George Shroaf built a home near the timber on the north side of the Nemaha River in 1854, and more families arrived the following year. As the settlement grew, it was known by many names: Shroaf’s Ford, Bradley’s Bridge, Pinhook, Clinton, Dayton, Howard, and Podunk.
A crude dam and grist mill, powered by the waterfall of the Nemaha River, was built in 1867, and a sawmill was added in 1870. The first store, established on the south side of the river, was built in 1871. A town was platted in 1878 when plans of a railroad were in the works.
The Missouri Pacific, involved in the relocation of the county seat to a central location, was building a line across the prairie to Crete. The tracks and depot were built in 1881. The railroad, which disliked the name “Podunk,” chose “Brock” in honor of the superintendent of the line.
The town reached its peak population of 543 in 1900. Boardwalks were replaced by concrete, and oil lamps gave way to electricity from the town’s light plant. There was an opera house, movie theatre, dance hall, and numerous clubs and organizations. The “Brock Enterprise,” first published in 1883, was changed to the “Brock Bugle.” It continued until 1944.