this tract of country, and according to the most reliable authority
attainable, the soldiers, some of whom had served in Mexico and the borders of
Texas, named it PALO ALTO, which name was originally from the Spanish and
signifies "tall timber."-On one occasion, when the Government mill was
being brought in by the soldiers they could not get through a creek in the
southeastern part of the county and were compelled to leave the cylinder there
for some time, hence the name-Cylinder Creek. Near another stream on our
northern boundary, tradition has it, that a little dog, which accompanied a
surveying party, and which was a great favorite with the men, died, while they
were in camp near the brook. The little dog's name was "Jack," and
through respect to his memory the stream was called Jack's Creek.
In May, 1853, a detachment of Co. "E", 6th
U.S. Infantry, commanded by Lieut. J.L. Corley, were compelled to go into camp
by reason of a storm and took up their quarters near the west bank of a
beautiful lake about the center of what is now Palo Alto county. On leaving the
place for Ft. Ridgley, their destination, the soldiers cast lots to determine
whether they should call it Storm Lake, Indian Lake or Lake Corley, but finally
decided to name it in honor of their commander, Corley; but some time after, a
party passing through westward, among whom was one Clark, afterward a resident
of Kossuth county, coming upon the lake for the first time, named it from a size
and situation between the rivers, Medium Lake.
In 1854, what is now West Bend and eight other
townships, were surveyed by Leech & Bell, and Jesse T. Jarrett, and the
remainder of the county in the years immediately following, by other Dept. U.S.
Surveyors, paving the way for
which took place before the last of their labors was completed.
On the 29th day of May, 1855, Wm. Carter, from Indiana,
and Jeremiah Evans, from Ohio, arrived in what is now West Bend,
and became the first permanent settlers of Palo Alto county. Samuel McClelland
and six young men came with them but did not remain; Hannah Evans and Elizabeth
J. Carter who came on the same date, were the first white women in Palo Alto.
The first crop was 5 acres of corn planted by these families June 2, 1855. April
9, 1856, James Lynn and Wm. D. Powers joined the little band. In May they were
joined by Samuel McClelland, and Adam P. Shigley and his family, and between
that time, and the 4th of July came Daniel Howl and wife and John McCormick,
Sr., and his son Robert.
In the summer or fall of 1856 the Shippy family
moved into what is now Fern Valley, and in the same season James Lynch, civil
engineer, Thomas Cahill and James Hickey came to see the country, and Mr. Hickey
and his family made permanent settlement, where they still live, in Great Oak.
One of the earliest dwellings was a log house built by Wm. Carter, at West Bend.
Those resolute and industrious pioneers had to
construct habitations of such material as was at hand, such as logs, hay, sod,
bark, etc. In the latter part of the year 1856 the first shingled roof ever laid
in Palo Alto was placed by John P. Bickell upon the log house built by John
McCormick, Jr., and in which he still lives. In the same year a settlement was
made near the central part of the county, by a colony from Kane county, Ills.,
composed principally of Irish farmers, among whom were James Nolan, Edward
Mahan, Thomas Downey, John Neary, John Nolan, Martin Loughlin and Oren Sylvester
with their families, and Thomas Loughlin and Patrick Jackman, both single. They
arrived at their destination July 5, and settled in what was called "the
Patch", in the shelter of a beautiful grove near the south-east corner of
section 14,96,33, where several houses were erected, and among them one by