Warner Road

Warner Road originated as a short road of convenience. Today it runs through Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert. When the Kyrene School District was founded in 1888, and the first school was built, James H. McClintock and other area leaders determined it would be prudent to extend a road from the first school. Warner Road extended west from McClintock to Kyrene; basically from the site of the first school to the site of the second school.

The Warner Family was a prominent one in the town of Kyrene. Kyrene in the 1880s was sparsely settled. There were several schools to the north of the area, but given the type of transportation available, they were too far away. The early settlers actually built a makeshift schoolhouse, which held classes. This was done without the establishment of a school district, which goes to show how important education was to these people. In 1888, the Kyrene School District was formed. It was the 28th elementary school district to be established in Maricopa County. Shortly before the first classes were held, women were given the right to vote for school board members. After all, a referendum for women to vote wasn’t introduced in Arizona until 1912, so the fact that these women voted in anything is extraordinary.

However, attention to farming was still given. When the school first started, the school years were shorter to allow students to work on the farms. Daily school schedules were altered as well, because students had chores to do on the farms and dairies. During the winter, school began and ended a half an hour later. These schedules were still in effect in the school district until the 1970s.

Children took baths in the irrigation canals during the summer, weren’t allowed to play on Sunday and wore underwear made from the flour sacks from the Hayden Flour Mill. Homes were built with porches around them to ward off the sun, as a cooling system did not exist at the time. At night during the summer, families would sleep outside, and if they were lucky, on an enclosed porch. Eucalyptus leaves were burned to keep mosquitoes away.

As for the Warners, Samuel S. Warner served on the Kyrene Governing Board from 1916 to 1919. He also served as the Treasurer of the Union Land Co. in 1915. Warner was born in Bluffton, Indiana and came to Tempe from Kansas around 1908, farming for over fifty years. Mrs. Warner, Lydia Schoch, homesteaded land on the southeast corner of what is now the intersection of Warner Road and Priest Road. She had 160 acres of land. Their daughter, Edith Warner Owens, attended the original Kyrene School when she was a child. Later, she returned to the Kyrene School District, teaching from 1915 to 1917. Perhaps her teaching career ended when she married Thomas Owens Jr. as she was no longer a single woman. The Warners also had a son: Samuel Warner Jr. His father Samuel Sr. died August 25, 1952 at the age of eighty-six.

By the 1950s, many dairies moved into the area, and crop dusting by air became very common. In the mid-1950s, there were 250 students in the Kyrene School District. The addition of school pageants in the 1950s became a tradition. These pageants were written and directed by Catherine Rubush, who taught in the Kyrene District for twenty-nine years. The last addition to the district was in 1956, with the West boundary extended to 19th Avenue and seventy-two square miles of the Gila River Indian Reservation to the south. Although this nearly doubled the size of the district, not many people lived where the new boundaries were, and only a handful of new students attended the Kyrene Schools.

By Melanie Hartmann