North Henderson High School

North Henderson High School Grounds 2020
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North Henderson Grade School Building 2020
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The History of North Henderson High School

North Henderson (population 187) is located in western Illinois in the far southeastern portion of Mercer County. North Henderson is located at the intersection of County Highways 6 and 12. According to North Henderson is about 5 blocks from north to south and 4 blocks from east to west. The village is situated about 12 miles northwest of Galesburg.

According to a book titled “Place Names of Illinois” by Edward Callary the town was named after a creek that flows through Knox, Mercer, Warren, and Henderson counties. Henderson Creek empties into the Mississippi River near Gladstone. The reason for the name of the creek is not known.

North Henderson Water Plant – Main Street – 2020
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North Henderson Floral Hall Built 1876
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Photo Taken July 2020
North Henderson Main Street Garage 2020
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A book found on-line titled “History of Mercer County” published in 1882 by H. H. Hill & Company (page 796) states that the town of North Henderson, at that time, was quite a flourishing community. It was built along the St. Louis Branch of the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad.,North Henderson was “laid out” in 1871. By 1880 several businesses, including four doctors, had established themselves in town. North Henderson also had a two-story school house at that time.

We believe that North Henderson supported a high school during the early 1900s through research conducted by our own Beau Spencer. While conducting research Beau located a football schedule of the former William & Vashti College ( located in Aledo, IL. In the fall of 1916 the William & Vasti College football team took on the North Henderson High School football team. William & Vashti prevailed in this game (30 – 0).

A Moline Dispatch Newspaper article from April 1920 states that the residents of North Henderson voted down the opportunity to build a new high school building in town. The article does not state the reason the vote was against the new building. However, it is possible this sealed the fate of the future of North Henderson High School.

Moline Dispatch Article April 1920
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It is likely that North Henderson High School existed from the late 1800s through, possibly, the 1940s. It is also likely that North Henderson High School was absorbed into the Alexis School District in the late 1940s. We do know that the children of North Henderson today attend school as part of the Monmouth United School District.

North Henderson High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                             late 1800s?

Year closed:                               late 1940s?

Consolidated to:                         Alexis High School (now Monmouth United High School)

North Henderson HS nickname:??

North Henderson HS colors:      ??

School Fight Song:                     ??


The North Henderson High School boys definitely competed in football. It is likely that basketball, baseball, and possibly track were offered as well. School team colors, nickname, fight song, team records, and coaches names are also items we would like to add to this page.

Karl Swanson
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From the Book “Voices From The Pasttime”


Information located by Jake Tenhouse provides a pretty amazing bit of information. A gentleman named Karl Swanson, who grew up in North Henderson and graduated from North Henderson High School (a two-year high school), played professional baseball in the Major Leagues for the Chicago White Sox!

The book the information was located in is titled “Voices From The Past – Oral Histories of Surviving Major Leaguers, Negro Leaguers, Cuban Leaguers, and Writers, 1920 – 1934” and was written by Nick Wilson.

Karl Swanson was born December 17,1900 in North Henderson. He would often work on the farms in the area during planting and harvesting time. The following is an excerpt written verbatim from the book which is taken from Mr. Swanson’s own words.

I was born and raised in North Henderson, Illinois, a farm town of about 300 people near Galesburg. The 300 included a few pigs and chickens. We lived in town but my father was a farmer and he worked for other people in the area.

At the end of the threshing season the farmers and the field workers formed two groups and they played ball against each other. I was just getting into baseball at that time and that was the start of my career. I was their pinch runner when I was 13 years old.

We didn’t have a local team, just a bunch of kids that eventually formed a pick up team. We weren’t more than 15 or 16 years old. A fellow from our team would call another small town nearby and say “Let’s have a ball game Saturday.”  

There were about 3 or 4 towns like that. We’d get to those towns like Rio or Alexis, Illinois, anyway we could, just to play a game. Occasionally we would go on bicycles or in a Drury wagon if anyone had a horse we could use.”

Mr. Swanson goes on to explain how he made his own bat from branches he found in the woods nearby. He also fabricated a pair of spikes through use of a pair of his grandmother’s shoes! He then states:

I graduated from our two-year high school when I was 16 years old and then I went to Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.”

Mr. Swanson then played minor league baseball from 1921 to 1928 when he was signed to a contract by the Chicago White Sox. Mr. Swanson played well in the minor leagues, batting .302 overall. His time with the White Sox was short lived as his batting success did not follow him to the “bigs.” He was on the White Sox roster for the 1928, 1929, and 1930 seasons before being released.

Mr. Swanson is to be commended for his baseball successes coming from a small town like North Henderson. Truly a remarkable feat!


We know that the North Henderson High School experience did not rest soley in the gym or on the field.  We believe that many other “extra-curricular” activities were offered as part of the educational plan too.  FFA, FHA, GAA, band, chorus, and many other events probably helped to make the North Henderson school a special one.

Do You Have Information to Share About North Henderson High?

Several questions posted above remain unanswered.  If you have ANY information you wish to share regarding North Henderson High School please contact us at  You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

North Henderson Park / Baseball Field 2020
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North Henderson Grade School Rear 2020
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