John Haley Elementary, originally known as West Ward Elementary, was opened in 1950. In the early 1950s, the Irving ISD determined to name its elementary schools after deserving Irvingites. In 1953, West Ward was renamed in honor of Dr. John Haley.
History of Dr. John Haley's Family in Irving
Dr. John Haley was the son of William Haley and Lucinda Ewalt Haley. William and Lucinda came to northwest Dallas County from Missouri in 1857. The Haley family settled on a section of land in the area of today’s Belt Line Road in western Irving.
John Haley was born Feb. 17, 1866. He was one of eight children born to William and Lucinda. John attended school at the Sowers School. (Sowers was a farm community centered around the home of Edmund Sowers, a general store, and a blacksmith shop near today’s intersection of Pioneer and Belt Line roads. The school was located where the IISD building is today, just west of the Sowers cemetery on Pioneer.)
Although the details are sketchy, John Haley began his career as a teacher at the Sowers School. He is listed as the teacher at the Shady Grove School in a Dallas Morning News article of 1889. (The location of the Shady Grove School was at the western end of today’s Shady Grove Rd. in present-day Grand Prairie). At some point during this time, he married a woman named Viola (maiden name unknown). In 1890, the couple had a daughter, but she died in infancy in 1891. Viola died a year later in 1892. She was twenty years old.
After the death of his wife, John decided to seek a career in medicine. He attended medical school at Galveston and received his medical license in 1897. He returned to the Sowers community and began his practice. In 1906, he married Anna Goode of Broadway, Virginia. She was a relative of the Goode family. The Goodes had a farm along what today is Esters Road. John met her while she was on a visit to the Goodes.
In 1908, the couple built a house in the newly established town of Irving, which had been founded in 1903. Their home was located at the corner of Second and Ohio streets. (The house still stands today, although it has been moved around the corner to Third Street).
The most well-known story told about Dr. Haley is that he returned to medical school to learn how to remove cataracts because his father was suffering from the ailment. He went to school in New Orleans and got his surgeon’s license in 1907. He performed surgery on his father at his home on the kitchen table. The operation was a success, and his father gave him 40 acres of land along what today is Beltline Road.
Dr. Haley was well respected around the community and was elected mayor of Irving in 1927. He was re-elected to two additional terms. During his third term, he became seriously ill and died on Feb. 11, 1932. His wife sold their home about 1939 and returned to her hometown in Virginia.
** Information from the Irving Public Library Archives **