American Legion Post No. 83 was founded in the Keokuk County town of Hedrick on June 30, 1919 with 15 charter members. A Woman’s Auxiliary Unit was established two years later. The current Legion building was constructed in 1957, almost entirely using volunteer labor. The Legion and Auxiliary are involved in many community events, but are perhaps best-known for their homemade ice cream, served from the Legion building during Hedrick’s annual Barbecue Days event.
On December 11, 1893, a meeting was held to establish a church in the Keokuk County town of Hayesville. Quick action was taken, with a new building dedicated the following year, with donated labor, materials, and funds. Originally opened with Methodist affiliation, the church became a non-denominational community church in 1918. A remodeling project was completed in 1947, and a basement was added eight years later.
After 104 years of operation, final services were held on October 4, 1998. Though the church was recently repainted, the interior is unsafe due to damage from a leaky roof and raccoon infestation.
Postal service was established in the Keokuk County community of Hedrick in January 1883. After being housed in an active bank building, former bank building and former general store, the current post office facility debuted on March 1, 1966. The building was constructed at a cost of $27,559 and featured nearly double the space of the prior location. Much more historical information about the Hedrick Post Office can be found in the community’s 1982 Centennial book, including this sad but interesting tidbit:
Kenneth A. Longaker, temporary rural carrier on Hedrick Route 1, was presented a certificate and lapel emblem from the postal department in September 1962. The award was given as a symbol of postal tradition of seeing that the mail goes through despite adverse conditions.
On September 3, 1962, Longaker started on his route, which served the [rural station in nearby Farson.] He found the office closed although it was 10 a.m., unable to deposit the mail pouch and pickup outgoing mail. Longaker went to the home of Don Meeker, clerk in charge, and found him lying unconscious on the floor. He summoned a doctor and the county sherriff.
Though Meeker sadly died later that day of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Longaker finished his rural route then returned to Farson. Despite the long day and tragic death, Kenneth Longaker distributed the mail to the Farson patrons on his own time.
A permanent charter was granted for an American Legion post in the Keokuk County town of Keswick on September 21, 1920, with 22 charter members. The first meetings were held in the I.O.O.F. Hall in Keswick before an old blacksmith shop was purchased in May 1956. The building was remodeled with volunteer help, and payments helped the group burn the mortgage by January 1964. Recent upgrades include an kitchen improvements, updated air conditioning, and new siding. Current members are from Keswick and the nearby towns of What Cheer, Thornburg, Gibson, Webster, and South English.
In 2009, the city council in the Keokuk County town of Hayesville voted unanimously to demolish West Lancaster School #9, which had been a fixture in the community for over a century. In addition to serving students, in its heyday, the two-room country school served as a mayor’s court and a gathering place for lawn movies shown on the school’s back wall.
In the 1960s, the school closed and has been used only sparingly as a polling space since. Before its demolition, it suffered from a crumbling foundation, interior led paint and a ruined roof. The cost to preserve and remove the school would have exceeded $100,000.