Oneida High School "Mohawks"

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ROWVA Grade School in Oneida
Photo Courtesy of Richard Soseman

Oneida High School - The Early Years

The History of Oneida High School
Oneida (population 752) is located on US. Route 34 approximately 14 miles northeast of Galesburg in Knox County.  The south branch of Pilot Creek runs along the northwest corner of town. 
The first school in Oneida was organized in 1855. A high school was established in 1870, however a storm destroyed the building just seven years later. The bell from the building was saved and was reconstructed. The memorial is pictured at the bottom of the page. Nine pupils graduated from its first high school class in 1891. During the 1890s, high school curriculums were offered, but often times not many people studied a full four, or three, years of its education to earn a diploma. This explains the 21-year gap between the organization of a high school and the first graduating class. From 1899 to 1908, the school became a three-year one.
A gym was acquired in 1926 from the Congregational Church building until a new gym was built in 1937.
Oneida supported their own high school until 1948 when the high school was deactivated. The reason for this was a consolidation between the high schools in the towns of Rio, Oneida, Victoria, and Altona (all schools featured on this site).  The result was the formation of the original R.O.V.A. school district (Wataga's addition later made it "ROWVA").  The town of Oneida was fortunate enough to land the high school in their town. 

ROWVA Grade School Sideview
Photo by Richard Soseman

ROWVA Grade School - 2006
Photo by Richard Soseman

Sharon Karpinski provided the following information regarding the fate of the Oneida HS building:
"Oneida High School, constructed in 1937, will be torn down in February of 2014 in order to erect a new grade school and junior high school on the site.The ROWVA District is moving all the district's students to a central campus in Oneida, leaving Altona, Wataga, Rio, and Victoria with no school facilities."
Oneida High School Quick Facts
Year opened:            unavailable
Year closed:             1948
School nickname:      the "Mohawks"
School colors:           unavailable
School Fight Song:    unavailable
Oneida High School probably offered baseball, track and possibly football.  It is known that boy's basketball was offered as the OHS kids brought home three District titles in the sport in the late 1940s, ending with a title in 1948, their last year of existence. More information is needed regarding the better sports teams and athletics offered.  The basketball success of the Oneida High School Mohawks is listed below. 
Boys' Basketball 
1929-30                    Knox County Tournament Champs   coach unknown
1945-46     N.R.A.     District Champions     Coaches names unavailable
1946-47     N.R.A.     District Champions
1947-48     N.R.A.     District Champions
From Sharon Schraudenbach Karpinski:
"The building that now houses the ROWVA Central Grade School was the Oneida High School prior to the first consolidation of the Rio, Oneida, Victoria, and Altona schools in the late 1940s. It remained the high school for the ROVA District until a new high school was built in Oneida six years later, at which point the old Oneida High became the junior high school plus grades 1-4 for Oneida primary students. Oneida grades 5-6 were bused to Altona Elementary, the former Altona High School. This arrangement remained until the Wataga School District was added to R.O.V.A. district in the late 1980s.

I'm not sure what happened to the high school that had to have existed between when the original one, built in the 1870s was destroyed a few years later, and the building that still stands today. The current building dates from the late 1920s or early '30s, I believe. That's certainly the style of the facade and the interior appointments. If part of it dates all the way back to the 19th century, it had to have been significantly remodeled and enlarged in the '20s/40s. I attended junior high school there.

My father taught at R.O.V.A. from 1950 until 1962, teaching high school history, government and geography. He therefore worked in both the old Oneida High School building and the "new" R.O.V.A. Consolidated High School building that was erected in the '50s. I remember both buildings well."
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Illinois HS Glory Days
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Oneida High School Park Monument
Richard Soseman

Oneida High School Park Monument
By Richard Soseman