Lake Mills traces
its history back to the 1850's. The first settler in the area was
Joshua Thomas. He was soon followed by many others, a good share
of whom were of Scandinavian descent.
C. D. Smith incorporated the community in 1869.
Lake Mills has always been a prosperous community.
The name Lake Mills comes from the fact that the town was built
on what was then the shoreline of Rice Lake. There was also a grist
and lumber mill located on the banks of the old town lake.
During the first half of the 20th century the
city depended on Cool Spring Canning Company for jobs. When the
canning plant closed in 1957, an agressive group of Lake Mills'
residents began what has turned out to be a highly successful drive
to create jobs for people in the area.
Richard Sears, the founder of the huge Sears
organization, was depot agent here from 1880 to 1886 prior to moving
to Redwood Falls where the company picks up his trail to success.
Pulitzer prize winning author Wallace Stenger spent his early life
here. Jesse Parker, a legend in Iowa education, was born and raised
in Lake Mills. Governor Terry E. Branstad, who served in the state's
top office, has roots in Lake Mills. Branstad opened a law practice
here as a young attorney, and continued to call Lake Mills home
while serving as state representative and lieutenant governor before
being elected to the Governor's office, a position he held for 16
Many graduates of Lake Mills Community School
have gone on to make their mark in various endeavors in the state,
nation, and world.
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