The History of Tonica High School
Tonica (population 685) is located in north-central Illinois. The southwestern LaSalle County town is found at the intersection of Illinois Route 251 and Illinois Route 178. Interstate Highway 39 runs just west of Tonica. Bailey Creek flows through the town as well. A city for reference would be LaSalle located 8 miles due north of Tonica. According to the web site http://villageoftonica.tripod.com/ Tonica was founded in 1853 as a stop along the Illinois Central Railroad line. A man named A.J. West named the town Tonica after a Native American Chief named Tonica back in his home state of New York.
The residents of Tonica probably started a high school and educational system for their children in the late 1800s. The town supported schooling for grades K – 12 for many decades. It was after the 1990 school year that Tonica High School was deactivated. The Tonica high school-aged kids now earn their diplomas in LaSalle.
Tonica still supports its own school as its kids in grades PK – 8 attend Tonica Grade School, which uses the former Tonica High School building as part of its facility, as evidenced by photos on this page..
Memories – This great story was relayed to us by Dolores (Wiertz) Valle, Tonica Class of 1952. What are the odds of this in any one town!:
“The class of 1952 graduated a class of 18 girls and no boys. As freshman, we were a class of 26 with only two boys — by the end of the first semester, the two boys had quit school and we became a class of girls for the next three and a half years. Some of the girls moved and others dropped out so by the time we graduated in 1952 there were only 18 girls left. The high school coach at that time was Mr. Herbert Hungerford, so needless to say, we didn’t have much in sports during those years. At that time there were no girls sports offered in high school. Poor Mr. Hungerford was lost for words with not many boys available for sports as when we were juniors and seniors, our class had nothing to offer !!“
An article regarding the students of Tonica High School from 1874 is available at http://genealogytrails.com/ill/lasalle/TonicaNews.html#Roll .
Tonica High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1874 (probably even a few years earlier)
Year closed: 1990
School nickname: the “Warriors”
School colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: “On Tonica” (sung to “On Wisconsin” – click play button below left)