The History of Sumner High School
Sumner (population 1,022) is located in southeastern Illinois on Il. Route 250 just south of Il. Route 50. This places Sumner in northern Lawrence County about nine miles west of Lawrenceville. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs some tracks through the center of town. The Muddy Creek and Shirley Creek also flow through town.
The following history of Sumner and its school was provided by Leona Smith:
“It would be very hard to write a history of Sumner School without including a slight history of Sumner itself, as the city and the school are so intertwined it is hard to separate into two segments.
The germ of the city of Sumner was planted on October 25, 1817, when Benjamin Sumner bought land for one dollar and fifty cents per acre and settled upon it. The city was surveyed and platted by Peter Smith, at the time the county surveyor, on January 27, 1854. Several additions have been laid out and added from time to time.
The children attended a school a mile west of town. This continued for four years, but in the fall of 1858 a small frame building was erected on West locust Street. In 1867 a two-story brick building was erected in place of the “Little Brown Jug” as the first building was commonly known. However the “Little Brown Jug” was used for several years afterward as the primary department.
The records of the school prior to 1862 appear to have been lost, however, the school continued to grow rapidly in attendance and in the year 1867-68, it was necessary to employ four teachers. The new brick building served the community for fifteen years, and then increasing enrollment forced another enlargement.
This building as completed, was made in the anticipation of further expansion. It was placed under one roof with a belfrey in the center and as completed, was a two-story structure containing six rooms, an office, cloak rooms, ect.
A two-year high school was established by the school board, and the first commencement exercises were held in the sprinhg of 1888 under the direction of Superintendent J.M. Hamilton. The members of the first class were Maggie Burnes, Gracie Corrie, Della Judy, Mayme Robinson, Isis Kilgore, and Bert Emerick.
A third-year was added to the curriculum in 1897 and a fourth year was added in 1819.”
Sumner’s second school building was built in 1920. It was a brick structure that housed grades 1 through 12. This building served the town for 21 years until tragedy struck. The building caught fire in the afternoon of June 16, 1941. The building was destroyed and unrepairable.
Construction of a new building was underway almost immediately. However the children needed a building in which to attend school while the newer building was built. This was accomplished in the building pictured to your left. This three story structure served as Sumner High School from 1941 until 1947. In 1947 the new building, pictured at the top of this page, was completed and served as Sumner High School until the high school was consolidated with Bridgeport in 1973.
It was in the early 1970s that the towns of Bridgeport and Sumner engaged in consolidation talks. This became a reality with the creation of the Red Hill School District in 1973. Red Hill High School is located in Bridgeport. There is a school located in Sumner where classes are offered to the Red Hill students. This is known as the Sumner Attendance Center for children in grades K – 4. The former Sumner High School building also holds classes for the Red Hill 7th and 8th graders. The Red Hill Junior High Salukis now play their basketball and volleyball games in the original Sumner High gymnasium which was built in 1956.
SCHOOL SPIRIT IS STILL ALIVE FOR SUMNER HIGH! Every two years an All-School Reunion for alumni and classmates is held the 1st Sunday after Labor Day.
Sumner High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1888
Year closed: 1973
Consolidated to: Red Hill High School (Bridgeport)
Yearbook names: The Pyramid, The Telescope, The Tatler, The Ketch-All, The Sumarian
School nickname: the “Arabs” (horse and rider)
School colors: Red & Black
School Fight Song: “On For Sumner”
“On Wisconsin” fight song tune
On for Sumner, On for Sumner,
March right down that line,
Put the ball into the basket,
Score one every time!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
On for Sumner, On for Sumner,
March right down that line.
Fight fellows, fight,
And win our game tonite!