Ullin High School “Indians”

Ullin High School Campus in 1954
A black and white photo of a building with a hill in the background

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Courtesy of Paul Echols & Howard Thomas
Original Ullin School Building
A large building with a tree in front of it

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Courtesy of Paul Echols & Howard Thomas

The History of Ullin High School

Ullin (population 779) is located in far southern Illinois in northwestern Pulaski County.  Old Highway 51 is the main roadway to and from town.  Shawnee College Road provides access to Ullin from Interstate Highway 57 one mile to the east.  The Cache River flows through town.  The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad intersects with the Missourri Pacific Railroad in the heart of Ullin.  Ullin is located about 30 miles south of Carbondale and 15 miles north of Cairo.

The following history of the town of Ullin and its former school system was written by Paul Echols.  The story was sent to us by our good friend Howard Thomas.  This is with out a doubt one of the most thorough and well-researched items that has been sent to us.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


ca. 1868-1917

”     The first documented school building in Ullin was a white two-story wooden frame school building built in the middle of town (pictured to your right). The exact date of construction is unknown, but it was probably constructed around 1868, which is when the first Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) Church was constructed in Ullin. The small one-story wooden church was located only about 150′ east of the school. Old photos of the two buildings reveal similar construction. Several structures began to be built in Ullin after it was founded in 1857.

Some have written that Ullin was named after the highly respected Ulen Family, who were early settlers in the Ullin area. The legend declares the name was misspelled when officials filed the name with the state and the mistake was never corrected. My research and collection of old documents through the years reveal the name Ullin existed prior to 1857, when Ullin was founded. Ullin Officials did not incorporate the little town until 1900, when officials filed with the state of Illinois. Documents from the 1800’s reveal Ullin’s name was taken from several poems written by the 3rd Century Gaelic Poet Ossian. Ullin was a character in these poems. These poems were later translated by James Macpherson (1736-1796), who was a popular Scottish poet and scholar. The poems were quite popular with early pioneers who settled this area of the United States. It is unknown who actually named Ullin or when it took place, but the name was in place prior to 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad began service through Southern Illinois. With all respect to the Ulen Family, there is no evidence to support the town was named by mistake.

The original founding of Ullin involved two blocks east of the Illinois Central Railroad laid out by D. L. Phillips and J.P. Ashley, gentlemen associated with the ICRR. The first two east-west streets were named First North and Second North, while the first north-south streets were named Oak and Locust. The school was located on First North Street, about 350 feet east of the Illinois Central Railroad Depot. The ICRR Depot that remains today was built in 1897 and in 1998 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (it is currently undergoing refurbishment and has quite a history of its own). Even the old ICRR Depot has an indirect link to the Ullin Schools. When the winter weather caught students who lived in the country off-guard, the ICRR Stationmaster would allow them to spend the night inside the Depot. A fire was maintained in the old pot bellied stove keeping the passenger side of the Depot warm all night long.

Years later, Reagan’s General Store, Heart’s Drug Store, and Wilkins’ Chevrolet (later, Dickerson’s and Cache River Chevrolet) occupied the same lots where the wooden school once existed. In about 1918, the old wooden M.E. Church, which was located east of the school, was moved and replaced by a beautiful brown brick church building, which was dedicated in 1920. After the wooden M. E. Church building was moved north onto another lot, it was used as a gymnasium for the Ullin High School. The brick Methodist Church stood on this site until 1997, when several Ullin churches combined to form the Crossroad’s Methodist Church on the Ullin-Tamms Road. Cache River Chevrolet purchased the old church lot and razed the building.

When the old M. E. Church and the old school existed, a dirt road named Locust Street passed between the two buildings. Eventually, this road became a highway. It was paved in 1924 and named Illinois Highway 2. Some years after that, the Federal government took control of the road and renamed it U. S. Highway 51. Today it is known as the Historic Egyptian Trail.

The school stood about 30′ high, not including the belfry, which was located on the south gable. The bell was of course contained in the belfry and could be heard for miles when it was sounded. The building was constructed in an “L” shape. It was 70′ long (north and south) and 40′ wide on the north end. There were four large classrooms inside the building. The school was heated with coal stoves and vented by a brick chimney located in the middle of the building. The classrooms were cooled by opening the numerous eight-pane double hung windows found on both levels of the building. Lighting was provided by the sun and coal oil lamps. There were two entry doors, one on the south end, and the other facing south located on a small off-set porch on the west side of the building. This porch was often used as a small stage for class pictures. One of only a few photos of my grandfather H. E. Echols Sr. (1893-1925) was made on that porch in 1909.

