Henry High School “Mallards”

Henry High School 1891-1947
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Courtesy of Henry Public Library staff

The History of Henry High School

Henry (population 2,540) is situated in Marshall County along the Illinois River in north central Illinois, about 35 miles north of Peoria and 21 miles south of Princeton. The city is reached by taking Illinois Routes 29 and 18 into town, and the Baltimore & Ohio RR also runs thru town. The community was founded around 1834 and is named for General James Henry, who led forces in the Black Hawk War in 1832. Incorporation did not take place until 1854, at which time there were 1,306 residents.

Education has a prominent place in the history of Henry, even when the community was platted in 1834 with a “school square” designated for such a place. The first school was not located on that site until 1847. Other schools that were located in Henry included the Henry Female Seminary, which was constructed by the Rev. H.J. Pendleton in 1847-48, who saw the need for developing quality instructors. That school survived a fire and continued to be an influence on educating those in Henry to the point that it improved the teaching of those in the Henry Public Schools. The seminary closed around 1862, but was reopened as the Henry Seminary from 1870-1875, admitting both boys and girls. The building was torn down in 1884.

Another school of significance in Henry was North Illinois University, started by the Methodist Protestant church in 1854. The school was later renamed Marshall College in 1867, but did not survive more than a couple of years before the building was sold to the city of Henry for its public school. That building was the home of Henry Grade & High School, with the first four-year class graduating in 1876 consisting of four women (Flora Worley, Grace Mateer, Elise Helper, and Edna Kalb). Another private school was in operation during the same time period, run by former principal W.W. Worley from 1878-1880.

Henry High School stayed in the former North Illinois University building until 1891 when a new building was built for all grade and high school students, as the former home was razed in 1892. However, the new building would stay in operation for all 12 grades thru 1952 when the preps moved into their current location.

Additional classrooms and a gym were added in 1917 and 1927, respectively. Grade school students would stay there until 1963 when a new facility was opened. The high school reformed itself as Henry Township High School in 1917 when it was decided there would a board of education for the grade school and another for the high school.

Following World War II, representatives from Henry Township HS and Senachwine Township High School in nearby Putnam discussed the possibility of merging their districts together in 1946. At the time, an enrollment of 40 students was required for a high school to receive state aid, and there were only 27 at Senachwine Township with more than 100 at Henry Township. The talks got serious and resulted in the passage of the merger that formed today’s Henry-Senachwine High School in the spring of 1947.

The building pictured above fell victim to the wrecking ball in 1967, and the site today serves as a park. In what could be referred to as an irony, the current Henry-Senachwine High School buildings are located at the north end of town on Illinois Route 26, which is also known as University Street in Henry.

Today’s Henry-Senachwine students, faculity, parents, and alumni can find out more about the history of the school and its current news by clicking on to: http://www.henrysenachwine.org/hshs/


Year opened:              1870

First graduating class: 1876

New building opened:   1892

Gymnasium added:     1927

Year closed:               1947

Now part of:                 Henry-Senachwine High School

School colors:             Crimson & Black

School nickname:        the “Mallards”

School song:               unknown


According to the IHSA web site (www.ihsa.org), we do know that Henry offered boys’ basketball and track. It is possible it could have offered baseball and maybe football, so we are looking for an alumnus or historian from the Henry area that may know something about those offerings. The school was one of the charter members of the Tri-County Conference, which was formed in 1927.  Other schools in the conference included Putnam SenachwineGranville HopkinsMcNabb SwaneyLostantMagnoliaTonica, and Varna.


The Henry hoopsters had some successful seasons before its merger with its neighbor from the north at Putnam. A total of four Tri-County Conference tournament championships and three runner-up finishes were awarded to Henry to go along with its winning ways before the school closed in 1947.

1916-17     6- 3    (good record)                                       Coach unknown

1919-20     9- 4    (good record)                                       Coach unknown

1922-23   12- 3    (good record)                                       Coach unknown

1933-34              Tri-County Tourney runner-up                 Coach unknown

1938-39              Tri-County Tourney Champs              Coach Bill Bennington

1939-40              Tri-County Tourney Champs              Coach Bill Bennington

1940-41   13-10   Tri-County Tourney runner-up                Coach Joe Jepson

1941-42                                                                        Coach Joe Jepson

1942-43   14-11   Tri-County Tourney Champs              Coach unknown

1943-44   15- 9    Tri-County Tourney runner-up                Coach unknown

1945-46   19- 8    Tri-County Tourney Champs              Coach Floyd Tomkins

1946-47   22- 4     (excellent record!)                               Coach Ken Brumm


Two athletes stood out for Henry in field events at the state finals, one of which helped the school take fifth place in the team standings in 1903.

1903  Finished  5th at IHSA Finals

         F. Noll—2nd in Discus                                                                       

         F. Noll—2nd in Shot Put

1925  (???) Steinle—4th in Javelin in IHSA Class B Finals


From Connie Swanson:

Monarch Football Team of 1899 was Coached  by Clifford Haws. In 1903 Professor Tupper was coach when they won all 6 games of the season.  Foot ball was discontinued at the school after the death of L Z Woodward in April 1903 who was injured in one of the games.”

1903    6 – 0


NOTABLE GRADUATE – The first known male student to graduate from Henry High School made his mark beyond being just that. In 1886, Charles Vail left HHS with a diploma in hand for the University of Illinois, where he would major in civil engineering and head up the state highway engineering department in the state of Colorado. The resort city of Vail, Colorado is named in his honor.

NOTABLE GRADUATE:  Captain John P. Cromwell, graduated from Henry schools. He graduated in 1924 from U.S. Naval Academy and was assigned to the USS Sculpin. When attacked during World War II, after his shipmates were safely off the ship, he took it down rather than be captured by the enemy who would have forced him to give secret information regarding the war efforts. A memorial to him is erected in Central Park in Henry. (Thank you to Connie Swanson!)

SPECIAL THANKS – to Jean Mitchell as well as the rest of the staff at the Henry Public Library for their assistance in helping us research the history of Henry Township High School.


…about Henry Township’s history. If you have more information you’d like to share with us, please email us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or send it to the address below. We are interested in photos of the school buildings and its teams, along with anything else that was of significance to the school’s history. Our address is:

Illinois High School Glory Days                                                               

6439 North Neva                                                                                    

Chicago, IL 60631

Henry-Senachwine High School
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Henry, IL

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