In the spring of 1866 a close-knit group of German Lutherans left Ixonia, Wisconsin, and traveled to the banks of the North Fork of the Elkhorn River in what was then Nebraska Territory. They arrived in mid-July and the families claimed land along the river. They were later joined by their minister, Reverend Heckendorf, and established St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. In 1868 the community was granted a post office with Civil War veteran August Raasch named the first postmaster. In 1869 Col. Charles Mathewson, who had also served in the Civil War, built a flour mill on the river that began operating in 1870. It received power from a dam at this location. The grist mill, a saw mill, Mathewson’s home, and a general store formed the nucleus of the hamlet of Norfolk. In time more settlers arrived. On September 12, 1881, the county board incorporated the village of Norfolk in response to a petition signed by 103 residents. In 1886 Norfolk, with a population then exceeding 1,000, became a city of the second-class. Herman Gerecke was elected the first mayor.