The History of West Salem High School
West Salem (population 1,001) is located in southeastern Illinois in the northeastern portion of Edwards County. The town is situated on County Highway 3 about two miles east of Illinois Route 130. The Indiana Hi-Rail Railroad runs through the west side of town.
The Wikipedia web address of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Salem,_Illinois has an excellent history of the town. A brief summary of that history is as follows:
West Salem was initiated by a group of Moravian settlers from the town of Salem, North Carolina in the early 1840s. An influx of German settlers arrived in the area in the late 1840s. West Salem was incorporated in 1857 as New Salem. Soon after its incorporation, it was determined that Illinois had a New Salem already. The settlers decided upon West Salem as the alternative.
The first school in West Salem was established in 1850.A brick school building was built in 1880. The school was added on to over the years to accommodate the many new students that began there in the first half of the 1900s. In 1947 the school district was enhanced with the annexation of several smaller districts in the area.
A supporter of the Glory Days website, Donny Knackmus, advises that West Salem High School was closed in 1960 along with Bone Gap and Browns high schools to join the Edwards School District in Albion.
We also know from a 1953 West Salem HS yearbook reported by Sherry Whitman, that it appears that a unit school district was established by Edwards County that allowed for the smaller schools to remain open with all of the fourth year students attending their final year in Albion. Sherry sent us the following information obtained from the “Echoes” yearbook:
“I noticed that you are looking for some information about the West Salem HS – a place my mother, father and step-father all attended in the 1950s. My mother, Carol Jane Orrel Andersen Tomblinson, passed away last year and packed away in her closet we came across her 1953 “Echoes” yearbook. Interestingly, this yearbook is really a compiliation of several different schools and is a little difficult to follow as not all grades are represented for all schools. The dedication reads as follows:
“To the spirit of cooperation which has played such a great part in the success of the Edwards County Unit, we dedicate this book. With all the persons working together in a friendly, cooperative way a chain reaction is set up with possibilities of developing tremendous power not unlike the atomic bomb. In the Edwards County School system this force has made it possible to pool the resources of the county, with considerable territory from the surrounding counties, to give the youth as well as adults of the area an education comparable to that provided in most areas of the state. This is the fifth year of existence of the Edwards County Unit, and its ever increasing quality of education has been made possible by the excellent cooperation of parents, teachers, administrators, board members, and pupils.”
Sherry Whitman provided the following information about he history of West Salem High School as well:
“I also looked at my mother’s book titled “A History of Edwards County, Illinois, Volume One” published in 1980. This book lists most of the schools in the county, including pictures. According to the book in the section titled “High Schools” it states:
“In West Salem, the Moravian Church started a high school on 8 December 1856 in a large two-story brick building on the south side of the square. The boys attended the morning session and the girls the afternoon session. In November 1919 a county-wide election was held to establish community high schools in the county. The West Salem disrict voted 303 to 305 in favor. District No. 2 was established in the West Salem area, they rented space from the grade school, which made it necessary to build two more frame classrooms. The first basketball games were played outside, but later the teams moved to a low-ceiling room above Ficher’s Store. Sill later a gym was constructed on the northwest corner of the public square making it necessary for physical education students to go uptown for classes. Eventually all high school students from West Salem were transported to the Edwards County Senior High in Albion.”
It appears the timeline for West Salem supporting high school curriculum in their school district is as follows:
West Salem continues to support a Grade School for grades K – 8 in town.
West Salem High School “Quick Facts”
Year opened: 1856
Year 4-year HS ceased: 1948
Year 3-year HS ceased: 1954
Year 2-year HS closed: 1960
Consolidated to: (Albion) Edwards County High School
WSHS team nickname: possibly the “Warriors”
WSHS team colors: Maroon & White
School Fight Song: “On West Salem”
“On Wisconsin” Fight Song Tune
Lyrics provided by Sherry Whitman
Lyrics located in the yearbook of Carol Jane Orrel Andersen Tomblinson
On West Salem, On West Salem,
Tear right down the floor.
Throw the ball right through the circle
Baskets one or more.
Rah, Rah, Rah!
On West Salem, On West Salem,
Fight on for your fame.
Fight fellows, fight, fight, fight,
And win the game.
15 Rahs for West Salem