Zeigler High School “Purple Tornadoes”

Zeigler High School Building
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Zeigler “Block” School House
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Zeigler’s First School Building

The History of Zeigler High School

Zeigler (population 1,669) is located in southern Illinois in southwestern Franklin County.  Illinois State Routes 148 and 149 intersect in the city.  Two railroad lines, the Missouri Pacific and the Illinois Central Gulf, also intersect in town.  The Big Muddy River runs just to the south of Zeigler.  The town was incorporated by Illinois in 1914 making it one of the “newer” towns on this site.  The basis for the town’s establishment was the formation of underground mining in the area.  For location sake DuQuoin is located about 12 miles northwest of Zeigler and West Frankfort is located 6 miles to the east.  A great web site to learn more about Zeigler is found at http://www.zeigleril.com .

The School system in Zeigler is documented at http://www.zeigleril.com/pages/schools.htm.  Zeigler began a school system soon after its first houses were built.  As Zeigler grew and prospered so did the educational facilities.  The first school house was the “Block School” pictured below.  In the 1920s the school pictured above to the right was built.  This served the children until the 1960s when the building was demolished and a new building was erected.  The grade school pictured below was used for the high school for a bout three years until the new building was finished.

The year was 1962 when the towns of Zeigler and Royalton agreed to consolidate

their efforts.  The Zeigler-Royalton School District was established ending the solo efforts of the two towns.  If you would like to add any information regarding Zeigler High School please e-mail us at eganann@sbcglobal.net.

Adam Rosoho provided the following link to an excellent photo video of Zeigler High School which includes a rendition of the school fight song from 1950. Phenomenal!  http://www.photoshow.com/watch/jY9fF9cr

Zeigler High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                      early 1900s

Year closed:                                       1962

Consolidated to:                                  Ziegler-Royalton High School

Year original school demolished:          1963

School nickname:                                the  “Purple Tornadoes”

School colors:                                     Purple & White

School Fight Song:                              Zeigler High Loyalty

(University of Illinois Fight Song Tune)

                                                We’re loyal to you Zeigler High.

                                                We’re purple and white, Zeigler High.

                                                We’ll back you to stand

                                                ‘Gainst the best in the land

                                                For we know you have sand, Zeigler High.

                                                Rah! Rah!

                                                So crack out the ball, Zeigler High.

                                                We’re backing you all, Zeigler High.

                                                Our team is our fame protector:

                                                On! Boys for we expect a

                                                Victory from you Zeigler High!


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

                                                Zeigler High School,

                                                Rah, Rah, RAH!


                                                Fling out that dear old flag of

                                                Purple and White,

                                                Lead on your sons and daughters

                                                Fighting for you

                                                Like men of old, on giants.

                                                Placing reliance, shouting defiance


                                                Amid the broad green plains that nourish our land,

                                                For honest Labor and for Learning we stand.

                                                And unto thee we pledge our heart and our hand,

                                                Dear Alma Mater, Zeigler High!


Zeigler High School definately offered basketball, football, and track. If you have information regarding the Zeigler High School athletic program please e-mail it to us.

Zeigler HS Basketball Star Sam Ranich
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Submitted by Adam Rosoho


Only the three seasons of IHSA success are listed on the IHSA web site (www.ihsa.org) regarding Zeigler High School boys basketball.  Those three years however ended in Sweet 16 appearances with one even extending to the Elite 8! This accomplishment is unique also because all three appearances were under three different coaches and within a four year period.  The teams and their great seasons are listed below.

The photo to the right is of Zeigler High School basketball player Sam Ranich of the 1926-27 squad. The caption on the photo states the following:

Sam Ranich center of Zeigler Community High School – Team 1927. Only known high school player to perform this feat. By Clarks Studio”

1933-34                 (beat Collinsville in 1st Rd. of

Sectional 35 – 17)

1935-36    14 – 7    Sectional Champions              Coach Geoffrey “Red” Moore

                            Sweet 16 Qualifier

                            Lost 40 – 36 to Vandalia

1936-37    15 – 7    Sectional Champions               Coach Claude Neville

                            Sweet 16 Qualifier

                            Lost 28 – 26 to Vandalia

1938-39    18 – 12  Regional / Sectional Champs   Coach Byrl Longman

                            Elite 8 Qualifier

                            Beat Roodhouse 21 – 11

                            Lost to Rockford 47 – 34

Rockford HS Eventual State Champs

Zeigler High School Track Team 1926
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Submitted by Adam Rosoho


Two Zeigler High School boys brought home medals from the IHSA State Track Meet under the one-class system.

1936-37     Paul Milosevich   120 Yard High Hurdles   5th Place

1951-52     William Buyaki    Long Jump                    4th Place


There are four seasons listed under boys football for the Zeigler High School boys. The best two of these seasons are listed below. (Zeigler-Royalton High School won the Class 1A Football Championship in 1982!!)

