Petersburg High School

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Petersburg Harris High School

The History of Petersburg High School
Petersburg (population 2,299) is located in near west-central Illinois about 15 miles northwest of Springfield.  Illinois Routes 97 and 123 intersect in the town of Petersburg.  The Chicago, Illinois Midland Railroad lays tracks through Petersburg.  The Sangamon River flows through town as well. According to the website address for Menard County,, Petersburg was named by Peter Lukins in 1836.  Its location on the Sangamon River helped it grow quickly as it soon became, and remains today, the county seat of Menard County.
The history of the school system in Petersburg is in need of research.  With such an early establishment date we are certain that Petersburg residents were qute early in their building of a high school.  Our guess is that Petersburg had a school in place by the 1840s and high school curriculum available by the mid to late 1800s.  We know that Petersburg High School served the community on a solo basis for several decades.  It was in the 1960s that the small towns in the Menard County area around Petersburg began talks of consolidation.  The effort between Petersburg, OakfordRock Creek, Tallula, and Atterberry became a reality in what appears to be the late 1960s.  The result was the formation of the P.O.R.T.A. School District.
P.O.R.T.A. High School is located in Petersburg.  The fate of the Petersburg High School building has been updated for us by 1983 PORTA graduate Steven Todd:
"Shortly after Porta High School building was constructed in late 70's (1977 I believe), the former high school was purchased privately and converted first into a very popular health club and later into an apartment complex which it currently is. Many of us have fond memories watching some great early 1970's basketball teams there including the one that went to state - greats such as the late Kevin
Washington (who still holds state tournament single game rebound record), Billy Gum, Casey Duncheon, and later Mike Atterberry to mention a few."
Petersburg High School Quick Facts
Year opened:                            late 1800s
Year consolidated:                    late 1960s
Consolidated to:                        P.O.R.T.A. High School (Petersburg)
Petersburg HS team nickname:  unavailable
Petersburg HS team colors:       unavailable
School Fight Song:                    unavailable
The Petersburg High School athletic program produced some excellent success on the fields and courts of the area.  Success was obtained in the sports of basketball, baseball, football, and track.  The academic department chipped in as well with great seasons in Speech and Drama (  School team nickname, colors, and fight song are all items we are searching for.
Boys Baseball
The boys of the baseball diamond had at least one good year as far as the IHSA tournament is concerned, and probably many more that are not listed.  Team records and coach's names of this and other great PHS teams are being sought.
1950-51         District Champions              Coach Leonard Greathouse

Boys Basketball
The boys basketball program at Petersburg High School won three District titles and some nice season records as well.
1930-31               District Champions
1935-36               District Champions
1936-37               District Champions
1951-52   22 - 4                                        Coach Leonard Greathouse
1952-53                                                   Coach Leonard Greathouse
1953-54                                                   Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1954-55   20 - 8                                        Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1955-56   15 - 11                                      Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1956-57   12 - 10                                      Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1957-59                                                   Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1959-60   15 - 11                                      Coach Richard Garner
1960-61   14 - 10                                      Coach Richard Garner
1961-6                                                     Coach Richard Garner
1962-63                                                   Coach Dick Clark

1951-52    5 - 0       Coach Leonard Greathouse
1952-53                  Coach Leonard Greathouse
1953-56                  Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1956-57    6 - 2        Coach Elmo Hildebrand
1957-59                  Coach Elmo Hildebrand
Boys Track & Field
Peterrsburg High School enjoyed its greatest success in the sport of boys track & field.  An athlete by the name of Luther Sampson led the PHS thinclads to an incredible three consecutive TOP-TEN FINISHES in the IHSA State Track Meet!!  Luther Sampson brought home a total of 2 Gold Medals, three Silver Medals, and 3 Bronze Medals during three years of competition. The excellent run of the early 1900s by Luther Sampson and the PHS track program is listed below.  What makes Luther Sampson and Harry Apken's individual accomplishments even more spectacular is the fact that it was during the time when Illinois had one-class only system!
1903-04   Team Finished TENTH in IHSA STATE MEET Competition!!
               Individual Medalist              
               Luther Sampson              Hammer             2ND Place
                                                       Shot Put             3RD Place
               Final Team Standings

               1)  Pontiac                                 20  
               2)  Jacksonville (H.S.)                 15  
               2)  Anna                                    15  
               4)  Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)  13  
               5)  Chicago (North Division)          11  
               6)  Chicago (Hyde Park)              10  
               7)  Rushville                                 8   
               8)  Moline (H.S.)                           5  
               8)  Riverside (R.-Brookfield)           5

             10)  PETERSBURG HIGH SCHO0L 4

1904-05   Team Finished FOURTH in STATE MEET Competition!!

               Individual Medalist

               Luther Sampson              Hammer           STATE CHAMPION!!
                                                       Shot Put           2ND Place

               Final Team Standings 

               1)  Chicago (Englewood)                 16  
               2)  Chicago (Phillips)                       11 
               3)  Greenfield                                  10 
               4)  PETERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL    8  
               5)  Chicago (Crane)                           7  
               6)  DuQuoin (H.S.)                            6   
               6)  Carlyle                                        6  
               6)  Chicago (Lake View)                    6   
               9)  Chicago (Calumet)                       5   
               9)  Rushville                                     5  
               9)  Urbana (H.S.)                              5  
               9)  Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)        5  
               9)  Dixon (North)                               5  
               9)  Joliet (Twp.)                                 5  
               9)  Rochelle                                     5 1/2?  

1905-06   Team Finished SEVENTH in STATE MEET Competition!!

               Individual Medalists

               Luther Sampson                Discus                 3RD Place
                                                         Hammer              2ND Place
                                                         Shot Put              STATE CHAMPION!!

                Harry Apken                      Pole Vault           2ND Place

                Final Team Standings 

                1)  Chicago (Phillips)                         12  
                1)  Aurora (West)                              12
                3)  Chicago (Crane)                           11  
                4)  Wheaton (H.S.)                            10  
                4)  Chicago (Hyde Park)                     10  
                4)  Joliet (Twp.)                                 10  
                7)  PETERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL      9 4/7  
                8)  Chicago (North Division)                 7 4/7  
                9)  Springfield (H.S.)                           7  
                9)  Charleston                                    7

Academic Estra-Curriculars
Petersburg High School prved it had a well-rounded and diverse offering for its students.  Along with the athletic successes at Petersburg High were the successes attained in the academic world of PHS.  The successes attained in IHSA competition are listed below.  
1946-47          Sectional Champions
                      Sectional Champions
                      Final Team Standings  
                      1)  LaGrange (Lyons)                        6-1  
                      2)  Rockford (West)                          5-2  
                      3)  Granite City                                4-2  
                      3)  Rock Island (H.S.)                       4-2  
                      5)  PETERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL    3-3  
                      5)  Freeport (H.S.)                            3-3  
                      5)  Downers Grove (H.S.)                  3-3  
                      5)  Galesburg (H.S.)                         3-3   
1950-51       Sectional Champions
1945-46        Team Qualified for STATE MEET!!
                   Sectional Champions

1947-48     Individual Medalist
                Jerry Chalcraft        Oratory Declamation     5TH Place
1956-57     District Champions
Seeking Your Help
A school photo, great teams and players, memorable faculty, all are things we would like to know about and share about Petersburg High School.  You can e-mail this information to us at or write to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.   60631