Mounds Douglass High School “Golden Tornadoes”

Mounds Douglas High School
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Mounds, Illinois

The History of Mounds Douglass High School

Mounds (population 1,117) is located in far southern Illinois in south central Pulaski County. Mounds is about 5 miles north of Cairo, 2 1/2 miles northwest of the Ohio River, and 3 miles northeast of the Mississippi River. Old Highway 51 is the main roadway traveling through town and Interstate Highway 57 runs past the east edge of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs past the west side of town as well.

The history of the town of Mounds and its former Douglass High School are in need of research. It is quite possible that Mounds Douglass was an all African American high school developed in the early 1900s. There were several similar high schools in the area at the time including schools in Cairo, Colp, Mound City, Brookport, Metropolis, Carbondale, East St. Louis, and Du Quoin Lincoln (also on this site). Schools in these towns made up what was known as the “Southern Illinois Colored Schools Conference.” Mounds Douglas was one of the most competitive of these schools, gaining IHSA hardware ( in a couple of different sports.

At the end of the 1964 school year, it was decided to pool the resources of Mounds High school and Mounds Douglass High School. The nearby town of Mound CIty joined in the effort with Mound CIty High School and Mound CIty Lovejoy High School. The two towns and their four schools made up what is now known as Mounds Meridian High School.

Meridian High School and grade school is located in Mounds. We are not sure of the fate of the former Douglass High School building.

The photo above was found on the website for Mounds Township High School found at The website shows some great historical photos of Mounds, Illinois and was provided to us by Margaret Grace.

Mounds Douglass High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                          early 1900’s

Year closed:                           1964

Consolidated to:                      Meridian High School (Mounds)

Douglas HS team nickname:    the “Golden Tornadoes”

Team colors:                           Purple & Gold

School Fight Song:                  unavailable


Mounds Douglass had IHSA success in three different sports (  Boys basketball, cross country, and track & field all saw an “area” measure of success. Two kids on the track team even took their success to a state-wide level. The school even won hardware as a member of the Southern Illinois Conference of Colored High Schools (SICCHS).

As you can see in the “quick facts” portion, we are in need of a lot of information about Douglass High. Team colors, school fight song, and history of the school and its athletic program are all in need of research.

Boys Basketball


The schools most successful venture was in the sport of basketball. Seven District titles, including an incredible five in a row (1951-55), and two Regional titles highlighted the Douglass HS hardwood lore, to go along with two SICCHS titles during World War II. Unfortunately, the coaches’ names and team records of these and other great Douglass High School teams are not available at this time.

Several scores from Mounds Douglass participating int he IHSA State Tourney were located on a website titled “Illinois High School Postseason Basketball Scores.” The most relevant scores are listed below.

1943-44              SICCHS STATE CHAMPS                     Coach Joe Russell

                           Title Game Beat Madison Dunbar 49-34


1944-45              SICCHS STATE CHAMPS                     Coach James Price


The first year that the African American high schools were allowed to compete in the IHSA State Basketball Tourney was in 1945-46.

1945-46              Carbondale District Champions          Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Cairo Sumner 51-35

                           Title Game Beat Carbondale Attucks 51-45

                           Benton Regional Runner-Up

                           1st Rd Beat Ziegler 36-32

                           Semi-Final Beat West Frankfort 55-51

                           Title Game lost to Johnson City 59-38

1946-47              Cairo District Champions                     Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Carbondale Attucks 57-40

                           Title Game Beat Mound City Lovejoy 51-41

                           Eldorado Regional Tourney

                           1st Rd Beat Carrier Mills 55-45

MOUNDS DOUGLASS (55): Harris 28, Ellis 10, Watkins 10, Higgenbotham 4, Bailey 2, McGee 1

CARRIER MILLS (45): Fort 18, Pritchett 12, Miller 10, Gilchrist 3, Osburn 2.

                           Semi-Final lost to Marion 75-50

MARION (75): Buckner 23, Hill 22, Riddle 16, B. Connell 6, J. Connell 3, Harris 3, Lingle 2.

MOUNDS DOUGLASS (50): Harris 22, Ellis 21, Bailey 3, Watkins 2, Higgenbotham 2.

                           Marion beat Harrisburg in title game

1950-51              Mounds District Champions                 Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Brookport Lincoln 105-19

                           Title Game Beat Cairo Sumner 57-50

                           Murphysboro Regional Tourney

1st Rd lost to Gorham 64-59

Marion beat Herrin in title game

1951-52              Mounds District Champions                 Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Mound City Lovejoy 68-39

                           Title Game Beat Cairo Sumner 64-36

                           Marion Regional Tourney

1st Rd lost to Carbondale 70-55

Carbondale Attucks beat Marion in title game

1952-53              Cairo District Champions                     Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Brookport Lincoln 114-24

                           Title Game Beat Cairo Sumner 84-74

                           Herrin Regional Tourney

                           1st Rd lost to Herrin 58-52

arion beat Carbondale in title game

1953-54              Anna District Champions                     Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Score Needed

                           Title Game Beat Cobden 70-30

                           Wolf Lake Regional CHAMPIONS

                           1st Rd Beat Cairo Sumner 75-70

                           Semi-Final Beat Anna-Jonesboro 65-63

                           Title Game Beat Vienna 80-74

MOUNDS DOUGLASS (80): King 20, Morris 20, Shelby 11, Lowery 8, Chaney 8, Branch 7, Cattledge 2, Hughes 2, Wade 1, Watkins 1.

