Nobles County was first occupied by the Sisseton Indians. The first white man to set foot on the land was Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, who came to map out the area in 1842 and named the lakes Okabena (there was also in East Okabena), Ocheyedan and the Kanaranzi River. The first settlement was near Graham Lakes. Township surveys were run along the Iowa Border in 1852, laying out the Lake and continued eastward. The territory was organized in 1849. In 1856, there was a great influx of settlers into Minnesota. The panic of 1857 stopped that. During this period only trappers visited Nobles County. Trapping was profitable during the early days. Nobles County was created by the Minnesota Legislature on May 23, 1857, just before the full force of the panic was felt. Settlers were also discouraged from coming by the Indian Massacre of 1857. At this time, a band of Sioux has ruthlessly murdered settlers in Spirit Lake and along the Des Moines River in Jackson and Cottonwood Counties. The few whites in the area were understandably reluctant to stay.