Loami High School "Lions"

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Loami School Building Front - 2012
loamischoolbldg2012dav.jpg
Photo by Phil Shadid

Loami School Building
loamischool.jpg

The History of Loami High School
 
Loami (population 804) is located in central Illinois about 10 miles southwest of Springfield.  It is located in west-central Sangamon County.  A railroad once paved the way for Loami's early growth however it no longer exists.  The town is located on the County Roads of Loami Road at Loami Bates Road.  The Lick Creek flows to the south of Loami.  The town was platted and settled in 1854.  More of Loami's history can be read at the following website address:
 
The following information and extensive research was provided to the Glory Days website by Phil Shadid, avid fan of the site and especially of Springfield area "glory days" schools:
 
The first school in the town of Loami opened in 1869, although small one-room schools began in the township outside of Loami in 1863. By the early part of the 20th Century there were 11 one-room country schools, one of which was in the town of Loami. As noted in the book “Country Schools of Sangamon County” by Helen Murray, they had such colorful names as “Hong Kong, High Water Mark (may have been near a creek), Prosperity and Nipper.” By 1948 all the country schools were closed as Loami consolidated into New Berlin’s school district.
 
Loami High School’s first mention was in the “Annual Report of Sangamon County Schools for 1911.” It read “The school at Loami was recognized as a two-year high school.” At some point prior to 1926, Loami became a 3-year school, never achieving a 4-year status. If a student desired to finish their fourth year they had a choice of attending New Berlin, Chatham, Ball Township, Springfield, Auburn or Waverly (Morgan County).

Loami School Kitchen - 2012
loamischoolkitchen2012dav.jpg
Photo by Phil Shadid

Loami School Classroom - 2012
loamischoolclassroom2012dav.jpg
Courtesy of Phil Shadid

Loami School District #140 was never very large. As an example, the “Illinois School Directory of 1937-38” listed just 32 students in the high school. The Loami High section of the combination Grade-High school closed in May 1940, and because it was not affiliated with another district, the grade school graduates could attend their choice of the above mentioned high schools. This option remained until September 1948 when the school district consolidated with the New Berlin district.

Loami High School Students 1939
loamihsstudents1939dav.jpg
Paul (Pete) Chott - Front Row, 2nd from Left / Submitted by Rhonda Baker

In 1947, the schools of Sangamon County held their Grade 8 graduations at Springfield High School, and among the schools were two in the Loami district: Hong Kong had two graduates and Loami town school had seven.
 
William Hovey, Loami Grade School and New Berlin High School graduate, recalled that in the 1940’s before the one-room country schoolhouses closed, the coach at New Berlin had an annual track and field meet in the Spring at the high school for the country students only. They were from the township schools of Loami, Maxwell, New Berlin, Island Grove, Curran, and others. The pupils would compete in various races and field events which were open to any boy or girl regardless of their athletic prowess. Some of the schools sent every child, while others picked out the ones that were athletically inclined.
 
John Vernon (J. V.) Kirby, long-time basketball coach at New Berlin (22 years), would organize everything and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Ribbons and awards were handed out to smiling and proud children. To honor him the basketball arena at New Berlin Community High School is now called “J. V. Kirby.”
 
At the close of the 2008-2009 school year officials of the New Berlin Community district announced that the Loami elementary school would not reopen in August 2009.  Instead, a brand new elementary school in the village of New Berlin would house all students who would have attended Loami.  Thus ended 146 years of education in the village of Loami.  The Loami 97-year old building shown on this page will continue to be utilized as the district's administrative offices.  But for how long?  The sounds of children moving through the halls of the two-story building are apparently, and sadly, silenced forever.
 
Footnote: Grades 1-8 in one-room schoolhouses might have as few as 10 children or as many as 30. Usually, the school would be set in the country so that farm kids didn’t have to walk (or ride their horse) more than a mile or two to reach the school. Sangamon County had over 150 one-room country schoolhouses at one time, some of which began in the 1820’s and the last closing in 1958.
 
The Loami School building was sold on April 28, 2012 to a private citizen. The purchase price for the 4 1/2 acre grounds, building, and playground equipment was $27,500. The school last held classes in 2009, and was utilized as an administration building for the New Berlin School District until 2012. The gymnasium was built in 1962. We hope the building and grounds are in good hands and will survive for generatioins to come.
   
