Casa Grande area
Thornton Road — Henry D. Thornton, a native of rural Illinois, moved to Casa Grande to farm a quarter section west of Casa Grande in 1920. Thornton had grown up learning that trade but went to a polytechnic school in Peoria, Illinois, to study watchmaking. In 1941, Thornton and his wife opened Thornton’s, a jewelry store, at Florence and First streets. Thornton Road, which runs along the border of the former Thornton farm, is named in honor of the pioneering family. In 1979, the estate sold the property to Energy Development Co., an affiliate of Arizona Public Service Co., which developed it into Thornton Industrial Park.
Cottonwood Lane — In March 1919, Floyd C. Templeton, a real estate agent from Phoenix, built a home on what would become Cottonwood Lane. Templeton and his brothers turned a weir box on his property into a swimming pool, and it soon became a popular spot for early residents of Casa Grande to swim in the summers. The Templetons developed the property into a recreation center — which they named The Cottonwoods — with a baseball diamond, picnic area, swimming pool and dozens of cottonwood trees they dug up from the banks of the Gila River. The area was the gathering place on Fourth of July for many years. Cottonwood Lane is named for the once-popular private utopia.
Kadota Avenue — The first Kadota fig trees were planted in the Casa Grande area in 1928. Many were at Moeller-Sellers Development Co., located at what is now Florence Boulevard and Peart Road. Within the next few years, Casa Grande would become the fig farming capital of the United States — producing more figs than anywhere else in the country. “The Casa Grande Valley offers the finest site for the growing of Kadota figs in the world, not excepting the natural setting for figs along the Mediterranean Sea,” the Dispatch commented in 1928. Casa Grande had the ideal summer climate for growing figs but eventually it stopped because farmers found it was more profitable to grow cotton.
During the late 1920s, local farmers Judge Pete Overfield and Frank Gilbert had almost all of their acreage dedicated to Kadota figs. Gilbert’s farm eventually was developed into the Evergreen Addition — now the Evergreen Historic District — and Kadota Avenue was named for the once-important industry in Casa Grande. Overfield’s Kadota fig farm was jointly owned by him and an old friend of his, American steel magnate Charles M. Schwab, founder of the second largest steel maker in the United States, Bethlehem Steel.
Overfield Road — Judge Pete D. Overfield left his career in Alaska and purchased a 640-acre farm in the Casa Grande area in 1917. Overfield had served four years as a U.S. district judge in the territory of Alaska, a post he was appointed to by President William H. Taft. “Soon after coming to this place he became actively identified with efforts that resulted in the Coolidge Dam and the San Carlos Irrigation District,” the Dispatch reported in 1932.
As chairman of the state’s Republican Party, Overfield helped fellow Republican Ralph Cameron defeat one of Arizona’s inaugural U.S. senators, Marcus A. Smith. Overfield had been a three-time Walter Camp All-American center on the University of Pennsylvania’s football team. Although he never saw its completion, Overfield was a major force behind the Central Arizona Project. Overfield Road, where his farm was located, is named in his honor.
Trekell Road — In 1917, after farming a quarter-section near Toltec, Don A. Trekell bought an 800-acre ranch near Casa Grande. “He was one of the people the West was made for,” Trekell’s daughter-in-law, Marty, said in a 2009 interview, “and he helped make it.” Trekell’s son, Don D., also operated the family farm and served under Gen. George Patton in the liberation of Normandy and the rescue of U.S. troops at the Battle of the Bulge, receiving the Bronze Star and Croix de Guerre.
The family’s legacy in Casa Grande lives on through one of Casa Grande’s main thoroughfares. But it wasn’t always that way, Don D. said. Upset with the name “Cemetery Road,” some of Don A.’s friends made a sign that said “Dead Horse Lane,” which humorously acknowledged that an area along the road was used to dispose of horse carcasses as well as being the route to the cemetery. “Of course the city got madder than thunder,” Don D. said. “And my dad thought that was beautiful.” Soon after, the city renamed the road Trekell Road.
