The town was named for an early pioneer Benjamin Imboden who settled here around 1828. W.C. Sloan a landowner decided upon the name as he held great respect for the Imboden Family. Benjamin was a descendant of a noble clan of Imbodens whose original homeplace were the mountains of Switzerland. The family was highly regarded for their active support of the Church, the schools, and their loyalty to government.
The first place of business was opened in 1884 by W.C Sloan, O.C. James and W.M. Childress and was named the Sloan-Mercantile Company. The Sloan-Mercantile was later re-named Sloan-Wilson Company after Childress sold his share of the store and W.J. Wilson was brought in.
Records show the town of Imboden was incorporated in April of 1889. The town consisted of three general stores, two grocery stores, two saloons, one hotel, a livery stable, a one room school, and a Catholic Church around this time.
In 1889 the saloons were voted out due to town people petitioning against them in part due to Dr. Darr a local physician being killed in a saloon on Main Street that later housed Mitchell Drug Store.
Imboden’s first hotel the Strawn, was built in approximately 1883, located on Main Street (where the old Mcleod’s store used to be). When they outgrew the building the large Delmonico Hotel was built in 1885. Within the Delmonico’s wall, a fight resulted in a man being stabbed to death.
During the 1890′s a firecracker fight burned down several businesses as there was no fire department during that time.
In October 1905 electric lights were installed in many of the Imboden homes in the section of town called Milltown.
Following the Civil War, the first ferry was owned and operated by Jacob Sherman Songer. The ferry passage ceased when a bridge was built over Spring River in 1898 based on donations of people in Imboden.
The Youngest Mayor in the United States
On May 6th of 1912, Imboden elected Joe F. Sullivan as the youngest mayor in the United States of that period. He was 21 years old and paralyzed so he relied on a goat-driven cart. Joe won the election maybe in part to his clever tactic of asking for the help of six pretty high school girls who became his campaign managers . Joe Sullivan wrote for the Imboden Gazette (the local newspaper at the time) and wrote several short stories for larger publications. Joe was quoted as saying ” For myself I am going to use three essentials to success Faith, Prayer, and Perserverence. They never fail you if you are in the right and you are already a failure if you are in the wrong.”
Joe F. Sullivan went on to write “The Unheard Cry” a book about the challenges people with disabilities face.
Another person of interest is a Byron C. Marshall who submitted specimans and information of reptiles, amphibians,and biological specimans that he collected in the Imboden area to the Smithsonian, Carnagie Institute, and many universities for further study in the 1930′s and 1940′s. He is even mentioned in a 1943 National Geographic Magazine article.
Over the years several small businesses were established such as a shoe repair, a jewelry repair, a clean and press shop, photography studio, mill , and lumber supply.
The first movie house in Imboden in the early 1920′s was an outdoor theater called the Hippodrome. It was operated during the summer months and was managed by King David Crouch and his son Otho.
Boys who wanted to see the show without paying the dime admittance would climb onto the Wilson Mercantile Store roof to watch the film across the street.
In 1938 a $225,000 concrete bridge and railroad overpass was completed. The completion of the span was possibly one of the most celebrated events in the history of Imboden. The Mayor of the time J. W. Jean called for all businesses to close between 12-4:00 pm on the day of celebration upon the bridges completion.
Imboden was plagued with fires for many years. Taken from old history of the town it is noted that most businesses were destroyed, at least once, by fire. One of the most unusual aspects of many of these fires was the fact that they occurred annually on Christmas Eve.
Another unique old tale is the story of a circus that came through Imboden. Their one and only polar bear died during their stay and was buried on the campus of Sloan-Hendrix Schools.