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Roland History

Howard Township in northern Story County was settled in the 1850's by Norwegians from the Lisbon, IL area because farmland ln Kendall County was limited and too expensive. As the population grew and prospered the need for a market place was created. The first business was a Grange store which opened in the 1870's. Because all the major markets were too far away for the goods that the settlers needed to buy or products to sell, the concept of a business community was proposed.  Four farmers  agreed to sell sections of their farms to form the original town of Roland.  A major development in the growth of the young hamlet was the building of the railroad in 1881 that ran from Story City to Marshalltown.  Roland was incorporated in 1892. In March of 1892, an election was held with W.O. Bates being elected our first mayor.  The city council members elected were Andrew J. Olson, Jonas Duea, Charles Christian, O.O. Stole, Iver Johnson, and Carl Oleson.  The clerk was Sam J. Michaelson. The name Roland was suggested by Harry Evenson because it was easy to spell and pronounce in both English and Norwegian.Two elements of the young Norwegian settlement was their devotion to their Lutheran faith and  the love of education. Salem Lutheran Church was established in 1868 and Bergen Lutheran Church, a spin-off of St. Petri Church in Story City, was built in 1874. Both churches are still in operation today. The first school was built in 1862.  Today the building is still standing close to its original location about one-half block south of our current museum.

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