Hometown History: The Kirchner House in Peterson, IA

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 3:29 PM CDT
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PETERSON, Iowa (KTIV) - Peterson Iowa is a small rural Iowa town in Clay County with a historic past of frontier settlement.

The Kirchner House in Peterson was the first frame home in all of Clay County and it was built in 1867. If you look around it, feels like it would be exactly what it would have been like back then.

“And obviously, they lived a different lifestyle than we did. They didn’t have houses like we have now. But this must have, like I say probably seemed like a palace to them after living in a log cabin,” Sue Hass President of the Peterson Historical Society said.

The Kirchner family came into what was once the county seat of Clay County in the 1840s, originally living in a log cabin before building this frame house now named the Kirchner house that still stands in the original location while a group of volunteers works to preserve the home while also offering tours of the property.

“Obviously, all small towns were settled early and probably had some of these same historic sites and homes left by their early settlers. But I think the people here had the foresight to, to keep these and keep them restored,” said Haas.

The Kirchner house is not the only historical landmark or museum in Peterson there is another restored house that was built after the Kirchner house. There is a French doll museum and even an original Fort Peterson blockhouse which sits near its original location ...

Fort Peterson was one of eleven forts and stockades constructed in 1862 to 1863 built due to pioneers’ fear of Native American attacks although this fort and many others never saw any conflict or attack.

While the small town has lost some businesses the town still takes pride in showcasing its rich history within the valley of a once thriving community.

“It was a thriving little community at one time, we had our school system here and whatever. But it’s a very scenic area, it sits on the Little Sioux River Valley, and it’s just peaceful and scenic and just typical small-town life,” Haas said.

Along with the two historical landmarks is Jim’s History Barn a barn in Peterson full of all sorts of historical artifacts ranging from Native American artifacts to military items stored in a private collection that was created by Sue Haas’s late husband Jim and is still kept up today.