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Helen Poole Tonish

Helen Poole Tonish

One Time On the Upper McDowell



Helen Poole Tonish was born on McDowell Creek in rural Geary County, Kansas, in 1915, the oldest child of John and Minna Germann Poole. She grew up in the house her father built in 1914 and rode her horse to the Briggs School, several miles away. As a child she raised Hereford calves for 4-H and learned to play the piano from her mother's sister, Louisa Germann Poole. Music became a lifelong interest. She was able to attend high school by staying with a relative in town and later took a degree from Kansas State Agricultural College, now Kansas State University. Her first teaching job was in Culver, Kansas. Following the gender-segregation common in public schools at that time, she taught mathematics only to boys and home-economics only to girls. While teaching in Junction City, she met her future husband, a lieutenant
stationed at Ft. Riley. After World War II, Edward Tonish became a school principal, while Helen continued teaching. The couple raised two daughters, Marsha and Barbara. Widowed in 1995, Helen Poole Tonish lived in Broomfield, Colorado for 46 years. Mrs. Tonish passed away on October 21, 2010 (Daily Camera Obituary, Broomfield, CO).

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  • One Time On The Upper McDowell (CKS/Woodley Press, 2009); Introduction by Margy Stewart; Illustrations by Justin Marable

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Center for Kansas Studies

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