The History of Smithfield High School
Smithfield (population 214) is located in western Illlinois in the west-central portion of Fulton County. The town is situated just south of Illinois Route 95 on County Highway 2 about 20 miles east of Macomb. The Toledo, Peoria, and Western Railroad travels through the heart of Smithfield and was instumental in its early growth. A branch of the Spoon River passes by the northwest side of town while the Baughman Creek passes by the south side.
An excellent web address for the history of Smithfield and its former high school can be viewed at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~fategenealogy/fate/smithfield.htm. According to this site Smithfield is named after Doctor J.N. Smith who bought 40 acres of land including the current site of Smithfield probably sometime in the mid-1800s. When the railroad was being laid out one of the engineers for the project became ill and was taken in and nursed back to health by Dr. Smith. As a reward the engineer promised to route the railroad through Dr. Smith’s land. Subsequently a town was laid out along the railroad line in 1868. The town was named Smithfield. The tonw was said to have peaked at a population of around 400 residents before settling in to its current population.
The school system in Smithfield also has some great history. A school was established shortly after the town was inhabited. Our guess is that Smithfield established a high school curriculum for its students in the early 1900s, possibly as late as 1920. According to the web address of http://www.greatamericantrails.com/site.asp?id=653, the Smithfield School building was built in 1917. The school functioned as a grades 1 – 11 school only. If students wished to attend a fourth year of high school they traveled to nearby Cuba to do so. In our estimation the Smithfield High School likely closed in the 1940s.
The children of Smithfield now attend high school in Cuba, their neighbor to the east. The Smithfield School building still has some good use for the community. The bulding served as a grade school for the Cuba district until 1990. The town assumed control of the building and now uses it as a community center and private art gallery.
Smithfield High School Quick Facts
Year opened: early 1900s / 1920s
Year school building built: 1917
Year closed: 1940s?
Year all school functions ceased: 1990
Consolidated to: Cuba High School
Smithfield HS team nickname: GS called the “Pirates”
Smithfield HS team colors: GS colors Blue & White
School Fight Song: unavailable