Miss Leona Brust, who was a long-time Ullin School Teacher, was the subject of an article appearing in the Cairo Evening Citizen newspaper written by the late June Reagan on August 21, 2003. June wrote, “I would like to honor one of our Ullin ladies who reached the great age of 96 on August 12 (2003) and that being a much loved Leona Brust. Miss Brust is surely known to almost all of our community, as she was a first grade teacher in the Ullin Schools for some 50 years and almost touched the lives of everyone in some way or another in this little community. I personally got to tell Miss Brust that I was sure that God would let her make the 100 mark.” Three years has passed since that article was written and Miss Brust is less than one year away from achieving Centenarian status.

In 2002, I sat down with Miss Brust and discussed her very impressive teaching career. I might also note that Miss Brust was my father’s (Maurice “Baldy” Echols) first grade teacher as well as my first grade teacher, and he was 35 years older than me. In 1960, the Ullin High School Yearbook “The Indian” was dedicated to Miss Brust because of her dedication to teaching. As I previously mentioned, Miss Brust’s teaching career in the Ullin area span from 1928 to 1973. Her first teaching position was at the Dexter School, a country school located west of Ullin. In a letter provided to me by Miss Leona Brust, she provided me with some of her memories of the old Ullin School. Miss Brust wrote:

In September 1915, I enrolled as a first grader in Ullin Eastside School when it was a four room white {wooden} building. It and the playground were located where the Ullin Foods Store and the Chevrolet Garage are now. 

There were several teachers and the principal Mr. Zenith Jenkins, who taught classes too. There were four rooms, two rooms upstairs and two on ground level. I can not remember how the school was heated. It seems I remember seeing my teachers with a little white apron on putting coal in the stove that was in the middle of the room.

My first year was unpleasant until we finally had a {permanent} teacher. The first one never came. We heard she became ill. The second was married after a week or two (Married teachers could not teach then). We had several young women in town or some of the upper grade girls “kept” school an hour or two until at last Miss Grace Carlock from Dongola, IL finished the term. Some of the substitutes were Bessie Blaylock, Garnet Carson, Bessie Sydenstricker, and Mrs. Zenith Jenkins filled in sometimes.

The Primary Room consisted of four groups of children. There were Beginners, First A, First B and Second Grade. School supplies were few. Beginners read from a chart that hung on a stand. It was like a big tablet with a lesson on each page. There was no seatwork or workbooks. Pupils had a tablet and pencil. Some children had a slate and slate pencil or piece of chalk. Some of the wealthier children had coloring pencils or crayons.

After the pupils learned to read what was on the chart, they received a “premiere” text book. The First A and B and Second Grade had books on their level too. All school supplies were furnished by the parents. That was the reason some of the children borrowed books from other classmates. Some of the children were generous and loaned their books to children who did not have books. Often children who borrowed books took them home to study their lesson at home.

My second year in school was better and I enjoyed school always after the beginning of my first year. Some of the teachers who taught in the old Eastside School were: Grace Carlock, Grace Palmer, Ida Holcomb, Lois Bankson, Aletha Palmer, Artie Brown, and Principal Zenith Jenkins.

An old photo postcard of the old school postmarked “Ullin 1910”, which was sent to my great-great grandmother Louisa Echols, by my grandfather H. E. Echols Sr., reveals a slightly tattered building still in use. Many in my family attended school there and I have several old photos taken outside the building. I have never found a photo taken inside the old school.

There were several country schools surrounding Ullin. They were built to accommodate the children born and raised on the numerous farms surrounding Ullin during this era. Some of the country schools near Ullin included the New Hope School, Dexter School, Beech Grove or Jump-Off School, and the Butterridge School.  Many of those schools were also closely associated with the country churches built to accommodate the farmers and their typically large families as they practiced their faith. One-by-one they all eventually consolidated with the Ullin School as bus transportation was made available. One of the last country schools, to merge with the Ullin School was the New Hope School District #18 which merged with Ullin in 1946. Many of those country school houses still exist today and a few have been made into homes. Other feeder schools that eventually consolidated with Ullin were Wetaug and Perks. Students last attended these schools in 1918.



As the population of Ullin continued to grow in the early 1900’s and the condition of the old wooden school continued to deteriorate, the need for a modern school became apparent. By 1916, money was appropriated and the Ullin School Board voted to build a new school. In 1917-1919, a brick two-story school was constructed on the Butterridge Road or what was also called the Big Creek Road.

Today the street is called Ullin Avenue, but the building is no longer there. Students who once attended Ullin schools, merged with Grand Chain and Karnak to form Century School District #100 in 1963. The old Ullin brick school building was used for several years as a grade school, until 1974. The only thing left at this site are the ball park, lots of memories, and the old brick gymnasium, which was dedicated as the Leona Brust Civic Center in about 1980.

There are not many former students living who would remember what the original red brick building looked like when it was first constructed. Some will remember the two brick diamond designs, accented by white bricks, centered on the left and right sides. By 1974, the year the building was finally abandoned, the brick building and those structures built around it looked much different than the simple rectangular two-story brick building that opened for classes in 1919. The only part of the building that remained unchanged was the front facade (south side), including the two diamonds. The front of the building, with two entry doors, never changed and was probably the side most photographed during its existence.

