Kinsman High School

Kinsman School Building 1901
A picture containing text

Description automatically generated
Submitted by Kathy Lowery – Courtesy of Carbon Hill School Museum
Former Kinsman Grade School
A picture containing text, grass, outdoor, road

Description automatically generated

The History of Kinsman High School

Kinsman (population 109) is located in north central Illinois in Grundy County. The village is located about 10 miles south-southeast of Seneca and 14 miles southwest of Morris, which is the county seat of Grundy County. Kinsman has a section of the AT & SF rail line coming thru town, and is three miles south of the Grand Ridge Road on Kinsman Road, or two miles east of Illinois Route 170. The Waupecan Creek also runs to the north of Kinsman.

The village was platted in 1876 with the original name of Mitchell on land owned by William Maher. The name was changed to Kinsman when it was already discovered that there were two towns named Mitchell, and the reason for changing the name to Kinsman is to pay tribute to a railroad contractor from Kinsman, OH, who helped in laying the lots out in Kinsman along the railroad.

It is believed that education in Kinsman began shortly after the village was platted. John Dempsey taught 40-50 students in a one room building south of Kinsman that later became home of a Lutheran church. A three-year high school was once located in the village, as stated in the 2002 book “Once There Were Giants” by Scott Johnson and Julie Kistler. Students either went Mazon, Streator, or Seneca High School for their fourth year of school to complete their high school education.

Joanne Hanley, the daughter of a former student of the school, had this to say about attending Kinsman High School:

“My father, now 91, attended the school for 2 years.  Two of his brothers (and possibly some of his sisters) also attended.  For their fourth year (and my Dad’s 3rd and 4th) they all went to high school in Dwight.  My Dad remembers that his brothers, who were twins, bought a car and commuted to Dwight with 3 or 4 other fellows.”

Students were taken in full-time at Mazon sometime after a new building was erected in 1955. A grade school building still stands in Kinsman, but is used for other reasons than education. Beyond that, there is very little information available to this writer at the time this account was being written. Today’s Kinsman students attend Seneca High School, as the result of a merger between the former Mazon-Verona-Kinsman High School district and Seneca in 1990.


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

Year closed:                        1955

Merged with:                        Mazon-Verona-Kinsman HS

School colors:                      unknown

School nickname:                 unknown

School song:                        unknown


In checking the IHSA website, Kinsman did not win any trophies or plaques in state tournament play. It is known that the school offered basketball and possibly baseball. We encourage anyone who knows anything about the athletic history of Kinsman High School to let us know more (see our addresses below).


Russ “Duke” Ahearn (1912-1976) –  Russ was born on a farm near Kinsman and attended Kinsman HS thru his junior year when he transferred to Streator High School to receive his diploma. Ahearn later attended and graduated from Illinois State Normal University, where he starred on the baseball team. He also played with area semi-pro baseball teams, including the Grand Ridge Merchants, and went into teaching and coaching at several high schools in Illinois, including Alden-Hebron (enrollment: 99). There he helped lead the Green Giants to a state championship in 1952 in one of the most dramatic stories in Illinois prep basketball history. Ahearn returned to teach and coach at nearby Streator Woodland and Streator High Schools before passing away in 1976. He has been inducted into the hall of fames of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and at Illinois State University.


To Scott Johnson and Julie Kistler, authors of “Once There Were Giants,” a book about the 1952 Alden-Hebron basketball team, and to Deb Steffes at the Morris Public Library for information about the village of Kinsman from the History of Grundy County, Illinois (1914) and This is Grundy County (1968) by Helen Stine Ullrich, both publications on file at the Morris library.

What do YOU know….

…about the history of Kinsman High School? You can contact us with your information at or send them to the address via regular mail. We are looking for a photo of the school itself or any other photos that pertain to KHS. You can also reach us via real mail at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, IL  60631

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: