Towns and Townships
The following histories of Emmet County settlement are derived from the History of Emmet County and Dickinson County Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, The Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1917.
Township and town histories contain many names of early settlers. A link has been provided if a settler mentioned in the township history has a corresponding biographical sketch on the Emmet County Biography board.
Can't find what you are looking for or unsure of the town name? Consult Emmet County Towns Past and Present for a listing of towns and you just might find what you are looking for.
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Emmet County Towns, Cities & Villages
The incorporated town of Armstrong is situated in the eastern part of Armstrong Grove Township, on the Albert Lea & Estherville division of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad system, nineteen miles due east of Estherville. When the railroad was built in 1892 it was known as the Chicago & Iowa Western. The town was laid out by the Northern Iowa Land and Town Lot Company, of which F. E. Allen was president and S. L. Dows was secretary. On July 7, 1892, the plat was filed in the office of the county recorder. It shows twenty-eight blocks, with a total of 518 lots, north of the railroad and five large outlots south of the tracks for factory sites, etc.
Prior to the platting of the town a postoffice had been established at Armstrong Grove. E. B. Campbell was the first postmaster and kept the office at his residence on his farm. Mail was carried from Fort Dodge and later from Bancroft by H.J. Felke. When the town was laid out the postoffice was moved to the new village and Mr. Campbell became the first merchant in Armstrong. He was succeeded as postmaster by George Stewart. The postoffice has grown with the town. Three people are employed in the office and there is one rural district which delivers mail to the inhabitants of the adjacent rural districts. The present postmaster is Kaspar Faltinson, whose commission was issued by President Wilson on June 6, 1913. The receipts of the office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1916, were a little over $3,700.
On January 17, 1893, a petition was presented to the District Court asking for the incorporation of Armstrong, to include certain territory in the west half of Section 14 and the east half of Section 15, Township 99, Range 31. The petition was signed by E. J. Breen, T. W. Doughty, E. J. Boots, W. A. Richmond, James A. Colvin, Charles Ogilvie, T. L. Thorson, A. W. Colvin, I. E. Davis, J. M. Gannon, J. F. Hutchins, J. Jenkins, Albert Davis, A. Halder, O. A. Canfield, A. Loomer, D. T. Jenkins, C. B. Mathews, J. T. Benson, W. T. Gannon, William Musson. L. L. Lawrence, B.F. Robinson, James Duffy, J. A. Finlayson, S. M. Andrew, David Mitchell, George Stickney, Jr., D. K. Hawley, W. L. Rairden, E. W. Darling and William Stuart. The large number of signers gives some idea of the rapid growth of the town.
Judge George H. Carr, of the District Court, after considering the petition, granted the prayer of the petitioners and appointed E. J. Breen, Charles Ogilvie, B. F. Robinson, J. A. Finlayson, and A. W. Colvin commissioners to call an election for the purpose of submitting to the legal voters living within the territory to be included in the town limits the question of incorporation. The election was held on March 13, 1893, commissioners Breen, Charles Ogilvie, and Robinson acting as judges, and L. L. Lawrence, and T. L. Thorson as clerks. The result was forty-seven votes in favor of incorporation and only four opposed. Returns were made to the District Court as required by law, and on April 6, 1893, the order for the incorporation was formally issued and recorded. Meantime the following officers had been elected: E. J. Breen, mayor; R. Gabriel, clerk; B. F. Robinson, treasurer; George V. Davis, marshal and street commissioner; J. A. Colvin, L. J. Rohde, E. J. Boots, George Stickney, Jr., J. L. Guest and T. L. Thorson, councilmen.
Following is a list of the mayors of Armstrong, with the year when each was elected: E. J. Breen, 1893; Kaspar Faltinson, 1894; B. F. Robinson, 1895; A. A. Reynolds, 1896; Charles Ogilvie, 1899; James A. Colvin, 1900; Charles Ogilvie, 1902; B. J. Dunn, 1904; H. A. Kingston, 1906; S. D. Bunt, 1908; Kaspar Faltinson, 1910; H. A. Kingston, 1914; W. W. Brooks, 1916.
