The History of Coffeen High School
Coffeen (population 709) is located in southwestern Illinois in southeastern Montgomery County. Illinois
Route 185 is the main road leading to and from town and takes Coffeen directly to its neighbor eight miles to the
northwest, Hillsboro. A town of note in the area would be East St. Louis located approximately 40 miles to the southwest
of Coffeen. The Norfolk & Western Railroad curves through the center of town and Coffeen Lake is located just
to the west of town.
The community of Coffeen supported its school system for many years, probably starting in the late 1800s. This
excellent bit of history on Coffeen and its school system was provided to us by Russ Sherer:
"The first building was erected somewhere around 1883 and in 1887 Coffeen High School
graduated its first class of seniors 13 in all. This bldg had 8 rooms but was not wired for electricty. A "new" 2 story
high school bldg (which included the grade school) was erected in 1912 at a total cost of $17,000. In 1921 under the
leadership of board president Dr. O.A.Wiegreffe the basement was divided into classrooms. In 1929 a
fire escape was added and in 1934 the gymnasium on the southwest side was built. In 1951 a new gym on the northeast side of
the original building was added and the old gym was remodeled .(It now houses the homemaking room, shop, and art room and
cafeteria for the grade school). The first class to graduate from the "new" building did so in 1913 when Laurel
Elam was principal. The four graduates were Ruby Champe, Cordah Baker, Edgar Harris and
Barney Donaldson Jr. Forty-three classes graduated from this building, the last one in 1955. Consolidation with the
Hillsboro Community Unit district was effected in the 1955-56 school year and Coffeen High students now attend Hillsboro
High School. The last graduating class had 25 members. Graduates from Coffeen High School number 641 and are scattered over
some 24 states. The smallest class ever to graduate was in 1902 when Lyman E. Traylor was the only senior. The 2 story bldg
was torn down approx 1958 and a new one story grade school bldg was built.One
of the outstanding educators was Calvin Satterlee who spent
a total of 32 years teaching, coaching and acting principal in the Coffeen school.
This info was taken from the "History of Coffeen" report gathered by a Senior class
project in 1936 (my sister's class) and updated in 1969 by an 8th grade class under the supervision of LaMoine Reeves
principal of the grade school.The 1912 building was a 2 story building which housed the grade
school and High school and was torn down and replaced by a new grade school building.."
Consolidation talks with its surrounding neighbors Schram City, Taylor Springs, Butler, Irving, Panama, Donnellson,
and its big brother - neighbor Hillsboro began in the late 1940s / early 1950s. This became a reality in 1955 when all
of the mentioned towns approved the creation of the Hillsboro Community School District with the high school based
in Hillsboro. This information was found on the Hillsboro High School web page http://www.hillsboroschools.net/aboutus/demographics/demographics.htm.
The community of Coffeen still supports an elementary school for the Hillsboro School District. The original
Coffeen High School building, pictured above, was razed in the late 1970s. The following historical overview of
this building was provided by Gabe Osborn:
"My Grandpa was apart of the last graduating class of Coffeen High in 1955, and my Grandma was apart of the first consolidated class in Hillsboro in 1956.
Currently the Old High School Building is not standing, it was torn down
in the late 70's and is now replaced with a new building which still stands today and houses K-5th grades and a Pre-K program.
From the consolidation in 1955 to the demolition of the old building in the late 70's the old building housed K-8th grades with
the High School students, after 1955, attending classes in Hillsboro."
Coffeen High School Quick Facts
Year opened: probably
Year closed: 1955
School nickname: the "Bulldogs"
School colors: Orange &
School Fight Song: Two were used:
Through the 1945 season:"A Hap Time in the Old Town Tonight"
WORDS PROVIDED BY HUGH SATTERLEE
Fight boys fight for Coffeen's got the ball,
Fight boys fight, we can win this after all.
And when the game is through
will all shout and sing,
there will be a hot time in Coffeen tonight.
After the 1945 season: "Coffeen Loyalty"
loyal to you Coffeen High.
and black, Coffeen High.
back you to stand
the best in the land
we know you have sand, Coffeen High.
crack out the ball, Coffeen High.
backing you all, Coffeen High.
team is our fame protector:
Boys for we expect a
from you Coffeen High!
out that dear old flag of
on your sons and daughters
men of old, on giants.
reliance, shouting defiance
the broad green plains that nourish our land,
For honest Labor and for Learning we stand.
unto thee we pledge our heart and our hand,
Dear Alma Mater, Coffeen High!