McCartney Road — A veteran of World War I, Roy McCartney purchased a small cotton farm on the southeast corner of what is now McCartney and Peart roads in the early 1950s. “When illness beset Roy in August of 1956 and he was confined to the house unable to do heavy work, (Roy’s wife) Juanita managed the farm, raised calves and sold Compton’s Encyclopedia sets to help keep things going,” the Dispatch wrote after his death in 1968.
Not long after that, McCartney Road served as the main route to Central Arizona College from Casa Grande, but the road wasn’t constructed west of the McCartney homestead until the new Casa Grande Union High School was being built in 1997.
Peart Road — Perhaps no family played a greater role in the early development of Casa Grande than the Pearts. Thompson “T.R.” and Lillian Peart (pronounced peert) moved to the area from North Dakota in 1907 — eight years before Casa Grande was incorporated and five years before Arizona was ushered into statehood. T.R. was elected Casa Grande’s fourth mayor in 1921. During his four-year tenure, he organized a $1 million bond issue that resulted in the building of a “highway (from Casa Grande) to Florence, and another to the Pima County line, the two lines of travel absolutely necessary to Casa Grande’s growth,” the Dispatch later wrote.
Lillian was active in the community as well. Known as the “Mother of the Woman’s Club” because of her efforts in founding the organization, she tirelessly promoted literacy, artistic culture and the preservation of local history. In 1925, their son Dan Peart was elected mayor of Casa Grande. Dan was a seventh-grade teacher at Central School and the first mayor to have served in a war. He would later become principal of Eleven Mile Corner School, where he would stay until his death in 1948. Peart Park and Peart Road are named for the pioneering family.
Pinal Avenue — The origin of the name Pinal dates to at least 1864, when King S. Woolsey led an expedition through what now are known as the Pinal Mountains, located south of Safford. The mountains were home to the Pinal Coyotero Apaches until 1873, when Gen. George Crook defeated them and they moved near the San Carlos and Fort Apache agencies in eastern Arizona. Although Pinal translates to “deer” in Apache, the Apaches had a different name for the mountain range located near the Gila River. Two years later, in 1875, Pinal County was designated the seventh county in the territory of Arizona. Pinal Avenue, which is owned by the state as State Route 387, runs from Five Points in downtown Casa Grande to just before the Interstate 10 interchange.
Woodruff Road — Maj. Roy C. and Jean Woodruff moved to the area to homestead land at what is now Overfield and Woodruff roads in 1930. They raised, bred and trained Thoroughbred horses in the 1930s and '40s under the name Rancho Loma Verde, which was also the name of their ranch. The Woodruffs’ stone house and guest house along Woodruff Road are still standing. The family donated part of their land for the nearby Central Arizona College, which was built in the 1960s and '70s.
Pinkley Avenue — Frank “Boss” Pinkley moved to Arizona from Missouri in 1900 at age 19. The following year, he accepted a position as custodian at the Casa Grande Ruins and opened a trading post in Blackwater to supplement his salary. Pinkley oversaw the Casa Grande Ruins continuously from 1901 until his death in 1940, except for two years in the 1920s when he served as a state senator. “His diligent efforts to preserve the remnants of the Hohokam culture included the construction of protective roofs at the Ruins in 1903 and 1932,” the Dispatch later reported.
Under Pinkley, in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson named the site a national monument. Three years later, Pinkley was promoted to head superintendent of the Southwestern National Monuments Office, initially overseeing 14 parks. Pinkley Avenue in Coolidge, which grew up near the Ruins after Pinkley moved there, is named in honor of the resident superintendent of the monument.
Vah Ki Inn Road — At the request of Casa Grande Ruins Superintendent Frank Pinkley, in 1924, Walter and Theodora Smith purchased 40 acres of desert land south of the Ruins to build a place for visitors to stay. The Smiths began construction of the Vah Ki Inn in 1929 and finished in 1940, with the help of Pima Indians. The facility was a guest ranch, complete with a swimming pool, horseback riding and other attractions. After World War II, Vah Ki Inn became the Bunk House, a restaurant and bar. Later, in 1957, the facility was purchased by St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Sivan Vahki is the Pima word for “Great House,” a tribal name for the Casa Grande Ruins.
