Raritan High School “Wildcats”

Raritan Grade School Building 1925 – 1973
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Now the Henderson County Historical Society Museum – http://www.hendersoncountyillinoismuseum.com/

The History of Raritan High School

Raritan (population 140) is located in upper-western Illinois in the southeast corner of Henderson County. Raritan is about 23 miles southwest of Monmouth. Raritan is laid out at the intersection of County Highway 8 and County Highway 9. Illinois Route 116 passes by the village about three miles to the north. According to www.mapquest.com Raritan is four blocks from east to west and two blocks from north to south. Raritan is named when settlers of a town of the same name relocated to Illinois from New Jersey. The village was established in 1856

The village of Raritan is host to the Henderson County Illinois Museum (http://www.hendersoncountyillinoismuseum.com/). The museum is located in the former Raritan Grade School building which is pictured above. The building served as a grade school for the town from 1926 through 1973.

The following information was sent to us by Howard Rescot:

“At the Henderson County, Illinois museum I found out some information for your site. Raritan, IL had one high school graduation class 1893. Then, after that date, the students went to Media High School until 1971. Also, the colors of Raritan school were green and white and they were know as the “Wildcats.” This might be for the grade school not high school though.”


A website dedicated to the Henderson County Illinois Museum (http://www.hendersoncountyillinoismuseum.com/history) states the following about the history of the school building and the museum:

“Raritan School Building

The Henderson County Historical Society was organized in 1962, but was active for only a few years.  In 1975 there was renewed interest in preserving the county’s history and the Historical Society became active again.   A museum committee was formed, a storage facility located and on Memorial Day, 1975, Howard Pruett from Oquawka (the north end of the county) and James Cook (a resident of the south end of the county) were put to the task of acquiring artifacts.

The Raritan Grade School was built in 1925-26 and was strictly a town school until 1950, when the rural one room schools were closed, and those students came to town for their education.  In 1950 the flat roof portion of the school was added.  In 1954 the Morton building was attached and used primarily as a recess/physical education room.

The school building was no longer used in 1973, due to the consolidation of Media-Wever and Stronghurst school districts the previous year.  Three years later the Historical Society was allowed to use the building to house the artifacts they had acquired to that point.

In 1979 the Southern School District sold the building and surrounding lots to the village of Raritan.  In turn, they sold the building and surrounding lot to the Historical Society for the sum of $3,750.00.

By July 4, 1979, three and one half school rooms were filled with artifacts either donated or loaned.  The first curator was Rita Souther, a history major graduate of Brigham Young University. Ms. Souther later was employed by the National Museum in Washington, D.C.

Since that time, there have been many hands that organized, catalogued and maintained the brick school house.  James and Doris Cook are still responsible for the building and have been for 35 years.”

Raritan High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                   early 1890s

Only graduating class:     Class of 1893

Kids then attended:          Media High School

Kids now attend:              Biggsville West Central High School

Year brick GS opened:    1926

Year brick GS closed:      1973

Raritan GS nickname:     “Wildcats”

Raritan GS colors:           Green & White

School Fight Song:           ?


It is likely that Raritan High School, though its existence was short lived, had activities for its’ students to participate in. The high school likely did not participate in athletics due to the time period it was actually open (early 1890s). We do know that the grade school participated in athletics though.



**From Jim Knapp:

“I stumbled across (the Glory Days) website regarding Raritan High School. http://www.illinoishsglorydays.com/id1129.html  While there may have been a high school in the 1800’s the building pictured here, to my knowledge was always a grade school. I attended Rartian Grade School from 1948 through 1956. When I was in the seventh grade they hired the first male teacher at the grade school. Mr. Patterson started a sports program which included a softball team and a basketball team. This would have been around 1955. Our class had the privilege of selecting the school colors, green & white and choosing the team name as the Raritan Wildcats. I grew up in Raritan and this is the first I ever heard about a high school in Raritan. Since the building pictured was not built until 1926, I’m reasonably certain that it was never the high school. However, I must admit that I was not there in 1893.”

Raritan Grade School Classes 7 & 8 in 1955-56
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Submitted by Jim Knapp

Far left row front to back: Larry Fields, Denna Garrison, Robert Jacobs, Robert Duncan.

Second row from left: Linda Paulsgrove, Lamar Johnson, George Adams,Chuck Galbraith.

Third row from left: Mary Jo Kemp, Roberta Arnold, John Kelsey.

Far right row: Jim Knapp, Diana VanArsdale, Susan Stephenson

Raritan Grade School Softball Team 1955-56
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Submitted by Jim Knapp

Back row: Jim Knapp, Bill Corzatt, Larry Fields, John Kelsey, Chuck Galbraith

Front row: Jay Barry, Wayne Fisher, Robert Duncan, Lamar Johnson.

Raritan Grade School Grades 1 – 4 in 1947-48
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Submitted by Jim Knapp

Back row from left: Patty Lee, Gladys Lant, Ronnie Melvin, Darvis Overstreet.

Seated: Mrs. VanDoren, Jim Knapp, Roberta Arnold

Sincere Gratitude

Thank you to Howard Rescot, who conducted the research for this page.

Need Your Assistance

The Raritan High School legacy should not be forgotten. RHS should be remembered and its legacy shared with others. You can e-mail information and items to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or you can write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, Il.    60631


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