The Killduff Post Office has been given new life – full of historic memorabilia – since Cindy Claussen started work in May.
“It’s like a time capsule.”
That’s how Killduff postal worker Cindy Claussen described the old vault she recently cleaned out at the Killduff Post Office. The vault contained many interesting pieces of local history, which she has set out on display in the community room of the post office for anyone interested in taking a look.
Bank books from the 1920s, a book from the Killduff Switchboard Company, and a cash register from the chicken hatchery that used to be next door are just a few of the items she found. And the list could go on: Antique check writer, bank memorabilia from the original bank, land plats, a listing of all the area schoolhouses, school records from when the decision was made to move all students to Lynnville and Sully, a train ticket – a relic of days gone by when trains used to go through town, and more.
“It’s just all Killduff memories and history,” Claussen said.
Though Claussen didn’t grow up in the area, her late husband, John, was from Killduff, graduating with the Lynnville-Sully Class of 1978.
The postal worker went through quite the process to find and save these pieces of local history. When she started working at the post office in May this year, it had been quite some time since a local had worked there, and the business needed some TLC.
With permission from the building’s owner, Marty Eichner Ford, Claussen took it upon herself to clean and paint the inside of the post office, paint the outside of the building, and put the flag up outside, which probably hadn’t been up for 10 years, Claussen said. She also helped get an official sign ordered for outside the building – something the Killduff Post Office has never had.
In sprucing up the post office, Claussen also decided to tackle the mess inside a large vault located in the back of the building.
“It’s seriously unbelievable that there’s a safe that size in a town this size,” she said, adding, “A lot of people who have lived here their whole life have never been back to that room, ever.”
The vault, which was full from top to bottom, was built back when the post office building used to be a bank and housed two safes inside it.
“When I opened the vault, there was no light. You couldn’t even breathe, it was so musty,” Claussen recalled.
One of the safes in the vault contained safety deposit boxes. Claussen and her son found the keys to the boxes and – with Marty’s permission – opened the boxes. They were able to get them all open except one.
The contents of each safety deposit box were fascinating. One box belonged to Marty’s mom, Harriet Eichner, who used to be the postmaster in Killduff and owned the building with her husband. That box contained a cup of silver dollars and some personal family history.
Another safety deposit box rented by Jett Adams of Killduff included his Army papers. Claussen was able to get ahold of his granddaughter and return the papers to her.
Yet another safety deposit box rented by a former postmaster, Olga, contained birth and wedding certificates and graduation papers. Claussen returned those documents to Olga’s grandson.
Claussen could see that at one point, someone had started to clean out the vault because there were several garbage bags inside full of old papers and more.
“I can’t throw anything historical away, so I had to go through all those garbage bags,” Claussen said, “and I found a whole pile of books from what used to be the Grange that go way back to the ‘20s. There were lots of names in there that are known around here.”
Also inside the trash bags were love letters from 1939-1940 written by Marty’s dad, Carroll, to her mom, Harriet.
Despite all the dirty work of cleaning out the vault, Claussen has had some fun in the process, especially finding all kinds of items from businesses she didn’t even know were ever in Killduff.
She has also had some fun bringing new life to the old vault. For Halloween, she decorated the 100-year-old vault and invited trick-or-treaters to stop by and try to get candy from bank robbers by opening a safety deposit box.
After cleaning out the vault for months, Claussen decided to put some of the items found on display on a shelf in the community room so other people can enjoy the pieces of history, too. Anyone interested in seeing the items from what was essentially a Killduff time capsule can check them out during the post office hours of 1-3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 1-2:30 p.m. on Saturday.