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Clay County, Iowa facts for kids

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Clay County
Clay County Courthouse
Map of Iowa highlighting Clay County
Location within the U.S. state of Iowa
Map of the United States highlighting Iowa
Iowa's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Iowa
Founded 1851
Named for Henry Clay Jr.
Seat Spencer
Largest city Spencer
Area
 • Total 573 sq mi (1,480 km2)
 • Land 567 sq mi (1,470 km2)
 • Water 5.4 sq mi (14 km2)  0.9%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 16,384
 • Density 28.593/sq mi (11.040/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 4th

Clay County is a county located in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2020 census, the population was 16,384. Its county seat is Spencer. Its name is in honor of Henry Clay, Jr., a colonel who died in action in the Mexican–American War, and son of Henry Clay, famous American statesman from Kentucky.

Clay County comprises the Spencer, IA Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Clay County holds the annual Clay County Fair. The first newspaper in Clay County was the Peterson Patriot which started publication in 1880.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 573 square miles (1,480 km2), of which 567 square miles (1,470 km2) is land and 5.4 square miles (14 km2) (0.9%) is water. Clay County is home to the large Barringer Slough wetland.

Major highways

  • US 18 (IA).svg U.S. Highway 18
  • US 71 (IA).svg U.S. Highway 71
  • Iowa 10.svg Iowa Highway 10

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 52
1870 1,523 2,828.8%
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%
2020 16,384 −1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018
ClayCountyIowaPop2020
Population of Clay County from US census data

2020 census

The 2020 census recorded a population of 16,384 in the county, with a population density of 28.6719/sq mi (11.0703/km2). 96.20% of the population reported being of one race. 88.66% were non-Hispanic White, 0.61% were Black, 4.30% were Hispanic, 0.34% were Native American, 0.64% were Asian, 0.04% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 5.41% were some other race or more than one race. There were 8,109 housing units of which 7,222 were occupied.

2010 census

The 2010 census recorded a population of 16,667 in the county, with a population density of 29.292/sq mi (11.310/km2). There were 8,062 housing units, of which 7,282 were occupied.

Communities

Cities

Townships

Clay County is divided into these townships:

  • Clay
  • Douglas
  • Freeman
  • Garfield
  • Gillett Grove
  • Herdland
  • Lake
  • Lincoln
  • Logan
  • Lone Tree
  • Meadow
  • Peterson
  • Riverton
  • Sioux
  • Summit
  • Waterford

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Clay County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Spencer City 11,233
2 Everly City 603
3 Royal City 446
4 Peterson City 334
5 Fostoria City 231
6 Dickens City 185
7 Webb City 141
8 Greenville City 75
9 Rossie City 70
10 Gillett Grove City 49

Economy

The county has been based on farming. The 1980s farm crisis caused some families to have to give up their farms, and farms have been merged to industrial scale. The population has declined since 1980.

At one point Great Lakes Airlines was headquartered in Summit Township, Clay County.

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