Ziegler HS Football Field / Cinder Track
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Courtesy of James Horaz

1945  4-4-1  Coal Belt Conference Champs                  Coach Hewdy Tweedy

1947  4-2-2  Coal Belt Conference Champs

1951  6-2     2nd place Coal Belt

1952  6-3     2nd place Coal Belt                                     Coach Frank Bleyer

1953  5-3                                                                       Coach Glen Whittenberg

1955  4-4-1  Coal Belt Conference Co-Champs             Coach Glen Whittenberg

1956  5-3-1                                                                    Coach Glen Whittenberg

1958  7-2     Coal Belt Conference Champions             Coach Fred Imhoff

1959  6-3     2nd place Coal Belt                                     Coach Gordon Butler

**Our good friend Adam Rosoho added this information on some early Purple Tornadoe grid iron teams:

“The following was written by Dr. Allan Patton, a 1957 graduate of Zeigler High School and long time educator:

“Local teams standing head and shoulders above all other area teams include the famous Purple Tornadoe football teams of 1932-1934.  Not only were these teams undefeated for all or part of three season, but they were unscored upon.  Not until late in the 1934 season did an opponent, DuQuoin, cross the Tornadoe goal line.  This dismal event occurred during the most important game of that season.  In a game played at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, the DuQuoin Indians were pitted against the Purple and White crew for the championship of the Central Egyptian Conference.  When the smoke had cleared, the Indians had won the confernce title, handed defeat to a Zeigler team for the first time in nearly three years, and had scored a touchdown against the toughest defense in southern Illinois.  Final score DuQuoin 6, Zeigler 0.”

I am not sure if it was the season before or not, but the closest a team came to scoring against Zeigler was a 35 yard field goal attempt by Pinckneyville.”


The Zeigler boys competed in boxing for a short while in the 1950s. The photo below was scanned from a 1954 Ziegler High School yearbook. It was sent to us by Adam Rosoho.  The only information supplied in the year book that accompanied the photo included that decisions that year were won by Jerry Capps and Jim Welch  Further results and information are being sought.

Purple Tornado Boxing Team of 1954
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Submitted by Adam Rosoho

Members of the 1954 boxing team pictured above include:

Row One: Jimmy Rogers, Johnny Holland, Bob Hiller, Harvey Medley

Row Two: Grant Downen, Noel Morgan, Dexter Reiger, Jim Welch, Buddy Johnson, Jerr Capps, Mr. Glen Wittenberg, Coach




The Zeigler High School Tornadoes competed in baseball too. Any information including records and coach’s names are welcome. We do know this for sure, that the school produced some great athletes during its existence.

The photo below shows the Zeigler High School baseball team of 1927. It was submitted by Adam Rosoho and has the following caption written on the lower left-hand corner:

Ever-Victorious Baseball Team of Ziegler

Community High School. Winners of Central

Egyptian Conference 1927

 (Clark Photo) 

Zeigler High School Baseball Team of 1927
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Conference Champs – Submitted by Adam Rosoho

The following information was sent to us by Dan O’Brien of the Society of American Baseball Research. It is a fact that Zeigler High School alum Mike Milosevich played professional baseball. Mike spent parts of two seasons in the big leagues playing for the New York Yankees! Read the article below regarding Mike’s passing away which was written in the national sports magazine, The Sporting News:

The Sporting News

February 19, 1966

Michael Milosevich, infielder with the Yankees in 1944 and ’45, died at East Chicago, Ind., February 3.  He was 50 years old.

A high school star at Zeigler, Ill., Milosevich was working in a steel mill and playing semi-pro ball at Steubenville, O., when he decided to take a crack at O.B. in 1935.

“Certainly, it was an easier way to make a living than being a steel puddler,” he once said. “So I went over to Washington, Pa., where the Yankess had a farm in the Pennsylvania State League, and asked Bennie Bengough to give me a chance.  He did an I became his shortstop.”

Milosevich followed Bengough to Joplin (Western Association), where he played the next two seasons. After four years at Binghamton (Eastern) and two at Kansas City (American Association), he finally was brought up to the Yankees. He appeared in 94 games in 1944 and 30 games in ’45, batting .247 and .217.

Sent back to the minors, he ended his career in 1951 after serving as player-manager of Baxley (Georgia State) and Americus (Georgia-Florida).”

More information on Mike Milosevich was found in the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper on February 9, 1966:

The Southern Illinoisan

February 9, 1966

Southern Illinoisan Sports Talk

…By Merle Jones

How Many Big Leaguers Has This Area Produced?

The recent death of Mike Milosevich of Zeigler has stirred up memories of former major league baseball players from Southern Illinois? How many can you name?

Milosevich was the Yankee shortstop in 1944 and 1945.  He was a good enough player to be voted the most valuable player in the American Associated with the Yankee farm at Kansas City several times. He played in the minors about 10 years because the Yankees used to have a farm system comparable to the Cardinals and kept a lot of good men “down on the farm.”

**Mike Milosevich did not forget his roots. He is buried in the Zeigler Cemetery north of town. Special gratitude goes out to Peg Carpenter, Library Director of the Zeigler Public Library for her research in locating these articles.


This bit of information came from a local fan of high school sports and of this site, Hank MazeHank relayed this information to us regarding Zeigler High School:

“This town (Zeigler) had some great athletics in the late 30’s and early 40’s.  Many of them played at SIU, two or three on the NAIA National Champion SINU basketball team. Two Milosevich brothers and Shaeffer played on this team and Bill O’Brien, same time frame in Ziegler, who played football at SINU before and after the war later coached at SINU and became a long time referee in the National Football LeagueCoach Glen Whittenberg (a Carbondale native) and coach of the 53-57 football teams at Ziegler, later coached basketball at Proviso East High School, winning a state championship in the early 1960’s.”

*Gordon Butler – another great Zeigler athlete. After playing high school sports (football, basketball, and track (no Zeigler high school baseball, at least at that time), he signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and played three years, 1954, 1955, and 1956 in their farm club: two years at Dothan, Alabama, and one year at Winnipeg, Canada, before dropping out to finish his college education as he had received his draft notice for the fall of 1957.


If you have ANY information you can share about Zeigler High School please send us an e-mail. There were probably many other great teams and other accomplishments made at the school. We are especially interested in photos.  You can e-mail these items to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago,  Il.   60631

Zeigler Grade School
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Zeigler, Illinois

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