The Armstrong Opera House was built by a company which was incorporated on May 6, 1903, with a capital stock of $15,000, with William Stuart, John Dows, J. L. Guest, George Stewart, N. Griffin, John Fleming and H. A. Kingston as the first board of directors. By the erection of the opera house Armstrong was provided with a place for holding public meetings and entertainments.
On November 13, 1912, a petition was presented to the town council by the Armstrong Cement Works for a franchise to establish an electric light plant. The proprietors of the cement works offered to pay the expense of holding an election to submit the question to the people. An election was accordingly held on December 9, 1912, and the franchise was granted by a vote of nearly four to one. The plant was completed and placed in operation in the spring of 1913. An excellent system of waterworks had been installed some years before.
In 1910 the population was 586. Armstrong has three banks all established about the time the town was incorporated, churches of different denominations, a good volunteer fire department, a weekly newspaper (the Journal), two large grain elevators, a school building that cost $50,000, a cement block and tile factory, a creamery, a number of well stocked mercantile establishments, several minor business concerns and a score or more fine residences. In 1915 the property of the town was assessed for taxation at $311, 135.
Near the center of Lincoln Township, on the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad system is the incorporated town of Dolliver. It was surveyed and laid out for the Western Town Lot Company, of which Marvin Hughitt was president and J. B. Redfield secretary, and the plat was filed in the office of the county recorder on May 8, 1899, about the time the railroad was built. On the original plat are shown seventeen lots east of the railroad tracks marked "Depot Grounds," and on the west side of the railroad tracks are six blocks divided into ninety-seven lots. The east and west streets are Shafter, Main and Otis, and the north and south streets are Dewey, Schley and Sampson. With the exception of Main Street all bear the names of United States army and navy officers in the Spanish-American war. On August 8, 1911, a new survey was made by A. M. Jefferis by order of the town council.
At the November term of the District Court in 1901 a petition asking for the incorporation of Dolliver was presented. The petition was signed by T. C. Pier, H. F. Keables, George A. Ports, W. S. Newton, C. E. Jackson, F. D. Colgrove, B. B. Elliot, J. F. Lamb, H. P. Wilcox, B. F. Wright, M. A. Holtzbauer, Roy Wertz, T. Cunningham, C. F. Wendt, B. Lamb, J. A. Reagan, L. P. Stillman, M. Sweafet, W. H. Kephart, I. L. Chandler, C. E. Sullivan, A. N. Eells, I. Coleman, W. A. Russell, W. S. Mescrip, N. L. Erickson, N. Benson, F. S. Arnold, C. O. Harris, and S.B. Reed. At that time the town was only a little over two years old, and as the thirty signers all represented that they were residents and legal voters in the territory it was proposed to incorporate, it will be seen that Dolliver had experienced a rather rapid growth.
When the petition was presented to the court, W. H. Bigelow came in with an objection. He claimed ownership of the greater part of the east half of Section 22, Township 100, Range 32, and set forth that there was no necessity for incorporating so much territory. After hearing both the petition and remonstrance, the court ordered that Mr. Bigelow's land be omitted from the plat of the town and appointed T. C. Pier, J. A. Reagan, L. P. Stillman, C. E. Sullivan and B. B. Elliot commissioners to hold an election and submit the question of incorporation to the voters. The election was held on December 17, 1901, when the vote was thirty in favor of incorporation and only one opposed. On February 5, 1902, the court approved the report of the commissioners and ordered an election to be held on Monday, March 31, 1902, for town officers. At that election T. C. Pier was chosen mayor; George A. Ports, clerk; H. P. Wilcox, treasurer; S. B. Reed, B. B. Elliott, J. A. Reagan, C. E. Sullivan, H. F. Keables and L. P. Stillman. Returns of this election were presented to the District Court at the April term, and on April 16, 1902, the court declared the town of Dolliver "duly incorporated according to the laws of the State of Iowa."
Dolliver has two banks, two general stores, a hardware store, a lumber yard, two grain elevators, a telephone exchange, express and telegraph offices, a money order postoffice, a hotel and a number of small shops. Lincoln Township was recently made a consolidated school district and a modern school building has been erected at Dolliver at a cost of $48,000. The town was named for Hon. J. P. Dolliver, who represented the Tenth District in Congress for ten years and was a member of the United States Senate at the time of his death on July 14, 1900. In 1910 the population of Dolliver was 107. Since then its growth has been of a substantial character and the population is now estimated at 150. In 1915 the property was valued for taxation at $30,177.
Estherville, the seat of justice and only city within the limits of Emmet County, dates its beginning from 1858, when Robert E. Ridley acquired 160 acres of ground where the city now stands and built the first house upon the town site. A little later the town was platted by R. E. Ridley, Jesse Coverdale and Adolphus Jenkins as proprietors, and was named for Mrs. Esther A. Ridley, wife of Robert E. Ridley and mother of the first white child born in the town, her daughter Anna having been born in the spring of 1858, before the town was laid out. For some time the proprietors gave lots to parties who would agree to build, but this custom was discontinued after Emmet County was organized in 1859 and Estherville was made the county seat.
A postoffice was established at Estherville in 1860, with Adolphus Jenkins as postmaster. The first mail was received by way of a mail route that ran from Blue Earth, Minnesota, to Sioux City. Previous to this time Mr. Jenkins had formed a partnership with Robert E. Ridley and they built the first mill for grinding corn and wheat in Emmet County. This mill was patronized by the settlers for miles around.
In 1861 a new survey of the town was made and a map prepared, a copy of which appears in this work. The writing on this map is so dim that it cannot be made out in the illustration and is here reproduced:
State of Iowa
County of Emmet ss:
Be it known that on the 1st day of May, A. D. 1861, before me, Clerk of the Court in and for said County, personally came Robert E. Ridley, Jesse Coverdale, Gaylord Graves and Adolphus Jenkins, who acknowledge this to be a correct map or plat of the Village of Estherville, situated on the southeast quarter (S. E. ¼) of Section No. ten (10), and the west half (W. 1/2) Of Section No. eleven (11), of town ninety-nine (99), range thirty-four (34) west. And they furthermore grant and hereby deed to the loving public all the streets of said Village, also the Public Square, as designated on this plat.
In testimony whereof the above named proprietors and their wives have set their hands this day and year above written.
ROBERT E. Ridley ESTHER A. Ridley
ADOLPHUS Jenkins GAYLORD Graves
JESSE Coverdale L. ELLEN Jenkins
The above named are personally known to me to be the identical
persons who have here set their hands and acknowledged it to be their
free act and deed.
C. M. Keiph, Clerk of Court.
I hereby certify that this is a correct Map or Plat of the Village
Estherville as surveyed by me April 22d, A. D. 1861.
SAMUEL Wade, Surveyor.
;State of Iowa
Emmet County ss:
Filed for record the 1st day of May, A. D. 1861, at 2 o'clock p. m., recorded in Book _______.
ROBERT E. Ridley, County Recorder.
Location of Buildings--Hotel, in Block No. 3; Barracks, in Block No. 59, Lots 1, 2, 3; McKay's Store, in Block No. 23, Lots 7, 8.
It will be noticed upon this map that the public square occupied four blocks, bounded by Fifth, Seventh, Lincoln and Des Moines streets. Some years later Sixth Street was opened through the square and the south half was divided into lots. Some of the leading business houses of the city now stand on what was originally part of the public square.
