Page County was named after Captain John Page, killed at Palo Alto in the Mexican War. The land was surveyed in 1845, becoming a county in 1847. George W. Farrens was the first settler in Page County, arriving about 1840. Clarinda became the county seat of Page County in 1851.
Clarinda was named after Miss Clarinda Buck. The town was platted in 1853 and recorded December 7th, 1857. The highest price paid for a lot was $15.00, including the present downtown area. In 1913, the City adopted the city manager form of government, the first community west of the Mississippi to do so. The form still continues, with five council seats and an elected mayor.
Clarinda was platted as a 49-block square around the Page County Courthouse. The plat of Clarinda was unusual with a design of streets 100 feet wide two blocks outside of the public block in all four directions. This wide street was called the Promenade and represented the city limits. The Promenade or Boulevard remains a special feature of our community.
By 1857 there were 60 dwellings, 7 retail stores, 2 groceries, a drug store, merchant tailor, wagon maker, 2 smith shops, 3 doctors, 2 lawyers, 2 taverns, and a cooper. The first hotel was built in 1866.
The first County Fair was held in 1859 on the courthouse square. In 1860, 10 acres were purchased east of the city park. In 1897, a Chautauqua was held on the fairgrounds in a large tent holding 500 persons. The Chautauqua acted as a spur toward formation of the Clarinda Fair Association in 1903, replacing the Page Agricultural Society. Clarinda held its first fair in 1904, followed by many successful years.
In 1900, Miss Jessie Fields, a rural teacher at the age of 18, developed a club of farm boys in connection with the Clarinda Chautauqua. Her boys became trained in judging livestock, winning honors at Iowa State College and top place in the National Judging Contest at Omaha. The club of farm boys grew into the “4-H Clubs” and Miss Fields, who later married I.W. Shambaugh, has been nationally honored as the Mother of 4-H.