Acton Township was named for the village of Acton in Ontario, Canada by the Ritchie family in April 1858, one of the first to settle in the township. The US-Dakota War of 1862 officially began on August 17 when five settlers were killed by some young Dakota. A memorial for the settlers killed was erected in 1909 and can still be find at Ness Lutheran Church.
The town of Grove City, incorporated in 1878, is located in this township, with a small portion in Swede Grove Township. The St. Paul and Pacific Railway laid track through the area and established the Acton Station two miles east of Grove City. The settlers requested that the depot be placed inside city limits, rather than on the outskirts. This request was granted, and the public was enthusiastic about the future of their community. The name “Grove City” came from Swede “Grove” because the optimistic settlers felt it would someday be a “City.”