Owing to the Civil war and the Indian troubles on the frontier the growth of Estherville was rather slow for the first few years of its existence. A school house was built on the northeast corner of the public square in 1860. McKay's general store, Ridley & Jenkins' mill and Amos Ketchum's blacksmith shop were the principal business establishments in early days. In 1866 Simeon E. Bemis opened a store on the corner of Sixth and Des Moines streets, where the postoffice building now stands. The Northern Vindicator, the first newspaper in this section of the state, was started in 1868, and in 1876 Howard Graves opened the first bank in Emmet County.
In 1880 the population of the entire county was 1,550, nearly one-half of which was in Estherville Township. Early in the summer of 1881 a movement was started for the incorporation of the town and on September 1. 1881, a petition to that effect was presented to the Circuit Court. The petition was signed by F. E. Allen, Frank Davey, C. J. Wilson, E. S. Wells, Howard Graves, Lyman S. Williams, A. O. Peterson, W. J. Pullen, W. C. Barber, G. I. Ridley, W. E. Riggs, Henry Coon, J. L. Riggs, C. W. Dillman, Knuet Espeset, James Maher, S. E. Bemis, A. H. Stone, R. E. Ridley, W. H. Davis, J. W. Plummer, D. M. L. Bemis, Tollif Espeset, E. H. Ballard, and D. A. Painter.
Judge John N. Weaver granted the petition and appointed Knuet Espeset, F. E. Allen, Frank Davey, R. E. Ridley, and L. S. Williams commissioners to hold an election and submit the question to the voters residing within the territory it was proposed to incorporate. The election was held on October 4, 1881, when forty-four votes were cast.
Estherville is a division point for both the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and Minneapolis & St. Louis railroads, and is the western terminus of the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the former system. It has two railway roundhouses, five banks, three weekly newspapers, two good hotels, a fine public library, a flour mill, brick and tile works, a large cement works, grain elevators, a showcase factory, a telephone exchange, churches of the leading denominations, five public school buildings, good streets, cement sidewalks, a number of well stocked mercantile establishments handling all lines of goods, and many handsome residences. The population in 1910 was 3,404, a gain of 167 during the preceding decade, and in 1915 the property was valued for tax purposes at $882,468.
The village of Gruver is a station on the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the Rock Island Railroad, seven miles east of Estherville. When first laid out by John and Anna R. Dows, in the summer of 1899, it was named "Luzon," a plat of which was filed with the county recorder on September 20, 1899. On April 2, 1900, a petition signed by two-thirds, of the voters in the village was presented to the board of supervisors asking that the name be changed to "Gruver." After hearing the arguments of the petitioners in favor of the change the board adopted a resolution that the "said village shall be known and designated as the village of Gruver from and after the third of May, A. D. 1900."
Gruver is the principal shipping point and trading center for a rich agricultural district in the eastern part of Center Township, in which it is suited. It has a bank, several stores, grain elevators, Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, a good public school, telegraph and express office, telephone connection with the surrounding towns, a money order postoffice, and in 1910 reported a population of 114. In 1915 the property of the village was assessed for taxation at $20,132.
About the close of the last century several towns were projected in Northwestern Iowa by the Western Town Lot Company, of which Marvin Hughitt was president and J. B. Redfield was secretary. One of these towns is Halfa, a station on the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, in the southwest corner of Armstrong Grove Township. The original plat, which was filed with the recorder of Emmet County on June 27, 1899, shows twenty-six lots west of the tracks "for railway use," and six blocks having an aggregate of sixty-four lots east of the railroad. The east and west streets are Pine, Oak, and Grant, and the north and south streets are Lincoln, Main and Railroad.
Halfa was founded chiefly for speculative purposes. After the Western Town Lot Company had disposed of the lots, the founders took no further interest in the town's welfare. A creamery was established here in 1900, but it is no longer in operation. According to Polk's Iowa Gazeteer for 1915-16, the population was then estimated at fifty people. A general store and the postoffice are the only business institutions. Recently Halfa has been made the center of a consolidated school district and a new school building erected at a cost of $25,000.