The original dimensions of the building constructed in 1917, were that of a long and narrow brick building. It measured 100 feet long and 35 feet wide. Within a few years, an addition was made on the northeast corner adding another 35 foot wide by 50 foot long addition. This made the building an “L” shape structure. After the second phase of construction, there were 8 classrooms; 4 downstairs and 4 upstairs. The new school was equipped with electricity, something fairly new to the region. Heat was provided by a coal fired boiler and steam system. Through out the life of the Ullin brick school, it was always heated by steam although the coal fired boilers were changed to natural gas about 1971. The original lights were incandescent, and ceilings in the classrooms were 12′ high. The tall ceilings and transoms over the classroom doors helped keep the rooms cool during warm days. Air conditioning was never added to the building. The school was equipped with many large windows, which allowed teachers to capture whatever air was stirring during the day.

Graduation ceremonies for the Ullin High School were held at various locations through the years. Graduating classes generally ranged from about 15 to 20 students. The Ullin Methodist Church was host to almost all ceremonies until the first gymnasium was built. The class of 1927 was the first to utilize the new gymnasium added that year. Even after that, some were held in the Methodist church for unknown reasons. After the second gymnasium was built in 1941, it offered much more space and graduation ceremonies were held there. A graduation invitation from the Ullin High School Class of 1931 indicates the ceremony was the 23rd annual commencement. This indicates the first official commencement was in 1919, the year the brick school opened for classes.

While the initial construction during 1917-1919 did not include a gymnasium, the original plans may have included it. By 1927, a gymnasium was added on the north side of the building, in the natural void of the “L” shaped building. This addition completed the structure into a rectangular building measuring 100 feet long and 80 feet wide (it is important to note, this gym was added to the existing structure, and was not the same gym that most remember and know today as the Leona Brust Civic Center). By 1941, the new gym was built and the old gym was converted into classrooms.

In 2002, I interviewed my Uncle William H. Echols (born in Ullin in 1919), who attended the brick school from about 1925 until 1938. Here are some of his memories.

Ullin HS Gym 2010
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Courtesy of James Horaz

The second floor {of the brick school} was mostly identical to the first floor. The building was “L” shaped before the gym was built. I don’t remember the date when the gym was built, but I do remember when the first trailer load of bricks arrived by truck one evening. It was evening and my friend Vincent Ledbetter (Vincent was one of five Ullin boys later killed in WWII) and I, who were in grade school, were playing along the street that led toward the school. The driver asked us where the Ullin School was located.  After we told him, he asked us if we wanted to earn a little money by helping him unload the bricks. It was a summer evening and we unloaded the bricks by moonlight. I think the tongs held about 8 bricks and we stacked them near the northeast corner of the building.

There was a stairway that led under the 7-8th grade room located on the northeast corner of the building. Those stairs led down to a boiler room in the basement. It was a hand-fed, coal fired steam system. Pipes carried the steam to cast iron radiators with vents to allow the air to circulate and carry the heat from them. The vents did not always work too well and the building was sometimes cold.

In the years I attended the Ullin School, there was no lunch room. At lunch time, those who lived in town went home for lunch, and those who lived outside of town brought their own lunch or went home with a friend in town.

Originally, there were no indoor bathrooms in the brick school.  The toilets were located outside, behind the school building. These were of course the old wooden “outhouses” of the day. The boy’s toilet was located to the east, and girl’s toilet was to the west of the gym. As I remember the boy’s outhouse, it was at least a two seater. I was never in the girls, but assume it was similar in design. The outhouses would have to be moved from time-to-time and placed over a new hole dug into the earth. Every so often, someone would step into the old holes and that was not a very pleasant experience as you can imagine. After the first gym was built we had indoor bathrooms. The bathrooms were located on the north side of the gym on each side of a stage that existed along that wall. The gym was relatively small, but in a lot of ways similar to the gym that exists there today. There was not much room between the small stage and the gym floor.  There were bleachers for fans to sit on the south side of the gym.  I can remember about three plays performed on the stage in the gym.

 I remember going with my father to a basketball game held in the old M. E. Church building which had been converted into a gymnasium. One of the players I remember seeing was Clifford Needham who was later president of the Ullin and Dongola Banks. The old wood gym had been moved to Dale Street, which is north of the present day Ullin Catholic Church.  I never played basketball in the old wood building, but did play basketball in the new brick gym from grade school through high school. I never played basketball in the gym that was later built separate from the school.  I have many good memories that were made at the Ullin School. 

A group photo taken of the 1937-38 Ullin High School Basketball Team (which can be viewd below) reveals a daunting story of things to come. The picture included Ullin High School Principal Guy Runyan, Bill Echols, Clyde Day, Herman French, Sam Ulen, Ray Brust, Leroy Hoffmeier, Lawrence Brust, Vincent Ledbetter and Coach Armstrong. World War II was looming over the horizon and later claimed the lives of three of the UHS team members. Clyde Day, Herman French and Vincent Ledbetter were three of five Ullin boys killed during the war. The other five members of the team survived the war and lived long lives. Three members are still alive today.

