of Carmi Township/Community High School
Carmi (population 5,400) is located in southeastern Illinois in White County along the
Little Wabash River, serving as the county seat. Illinois Routes 1 and 14 run thru the community. Carmi was first settled
as early as 1809, then chartered in 1816. It is believed that the city's name comes from the Bible as Carmi was a nephew to
Joseph, and was mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
The founders of Carmi were Leonard White (whom the county was named after) and Lowry
Hay, and they were joint proprietors to the site that was named Carmi. Another famous resident of Carmi, Colonel
Everton Conger, was involved in the capture of John Wilkes Booth after the latter shot President
According to a history of White County from 1883, the first school was opened in Carmi in 1841 when
a frame schoolhouse was constructed for a subscription school. The following passage from the link below gives a glimpse into
what education was like in Carmi and throughout Illinois prior to 1855 Free School Act:
the free school law was passed in 1856, people got busy. They elected Berry Crebs, Albert R. Shannon and Dr. E. L. Stewart to a school board. Samuel Slocumb erected a large brick schoolhouse on Fourth Street. J.
L. Waterman was the first
principal. The second was N. B. Hodsdon, with Miss P. L. Dewey as associate teacher.
"Before the free school was opened it was a struggle for many to get an education. The term usually lasted three months and the cost — $2 to $2.50
per term — was high
for many families. Youngsters
were expected to earn their school money. They dug ginseng, gathered nuts, chopped wood, hunted rabbits and caught coons.
"Orlando Burrell chopped 10 cords of wood for James Ratcliff at 25c per cord to pay for a school term."
That brick schoolhouse was built at a cost of four to five thousand dollars,
and later spread to nine schools in Carmi by 1883. Carmi High School was in business in 1885 when it opened
on the second floor of the South Side School building, which was built in 1876. One student finished the four-year
course starting in 1885 as Winnie Maroney was awarded the first diploma in 1889.
When the high school was formed, it was done so as a local district institution,
which meant that students outside of the district had to pay tuition as much as $100 to $125 to attend. But in 1913, things
changed as the state of Illinois passed legislation to create non-high school districts, and that meant taxpayers
paid the tuition (rather than the students) for them to attend the high school of their choice. The following year, Carmi High became
Carmi Township High as it reorganized its territory and accepted more students, including some that lived in the non-high
Twelve students were part of the first graduating class from CTHS in 1915,
and at the same time, plans were being made to build a new school due to the lack of space at the South Side School location
it started at in 1885. Once the new building was completed in 1920 (see photo above), more subjects could be offered to the
student body, including expanded agriculture courses (which had begun in 1914), typing, bookkeeping, and biology, setting
the number of credits needed for graduation at 16.
With the new school, the first graduating class numbered 24, and did so
from the auditorium of the new building. Over time, the school added on a new assembly hall & gymnasium by 1935,
and the demands to improve facilities as well as meet state education standards after World War II shifted focus on adding
on wings to the existing 1920 structure. The east and west additions were completed and ready by the fall of 1954, but
a fire damaged the middle building & gymnasium on January 2, 1955, and they were rebuilt on the site,
as was an additional gym for girls to the west wing. Carmi later changed reorganized as a community high school around 1970.
In 1988, talks with nearby Crossville resulted in a new school being formed, White County. All students now attend classes in Carmi in the former Carmi High building.
FACTS ABOUT CARMI TOWNSHIP/COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened as Carmi High School:
Renamed Carmi Township High School:
Renamed Carmi Community High:
Maroon & White
School paper & yearbook: