Murrayville High School “Shadows”

Murrayville High School
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Murrayville School
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Murrayville, Illinois

The History of Murrayville High School

Located along the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, Murrayville (population 644) sits proudly in southwestern Morgan County on Il. Rt. 267 approximately 10 miles south of Jacksonville.

An excellent history of the town and school system of Murrayville was provided to us by Richard Curtis.  It is taken from several high school reunion programs that were conducted over the years.

“The History of Murrayville”

“The history of Murrayville began in 1830, when Samuel Murray, a native of Scotland, came to Morgan County and settled 2 1/2 miles from the present site of the community. Later, under his supervision, the town was surveyed and platted January 4, 1858.

Then, in 1863, an effort was made to change the name of the village to “Iatan”, and was known as Iatan (iatan) for some time, but because it was more widely known as Murrayville, the name Iatan was superceded by this traditional name.

The community was solidified by three basic institutions – the churches, the school, and the railroad. Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian Churches were all early settlers of Murrayville.  The first school was built one mile north of the town, but was said to have been destroyed by a cyclone.  The Alton Railroad Company began to operate through Murrayville in 1858″

“History of Murrayville School”

“The pioneers who came to Morgan County and settled near the place now known as Murrayville, built a schoolhouse of logs located on the nichols farm, a mile north of Egypt’s Prairie, which was about two miles southeast of Murrayville.

In 1858 the present town was laid out and the first school at Murrayville was known as the Sheplar School.  It was a one-room structure situated a mile north of the present village.  It is believed to have been destroyed by a cyclone in the year 1860.

The next school was built in the part of town known as the Master’s Addition in the east part of town in 1870 and consisted of two rooms.  This building soon proved inadequate and was sold.  A larger structure was built on the same spot in 1878.  This was a one-story structure of three rooms. Later, upper rooms were added.  This building was destroyed by fire in 1915 and the present brick building was built in 1917.

A gymnasium was built in the year 1924.  Seating arrangements included a 2″ by 10″ plank running the length of the west side of the gym.  The plank also ran the full length of the east side except for the space occupied by the heating plant.  Needless to say most of the sitting was done on the floor and at times this would still allow room for the games to be played!

The heating plant consisted of a furnace which would burn coal, wood, or whatever you fed it and was enclosed by a wire cage.  The wire cage worked to the benefit of the Murrayville teams since the opponents were not familiar enough with it to shoot the side line shot and come down without hitting the wire cage, which in most instances left its scars in the form of a gash on the thigh.  This gymnasium was commonly known as the Murrayville School Barn (see photo below). In spight of this facility many good basketball teams were developed as our trophy case shows.  Many good times and memories were provided to all students participating.  This gym was demolished in 1953 and a new one built in its place.”

In 1947 it was decided that Murrayville High School would close her doors.  The kids of Murrayville are now educated as part of the Jacksonville School District.

There is still a grade K – 6 building in Murrayville which serves the Jacksonville District.   It is called Murrayville-Woodson Elementary School.

Murrayville High School Quick Facts

Year opened:         1893

Year closed:          1947

Consolidated to:     Jacksonville School District

School nickname:  “Shadows”

School colors:       Orange & Black

School fight song:  On Murrayville!

(Sung to “On Wisconsin”)

On Murrayville, On Murrayville,

                               You are doing fine!

                               Roll the ball clear round old (Chapin)

                               A basket sure this time!

                               On Murrayville, On Murrayville,

                               Fight on for your fame!

                               Fight, Fight, Fellows Fight

                               We’ll win this game!



Murrayville Gymnasium in Background
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The Murrayville High School kids competed in basketball for certain. It is likely that track and baseball were offered as well. We are searching for the Murrayville school team nickname, uniform colors, and fight song. Any information you can share is welcome.

Boys Basketball

Murrayville High School won three District Championships in basketball during its existence. The best of the Murrayville basketball successes are listed below. We are searching for the team records and coach’s names of these and other great Murrayville High School teams.

Several scores involving Murrayville High School basketball regarding the IHSA tournament were located on a site titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores.” These scores are listed below as well.

1921-22             Jacksonville District Tournament             Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Rushville 29-17

                         2nd Rd lost to Meredosia 23-7

Meredosia lost in 3rd round

1922-23 through 1932-33 Postseason scores, record, and coaches’ names needed.

1933-34             Jacksonville District Tournament             Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Won – core unavailable

                         2nd Rd Beat Franklin 20-19

                         Semi-final lost to Ashland 40-13

Ashland won District Tournament

1934-35  26 – 3 Jacksonville District Champions!         Coach Bierman

                         Season record needed

Jacksonville District Scores

                         1st Rd Beat Bluffs 39-18

                         2nd Rd Beat Girard 49-23

                         Semi-final Beat Ashland (score unavailable)

                         Title Game Beat Jacksonville 44-32

                         Pittsfield Sectional Runner-up!

     1st Rd Beat Camp Point 39-17

                         Semi-final Beat Beardstown 32-13

                         (Murrayville now one of final 32 in tourney!)

                         Title Game lost to Quincy 30-23

Quincy lost in Elite 8 round.

