Potomac High School “Artesians”

Potomac High School Building – Photo Taken in 1963
A building with trees in front of it

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Courtesy of Dean Abbott
Photo of Artesian Well in Potomac
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Courtesy of Dean Abbott

The History of Potomac High School

Potomac (population 681) is located in far eastern Illinois in the central portion of the state. U.S. Route 136 is the main roadway to and from Potomac.  Vermilion County Highway 10 passes through Potomac as well.  The Bluegrass Creek flows to the east of town and the Middlefork (Vermilion) River flows past the south edge of town. Potomac sits about 20 miles northwest of Danville.

The history of the town of Potomac is in need of research.  Our best guess is that Potomac was likely settled in the mid-1800s.  A school for the children of the area was probably put in place around this same time.  High school curriculum was likely put in place in the late 1800s, surely by the early 1900s. Research by Potomac High School graduate Gary Farnsworth (Class of 1961) revealed that the most recent building built for the use as Potomac High School was built in 1938.

Potomac Grade School Building – 1938 through 1966
Potomac HS Building prior to 1938 – Submitted by Dean Abbott

Potomac High School served the kids of the area for several decades, possibly for nearly 100 years.  The high school-aged children of Potomac now attend nearby Armstrong High School for their higher education.  Potomac still supports a K – 8 facility for its children.

Dean Abbott, a 1970 graduate of Potomac High, tells us the original Potomac High School building pictured above has been razed.  The brick and pieces of the gym floor were sold off for charity.  Dean states sentiments shared by many when he wrote that “even though it had deteriorated over the years, the building is still missed by those who attended.”

Jeremy Hays tells us that Potomac High School closed in 1994.  Jeremy was a member of that final graduating class of Artesians.

Potomac High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                            late 1800s / early 1900s

Year closed:                             1994

Students now attend:                 Armstrong High School

Potomac HS team nickname:     the “Artesians”

Potomac HS team colors:          Green & Gold

School Fight Song:                    “Wave the Flag”

                                                               Lyrics Provided by Dean Abbott and

                                                               Brenda Abbott Hamilton

                                                               Music proided by Tom Brown.  It is a recording

                                                               of an alumni band which played it at the

                                                               retirement ceremony for John Fly. 

                                          Go Potomac we’re behind you,
Uphold the green and gold!

Show your courage and your virtues,
Fight Artesians bold!

Down the floor and on to victory,
As onward we will strive.
We will sing our praises ever
So fight on Potomac High!!


                                                (Repeat the song twice)

                                          Cha-hee, cha-ha, cha-ha-ha-ha
Potomac High School RAH-RAH-RAH!!

Potomac High School Image
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Engraved on Piece of Original Wooden Gym Floor


Potomac High School has a very rich and storied history of great athletes and a great athletic program.  The boys competed in baseball, basketball, and track while the girls were offered volleyball, basketball, and track.  We have some great history of the boys basketball program which we will provide below.  We are always looking for more important and interesting information on PHS athletics.

Gary Farnsworth advised the following regarding Potomac High School’s unique nickname:

“The ‘Artesians’ nickname was unusual in itself.  The name came about as a result of the many artesian wells in and around the town of Potomac.”

Boys Basketball

The Potomac High School Artesians were well known for their remarkable successes on the hardwood court.  A brief synopsis of the better moments of high school basketball history in Potomac was sent to us by Gary Farnsworth:

“The Artesians captured both district and regional championships from 1933-1936. In those four years the team posted a 87-21 won lost record. The coach during that time was Curt Alexander whose tenure ran from 1920-1936. The 1940-41 team, coached by Fred McDavid, was 26-8 and defeated Homer (34-0) in the first round of the sectional.

In 1949, probably our most famous team, though not necessarily our best, went 30-4 and defeated Danville in the first round of the Champaign sectional. At that time, Danville was rated number 1 or 2 in the state.  Quite an accomplishment for a school of under 80 students. That team was coached by Frank Bohac.

