First Civic Resident
Now, the first civic resident of Warden seemed to be a sturdy, pioneer druggist, call Doc Harris, who established his Drugs and Sundries store, along with physician services, about 1905, during the time the railroad camps were set up to build the Milwaukee Railroad. His haven for aches and pains was set up one-fourth mile north of Warden on the other side of the Milwaukee tracks, near the railroad camp. This camp was located at the edge of the field which now, you may have noticed, has a new sprinkler system, and is known as part of the Adolph Jeske farm. We will take this opportunity to explain the origin of Warden's name. Doctor Harris had a son by the name of Ward, and, it seemed, the proud father wished his son to be remembered, and thus, attached an "en" to his name, thus inventing the name, Warden. The name of the city. Two railroads were destined to come. The Harris' were here on the strength of that, as well as serving the settlers, who had been here since 1901 grubbing brush and clearing land in a new frontier. The settlers hauled all of their water from 12 miles west of town from a spring or water-hole. The women drove the wagons or hacks to wash clothes in the water-hole.
Desperadoes Rob Saloon
It was during this combustive stage, that true western melodrama struck, and stunned this small city into submission. It came in the form of two desperadoes, who rode into town one day on a trusty box car of the Milwaukee Railroad, and proceeded to hold up the leading saloon, which stood where the present Warden Tavern is located. The two bearded boys strode into the unsuspecting group, who were, no doubt, "whooping it up" and lining the customers against the wall, relieved the proprietor of a pretty penny. Then, because of the very frightened customers reaching up to brush away an imaginary fly, the bandit grazed his cheek with a bullet, shot and killed the proprietor's dog, who happened to be in the way, and then, fired through the ceiling for good measure. This dampened the customer' spirits, and, also, the proprietor's, for retrieving any of the cash. The robber hopped a handy freight and were off in a cloud of coal smoke, still shooting their fire irons into the air, and yelling that they would be back someday, as a good-bye to this fair city. This was an authentic account as witnessed by Walter Suko. He was, unhappily, in that vicinity, and found courage enough to peek around the corner of the depot. Incidentally, the bullet holes were still in evidence on the ceiling of the building up until the time it was torn down. It has also been related, and while on this subject, that a "Six-Shooter Pete" did lend a hand to some of the bullet holes shot into the Tavern ceiling, which occurred on the first Fourth of July celebrated here in 1910. Boot-legging had plenty of Columbus's--those who landed here and those in jail.
First School in 1903
In 1903, the first school was established in a small building three-and-one-half miles northeast of Warden which was in reality, a railroad camp. The teacher, a Miss Lena Stone, rode the distance back and forth on horse to teach her thirty-two students, who attended sporadically when they could be spared from the grueling farm work. This school was known as the Peter schoolhouse, and served the community until 1911. Another country school, the Widmer School, was located south of town.
Fire Destroys Part of Warden
About 1917, a fire destroyed part of Warden business district which ran north and south along the main street as we know it now. It was never re-built and the town began to decline as other small towns sprung up near-by. Drought and depression years set in. When the second World War began, Warden was mistaken for a practice bomb site, and was bombed twice with sandbags. Yes, it was not enough that Warden was blast by years of sand storms, but the dwindling population was bombed by dud bombs from our own planes. The weighted bags sliced off someone's porch and jolted them out of several nights of peaceful sleep. It found a few people under their beds. But, finding themselves still in one piece after a time of suspense, they crawled out and were very grateful to be alive in this fair city. Warden made big headlines that day.