T. 36, R. 1, constitutes the town of Mendota. It lies in the extreme northwest corner of the county; has no natural growth of timber, and was entirely ignored by the early settlers. The settlements around the head of Troy Grove timber had extended just over the line into T. 36, in 1840. O'Brian came in 1840, Taylor, in 1841; Ward, in 1842; Meath, in 1845. Charles Foster settled on S. W. 1/2 S. 34, in 1848. Bela and William Bowen, from New York in 1849.
But the building of the Illinois Central and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroads inaugurated the germs of the city of Mendota-and soon filled the town with a busy population. It was known as early as the spring of 1853 where the junction of the two roads would be, and D. D. Giles erected a store, and others followed in quick succession. T. B. Blackstone, resident engineer on the railroad, laid off the original town of Mendota. The place was familiarly called the Junction, but as the railroad stations located on new territory that were nameless were given Indian names, this name was changed to Mendota, which is the Indian name for junction- meaning meeting, or coming together. O. N. Adams suggested the name, perhaps from his being the owner of the Mendota Furnace, near Galena. The Central road was completed to this place in the summer of 1853, and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in November following. The latter road was built in sections; first, the Military Tract and Galesburg, Galesburg to Mendota, and then the Aurora Extension, connecting with the Northwestern at Turner Junction.
The increase of population and building up of the town was very rapid, so that in 1855, less than two years from the completion of the railroad, Town Trustees were chosen and a municipal government organized. The village limits were the lines of S. 33. There have been several additions since. March 4, 1867, a city government was organized, and city officers chosen on the 9th of April following. The growth of Mendota has been constant and rapid, and it is destined to be a city of no mean proportions. The enterprise and intelligence of the people is shown by their admirable schools and institutions of learning, churches, manufactures and trade shown elsewhere.
[Source: History of LaSalle County, Illinois by Elmer Baldwin, Chicago, Rand, McNally & Co., Printers, 1877, SKETCH OF THE PIONEER SETTLERS OF EACH TOWN IN THE COUNTY, Mendota, 478-480 - Transcribed by Nancy Piper]