VIENNA (74): Walters 23, Shoemaker 14, Settlemoir 13, Powell 9, Cavitt 6, Wells 4, Hacker 3, Taylor 2.

Harrisburg Sectional Tourney

                           Semi-Final lost to Mt. Carmel 97-68

Mt. Vernon beat Mt. Carmel in title game


1954-55              Wolf Lake District Champions             Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Score Needed

                           Title Game Beat Mound City 68-63

                           Anna Regional Runner-Up

                           1st Rd Beat Mounds 99-85

                           Semi-Final Beat Shawnee 89-53

                           Title Game lost to Anna-Jonesboro 90-55

ANNA-JONESBORO (90): Coffman 33, Meyer 21, Bittle 16, Sauerbrunn 13, Jobe 7.

MOUNDS DOUGLASS (55): Morris 16, Branch 9, Wade 8, Le. Morris 6, Lowery 6, Hughes 4, Chaney 4, E. Humphries 2.

1959-60              Anna Regional Champions                      Coach Gene Cross

                           1st Rd Beat Cobden 86-53

                           Semi-Final Beat Mound City 84-59

                           Title Game Beat Cairo Sumner 77-74

MOUNDS DOUGLASS (77): Beckom 23, Childress 22, Madison 13, Clark 10, Smith 8, King 1.

CAIRO SUMNER (74): Wood 24, Solomon 15, Ferguson 15, Rush 11, White 7, Patton 2.

Herrin Sectional Tourney

                           Semi-Final lost to West Frankfort 71-69

WEST FRANKFORT (71): Brown 17, Weaver 15, Manis 12, Pike 12, Burton 8, Wilkinson 7.

MOUNDS DOUGLASS (69): Childress 25, Beckom 17, Clark 10, Smith 8, Madison 7, King 2.

West Frankfort Beat Metropolis in title game

West Frankfort would finish 3RD in the IHSA Tourney finals.

*Coach Gene Cross played basketball and was a star player for Mounds Douglass High School in 1944. He would go on to become the assistant coach for Jim Byassee when Mounds Douglass and Mounds High School merged in 1964. Coach Cross would leave his mark on the Illinois high school coaching circles being elected to the Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame. Sadly, Coach Cross passed away in the 2002.

Boys Cross Country

Two harrier teams of the mid-1950’s proved what a talented lot of athletes Douglass High School had. In consecutive seasons of 1954 and 1955 the cross country boys team won their District Championships and qualified for the state meet competition. Again, coaches’ names and team records are not available.

1953-54        District Champions

                    Qualified for State Meet Competition
1954-55        District Champions

                    Qualified for State Meet Competition

Track & Field

Three District titles and two individual medalists marked the IHSA success of the Douglass High School track program. This was done under the one-class track meet system. Their accomplishments are listed below.

1941-42          District Champions

                       SICCHS Champions

1942-43          District Champions


1945-46          Individual Medalist

                       Leonard Tucker             High Jump         4TH Place 

1952-53          District Champions


1953-54          Individual Medalist

                       Jesse Watkins                1 Mile Run         4TH Place

Famous Athlete

Mounds Douglass High School graduate Len Tucker would become the first African-American player to be signed by the St. Louis Cardinals.  Check out Len’s story at


**From James B. Earley (Class of 1951):

“I visited your site “Douglass High School…Golden Tornadoes.” A wonderful walk down memory lane!  Thank you very much. I was a student at Douglass..entering the freshman class of 1947 and graduating with the senior class of 1951. James Price was the Principal through my junior year, as I remember.  He resigned at the end of that term….and  was replaced by Johnny Edmonds. The faculty was composed of Maude Hill, Mrs. Williams, Stevetta Harrell, Stanley Thomas, and during my senior year a young man joined the staff…his name eludes me.  As an aside, around 1981 or perhaps 1982 I was grocery shopping in Safeway at Fairfax Ave/Pico Blvd – Los Angeles.  I heard a voice yell from the far side of the store….”Hey Jimmie Earley.”  It was Mr. Edmonds!  I had not seen the man in ages.He had been with the Los Angeles School system for quite a long time! In closing…please visit the PoemHunter link below…read “Mr. Price…the principal.”  This is a true story!

Thank you for listening.”

**From Dorothy Riley Nevils, Class of 1961:

Stanley F. Thomas, renowned musician and band director, died earlier today, November 4. The band, especially the combo band, was a standout under his direction.  He took hand-me-down instruments and worked his magic, and his students so impressed listeners wherever they went that donors showered the school with replacement instruments.  I was one of those students, and will never forget, nor betray, his demand for excellence.”

**From Kaylynn Steinmetz:

“I found your website amd noticed information missing in regards to Douglass High School in Mounds, IL. My grandmother and grandfather were both graduates from that school and attend an annual high school reunion every summer. The school colors were purple and gold and my grandmother can still remember her school song. If you would like any addition information please do not hesitate to ask. It was a very prominate school in that era and I would like it to be remembered in any way possible.”

Seeking Further Information

If you have any further information or corrections for the history or achievements of the Douglass High School students, faculty, and the townspeople of Mounds, please write to us via e-mail at We are especially interested in a photo of the Douglass High high school building. You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.      60631 

  1. Douglass High School and Grade School were demolished around 1981 when Meridian Elementary was completed. Until then, the grade school had been used as the unit office and the high school for storage since the Meridian consolidation.

  2. Mound City Lovejoy HS actually closed in 1963, one year before the Meridian Consolidation. This made Mound City HS an integrated school. The three remaining schools continued to operate but shared staff until the Meridian building was completed.

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