There are probably many people in Emmet County who do not know that a town of some pretensions bearing this name was once laid out in the western part of High Lake Township. It was surveyed in November, 1881, by E. O. Reeder for John and Catherine Lawler, of Crawford County, Wisconsin, and was located on the northwest quarter of Section 20, Township 98, Range 33. The plat filed with the county recorder shows thirty-eight blocks, five of which are not subdivided. The other thirty-three are divided into 293 lots. Beginning at the east the north and south streets were Emmet, Lake, Main, High and Iowa. The north and south streets, beginning at the north side of the town, were numbered from First to Seventh inclusive.
At the time the town was laid out the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company was building its line from Emmetsburg to Estherville and the Town of High Lake was on the line of railroad. When the railroad company removed its tracks a little later High Lake lost its opportunity to become a city, and where it was platted is now a farm. What little business had been established there was diverted to Wallingford, on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.
In the southern part of Jack Creek Township is the little hamlet of Hoprig. No official plat of the place was ever filed with the county recorder, though at one time Hoprig was a business center of some importance. A postoffice was established there and in December, 1897, a creamery company was organized. After the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad was built through the eastern part of the county, the postoffice at Hoprig was discontinued and the people there now receive mail by rural carrier from Graettinger, in Palo Alto County.
Some time during the year 1880 among the Scottish emigrants that came from across the sea and settled in Palo Alto and Emmet counties was a man by the name of Samuel Blair. He came to Emmet county and purchased the SE 1/4 Sec. 34, Jack Creek township, the place now  owned by J. H. Nichtern. In the old country the farmsteads were known by name or number. Mr. Blair's birthplace had the name Hoprig, and when he settled in Emmet county he transferred Hoprig from the old home to the new.
Some time later he petitioned for and received a grant for a postoffice and Mr. Blair took over the obligation of postmaster, naming his office Hoprig. On September 8, 1884, the patrons received their first mail at this office, the government sack being brought from Wallingford and delivered once a week.
In 1889 John Mowitt purchased the Hoprig farm and continued as postmaster until 1900 when it was transferred to P. F. Gyling of Emmetsburg. The previous fall Mr. Gyling erected a store building east of the present  location of the church. While serving as postmaster Mr. Mowitt also carried a general line of groceries. Eggs and butter were accepted in trade the same as the stores today . If I happened in Hoprig on baking day, which I did quite often, I generally found Mrs. Howitt's pies, and maybe visited her orchard before returning home.
On December 14, 1897, the Farmers Creamery Company of Hoprig was incorporated and the following April they commenced business with John Brick as buttermaker and W. J. Crumrine, A. E. Bigelow, Geo. Lorimer, J. A. Bosold and John Mowitt as directors and George Doughty as secretary. The creamery supplies were purchased from Preston Fahnestock of Graettinger for $2,500. We continued doing business until 1915 when the company was dissolved and the property sold at auction. At one time the Hoprig creamery stood fourth in the state. We did a business of $150,000 per year for several years.
Our first experience with butter on the eastern market netted us 14 1/4 cents per pound. During this time hogs sold for three cents per pound and some of us are still kicking with butter at 40 cents per pound and hogs selling at ten cents.
The writer of this article arrived in Graettinger March 1, 1892 and found the ponds all full and running over. You would get stuck on horse back unless you got off and walked. Is there any change? I think now we are in the best part of the state.
The first school was held in Mr. Blair's kitchen with Maggie Blair as teacher. Some time later a school house was built one and one-half miles west and one and one-half miles south of Hoprig, called the Bon Hill school. This is where I went to church for a while. Then Arthur Ketchen gave a room for school purposes until the school house was built north of him and in this school house they held their meetings. In 1903 the church was started and finished the following spring and dedicated on September 18, 1904, by Mr. Greeg, and was paid off in full. The Hoprig school was built in 1904.
