The History of Sidell High School
Sidell (population 626) is located in lower-eastern Illinois in the southwestern portion of Vermilion County. Danville is located about 15 miles to the northeast of Sidell. Sidell sites quietly on the intersection of the county roads of E 300 North and N 600 East. The Missourri Pacific Railroad cuts directly through the middle of Sidell. A branch of the Little Vermilion River flows by the western edge of town while the Archie Creek flows to the south of town.
The following EXCELLENT history of the Sidell school system was sent to us by Bill Daugherty. It was taken from the The Sidell Reporter from about 1972. The information was furnished to the newspaper by Frank Gilroy who came to Sidell in 1908. He was a blacksmith and a Baptist preacher.:
“Since Sidell is one of the younger towns of the area, it has no background of “subscription schools” and log schoolhouses. The earliest settlers here sent their children to Archie, Gilead, Barnett and Indianola, where schools had been established since 1843. After grade school, a few attended seminaries, which offered, advanced education on the basis of tuition of $1.25 per month per pupil.
The first school in Sidell was established in the upper room of the old depot building about 1883 or 1884. Presumably in the late 1880s a two-room brick building was erected on’ the west side of Chicago street where the Rose Bailey home is now located. A Mr. Graham was hired as principal, and the two other teachers were Ida Ames and Zua Spry. In 1892, a second story was added and a two-year high school was established under a Mr. Blankhurst as principal.
In 1894, Clay F. Gaumer became principal, and in 1897 a third year was added to the high school and it continued as a three-year high school until 1908, when the fourth year was added under Prof. Sherman Cass. Two rooms had been added to the building in 1905, making it a six-room school. Sometime within this range, some of the classes were held in the upper story of the Old Hatchery building, south of Courson’s Store. During the years 1892 to 1908, the public school board of District No. 194 operated the high school.
As early as 1895-96, an attempt was made to organize a high school district, but the effort was defeated at the polls. It was later accomplished, in 1912, through petitions circulated by Dr. Ceo. B. Jones and Harley Beaman. The district of 39 sections was called Sidell Township High School District No. 21. The first board of the new district was elected in April, 1912, and named A. Cathcart as president. Other members were; H. L. Baum, Ralph Herron, J. C. McDowell, M. A. Dickerson, A. M. Miller and Max Holton.
In the beginning, the high school was established in two rooms of the grade school building, paying a rental of $25 per month. In 1912, a bond issue of $20,000 was approved for a new high school building, payable at $2,000 per year for 10 years. Three sites were available for the building: the first, east of the Christian Church the second, the old three-story hotel across the street east of the bank, and the third, its present location.
The new building was occupied in the spring of 1913, under Sherman Cass as principal, his salary being $117.50 per month for 12 months. Two other teachers were hired at $75 per month. The completed building cost approximately $25,000.
The first ‘graduates of the four-year high school were: Walter Carrell, Hazel Williams, and Caryl Holton. The first janitor of the building, George Overman, was paid $45 per month for 12 months.
The new gymnasium was built in 1925 under Leroy Hooker as principal, at a cost of $27,000. The school was admitted into the North Central Association in 1916 when V. W. McIntyre was Principal. W. J. Goreham became principal in 1927 and served until it ceased to be a separate high school in 1955, when it was consolidated with Fairmount and Indianola high schools to form Jamaica High School.
Principals serving during its history of 63 years were:
E. W. Blackhurst, 1892-94
Clay F. Gaumer, 1894-1903
J G. Slater, 1902-3
Robert Kent, 1903-4
R. W. Sprinkle, 1904-6
J. N. Kirby, 1906-8
Sherman Cass 1908-14
V. W. McIntyre, 1914-17
Mr. Nichols, 1917-18
Mr. McManus, 1918-19
J. R. Bouton, 1919-25
Leroy Hooker, 1925-27
W. J. Goreham, 1927-55
The first official coach of the high school was H. C. Stotler in 1916: The organization of the Consolidated Jamaica High School was effected in 1953, but did not become operative until 1955. Upon the consolidation, Mr. Goreham became the first superintendent of the Jamaica High School.”
The high school for Jamaica District was set in Sidell. The fate of the original Sidell school building is being sought.
Sidell High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year closed: 1955
Consolidated to: Jamaica School District (Sidell)
Sidell HS team nickname: the “Rockets”
Sidell HS team colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: “We’re Loyal to You Sidell High”
University of Illinois Fight Song Tune
(Thank You To BILL DAUGHERTY)
We’re loyal to you Sidell High,
We’re white and we’re blue, Sidell High,
We’ll back you to win,
Cause you’ll never give in,
Tho’ the score may be thin, Sidell Hi
So keep up the pep, Sidell High,
You’re building a rep, Sidell High,
You’ll soon have a reputation,
That will produce sensation,
Fight boys for Sidell High!