In the early 1900’s most small towns like Ullin provided only three years of high school. Graduates of the three year Ullin High School, during the 1920’s, received diplomas or certificates that would dwarf the ones handed out today. A diploma in 1923 measured 15 inches by 20 inches and included a small ribbon on the certificate. Students who wished to finish the fourth year were required to attend a school in a larger town whose curriculum included all four years. Many of the Ullin students completed their final year in Mounds. Leona Brust finished her senior year in Cobden. Finally, in 1937, under the guidance of school board President Lon Dale, Ullin received permission from the State of Illinois to extend their curriculum to a full four year high school, ending the need for students to travel to other towns to finish that fourth year.

The earliest yearbook or school paper I have collected of the Ullin School is 1931. The 1931 yearbook was named the Ullin Pyramid. One page from this yearbook reads:

The Ullin Pyramid was brought into existence during the school year 1929-1930. It was the first paper to be published at the Ullin High School and has been quite a success. It is published once monthly and contains all the school news and announcements. The idea of school papers is gaining ground in Pulaski County as was shown by the press conference held at Mound City this year, and to which the entire staff of the Ullin Pyramid was invited. We are quite proud of our paper. The staff for this year are as follows: Frances Hileman, Orlan Parker, Harold Hart, Gerald Walker, John Miller, John Mathis, Ruby Watkins, Wilda George, Viola George, Eileen Ulen, Wilmont Crippen, and Faculty Advisor—Mr. Edwards.

The 1931 yearbook included group photos of all the students in high school and photos of the sport teams. No individual student photos were included. The yearbooks and school newspapers at Ullin High School carried various names through the years. Some of the names included, The Pyramid, Hi-Lites, Spot Light, Chieftain, Echo, Treasure Chest and the Indian. While not politically correct today, the Ullin High School sports teams typically were named the Indians. The front of the basketball uniforms in 1948 were adorned by a figure of an Indian head in full headdress. The UHS school colors through the years were traditionally gold and black. For many years the Ullin Grade School teams were known as the Ullin Panthers, although the colors remained gold and black. The first Ullin High School baseball field on campus was located behind the current gymnasium. The ball park included a wooden backstop and bleachers built by Porky Johnson and Carl Wilkins, owner and manager, respectively, of the Ullin Aces, Ullin’s semi-pro, independent league team. The Ullin Aces and Ullin’s school teams used the park.

In the mid 1950’s the ballpark was moved west of the playground where it exists today. It was used during the summer for independent league teams including an Ullin Women’s softball team during the 1960’s. In about 1966, Ullin joined other local communities and created a Khoury Baseball League. The president of the Ullin League was Maurice “Baldy” Echols who died in 1972. In honor of his dedication and hours of service in organizing the Ullin Khoury League (which continues today), the ballpark was dedicated in 1973 in his memory. Also in the 1960’s the ballpark was the site of the Ullin Labor Day Celebration, which included carnival rides, food vendors and live music.

In the winter of 1937, Southern Illinois suffered a catastrophic flood. The Ullin area was significantly affected by the rising flood waters as the Ohio River escaped its banks and back flowed into the Cache River basin. The Ullin High School campus was spared as it was on high ground, but just barely. The Cache River bottoms located just south of the school were completely flooded and threatened the entire community. The Ullin School was forced to cancel school for about 6-8 weeks during January and February 1937. When school resumed after the flood waters receded, some students did not return because of the work involved in repairing and clearing flood debris.

As the threat of war loomed over the country in 1941, several improvements to the Ullin School were either in progress or being completed. The new gymnasium, which was a separate structure, was built east of the main school building. The gymnasium was dedicated on February 4, 1941. A story found in the 1941 Ullin High School yearbook stated:

In one of the most brilliantly played ball games of this season, the Indians out-played and overpowered the strong Mound City quintet to open the new gym with a victory. The grand opening night was February 4. The victory was surprising to many because the Ohioans had won the MCCHS Tournament the preceding week. The odds were with the opponents, but they couldn’t withstand the pressure released by the Indians and were subdued in a 28-20 defeat. Ullin took an early lead and never lost control of it during the game. The official line-up and points scored: Scanlin, 5, and R. Brown, 4 forwards; Lynch 2, center; Payne, 16, and Mowery, 1, guards. WOW! What a victory.

In May 1941, a caption under a photo, found in the Cairo Evening Citizen made reference to the construction underway at the Ullin High School. It stated:

In keeping with the modern educational trend, the Ullin High School Board, under the supervision of Charles Mayfield is rapidly nearing completion of a $54,507 building improvement program which will make their school a top ranking contender with other county schools.

