Casey sprung up practically overnight like many other villages after the railroad made its presence throughout the countryside. Dalmanutha had been the only settlement in Thompson Township and was laid out as a town site in 1855. The hotel and livery barn in Dalmanutha were built in 1856. The Western Stage Company was started and ran from Wescotta, Morrisburg, Gopher Station, Dalmanutha, Exira, Harlan and Council Bluffs. The town was platted out with 350 people living there at the height of its existence and lived on the promise of a Mississippi Missouri Railroad being built along the old stage line and running near Dalmanutha. The plans changed abruptly when the Mississippi Missouri Railroad sold to the Rock Island Railroad and in 1868, the Rock Island Railroad was built across the south part of Guthrie County missing Dalmanutha by 5 -6 miles to the south. It was then that the town of Casey came into being and the people of Dalmanutha picked up their houses and belongings and moved into the new town of Casey, south of the railroad tracks. The year was 1868.
The first cemetery was on land donated by William Stanfield. The first burial was Mr. Peter Tate in 1858. The last burial was Stephen and MaryAnn Johnson in 1889. They were Clyde Walters’ great-grandparents and Robert Walters and Irene Walters Barnes great great grandparents . A new Lutheran church was built in south Casey in 1894 and a new pastor by the name of Reverend Kreutz was called and he remained until 1901. Shortly after the church was built, a school was built one block west of the church. The parsonage was purchased in 1922. The present church was purchased from the Presbyterians in 1940 and a new church was built near this site in 1979 and is still in service. The Reverend H.L. Daib was installed in 1923 and served 25 years at Casey. The Methodist church was organized in 1869. The first church was built in 1869 and then in 1881, the Methodists bought the Congregational church located on the present day sight of the Methodist church where a newer church was built in 1974 and currently serves their parishioners.
The first school in Thompson Township was a subscription school located in Stanfield’s Timber, east of the Clyde Walters Barn. (NW 1/4 Section 35) Then later a school was erected at the Quaker settlement on Middle River. The town of Casey was laid out in 1868 on 90 acres. The town was growing and the need for another school arose. In 1870, a 2 story public school was erected on the corner of Grant and McPherson St, present sight of the Catholic church. A new school was built on the hill in 1881, the sight of the former Casey High School. In 1915, the Casey school district voted to build a new 3 story brick structure for $35, 000. The building had only 2 custodians. They were John Flynn for 48 years and Earl Bassett for 33 years, until 1967, when they consolidated into the Adair-Casey School District.
Thompson Township had 9 township schools, located every 2 miles:
Thompson #1 was across the road from Lonnie Blass
Thompson #2 was at Chris Plagman’s (Jeff Larson)
Thompson #3 Keith Caltriders’
Thompson #4 Don Williams’
Thompson #5 Bill Powells’
Thompson #6 Merle Bassetts’
Thompson #7 Junction of Hwys 6 and 25
Thompson #8 Isenhart Corner
Thompson #9 Harold Ruppert’s
In 1956, Casey Independent School, Thompson Township and Walnut Township voted to consolidate into what we call Adair Casey School District. The district covers 157 sections of land. The merged district went into effect in 1957. Construction was started in Dec 1958 leveling the site. The building construction started in April 1959.
After the railroad was established in the early days, the town began to prosper. There were 3 banks- The Abe Rutt National bank was located in the Dr. Krueger building. (now part of Casey Library) Grays Bank, located at Mary’s Café, (Crow's Nest Antique store) and the Menlo Savings Bank - Casey office was located in the present building where Rolling Hills Bank houses their Casey branch of their locally owned bank staffed by local employees. A post office was established in 1872 in north Casey. E.M. Day was the Post Master. In 1908, a new building was built by Dr. Duncan to be used as the post office. And it is the present Insurance Store. In Oct. 1966, the post office moved across the street into Dr. VanDuzer’s building. The current Post office was erected in 1991.
