The History of Tilden High School
Tilden (population 922) is located in far southwestern Illinois in northeastern Randolph County. Illinois Route 13 is the main roadway traveling to and from Tilden. It connects Tilden to Ilinois Route 4 just one mile to the west of town. The Illinois Central Railroad runs parallel to Route 13 through Tilden as well. Tilden is located about 30 miles southeast of East St. Louis.
According to the web address of http://www.randolphcountyillinois.net/sub88.htm, Tilden was platted and “laid out” in 1860. It was the first village in Randolph County to have a railroad travel through it. Tilden’s first buildings were erected in 1871. The town is named after Samuel Tilden, a democratic candidate for president of the United States in 1870.
The following excerpts, as well as all of the photos on this page, were sent to us by Jan Schilling, who along with Joanne Moody Paul (a retired Tilden teacher, and lifetime resident) are in the process of preparing a book to publish on the history of Tilden, entitled “Once Upon a Tilden Time”. The book will quite possibly be ready by December of 2006. The history of the Tilden Schools as well as stories and memories are shared below:
“The Tilden children walked to the Lindsay school about one and one-half miles southeast of town untril the first school started in 1890. In 1897, records indicate the school is a one-room school in the back of Murphy’s Store. The school (eventually) grew to a two-year high school with a grade school.
Joanne (Moody) Paul recalled that she had possession of a “Marissa Messenger” dated May 26, 1950 showing that her brother graduated from Marissa High School that year. It also showed that 19 eighth-graders graduated from the Tilden Grade School as well. Joanne believes the two-year high school at Tilden ceased functioning in 1948.”
High school curriculum was probably established in the early 1900s. We are told that Tilden High School was never more than a two-year high school. Students wishing to complete their four years of high school needed to attend their junior and senior years at either Sparta or Marissa high schools.
A school bus for the Tilden kids was available very early on compared to other schools in the state. The caption under the photo to the right reads:
“Hez Sparling of Tilden was undoubtedly the first school bus operater – and builder – in Randolph County. In 1936 a group of Tilden students who wanted to attend Sparta High School asked Sparling to drive them back and forth. He had a truck, and designed and built a wooden enclosure for the bed of his truck. This was designed with benches along the sides. It was also designed to be lifted on and off so that he could use the truck to haul coal during the day. For heat he added a small stove. A ladder pulled out of the rear opening to help the students board, then slid back into the “bus” as it started its trip. Each student paid 30 cents a day for the ride. Sparling operated school busses – not homemade – for the Sparta School District for 24 years. He said in the early days there were no “snow days” and he managed to get through most kinds of weather.”
The fate of the Tilden High School building is needed.
Tilden High School Quick Facts
Year opened: early 1900s?
Year two-year HS closed: 1948
Consolidated to: Sparta School District
Tilden HS team nickname: the “Meteors”
Tilden HS team colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: unavailable
We know the Tilden High School “Meteors” competed in boys basketball. It is quite possible that baseball or softball, along with track may have been offered to the boys as well. We are still in search of the school’s fight song, team records, and coach’s names if any are available.