On October 2, 1889 a prairie fire swept Hoprig and vicinity. Mr. Blair lost 16 stacks of grain and all his hay. Mr. Mowitt was badly burned fighting fire and one woman was burned to death where Ringsted now stands. The fire also burned in the peat beds until snow covered the smouldering deposit. On June 20, 1896, a hail storm did a great deal of damage and it was followed that fall by the army worm, which finished almost everything.
During the World War  when the summons came for Red Cross workers and organizations, Hoprig came to the front as an auxiliary member to Estherville, with a membership of 270 at one time. On January 24, 1918, the chapter held a sale at the Hoprig church and after everything was cleaned up and the columns totaled we found we had cleared the neat little sum of $600.
Contributed by: Ruth M. Hackett. Source: reprinted in the Vindicator and Republican, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, August 16, 1922.
Contributor Note: J. W. Oakes, the author of the article, was born in Illinois in 1866. He came to Emmet County in 1891 and purchased land in Jack Creek township. He married Eda B. Kent of Ankeny and they had five children. The family was instrumental in establishing the Presbyterian Church in Hoprig. Oakes died in 1929. Click here for photo of the Hoprig Presbyterian Church.
About the time the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad was under construction in Emmet County, Harry L. and Anna L. Jenkins employed J. E. Egan to lay out the town of Huntington in Section 7, Township 100, Range 33, in the northwest corner of Ellsworth Township on the line of the railroad. The plat was filed in the recorder's office on October 28, 1899. It shows twelve blocks, subdivided into 190 lots. The east and west streets are First, Main, Third and Fourth, and the north and south streets are Railroad Avenue, First Avenue and Broadway. Huntington has a grain elevator, a bank, general stores, a public school, telephone connections with the surrounding county, telegraph and express offices, and is the trading and shipping point for a considerable territory in the northern part of the county and for the southern part of Martin County, Minnesota.
The plat of Maple Hill was filed in the office of the county recorder on August 23, 1899. It is located in the eastern part of Swan Lake Township, on the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway system, thirteen miles east of Estherville. The principal business enterprises are a general store, a grain elevator and an agricultural implement house. In 1915 a fine school building was erected at a cost of $30,000 as the center of a consolidated school district. A postoffice was established soon after the town was laid out.
This is the only village in Twelve Mile Lake Township. It is a station on the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, in the northwest quarter of Section 4, and was surveyed by J. E. Egan for Harry L. and Anna L. Jenkins On October 28, 1899, the plat was filed in the office of the county recorder, showing eleven blocks, subdivided into 166 lots. The east and west streets are First Avenue, Second Avenue, Broadway and Third Avenue. The north and south streets are First, Main, Third, Fourth and Fifth. Raleigh has never come up to the expectations of its founders, a general store, the postoffice and a public school being the only institutions worthy of mention. Polk's Gazetteer gives the population in 1915 as being 26.
The incorporated town of Ringsted is situated on the Jewell & Sanborn division of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, near the center of Denmark Township. On April 6, 1899, the plat of the town was filed in the recorder's office at Estherville, showing seven blocks of twelve lots each, one block not subdivided, and east of the railroad twenty-one lots "for railway purposes." West of the tracks and parallel to the railroad runs Railroad Street. Then come First, Second and Third streets. The cross streets are Elm, Maple, Oak and Ash. The plat was filed by Marvin Hughitt and J. B. Redfield, president and secretary of the Western Town Lot Company.
In 1855 a postoffice was established at the residence of John Larsen (who was appointed the first postmaster) about two miles east of Ringsted. Mr. Larsen was given the privilege of naming the postoffice and called it Ringsted, after the town in Denmark from which his wife came. When the railroad was built the postoffice was moved up to the station and the name was conferred upon the new town. E. T. Sorum was the first postmaster after the removal of the office, and was also the pioneer merchant of Ringsted, the postoffice being kept in his store. He had previously been engaged in conducting a store at Forsyth. The postoffice now employs the postmaster, his assistant and two rural carriers, and the receipts for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1916, amounted to about $2,600. A. L. Anderson is the present postmaster. Mr. Anderson is also the editor and publisher of the Ringsted Dispatch, which was established in 1901.
