A sign directs visitors to the “gas, grocery, and beer” sold at the general store in the Clay County community of Rossie. Now home to 70 residents, Rossie was originally established as a stop along the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in 1900, apparently named after a wife of an important railroad employee. A centennial celebration, which included a historical program, lunch, souvenirs for sale, and a parade, was held August 5, 2000.
In 1871, residents in Clay County in northwestern Iowa voted to move the county seat from Peterson to Spencer. The first two courthouses were built at a combined cost of $6,500 and were criticized by citizens as being “plain and boring” in comparison to other equivalent facilities across the state. In 1900, construction was started on a new $60,000 Clay County Courthouse, and the doors were opened to the public on September 1901.
In 1979, the Clay County Board of Supervisors dedicated $2.1 million to renovate the courthouse and construct a separate administration building. The projects were completed in 1982. The Clay County Courthouse is one of eight buildings in the county on the National Register of Historic Places. It was added to the list in 1981.
The Community Building on Main Street in the Clay County town of Royal houses the public library, the city clerk office, and a community center that is used by local groups and can be rented for reunions and meetings. Royal was founded in 1900 as a site along the Rock Island Railroad. Its name was chosen by Eliza Nelson, the community’s first postmistress. She was asked to keep the name simple, though the reasons she selected Royal are unknown. Royal is home to 479 residents.
The Gillett Grove Town Hall is located in a refurbished one-room schoolhouse on the west side of the Clay County community. Founded incorporated in 1874 and named after area residents the Gilbert brothers, 55 residents call Gillett Grove home according to the 2000 census. In February 2010, area residents overwhelmingly voted to resolve the South Clay school district and its last remaining school in Gillett Grove. Students were separated into other school districts including Spencer, Sioux Central, Clay-Central-Everly, Ruthven-Ayrshire, and Laurens-Marathon.
The Kirchner-French Memorial Library in Peterson in Clay County was established in 1925 when Lena Kirchner French willed a farm to the town to provide funds for a new library. Lena was a member of the first family to settle in Peterson; she began teaching in the community at the age of 16. Her goal for the library was to ensure residents of all ages could be exposed to the joy of reading and life-long learning.
The library was initially located on Main Street and was operated by members of the local Federated Women’s Club. A permanent library building wasn’t constructed until 1937, when the community received assistance from the federal Works Progress Administration. After 70 years, the building remains an integral part of the community, serving as both the library and the city hall. Since 1937, seven librarians have served at the Kirchner-French Memorial Library.