A Compilation History of LeRoy

Garden Grove Township
Decatur County, Iowa
September 29, 1908, photograph at right - Band and crowd waiting to greet a group arriving by train. Train was discontinued in 1945. Depot moved down town, still being used for storage. (This was often repeated when boys came home after World War I.)

November, 1909 - North side of Main Street, LeRoy, Iowa. Rea and Rumble Hardware; Coal; Implements & Buggies, these buildings were located where the town park is today. Notice Presbyterian Church in the distance (and wooden sidewalks).
Pictures and information from Thelma Joy Baker and her mother, May Baker Joy. By Zana McKibben.
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
date unknown
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

This depot served LeRoy many years. A full time depot agent was employed and four passenger trains a day went through the town. Trains were reduced to two and a substitute agent came on the first train west in the afternoon and went back on the second one. Later, Carl Shaw was agent. Trains discontinued in the mid 40's. J. L. Heaton bought the depot and moved it to Main Street. He used it for a hardware store and post office until his mandatory retirement at 70. Today, the building is used for storage by Kenneth McBroom. Submitted by Mary Shaw.
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
December 16, 1976, Page 11
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

Unusual grave marker found in the Metier Cemetery, sect. 8, Garden Grove Township. This stone was mention in the G-G (Garden Grove) Township history. To the right of the stone is the stone tablet with "Mamma" engraved on top and the stone then reads - "Julia Metier, daughter of Cyrus and Ruby Douglas. Born Vermillion, Ill. came to Iowa in 1851 & settled on the land where she is laid to rest and her husband and children left to mourn her loss. Sleep dear wife, sleep while husband and children for thee weep."
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
December 22, 1976
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

Jim Buchanan's Blacksmith Shop, LeRoy, Iowa, at right. Maxine Kucera says he built him another shop right over this building and then tore the old building inside down. Ran blacksmith shop 1894 - 1933. Left to right, son Melvin Buchanan (who was a janitor at the Leon Hospital and Courthouse in Leon during the 1930s), Samuel Williams of Garden Grove, who dug wells all over southern Iowa, Jim "Buck" Buchanan. (Picture from Zana Curry McKibben, granddaughter of Jim Buchanan.) 
Humeston New Era
Humeston, Wayne County, Iowa
August 05, 1976, Page 2

In The Editor's Mail

Dear Editor,

I found this poem while hunting among my school souvenirs for our 50th year Alumni anniversary.

This poem was found in an old LeRoy school publication of some 50 years ago. Many will recognize the blacksmith as Jim Buchanan, who was known far and wide for his exceptional ability.

Mardell Fortune
Phoenix, Arizona 

The Blacksmith Shop with its weather checked boards
In which carloads of junk are stored,
The side walls lean and are propped with poles
The roof is shattered and full of holes;
He has work to do from morn til night
His eyes are blurred from the glaring light,
His forge keeps burning, his bellows roar
And his brawny hands get rough and sore.
The windows are broken and covered with tin,
There's so much inside you can hardly get in.
It's filled with stoves, gas engines, iron, and sticks,
And everything else that needs to be fixed.
You can daily hear the anvil's song
He whistles as he works along,
He's an honest man, as everyone knows.
He makes his living by heavy blows,
With honest toil his form is bent
And that is how his life if spent.

By Raymond Buffum 
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
December 23, 1976
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

Train wreck in LeRoy, Iowa, 1914. The eastbound passenger train ran into an open witch. No one was hurt. (Picture from Irene Boor Parsons.) 
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
January 27, 1977, Page 13
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

Newt Boor of LeRoy, threshing with his steam engine. Notice water wagon. (Picture from Irene Poor Parsons) 
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
February 03, 1977, Page 11
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

This elevator in LeRoy stood north of the railroad tracks and was used extensively. Picture was taken in spring of 1938 showing corn husks and cobs following shelling of ear corn. Picture submitted by Mary Shaw. 

Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
November 20, 1980, Page 5
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker

LeRoy By Virginia Kyner

The Decatur County Corn Club picnic was organized about 1905 by farmers in the vicinity of Garden Grove and LeRoy. They planned a picnic for them and their families to be held in the timber southwest of LeRoy, Section 16, along the Weldon River on the farm known as the Chub Davis place, where Randy and Kim Beavers and family now live.

As the club became known and became an annual affair, the attendance increased. This was a time for visiting, eating, ballgames, and they sometimes exhibited garden produce.

Many noted speakers came. Among them were Joe Wing, Senator Kenyon, William Jennings Bryan and Henry Wallace.

Another means of entertainment in the early days were horseshoe pitching and croquet. A court was built between the wood frame store and the garage. They used to hold tournaments and drew a large crowd. In the 50's, several men of the area built a croquet court where the lumber yard was and held tournaments among themselves. This court had electric lights around it.

Remember the little bread train that came to Leroy to advertise Colonial Bread? I could be wrong on that as some say it probably was Butternut. The train held several kids and they would take us on a ride through town as they told us about the making of the bread, sang songs and gave us all pencils and a small loaf of bread. Albert Thompson said the train was known as the Harvest Bread train.
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
March 17, 1977
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby
December 22, 1913. Presbyterian Church burning.
New church was built in the same place and dedicated November 22, 1914.
House in the background is now painted blue and occupied by Fairie Hayward.  
At Left: W. H. Baker built this house in early 1900 and moved into it from the farm he homesteaded in Section 13. He then built the hardware store [in] 1905 and operated it till 1920 when he sold it to Lawrence Heaton. He then sold the house and returned to the farm. The house today is owned by Mrs. George Mundell.

At Right: The hardware store Mr. Baker built in 1905 and sold to Lawrence Heaton in 1920, who ran it till it burned in 1951. It also housed the postoffice.
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
June 05, 1975, Page 5B
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby 

County Bicentennial

History of LeRoy 
As to LeRoy, Gus Tinch in his history said little more than that "LeRoy started with two stores and still has both of them." The History of Decatur County, published in 1915, says, "LeRoy is located in the center of a good agricultural district and has made good gains in the last few years."

LeRoy was quite a town in years past with two grocery stores (one burned), post office, produce station, bank, lumber yard, depot with four trains a day, two grages, a filling station, hotel, two elevators, blacksmith shop, hardware and implement business (which also burned in 1950), barber shop [barber Mr. Payne then Warren Akes], cafe, town hall, doctor's office, and a town orchestra which played on Saturday evening[s], followed by a silent movie.

(Quoting from The History of Decatur County by Himena Hoffman:) "LeRoy did not have many stores but J. L. Heaton advertised in the Garden Grove Express and in an advertisement challenged any store in Decatur County to surpass his in the quality and price of goods. A cheese factory was not a lasting venue.

"A modern school was built in 1904. In 1913, S. R. Sutton received sixty dollars a month as principal. Mildred Stroke and Cecelia Coffey were the teachers." Some others were Rosamond Thompson, Mable Sullivan, Thirza Ivy, Nina Calhoun, Hattie Slagg, Mr. Duffield, Mr. Tedford, and Lula Swisher. A new school was built in the early 1920's, occupied first the year of 1923-24.

Warren Akes remembers voting in the school election after moving to LeRoy at the Legion Hall.

"E. H. Blair was President of the LeRoy Savings Bank in 1915, H. E. Stephens, vice-president, D. C. Thurlow, the cashier, and Edna Thurlow, assistant cashier. The capital stock was five thousand dollars and about fifty thousand dollars was deposited. This bank had been founded in 1896 by F. E. and C.S. Stearns, and in 1903, J. W. Stearns was cashier." This bank was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Thurlow and the name [was] made the Exchange Bank. The Exchange Bank closed in the '40's and the Thurlows retired.

