Thawville High School “Red Devils”

Thawville High School
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Now Iroquois West Elementary School
The Original Thawville School Building
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Student Body of 1914

The History of Thawville High School

Thawville (population 258) is located in far western Iroquois County on Il. Route 54. This places the town approximately 35 miles southwest of Kankakee. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs through the center of the village.

The people of Thawville took great care in educating their children. This storied history of education in Thawville was sent to us by a true Thawville fan Sandy Grohler Kay (Roberts-Thawville grad of 1960) whose parents, Lyle Grohler (1931) and Ruth Lange Grohler (1933) were both graduates of Thawville High School. The information was provided in a book titled “The History of Thawville” which was written in 1932:

“The first school in the community, before there even was any town called Thawville, was located one-half mile north of the cemetery. The first school in Thawville was built in 1876 on the south side of County Road on the west side of John Street. It was torn down in 1912 with the new building finished in 1913.

Beginning in 1901, Thawville graduated students from a two-year high school course. At that time the grade and high schools both occupied the same building. A separate high school district was organized in 1920, and a four-year high school started. The first class graduated in 1921.

In 1920, a movement began for the building of a new high school. The new building was begun in 1929 and completed in the spring of 1930. The high school and its effects were transferred to the new building in March of that year. The new building made possible a more extensive athletic program, so a coach was employed.

Prior to 1930-31 the high school was not accredited. The new building, however, won Thawville a place on the list of accredited schools at the University of Illinois and the roster of recognized four-year high schools of the State Department of Public Instruction.

The high school’s collection of trophies bears witness to its success in athletic competition during the 30’s and 40’s in track, baseball and basketball.”

In 1949, a consolidation effort with Il. Rt. 54 neighbor Roberts took effect which created the Roberts-Thawville School District. The Roberts-Thawville School District (also on the site) then served the two villages from 1949-50 through the 1973-74 school year. According to alumnus Steve Baker, the school facilities enjoyed some growth in the early 1960’s:

“In the spring of 1961 an addition was added to house the 1st thru 5th grades and the old building across the street was closed. This addition allowed for the 1st thru 8th grades to be housed in the combined building. At its peak, there were 275 students attending this facility.” (Steve Baker, class of 1965)

In 1974 Roberts-Thawville High School was deactivated and the students then attended the Ford Central School District, located in Piper City.

Ford Central then eventually deactivated in 1992 & the two towns parted ways, with the Thawville kids now attending school as part of the Gillman Iroquois West School District. The Thawville high school building is still in use today. It serves as the Upper Elementary Attendance center for grades 4 and 5 of the Iroquois West School DIstrict.

Thawville High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                    1901

Year 4-yr school opened: 1920

Year closed:                     1949

Consolidated to:                Roberts-Thawville School District

School nickname:              “Red Devils”

School colors:                   Red & Black

School Fight Song:           “Cheer for Dear Old Thawville”

Submitted by Richard Comen, Provided by Paul Curtis Drieske

Stand up and cheer,
Stand up and cheer for dear old Thawville,
For tonight we raise the green (red) and gold (black) above the rest,
We say that our boys are fighting
And we are bound to win this game!
We have the team, Rah Rah,
We have the steam ssss  ssss,
For we are dear old Thawville High!


*Footnote:  The fight song was provided by Richard Comen, who learned while serving in the U.S. Navy in the V-12 Unit with Paul Curtis DrieskePaul sang the song and Richard learned it well enough to sing along. Richard recalls the song to this day, nearly 72 years later!


The only information accessed via the IHSA web site regarding Thawville High School was regarding its boys’ basketball team. It is assumed the school offered track and possibly baseball for the boys and cheerleading for the girls. We are told tennis was also offered for the boys of THS. If you have any information regarding the Thawville High School athletic program, please follow the directions below.

Boys Basketball

The Thawville boys were a dominating force during the 1930s winning 5 District titles (the last in the 1939-40 season) and one Regional title. The team was coached by Vivan Blakely from the 1935-36 season through the last season of existence in 1948-49. Their successes are listed below along with several scores from a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores.”

