Mineral High School "Leopards"

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Mineral High School, Home of the Leopards
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Photo Taken in 1995 by Gerry Halpin

The History of Mineral High School District 124

Mineral HS Front View
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Photo Taken in 1995 by Gerry Halprin

Mineral, Illinois is a town of 275 residents located on U.S. Route 6 four miles east of Annawan.  If you are unfamiliar with the area Mineral is located just south of Interstate 80 approximately 40 miles east of Moline. Mineral was incorporated as a town in 1853.  This farming community has existed quietly in the midst of the old "Rock Island Line" railroad to the present day.  Mineral's population "boomed" to a high of around 350 in the mid 1940s but for the most part has maintained its current population status throughout its existence. 
 
Former resident and student of Mineral High School Virginia (Verdun) Romero had this to say aoubt downtown Mineral in the the 1930s and 1940s:
 
"In the days of my youth, the big two story brick building, next to Dewey's granary, housed Ely's store and the post office. I remember my mom telling me that early on they sold everything there, up to and including fur coats for ladies. The building where the Lyon operation still holds court was a hardware store, owned by the Reider family. Ely's eventually down sized and moved into that building. There was no water tower when I lived in Mineral!! We bailed laundry water from a cistern, and pumped drinking water from an old iron pump."
 
For more on the history of the town please visit
 
The Mineral school system was recognized shortly after the town's incorporation. The first graduating senior class recorded was in 1894 with three students getting their diplomas. The school prospered and was recognized as Unit District 124 in 1919. A brick school building for housing grades 1 - 12 was completed in 1922.  The school served the communty of Mineral in this capacity until 1961. 
 
In 1962 the Mineral school district was annexed into the Annawan school district.  The reason for the closure was lack of student enrollment in the high school.  In 1961 the enrollment of the entire high school was 28 students, four short of the guideline number of 32 set by the state of Illinois for financial aid. 
 
The school building served as an elementary school for the Annawan school district until 1974 when it was closed and sold to a private citizen.  The building fell into a state of disrepair and was demolished in 1998.
 
The closing of the school in Mineral was a devistating blow to the town and the people who once attended classes at Mineral High School.  The feelings can be summed up very nicely in this excerpt written by Francis Immesote:
 
 "Mineral High School (brick building) existed a bare forty years.  It was surely not a long time.  A poet might say a mere blink of an eye in eternity.  True, yet it is a long time in anyone's lifeDuring that time (our school) was the very real center of community life:  the farmer's institutes, the ball games, the meetings for almost any purpose, voting days, and the thousand and one things on which people must meet and agree.  It was truly the center of the town and it filled a very large part of our daily lives and in our hearts.  Gone are the happy shouts of children at play, the hum of the daily classes and the clang of bells to and from class.  The feverish din of ball games and the whisper of young people finding romance for the first time are all gone now, never to return, just like the carefree days of our youth.  
     So now the old building sits there alone and seemingly forlorn.  But not really, for it still fills a large piece of our hearts.  It seems to be true that the smaller the school, the fiercer the loyalty.  I pray that some of the things I was taught there still cling to me today."

Mineral High School "Quick Facts"
 
Year High School Recognized:                              - 1870
Year First Graduating Class Recognized:               - 1894 (3 students)
Year First High School Building Destroyed in Fire:  - 1919
Year Brick High School Building Built:                   - 1922 (cost $68,000, see photo on "Home" page)
School Sports Team's Nickname:                         - "Leopards"
School Colors:                                                    -  Kelly Green and White
Smallest Graduating Class:                                 - 1 student (1923)
Largest Graduating Class:                                   - 16 students (1954)
Largest High School Enrollment:                          - 53 students (1953)
High School Enrollment 1961:                             -  28 students 
Year Mineral High School Deactivated:                 - 1961 (school annexed to Annawan)
Year Mineral School Building Ceased Operations: - 1974
Year Mineral School Building Demolished:            - 1998
Total Number of High SChool Grads 1894 - 1961   -  323

Mineral Leopards 1959-60
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Conference Champions

Mineral Leopards 1941-42
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30 - 5 District / Conference Champions
Mineral Leopards 1951-52
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26 - 5 District / Conference Champions
 
Great Athletic Teams
 
Up until the arrival of Coach Oliver Jochums in 1940, the Mineral High School athletic teams had no mascot or nickname.  The basketball team was simply called the Mineral High School basketball team.  Coach Jochums decided the team needed a nickname.  One of his players and Mineral great Herb Gingrich looked at all of the nicknames of the local schools and found one name that was not used by any.  He pitched the nickname "Leopards" to Coach Jochums and the name stuck.  The Mineral athletic teams have the distinction of being the ONLY high school in Illinois history to utilize the nickname of the "Leopards".
       

Mineral Leopards 1940-41
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29 - 6 District / Conference Champions

Basketball was the feature sport at Mineral High School.  The Leopards won six District titles during the early 1940s and 1950s.  The following six teams won District Championships. The teams of 1941, 1942, 1947, and 1952 were conference champs as well. The team of 1941 finished second in the then 18 team Bureau County tournament.  All six teams were inducted into the Bureau County Sports Hall of Fame in June of 2004.
 
