This flourishing town is situated in the southeast part of the county, on the south bank of Cedar Creek, about one mile west of its confluence with the Elkhorn, at an elevation of about 1,600 feet above the level of the sea. It was named “Oakdale” from the fact of its existence of considerable quantities of oak timber, on Cedar Creek, above its location, at the time of the first visits of the early pioneers. The town site was laid out by I. N. Taylor in 1872. The first settler here was B. C. Palmer, from Illinois, who came in June of this year. About the same time came Dr. A. B. Elwood, Thomas Potts, T. P. Trask and A. M. Towsley.
In 1872, the town site, consisting of one-half section of land, was sold to individual members of the State Board of Immigration, in consideration of $3.25 per acre, and their bond in the sum of $10,000 to build and put in operation a flouring mill. This contract was substantially carried out in 1873, by the sale by them to R. G. King, of one-half the town site in consideration of $400 and his bond in the sum of $10,000. Mr. King built the mill, a frame three-and-a-half-story building, at a cost of $18,000. It at first had but two run of stone, but now has three, and until 1875 was the only flouring-mill in the county. With the building of this mill commenced the building up of Oakdale.
The first house and first store in the town were built by B. C. Palmer, in April, 1873, who had moved into the town in June, 1872. Dr. A. B. Elwood moved in about the same time, and was soon after followed by Thomas Potts, T. P. Trask and A. M. Towsley. The second store was built in July of the same year by R. G. King. The first Postmaster was R. P Elwood, in 1873, and the first school, a select one, was taught by Charles Sale, in a house built by him for a residence. The first schoolhouse was built on an elevation in the south part of the village, in 1874. A. Coole was the first blacksmith, in 1873. The first marriage was that of John Malzacher to Miss Jennie Elwood, December 25, 1873. On March 9, 1874, occurred the double marriage of Silas Howard to Emma Bennett, and of Albert Bennett to Julia Howard. The first birth, that of William T. Frost, occurred in March 1873; the first death, that of Clara Potts, daughter of Thomas Potts, was in February, 1873. In this year, Robert Elwood built and kept the first hotel, and Rev. Hiram Keith, Methodist minister, preached the first sermon. The Methodist church was organized in 1874; the Congregational in 1877; the Presbyterian and Episcopalian in October 1881. There is but one church edifice in town, built in 1881, by the Methodists, and dedicated on December 18 of that year, Rev. Mr. Pardee, of Sioux City, Iowa, conducting the dedicatory services. This building is used by all the churches.
The village of Oakdale was organized January 12, 1882, by the election of a Board of Trustees, of which the members were: F. H. Green, Chairman; M. W. King, W. S. Smith, D. E. Beckwith and Robert Wilson; D. A. Holmes, Attorney; Samuel McCord, Marshal, and E. P. McCormick, Police Justice. On the same evening, the board passed four ordinances, the third being “to license and regulate the sale of intoxicating, malt, vinous, mixed or fermented liquors in Oakdale.”
In this town there are now five general stores, one hardware store, one harness shop and two hotels — the Central, started in the spring of 1880, and the Commercial, started in the summer. The census of 1880 shows that the population of the town was then 532, and the children of school age numbered 175.