The History of Terre Haute High School
Terre Haute (population of township 279) is located in upper-western Illinois in the south-central portion of Henderson County. Illinois Route 94 is the main roadway through Terre Haute. The town sits along Route 94 and is about 5 blocks long and one block wide. The Dugout Creek flows about a half-mile south of town. Terre Haute was platted in 1854 however never became incorporated as an Illinois village. For some EXCELLENT history on the town of Terre Haute, Illinois check out the following web address:
A great deal of work was sent to us by a true Terre Haute fan and great fan of the Glory Days site, Jean Dougherty. Jean sent us several photos as well as the following information on Terre Haute and its former school system:
” The History of Terre Haute Township High School District No. 102
(Submitted by Jean Painter Dougherty, fifth generation resident of Terre Haute and member of THHS freshman class, 1958-59)
The following history is excerpted from “History of Terre Haute, Henderson County, Illinois”, compiled by the late Lois (Mrs. Lowell) Painter in 1991:
The exact date the precinct of Terre Haute was settled is uncertain but it may have been as early as 1835. Obediah Edmunds was probably the first permanent settler, coming with his family from Rhode Island in 1837. The first house built on the present site of Terre Haute was erected by William Reynolds in 1848. Soon after that Obediah Edmunds built the second house.
Several wagon trails crossed the precinct which probably led to the settlement. One trail ran along the east side of the township. Many of the early residents got off the stage coach there and mail was left there. Another trail, perhaps the most important to the settlement, came North from Franklin (now LaHarpe) to a house one fourth mile west of Terre Haute and turned northwest to Burlington. There was quite a large house here for that day that was used as an Inn. Mail was left there twice a week. In 1842 Joseph Genung, his wife, two sons Edmund and Stephen and daughters came overland from Terre Haute, Indiana. They liked the location and bought the farm. They also named the town “Terre Haute”.
In 1848, the first school district was formed at a meeting in the Genung home. A schoolhouse was built in 1852, on the site of the present cemetery. It was known as the Genung School or Paseyville.
In 1861 the Free Will Baptist congregation was organized and held services at the Genung School until 1866 when they built a church for $3000. The congregation disbanded in 1905. The building was later used for the Terre Haute High School and is now the Town Hall.
In 1914 a high school district was formed and school was held in the old Baptist church. The first graduating class of eight students marched from its doors in 1918. In 1916 steps were taken to create a High School. Finally, after an act of the State Legislature to invalidate a law which had been their chief barrier, a township high school was formed.
In 1921 work was begun on a new high school building which opened in the fall of 1922. It was a fine modern facility, the pride of the community. The school remained in operation through 1959.
In 1954 a new grade school opened near the high school. The eight rural schools in the township were closed and the children were bused to Terre Haute. In 1959 the high school was closed and the students were bused to either La Harpe or Stronghurst depending on where they lived. On May 2, 1961, Community District #335 was organized from the community schools of La Harpe, Fountain Green, Durham and Terre Haute. For twenty years the Terre Haute school buildings were used for Junior High and elementary 4th and 5th graders who were bused there from La Harpe. Because of declining enrollment and increasing operating expenses, it was necessary to close all attendance centers except La Harpe in 1982. At that time, the Terre Haute buildings and land were sold at auction to Mike and Diana (Painter) McKinnon.
Current Status of Terre Haute High School Building
(My sister and brother-in-law) Mike and Diana McKinnon, current owners of the high school property, live adjacent to the property. Due to the unsafe condition of the main school building, it was demolished in 1994 and only the ‘bus barn’ remains. The bus barn is a brick addition that was built to house the school buses. It was built around 1953 when all of the surrounding country grade schools consolidated and the new grade school was built adjacent to the high school.
The Terre Haute Methodist Church built a new annex building several years ago. All of the framed senior class pictures from Terre Haute High School were saved and now reside in the foyer of the church annex building.
The McKinnons have the hand bell from the school building that the teachers used to call the students to class. They also have the two engraved cornerstones from the high school building. Ralph T. Painter was President of the Board of Education for Terre Haute Township High School District No. 102 when it was dedicated in 1921. Board members were Joseph E. Painter, A. W. Kern, H. M. Lovitt, Fred Fitz, Geo. Stout, and L. E. Lovitt. Their names are engraved on one of the building’s cornerstones. The other cornerstone contains the architect’s name, A. L. Pillsbury, and the contractor’s name, the Bennington Brothers, Dallas City, Illinois. The date on that cornerstone is 1921. There was a time capsule in one of the cornerstones which contained documents. Some were damaged and some had disintegrated from the elements. The McKinnons salvaged what they could and preserved them in a shadow box.