The top floor of the new addition will give the Ullin School a modern study hall and library, private administration office and outer office. On the first floor improvements include two large classrooms, complete and modern toilets, showers and fire proof hallway and stairs.

The building will be equipped with hardwood floors, florescent lighting, with new equipment in the superintendent’s office. The present improvements will increase the school plant fifty percent and, including the new gym completed in February, the plant increase will reach one hundred and fifty percent.

Outside of the building program, the school grounds will be landscaped with new improvements on the baseball diamond, outdoor basketball court as well as ground improvements on the grade school playground.

A. J. Coffman is construction superintendent and is at present working eighteen men on the building.

Another related article found in the 1942 Ullin High School yearbook stated:

The students of the Ullin High School are very proud of the new addition which has been added to the school.  One of the new features of the new building is the fluorescent lights. The whole building will have them. They are new in the schools of Southern Illinois. It has been said that they will pay for themselves in about eighteen months.  Another feature is the new heating system. Instead of steam radiators, we have the unit blower system. While two sets will keep the gymnasium warm very easily, we have two sets in the new assembly.  Also there is the new fire-proof hallway downstairs. In case of fire, the students can escape easily and without danger.  The upstairs contains the offices and the new assembly. The outer office is the first door to the left upon entering the upstairs hall. The inner office opens into the assembly.  The downstairs contains two classrooms and two toilets.  New seats were ordered and have recently come and are now in use. We are all very proud of this great improvement.

Also constructed in the 1940’s was the Agricultural Building. Located northwest of the school, this structure included a classroom on the east end and areas for woodworking and industrial arts in the rest of the building. The building had two wooden sliding garage doors, one located on the west side and one located on the south side. Most would remember the Agricultural building for its red asphalt type exterior siding.

The last significant improvement made to the UHS Campus was the addition of a separate lunch room. In about 1950, the school began to serve hot meals inside the school and employed a cook. The first lunchroom was located inside the main building on the first level near the northeast corner of the school. In about 1956, a wooden lunchroom was built. It was painted white and located behind the school on the north side. Inside, two rows of tables with benches ran toward the front of the building. The serving tables and kitchen were located on the east end. One of my personal memories is that of teacher Mrs. Beatrice Ragsdale who monitored the lunch room. It was common practice for Mrs. Ragsdale to send students back to their seat until they “cleaned” their plate. If you wanted to go out and play and you had food on your plate you did not like, you had to be very creative to get past Mrs. Ragsdale. Some students learned to swallow more than their pride! Eventually, a covered walkway was built so students could go to lunch without getting wet during bad weather.

My sister Rhomane Echols-Webb recalled, as a grade-schooler during the late 1950’s, movies of Francis the Talking Mule (the predecessor of Mr. Ed the talking horse), were shown in the gym as a fund raising event. For one dime, children could come in after school and watch films projected to a screen on the stage. She also recalled one of the reasons she wanted to attend high school at Ullin, was so she could go up-stairs to the second level classrooms and spit water out the window onto grade-schoolers below, like the upper classmen did to her and her friends! Fortunately for grade-schoolers, Ullin consolidated before she made it upstairs.

Many games of marbles and mumblety-peg were played in and around the school building. Mumblety-peg players threw their knives from various positions with the object of having the blade stick firmly in the ground. Often, a loser’s penalty was to pull up a peg, driven into the ground, with his teeth. Mumblety-peg lost favor as political correctness forced pocket knives out of boy’s trousers but marbles continued to flourish. No doubt, buried in the earth where the school once stood, there are marbles that were lost from the pockets of boys, who once wore out the knees on their pants, challenging their classmates in a game of marbles.

Freshman initiation was something sanctioned at the Ullin High School through the years. While seniors sometimes got carried away with some of the antics, most were harmless and amusing. Freshman girls dressed like boys and boys dressed like girls. Seniors would mark the faces of freshman with lipstick and at times, freshman had to sweep the floor with a broom in front of seniors, as they walked to class. The initiation was discontinued after the school consolidated.

In the early 1900’s a school was created to educate the African American population in and around Ullin. This is of course was before the schools were integrated. The school carried a few names, including the “Black” School, the Westside School, and the Dunbar Grade School. The last building that held the school was known as the Old Bell Chapel. The Bell Chapel still exists today on the west edge of Ullin. While school buses were integrated earlier, the segregation of high school students ended at the beginning of the 1956-1957 school year. The Ullin High School class of 1957 included, for the first time, African American students. Grade school students began attending the Eastside School in about 1963 bringing the end to segregated schools in Ullin.

In 1950, for the first time, the Ullin High School began offering driver education. An article found in an Ullin High School newspaper dated January 13, 1950 states:

The Ullin High School will offer a course in driver education, the last semester of the school year. Through the co-operation of the Wilkins Chevrolet Sales and the AAA, the school has acquired a 1950 model Chevrolet with dual purpose controls.  The class will be limited to about ten students because of individual behind the wheel instruction.  The instructor of the course, G. L. Patrick, attended a Driver Education Seminar at Champaign, Illinois, last fall to fulfill teacher requirements for such a course. 