LOAMI HIGH SCHOOL QUICK FACTS:
 
High school opened:              Prior to 1908 (recognized as 2-year HS)
Current building constructed:  1916
3-year HS began:                  Prior to 1926
High school closed:               May 1940 (still used as an elementary school)
Elementary school closed:     2009
Consolidated to:                    New Berlin District, September 1948
Team nickname:                   "Lions"
Team colors:                         Blue & White
School song:                         Unavailable

Loami Grade School Basketball - 1935
loamigsbball193435dav.jpg
Courtesy of William Hovey

Athletics
 
Loami High School competed in the boys sports of basketball, baseball and track.  We could not find any information on the Loami athletic program on the ISHA website (www.ihsa.org). 
 
The photo to your right is of the Loami Grade School basketball team of 1935.  Team members are pictured as follows:
 
Front Row, L to R:  Clarence Chandler, Jesse Lynn, Harry D. Brown, John A. Marr
Back Row, L to R: Gene Hovey, Ray Page, Coach R.M. Randles, Don Fisher, Emery Matthews
 

BASKETBALL: (compiled by Phil Shadid)

Yearly records were difficult to track because the local newspapers did not always report the scores of 3-year high schools, especially when Loami became the last of such schools in Sangamon County. Scheduling had become difficult in the last few years of the school, although many of their old rivals continued to play Loami even after they (Buffalo Tri-City, Chatham, Riverton, Rochester) became 4-year schools. LHS may have dropped out of the Illinois High School Association for several years, because they played in very few postseason District tournaments. Most home games were played in the Loami Town Hall; a few took place at New Berlin’s gym.

Loami Basketball Goal - 2012
laomihsgymapril2012dav.jpg
Courtesy of Phiul Shadid

Loami Town Hall - Upstairs Used as Gym
laomitownhall1905gym2012dav.jpg
Submitted by Phil Shadid

Final season 1939-40: Coach Willard Witte. Only seven games recorded (1-6). Last basketball win: Feb. 21, 1940: New Berlin District tournament; Loami 31, Ball Township 24. Scoring for Loami: Kendal Fisher 15, Hatcher 10, Frank Miller 4, LaVerne Lamb 2.

Last game played: Feb. 22, 1940, at District tourney; Loami 18, Palmyra 31. Scoring for Loami: Fisher 11, Hatcher 3, Bridges 2, Lamb 2; not scoring: C. Fisher, Miller and Flynn.

SOME SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

1927-28: Coach G. Harlow. Loami competed in the Sangamon County Conference and had a record of 6-4 (8-6 overall), finishing in a tie for third place with Buffalo. They beat Chatham and Riverton during the season and placed fourth in the annual conference tournament. Cloyd, Cox, Duewer, Gibson, Jacobs, and Nichols all played prominent roles during the season. (No postseason District tourney.)

1928-29: Mr. G. Harlow's squad had a 5-12 record (4-8 in conference) and played in the District tournament at season’s end (they lost to Chatham 34-11). Loami finished fourth in the conference tournament, led by Rowden, Burton, Jacobs, Gibson and Meiers.

1932-33: A. M. Randles’ team recorded a 9-8 season’s mark and finished second to Riverton in the Sangamon County Conference’s annual tournament. They had to beat Buffalo, Dawson and Chatham to reach the finals, their best ever record in the tourney.

1933-34: Loami (dubbed by some as the “Travelers” because some of their home games were in New Berlin) compiled a 5-9 record overall, with a 5-7 mark in the Sangamon County Conference (later known as Sangamo Conference). They did not compete in the postseason District tournament. Loami players: Cloyd (younger brother of the 1927-28 player?), Warren Page, Rice, Aubrey, Henderson and Franklin.

1934-35: After opening the season with four losses, Loami forfeited the remainder of its schedule (0-12). The newspapers reported that coach Randles had to abandon the season because he did not have enough players to compete adequately.

1935-36: All games forfeited. Loami was accused of playing in an unauthorized “independent” game. The infraction was reported in the Buffalo Tri-City Register (weekly newspaper) on January 24, 1936: “Loami has recently sent us word that their team has become ineligible due to their participation in an independent game. Consequently the team is forced to forfeit the rest of its games.” Actually, they forfeited any victories and did not complete the season.

