When the Des Moines & Fort Des Moines Railway was surveying through the county, Ellington township voted a tax, but Rush Lake did not. Geo. Inman, who owned the eighty on the west side of the township line and in Rush Lake township, gave the railway company a half interest in return for the location of the town site on his land. This took the station out of Ellington and into Rush Lake, but the railway doubtless got the benefit of the tax just the same. Inman had promised the railway company to give them the part of his land east of the tracks, but there was a mortgage on it and this precipitated a long controversy with the railway which was finally compromised in some way. The track was laid as far north as Mallard in September, 1882. The railway station was the first building on the town plat, through Inman had a small house on his farm and Joseph Mihlfread had lived in a small shack in the neighborhood for several years.
The town was named by Chas. E. Whitehead, president of Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railway, who was a great hunter and used to hunt out through this country for several years before the railway was built. He had a good sense of humor and after naming "Plover," the station to the south, he called this new station "Mallard" because of the great quantities of ducks that inhabited the sloughs and ponds.
The railway had hardly been completed before Hackenburg built a store and opened up a stock of general merchandise. He was followed in the same year (1882) by Bill Stafford's general store. John Mertis built the first residence in town. In the spring of 1882 C.H. Sands started a grain, coal and lumber business and Orie Kendall built a hotel. Mr. Hackenburg was the first postmaster of the town. At first the regular church and Sunday School services were held in the waiting room of the depot, as that was the largest available room. Chas. Ziegler started that first hardware store in the fall of 1883 and several other businesses started later.
History of Palo Alto County - Dwight G. McCarty ©1910. Provided Courtesy of The Reporter.