Norfolk History


Norfolk was founded in July 1866 after 44 German families from the Wisconsin area stopped their prairie schooner caravan to admire the available farm land. Other pioneers, also attracted to the fertile soil, soon followed.

A water-powered grist mill gave the area an economy to support mill stores and other merchant ventures, and by 1881, citizens organized the village of Norfolk. Legend has it that they originally named their settlement “Norfork” in honor of the North Fork River, but postal authorities assumed the name was misspelled. They dubbed the settlement Norfolk, a misnomer that stuck. To this day, it is still a mystery what the founders of the town truly intended the name to be.

Norfolk has always enjoyed popularity as a transportation hub: railroads propelled the area into a vital trade center for the region.

Modern Maturity
Today, Norfolk’s numbers break down to impressive growth:
Population (2000): 23,516
Labor Market Population (county population plus contiguous counties): 104,762
Median Age: 35 to 44

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