The History of Seward High School
Seward (population approximately 350) is located in far north central Illinois in the wouthwestern portion of Winnebago County. The town is situated on County Highway 18 about two miles south of U.S. Route 20. Rockford is just 12 miles to the east of Seward. The Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad travels through town and its tracks were instrumental in Seward’s early growth.
The history of Seward and its former high school are in need of research. Through the internet (http://members.aeroinc.net/sewardnet/) we were able to determine that Seward was first settled in 1836. This is currently the extent of our knowledge of the town of Seward. We do not believe it is officially incorporated as an Illinois town.
The history of Seward High School is equally in need of research. We are told that Seward had a three-year high school for many years. It is probable that these years included beginning in the 1920s. It was likely that the school lasted through the 1940s. Our guess is that Seward High School closed in the late 1940s. Students of Seward are now incorporated into the Winnebago School District.
An article was viewed and summarized by Roberta VanBriesen as follows:
“This is from the Winnebagoes 1903, a publication for teachers. The first district to consolidate country schools was Seward. This was in 1903. A beautiful new consolidated grade/high building was planned for construction at the cost of 6,000 for the building and 1,000 for the land. Pictures and floor plans, emphasis on agriculture. An interesting article on consolidation, many of the same issues we still hear today. School population included children ages 6-21.”
Seward was featured in an Illinois schools journal in 1920. The following facts were made available for the publication:
No. of districts consolidated: 3
Square miles: 12
Assessed valuation: $373,830
Cost of house: $7,000
Annual tax levy: $4,000
Tax rate: 1.07
Annual tax levy before: $1,200
Teachers now: 5
Teachers before: 3
Enrollment now: 91
Enrollment before: 89
Enrollment in grades: 71
Enrollment in high school: 19
No. studying agriculture: 6
No. studying manual training: 6
No. studying home economics: 5
Aid from vocational fund: No
Public conveyance: No
Years of high school course: 3
Months in year: 9
Seward Principal Irvin J. Rowe fielded questions from the publication as well:
Q – In what way do adults of the community profit by the school?
A – A) Gives an increased value to the farm lands in the district; B) It gives the child a good education with out leaving home to attend the city school.
Q – In what particular does the school meet the needs of the children and young people in the community in a superior way?
A – It brings a greater number of children together than in a one-room rural school, thus making larger classes, and the larger the class the greater the interest and spirit of competition among the children.
Q – What complaints are made?
A – No complaint.
Q – What features give the most universal satisfaction?
A – The Agriculture and Home Economic Courses are the features that give the most universal satisfaction.
There is still an elementary school in Seward for grades PK and Kindergarden as part of the Winnebago School District. The fate of the original Seward school building is needed.
Seward High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1920s?
Year closed: 1940s?
Consolidated to: Winnebago School District
Seward HS team nickname: unavailable
Seward HS team colors: unavailable
School Fight Song: unavailable