The History of Rockbridge High School
Rockbridge (population 189) is located in lower western / southwestern Illinois in the southeastern corner of Greene County. Illinois Route 267 is the main roadway traveling through Rockbridge as Illinois Route 108 passes by town two and a half miles to the north. County Highway 24 also passes through the village. Rockbridge is located about 35 miles southwest of Springfield and 15 miles north of Alton.
A post office named Rockbridge was established in the area in 1850. The town was established in 1870 along the Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad line. It was originally named Sheffield after a successful local businessman. The name was changed to Rockbridge to match the local post office shortly thereafter.
Rockbridge High School may have been established in the late 1800s, possibly even in the early 1900s. It is probable that Rockbridge High School served the community and the area through the 1940s, possibly even longer. Rockbridge High was a four-year high school.
An alum of Rockbridge High School, Winifred Locher, who is 94 years old as of this writing (June 27, 2012), wrote the following letter to us regarding Rockbridge High:
“(Rockbridge) is on Ill. Rte. 267 – 2 1/2 miles off of Rte. 108, about 65 miles from Springfield, Il. and 35 – 40 miles from Alton, Il.
My Dad, Fred S. Pewter, was Supt. of the school from about 1920 – 1940. He was also the basketball & track coach
The school was so small, maybe 30 – 40 total enrollment. After he retired – I don’t know exactly when – (Rockbridge) consolidated with Greenfield I think this was in the early 1940s. Rockbridge was always a four-year high school as long as I was there.
I graduated from Rockbridge High School in 1936 and went on to graduate from Blackburn College in Carlinville, Il. (Yes, I am 94!) The school colors at Rockbridge High School were blue and gold. The fight song was the Univ. of Illinois fight song.
R.C.H.S. (Rockbridge Community High School) did participate in basketball and track and literary contests which were big at that time. We had very good teachers – graduates of Illinois College and MacMurray College. We also had school dances and plays. We competed with the 3-year and 4-year schools in Greene County. About 1934, my Dad was on the IHSAA board and attended some meetings at the Palmer House in Chicago. I went with him and attended the World’s Fair.
My Dad organized the “Little 8” conference of all Macoupin County schools except Rockbridge. We were very close to Macoupin County though. The schools who were a part of this conference included:
We competed in sports and literary contests. These were all 4-year high schools.
Some of the colleges attended by graduates that I can recall were the University of Illinois, Blackburn, an art school in Washington, D.C., Monticello College, Godfrey Shirtloff College (Alton, Il.), Willesby, and Illinois College. This was during the time of the Depression, in a farming community, and at a time when college was an option, not a necessity and a priority like it is today. Also the threat of war was approaching. I can think of many who did well in their careers.”
In the summer of 1947 it was decided that students of Rockbridge High School would attend nearby Greenfield High School beginning in August of 1947. Rockbridge High was dissolved and annexed into the Greenfield High School District.
Rockbridge High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s / early 1900s
Year closed: 1947
Consolidated to: Greenfield High School
Rockbridge HS team nickname: “Rocks” (1938 Springfield Newspaper article)
possibly the “Panthers” at some point
Rockbridge HS team colors: Blue & Gold
School Fight Song: “We’re Loyal to You, Rockbridge High”
University of Illinois FIght Song Tune