Ruggles Street — Truly a pioneering citizen of the area and the patriarch of Pinal’s county seat, Col. Levi Ruggles came to Arizona as an Indian agent in 1866. During the Civil War, Ruggles had served with the Missouri Militia, 49th Regiment, Company B as commissioner of subsistence. “One reference states that he was appointed by President Lincoln in 1863 and eventually held the rank of major,” Ruggles’ great-grandson Roger W. Fox wrote in “Levi Ruggles: Arizona Territory Pioneer.” “In Arizona, he was generally known and referred to as Colonel Levi Ruggles.”
In 1869, Ruggles began laying out the townsite of Florence. Although there are conflicting stories of the origin of its name, the community’s post office was designated Florence around the same time. Ruggles later was the architect for the first county courthouse, now McFarland State Park. He also served in the Seventh and Ninth Territorial Legislatures, helped with the formation of Pinal County and was elected the first justice of the peace for the first precinct of the county. After years of no formal recognition, Fifth Street in Florence was renamed Ruggles Street in honor of the town’s founder.
Adamsville Road — Charles Adams moved to what became the community of Adamsville in 1866, 3 miles west of what became Florence, and turned his quarter-section into a village. The community soon was populated with residents, a post office and a flour mill. In the late 1860s, it had a larger population than Florence. Adams later moved from the area to the Salt River Valley and became an early settler of the city of Phoenix. Adamsville later became a ghost town, and most of its adobe houses have been washed away by flooding of the Gila River.
San Tan Valley area
Hunt Highway — Appropriately named for Arizona’s first governor, George W.P. Hunt, who helped establish Arizona’s highway system, Hunt Highway runs from Florence through San Tan Valley and ends in the Chandler area. Hunt was Globe’s first mayor, served in the Territorial Legislature and presided over the Arizona Constitutional Convention that led to statehood, which was granted in 1912.
Arizona City area
Sunland Gin Road — Built sometime in the 1950s, Anderson, Clayton & Company’s Sunland Cotton Gin was located at Alsdorf and Sunland Gin roads. The gin served cotton growers in the area that would become Arizona City until it closed sometime during the 1980s. Sunland Gin Road ended to the north at Battaglia Road until Interstate 10 was built. It now extends north to the area of Jimmie Kerr Boulevard/Frontier Street and is a main thoroughfare for Arizona City residents.
Battaglia Road and Sunshine Boulevard — A native of Troy, New York, Augustus J. “Gus” Battaglia purchased the former Rhinehart ranch near Eloy in the 1950s, started growing produce and cotton, and immediately became involved in Democratic politics. Battaglia became known for hosting lavish parties, and his guest list usually included high-ranking politicians. In 1958, U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy attended one of Battaglia’s barbecues. Battaglia suffered a fatal heart ailment in January 1970, and his family later moved out of the area. Named in his honor are Battaglia Road and Sunshine Boulevard, for his farm.
Alsdorf Road — In the fall of 1919, John Alsdorf and two partners organized Cotton City Land Co. Soon after, a general store was opened. The name Cotton City later was rejected in favor of Eloy, but one of its main roads was named for one of its founders. Alsdorf also assisted in establishing St. Helen Catholic Mission.
Dirk Lay Road — After finishing Presbyterian seminary, young and outspoken Rev. Dirk Lay became a missionary in Sacaton, where he would dedicate over 25 years to helping the Akimel O’odham, or “River People.” He replaced the Rev. Charles H. Cook, who had established the first Indian school in Arizona in Sacaton in 1871. For several years, Lay raised money to build a church in Sacaton, on the Gila River Indian Community. Built in 1918, Cook Memorial Church is a two-story, mission-style adobe church with a large sanctuary and a basement and is still standing today.
