Sigel (population 386) is located in lower eastern Illinois in the southeast corner of Shelby County. U.S.
Route 45 is the main roadway to and from Sigel while Interstate Highway 57 runs just to the east of town. The Illinois
Central Railroad also runs through Sigel. Sigel is situated about 5 miles northeast of Effingham.
According to the web address of http://www.edenmartin.com/counties/bigsprng.htm#B , Sigel was first platted in 1863 along the Illinois Central Railroad. The town was called Hooker until its name
was changed in 1871. Several small businesses soon sprung up including two hotels and two churches.
The history of the Sigel school district was provided by a good friend of the Glory Days website.
He states "The 1937 edition of the P.J. Kenedy Official Catholic Directory in the United
States has listed 31 students that year attending St. Michael High
School in Sigel, taught by the Joliet Franciscan Sisters along with the grade
school at the same parish. It would take more research with books I don't have
at my disposal to determine the opening and closing dates of St. Michael High
School, but this establishes that the one-time Sigel High School was indeed
Saint Michael Catholic High School. Sigel is small and has never needed a public
grade school in addition to Saint Michael's and I presume the same was true at
the high school level as long as St. Michael's was open."
It is probable that St. Michael School began offering high school courses by the early 1900s.
We believe that Sigel St. Michael High School served the community at least through the late 1940s. There
is a good chance that Sigel St. Michael High School closed in 1948 or 1949, this information is needed.
We do know that Sigel's high school-aged students attend Neoga High School today. The
fate of the Sigel high school building is being sought.
History of Sigel St. Michael High School comes to us from a good friend of the Glory Days
website, Michael M. He advises that Sigel was home to Sigel St. Michaels High School, a catholic high
school ran by nuns.
"Shelby County, in which Sigel is located, has always been almost entirely Catholic (and ethnically
German), so much so, that a number of the elementary schools in that county are public schools but operate in school buildings
owned and on the property of the local Catholic church, AND until the late 1960s, were run entirely by nuns!
Here would be a typical scenario: School would start OFFICIALLY at 9:00 a.m. like in a typical public
school, but classes REALLY started at 8:30 with religion class like in a regular Catholic school. Then at 9:00
a.m., the nun would put the catechism (religion text) away and begin the official school day, conducting the
rest of the day with secular subjects. This worked very well for many years in these towns until the late 1960s when
the teaching nuns began to get scarce.
But every now and then a town in that area would have chosen to support
a real Catholic school the regular way, and Sigel did it that way.
The school in Sigel is called Saint Michael's; it is the parish school of St.
Michael Catholic Church in Sigel. The result is that no public school was needed in Sigel, and so there is no public
school there. Whereas today St. Michael's only has Grades K-8 and I think there's only one nun -if
any - still there, years ago Saint Michael Catholic High School in Sigel had Grades 1 through 12. So the Sigel
High School you are seeking information for is likely Saint Michael Catholic High School. I am aware of this
because the nuns who taught me in school in Joliet, Illinois, are the same Order of nuns who ran the Catholic grade and high
school at St. Michael's in Sigel. (They were also the nuns who ran the public schools in nearby Lillyville and
Green Creek.) These are the Franciscan Sisters from Joliet, Illinois."
Sigel St. Michael High School Quick Facts
late 1800s / early 1900s
Neoga Community School District
Sigel HS team nickname: unavailable
Sigel HS team colors: unavailable
School Fight Song: unavailable