From the Emmetsburg Democrat, Wednesday, July ? , 1906.


The History of Palo Alto County.

Taken from the Democrat Souvenir of December 25,1895

In such a time as this many will have a desire to know something about the early history of the county of which Emmetsburg is the county seat. Want of time and space make brevity necessary. through the courtesy and generosity of J.L. Martin we have been enabled to glean the following information from his history of Palo Alto County.

The first white settlers in this county were William Carter and Jermiah Evans, who settled in West Bend township May 29, 1855. In 1856 a colony of Irishmen from Kane county, Illinois located about a mile and a half northwest of this city. In this settlement were James and John Nolan, John Neary, Edward and Myles Mahan, Martin Laughlin, and Parick and Michael Jackman. The same year James Hickey settled in Great Oak township and his daughter, Mrs. Patrick McNally, was the first white native of the county. In March, 1857, during the great excitement attending the Indian massacre at Spirit Lake, the settlers packed up their household effects and went to Fr. Dodge, returning soon after.

The first election in the county was held October 9, 1858, but owing to some defect, was declared illegal.

The second was held December 30, the same year. Both elections were held at the home of Thomas Downey. Forty-four votes were cast. The first county officers elected were as follows: County judge, James Hickey; clerk, Felix McCosker; treasurer, John H. Mulroney, who was also recorder, drainage commissioner, John Shea; surveyor, James McCosker; sheriff, Thos. H. Tobin.

December 31, 1858, the county seat was located on the quarter section at present owned by John Dooley, about one and one-half miles south of this city, and was named Paoli. A court house and a school house were subsequently built there but were never used.

John McCormick, a brother of Charles, was the first county superintendent. He was elected November 6, 1860, and the first school was taught in Martin Laughlin's home in the spring of 1861.

Decemeber 4, 1869, the first newspaper-the Democrat-was published by James P. White. It was suspended some years later. The Palo Alto Advance was published by McCarty and Harrison in June, 1870; the Palo Alto Patriot in 1878 and the Palo Alto Pilot in 1874. The Monthly Enterprise was also published in 1873. In 1874 the Palo Alto Reporter was started by Henry Jenkins.

The first marriage in the county was that of T.H. Tobin and Ellen Laughlin, January 7, 1860.

The first public worship was held at the home of James Hickey, by Father Elwood, in 1861. About 1867, the Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists commenced holding services but had no church. The Catholics built the first church in the old town in 1871 under the supervision of Father Lenihan, of Ft. Dodge. Rev. J.J. Smith was the first resident pastor.

In 1859 the products consisted of 2,507 bushels of corn, and 2,965 bushels of potatoes. In 1875 they consisted of 21,713 bushels of potatoes, 23,208 bushels of wheat, 46,859 bushels of oats, 12,957 bushels of corn, besides many other products.

Among the county treasurers prior to 1876 were J.M.Mulrony, J.P. White, and M.L. Brown.

Judges-James Hickey, Thos, McCormick, Patrick Mulroney, Daniel Kane and John M.Hefley.

Clerks-Felix McCosker, Thos. Maher, Michael Hickey, Thos. McCormick, Lot Laughlin, John Pendergast, James hickey, J.H. Underwood, Robt. Shea, and T.J. Prouty.

Drainage commissioners-John Shea, Jeremiah Crowley and Hiram Hall.

Auditors-J.M. Hefley, W.E. Cullen, W.H.H. Booth, Wm. H. Shea and B. Franklin

Surveyors-James McCosker (can't read rest of lines here)

Sheriffs-T.H. Tobin, A.B. Carter, John Nolan, P. Lynch, T.Campbell, P. Nolan, John McCormick, J.M. Hefley, M.D. Daniels, P.C. Nolan and J.E. King

Superintendents-John McCormick, Wm Carter, Daniel Kane, J.E. Underwood, D. Spaulding, J.L. Martin, J.J. Robins, A.D.Day, Matt Kane, and J.C. Bennett.

Recorders-J.M. Mulroney, A.B. Carter, Wm. D Powers, W.E. Cullen, and J.L. Martin.

