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While Sharon Becker and I were working on our book, “Images of America – Ringgold County,” this week’s picture was in the running for the cover photo. The top of the belfry is cropped and that decreases the aesthetic value. But, the children standing on the porch roof brings a “youthful abandon” feeling to the image.
Most of my information for this article comes from, “Pictoral History of the Tingley School and Students,1883-1976.” This booklet illustrates the history of the school district, as well as updates on Tingley students even after the high school courses were discontinued.
In 1882, the year the railroad arrived, the Tingley Independent School District was established. Classes were probably held in vacant buildings until the school building seen here was erected in 1885 at a cost of $3,300. An addition was constructed in 1901.
In 1917, only four high schools in Ringgold County were still housed in wood-frame structures: Tingley, Ellston, Beaconsfield, and Knowlton. Tingley changed that in 1918 with the construction of a new, brick, $25,000 high school. The building measured 51’ x 79’ and was 39’ high. A very important aspect of the new school was a gymnasium with a basketball court. Local contractors H. H. Dufty and Leonard Grimes did the carpenter work.
Tingley High School has some interesting alumni. Dan McGugin graduated about 1897 and went on to become the winningest football coach in the history of Vanderbilt University and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951. McGugin was also an attorney.
The parents of artist Jackson Pollock graduated from Tingley High School. When looking at the teachers and faculty, Ina Freeman stands out for her forty consecutive years (1893-1933) as a primary grade teacher. Also, M. H. “Obie” Obermeier, who came to Tingley as superintendent in 1940 and moved on to Beaconsfield and Shannon City in 1945. He returned in 1951, staying until the high school classes were discontinued in 1959. Obermeier is best remembered for his success as a coach, taking the 1951 Tingley baseball team to the state tournament and leading the basketball girls to the state tournament in 1952, 1954, and 1957. The girls also had great success in the Ringgold County tournament.
Grade School classes continued to be held in the school building after 1959 and the structure was finally torn down in 1980. Clair Heyer took several photos of the razing. A monument with a school bell marks the spot where the school once stood.
The booklet I used is filled with pictures taken by Clair Heyer, who graduated in Waterloo, Iowa, but always called Tingley “home.” Next week we’ll look at another Tingley institution.