| Old Rolfe
"Old Rolfe", two and one half miles north and two miles east of present town of Rolfe, was the first town in Pocahontas county. In May of 1857 a party of pioneers, consisting of Robert Struthers, W.H. Hait, A. H. Malcolm, and Guernsey Smith, came from Ft. Dodge with an ox team along the Des Moines River and until they reached the NE corner of Des Moines Township. At this date there were no settlers in the county, except the few already in the south along the Lizard lake settlement. The first claims that are on record were shanties built in June of 1858.
Mr. WM. Hait, 23, was the first to establish his claim, 280 acres. He erected the first log house in Pocahontas county. Out of this quickly grew a thriving frontier community. In 1861 a school house was built next to the Hait cabin, the first in the county. Helen Harvey was the first teacher.
These early settlers took the lead in the organization of Pocahontas County. The public offices and public buildings used for the creation of the government of Pocahontas County was located at what is now referred to as "Old Rolfe." This privilege was maintained for a period of seventeen years when the public records and offices were moved to Center township in 1876.
|Corn and soybean agriculture is the main industry in the county, and the tall Pro Cooperative grain elevators dominate the Rolfe skyline. Area farmers and other folk wanting the latest community news convene at the CO-OP for coffee or simply to talk. The Pronto Store is another hub of conversation. It is a convenience store with gasoline pumps at the only stop light intersection in town. Wednesday mornings find a good variety of citizens at the Rolfe Public Library gathered for conversation and occasional special features. Pronto provides noontime and evening meals and a place for hobnobbing.
Rolfe used to be served by two railroad companies, the Chicago and Northwestern and the Minneapolis and St. Louis. Now there is only one line. It is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. The tracks going east of Rolfe have been converted into the Three Rivers Trail that crosses the Des Moines River, goes through Humboldt and ends near Eagle Grove, a distance of some 40 miles.
The Rolfe Golf Club has a fine nine-hole golf course and an air-conditioned clubhouse. The town also has several parks, including one with a beautiful pond where people often fish. It has picnic facilities, playground equipment, and a shelter with restrooms and showers. Rolfe is also fortunate to have a public swimming pool. A person can also find remnants of native prairie near the town, and there are many gardeners in the community.
Rolfe has three churches: the Rolfe Shared Ministry (Methodists and Presbyterians), St. Margaret's Catholic Church, and St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
Two organizations have missions specifically designed to promote the well being of Rolfe. The Rolfe Enrichment committee raised funds and oversaw construction of a new community center/ city hall/library complex that was supported by private donations and a large grant from the USDA. The building opened in 2004 and houses city offices, the public library, and a large community room.
Rolfe Betterment Incorporated (RBI) organizes the annual Greater Rolfe Days celebration held in July as well as other projects such as the community-wide garage sale, bingo nights, and a holiday visit by Santa Claus.
Philanthropic and service organizations include Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, Friends of the Library, Omicron Sorority, PEO Sisterhood, Rolfe Lions Club, and VFW Auxiliary #7709.
Rolfe has more than 40 businesses and service providers. Some are common in small Iowa towns: beauticians, the farmer's cooperative, jewelry / art/ gift shops, and insurance agents, people who do building construction, music teachers, the post office, repair shops, seed companies, and trucking companies.
Other services and facilities not always found in small towns include a full-fledged public library with an up-to-date computerized cataloging system, RAMS Grocery Store, Powers Funeral Home, artisans, electricians, a veterinary clinic, an attorney, a licensed massage therapist, and the Rolfe State Bank. The latter is an independent institution that is much more than a bank with financial planning, insurance, and real estate businesses under its roof and the staff often going beyond the call of duty to serve the community.
Other enterprises that set Rolfe apart include Chris Cakes Pancake Catering, which is well-known for providing pancake meals for fund-raisers and other special events around the state; Dutchland Dairy with a herd of 700 cows; the Flower Bin greenhouse; Mona Majorowitz's Wild Faces Gallery with original art and framing services; Stella's jewelry and gifts, and Wagner Truck and Autos for used vehicles.
Rolfe has a strong educational heritage and had a full K-12 program until 1990 when its last senior class graduated. Rolfe then became part of the Pocahontas Area Community School District and, for a number of years, was home to some elementary classes and the PAC middle school.
Rolfe's motto has been, "Some bigger, none better." Some civic leaders and local volunteers are the best you could find anywhere. Among them are dedicated people who help others through home health care programs, hospice, ambulance service, fire department, youth programs, library, churches, schools, disaster relief, and other endeavors.
Rolfe is located in Pocahontas County, a flat but gently undulating agricultural area in northwest Iowa. The town was established in 1863 on a hill overlooking the Des Moines River but was eventually relocated to its current site — a move of three miles to the southwest.