated unit with more territory added, but there is no high school, the district now being part of the Rochelle Township district.”
Roberta also tells us:
“When the Kings HS ceased in 1948, the students had the option of going to Stillman or Rochelle. A bus from each town came and one could board either bus. The late George Joskowski told me once he took the Rochelle bus the first day, and it has the last day. The next day he took the Stillman bus, and later graduated from Stillman Valley. He later became the owner of Rochelle Vault.
Kings has a great little grade school with high academics and interested parents. The children from Holcomb attend there also.”
Kings High School was deactivated in 1948. The students of Kings now attend high school in Rochelle upon their graduation from Kings Elementary School (grades K-8). The wooden school building in the photos on this page was torn down in the mid-1950’s to make way for the “new” Kings Elementary School, which is still in use today. Kings Elementary School as it looks today is pictured to the right.
Kings High School Quick Facts
Year opened 2-year HS:: 1911-1917 (closing date approximate)
Year HS re-opened: 1921
Year closed: 1948
Class size, 11th Grade, Final Year: 8 students
School nickname: “Comets” (current GS mickname)
School colors: Orange & Black (current GS colors)
School Fight Song: unavailable