McCarty, Dwight D. History of Palo Alto County. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1910


Chapter XV
Our Modern County

     Over fifty years have elapsed since the first permanent foundations were made in Palo Alto County. Many of the pioneers who played a part in the scenes enacted in those early days are still living among us to bear witness to the marvelous changes time has wrought.
     From a total of only 216 at the close of the Civil War, the population of the county has increased by leaps and bounds until now we have nearly 15,000 people within its boundaries. This increase in population is typical of the development of the land. From a wild, undeveloped prairie country, with only a few scattered settlers located along the timbered streams, the land has been all taken up and has doubled in value many times until the state census of 1905 shows that Palo Alto County has 1,557 farms containing 312,040 acres, with an actual value of $15,030,201. Land is steadily advancing in price, and by means of scientific drainage and better farming methods, even the one-time waste land is now being made to yield nature's abundance.
     In prosperity and material wealth Palo Alto County stands well to the front. There are fifteen banks in the county, all prosperous and steadily growing. The combined capital stock and surplus amount to over $446,000 and the total deposits amount to $2,130,074.93, as shown by the last statements. In volume of trade and business, Palo Alto ranks as one of the live and up-to-date communities of Northwest Iowa.
     The 1905 state census shows that during the previous year Palo Alto County raised 2,185,245 bushels of corn, valued at $625,543; 1,979,540 bushels of oats, valued at $504,006; and produced over 80,000 tons of clover, timothy and wild hay, valued at over $170,000, besides over 30,000 bushels of other crops not listed. The same census shows that Palo Alto County had 35,790 cattle, valued at $625,608; 40,451 swine, valued at $191,161; and 10,609 horses and mules, valued at $628,792; 182,940 fowls, valued at $64,373; 709,380 dozen eggs, valued at $94,658; and dairy products valued at $311,170. All these figures for stock and crops would be largely increased for the subsequent years. Surely this is a splendid record for a county that has only just begun to develop its resources.
     In social betterment, Palo Alto takes a high place. A thorough and complete system of rural schools makes a practical education accessible to every country child, while excellent graded, parochial and high schools place the best advantages of a common school education before the ambitious youth of today.
     There are twenty-eight flourishing churches in the county, and the large and influential membership speaks well for the Christian influences that are such a strong factor in the highest type of civilization.
     In the cities and towns we find substantial business blocks and handsome, convenient houses. The farmers are building better homes, fitted with every convenience, and the life on the farm is becoming every day less of a drudgery and more of a pleasure. Rural mail routes practically cover the whole county, while 612 miles of rural and through telephone lines within the county, together with eight live, up-to-date newspapers, make the dissemination of knowledge and ease of communication an accepted fact. Every town in the county has railroad connections, there being over 74 miles of railroads crossing the county.
     Emmetsburg, the county seat of the county, is a modern city in every respect, having electric lights, modern city water and fire protection, sewerage system, public library, fine modern opera house, good hotels and public buildings, excellent accredited schools, and strong, flourishing churches. Many of the other towns of the county have their own lighting plants and water systems and other conveniences unheard of in a small town a few years ago. Yet with all the progress the town and city debts are low and taxes small. The county itself is in exceptionally good financial condition, as it is out of debt, has only $8,000 bridge bonds, no overdue obligations, and owns property valued at $61,000 that is rapidly appreciating in value.
     Surely the seeds sown by the courageous and far-seeing pioneers have borne abundant fruit. Palo Alto County stands today as one of the attractive counties of the great state of Iowa. It offers the advantages of a wholesome, up-to-date community, a place for a home, a place in which to live in happiness and contentment -- life in the best and truest sense of the word. Our modern county stands today a worthy monument to the pioneers who with patient industry and wise foresight built such broad and true foundations.