EMMET AND DICKINSON COUNTIES 139
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 that time unsettled and the land belonged to
Alexander Gordon and his wife, Mary J. Gordan, who lived in Elkhart
County, Indiana. Prominent ainong 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 short 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
140 EMMET AND DICKINSON COUNTIES
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 with
Carl W. Seim, a native of Prussia, as postmaster. Mr. Seim was also
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 being
cast for incorporation, with none in the negative. The returns were
presented to Judge N. J. Lee on October 3, 1913. Judge Lee then re‐
appointed the commissioners and instructed them to hold an election on
the 18th of October for town officers. 0. 0. Anderson was elected
mayor; Frank Irwin, clerk; Frank P. Sheldon, treasurer; J. 0. Kasa,
J. A. Nelson, Oscar Myhre, M. G. Husby and J. A. Haring councilman.
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 Gazaeteer for 1915 gives the population as 300. In
the same year the property was valued for tax purposes at $55,743.