Willow Hill High School

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Willow Hill High School
willowhillhighschoolmons.jpg
Courtesy of George Piersall

Willow Hill Grade School Building 1986
willowhillgs1986dav.jpg
Courtesy of Rhonda and Treca (Chapman) Swisher

The History of Willow Hill High School
 
Willow Hill (population 250) is located in southeastern Illinois in the east-central portion of Jasper County.  Illinois Route 49 travels through Willow Hill and connects it to Illinois Route 33 just one mile to the north.  The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad passes by the north side of town.  The Hickory Creek flows through the northeast site of town as well.  The town, also known as the "W.H.", is located about 30 miles southeast of Effingham.
 
The history of Willow Hill and its former school system are in need of research. An article found while scanning the Genealogy Trails web address of http://genealogytrails.com/ill/jasper/towns.html had this listing from 1884 for what I believe is the original Willow Hill:
 
"New Liberty - (Post office Willow Hill), in Willow Hill Township, was laid out August, 1854, and is seven and one-half miles due east of Newton, and is next in size to Saint Marie. It is a lively town, as in the last eighteen months the S., E. & S.E.R.R. and D., O. & O. R.R.R. have been built through the township, cross each other at the north edge of the town, which has given it new life. The town now has three stores keeping a good general stock of merchandise, one drug store, one grocery store, one hardware store, three restaurants, two blacksmith shops, three grain and flour dealers, one stock and grain dealer, two farming implement dealers, one butcher, one shoe maker, one milliner, one hotel, one good flouring mill, one carpenter and undertaker, one house carpenter, one police magistrate, two justices of the peace, a post-office, two depots and express offices, three physicians, and three hundred inhabitants, two churches, and one nice two-story brick schoolhouse. The town has doubled its inhabitants in two years, and they say all they want now is room, and to be let alone and where will they be in two years more?"
 
So we know that Willow Hill had a school in town in 1884.  We believe that high school classes were offered there by the late 1800s.  Willow Hill School class photos can be viewed at: http://genealogytrails.com/ill/jasper/schoolpix4.html#willowhill   
We believe that Willow Hill High School existed at least into the late 1940s, possibly a while longer.  At sopme point Willow Hill residents agreed to close their high school and send the children to nearby Newton to continue their education.  Willow Hill is still host to an elementary school for the Newton school district.
 
There was recently a reunion for the Willow High School alumni
http://www.robdailynews.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&TM=57827.35.  The fate of the original Willow Hill High School is being sought.
 
Willow Hill High School Quick Facts
 
Year opened:                            late 1800s
Year closed:                             late 1940s?
Consolidated to:                        Newton High School
Willow Hill HS team nickname:   unavailable
Willow Hill HS team colors:        unavailable
School Fight Song:                    unavailable       

Athletics and Extra-Curriculars
 
We believe that the Willow Hill High School boys competed in basketball, football, and possibly baseball and track as well.  Other organizations and opportunities such as band, chorus, FFA, FHA, ect., may have been offered as well.  We are in need of several "quick facts" items and any information others would like to share with us.
 
Football
 
The photo below is of the WIllow Hill High School football team taken in the 1930s.  Players names and team record are needed.

Willow Hill HS Football Team - 1930s
willowhillhsfootballteam1930sdav.jpg

Memories and Information
 
From Rhonda:
 
"I live in Willow Hill, and have all my life (all 44 years!). I went to the school building in the picture. There's a newer one beside it (not 'new', just  'newer'). I had kindergarten in the one in the photo, 1-4 in the newer one,and 5,6,7 in the one in the photo. Just before I went in the 8th grade they tore it down, which would have been 1978.
  The OLD Willow Hill  School building still stands (it's older than the one in your photo). It's just down the road from the present school. My grandmother went to it,and if she were alive today,she would be in her 90's.
   A few different families have made a home out of it,but it's probably not going to last a whole lot longer.
   I've seen it for years,because it's right across the road from the church I've went to all my life-Salem Missionary Baptist Church.  If you drove right through the middle of town, you would see it.
  If you don't live anywhere near here, I can take some pictures,and e-mail them to you of the old school building. It's only a block and a half from my house!  I don't know if it would be better after some of the leaves fall or not,because there are a lot of big trees close to the building.
  The link you gave to click for Willow Hill  School photos were ones took in front of the OLD 'still standing'  school building. I sent those photos to that website. They belonged to my grandmother. She was in each one."
 
Seeking More Information
 
If you have ANY more information regarding the great history of Willow Hill and its educational past please take the time to share it with us. We are especially hopeful to share a photo of the old High School building.  Photos and information can be e-mailed to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  You can also write to us at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.   60631