Postal service debuted in the Hamilton County town of Stanhope on January 9, 1882, with Mrs. Ray Parker appointed as the first postmaster. Mail was delivered to Stanhope once each week, with the first letter delivered to resident W.R. Wilson. In the early 1890s, Hans Fardal became postmaster and moved the office into his local general store. After several additional moves, the post office relocated for a final time to its current location on December 1, 1961.
In November 1974, voters in Hamilton County overwhelmingly supported plans for a new, $1.25 million courthouse building to be constructed on the outskirts of Webster City. At the time, the existing courthouse building was 98 years old and when an architectural firm surveyed the structure in 1969, they concluded “any direct addition to or attempted remodeling of the present courthouse would not be in the best interests of Hamilton County.” The firm cited fire hazards, outdated mechanical and electric systems, a roof in need of complete replacement, and lack of handicapped accessibility as key reasons for construction of a new courthouse.
The two-story modern Hamilton County Courthouse opened in 1976 near the intersection of State Highway 17 and the U.S. Highway 20 bypass in Webster City. The split-level building was designed by a Des Moines-based architectural firm and constructed of brick and concrete on a foundation of black Georgia stone. The old courthouse was demolished the same year.
Five men from the Hamilton County seat of Webster City moved 10 miles east to plat the town of Hawley in December 1857. The town was named after the Chief Engineer of the Dubuque and Pacific Railroad with the hope he would choose to have the rail line stop in the new town. The railroad did not extend to the area for ten years, and by that time John I. Blair was the Chief Engineer. When the Hawley investors refused to work with Blair, he platted his own town a mile to the north and named it Blairsburg.
The Blairsburg Post Office was officially established in August 1867. It has been in operation since and now resides just north of the town’s Main Street, adjacent to the restored turn-of-the-century Blairsburg Opera House. It is one of over 250 post offices in the state being reviewed for closure.
We first experienced beef jerky from the Stanhope Locker a little over a year ago, during the trek from central Iowa to southeastern South Dakota for Amanda’s graduation ceremony. Instead of the quick but uninteresting interstate trip, we drove along several two-lane state and county highways including a stretch of State Highway 17 through Stanhope, Iowa.
On the west side of the Highway, the Stanhope Locker is one of a handful of businesses in the small community. Parking is easy, as you can pull your car over to either side of the road. Spend a few minutes exploring the store, which includes a nice selection of sauces and seasonings to accompany the traditional meat locker purchases.
The Stanhope Locker’s signature product is beef jerky, which is thick-cut and well-seasoned with a combination of brown sugar, peppers, and spices. It’s made in small batches, marinated and smoked for several days to produce optimal flavor. The jerky is vacuum-packed and can usually be purchased in quantities ranging from $5 to $20. If you plan to eat the jerky in the car, pick up a reasonably-priced soda within the store or from the machine outside.
Continue reading Feature: Stanhope Locker (Stanhope, Iowa)