Sheridan High School "Vikings"

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Sheridan High School
sheridanhsdav.jpg
Courtesy of Larry Sebby from 1972 Sheridan Centennial Book

                                    The History of Sheridan High School
 
Sheridan (population 2,411) is located in north central Illinois in LaSalle County, about 15 miles northeast of Ottawa, the county seat. The village is situated less than two miles east of County Highway 2 and about five miles north of US Route 52, and has a branch of the AT & SF coming thru along with the Fox River flowing around the village. A branch of the Mission Creek flows thru the south end of the village. The Sheridan Correctional Center is the biggest employer, having been re-opened in 2006 by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich as a facility for prisoners with drug abuse problems.

The village of Sheridan's history dates back to 1872 when the village was incorporated on June 29th of that year. But its founding was influenced by a preacher named Jesse Walker, who established a Methodist mission on Mission Creek about 1826, who attempted to convert and educate members of the Pottawatami Indians, but failed when the Sauks burned the mission.

Others did settle in the area, coming from Ohio, Southern Illinois, and the Chicagoland area, and called Mission Point their home. Mission Point later became Rowes Station in 1863, then changed its name permanently to Sheridan in 1869 in honor of General Phillip Sheridan, as the village was being platted out at that time.

Sheridan's education history dates back as far as 1835 when Samuel Barbour, with the help of neighbors, built a school house in the village. Another school building was also started by local resident Ebenezer Neff, who also served as the village postmaster around the 1840s and 1850's before Squire Neff (as he was called) passed away in 1857. A two-story frame building was built in 1873 at the site of today's Sheridan Grade School at a cost of $3,500.00 to replace the Barbour and Neff schoolhouses. That building would remain in operation until 1909 when a brick building that included a full, four-year high school and grade school would replace it.

In an unusual move from other schools we have featured on this site, Sheridan started with a four-year school in 1909, then scaled back to a two-year school in 1939, before closing the high school down completely in 1944. At the time of the scale-back, juniors and seniors could choose to attend either Serena or Newark High Schools to finish their high school education, but after 1944, all high school-aged students were sent to Serena where they still go today.

The high school building was later torn down in 1968 to be replaced by a newer addition of Sheridan Grade School to go along with an addition that was constructed in 1955.
 
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SHERIDAN HIGH SCHOOL
Year school opened:                                                          1909
Year school had just freshmen and sophomores:      1939
Year school closed its doors:                                           1944
Year building was torn down:                                           1968
School colors:                                                                     Orange & Black
School nickname:                                                               "Vikings"
School song:                                                                       (unknown)

ATHLETICS AT SHERIDAN

Even though no team records have been officially found, the Vikings competed in boys' basketball, baseball, and track. Sheridan was a member of the Little Ten Conference, which included members such as Rollo, WatermanMaltaHinckley, and Shabbona, (all have their own pages on this site), in addition to Serena, Newark, Somonauk, Earlville, Leland, and Paw Paw.

The Illinois High School Association website does not list any trophies or plaques won by the school in state tournament competition. A 1930 district tournament appearance at Ottawa shows that the Vikings beat Grand Ridge, 19-13, but they failed to advance beyond that point.
 
We are hopeful that an area resident or historian will be able to fill the gaps and tell us about the successful Viking teams that represented Sheridan High School while its doors were open.

FAMOUS RESIDENT
Si Johnson (1906-1994) spent 22 years as a pitcher and coach in the Major Leagues. According to Baseball Almanac.com, Si's best season was 1943 with the Philadelphia Phillies, posting an 8-3 win-loss mark.

Johnson began his big league career with Cincinnati in 1928, going 13-15 for the Reds in 1932, and later pitched for St. Louis from 1936 to 1938, having a 12-12 mark in 1937. The Phillies needed Si to fill out their roster during World War II, staying in the City of Brotherly Love from 1940-46, before finishing his playing career with the Boston Braves in 1946-47 (going 6-5 in 1946 with a 2.76 ERA).

A native of nearby Danway, Johnson was 101-165 in his 17-year career, twirled a pair of one-hitters in 1933, started five consecutive Opening Day games, roomed with Dizzy Dean while they were together on the Cardinals as a member of the "Gashouse Gang," and struck out Babe Ruth three times in a game before the Babe hung up his spikes in 1935. After getting out of coaching in 1950, Johnson became an engineer at Sheridan Correctional Center. Today, a street is named Si Johnson Avenue in honor of his feats on and off the field as well in Sheridan.

SPECIAL THANKS...
...go out to Debbie Smith at the Rowe Public Library in Sheridan and to Sheridan Grade School Principal Randy Goodbred for their assistance in locating the information provided here on this page.

CAN YOU HELP US.....

...put together the history of Sheridan High School? We welcome information about the school song, history about athletics and other extracurricular activities that the school had to offer. You can email to us at dr.veeman@gmail.com or send them to us via regular mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, IL  60631