YOUR HOMETOWN — McGaheysville: The Story Of A Community

Ruritans Spread Word On Village’s Past, Present

Posted: March 14, 2013

Don Hess, public relations and membership officer for the McGaheysville Ruritan Club, holds a copy of “The McGaheysville Story,” a recent publication about the history of the unincorporated village of McGaheysville. Ruritans hope “The McGaheysville Story” will inform people about the club’s role in the community as well as tell the town’s history. Hess says a main goal of the publication is recruiting manpower for the club’s service activities. Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R.
Don Hess flips through pages of "The McGaheysville Story" highlighting Town Hall renovations made in the 1930s. In addition to serving as a meeting place for the community's Ruritan Club, the hall also is used by extension homemakers, for Girl Scout and church activities, and voting. Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R.
Few McGaheysville residents probably know it, but the village’s streets stay lit thanks to the generally quiet Ruritan Club.

And a recent publication, produced by the McGaheysville Ruritan Club, shows that the group does much more than foot the village’s electric bill.

“The McGaheysville Story” describes the com- munity’s past as well as its present along with the Ruritans’ place in it.

“To a lot of people, [McGahey-sville is] just a wide spot in the road,” said Don Hess, the Ruritans’ public relations and membership officer, who produced the publication to market the community and club.

“[McGaheysville is] growing and everything is coming out our way,” he added.

Annually, Hess said, the club publishes a reflection on the previous year, but only distributed it to club members.

He thought it should be revamped, with a renewed focus on McGaheysville and the club’s place there to help both grow.

“I said, ‘We’re preaching to the choir,’” Hess explained.

He also thought that new and old McGaheysville residents should learn the village’s history. Not finding anything comprehensive, he compiled a history of the town himself with help from other Ruritans and advertisers, who covered the printing cost.

“The McGaheysville Story” focuses on the history of Town Hall, the schools that serve the area, the McGaheysville Fire Company and the Elkton Emergency Squad, which has a branch in the unincorporated village.   

“I felt that we needed to be more visible in the community,” said Hess, who published the U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association magazine, Army News Liner, for 40 years in Fairfax.

Because McGaheysville has no formal government, Ruritans see their club as a potential focal point for the community.

“During the day, town hall is locked,” Hess said.

According to the club’s publication, the hall, built in 1893 and renovated in the 1930s, is used for Ruritan meetings, extension homemakers, Girl Scout and church activities and voting. It’s also rented out for public receptions, reunions and social events.

Hess said the Ruritans would like to see the hall used more often, and the booklet was a way to let people know about its past and that it’s available.

But “The McGaheysville Story” also explains what types of activities the club takes part in throughout the community.   

The club’s 24 members provide time and money to help support schools, students and rescue crews, along with operating the Street Light Fund to keep the village bright.

These services included a paint job at McGaheysville Elementary School as shown in the booklet.

“We’re doing a lot, but we could do more,” Hess said. “We can do a lot more if we had a few more members.”

Recruiting manpower for the club’s service activities is one of Hess’ main goals for the publication of which 250 copies were printed.

“I’m hoping that we’ll reprint this several times,” he said.

People can join the Ruritans’ efforts without becoming full-fledged members, Hess said, with associate memberships.

Associate members will be on call to help serve the community, but aren’t required to attend monthly meetings.

After passing out some of the new booklets, Hess said he’s already encountered interest from several businesses in becoming associate Ruritans for which they will be given a plaque to hang in their office or store.

Hess called the project, on which he worked for six months, a labor of love.  

“It was fun …   because it was a challenge,” he said.

Those interested in joining the McGaheysville Ruritans can call Hess at (540) 908-0611, or by email at

Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or

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