At the February term of the District Court in 1900 a petition asking for the incorporation of Ringsted was presented. It was signed by O. N. Bossingham, S. J. C. Ormston, J. J. Richmond, Samuel M. Moses, E. T. Sorum, James Hogan, Robert Hanson, A. L. Rasmussen, L. F. Greiner, D. D. Dixon, J. P. Hansen, Christian Ersted, Jens N. Peterson, L. A. Adams, William Nelson, Mads Skow, M. P. Hanson, Hans Johnson, J. W. Lambert, A. Yale, A. E. Erikson, James Healy, T. Healy, James Quinn, R. T. Scott, J. A. Mathieson, C. Christensen, Fred Johnson, Nels Kallsted and W. A. Witte.
Judge W. B. Quarton granted the petition and appointed Dr. O. N. Bossingham, Robert Hanson, A. Yale, E. T. Sorum and William Nelson commissioners to submit the question to the voters living within the limits of the proposed incorporation. The election was held on March 2, 1900, and resulted in thirty-four votes being cast in favor of the incorporation and only one opposed. The report of the commissioners was approved by Judge Quarton, who continued the commissioners and directed them to hold an election for town officers on March 26, 1900. At that time A. Yale was elected mayor; Joseph P. Shoup, clerk; E. T. Sorum, treasurer; William Nelson, Robert Hanson, J. W. Lambert, O. N. Bossingham, J. A. Mathieson and C. L. Rasmussen, councilmen. Three days after this election the order of incorporation was issued by the District Court and made a matter of record.
Ringsted has two banks, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, a public school that employs four teachers, a good air pressure system of waterworks, electric light, a volunteer fire company of twelve members, with hose cart and hook and ladder outfit, a creamery, a cement block and tile works, a hotel, several mercantile establishments, good streets and sidewalks, grain elevators, a lumber yard, express and telegraph offices, telephone service, a number of minor business enterprises and claims to be "the liveliest and best town on the Jewell & Sanborn branch of the Northwestern Railway system."
On May 13, 1912, the Ringsted Opera House Company was incorporated "to own, operate, manage and maintain a public hall and opera house in Ringsted, Iowa, and to conduct therein entertainments, etc." The capital stock authorized was $5,000, which was all paid up, and the first board of directors was composed of Andrew Larsen, A. T. Fox, J. M. Jensen, H. J. Fink and Ole Justesen. Before the close of the year an opera house was completed. In 1910 the population of Ringsted was 313, and in 1915 the property was valued for at $315,765.
The extinct Town of Swan Lake was the outgrowth of an agitation for the location of the county seat somewhere near the geographical center of the county. As stated in the chapter on Settlement and Organization, the question was voted on at the election on October 9, 1879, when the majority of the votes cast were in favor of locating the county seat on the northeast quarter of Section 25, Township 99, Range 33. That quarter section was at the time unsettled and the land belonged to Alexander Gordon and his wife, Mary J. Gordon, who lived in Elkhart County, Indiana. Prominent among the county seat promoters were C. C. Cowell and Asa C. Call, who enlisted the cooperation of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon. Prior to the election of October 9, 1879, when the county seat question was decided by the voters, a town had been surveyed, and the day after the election the plat of Swan Lake was filed in the office of the county recorder showing Alexander Gordon, Mary J. Gordon, C. C. Cowell, and Asa C. Call as proprietors. The plat shows a total of 510 lots, with a public square in the center. Through the center of this square ran Main Street north and south, and Broadway intersected the square running east and west.