For many years, Wilkins and then Dickerson Chevrolet provided cars for the driver education program. Dickerson Chevrolet continued to provide cars for the driver education program for many years, even after the consolidation.

In 1957, Ullin celebrated its centennial in a big way. In addition to hosting the largest parade in the small town’s history, several events were held in the Ullin High School gymnasium. A basketball game was held with all the basketball players dressed in only “long johns”, while the cheerleaders wore old fashion dresses and bonnets. A play was held in the UHS gymnasium, which involved the marriage of two local Ullin men (one in drag). A few hundred people attended the mock wedding (the identity of the two men is being withheld as they are still alive and still quite ashamed!).

In the late 1950’s the Ullin School Board, because of increasing expenses, and increasing enrollment, began to discuss the advantages of consolidating with other Pulaski County Schools. While the subject of consolidating was controversial, the advantages convinced the board and it was approved. In 1963, the school districts in Ullin, Karnak, and New Grand Chain agreed to consolidate and Century School District #100 was created. From that point forward, the schools became known as Ullin-Century, Karnak-Century, and Grand Chain-Century Schools. Land was purchased near a central point, on the Ullin-Grand Chain Road (now known as the Shawnee College Road) and a new school was built. The new school housed the 7th through 12th grades (today all grades attend the Century Campus). Early on, the kindergarten class was held at the Century building. During the school years of 1963 and 1964, the three schools merged several functions, including their sport teams and for the first time contended as Century High School Centurions. In the fall of 1964, the new Century High School opened and students began arriving on the new campus. The class of 1965 was the first class to graduate from the new Century High School.

While the 7th through 12 grades were bused to Century High School, the 1st through 6th grades continued to be held in each town, housed in the old school buildings. The Ullin High School then became known as Ullin-Century Grade School. In 1965, some of the grade school teachers at Ullin included: Miss Leona Brust, 1st grade; Mrs. Beatrice Ragsdale, 2nd grade; Mrs. June Taylor, 3rd grade; Mr. Van Lingle, 4th grade; Mr. Ralph Isom, 5th grade; and Mr. Elvis Miller, 6th grade and principal. Cooks at the Ullin Campus during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s included: Sophia Carmen, Mae Sichling, Ruth Echols-McClellan, Florence Brown, Erma Richards, and many others.

Field trips and senior trips were of course part of the Ullin School experience. One of the field trips made frequently by grade school students included riding the Illinois Central Railroad passenger train in the days when it stopped daily in Ullin. The children would catch the train at Ullin and ride it south to Cairo, where they would disembark and be picked up by an Ullin School bus. The trip generally included a stop by the Cairo Evening Citizen for a tour and group photo. The group then drove over the Mississippi and Ohio River Bridge on the school bus. After lunch at the Cairo Whataburger Restaurant, the group would return to school.

A long lasting tradition at Ullin High School was the senior trips. For several years, UHS Seniors safely traveled to many places. Some of the locations included: The Smokey Mountains and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, St. Augustine, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, and others places near and far. The night before the trip, seniors would decorate the bus, marking it with their names and the name of the destination. On one trip, bus driver, “Baldy” Echols convinced a security officer at the Daytona 500 Raceway, to allow him to drive the Ullin High School bus and those seniors aboard, around the speedway. Even today, those seniors who were aboard the bus remember that lap around the Daytona 500 on an Ullin School Bus.

Many Ullin students walked to school when weather permitted. One of the crossing guards, who helped students across U. S. Highway 51, while on their way to and from school was Mr. Al Peeler. It took many individuals like Mr. Peeler to help keep the students safe as they traveled to and from school.

Many excellent teachers, staff and administrators passed through the doors of the Ullin School. During my conversation with Miss Brust and others, they recalled some of the teachers who taught at the Ullin School. They included (in no particular order): Miss E. Cantral, Miss Truly Minton, Miss Anna Bishop, Miss Lilly, Miss Aletha Palmer, Miss Edith Bishop, Miss Mary Wiggins, Mr. Artie Brown, Mr., Arlie Woolard, Mrs. Cornenia Bise, Mrs. Dorothy Bise, Miss Casper, Mrs. Afton Johnson, Mr. Clement Johnson, Mr. A Eddleman (Principal), Miss Ruth Stroud, Mr. Corby Carlock, Mr. Eugene Werner (Principal), Miss Naomi Ross, Mr. Holbert Sitter (Principal), Mr. Roy Smith, Mr. Alfred Cross, Mrs. Beatrice Ragsdale, Ms. Eunice Slayter, Mr. Allen Edwards (Principal), Mr. Benson Britton (Principal and Teacher), Mr. Guy Runyan (Principal), Mr. Loren Lemon (Principal), Mrs. Ford, Mr. Lavern. Patrick, Mr. John Mings, Mr. Thomas Baston (Principal), Mr. Troy Pierce (Principal), Mr. Charles Mayfied (Principal), Mr. Leo Cummings (Principal), Miss Annabelle Hassler, Mrs. Francis Bondurant, Mr. Bob Robinson, Mr. Ted Hase, Mrs. Sanford, Mrs. Gail Ritter Johnson, Mrs. Kay Miller, Mr. Ron Ellis, Mrs. Shirley Adkins Law, Mr. David Sistler, Mr. Russell Inman, Mrs. Betty Inman, Mr. Leland Wells, Mr. Eggiman, Mr. Shenosky, Mr. Haddox, Mr. Leland Wells, Mr. Charles Lamer, Mr. Harold Herring and Mrs. Ruth Littell.

