The History of New Columbia High School
New Columbia (population approximately 100) is located in the far southern tip of Illinois in north-central Massac County. It is located about 10 miles north of Metropolis. New Columbia is an unincorporated town that, according to MapQuest (www.mapquest.com), consists only of the two streets, County Highway 1(also known as New Columbia Road) and Walnut Ridge Road. Interstate Highway 24 runs about 1 mile east of New Columbia.
The history of New Columbia and the former high school that once proudly served the children of the area can be found at the KaL-Paca Farms of Southern Illinois web address of http://www.kalpaca.com/history.html. The article was written by Jane Teague. In summary, it states the following:
The area of where New Columbia was eventually established was first settled in the 1840s. A post office was established in a private home in 1846. Several new and thriving businesses were established as well. A mill, a general store, a tavern, a doctor’s office, a “Piggly Wiggly”, and many others came and went.
School was set up in town sometime before 1900. It became quite busy, at times offering classes to over 50 kids for grades 1 – 8. In 1928 New Columbia High School building was built. The first graduating class from the high school consisted of two students. The high school served the town and surrounding area until after the 1948 school year. The students were then, as they are today, bused to Metropolis High School for their educational needs.
New Columbia High School building served as an elementary school for the Metropolis school district for 37 more years. It was in 1975 that the school was finally closed as an educational facility.
Jane Teague Wiley was interviewed by our good friend Jamie Driskill. Jane was a student at New Columbia High School during the late 1940’s, likely graduating from high school during that time. Jane further advised the following information on New Columbia High School:
“The school colors for New Columbia High School were blue and gold. A three-act play was held in the spring of each year to raise money to pay for the Junior-Senior Banquet. The high school did close in 1948. In 20 years there were 200 graduates from New Columbia High School.
The last Principal of the high school was Cleo Hendon. The first yearbook put out by the high school was called the “Vidette”. The very first graduating class had 2 graduates and the last graduating class had 2 graduates. New Columbia High School was a 4 year high school.”
Another article provided to us by Jamie Driskill was written by Ernestine Turner. It can be summarized as foolws:
A tornado struck town on May 9, 1927. The farm and home of Leston and Neil Mathis was destroyed. Tragically, the lives of Leston, Neil, and their youngest daughter Marion, were lost as well. The township folks soon purchased the property and began building a school building on it.
A high school building was erected in 1928 at the cost of $32,000, the cost being privately funded. Since the school was not finished prior to the start of the fall of 1928, classes were first held in the Lodge Hall across from the New Hope Church.
Kids arrived at school in various forms of transportation. The luxury of securing a school bus did not occur until the mid 1930s. Until that time, and even after, kids would walk, ride a horse, or drive a horse and buggy to get to school. In the later years students were driven to school by cars.
Approximately 200 students graduated from New Columbia High School in its 20 years of existence. Many on went on to professional lives including work as physicians, veteranarians, nurses, lawyers, auctioneers, receptionsists, and teachers. There was never an overwhelming enrollment, but the school is said to have produced some very good basketball teams.
Three students, Nolan Harris, Loren Mathias, and Cleo Teague, were killed in combat during World War II. I will quote Mrs. Turner as she ends her article;
“The education received, school spirit, and relationship of the students at New Columbia High School cannot be excelled: all are proud to proclaim they were educated at this school”.
The fate of the original New Columbia High School building is an all to familiar and sad one. The building was torn down around 25 years ago, though traces of its foundation can still be seen. New Columbia students still attend school in Metropolis however now as part of the Massac County School District.
New Columbia High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1928
Year closed: 1948
Consolidated to: Metropolis HS
New Columbia HS team nickname: the “Tigers”
NCHS team colors: Blue & Gold
School Fight Song: unavailable
ATHLETICS and EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
The New Columbia High School Tigers competed in basketball and quite likely track and baseball. School fight song, team records, and coach’s names are all items we are in need of. There is no mention of New Columbia High School on trhe IHSA website (www.ihsa.org).
The 1939-40 New Columbia High School Tigers had a season record of 12 wins and 7 loses. The team averaged 33 points per game. The coach was Wayne Kennedy. If you have any further information on any New Columbia High School team please do not hesitate to write and share it on this page.
1939-40 12 – 7 Coach Wayne Kennedy
From our good friend Jamie Driskill regarding some of the basketball exploits of New Columbia High School:
“…evidently Grantsburg and New Columbia had an early co-op boys baskerball team that played in the Metropolis Regional in 1946. The co-op team lost their one game in Regional competition.”
New Columbia High School likely offered plays, chorus, band, and many other extra-curricular activities as well.
Principals of New Columbia High School
Howard B. Shappard
Faculty Members That Served New Columbia High School
Ellis Crandells Aline Bowman
Edith Hall Elaine Munal
Ethell Tetter Marie Campbell
Vivian Dexter Wendell Mathis
Mary Walker Francis Bard
Wayne Kennedy Margaret Nelson
Louis Melcher Marjorie Morse
James Love Faith Garver
Norma Hook Marjorie Green
Pernecia Haley Hazel Trigg
Myrtle Highfill Melva Davis
From John Hines, Sr.:
“New Columbia High School was located at the edge of New Columbia and New
Hope with Samoth behind. My Mother went to school there in the 40’s and I went there in the 60’s as it was a Grade School then. My Teacher (Mrs. Edith Mescher) was the same teacher that taught my Mother. My mother’s name is Mildred June (Riley) (Hines) Harris, and mine is John M. Hines, Sr.. We are both very much alive and she is very knowledgeable about some of the area. I was born in Samoth and went there my first year and then moved on. My mother was born on Boss Island just west of New Columbia and south of Vienna. The school teacher Edith lived behind us in Samoth.”
Thank you to Jamie Driskill, for providing ALL of the information on this page. The memory of New Columbia High School may have faded away forever had it not been for Jamie’s quest to see it, and other small town high school’s like it, memorialized on this site. Thank you Jamie!!
IF YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER INFORMATION…
…on the former New Columbia High School of Massac County we hope you will take the time to share it with us. We would like to share the memories of this school before the information is possibly lost forever. We are especially interested in a photo of the original high school building. You can e-mail us at email@example.com or write to us via real mail at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631