Hector was founded in 1878 when the Hastings and Dakota Railway Company constructed the railroad on the north side of the original town site. The 10 block town site survey was completed September 14, 1878 on land owned by the Hastings and Dakota Railway Company, but a number of enterprising businessmen were already “squatting” on the site by then.
The site of Hector was one of the most unlikely spots that could be imagined for the location of a thriving, active village. Marshes and mud holes furnished a home for muskrats and refuge for waterfowl. In the firm places just north and west of the site, wound the desolate track of the old Cedar Mill, Hutchinson, Hector, Plainfield, Beaver Falls stage route. The Hector post state stop was kept by John Baker in the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of Section 2, about 4 miles northeast of the village site. The Plainfield post office was kept by J.B. Parkins in the northeast corner of the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 30, about one and one-fourth miles southwest of the village site.
When the railroad came through, the nearest building to the site was the home of August Mahn, which was about 1,500 feet northwest of the depot and near the site of the present Dave Spreiter residence. The August Prelwitz home in Section 29 was 3,000 feet southeast of the depot and on the site of the present William Roebke residence.
The first building built on the town site was a warehouse constructed by Charles Lang on the site that later became the site of the V.H. Smith Elevator which was between the present Fullerton Lumber yard office and the railroad track.
In July of 1878, Marion Abbott moved his stock of goods (general merchandise) to Hector from Preston Lake Township where he had a store south of Preston Lake. His was the first business in Hector. When the town site was surveyed, he bought lots 1, 4, 5 and 8 of block 4, (present Joel Best Service Station site) where he constructed a general store and moved to that site. This was the site of the first Sunday school held in Hector. Marion Abbott was a deeply religious man that had memorized 45 chapters of the Bible by the time he died at the age of 90 in 1927.
Also in July, Hogland and Stranberg constructed a shanty near the depot, which was used as a blacksmith shop and later relocated to lots 2 and 3 of block 8, the present Hector Mirror site. Cornish and Bourne started the first lumber yard with an office by the depot. This business was soon moved to the present Fullerton Lumber Yard site and was operated for many years as the McGregor Lumber Yard.
In September 1878, W.D. Griffith came from Hutchinson and built a general store on lots 2 and 3 of block 3 (present Bargman Oil site) and opened for business on October 1, 1878. He was commissioned postmaster on October 8, 1878 and the postal supplies were moved to his store from the John Baker farm. The Plainfield Post Office was discontinued a few months later.
G.H. (Charley) Nixon moved to Hector from Fort Ridgely and had a store built on lots 21 and 24, block 4 (present Red Owl Store site) and opened for business about November 1, 1878. The carpenter was John Trueman, from Fort Ridgely, who then built a drug store for B.A. Knopp on lot 17, block 4, and a hardware store for himself on lots 7 and 10, block 3 (present Hector Plumbing and Heating site). J.B. Perkins, who had been the Plainfield postmaster, built a hotel on the east side of lots 2, 3, 6, 7, 10 and 11 of block 4, facing the railroad tracks and along the alley on the former Service Implement site west of Abbott’s store. The room over the kitchen was the site of the first school in the village and was taught by Minnie Podden. Religious services were also held first in J.B. Perkins hotel by Reverend George Potter of Boon Lake.
The first dwelling house was constructed by Oscar H. Baker in the fall of 1878 on lots 1 and 4 of block 7, (the present bank site) and his son, Guy, was born in this house, the first child born on the town site.
G.H. Nixon, O.P. Peterson and John Trueman were appointed commissioners to organize the village after Hector incorporated by Act of the Legislature approved the February 23, 1881. They were in charge of the election held March 11, 1881 and elected President was W.D. Griffith. G.H. Nixon, O.P. Peterson, (who came to Hector in 1878 and entered the firm of Peterson, Nelson and Company) and Bart W. Schoulweller, who opened a general store in the front of the Oscar Baker store, were elected trustees. Elected recorder was H. Simmons and elected treasurer was Marion Abbott. Andrew Strom was elected justice. He came to Hector in 1879 from Beaver Falls and constructed a combined store and dwelling house on lot 5 of block 7 (first lot south of Dickman Drug) that in 1880 was stocked with drugs and general merchandise. Jones Chapman, who had the Fancy Grocery business on lot 15, block 3 (present Parris Law Office site) was elected the village’s first constable.
The village was named after the township of Hector, which had been organized in June of 1874. It had originally been named Milford, but found it necessary to change its name when it was learned there was already another Milford in Minnesota. After a hotly contested debate between those who favored the name Plainfield (after the stage stop and post office) and those who favored the name Hector, a township in New York on the east shore of Seneca Lake where many of the early settlers came from. Hector, New York was named after the bravest of the ancient Trojan warriors whose story is an important part of Homer’s get epic, “The Iliad”. So by succession, Hector was named after the brave Trojan warrior and it has always shown fighting spirit befitting its name.