West Union High School “Wildcats”

West Union School
A large building with trees in the front

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Courtesy of West Union Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Union-Illinois/11840507151
West Union School & Cafeteria 1970s?
A picture containing grass, outdoor, building, house

Description automatically generated
Courtesy of West Union Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Union-Illinois/1184050715147

The History of West Union High School

West Union (population 288) is located in southeastern Illinois in the southeast corner of Clark County. West Union is situated about 40 miles southeast of Charleston. The town is about five miles west of the Illinois/Indiana border on Illinois Route 1 as it intersects with County Hwy 5. According to www.mapquest.com West Union is approximately six blocks from east to west and five blocks from north to south.

According to the Genealogy web address of http://genealogytrails.com/ill/clark/communities/west_union.html , the town was originally named Union Prairie and later Union Station before becoming West Union. This is currently the extent of the information we have regarding the history of the community.

We believe that West Union once supported a high school of sort when we found the following passage from the same Genealogy web site, at the address of http://genealogytrails.com/ill/clark/news/melrose_1916.html , On this particular page a simple remark was written in the Marshall Herald, Melrose News, on May 3, 1916,

“We under stand the Harry Slusser will teach in the West Union high school term.”


The following information was posted on the “West Union, Illinois” Facebook page and was written by the curator. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Union-Illinois/11840507151)

“The first West Union School was an old-wooden one room building in 1901. Harry Drake was the teacher of the small school, A new school was built in 1912, Steve Drake purchased the old school house and moved it a mile east of town. He then made a barn out of what once a school for the small midwest area, The land where the new school was to be built was purchased from Benjamin Poorman in, It was purchased for the amount of 3 hundred dollars by the School Trustees of Township 9 Range 11. Plans were being made to build a new school Ground was broken soon afterward, work began on the two-story school house. The gravel for all the cement work was dug from the basement. The bricks for the building were made at the local tile and brick factory.

Not much is to be found on the exact time it was built or who the architect was. There is also no cornerstone at the West Union School House to check the date when it was built, I have searched libraries, court houses, newspapers, Hutsonville High School, and talked to several individuals to try and find more information about the school. There is no record of the construction of the school house. It is sad because I would liked to have found more information regarding the school’ s history.

The school is located at the east end of Union Street. It is a two-story building with a steam-heating system located in the basement. George Yargus was the first janitor and he was in charge of taking care of the boiler which was fired by coal. It is also the very first bell tower located m West Union. In the early 1920’s they also had a two-year high school. I learned there was high school equivalent exams needed to take to enter high school. The high school is located upstairs in the southeast room. The remaining portion of the upstairs was used for the grade school, there were also class rooms located in the basement, one room was also used for the high school. The two-year high school closed in 1926, but the grade school remained for several years after that.

In those days, the schools didn’t have gymnasiums. True Thompson, a student there in 1922, said they played all of their basketball games above Bill Marvin’s Grocery Store, located on Main Street in West Union. He also said there was a steel post right it in the middle of the room. On one occasion he can remember one of the basketball players running into the steel post. He wasn’t hurl, but sure had a headache. They played several schools but doesn’t remember their record, but he knew they won against the West York Team. Some men started going up there to play basketball, which got a little too noisy and they also knocked down some plaster, so everyone had to quit playing up there. They then had to play their games outside. The School team was the West Union Wildcats and their colors were purple and gold.”

West Union High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                              early 1900s?

Year closed:                               1926

Consolidated to:                          Marshall High School

West Union HS team nickname:   “Wildcats”

West Union HS team colors:        Purple & Gold

School Fight Song:                      unavailable


It is possible that West Union High School competed in basketball.  They may have also played softball or baseball and track.  Unfortunately there is no listing of the accomplishments attained by the athletes of the school on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org) .  If you have this information and would like to share it please follow the directions below.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Did West Union High School support a band or chorus?  Were there school plays, dances, and other activities at the school? Please contact us and let us know.

Seeking Further Information

There were probably several great accomplishments at West Union High School.  If you have this information please e-mail us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

West Union High School Building Early 1940s
A picture containing outdoor, building, house, white

Description automatically generated
Courtesy of West Union Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Union-Illinois/1184050715147

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: