The History of Seymour High School
Seymour is located in east central Illinois in western Champaign County. It is not considered an incorporated village in Illinois and is not recognized by the U.S. Census. An estimate based on its size (5 blocks by 3 blocks) according to Mapquest (www.mapquest.com) would be 150 – 200 residents.Seymour is located on Illinois Route 10 about 1 mile west of Illinois Route 47 and about 1 mile south of Interstate Highway 74. Camp Creek flows to the west of Seymour. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad currently owns tracks running through Seymour. Seymour was first settled in Scott Township around 1875. Champaign is located about 6 miles east of Seymour.
The following history of Seymour and its educational system was provided by MarySue Firchau. It is reprinted from a publication that was written upon the closing of the grade school in 1982.
“Up to the time of the railroad going through this present site of Seymour, the town was known as “The Hedge”, as there was a large row of Osage runinng west and one running north from the school corner. At the time one railroad started operation the name was changed to Seymour in honor of one Richard Seymour who was an extensive land owner at that time.
The first school house was built in 1857 in the west half of Scott Township was the Koogler School, named for Samuel Koogler, the first township supervisor. The next school house was built on the northeast corner of the James Tilbury farm. Mr. Tilbury deeded two acres for the school site. the first school house was a small room boarded up and down. The district paid for the lumber but the hauling and building was done by volunteer help in 1865. The lumber was hauled from Champaign by B.J. Hazen and Tobias Woods. In making the return trip they met with misfortune, as they got part of their horses down in the crossing the Kaskaskia slough. They were compelled to unload a part of the lumber to get out. Upon reaching the Willow Grove Farm (John Pfiester farm), they put up for the night as they were hungry and cold. The horses were badly faded. This story was told by B.J. Hazen.
At the time this building was built they gave it the name of “The Hedge.” This school house was used until about 1872 when a larger and much better house was built. This building was used for Church and Sunday School and for all public gatherings as well as school. Among some of the teachers were: Goin Madden, H.L. Timmons, James Karr, J.G. Lawrence, David Hennes (who had 80 scholars enrolled), and J.M. Mullin (who had about the same number).
This second building was sold to Robert Johnson in 1889. Mr. Johnston moved the building to another site and made a dwelling of it. It was later used as a dwelling and central telephone office.
In 1889 the third school house was built; it was a frame building of two rooms. A Mr. McConnell and Miss Mattie Pritchard were the first teachers to occupy it. This house was sold to J.C. Haines in 1925 who dismantled it.
In 1925 schoolhouse number four was erected on the same site as the previous ones. It was a modern brick structure that would do credit to any community. It had two school rooms and a large gym. The basement was fitted up as the kitchen where many community and church suppers have been served. In 1933 the kitchen was converted into a two-year high school room. Three teachers were employed. In 1934 a music teacher was employed. In 1935, the third year of high school was added.
At one time Seymour had:
One M.E. Church Two filling stations
Two good grocery stores One electric railroad
Two elevators One steam railroad
One hardware store One poolhall
One lumber yard One hotel
One exchange bank One livery stable
One barber shop One doctor
One restaurant One telephone exchange
One blacksmith One three year high school
63 dwellings Populaton about 220
One hard road – Rte. 10 & 47
One day each year for 25 years was given over to a homecoming, picnic, and fair, when people would come back to spend the day with old friends and neighbors, and to look over the exhibits of horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, potatoes, cabbages, soybeans, tallest stalk of corn, fancy work, pics and cakes, jams and jellies, wheel of fortune, corn game, races, and a dance at night.
Supper at the church in the evening always drew a crowd. Last but not least was the horse show on the race track at night under the electric lights. Saddle horses showing 3 – 5 gaits and harness horses hitched to bikes showed great speed.
The ponies came for miles and it was surprising how the little folks handled the ponies.
All the exhibits were highly competitive and these exhibits were equal to our County Fair.
Our high school band furnished the music for the day and evening.
(Courtesy of D.H. Thomas, “History of the Town of Seymour”)
Phillip Carper owned the land the school is on now. It was a garden and orchard. The pecan tree in the school yard now was planted by Ann Carper Koble when she was 12 years old.
The concrete block out by the road was an open well for the first school built on the property. That building was moved to where the telephone office is now. The second school was built and then torn down in 1925. In 1925 the present building was built with two classrooms and a gym. In 1926 the school opened; school board members were L.E. Hartrick – President, Roy Bullinger – Clerk, and E.S. Bell – Director. The first teachers were Minnie Adams who taught first through fourth grades and Guy Conley who taught fifth through eighth grades. In 1933 two years of high school were added, later a third year was added. But for Senior year, the students went to Champaign, Urbana, and other schools. The first high school teacher was Ruth Lidden and the first principal when the high school was added was Virgil Henry. The slide and swings were bought in 1946-47. The school was consolidated on July 1, 1948. The high school went to Mahomet. board members of the newly formed district were: Clarence Rayburn, V.C. Kokensparger, J.W. Rayburn, Percy Lourash, Arberry Yount, Homer Keller, and James F. Parker.
In 1961, the 7th and 8th grades left and went to Mahomet. In 1970 the new addition was added to the old Seymour School; it consisted of the fifth and sixth grade rooms, the kitchen, the administrative office and the janitor’s room. In 1975 the first secretary was hired (Carolyn Fisher). In 1981 the fifth and sixth grades left and went to Mahomet.
In 1982 Seymour School closed.”
Mr. Terry Warren provided the following information regarding Seymour school:
“During its final year of operation as a school (1981-82), Seymour Grade School housed 69 students: 9 Kindergarteners, and 20 students each in grades 1, 2 & 4. The few 3rd graders attended school in Mahomet, as their numbers were insufficient to warrant the hiring of an additional teacher.
Seymour was my first administrative, or rather quasi-administrative, position. I was hired in 1981 as Principal of the school and was also the full-time 4th grade teacher. Carolyn Fisher was still secretary at that time, but also served as school librarian in the afternoon. When she was in the library, my 4th graders had the responsibility of answering the telephone. Carolyn had trained interested students to do this, and they did an excellent job.”
The former Seymour High School now operates as a factory in town.
Seymour High School Quick Facts
Year 2-year HS opended: 1933
Year 3rd year of HS added: 1936
Year HS closed: 1948
Consolidated to: Mahomet-Seymour School District
Year grade school closed: 1982
School nickname: the “Panthers”
School colors: Green & White
School Fight Song: “We’re True To You Seymour High School”
WORDS PROVIDED BY ROBERT FIRCHAU
We’re true to you Seymour High School
For you’ve stood the test
In the toughest games
You will always do your best!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Keep up your courage
Play with all your might
Yeah green ! Yeah white !
We’re with you and
We hope that you will win tonight!
Cha-he Cha-ha Cha-ha-ha-ha
Seymour High School
Rah! Rah! RAH!