The town of Afton was named the seat of Union County in 1855, three years after the county was founded. Shortly after, a two-story frame building was constructed to serve as the county’s first courthouse. As the county grew, more space for the courthouse was needed and a larger brick building was constructed in Afton at a cost of $25,000. In 1890, residents of the growing city of Creston pooled funds to construct a new courthouse for the county. An election made the move official, as Creston officially gained county seat status on November 25, 1890. The present courthouse was constructed of concrete and limestone in 1951, at a cost of $300,000.
After graduating from the Chicago Veterinary School in March 1912, Dr. C.F. McDonald moved to Lorimor to start his practice. The pictured infirmiary building was constructed in 1915, which Dr. McDonald operated until 1954. At that time, it was taken over by Dr. B.L. Wright; the ivy-covered brick building is now privately owned.
This modest but well-maintained building serves as the City Hall for the quaint Union County town of Cromwell, population 107. Like many small towns in Iowa, Cromwell was once a bustling village, as noted in a copy of the Creston Gazette from March 1898:
The town has been a good trading and shipping point for years and the volume of business transacted is quite large. Cromwell has two or three general stores, a lumber yard, hardware establishment, restaurant, hotel, grain offices and several stock buyers. A fine school building adorns the village and there are three church buildings, Methodist, Congregational and Christian. The town is incorporated and governed by a mayor and city council. It is an enterprising little place and is home of a number of retired farmers who have built comfortable residences.
Cromwell is the oldest town to be platted in the western half of Union County, laid out in the spring of 1869, a few years prior to the county seat of Creston.
On July 17, 1919, the discharged soldiers, sailors and marines of Lorimor were granted a charter from the American Legion headquarters in Washington D.C. The 57 founding members organized the Fred N. Davis Post, named after the first Lorimor resident to be killed in World War I. The current Legion Hall was purchased at a cost of $1,500 in 1957.
A 1950 TIME Magazine article highlighted the sharp population decline in the Union county community of Shannon City. The most recent census numbers revealed a loss of 119 inhabitants from its peak population mark of 288. The owner of the local general store lamented that “none of the kids ever comes back here to live after they’ve gone away to school.” The town newspaper died when the editor died in the 1940s. The foundation from an the old theatre was overgrown with weeds.
Shannon City has continued to decline in population, with a mere 70 residents counted for the 2000 census. The only active building on main street is the part-time post office; a part-time bank up the street closed up years ago, while the only other storefront was without a roof or window and fully overrun by vegetation.