The history of any town often begins with how the early village got its name. Paullina takes its name from two brothers, Henry and D. Edward Paullin. The Paullin boys came from back east and were Harvard graduates. They came to the Iowa prairies and bought nearly 7000 acres of land in O’Brien County in 1880. They were entrepreneurs and speculators, looking to make money in the booming land business of the west. No doubt, they had good information that the railroad was going to build tracks through this part of the country.
Indeed in 1881, the Toledo and Northwestern Railroad laid track from Eagle Grove to Hawarden. D. Edward Paullin, being the shrewd businessman he was, offered a townsite to the railroad free of charge if it would run the rail through his ranch property. The only stipulation to the railroad was that the townsite had to be named after him. The agreement was made and the plat for the townsite called Paullina was filed on December 31, 1881 and recorded on January 13, 1882.
The Paullin brothers soon faded into history but the town that bears their name continues to be an important business and recreational center for the southern part of O’Brien County. Paullina’s business district offers almost every kind of service and product imaginable. Lake Paullina and the surrounding recreational area are a haven for hundreds of campers and visitors especially during the summer months.