In 1856, Scottish immigrants Ziba Caswell and J. W. Walker had the honor of naming the village and township of Manannah with an old Scottish history book served as their inspiration when they discovered record of a former village of the same name. The village of Manannah boasted a flour mill and a unique early resident of the named Lucy Ann Lobdell, who arrived from New York in the fall of 1856. She was an excellent marksman who by the age of 12 “could outshoot any man!” By the time she came to Manannah, she had changed her name to "La-Roi-Lobdell" and dressed in men’s clothing. She lived as La-Roi for two years before being discovered, the Meeker County Attorney, Wm. Richards, filed charges stating “Lobdell, being a woman, falsely impersonates a man, to the great scandal of the community.” It was found, however, that women had the right to wear pants, and the case was dismissed. She received the name “Wild Woman of Manannah”, and after some treatment as an outcast headed back east.
During the U.S/Dakota War of 1862, residents found refuge in a hotel. One day during the six-week war, 11 men were returning to Manannah from the stockade in Forest City. The men were ambushed by a war party, and four were killed in what later became known as the "Manannah Massacre." This motivated the settlers to build their own stockade around part of the older townsite after the U.S/Dakota War came to an end, as preparation for future possible conflicts. By the end of the 19th century, Manannah boosted three general stores, a flour and feed mill, a hotel, a cabinet shop, two blacksmith shops, a barber, a creamery, a pool hall and a harness shop.
A second village, Eden Valley, was platted as a railroad village in 1886. The first school was built in 1887 and village-wide waterworks system completed in 1903. The city streets were still lit by kerosene coming into the 1910s, which when combined with the sparks from a locomotive, resulted in a large city-wide fire in 1913. On a hot June afternoon, the fire began at the depot and moved from building to building until it seemed like the entire town was engulfed in flame. By evening, despite the help of locals and hundreds of citizens from neighboring communities, a large section of the town was destroyed.