Clay County, Iowa Genealogy

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Guide to Clay County, Iowa ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Spencer
Organized: October 15, 1858[1]
Parent County(s): Non-county area 9[2]
Neighboring Counties
Buena Vista  • Cherokee  • Dickinson  • Emmet  • O'Brien  • Osceola  • Palo Alto  • Pocahontas
See County Maps
Courthouse
Iowa, Clay County Courthouse.png
Location Map
Iowa Clay Map.png
Adoption

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Clay County was named for Henry Clay Jr. and is located in northwestern Iowa.[3]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Clay County Courthouse
215 West 4th Street
Spencer, IA 51301
Phone: 712-262-1569
Clay County Website

Clay County, Iowa Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1880 1866 1880 1869 1858 1871 1847
* Statewide registration started for births in July 1880 and for deaths January 1891. General compliance by 1924.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[8]

Cities
Townships


History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Listed below are resources for Bible records specific to Clay County. To find more resources, go to the Iowa Bible Records page.


Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Clay County, Iowa online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Iowa Cemeteries for more information.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Iowa recorded not only federal, but state censuses for several in-between years as well. For more information, see the very informative Iowa Census article.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 52
1870 1,523 2828.8%
1880 4,248 178.9%
1890 9,309 119.1%
1900 13,401 44.0%
1910 12,766 −4.7%
1920 15,660 22.7%
1930 16,107 2.9%
1940 17,762 10.3%
1950 18,103 1.9%
1960 18,504 2.2%
1970 18,464 −0.2%
1980 19,576 6.0%
1990 17,585 −10.2%
2000 17,372 −1.2%
2010 16,667 −4.1%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

State Census

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Most church records are held by individual churches. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Iowa Church Records.

Lutheran

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. They include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Iowa Land and Property for information about early Iowa land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, transactions were usually recorded and housed at the county courthouse.

Online Land and Property Records

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Clay County, which may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see Iowa Local Histories.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

County and state maps, historical and more current, are valuable research tools. For online maps and collections in libraries and societies, see Iowa Maps. Historical maps may be especially useful.

Osceola CountyDickinson CountyEmmet CountyO'Brien CountyCherokee CountyBuena Vista CountyPocahontas CountyPalo Alto CountyIA CLAY.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Multiple Wars

Civil War

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Please see the Iowa Naturalization and Citizenship page for state-wide information.

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

In most counties in Iowa, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Iowa tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. Iowa's unique Old Age Assistance tax gives names, addresses and birth years. There may be gaps of several years. For more information, see the wiki page Iowa Taxation.

Online Tax Indexes and Records

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded by civil officials on registers, certificates, and other documents. Copies or extracts may be purchased from the Iowa Department of Public Health or the County Clerk's office. See also Iowa Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Clay County. For state-wide library facilities, see Iowa Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Clay County. For state-wide library facilities, see Iowa Archives and Libraries.

Kirchner-French Memorial Library
101 Main Street
PO Box 203
Peterson, IA 51047-0203
712-295-6705
E-mail: kirchner@iowatelecom.net
Website
Facebook

Ruthven Public Library
1301 Gowrie Street
PO Box 280
Ruthven, IA 51358-0280
712-837-4820
E-mail: info@ruthven.lib.ia.us
Website
Facebook

Sioux Rapids Memorial Library
215 2nd Street
PO Box 445
Sioux Rapids, IA 50585-0445
712-283-2064
E-mail: sxrlibrary@gmail.com
Website
Facebook

Spencer Public Library
21 E 3rd Street
Spencer, IA 51301
712-580-7290
E-mail: libraryinfo@spenceriowacity.com
Website
Facebook

Museums[edit | edit source]

Clay County Heritage Center
7 Grand Avenue
Spencer, IA 51301
712-262-3304
E-mail: info@claycountyheritage.org
Website
Facebook

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Clay County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Iowa Societies.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • Clay County at Cyndi's List - a comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online
  • Clay County at Genealogy Trails - volunteer transcriptions of genealogical and historical data
  • Clay County at Iowa USGenWeb - free online resources for genealogical research
  • Clay County at Iowa USGenWeb Archives - free online data for genealogical research
  • State Historical Society of Iowa — select from research collection topics
  • State Library of Iowa — electronic depository of documents intended for the general public produced by Iowa agencies
  • The Iowa Heritage Digital Collection — digital images from a variety of Iowa cultural institutions
  • FamilySearch Catalog – The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection.  Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  2. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay, Iowa," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_County,_Iowa.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  6. Iowa Historical Boundary Changes - list of all boundary changes by county provided by Newberry Library; accessed on 11 April 2021.
  7. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Clay County, Iowa," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_County,_Iowa, accessed 30 August 2019.