The Belleville Black Knights were organized in the fall of 1953 when Forrest Creson and Verne Poole combined their talents to form an all-male junior drum & bugle corps in Belleville, IL.
Wearing distinctive black and white uniforms, and possessing a highly precise miltary bearing, the corps quickly gained state and national prominence early on as they won the AmVets National Championship in 1954 and repeated as champions in both 1955 & 1956. The corps continued to rank in the upper echelon nationally from 1956 through 1962.
The corps returned to the national scene in 1970 when they once again made finals at the VFW Nationals in Miami. In 1972, the corps allowed girls in the color guard and also had one of the strongest horn lines in the country. The horn line went undefeated the majority of the season and, at DCI pre-lims, placed 5th in Brass execution & 7th place in Total Brass. The 1973 season proved to be their most successful year as the corps won both the VFW and American Legion State Championships for the first time and made the finals of every championship competiton they entered.