The History of Walpole High School
Walpole (population 25) is located in the far southern portion of Illinois in south-central Hamilton County. According to www.MapQuest.com the town sits at the intersection of County Highway 11 and County Road 825E. The map shows that these two roads are the only two streets in town. County Highway 11 connects Walpole to Illinois Route 142 just four miles to the east. Walpole is about 30 miles northeast of Carbondale.
Our good friend Gerry Halpin completed the research for this once thriving community which included a high school for the children of the area.
“Most of the following information is summarized from James Gholson’s website http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~jgholson/walpoleIL.htm . Mr. Gholson also put me in touch with former Walpole residents Joel Lasswell and Wanda Cross, who e-mailed more information. Mrs. Cross is one of the last surviving students from Walpole High.
Walpole is a tiny village in southern Hamilton County, about 12 miles south of McLeansboro. Gilbert Griswold came to the area in 1832 and started a store and post office. In 1857 he platted a village of 60 lots. At its peak, Walpole had two grist mills, several other businesses and a population of around 100 people. One of the most prominent citizens of the 20th century was Palmer J. Lasswell, who was Postmaster and also operated the Walpole State Bank in the same building. The bank closed in 1950, with Mr. Lasswell continuing as Postmaster until the Post Office closed in 1953. Walpole today has less than 25 residents.
Walpole had a 3-year high school from 1927 to 1937, with students finishing their 4th year at McLeansboro or Eldorado. The first high school building was a converted church with an addition. This building suffered fire damage in 1934. From 1934 to 1937, classes were held in the IOOF Hall. Enrollment started at 50 students in 1927. Some of the teachers were Lewis Massey, Linna Hamilton, Miss Moore, Arthur Coffey (principal and basketball coach) and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Powell. There was great interest in the school’s basketball teams, particularly in games against archrival Broughton High School . The teams apparently had no mascot or nickname. Walpole had a small gymnasium, which was later used for grain storage before being razed just a few years ago. In 1977 former WHS students held a first-ever school reunion on the schools’ 50th anniversary. These reunions were continued for a few years.
Walpole area students today attend McLeansboro schools.