I transcribed the most important document from the time capsule, a 2-page brief history of the school, which follows. It was typed on the letterhead of local merchant, J. J. Bryan. The center of the document had disintegrated. I inserted a blank line to show where portions are missing or are unreadable.
J. J. Bryan
Hardware and Implements
Terre Haute, Ill. August 20, 1921
The Corner Stone of the High School building, For the use of Terre Haute High School District No. I02 of Henderson County Illinois, was layed by A. L. Bennington, Contractor, of Dallas City, Illinois, on the 20th, day of August, A.D. 1921. Hon. William H. H__tzell, of Carthage, Ill. delivered an address,
THE TERRE HAUTE HIGH SCHOOL/a brief history.
In 1917, __ with Lowell Stout and Miss Bl___, as assistants. In this year, the senior class was George Edmunds, John Edmunds, Merwyn Kimble __ Ingram, Earnest Painter, Ada Peasley, Nellie Gittings, Vera Gittings, who received their diplomas, May 8th, 1918.
Professor Siegworth, having been called to serve his country, in France, J.J.Harnay, was selected as Principal for the following year, with C.S.Apt, assistant. The second assistant having been secured, at beginning of school, Mrs. Jessie Ingram, kindly filled the place, until the vacancy was filled by employing Miss Delphine Corkell, of Chicago.
The year’s work was finished, a class of four, namely Fredrick Fitz, Cyrl Stout, Helen Edmunds, and Irene Morgan, on May 27th, 1919.
The first semester of 1919 found Prof. C.S.Apt in charge of the school, with Prof. Siegworth, and Miss Milicent Vance of Macomb, completing the teaching corps for this year, on May 26th, 1920, a class of four received diplomas, Herbert Fitz, Harry Painter, Frank Edmunds, and Adeline Berkshire, C.S.Apt was again chosen as Principal, for the year beginning Sept. 1920, F.W. Siegworth and Miss Eleanor Kyle of Media assisting.
The school year closing 1921 graduated a class of three – Anna Kern, Milton Kern, and Dena Finch.
C.S.Apt, F.W.Siegworth and Miss Genevieve Adair, will be in charge next year, and the following students are enrolled. Wyvern Painter, Arthur Berkshire, Thomas Edmunds and Herman Fitz, Guy Melvin, (a large portion is missing here)
Wishing its __ and hoping our school may achieve the great objective ______ organized, the writer consigns this record to the ____ cornerstone, these to remain we hope for Centurys/
Description of Terre Haute High School
Terre Haute High School was designed with entrances on the north and south ends of the front (east) side of the school. There was a single sidewalk leading up to about 40’ from the entrances. The sidewalk then divided and a flagpole was located at that point. From there, sidewalks led to each entrance. Above each entrance were carved stones. “TERRE HAUTE” was above the south entrance. “HIGH SCHOOL” was above the north entrance. The McKinnons salvaged the TERRE HAUTE stone and used it as their fireplace hearthstone when they remodeled their house in 1998. The baseball diamond was located behind the high school.
The girls’ restroom and shower room were located at the south entrance and the boys’ restroom and shower room were located at the north entrance. All of the framed senior class pictures were displayed in the north and south entrance areas. The gymnasium was located in the center of the building. It was surrounded by classrooms and a library. There was a raised stage on one side of the gym. That area was also used as a classroom when I was a student. The stage was used for class plays and music programs. There was a cafeteria in the basement when I was a student.
The school property includes 4.2 acres of land. The lawn of the high school building was beautifully landscaped. There were a variety of evergreen and deciduous trees planted in the spacious schoolyard, and many shrubs were planted around the building. There were hedges along the entire front of the property and along either side of the sidewalk leading up to the front entrances. Mr. Clarence Apt was the groundskeeper for many years. He did a beautiful job of caring for the lawn, hedges, and shrubbery. Many of the trees remain today.”
Special thanks to Jean Painter Daugherty….nice job!!!
Terre Haute High School Quick Facts
Year HS opened (in Baptist Church): 1914
First graduating class: 1918 (8 students)
Year “new” HS building built: 1921-22
Year Addition added to HS bldg.: 1953
Year consolidated GS opened: 1954
Year HS closed: 1959 (last graduating class 8 students)
Consolidated to: LaHarpe or Stronghurst (depending on student’s home location)
Terre Haute HS bldg. used as: Terre Haute Junior High (closed in 1982)
Terre Haute school building razed: 1994
Terre Haute HS team nickname: the “Wolves”
Terre Haute HS team colors: Maroon & White
School Fight Song: “We’re Loyal to You Terre Haute High”
University of Illinois Fight Song Tune
We’re loyal to you Terre Haute High
So do all things right Terre Haute High