Murrayville HS Shadows Basketball 1934-35
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Provided by Joe Dewees

Players viewed in photo above:

Top row left to right , Sexton (mgr),Rousey, A J Woodward, Grides, Story, Simpson, J A Leitze ( coach).

Bottom row, Perkins*, Hidden*, Coe*, Brown*, T J Woodward* (captain)

* starters.

More information regarding the Murrayville High School basketball stars of 1934-35 from Joe Dewees:

Probably the best Murrayville H S basketball team in history of the school (1915-1947).

The team had a final record of 26-3.

They won the conference regular season, Winchester Invitational Tournament (first time in 13 years), District Tournament (4-0), first and second round of Pittsfield sectional, lost title game of sectional to Quincy. Finished one game from IL sweet sixteen state tournament.

The three losses were to Quincy, Springfield and Ashland. Major wins during the season included Jerseyville, Jacksonville, Beardstown, White Hall and Roodhouse. The school had an outstanding season for a school of less than 100 students.

Coach Leitze coached Murrayville for 17 years (1920-1937).

1935-36             Jacksonville Regional Tournament           Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Virginia 49-20

                        Semi-final lost to Jacksonville 34-26

Jacksonville won Regional title.

1936-37             Jacksonville Regional Tournament           Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Winchester 28-17

Winchester lost in semi-final round

1937-38 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.


1938-39             District Champions!                             Coach’s name & record needed

District scores needed

Virginia Regional Tourney

1st Rd lost to Waverly 35-17

Waverly lost in semi-final round.

1939-40 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1940-41 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.


1941-42             District Champions!                             Coach’s name & record needed

                         District scores needed

                         Virginia Regional Tourney

                         1st Rd Beat Jacksonville 27-21

                         Semi-final lost to New Berlin 27-25

New Berlin lost in title game

1942-43             Record & postseason scores needed      Coach Conant

1943-44 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1944-45             Meredosia District Tournament               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Chambersburg 50-33

                         Semi-final lost to Bluffs 51-27

Bluffs won District title

1945-46 Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

*1946-47            Meredosia District Runner-Up              Coach’s name & record needed.

                           1st Rd Beat Versailles 58-30

                           Semi-final Beat Meredosia 44-43

                           Title Game lost to Arenzville 59-34

(Final boys basketball game for MHS,)

*Last season as Murrayville High School. Consolidated into the Jacksonville School District in the summer of 1947.

The Winchester Invitational Tournament

Check out the Murrayville HIgh School success in this annual tournament as researched by Mark Jurenga:

Two Championships

Seven 2nd Place finishes

Two 3rd Place finishes

Three 4th Place finishes

1923- 4th Place; lost to Bluffs

1924- 2nd Place; lost to Winchester

1925- 4th Place; lost to Milton

1927- 2nd Place; lost to Winchester

1928- 2nd Place; lost to New Berlin

1929- 3rd Place over Meredosia

1930- 2nd Place; lost to Nebo

1931- 4th Place; lost to Jacksonville (ISD)

1933- 3rd Place over Nebo

1934- 2nd Place; lost to Nebo

1935- Champions over Griggsville            Coach: Bierman

1936- 2nd Place; lost to White Hall

1942- 2nd Place; lost to Roodhouse

1943- Champions over Roodhouse           Coach: Conant  


Extra-Curricular Activities

It is a fact that Murrayville High School offered many activities to its students. FFA, FHA, GAA, and many other activities and clubs were likely a part of the Murrayville High School experience. If you have any information on these or other activities please contact us via the means listed at the bottom of this article.


**From Tracy Banker-Murtadza:

“My grandmother, Irene Viola Banker, (nee Kelley) graduated from Murrayville High School in 1927. The senior class had a dinner for the teaching staff as part of the graduation ceremony and also the senior class school trip. They went to the Dickson Mounds. They also had a picnic along the way. The principal (and also the high school teacher) was Mr. Leipsik.”

My grandmother’s high school diploma from 1929 (I can only make a copy and send the copy via post). It states the following:

Murrayville Community, Murrayville, Illinois, Class of 1929; Class Flower: White rose; class Colors: green and white; Class Motto: For One Another

Inside is the diploma stating my grandmother, Irene Viola Kelley graduated May 31st, 1929; The principal was J.A. Leitze and the President of the board of Education was Harry Cade and C.U. Million, Secretary of the Board. On the back is the Class Roll: Gladys Irene Story, Noxie Opal King, Carl Truman Simmons, Donald Wright Russell, Irene Viola Kelley [my grandmother], Helen Ilene Langdon, Mary Lucinda Marsh, James Thomas Hayes, Robert Russell Lakin. Faculty: J. A. Leitze, Principal, Ruth M. Staff, Assistant Principal, Myra L. Bobbitt, Dorothea Pearson; Board of Education: Harry Cade, President, C. U. Million, Secretary, R. D. Mawson, Wm. White, Vernon Baker.”

If You Have ANY Further Information…

We are hopeful a local historian, fan, or alumni will provide more information regarding Murrayville High School and its athletic accomplishments.  Please complete a School  Submission Form or Guest Commentary Form if you have any information you would like to share.  You may also e-mail us at or write us via USPS at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

Murrayville HS Class of 1929 – 50th Reunion Photo
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Courtesy of Patty Clark Sims

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