The History of Lakewood High School
Lakewood (population approximately 50) is located in south-central Illinois in south-central Shelby County. Lakewood sits about 40 miles southeast of Springfield and 20 miles northwest of Effingham. In my favorite manner, Lakewood is situated in a true country setting. The main roadway to and from Lakewood is County Road 750N, which connects it to Illinois Route 128 just 2 miles to the east. County Road 1300E forms the north-south route through Lakewood. The MapQuest (www.mapquest.com) map of Lakewood shows the town to be about four blocks from north to south and three blocks from west to east.
A great fan of the Glory Days website, Jamie Driskill, sent us the following article from the Shelbyville Daily Union newspaper (http://www.shelbyvilledailyunion.com/apstorysection/local_story_142141114.html).
The article is copied in its entirety below:
“At One Time The Village Of Lakewood Was Rich In Game, Fish And Deep Forests And A Huge Lake
FRANK MULHOLLAND – Daily Union Managing Editor
If you have ever visited the Lakewood area of Shelby County, you may have wondered where the lake is? Well, it was there and it was quite the lake in it’s time.
The Lakewood area for a number of years was one of the greatest hunting resorts in the county. The lake was located about one-half mile north of the town, and was a huge lake that covered an area of over 100 acres. It was well stocked with fish and during migration season its waters were literally covered with wild duck, whose numbers were such that when they rose in a body their flight darkened the sun. The lake was drained in 1882 by Ephriam McCracken, who owned the land on which it was located.
Leon Cutler moved to Lakewood when he was in the second grade and lived there until after high school. He said the area where the lake was located continued to give the town problems when he was young.
“After a hard rain the area where the lake was located would fill with water, and the school bus could not get through and would have to go around,” said Cutler.
This is another story in the series of stories about the towns and villages that presently exist or at one time did exist in Shelby County.
These stories are inspired by the project of former Shelbyville mayor Lowell Goleman to place flags around the courthouse square representing those towns and villages. Goleman is planning a small ceremony on Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the occasion.
Lakewood, like virtually all the communities in Shelby County, was a by-product of the emerging railroad industry. When the railroad company decided to locate a station there, they christened it Lakewood.
By June 6, 1872, the station at Lakewood was completed and C. P. Roberts moved into the building and occupied it in the capacity of the first post master, and first merchant.
In 1935 there were three grocery stores, a restaurant, feed store, several gas stations. There was a grade school and high school all in a four room building.
The history of Lakewood by Beulah Gordon said that in the 1934-35 year there were 37 students in the high school with L.L. Holloway as principal and Miss Pauline Baker as the teacher. The grade school had 46 pupils with Frank Foor and Miss Gladys Peifer as teachers.
A hardware and limber yard owned by Lanum and Newkirk was located in Lakewood. It is said that lumber yard attracted business from near and far.
“That limber yard was well known throughout Central Illinois,” said Goleman. “They did a tremendous business.”
During the ‘50s when Cutler grew up in Lakewood, he said there was never a shortage of things for the kids of the town to do.
“Occasionally we might borrow a watermelon from someone’s patch,” continued Cutler. “On Saturday nights the local merchants would put up a bed sheet and show movies for the kids.”
He said later on the townhouse was used and they would show movies in there. Cutler said for entertainment, there were many box lunch and ice cream socials with cake walks.
During the ‘90s, the Methodist church at Williamsburg was moved to Lakewood. Also during the ‘90s, the Free Methodist Church was built and still graces Lakewood.
According to the history recorded by Gordon, the Lakewood area was rich in game, fish and dense timber. Cutler said as a kid, he and the other kids found many arrow heads and bits and pieces of pottery. The natural bounty of the area must have attracted many Indians to that area.
No doubt when the first settlers moved through the area that is now Shelby County that bountiful area with the huge lake must have been a beautiful sight to behold.”