Perhaps Lay’s greatest accomplishment, however, was lobbying for water rights for the Gila River people. “I looked about at the Pima people,” Lay said. “I felt that fighting in their cause was worth a lifetime of effort.” Because of his efforts, in part, Coolidge Dam was built in 1928 along the Gila River, and the San Carlos Irrigation Project was created. Later, as a member of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps, Lay’s regiment was ordered to Panama, where he died of a heart attack in 1944. Dirk Lay Road in Sacaton is named in his honor.
Sacaton Road — The name Sacaton “is derived from the most ancient of Indian words, meaning in this part of Arizona a type of forage which grows to the height of a mule’s back,” the Casa Grande Dispatch wrote in 1972. Such grass was noted as existing in abundance when emigrants were first crossing this part of what is now Arizona. The Pima designation for the community of Sacaton is Uturituc, meaning The Corner, because it was located where the new and old stream branches of the Gila River meet. “In 1696, Father Kino interpreted the then Indian name of Tucacson as Soacson, which has been changed through the years to Sacaton.”
The community of Sacaton was the agency headquarters of the first Indian reservation in Arizona and was a stop along the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach Route. Sacaton Road runs through the community and over the dry Gila River and connects with State Route 87 on both ends.
Smith-Enke Road — John Smith and Fred Enke played on the University of Arizona football team during the 1940s — Enke as quarterback and Smith as receiver. Both would play in the National Football League. “Fred was the best long-ball passer ever to throw a football in the state of Arizona,” Smith told Pinal Ways in 2010.
In the 1950s, they formed a farming partnership in Maricopa. “We had floods, and we had financial problems,” Enke said. “I would go back and play football each season to make enough money to get by as my family grew.” After 10 years, they dissolved the partnership. “We expanded every year,” said Smith. “After we had enough equipment and the farm was up and running, we split it down the middle.” Enke later retired and sold his acreage to the University of Arizona for its Maricopa Agricultural Center. Smith was a founder of the Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation District and served on the Arizona Power Authority. When asked what he thought about the naming of Smith-Enke Road, he said, “I’ll tell you it was not of any significance when only a few hundred people lived in the area, but yes, it makes me feel a sense of pride for both of us, having been very much a part of the area at that time.”
Farrell Road — Edward and Tootsie Farrell moved to Maricopa in January 1948 with their two children, Edna and Eddie Jay, and began growing cotton. Ed expanded his operation to custom cotton picking as cotton farming became more important around Maricopa. Realizing the area would grow, the Farrells built a warehouse near the rail line, purchased the Maricopa Mercantile (later the Mayfair Market) and started Headquarters Restaurant and Bar, among other businesses.
The younger Eddie’s wife, Alma, spent most of her career as an educator in Maricopa. She served as superintendent of the school district from 1999 to 2005. Their son, Edward Farrell II, was a driving force behind the city of Maricopa’s incorporation in 2003 and served as its first mayor. Farrell Road is named for the early Maricopa family.
Honeycutt Road — Chasen “C.P.” Honeycutt and his wife, Dude, purchased a farm in Maricopa in 1952. Shortly after, the Honeycutts purchased the former Calhoun farm north of the railroad tracks and later built a strip mall in the area. At one time, Honeycutt farmed as many as 3,600 acres in the area. He loved horses, was Arizona cutting horse champion eight times and was inducted into the National Cutting Horse Hall of Fame in 1986. Honeycutt Road is named in his honor.
Stanfield Road — Founded around 1904 as Summerland because of its “perpetual summers,” the community of Stanfield was homesteaded by the Eastman and Robles families. Soon after, 30 families from California populated the area, and the Summerland Post Office was built, with Nixon W. Stanfield as its postmaster.
In 1918, the price of cotton plummeted and many of the residents left Summerland. The post office also closed but reopened in 1948, redesignated as Stanfield Post Office. The unincorporated community and one of its main thoroughfares, Stanfield Road, are also named for the pioneering family.
Special thanks to the Pinal County Historical Society, The Museum of Casa Grande, Patricia Brock, Roger Fox, Dick Myers and the Santa Cruz Valley Historical Museum for helping find some information for this article.