The lumber yard was torn down. The hotel was also torn down. The barber, Warren Akes, and his wife, who operated the cafe, moved to Leon. The hardware and implement business burned in 1950.

The passenger train quit running about 1945 with some freight trains running for a few more years. The railroad was abandoned and the track taken up and the depot moved to main street which was used as a hardware store and post office. In 1966, the hardware closed and the post office moved to the only grocery store.

Main street now is composed of the Presbyterian Church, a new garage building erected in 1978 by Dean Akes and the cooperative grocery store owned by the LeRoy community and operated by Kathy Sullivan. The old barber shop and cafe and the depot are used for storage.

The LeRoy Presbyterian Church was organized Dec. 10, 1882 and meetings were held in a school house. On Nov. 30, 1890, the First Presbyterian Church was formally dedicated to God at a cost of about $2400, of which the Ladies Aid paid $30. This was the first date found that there was an Aid Society. Missionary Society was organized in the early 1900's.

Six members were taken into the church when first organized and at the present time there are approximately 86 [members].

This church, so loved by young and old, burned about 2:30 Sunday afternoon, Dec. 22, 1912. The pulpit, the Bible, and a large chair were all that were saved. Another church, the present one, was built with a full basement at a cost of about $4500 and was dedicated Nov. 22, 1914

In the year 1945, through a bequest in the will of Mrs. [Julia?] Barger, the church proper was redecorated on the inside and the basement in 1950 by the Ladies Aid. The basement was made some larger by the Ladies Aid and the Men's Aid by rewalling and extending corners, which squared the basement. A back entryway was also made. The Ladies Aid has carpeted the rostrum and aisles two different times and paneled and carpeted the Sunday School room for the children.

The LeRoy Presbyterian Church has been yoked with Garden Grove and Osceola with Presbyterian ministers. When the Osceola church decided to go by itself, in meetings held frequently, the LeRoy Church decided to yoke with the Humeston Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and they were approached by Howard Baker, July 2, 1963. During the interim we were served temporarily by the Rev. Henry Schragg of the Presbyterian Church and Rev. Slavens of the Christian Church. The two churches agreed to listen to a candidate, John Patterson, a Christian minister, on Aug. 22, 1963, and on Sept. 15, Rev. Patterson started serving the two churches with a very congenial yoke which is still in effect. During this time a bequest from Margaret Nichols and some other memorial money enabled the church to buy an organ. The Rev. Patterson changed to a Presbyterian minister while serving the yoked field. The Rev. Patterson terminated his relationship in the fall of 1972 and went to serve a church in South Dakota, which state is a part of the Lakes and Prairies Synod, of which we are a part.

Lay speaker, LeRoy Perkins of the United Methodist Church, served the LeRoy church until an agreement was make to yoke with the United Methodist and Christian Churches of Humeston (which are attempting to merge) and the Rev. Clifford and Mrs. Jane Haider of the United Methodist Church came to serve the yoked field of the Trinity Parish, starting his pastorship here in June 1972.

The Methodist Church was an active church for many years. It finally became inactive and the last pastor to serve the church, which was yoked with Humeston Methodist, was the Rev. Clarence P. Hughes. In June, 1940, services were discontinues and the doors closed. Permission from the Methodist Church headquarters to sell the property was granted. This was done and the church was torn down and moved out.

LeRoy had a physician, Dr. D. S. Burbank, for many years. He discontinued his practice in LeRoy in 1923 and moved to Pleasantville.

Leading families in and around LeRoy were the Buffums (the town was named for LeRoy Buffum), Calhouns, Thurlows, Krouches, Heatons, Hatfields, Silvers, Millers, Weavers, Kyners, Boggs, Ridgeways, Bakers (many different Bakers, who were not related), Sullivans, and many others.

A Harvest Festival is held each fall, complete with a parade and dinner - a community effort for the LeRoy Church.

The information for this history was gathered from individual sources, The History of Decatur County, a Ladies Aid Cookbook, the United Methodist headquarters and credit is given to all.