However, a search of the archives in 2007 by Illinois High School Association staff member Scott Johnson failed to list any violation during the 1935-36 season. The State Journal and Register also did not carry any stories about the forfeits, but the fact is Loami did not complete its regular schedule nor played in a postseason District tournament. Because Loami may not have been a member of the public high school association the forfeits could have been administered by the Sangamon County Conference. Dawson High (SCC member) forfeited its 1935-36 season because of an IHSAA infraction.

1936-37: Coach Randles’ team finished with a 5-5 record in the Sangamo Conference, and 7-8 overall. They took third place in the Chatham Holiday tournament and the Sangamo Conference tourney. Ray Page, Clarence Chandler, Emery Matthews, Gene Hovey, Tom Franklin, Moss, Patterson and Stanton contributed throughout the season. Franklin led the team in scoring. Loami did not play in the District tournament.

Loami High School player Don Fisher remembers his time on the basketball team of 1937-38. He recalled that Mr. Randles had an old Chevrolet sedan and piled all the players (usually seven or eight) in it for road trips. Quite often the team would have practices OUTSIDE when the Loami Town Hall was not available. Don also said that his coach was a great person who treated the students very well.

Alvine (A. M.) Randles was the Principal/Teacher/Coach at Loami. He was born in 1905 near Nokomis, obtained a degree in education at Eureka College, and a Masters from the University of Illinois. In addition to his time at Loami, he also taught at Nokomis and Riverton, and retired as principal of Edinburg High School after 17 years. Mr. Randles also operated a farm near New City into the 1970s. He passed away in 2005, age 100.

SEASON W-L COACH (season totals may be incomplete)

1925-26 2-9 Earl Cain

1926-27 2-9 Earl Cain

1927-28 8-6  G. Harlow

1928-29 5-12 G. Harlow

1929-30 7-10 G. Harlow

1930-31 6-9 A. M. Randles

1931-32 1-14 A. M. Randles

1932-33 9-8 A. M. Randles

1933-34 5-9 A. M. Randles

1934-35 0-12 A. M. Randles (forfeited 8 games)

1935-36 0-8 A. M. Randles (forfeited all games)

1936-37 7-8 A. M. Randles

1937-38 1-6 A. M. Randles

1938-39 1-5 A. R. Evans

Loami Grade School Basketball Team 1938-39
loamibballteam193839dav.jpg
Submitted by Rhonda Baker

Front Row (L-R): Miller, Paul (Pete) Chott, Fisher, Hatcher
Back Row (L-R): Witte, ?, Bridges, ?, Lamb?

1939-40 1-6 Willard Witte (last season

Loami Baseball Team of 1908
loamibaseballteam1906dav.jpg
Courtesy of Don Fisher

BASEBALL
 
Loami likely had a high school baseball team during its existence.  However we know that the town had a team with players of varying ages on it in the early 1900s.  The photo to your right was submitted by Don Fisher, whose father (Frank Fisher) and uncle (Dick Fisher) are a part of the team.
 
Members of the team in the photo include:
 
Front row, L to R: Dick Fisher, Bob McCray (pitcher), Verne Kinney (catcher), Homer Bartholomew.
Back row, L to R: Frank Fisher, Bud Foster, Al Stanton, Frank Edwards, Steve Workman.
 
Our good friend Phil Shadid adds:

Loami Baseball Helmets - 2012
loamischoolbaseballhelmets2012dav.jpg
Submitted by Phil Shadid

"The team consisted of high school players and a couple of older men and played in spring-summer leagues in the area.  Bartholomew, nicknamed "Buster," would go on to become New Berlin High School's first basketball coach and a successful coach at Chatham and Bath-Lynchburg high schools.  He was considered to be a very good outfielder despite the fact he had no left arm.  Bartholomew and Kinney started their teaching careers educating children at the one-room country schools in the Loami area."
 
 
 
SANGAMON COUNTY TRACK, ORATORICAL & ESSAY MEETS
 
May 2, 1908, from the Illinois State Register (Springfield):

Loami High School placed fourth in Track with 10 points in 1908 (Auburn 42, Chatham 35, Illiopolis 26). They did not finish in the top three in Oratorical & Essay. Frank Fisher took second in the Half-Mile, while Verne Kinney gained the rest of the points by placing second in three events: 100-yard Dash, 50-yard Dash and Running-Hop-Step-Jump. Homer Bartholomew competed in the weight events (Discus and Shot Put), but did not place in the top three.  (All three of these men played on the Loami “Merchants” baseball team in the summer of 1908. See photo on this page.)