 
 
Boys Basketball
 
1940-41     29 - 6     District Champs   Enrollment - 40 students (15 boys) Coach Oliver Jochums
1941-42     30 - 5     District Champs   Enrollment - 38 students (15 boys) Coach Oliver Jochums
1946-47     28 - 4     District Champs   Enrollment - 28 students (14 boys) Coach Oliver Jochums
1949-50     16 - 13   District Champs   Enrollment - 49 studnets (22 boys) Coach Oliver Jochums
1950 -51    17 - 11   District Champs   Enrollment - 51 students (24 boys) Coach Oliver Jocums
1951-52     26 - 5     District Champs   Enrollment - 52 students (24 boys) Coach Oliver Jochums
 
In addition the following teams were conference champs and the bottom three played in the District Championship games:
 
1924-25     N.R.A.     Conference Champs 
1942-43     13 - 3      Conference Champs  Enrollment - 38 students (16 boys) 
1947-48     19 - 5      Conference Champs  Enrollment - 32 students (18 boys)
1952-53     20 - 8      Conference Champs  Enrollment - 53 students (27 boys)
1959-60     15 - 11    Conference Champs  Enrollment - 36 students (19 boys)  
 
Football, Baseball, and Track
 
The Leopard Baseball and Track teams had many successful seasons.  The Track team won a Conference Championship in 1941.  This is the same year Mineral's most successful track athlete, Russell Buysse, advanced to the State Track Meet in the 100 and 220 yard dashes. We know that the Track and Field program dates to as far back as 1935, when they were involved in a quadrangular with Geneseo and three other teams, this according to a 1935 Geneseo yearbook.
 
The Baseball team won Conference Championships in 1936,1941, and 1942.
  
The Football team played a total of three seasons, from 1949 to 1951. Due to the small enrollment Mineral played 6-man football in the old Two Rivers Conference.  Members of the Two Rivers Conference included Tampico, Lyndon, Annawan, Atkinson, Prophetstown, Erie, Cordova, Hillsdale, and Port Byron.  The football team did not fair well, winning only 3 games in the three seasons they competed.  Ironically all three wins were against Annawan, the school they would consolidate with in 1962.  
 
Mineral School athletes won over 80 trophies between 1930 and 1961.  The six District Championship trophies still hang proudly on the wall of the village hall.
 
Individual Events - Speech
 
Mineral High School had one person fair quite well in the IHSA's Speech competition held annually.  That person was Arvilla Rakestraw who place 5th in the "Original Oratory" event in the competition.  This was a state-wide competition which included schools of all sizes.  GREAT JOB ARVILLA !!! 
 
Great Coaches
 
Two coaches in Mineral High School history really standout.  The best and true Mineral legend is Coach Oliver Jochums. Jochums coached the Leopards basketball teams during the 1940-41 and 41-42 seasons. He compiled a record of 59 - 11. He then served in the Army during World War II.  Upon his return for the 1946-47 season Jochums' team posted a 28 - 4 record.  He continued to coach at Mineral through the 1954-55 season winning SIX District titles and playing in the District championship game two other times.  His overall record during 11 seasons at Mineral was 212 wins and 106 losses.
 
Coach Jochums also served as baseball, track, and football coach at Mineral.  This was not only at the High School level but also at the grammar school level.  A small school meant a small budget, so Jochums also served as one of the school's bus drivers, class sponsor, drama teacher, as well as teaching history and english.  Coach Oliver Jochums was inducted into the Bureau County Sports Hall of Fame in June of 2004.
 
The other great coach was Don Dolieslager.  Coaching from 1958-59 until the school closed after the 1960-61 season, Dolieslager's basketball teams compiled a record of 42 wins and 33 losses.  He also incurred all of the duties given Coach Jochums.  Dolieslager's 1959-60 club won a conference title as well as finishing second in the District tournament.
 
Mineral Leopard School Fight Song
 
Imagine yourself in the locker room at halftime of a tight game against your arch rivals from nearby Sheffield, Annawan, or Atkinson.  As you sat there gaining instruction from your coach, the packed gym, led by the beautiful cheerleaders, bursts out in a chorus of the Mineral High School fight song.  No wonder the Mineral Leopard basketball teams won nearly 70 % of their home games!   
Sung to the tune of "On Wisconsin"  (click the play button below and sing along) 
 
On Ole Mineral, On Ole Mineral,
Get up, Step in line!
Knock the ball right through the basket,
Scores count up each time!
 
Rah, Rah, Rah
 
On Ole Mineral, On Ole Mineral,
Fight on for your fame!
Fight fellows,
Fight and you shall win this game!  
 
Cha He, Cha Ha, Cha Ha Ha Ha!
Mineral High School  Rah Rah Rah!!! 
 
(Repeat one more time:)

This "Unofficial School Fight Song" of Mineral High of the early 1940s was provided to us by Verginia (Verdun) Romero (Class of 1943).  Now THESE kids knew how to have fun!! Click the "Play" button below and slide the music bar about half way across.....and SING ALONG!!
 
Beer, beer for old Mineral Hi,
Bring on the whiskey, bring on the rye,
Send somebody out for gin,
Don't let a sober person in!
We never falter, we never fall,
We sober up on wood alcohol,
Loyal daughters of Old Mineral Hi,
Stagger back to the bar for more!

Mineral High School Graduate List
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From Mineral HS 1961 Yearbook

 

1946-47 Leopards 28 - 4
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District/Conference Champs

1950-51 Mineral Leopards and Cheerleaders
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District Champions