1931-32               IHSA District Champions!          Coach’s name & record needed

District Records Needed

                            IHSA Sectional Qualifier

                            Sectional Scores Needed


1932-33               IHSA District Champions!          Coach C.F. Fahrkopf

                            season record needed

District Records Needed

                            IHSA Sectional Qualifier

                            Sectional Scores Needed


1933-34               Gibson City District Tournament   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Gibson City 34-27

                            2nd Rd Beat Piper City 9-6

                            Semi-final lost to Fisher 33-19

Fisher lost to Rantoul in title game

1934-35               Paxton District Tournament          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Melvin 22-17

Melvin lost to Paxton in title game

1935-36               Gibson City Regional Tourney     Coach Vivan Blakely

                            season record needed

1st Rd lost to Fairbury 35-18

Fairbury lost to Paxton in semi-final

Paxton beat Strawn in title game

1936-37   29 – 4   Watseka Regional Champions  Coach Vivan Blakely

                            1st Rd Beat Chatsworth 35-23

                            Semi-final Beat Watseka 31-18

                            Title Game Beat Gilman 22-14

                            Champaign Sectional Tournament

                            1st Rd lost to Paxton 22-16

Paxton lost to Champaign in semi-final

Champaign lost to Decatur in title game

Decatur lost in IHSA State Championship game

1937-38               Martinton District Champions   Coach Vivan Blakely

                            season record needed

                            early round District scores needed

                            Title Game Beat Donovan 17-9

                            IHSA Regional Qualifier

                            Regional scores needed


1938-39               IHSA District Champions!          Coach Vivan Blakely

                            season record needed

District Records Needed

                            IHSA Regional Qualifier

                            Regional Scores Needed

1939-40               IHSA District Champions!          Coach Vivan Blakely

                            season record needed

District Records Needed

                            IHSA Regional Qualifier

                            Regional Scores Needed


1940-41  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely

1941-42  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 

1942-43  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 

1943-44  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 

1944-45  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 

1945-46  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 

1946-47  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 

1947-48  Postseason scores and record needed     Coach Vivan Blakely 


1948-49               Sibley District Tournament            Coach Vivan Blakely

                            season record needed

                            **1st Rd lost to Roberts 48-35

Sibley lost to Strawn in second round

Strawn lost to Melvin in semi-final

Melvin lost to Buckley in title game

**Final basketball game for Thawville High School. Consolidated with Roberts in the summer of 1949 to form the Roberts-Thawville School District.

The Celebrations!

The Thawville fans came out in droves when it was time to honor their hometown heroes. The photo below was taken in 1936 at a celebration for the basketball team’s great season. Some of those present and shown in the photo include:

Dolores Olson, Jesse Allen, Jean Allen, Orval Steigman, Glen Woodard, Marvin Steigman, Wayne Zick, Bill Allen, Paul Bennett, Raymond Veatch, Vernon Olson, Carleton Remsburg, Lewis Dingledine, Ruth Mason, Pearl Mason, Helen Allen, Ruth Lenhert, Phyllis Hapenny, Bill Weber, Elsie Veatch, Fern Onken, Florence Diercouff and Mae Eshleman.

Celebration Dinner
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Photo taken in 1936

Boys Tennis

Thawville High School had some excellent tennis teams and players in its day. One player in particular, Lyle Grohler, even participated in the state finals during his career at Thawville.

Seeking Your Help

If you can provide any more information regarding Thawville High School, please complete a School Submission or Guest Commentary Form. We are especially interested in information on the better teams and players of Thawville’s high school days. You can e-mail us at  or write us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

Thawville High School
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Class of 1933
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Submitted by Mary Hildenbrand and Sandra Kay

List of Graduates in Photo Above:

Gerald I. Wagner, Loran Townsend, Charles Don Fahrnkopf, Orval A. Stiegman, Leroy Hildenbrand, Merton D. Pierce, Carlton Remsburg, Gladys Lydia Martin, Vivian Ruth Kelley, Verdie Evelyn Wagner, Violetta A. Crawford, Ethel Louise Robbins


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Submitted by Mary Hildenbrand and Sandra Kay

List of Graduates in Photo Above:

Rosella Austin, Marie Bales, Alvin Zecker, Kinley Hynd, Glen Woodward, Royce Olson, Lois H. Zick, Joe L. Tomsheck

Thawville HS Class of 1944

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Submitted by Sandra Kay

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