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Brick Store, LeRoy, Iowa, stood on [the] corner just west of the Bank. Built by Throckmorton. Young and Wheeler were proprietors when this picture was taken and handled Dry goods, groceries, and shoes. Other operators were Charles Feight, Milt Hatfield, Ira Krouch.

Albert Thompson, who farms in Section 10, states he bought this store in LeRoy from Lloyd Wheeler in 1930. Other proprietors before him were Jim Teener, Ira Krouch, Frank Stevens. Ab ran the store till June 1942 when at three a. m. on Sunday morning, FIRE took everything. Ab says they had a very busy Saturday afternoon and night and he had bough much cream and eggs and all was lost. This left only one grocery store, "Dulings".
Isaac Dulings came to LeRoy in 1922 or 1923 and ran the grocery in the frame building which was last used for a grocery.

After Dean Thompson returned from World War II, he and Ab bought Dulings Store. Ab sold his half to Dean in 1948. Dean sold to Allen Sullivan in 1950. Others who owned the only grocery store in LeRoy in late years were George Richmond; Don & Jim Hitt; Kenneth McBroom who sold out in 1971.

The farmers in the area then put in a Co-op Store and had Mr. Harvey, a retired teacher, operate it. When he retired, Mrs. Jerry (Kathy) Sullivan operated it till it sold out again in '76. Charles Warren bought the building and it is still standing. A Grocery Store in LeRoy is only a memory now.

Business promotions draw large crowds today but probably not any more than the ones held at the Thompson Grocery Store several years ago. In the fall, they would promote coffee and pancakes with the coffee company grinding some coffee beans and sprinkling i ton the floor to entice people to buy from the aroma. The companies furnished the coffee and pancake flour and it was served free to the crowd.

A three-burner oil stove was brought in so Mrs. Hatfield could fry pancakes on three skillets at one time. There would also be a drawing for $5 in groceries and Bill Anderson generally was the announcer for the evening. Music was provided at these promotions by home talent consisting of fiddle, banjo, guitar played by Bert Trisler, M. J. McKeeman and Roy Barnett.

Some times these fellows would play on Saturday nights just to entertain. I remember one time when Charlie Ridgway did a clogging dance. Albert Thompson said they advertised by mailing postcards with specials being listed/

Ab Thompson also states his mother, Mrs. Orin Thompson, and sister Carrie operated the telephone switch board in LeRoy for the Middle States Utilities from 1917 to '32. The board was in their home and a small building was built beside their home on the street north of the depot. When the office was discontinued in 1932 the building which was sold and moved away. LeRoy patrons were then connected to the switchboard in Garden Grove, continuing the party lines. The rural area maintained their own phones and lines and were served by the central closest to them.

Culvers had a dress shop in the little building east of the brick store. This building also housed a cream station with Harry Lang running it. Harry then word for Dulings a number of years.

It has been told some whiskey was brought into town by train and stored in the depot, but some of the boys dug a hole underneath the depot and drilled a hole through the floor into the barrel, draining it.

The building east of the brick store also housed the post office at one time which was run by Helmick.

~ Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby 
Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
December 04, 1980, Page 11
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker

LeRoy By Virginia Kyner

Friendly Neighbor Club
LeRoy, Garden Grove Township, Decatur County, Iowa

Twelve women met at the home of Mae Airy on Jan. 8, 1935, to start the Friendly Neighbor Club. Each member was to take a dish for dinner and they would spend the time doing handwork for the hostess with most of the time spent quilting.

Those starting the club included Mae Airy, Emma Burley, Angie Airy, Nora Tener, Belle Guire, Helen McGuire, Hazel Marshall, Mollie Hitt, Mrs. Ivy, Olive McGee, Georgia Hitt, Nora Kyner. Helen Kyner joined the club in 1939.

