In 1854, John McDonald of Madison county, Ohio, visited Union County and entered about twenty-five hundred acres of land which remained unimproved until the laying out of Creston. In 1855, John McPherrin entered a large tract adjoining McDonald’s property. When the Burlington and Missouri Railroad was projected through the county in 1869, the present site of Creston was a wild upland prairie. In the summer of that year S. H. Mallory, the well known railroad builder, located his surveying camp where Creston now stands. Land had been secured by the railroad company at Cromwell in 1868 for a division station, but after some examination and deliberation on the part of the officials the summit was decided upon for the division station. The inside officials of the railroad construction company which included A. H. Mallory, D. N. Smith, C. E. Perkins and others organized themselves into a town company and purchased land of McDonald and McPherrin in the fall of 1869 and platted the new town on about three hundred acres.
As soon as Creston was platted, buildings were erected; the division station, round house, and machine shops of the Burlington and Missouri Railroad. The railroad was rapidly extended westward. Stock yards were build and the town became a reality. The location of machine shops, stock yards, and division station gave employment to the large number of workmen who became citizens of the town and contributed to the support of its business and municipal needs. The first store built by A. C. Rowell on Union street, followed by Thorton, Way and Company, dealers in hardware and agricultural implements, on an adjoining lot, the business center starting on the south side of the railroad track. Later business houses were located on the north side where today most of the businesses are located.
The first bank was started in 1871 by S. H. Mallory & Company with A. D. Temple, cashier. R. P. Smith opened a general store at an early date. C. W Fahlsing started a dry-goods house and other dry-goods men were G. W. Cartlich, Kelley & Becker, and James Griffin. Wise & Company, Oberfelder & Newman, and G. Shortliff had businesses of exclusive clothing. J. W. Graves opened a drug store in 1871. Thorton, Way & Company became H. M. Way & Company with hardware and implement businesses in Creston and Afton. M. C. Beymer also had a hardware and lumber trade. J. H. Patt was engaged in the hardware business at an early date. A. E. Keith engaged in the boot and shoe business. Beckman & Hatton, James Griffin and other opened grocery businesses. In the furniture business were F. A. Battey and W. R. Bell. Very early was jeweler Henry Bauer and Bean & Meek who carried jewelry as well as music instruments. J. F. Evans & Company operated a steam flour mill and elevator as well as handling grain and W. M. Scott was an extensive grain dealer. Among the early hotels was the Creston House with Colonel S. D. Swan proprietor.
In the professions, there were ministers, doctors and lawyers. Among the first doctors were Dr. J. B. Wilson, W. H. Christie, B. N. Torrey, The bar was represented by J. B. Harsh, D. H. Ettein and others.
In April 1871, Creston was incorporated. About this time a few brick buildings began to go up and also good frame residences. In 1870 the population was four hundred and eleven and by 1875 it had reached one thousand eight hundred and nineteen. The B. & M. Railroad Company built the largest engine house in the west which drew to Creston a large number of men in the employ of the company. Before the new railroad station was built, the grounds owned by the railroad company, were fenced and made into a park which was a marked improvement to the appearance of Adams Street and to the city.
The original town plat included about three hundred acres. The railroad tracks and buildings occupied eight blocks. South of these was an area of six blocks north and south by eight blocks east and west. North of the railroad tracks were twenty-two blocks of the original plat. The principal additions during the first six years were: West Creston, Section A, twenty blocks; Section B, of irregular shape but about the same size; Swigert’s first and second additions, north of old plat containing twelve and sixteen blocks respectively; McDonald’s Addition east of these, but north of the track of over forty blocks; Devoe’s Addition, in the northwestern part of the city, and Stone and Elliott’s Lake View Addition, a mile west of the depot.
Early historical accounts established that one of the first acts of the first city council was to adopt “The Headliner” as the official city newspaper, much to the disgust and discomfort of the other city newspaper’s reporters who were present. The Creston News Advertiser began in 1879, when S. A. Brewster, who operated a job printing shop, began publishing the Creston Advertiser as a weekly paper. On 5 December 1881, the newspaper became a daily. Clayton F. Skirvin, a reporter for the paper, later purchased all of Brewster’s interest and consolidated with the Creston Gazette. The paper was changed to the name of the Creston Advertiser-Gazette. The Advertiser-Gazette was sold to Paul Junkin in 1905. In 1919 W. A. Roseberry and Dewitt Sowers purchased the paper from Junkin. Sowers interest was sold to Carl Davenport in 1922. The Creston News was started in 1927 by Clayton F. Skirvin and after eleven months of publication, merged with Creston Advertiser under the ownership of Joel Hill and Frank Thayer on 6 September 1928 with the named changed to the Creston News Advertiser
Afton became the county seat on 16 February 1855. When the Burington and Missouri Railroad was built through the county, establishing the division at Creston and as the town grew and population increased in the west half of the county, there came to be a desire to change the county seat from Afton to Creston. The question was a source of agitation for several years but, in 06 November 1890, the question was submitted to the voters of the county. The resulting vote was 2,350 in the affirmative and 1, 641 in the negative. The county records were moved to Creston courthouse 25 November 1890. As an inducement to secure the county seat, the city of Creston and citizens, had caused to be erected in the years 1887 and 1888 a two story brick building, with eight rooms and five fire proof vaults on the first floor. A court room, council room and three office rooms on the second floor, with basement rooms under the whold building at a cost of $22,000.