Situated in Muskogee County Warner lies twenty miles south of Muskogee on U. S. Highway 64. State Highway 2 links the town to points south, and Interstate 40 links Warner with places to the east and west. The history of Warner began with the formation of two rural communities, Bennett and Hereford, in the Canadian District in the southern part of the Cherokee Nation. Bennett, located three miles southwest of present Warner, had a post office from 1895 until 1904. In 2001 a lone cemetery, still in use and maintained by the Warner Cemeteries Association, comprised Bennett. Hereford, located on the present site of Warner in the southwestern part of the county, was established in 1903. The town name came from a registered herd of Hereford cattle owned by rancher and developer Campbell Russell. In 1905 the name Hereford was changed to Warner, honoring U.S. Sen. William Warner of Missouri. In 1909 the community had an estimated population of three hundred.
The first federal census for Warner reported 318 residents in 1920. In 1930 the population had declined to 316. In 1940 and 1950 the town had 391 and 382 citizens, respectively. Numbers increased to 881 in 1960 and 1,217 in 1970. In 1990 the town had 1,479 inhabitants and 1,430 were counted in 2000.
Early commercial agriculture included corn, garden produce, hogs, chickens, eggs, butter, and cream. In 1908 the forerunner of Connors State Agricultural College was founded in Warner. At the turn of the twenty-first century Connors maintained two campuses, one in Warner and the other in Muskogee. Renamed Connors State College, the school's 2001 projected fall enrollment on the Warner Campus was between 975 and 1000 students. Connors State College Educational Services provided the town with its largest employer.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965). "Warner," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
Haskell J. Hartin
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