To begin with the third Thursday of the month was chosen for the meeting day, then it was changed to the fourth Thursday and it is now back to the third Thursday with Gladys Stripe, Leta Joy, Mary Ellen Kyner, Gladys Arndorfer, Louise Rickert, Marilyn Hitt, Helen Kyner, Mary Anderson, Marilyn Arndorfer, Mae Rickert, Betty Perkins, Mary LaVerne Dale and Nadine Weaver, who meet for an afternoon of visiting and for one month they eat out.

When the club first started it was decided to do friendship quilts so each member made blocks of a chosen pattern, the member set the quilt together then at meetings they would quilt on it. Nora Kyner has one of these quilts.

Another form of entertainment was when a tramp came to town. It seemed they always found our house. We were often told it was because our house was marked so we kids would look for the 'mark' but never found it. They were never turned away whether the food was a dish full or just a sandwich. Some were so dirty but I remember one who stopped one summer who had such a long wavy, white beard just like the one Santa Claus has.

~ ~ ~ ~

Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
November 20, 1980
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker

LeRoy By Virginia Kyner

Garden Club

In the spring of 1947, several ladies asked Lilly Flaharty of Garden Grove to meet with them and help organize a Garden Club. The first meeting didn't prove successful but in the fall another meeting was called and the club was formed with the ladies forming bylaws, name, meeting date and time. The first few years the club met at night and was Federated but as time went on, it was harder to comply with the rules and it was voted to drop Federation but to try and have a flower show or tour, have a community project, have mystery friends and a Christmas dinner.

[November of 1980] Pam Smith was hostess to the LeRoy Garden Club Tuesday with 12 members and two guests and several children attending. The meeting was opened by the vice-president, Ivy Tolly. The roll call was answered with some gift they wanted or something to make for Christmas.

Carol Moore gave the lesson on the flower of the month, the Chrysanthemum. Virginia Kyner had the social.

The December meeting will be a potluck dinner, at one, at the home of Mary Kay Coffey

~ ~ ~ ~

Leon Journal-Reporter

Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
January 01, 1981, Page 1
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

LeRoy By Virginia Kyner

The town of LeRoy received electricity in the early 1900's through the Iowa Southern Utility Company [ISU]. The businesses and a few of the homes were fortunate enough to afford the wiring and a ceiling light.

Madeline Silvers Sullivan recalls their house was the first to have electricity turned on although not the first to be wired. People came to the house to see what it looked like with the electricity.

Following World War II REA made it possible for the farms to have electricity. ISU has a few farms on their lines but the majority of farms are serviced by REA [Rural Electricity Association].

At one time, wrestling and boxing matches were held on Saturday nights. Among the participants were Cliff Petty, Keith Thompson, Darrell Saylor, Ted Bretz, Phil Robertson and Bennie Decker.

Argie Swanson used to tell about her mother, Mrs. Jim Buchanan, baking bread and selling to a hotel.

When in Chariton recently, I stopped in the Piper Grocery and Mr. Piper mentioned when he first started the baker he used to send bread to LeRoy by train. Newt Boor once had a car dealership in LeRoy for the Dodge cars. He built the garage, serviced cars, and sold gasoline. (He also tore this building down in later years). Albert Buffum worked for him many years. Mr. Boor had a sewing machine he used to make the side curtains for the cars. I remember going there to have him sew my shoes.

Mr. Boor also had a steam threshing machine he ran during the harvest season. After closing the garage he started raising mink at his home. Mr. Boor continued sewing after trading his heavy duty machine for an Elna. I remember him making Mrs. Boor's dresses and making and trimming pillow cases and table cloths.

I bring the writings about LeRoy to an end. People have been very helpful in many ways to this final remembrance. I remember Mother waking us on New Year's Eve to hear the church bells ringing out the old and welcoming in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone!
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Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
March 12, 1981, Page 1
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum & Bob Bixby

Receiving second place in the Master Corn Grower contest sponsored by the Leon Chamber of Commerce was Steve Kyner of LeRoy. Presenting the award was Lewis Webster on the left. 
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