In 1951-52, Ty Franklin took over the reins of the Artesians. In the 1954-55 season the team went 29-6 and won the district, regional and first round of the sectional before falling to Georgetown in the sectional finals.

The following 1955-56 season the team went 30-4 and once again won the district and regional before falling to Pontiac in the first round of the Kankakee sectional.  The two year record of 59-10 was, and still is, quite remarkable.

Coach Franklin (who was also a starter on the 40-41 team) left after the 56-57 season to go to Peoria Richwoods.”

Great job Gary, the records we have available are listed below as given by Gary Farnsworth and listed on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org).  An incredible history it is, by the way.  How about TWELVE DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIPS and FOUR REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS for school whose enrollment likely never topped the 100 mark!!!!

1920-28                                                                      Coach Curt Alexander

1928-29               District Champions                         Coach Curt Alexander

1929-32                                                                      Coach Curt Alexander

1932-33               District Champions                         Coach Curt Alexander
1933-34               District Champions                         Coach Curt Alexander

1934-35                                                                      Coach Curt Alexander
1935-36               Regional Champions                      Coach Curt Alexander

                           Artesians go 87 – 21 from 1933-36!

1940-41   26 – 8    District Champions                         Coach Fred McDavid

                           Beat Homer HS (34 – 0 at the time)

                           1st Rd. of Regional

1943-44               District Champions
1947-48               District Champions

1948-49   30 – 4    District Champions                         Coach Frank Bohac
Regional Champions

                           Beat #1 (or 2) ranked Danville

                           1st Rd. of Sectional

                           Top 32 Team in State

                           Lost Sectional Title Game

(Enrollment about 80 students!)

Potomac Artesians 1948-49 – Coach, Tri-Capts., Mgr
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Coach Bohac, Bud Patberg, Sonny Remole, Bill Allen, Mgr. Gene Hanson – Submitted by Dean Abbott

1951-54                                                                      Coach Ty Franklin

1954-55   29 – 6    District Champions                         Coach Ty Franklin
Regional Champions

                           Won 1st Rd. of Sectional

                           Top 32 Team in State

                           Lost Sectional Title Game to


(Enrollment about 80 students!)

Potomac Artesians – 1954-55 Regional Champs
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Submitted by Steve Hamilton – Pictured L to R: Brown, Peltice, Ty Franklin, Spesard, Jolfey, Newnum

1955-56   30 – 4    District Champions                         Coach Ty Franklin
Regional Champions

                           Top 64 Team in State

                           Lost 1st Rd. of Sectional

to Pontiac

30-4 Final Record Best in State!

(Enrollment about 80 students!)

Potomac HS Regional Champions of 1955-56
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Sent by Steve Hamilton – L to R: Pettice, Warren, Young, Spesard, R. Reed, K. Reed

1956-57                                                                      Coach Ty Franklin     

1961-62                District Champions                         Coach Norm Held

The District Champions of 1961-62
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Submitted by Dean Abbott

Members of the 1961-62 District Champs pictured above

Front row, l to r: Steve Hamilton, Steve Burroughs, Tom Prillaman, Jerry Leonard, Dick Leonard.

Back row l to r:  Lynn Boggess, mgr; Steve Rice; Lou Esteppe; Rodney Rakes; Norm Held, coachDean Andrews; Robb Stahl; Gene Talbott; Jim Voss, mgr.

1962-63                District Champions                         Coach Alex Takacs

The District Champs of 1962-63
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Courtesy of Dean Abbott

Members of the 1962-63 District Champions pictured above:

Left to right:  Jim Voss, mgr; Steve Rice; Rodney Rakes; Steve Burroughs; Tom Pillaman; Jerry Leonard; Robb Stahl; Gene Talbott; Alex Takacscoach

1968-69                District Champions                         Coach Dennis Kirkman

District Champions of 1968-69
Courtesy of Dean Abbott

Members of the 1968-69 Artesians pictured above:

Front row, left to right:  David DeNeal, mgr; Dennis Kirkman, coach; Chris Knerr, mgr.

