The town was incorporated in 1881. Its first Board of Trustees were: Charles P. Matthewson, Chairman; John E. Olney, Clerk; A. P. Pilger, John Koenigstein and Frederick Lukas; Samuel W. Hayes was chosen Treasurer.
Of the principal business men in Norfolk, John E. Olney settled here in 1869, and erected his fine, large brick store in 1879; Carl Asmus came in 1871, and erected his store, constructed of homemade brick, in 1880; J. S. McClary and A. P. Pilger came also in 1871; Dr. Daniels in 1872; W. H. Widaman and S. W. Hayes in 1873; John Koenigstein in 1871, and erected his elegant brick business block in 1880.
Norfolk has now three general stores, two hardware stores, three groceries, three blacksmiths, three agricultural implement dealers, three banks, three hotels, two furniture stores, two lumber yards, two tailors, one shoe shop, one grain dealer, one music store, one flouring mill and two bakeries. The population may be safely estimated at nearly, or quite, 1,000, and according to the last enumeration, there were 341 children of school age in the district, 173 males, 168 females.
Norfolk Lodge, No. 46, I O. O. F., was organized June 10, 1874, with eleven charter members: Joseph Ritchey, N. G.; John Willis, V. G.; William Gerecke, Secretary.
Mosaic Lodge, No. 55, A., F & A. M., was organized under dispensation October 1, 1874, and chartered June 25, 1875, with twenty-four members. The following were the principal officers: S. W. Hayes, W. M., L. F. Taylor, S. W.; Alexander Bear, J. W.; John S. McClary, Treasurer, and W. H. Lowe, Secretary.
Norfolk has two newspapers.
The Norfolk Journal, published by Clarence Selah & Co., was established November 28, 1877, as a six-column folio. In 1879, it was enlarged to a seven-column, and, in 1880, to an eight. It is Republican in politics and favors a general policy, which, in its judgment, tends to develop the resources of the county, and increase the welfare and happiness of the people. It has remained under the same management since its establishment. .
The Elkhorn Valley News was started September 15, 1881, by Norton & Sprecher. It is a seven-column folio, is Independent Republican in politics and has made quite satisfactory progress as regards business and circulation.
The Norfolk Times was started September 1, 1880, by J. W. C. Jones, but was discontinued in November, 1881. It was Democratic in politics. The material of the office was purchased by Norton & Sprecher.
The first term of school taught in Norfolk was begun June 8, 1870, in the log Lutheran Church. Mrs. Mary A. Kidder, teacher. District No.2, Madison County, which includes Norfolk, voted bonds in the sum of $5,500, in April, 1882, for the purpose of building a schoolhouse. The vote stood 100 for the bonds to 3 against.
J. & C. P. Mathewson opened a bank in 1872 in a small frame building. In 1878, C. P. Mathewson became sole proprietor of the business, and, in 1880, erected a large two-story brick building, at a cost of $5,000.
The Norfolk Bank was opened by Burrows & Egbert, January 18, 1882.
The Norfolk City Bank was opened February 15, 1882, by I. P. Donaldson & Co. They do a general banking business, make collections and deal in foreign exchange.
Source: Andreas, A. T. History of the State of Nebraska, p. 1105-1106. Chicago: The Western Historical Company. 1882.