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Dahlgren School - Hamilton County, Illinois

This school was located in Dahlgren Township near the intersection of County Roads 2000N and 100E. It was an active school from 18xx to 19yy. It served grades __ to __.

The following information was taken from the Oral History Project by Frank J. McNair, 1978.

The following information ...

Dahlgren's first school was a frame structure on land given by the Sturman's about 1850 and was used until after the coming of the railroad to Dahlgren in 1870. As the village began to expand, it was found that many of the school children were obliged to go farther to school, so a decision was made that the building be relocated.

A few lots were purchased on the west edge of town on Sixth Street and were built of brick. The building first contained two rooms, with one above the other and a liberal amount of space in front for use of stairs, closets, and storage. When more room was needed, this building was joined to the first structure. Fourteen years later in 1900 this addition was made, another two-room structure, one room above the other, using the same original stairway to reach the upper room.

This plan worked well and gave ample room, but in 1912 a new school law enacted that provided direction of window lighting and other restrictions and specifications. It was difficult to alter the new law. It was decided best to build a new building for years to come. It was thought if such a building was built, it was best to have more ground for additional buildings. Different sites were discussed and considered and a vote was taken on a proposition to purchase five acres at the south edge of town on Dale Street with ample room to provide for the future. The vote carried.

C. F. Goin was employed as foreman to wreck the building, move part of it to the new site and secure new materials as needed for the project. It was almost time for school to begin when the wrecking and building began. To arrange to have school that coming term was no easy undertaking, but dwellings, lodge halls, and others were secured and school went on.

When winter came, there still was much to be done on the building, both outside and inside.
Frank Irvin was chosen to be the head carpenter. The work progressed according to weather conditions, but the building was not completed in time for use that term. Some high school subjects were taught at this time and some pupils from outside districts were attending.

In 1944, the school became a four-year high school and R. W. Hawthorn was chosen as principal, a position he held for several years except one year when Morris Simpson was chosen.

All the high school pupils in the outlying territory are now bussed to McLeansboro and some of the lower grades are bussed from McLeansboro to attend at Dahlgren. During the preceding years, there had been efforts made to vote in a bond issue to build a gym, but most people thought it was not necessary, and they continued to rent the opera house for this purpose and save a lot of expense. Each time these propositions were rejected until 1950, when it carried and a larger gym was constructed, costing from $125,000 to $150,000.

About this time, the directors employed a man as principal who claimed he could do the work of an architect and contractor and he made them believe enough of his claim that he was allowed to plan some low buildings and get them built. His claim was that he could save them a lot of expense and build them to comply with the specifications of the state. He wanted to wreck the present school building and build a number of one-story structures. He was permitted to build two of these, but before they were completed it was found that his figures on expense were not correct and the state inspector would not approve of his construction. He was not allowed to wreck the old two-story building, nor start anymore buildings.

The principal moved away to a distant community to accept a position. Since the vote compelled all high school students to go to McLeansboro, what money the man was allowed to spend on his project at Dahlgren was a total waste of thousands of dollars. The high school is no longer at Dahlgren. Much of the need of the gym is no longer the case either, so Dahlgren now has a lot of building space no longer needed. The bond expense will go on for many years yet.

In 1958, all the country schools were consolidated in Dahlgren Township and most of these students were bused to Dahlgren, including the pupils attending the Catholic parochial school. The parochial pupils began attending the public schools. Consolidation gave the pupils a better chance of learning because there were more in the classes. Some of the country schools were so low in attendance that teachers sometimes had only two or three pupils. Bussing is very expensive but so are teachers when there are no pupils for them to teach. There are many other expenses about schools besides teachers and much of this expense is eliminated by consolidation.

Prior to the year of 1925 Dahlgren and probably other districts were able to get better teachers. There were Arthur Dawes, Lafe Howard, Ben Wallace, John Phillips, Charles York, Dave Underwood, M. L. Hunt, C. H. Hawkins, Robert Wilson, Biggerstaff. John Phillips was hired for four years (but only for one year at a time.) He did more for the school than any other teacher. He never went to college, as was the case in those times, except a little at Enfield. Neither did he attend high school. He seemed to be the type that could take books at home or elsewhere and in a short time he could master the subjects and retain what he had learned. He surely was the best in his day and he aimed for the pupils to learn. He had methods of teaching that made it easier for pupils to learn than most teachers. He had several books on each subject and taught all of them. There was only about one high school in each county, and most of us never got to attend. Ewing college was available in the early days, but few of our teachers attended it. Not many of the teachers had attended any state college.

The custom was, before the high schools were established, to learn the common branches thoroughly. This was done by learning and reviewing until grown instead of quitting at age fourteen. But we attended until we were grown and sometimes to twenty years of age. Sometimes the teachers of the country schools attended with us after their own schools were out. They did not have as many months of school as we did in town.

The principal of our school received $50 per month except the last two months. I am so glad I got to study under John Phillips. He was qualified to teach the high school branches and we got a little of it in connection with our other studies. He argued, "Get the common branches thoroughly before you take the higher branches. We found to learn the common branches completely was better for us than just to get a little of the common subjects and a little of the higher branches later. Following Phillips were Snyder, Summers, and Hawkins.

My school days were over in 1908. I then spent my time on the farm or doing concrete work and did very little reading. This resulted in a loss of some of the learning I had acquired. I have retained more than the students of later years received by the methods of their day.


Below is a list of the available documents / photos for the school. Click on each link to load that page. Close the page that opens to return to this page.  The links are arranged oldest to newest, left to right and top to bottom within each category with all unknown year items placed at the end.

Class Pictures
1911 1914 1920-1 1921-2 1922 1922-3
1927 Freshmen 1927 Seniors 1929 & 1930 1931 1932 1933
1934 1936-7 Freshmen 1939-40 3rd & 4th 1944 Freshmen 1944 Sophomores 1944 Juniors
1944-5 7th & 8th 1951 2nd & 3rd 1953 Teachers 1958 Unknown 1 Unknown 2
1921 Girls Team 1921-2 Girls Team 1922 (1) Basketball Team 1922 (2) Basketball Team 1924 Basketball Team 1925 Basketball Team
1932-3 Basketball Team 1936-7 Basketball Team 1955 (About) Basketball Team 1956 Basketball Team 1950s (Late) Basketball Team  
Gym Heating Stove          

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As mentioned above, if you can add to or correct any information presented or if you have any document / photo that you wish to contribute to this project, please contact us at HCHSGenealogy@gmail.com.