Supervisors-John Nolan, T. Dawson, James Nolan, S. McClelland, A.B. Carter, J.T. Mulroney, J.H. Underwood, H.L. Jones, M.Coonan, E.Randall, J.Johnson, T.H. Tobin, M.Kirby, O.D. Rider, R.M.J. McFarland, A. Younie, J.A. Anthony, C. Gibbs, P. Sandford, M.Ryan, Thos. Egan, and John Doran.

The growth of Palo Alto county since 1800 to the present time has been as follows:


A Brief Sketch of Emmetsburg

Our columns are crowded this week and it will be impossible to give a complete history of the city of Emmetsburg. Only a few facts can be given. The first business house in the old town was constructed by a man named Harris. In the spring of 1870, Martin Coonan, Sr., platted the old village a mile and a half northwest of this city and named it Emmetsburg. prior to that time, all necessaries were purchased at Ft. Dodge. Early in the 60's Mr. Coonan was appointed postmaster and Mr. Hickey had a postoffice on his farm. There was a stage line from Fort Dodge to Spirit Lake which crossed this section. The old town was never incorporated. In 1871 it had about twenty families and when the town was moved to the present  site, the population was probably 200. The first building built on the present site was Col. T.W. Harrison's . It was located near the spot where the Waverly Hotel stands. This was August 31, 1874. The second building was Thomas Tobin's store. The Milwaukee company owned the town site, although Thomas Maher homesteaded it in the early 60's and subsequently left it. The town plat was prepared by T.W. Harrison. The construction of the Milwaukee line from Algona was in progress and the place grew rapidly. In 1876 it had about 400 people. Emmetsburg was incorporated as a town in 1877 and M.L. Brown was the first mayor-David Grier, Sr, recorder; A.J. Bateman, treasurer; W.B. Stedman, assessor, and R.B. Skinner, marshal. The succeeding mayors were E.J. Harthorn, Geo H. Carr, F. Joyce, J.C. Davies, A.L. Ormsby, Thos. Moncrief, B.E. Kelly, E.S. Ormsby, C.E. Cohoon, T.J. Prouty, J.S. Atkinson, L. Stuehmer, and Thos. Shea, the present mayor.

The old Catholic church was built in the fall of 1871 and the new one in 1882. Trinity church was erected in 1879, the Congregational church in 1880, the Methodist in 1884, the Scandinavian-Lutheran in 1895 and St. Thomas Catholic church in 1905.

Several civic societies wer organized at an early date. The I.O.O. F. held its first meeting in 1878, Earnest Lodge of A.F. & A.M. in July 1880; the G.A.R. in 1885, the A.O. H. in 1886, the W.R.C. in 1888, the K. of P. in 1890, Eastern Star in 1892, the Daughter of Rebekah in 1892, the I.O. G.T. in 1880. The Catholic order of Foresters was organized in 1895, the W.C.O. F. in 1899, the Redmen in 1898, the Daughters of Pocahontas in 1900, the Knights of Columbus in 1904, the Daughters of Isabella in 1904, and the L.A.A. O.H. in 1905.

The city fire department was organized in 1880. Company K, Iowa National Guard, in 1894. The Emmetsburg water works system was constructed in 1890, the Emmetsburg Telephone company in 1897, and the sewerage system in 1903. The Palo Alto Telephone company was organized in 1902. The court house was erected in 1880, old Music Hall in 1882, new Music Hall in 1889, Waverly hotel in 1882, St. Mary's academy in 1888, the Iowa, in 1905, the postoffice building in 1889, and the School house building in 1900. The following is a list of the brick blocks and the years in which they were erected: The Ormsby block in 1882, the W.G. Henry building in 1883; the McCarty & Linderman block in 1891; Tobin block in 1880; Emmetsburg National bank building in 1884; A.O. H. building in 1898; Brown-Kerwick block in 1905; Dooley building in 1894; McCormick block in 1891; Hinckley block in 1890; Gowans block...(can't read rest of article.)