The first settlers, primarily of Scandinavian heritage, came to Story City in the 1850s from several Eastern states looking for new land to settle. They preferred to live near the Skunk River (then called the Chicaque) because it provided ready access to water and timberland which surrounded its banks.
Originally called Fairview, Story City owed its growth, if not its initial settlement, to the arrival of the railroad and Norwegian immigrants. The Fairview settlement remained small and relatively insignificant until after the Civil War.
By the 1860s the settlement activity quickened. Norwegians who had first come to Illinois from their native country in the 1850’s found land in Story County both inexpensive to buy ($1.25 an acre) and profitable to farm. American farmers and merchants followed the Scandinavians.