IAGenWeb Project

Shelby County


Written in 1980 by Helen Havick Christensen
A Graduate of Tennant High School, Class of 1928

Good School House, Tennant, Iowa

Some of the information in the following paragraphs was taken from the History of The Tennant Consolidated School written by the above named graduate of the school.

The Program Committee of the Shelby County Historical Society of Harlan, Iowa, asked several people in the County to write the history of the towns in Shelby County. Helen was asked to write the history of Tennant, Iowa. These histories are on file in the Shelby County Historical Society's Museum at Harlan, Iowa. They can be found in various publications, and those of this school and on the town of Tennant can be located in the publication TENNANT HISTORY 1903-2003 which was published for the town's centennial celebrated in 2003.

Tennant is located in Shelby County and is one of the most beautiful and bountiful communities in Western Iowa and is surrounded by prosperous farming and livestock raising. The town was platted with the coming of the Chicago-Great Western Railroad in 1902. Trains began running in 1903, and continued until the abandonment of the railway in 1971.

In 1913 the consolidated independent School District of Tennant was formed by joining four one room school districts -- Districts No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 from Shelby Township and District No. 9 from Lincoln Township. It has been written that it was one of the very first such schools in Iowa to be formed by such a consolidation.

In 1913 and 1914 a fine three story brick building was built. It wasn't completed when school started in September, so the ninth grade was held in the country schools.

The new school was equipped with modern heating, plumbing and ventilation. It was also furnished with manual training and domestic science equipment. The school was dedicated on March 14, 1914.

The pupils were hauled to school in horse-drawn school busses. They called them hacks at that time. In the winter they used bobsleds. The bus drivers were paid an average salary of nearly $70.00 per month.

A. W. Phillips was the schools first principal, and George X. Cook the first president, F. L. Hansen the first treasurer, and the first secretary was R. A. Studly. Members of the School Board were: R. F. Plumb, August Turk, Albert Hansen, Fred T. Miller.

When declamatory contests were held in those days, between the neighboring schools, some of the contestants came by train, often accompanied by their mothers. They practiced throughout the day in the school basement, ate their sack lunch, dressed for the contest to be held that evening. After the contest, they boarded another train for the return trip home.

In 1928 a new gymnasium was built onto the west side of the school building.

The first graduating class from Tennant High was in 1917. Members of this class were: Elsie Petersen Sorensen, Irene Stevens McCool, Warren Miller, Frances Plumb Goodner, Elsie Jewell McKeighan, and Carrie Petersen.

The last class to graduate from Tennant was in 1959 when Tennant and Shelby schools consolidated. The smallest class to graduate was 3 students. The largest class to graduate was 13. A total 344 pupils were graduated from Tennant High School. An Alumni banquet is held every other year.

A list of the graduates follows. The married name is given for the ladies who married. The alumni membership has been maintained, since 1976 by a graduate of 1949. To contact any living member, or for information on the school or pertaining to Tennant, Iowa, please email Ray.

Contributed by Ray Buman, January, 2014.