 
May 8, 1909, from the Illinois State Journal (Springfield):

In a two-column story on the front page, Loami finished third in Track with 19 points (Chatham 36, Auburn 23), thanks to the remarkable efforts of Verne Kinney. He won the 50-yard Dash in 6 and 3/5th seconds, the 220-yard Dash in 26 seconds; wound up second in the 100-yard Dash and the Standing Broad Jump. Teammate Frank Fisher took second in the Running-Hop-Step-Jump.

In the New Berlin Opera House, in the Oratorical contest, Alma McIntire spoke on “Reputation & Character,” good for second place, while William Hovey read his Essay on “The Character of the Ancient Romans” (fourth place). The two gave Loami a third place tie with Chatham.

Heavy rains caused the Track & Field events at New Berlin to be postponed in the morning. So, the participants and fans boarded the Wabash Railroad’s special train (which had brought them to New Berlin) to return to Springfield, where they boarded street cars for the ride to the State Fairgrounds. The events took place in the Coliseum.

Two records were broken, as reported by the Journal: “This is considered to be remarkable owing to the condition of the track at the Coliseum. Tan bark is not the best material for foot racing.”

NOTABLE ALUMNI OF LOAMI:

The four PAGE brothers attended the 3-year Loami High School and then completed their high school education as seniors at New Berlin High.

Ray Page, legendary high school basketball coach, with stops at Auburn, Chebanse, Williamsville and Springfield High. His 1959 SHS team won the state championship. Sixteen years of coaching produced a record of 289 wins, 150 losses. Elected for two terms as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Harry Page (youngest of the brothers), Superintendent of three different school districts during his educational career: Ball-Chatham, Buffalo Tri-City and New Berlin.

Warren Page (oldest brother): Teacher/Coach/Supt. Of Cambridge school district, Supt. Of Gibson City school district, finished his career as the Superintendent of the Ford County school district. His sports accomplishments included forming one-half of a famous brother battery in baseball in high school and at Western State Teachers College (now known as Western Illinois University). He was the catcher and his brother Ray was a left-handed pitcher.

Another Loami graduate brother, Walter Page, pursued a business career.

William Hovey, Loami Grade School graduate. Graduate New Berlin High. Graduate Western State. Principal at Loami GS one year. Teacher/Coach at New Berlin High. Principal at Chatham Glenwood HS three years. Superintendent of Ball-Chatham school district for 25 years. Inducted into Chatham Glenwood Hall of Fame in 2007.

Don Fisher, attended Loami High three years and graduated from Chatham High as a senior. He worked at Allis-Chalmers in Springfield before enlisting in the U. S. Coast Guard during World War II, assigned to a destroyer-escort ship in the South Pacific. Don served as a Warrant Officer and administrative assistant in the National Guard for several years, and for 30 years he worked for the C & I M Railway in the personnel department and as a legal assistant.

John A. Marr, star athlete for Loami Grade and High school, as well as New Berlin High, where he attended his senior year.  Graduate Western Illinois University.  Earned Master of Science from University of Illinois.  Earned Master in Arts from University of Illinois-Springfield. World War II Army veteran.  He was a Principal/Teacher/Coach at Tallula High School and Principal/Teacher at New Berlin High.  Inducted into the New Berlin Community School district Academic Hall of Fame in 2000.

SPECIAL THANKS:

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library for microfilms of Illinois State Journal and Register. Springfield’s Lincoln Library, Sangamon Valley Collection. Sangamon County Supt. Of Schools. William Hovey furnished valuable information about Loami schools, as well as the 1935 photo. Grateful appreciation to Don Fisher for great information.

Seeking More Information

As you can tell there is a lot of information that needs to be added to the Loami High School history of this page.  There were many people and residents of the town that made the era of Loami High School a successful one. The efforts of these people should not be forgotten.  We are especially interested in photos, most importantly one of the old school building.  You can e-mail this information to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.   You can also write to us at:   
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva Av.
Chicago,  Il.  60631

Loami School Trophy - 2012
loamitrophy2012dav.jpg
Submitted by Phil Shadid