In the spring of 1828 Jesse Pickrell, being among the first to come to area, settled in what is now Mechanicsburg Township. He married Elizabeth Churchill. In 1829 Jesse Pickrell taught the first school on section 27, west of what is now Mechanicsburg. In 1830 he was postmaster of a post office established under the name of "Clear Creek, P. O."
Mechanicsburg was founded in 1832 when Jesse's brother William Pickrell surveyed and platted lots. He offered them freely to any "mechanic" who would build a dwelling on the lot. A mechanic in those days probably referred to a blacksmith or someone who could repair wagons (a wheelwright).
History of Mechanicsburg Schools
A series of private schools were available from 1836 until 1862. The last private school was sold at auction in 1862 and became the property of the Mechanicsburg school district. Grades 1 through 8 were taught at that time.
In 1887, a 3-year high school course was offered. Mechanicsburg High School was always a 3-year high school. If students wished to complete their fourth year, they attended either Illiopolis or Springfield High.
A school building was constructed in 1899. High school students remained in the building through the 1938 school year; lower grades continued to be taught there until 1969. The old school building still stands and is used as an apartment building.
Photograph of Mechanicsburg High School in 1912 from the "Annual Rpt. of Sangamon Co. Schools."
Photograph of old Mechanicsburg High School in 2007. It is now an apartment building. Photo courtesy of Phil Shadid.
The high schools of Mechanicsburg, Buffalo and Dawson merged in September 1937 to become the Tri-City High School District #215. This was the first consolidated school district in Illinois history. The favorable vote to consolidate was: Mechanicsburg 26-2, Dawson 94-10, Buffalo (with Buffalo Hart and Lanesville) 165-38.
With the consolidation taking place in 1937, students from the three towns continued to attend school in their own buildings that year. The sports teams (basketball and baseball) played under the new name, Tri-City "Tornadoes," with all home basketball games taking place in the Dawson gymnasium. In September 1938, the new high school and gym were completed in Buffalo and 145 high school students transferred to the 4-year school.
In 1948 the Tri-City Community Unit School District #1 was formed, which included all grade schools and saw the closing of all one-room country schoolhouses in the area.
The principal of the high school and superintendent of the district, A. Louis Oder, served in that capacity until his retirement in 1957. Mr. Oder had also been principal at Dawson, as well as coach of the first Tri-City athletic teams. His wife, Louise Nicholson Oder, was a long-time teacher in the district.
MECHANICSBURG HIGH SCHOOL QUICK FACTS
Opened as Grade school: 1862
3-year high school began: 1887
New building constructed: 1899
Last time as stand-alone high school: May 1937
Merged to become part of Tri-City HS: Sept. 1937
HS students first attend Tri-City in Buffalo: Sept. 1938
Mechanicsburg Grade school closed: May 1969
Team nickname: unknown
School colors: Red & Blue
Much of the information was found in microfilm records of the Springfield Illinois State Journal and Register and the Buffalo Tri-City Register, available at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. A history of the town was found on the former Village of Mechanicsburg website, as well as in the Sangamon Valley Collection of Springfield's Lincoln Library.