When RFD was established in 1904, Milt Spain was the rural carrier for Route one. Route 2 was established in 1906 with Lough Seely as carrier. In 1904, the Casey Telephone Exchange was started. A switchboard was started and the charge was $1.50 per year. On May 14, 1962, a new underground cable system and office was constructed in what is now called Casey Mutual Telephone Company and today the Casey Mutual Telephone Company offers high speed DSL internet with miles of buried cable. They also offer the latest in digital TV to not only the residents but also to many of the rural customers.
Casey has had a good variety of businessmen and women since it was founded. There have been doctors, lawyers, teachers, clothiers, hardware proprietors, newspapers, blacksmiths, lumber, fuel, restaurants, plumbers, bakers, service stations., grocers, elevators, harness shops, shoe shops, beauty shops, locker plants, awning factories, and trucking and construction companies. All of these business people have provided many jobs to many families for many years.
In the early 1900’s the automobile was becoming an attraction to the people of small town Iowa. The auto provided new opportunities such as gas stations, new car dealerships, auto mechanics, parts stores, and tire dealers. The trucking industry was beginning to prosper also. The town of Casey was growing because all the new businesses were starting. All of this provided new jobs so families moved into town and prospered there through the 1960’s. The downward trend started when the young generation graduated from high school, then went to college or trade school and moved to the cities where they found employment. The farm crisis of the 1980’s took a toll on our farm community. When that was over, we had lost 40% of our farm families and the trend is going higher every year. As you drive around in the country, you are lucky to find one farm family in one square mile. That has had an effect on our town of Casey and the business community that is still in town. We think there is still a place for the small businessman or woman in the small town, but we have to patronize them and encourage them to attract more young people to come back home. The invent of internet and other advances in technology holds the greatest promise to our small rural communities for growth. Many residents are able to work from their homes and to continue home based businesses.
Like most small towns it is a constant struggle to keep a steady population but many of the residents remain in our small town not only because of the safe environment to raise their families but the contact with caring friendly neighbors that pull together to support their residents when there is a need. This has been evidenced recently after the devastating fire that destroyed our historical Casey Community Building. The Casey City Council has been working with the local residents to secure plans to rebuild a much needed structure that will be utilized for another Century as the old building once served. West Central Cooperative has recently merged with another company but with recent updates their large grain handling & storage facility will remain a valued business and of major importance to our rural economy. Our community gladly welcomes any industry and with our close proximity to the Interstate system this could be a reality.
The community has many organizations that help with the social needs of the residents as well as providing community service. The Casey Service Club is an organization to promote business and social needs of the residents. In fact their mission statement declares the Casey Service Club as a group of citizens and business owners working together to make our community a better place to live through programs of service in Americanism, Community Service, Youth Activities and promotion and support of all businesses and organizations in our community with the emphasis on building and preserving our small town values. These values have been the same throughout the history of our little town. We have supported the growth of a new community the entrance of the railroad, persevered through WWI & WWII and to this day still support our soldiers and the sacrifice our military has made for each of us. Our community has been proud of their patriotic efforts by displaying a mural on the side of the Ivers Building currently owned by Margie Sublett that houses Serenity Monuments. The Casey Cafe also boasts a Patriotic Mural all of these Murals are the signature work of Ray "Bubba" Sorenson the Artist made famous by the Freedom Rock nearby on Hwy. 25.
One of the beautiful buildings that remain in our little town is the former Casey Catholic Church built in 1908 this beautiful brick structure showcases the original stained glass windows recently restored to their original beauty. These windows were donated by many founding families of the congregation and of our Casey community. Many of these families were of Irish descent and arrived at the time of the railroad construction and continued to make a living from the Casey community either as laborers or as farmers. These windows still proudly bear the names of the families that donated them. The Casey Historical Society is working hard to continue to preserve this magnificent structure. The building was recently named the Casey Visitor's Center and is used for many venues from weddings, to community gatherings to family reunions or receptions. The Historical Society has been continuing fund raising efforts to have the interior painted and improve the interior lighting. The group has recently been awarded a grant to help meet their goals. This building not only serves as a meeting place but also has many displays that proudly reveal the history of the community through photos and articles preserved by the original Historical members and continued today by the present members. This organization is working hard to preserve the past and share with the present while looking to benefit the future generations with these efforts.
History as told by Wilbur Benedict to Robert Larson