Two of the few African American teachers who taught at the Ullin Eastside School were Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Hopkins. They also taught at the Ullin Westside School prior to segregation and were substitute teachers at Century High School after consolidation. The husband and wife team experienced a long teaching career in Pulaski County and were highly respected by students and teachers alike.

Another highly respected teacher was Mr. Alfred E. Cross. Mr. Cross taught school for 40 years, beginning in Kentucky and Florida before landing at Ullin High School. He taught, coached, and even drove the bus in the early days. Mr. Cross taught at Ullin High School and later moved to the Century School when it opened. Among many things, Mr. Cross was famous for the phrase “boy, don’t steal my biscuits” when students interrupted him in the class.

Two of many secretaries through the years were Betty Bingaman Taake and Lucile Sickling Davis.

There were several teachers who transcended the generations of students at the Ullin School. Most of these teachers began their careers in small country schools and were dedicated to the profession. Many stayed after school and volunteered their time to coach and mentor young lives. We owe so much to these special men and women who touched our lives.

The location where the brick Ullin School existed is quiet today. The Ullin School building was vacated after May of 1973. On December 3, 1973, the Ullin Village Board agreed to take over the gymnasium at the Ullin School site. On October 7, 1974, The Ullin Village Board appropriated $2,500 dollars and purchased what had been the Ullin High School property including all buildings. On November 14, 1977, the Ullin Village Board voted to tear down the abandoned school building. Ironically, the vote of the Ullin Village Board resulted in the necessary destruction of what another board 60 years earlier voted to build. The Ellis Construction Company of Murphysboro removed the building a few years later. The bricks were salvaged and somewhere in the Midwest, the bricks that once made up the walls of the Ullin School survive in the walls of other buildings. The remaining buildings, with exception of the gym, were used for storage for a period of years, but were eventually torn down. The old Agricultural building was torn down many years ago. The cafeteria existed until about 2004 when it too was finally removed.

The gravel parking lot where young men once parked their hot rods with pride, and where school busses entered and exited, is vacant now. The school yard is today void of school bells and the chatter and squeals of school children playing during recess. The squeak of the old school playground equipment is now gone.

The children, who play on new playground equipment located nearby today, have no idea that many of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents once played on similar equipment only yards away. The old gymnasium, now known as the Leona Brust Civic Center, still stands as a symbol of days-gone-bye. Members of the now defunct Ullin Civic Club and Village of Ullin Officials are to be commended for their actions which resulted in saving and refurbishing the old gym. The late Bob Cheek and the late June Reagan were instrumental in their own way in saving the old gym. Bob Cheek, Bill Beggs and Ocal Mowery labored months to restore the building. There are many others who remain nameless.

Time continues to march on and memories fade as those who attended school in Ullin grow older. The few that live today who attended the first Ullin School are now reaching the century mark. Those who last attended the brick school in Ullin are reaching middle age. No matter how old, each share a common bond. They obtained either part or all of their primary education in an Ullin School building. This elite group, who attended school in Ullin, will forever carry those memories with them. It is important we never forget our roots and the significance the Ullin Schools and those teachers who taught in those schools made in our lives. The memories may fade, but history will never forget.”


Ullin High School Quick Facts

Year 1st school opened:            1868

Year 3-Year HS started:            1919

Year 4-Year HS established:      1937

Year 4-Year HS closed:             1964

Consolidated to:                        Century School District (Ullin)

Ullin HS team nickname:            the “Indians”

Ullin HS team colors:                 Black & Gold

School Fight Song:                    “Ullin High School Loyalty”

Sung to Illinois Loyalty

Submitted by Kirk!

                                                We’re loyal to you Ullin High.

                                                We’re gold and we’re black, Ullin High.

                                                We’ll back you to stand

                                                ‘Gainst the best in the land

                                                For we know you have sand, Ullin High.

                                                Rah! Rah!

                                                So crack out the ball, Ullin High.

                                                We’re backing you all, Ullin High.

                                                Our team is our fame protector:

                                                On! Boys for we expect a

                                                Victory from you Ullin High!