Back row:  L to R:  Butch Creighton, Rick Talbott, Mike McBroon, Bill Remole, Greg Remole, Chuck Abbott, Dean Abbott, Tom Brown

1982-87                                                                      Coach Jeff Millis

**Regarding Coach Norm Held from Dean Abbott:

After leaving Potomac Norm coached Danville High School to the IHSA tournement and then went on to coach Anderson, Indiana to a number of trips to the state tournement over there.

**Regarding Coach Dennis Kirkman from Dean Abbott:

Denny Kirkman went on to become the long time atheltic director at Bradley-Bourbonnais, being inducted into their Hall-of-Fame a few years ago.

Boys Baseball

The Potomac High School boys baseball program won a Regional Title of their own. This was accomplished in the 1970-71 season. The team record and coach’s name of this and other great PHS baseball teams are being sought to share on this page.

1970-71            Regional Champions

Boys Track & Field

One male thinclad brought home a medal from the 1936-37 IHSA State Track & Field meet.  In the then one-class meet, ROSS COIL earned a THIRD PLACE Medal in the 1-Mile Run.  Great job Ross!

1936-37     Ross Coil       1 Mile Run        3RD PLACE

Girls Athletics

We are certain that the Lady Artesians competed in sports as well.  Our guess is that basketball, volleyball, and track were offered at the school.  We are hopeful an alum of PHS will help fill us in on this bit of information for the history of Potomac High.

Potomac HS Football Team of Early 1900s
Submitted by Dean Abbott


The Artesians did participate in football, at least early in the school’s existence.  The photo to your right is of the football team at Potomac High School from the early 1900s.  If you know any further information on the history of the Artesian football program, please write to us and share it in this space.

PHS Stage Band of 1961 – “THE SKYLINERS”
Courtesy of Former PHS Band Instructor John Fly

School Band

As you will see, Potomac Schools offered a very well-rounded experience for the kids who attended there.

To your right is a photo of the Potomac High School stage band of 1961.  The group was called “The Skyliners” and was led by Mr. John Fly.  Members of the group pictured in the photo include:

Front Row:    Marilyn Duncan,Kay Jameson,Steve Hamilton, Betty Hall

Second Row:Wayne Brown,Ron Willard,Dick Leonard,Gary Farnsworth,Jerry Leonard,Dean Andrews, Sue Duncan

Standing in Back: Anne Taylor

Not only athletics but music was also an important part of Potomac High School’s history. Many of the outstanding athletes were also important and valuable members of concert bands, choruses, and stage bands. John Fly was music director at Potomac for 27 years from 1957 until he retired in 1984. During Fly’s tenure the grade school bands received first-place ratings at district and state contests in 20 of 27 years and the high school bands received first-place ratings in 18 of the 21 years that they competed.  The high school chorus and band presented  a musical comedy each spring from 1962 to 1976.

Music Director John Fly
At PHS from 1957 – 1984


John Fly….Band  1957-1984   Chorus  1957-1969
Barbara Beckmeyer…Chorus  1970
Rosilla Audo…Chorus  1971-1975
Sandra Young…Chorus  1976
Vickie Clay…Vocal  1977-1984


From Potomac High School Class of 1970 alum Tom Brown:

“Most students started playing a musical instrument under John Fly’s direction when they were in the fourth grade and continued until graduation.  Mr. Fly really became an extended part of your family.  Potomac was very fortunate to have someone in that position for the many years he spent at the Grade School and High School.”

Extra-Curricular Activities

Clubs, dances, activities, and other extra-curriculars such as band and chorus were likely an important part of the Potomac High School experience.  Please help us by sharing your experience at PHS on this page.

Need Some Assistance

As with every page, we are seeking some in-put from a Potomac resident, fan, or alumnus as to the history and great successes accomplished at Potomac High School.  If you can provide us with information please complete a School Submission Form or Guest Commentary Form.  You may also write us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. or via “real” mail at:

IHSGD Website

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago,  Il.   60631

Potomac High School Band – 1968-69
Courtesy of Tom Brown
Potomac Grade / High School – 1925
Submitted by Dean Abbott
Potomac Grade School – 2012

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