|The History of Shields High School
Shields is an unincorporated crossroads in Farrington Township in the northeast corner of Jefferson County . According to a Google map, it is located at the intersection of DePeche Road and Papertown Lane . The hamlet sits in the far northeast corner of Jefferson County. Shields is no longer shown as a place name on the official Illinois highway map. Shields is in a remote area, with Mt. Vernon being 15 miles to the southwest, and the smaller towns of Bluford and Cisne also being at least 10 miles away. In 2000, the entire population of Farrington Township (36 square miles) was 552 people.
The following information on Shields and Shields High School was obtained primarily from the excellent Rootsweb and Geneologytrails websites for Jefferson County , both coordinated by Cindy Ford.
Jefferson County was organized in 1819, but the land in Farrington Township was not deeded to settlers by the government until the 1850’s. The area was heavily timbered and lightly settled. Early settler Dr. Lemuel Gregory spoke of collecting taxes in the form of deer and coon skins in the early days. Shields, named for a local family, was also known as Paper Town . At it’s peak, the town consisted of just a few houses, two stores, a small mill and a school (no church or post office).
At some point the people of the area, being far away from existing high schools, decided to offer their own high school program. The local rural school district (District 99) included the Shields and Lowery schools; apparently the Shields building was used for high school classes while the younger students attended nearby Lowery. Students from other nearby rural schools likely attended Shields High School as well. As District 99 was not a high school district, Shields High would have had only a 2-year or 3-year program.
Shields High likely started around 1920. Teachers at Shields High in 1939-1940 were B. O. Wilcox and Harry Irvin. The school was closed in 1946, around the time that changes in state laws and school funding began to eliminate the 2- and 3-year schools in “non-high school” areas.
Amazingly, District 99 continues to exist today. At some point, after further consolidation of rural districts, a new building was constructed about 3 miles southwest of Shields. This school is known as Farrington Elementary School . It is a K-8 school with a present enrollment of just 53 students. Students from this district attend high school at Bluford Webber Township High School