Tag Archives: Decatur County

Former Post Office 50264 (Weldon, Iowa)

Postal service was established in the Decatur County town of Weldon on February 14, 1881, when an office was established in a room adjacent to the L.G. Jamison general store. In the 1920s, the post office moved to the east side of the square before moving to an old bank building, wich it occupied for over 50 years. The Weldon Post Office experienced a robbery in the spring of 1935:

Postmaster Ora Garton and her husband discovered the theft when they entered the post office on the morning of Saturday, March 1, 1935. The safe was blasted open, the combination was blown across the room, drawers had been rifled and papers were scattered about the floor. $800 in money and stamps were taken as well as other valuables. Entrance to the building was made by prying open a rear window. No fingerprints were available, and there is no record that this robbery was ever solved.

The post office occupied the former bank building until November 1, 1999, when services were moved to a new modular building along Decatur County Road J12.

Welcome Sign (Grand River, Iowa)

Welcome Sign (Grand River, Iowa)

The Decatur County town of Grand River made national headlines in 1980 for being the next-to-last town in the United States to exchange their crank telephones in favor of “new-fangled dial sets or push-button models.” The switch was officially made on Saturday, December 6, 1980, more than 20 months after residents voted 121-73 to replace their phone system, which was operated by switchboard.

The Burlington Hawk Eye was one of many papers to run the story. An excerpt follows:

Out-of-town callers often had to deal with confused long-distance operators to complete their calls. Directory information, for example, lists the Grand River switchboard number as only “0006.”

“The biggest reason for the change was the people away from here having trouble getting their calls in here,” said Ruth Bowles, 77, who with her husband, Royal, 78, managed the phone system for 39 years until Royal retired in 1977.

Mrs. Bowles will place the last call on the crank system at 1 p.m. Saturday when the Mutual Telephone Corp. of Princeton, Missouri, takes over.

The system cost around $800,000 to install; residents saw their monthly rate go from $6.04 to $10.50 for a basic dial phone or $12 for a push-button phone. Operators from the old switch-board system gathered for a final time the night before the change, in “a smoke-filled frame house down the street from the new automated switching center.”

“When it was first in the news that we were going out, we had calls from everywhere,” said Sue Barton, operator and bookkeeper for the company.

Ms. Barton said she and the other operators, Margaret Crees, Minerva Logan, Helen Camden and Virginia Thomas, are resigned to their pending layoffs.

Russell Vanderflught, a lineman for 17 years and manager for the last three years, said the old cracnk phones and other equipment from the system will probably be auctioned [the following spring], with proceeds divided among company employees.

The operators ran the switchboard 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Bryant Pond, Maine, was the last community in the united states to go to dial phones. The change was made on October 11, 1983.

Post Office 50108 (Grand River, Iowa)

?A post office was first established in the Decatur County community of Grand River in November 1881 with Harry Milligan serving as the first postmaster. In the post office’s 130-year history in the southern Iowa town, it was located in at least five different community buildings before moving to its current location. Its current storefront was previously shared with the Bob Snyder Barber Shop; the southern portion of the building is now unoccupied.

The Post Office shares the block with the local American Legion and Lions Club buildings.

Lions Hall (Grand River, Iowa)

Lions Hall (Grand River, Iowa)

Forty-one residents became charter members of the Grand River Lions Club during a banquet held on March 1, 1955. Over a hundred Lions Club members from surrounding communities joined in the celebration, which featured singing of the song “America,” the Pledge of Allegiance, and an invocation by the local Methodist pastor. Dinner was followed by several speakers, including the president of the nearby Kellerton Lions Club, who presented the bell and gavel for use by the new Grand River group.

The Lions Club moved to their present building in the fall of 1974; with a door connecting to the adjacent American Legion Hall, the space quickly became a community gathering spot. The Lions Club have sponsored a number of projects in their 60-year history, including Easter Egg hunts, candy for the school holiday program, and creation of a new community park.

City Hall (LeRoy, Iowa)

City Hall (LeRoy, Iowa)

This modest City Hall is one of only a few remaining buildings in the tiny Decatur County community of LeRoy, Iowa. The population indicated on the City Hall sign dates to 1990; by 2010, the number had diminished to 15, a drop of nearly 95% from the peak population count a century earlier. Like many other small towns in the state, LeRoy experienced a gradual decline over many years: in 1946, the railroad halted service. In 1971, the post office closed shop, while the school discontinued operations ten years later.

While an active Presbyterian Church still holds services each Sunday morning, the community is slowly fading to ghost town status. The graveled streets are growing grass, the street signs are hand-made from peach-painted wood, and empty lots outnumber standing structures. This postcard, dating to the early 1900s, shows LeRoy’s once-vibrant downtown.