Swan Lake was located on the north shore of the body of water bearing that name, just west of the line dividing Center and Swan Lake townships. Estherville newspapers were wont to refer to it as "the piece of wet ground known as Swan Lake City." Soon after the decision of the voters was announced, Adolphus Jenkins went to Swan Lake and opened a hotel. L. R. Bingham was one of the pioneer merchants. In 1880 the first Presbyterian Church in Emmet County was organized at Swan Lake, which by that time had grown into a straggling village with hopes for the future. These hopes were blasted by the litigation over the county seat matter, and when, in November 1882, the voters of the county expressed themselves in favor of taking the seat of justice back to Estherville, which then had a railroad, Swan Lake began its decline. It is now nothing more than a memory.
Six miles south of Estherville on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, in the western part of High Lake Township, is the incorporated town of Wallingford, one of the active business centers of the county. It was surveyed by E. P. Stubbs for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northwestern Land and Town Lot Company, of which C. J. Ives was president and E. S. ELLSWORTH, secretary, and the plat was filed in the office of the county recorder on July 28, 1882. The original plat of 122 lots was all on the east side of the railroad, but additions have since been made extending the town west to the township line.
Soon after the town was founded a postoffice was established by Carl W. Seim, a native of Prussia, as postmaster. Mr. Seim was the first merchant in the place.
On August 28, 1913, Judge D. F. Coyle of the District Court in response to a petition signed by a number of Wallingford citizens appointed J. H. Morrice, Frank Irwin, J. O. Kasa, M.G. Husby and J. A. Nelson commissioners to hold an election and submit to the voters the question of incorporation. The election was held on September 27, 1913 at the school house in Wallingford and resulted in thirty-six votes cast for incorporation, with none in the negative. The returns were presented to Judge N.J. Lee on October 13, 1913. Judge Lee then appointed the commissioners and instructed them to hold an election the 18th of October for town officers. O. O. Anderson was elected mayor; Frank Irwin, clerk; Frank P. Sheldon, treasurer; J. A. Nelson, J. O. Kasa, Oscar Myhre, M. G. Husby and J. A. Haring councilmen.
Wallingford has a bank, a creamery, two general stores, hardware and implement houses, a public school, a hotel, several smaller business concerns, and is a shipping point of considerable importance. It was incorporated too late to have the population reported in the census of 1910, but Polk's Gazetteer for 1915 gives the population as 300. The same year the property was valued for tax purposes at $55,740.
Armstrong Grove. In section 26, Armstrong Township. Post office, 1869-92. In the coming of the railroad and the establishment of the present town of Armstrong the post office was removed to that place.
Bubona. In the northwestern part of Jack Creek Township. Post office, 1897-1903.
Butler Hill. In the western part of High Lake Township. Post office, 1861.
Emmet. Name of the post office (1861-81) at Emmet Grove.
Emmet Grove. A hamlet in section 22, Emmet Township. Settlement began there in 1856.
High Lake. A town in the northwest quarter of section 20, High Lake Township. Laid out in 1881. Post office, 1869-97.
Hoprig. A hamlet in the southern part of Jack Creek Township. Post office, 1885-1914.
Iowa Lake. In section 13, Iowa Lake Township. Post office, 1873-97.
Island Grove. In the eastern part of Jack Creek Township. Post office, 1873.
Lakeside. In the northeastern part of Emmet Township. Post office, 1881-93.
New Bergen. In section 6, High Lake Township. Post office, 1873-81.
Raleigh. Listed in the U.S. Postal Guide as a post office in Emmet County from 1900 to 1919, but not found on maps.
Ringsted. Established in 1885 as a country post office about two miles east of the present town of Ringsted, but on the coming of the railroad the office was removed to the new town.
Swan Lake. In section 25, Center Township, immediately north of the western part of Swan Lake. Town platted in 1879. Was the county seat from 1880 to 1882, and a post office from 1881 to 1900.
Source: Abandoned Towns, Villages and Post Offices of Iowa, by David C. Mott, Annals of Iowa, 1930-1932. Cultural Affairs Department.