PALO ALTO, a new county in the N. W. part of Iowa, has an area of 550 square miles. It is intersected in the K. by the Des Moines river, and in the W. by Lizard river, an affluent of the first-mentioned stream, and also drained by two small tributaries of the Des Moines, one of which rises from a lake in the western part of the county. It is not included in the census of 1850. County seat not located. (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)
PALO ALTO COUNTY Is in the second tier of counties from the northern boundary of the State, and the fourth east of the Missouri River. It is bounded on the north by Emmett County, on the east by Kossuth, on the south by Pocahontas, and on the west by Clay. It is twenty four miles square, and contains 576 square miles. The west branch of the Des Moines River passes through the county from northwest to southeast, and affords many good sites for mills and manufactories, which are much needed. There are seven very pretty lakes of good water in the county, among which the principal is Medium Lake, in the central portion. This lake is about three miles long, over a fourth of a mile wide, is partly bordered by timber, and surrounded by beautiful land. The general surface of the county is partially rolling, and principally prairie, with about fifteen hundred acres of timber mostly along the Des Moines River. The gentle slopes of the prairie towards the river, through six townships of this county, are as beautiful if not more so, than along any other river in Iowa or any other part of the west. The soil is mostly dry, very slightly sandy on some portions of the wide river bottoms, and on the prairies it appears to possess those desirable qualities that make it adapted to both grass and grain. The principal varieties of timber are ash, oak, elm, maple, hackberry, and hickory.
Pieces of coal weighing in some cases as much as thirty pounds, have been found, but no attempts have as yet been made to find veins. Limestone is not very plenty, but there is an abundance of brick clay of good quality.
Owing to the abundance of grass and hay, and the convenience of water in all parts, the county is extremely well adapted to stock raising.
The county was organized in December, 1858, and contains three townships, viz: Emmettsburg, Nevada, and West Bend.
PAOLI, the county seat, is a small post village in the central portion of the county, and about two miles from the south end of Medium Lake, and near the Des Moines River.
EMMETTSBURGH is situated in a township of the same name, three miles from the county seat. It has three religious organizations, and one saw mill. Population 60; of the township 150.
FERN VALLEY is situated in the southern part of the county on the Des Moines River, 45 miles west of Fort Dodge, and 12 miles southwest of the county seat. There is a Presbyterian church here. Population of township 75.
The remaining post offices are Soda Bar, and West End. (Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer..., 1865)