The Taylor County community of Sharpsburg was founded in 1884, when the Humeston & Shenandoah Railroad laid track through the area. Track was completed the following year, and the city grew with the addition of a stockyard, depot and post office by January 1886. Population peaked at 188 in 1920, and has slowly dwindled since. Train service was discontinued in 1945. The school consolidated with Lenox in 1959, with final classes held in 1968. The part-time post office is in danger of closing. Sharpsburg is currently home to 89 residents.
The first fire department in the Taylor County town of Gravity consisted of a small tank and hand pump mounted to a two-wheeled cart, pulled to fires either by hand or by horse. The original fire signal was sounded via a hand-rung bell mounted in a tower on the center of Main Street. The cart gave way to a truck in the late 1920s, while the bell was replaced by an electronic bell mounted by the fire station. The current fire station was constructed in 1969; the city hall was originally housed within the building where the smaller garage stall is now located.
The Clearfield Lions Club was organized in May 1952, and officially chartered in the Taylor County town in March 1953. Club projects over the group’s 60-year history have included sponsoring town baseball, coordinating a 4th of July celebration, and adding community walking trails. Their signature annual event may be shuttle bus service for the Iowa State Fair, which started in 1964. Popularity of the shuttle buses grew quickly, generating enough profits to construct the pictured Lions Club building in 1967.
On July 1, 1930, patrons to the bank in the Taylor County community of Gravity were greeted by the following notice posted to the front door:
In view of the continued financial drain due largely to short crops of the last year of this community, the Board of Directors of this bank voted to close the same for the protection of the depositors and all concerned.
The Gravity Independent from July 3 notes no direct statements have been made by bank officials, though a meeting was held between the bank’s Board of Directors and Henry Erwin, a state bank examiner. The paper was “assured that the condition of the bank is better… than it was two years ago, and that the depositors will fare better… than they would have if the institution closed at that time.”
The Taylor County town wasn’t without a bank for long: In 1931, a bank of the then-Sharpsburg-based State Savings Bank opened a branch in the Gravity building. As Gravity’s population declined, bank operating hours were shortened before the Gravity office closed entirely in the 1990s.
The beginning of the State Savings Bank in the Taylor County seat of Bedford dates to 1915, when a new bank opened in the nearby town of Sharpsburg. From Sharpsburg, the bank grew with new offices added in Gravity in 1931 and Clearfield in 1935, and then Bedford in 1945. At that time, the bank charter was moved from Sharpsburg to Bedford, and in 1966, the pictured bank building was constructed.
State Savings Bank was the only financial institution in Bedford to survive the 1980s farm crisis. The charter moved again in 1998 to Creston, where a new location was established; today, the Creston, Bedford, and Clearfield offices remain open. The State Savings Bank recently announced a merger with Valley Bank & Trust, which has locations in Cherokee and Marcus in northwest Iowa.