                                                Che-he, cha-ha, cha-ha-ha-ha,

                                                Ullin High School,

                                                Rah, Rah, RAH!

Ullin High School Gymnasium – 2006
A picture containing grass, sky, outdoor

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Courtesy of Howard Thomas
Ullin HS Basketball Team of 1937
A group of men posing for a photo

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Submitted by Paul Echols and Howard Thomas

Athletics and Extra Curricular Activities

Ullin High School competed in athletics and offered other extra-curricular activities for their students.  There were some great athletes and good teams at Ullin High.

The Ullin High School Indians competed in the Tri-County Conference with MoundsMound CItyAlto PassThebes, and Dongola.

Boys Basketball

Several scores involving Ullin HIgh School were located on a website called Illinois Postseason High School Basketball Scores. Team records, coaches names, and other information about these teams is needed.

1921-22                 Marion District Tourney                 Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Creal Springs 26-16

Marion beat Johnson City in title game

1931-32                 Cairo District Tourney                   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Tamms 29-21

Cairo beat Thebes in title game

1932-33                 Anna District Runner-Up            Coach’s name & record needed

   1st Rd Beat Olive Branch 26-7

                              2nd Rd Beat Cobden 22-21

                              Semi-Final Beat Mound City 24-23

                              Title Game lost to Cairo 47-8

1933-34                 Cairo District Tourney                   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat McClure 46-17

                              2nd Rd lost to Cairo 57-30

Cairo lost to Mounds in title game

1934-35                 Anna District Tourney                   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Alto Pass 30-14

Mound City beat Cobden in title game

1935-36                 Dongola District Tourney              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Buncombe 40-23

Buncombe beat Mounds in title game

1936-37                 Dongola District Tourney              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to McGuire 68-26

McGuire beat McClure in title game

1937-38  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1938-39  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1939-40  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1940-41                 Mound City District Tourney          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Mound City 41-29

Mound City beat Karnak in title game

1941-42                 Mound City District Runner-Up  Coach’s name & record needed

Early Round Scores Needed

Title Game lost to Grand Chain 34-33

1942-43                 Mound City District Tourney          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Cypress 46-37

                              2nd Rd lost to Grand Chain 41-38

Mound City beat Grand Chain in title game

1943-44                 Mound City District Runner-Up  Coach’s name & record needed

Early Round Scores Needed

Title Game lost to Cairo St. Joseph 31-24

1944-45                 Mound City District Tourney          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Cypress 45-38

Cairo St. Joseph beat Mound City in title game

1945-46                 Ullin District Runner-Up              Coach’s name & record needed

Semi-Final Beat Thebes 48-41

                              Title Game lost to Cairo St. Joseph 50-39

1946-47                 Dongola District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Cairo St. Joseph 47-28

McClure beat Dongola in title game

1947-48                 Thebes District Tourney                Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Cypress 45-38

Dongola beat Thebes in title game

1948-49                 Dongola District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Dongola 49-39

Goreville beat Alto Pass in title game

1949-50                 Dongola District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Dongola 57-38

Alto Pass beat Dongola in title game

1950-51                 Dongola District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Grand Chain 64-35

Dongola beat Alto Pass in title game

1951-52                 Dongola District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Grand Chain 40-26

McClure beat Dongola in title game

1952-53                 Dongola District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Dongola 91-62

Alto Pass beat Goreville in title game

1953-54  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1954-55  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1955-56                 Anna District Tourney                   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Goreville 69-47

Mound City beat Mounds in title game

1956-57                 Wolf Lake District Tourney            Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Goreville 69-53

Mound City Lovejoy beat Mound City in title game

1957-58                 Anna District Tourney                   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Dongola 70-63

Mound City Lovejoy beat Dongola in title game

1958-59                 Anna District Tourney                   Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Goreville 64-49

Mound City beat Mound City Lovejoy in title game

1959-60                 Mound City District Tourney         Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Mounds 83-45

Mound City beat Mound City Lovejoy in title game

1960-61                 Grand Chain District Tourney       Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Goreville 70-61

                              Semi-Final lost to Mound City 88-52

Mound City beat Mounds in title game

1961-62                 Cobden District Tourney               Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Thebes 78-73

                              **Semi-Final lost to Mounds Douglass 82-50

Cobden beat Mounds Douglass in title game

**Final boys basketball game for Ullin High School. The school combined with Karnak and Grand Chain for all sporting activities for the 1962-63 school year.


From Todd Collier:

“My grandparents, Ollie Wood (Jack) and Sylvia Karracker, attended Ullin High School in the early 1940’s. He played on the basketbal team. Here is a photo (below) of them as a young couple.”

Ollie “Jack” Wood & Sylvia Karracker – Early 1940s
A person and person standing next to each other in front of a tree

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Submitted by Todd Collier

Need Your Assistance

If you have ANY information regarding the achievements and history of Ullin High School, especially a photo of the high school building, please write to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  You can also write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.    60631

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