By Gabby Albarran, 8th Grade, Old Vail Middle School

Mary Jane Warner was a very interesting woman to be around. Some people would describe her as caring, bold, fun, demanding, and strong willed. This is a fitting description for this past Vail Postmistress. The Vail Store & Post Office was the only Post Office for miles around. It was also a market. Mary Jane kept an assortment of canned goods, candy and soda pop.  It was the only building to have a phone in Vail for a long time.

1908 Vail Store & Post Office, watercolor by Ava Chesebrough, Ms. McMorrow’s Advanced Art class

Mary Jane’s sense of humor, and caring, made it even more enjoyable to come and visit the Post Office. When people talked about Mary Jane they always said something like what was reported in the Tucson Citizen, “She does everything out here for us”.   It was also true that, “Mary Jane was a strong willed, strong minded individual, and very quick tempered”, remembered her brother, Ed Woolsey.  Even with a quick temper, it seemed she  cared about everyone in Vail. She really loved the children, “I love the kids and the ranchers. They’re just about the greatest people in the world as far as I’m concerned”, Mary Jane said in an interview printed in the Arizona Daily Star. Mary Jane served on the Vail School Board and helped with school parties and programs. She would always let the children help out with getting the mail bags from the trains. Sometimes they would get to pick a candy bar for helping.

She loved animals, especially dogs.   During the 1930s, Prince, a dog given to Mary Jane by the Figueroa family, and Ring, an injured ranch dog, lived at the Vail Store & Post Office. There was always at least one dog living there. Sometimes there were cats too! She was an overall wonderful person.

Even though Mary Jane was a wonderful pick for Postmistress. It was hard times that brought her to Vail. And, there was competition for the job. It was the Great Depression during the 1930s she moved to Vail.  And, there was a man living in Tucson  who really wanted the job.

Mary Jane’s mother, Dovie, was the Postmistress.  Mary Jane came to Vail because of her mother’s illness. Dovie died on April 21, 1934, about six months after Mary Jane arrived to help. Dovie and Mary Jane’s younger brothers and sister lived in the Vail Store & Post Office. A place to live came with the job. After her mother died, Mary Jane moved into the Vail Store &Post Office to  take care of her three siblings.

The people of Vail now needed a new postmistress. Mrs. Beach was a friend of Dovie’s, she decided to help. Mrs. Beach wanted Mary Jane to become the Vail Postmistress.  She  wrote to Congresswoman Isabelle Greenway for help, “May I beg your favorable action on the appointment of Mary Jane Warner, Democrat, as Postmistress of Vail Arizona.  Mrs. Warner has been assistant Postmistress during her widowed mother’s long and fatal illness. Mrs. Woolsey[‘s] death has left destitute, three young children. Mrs. Warner wishes to keep the home for these children holding them all together for 4 years”. In 1934 Mary Jane was officially appointed the Vail  Postmaster.  She served Vail for thirty-seven years.

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