The village of Emery was named for Sloan Miller Emery who filed a tree claim in 1879, which included the original town site. In 1881 M.E. Conlon contested the claim which resulted in a lawsuit. The ownership was decided in favor of S.M and he retained the title to the claim.
The Emery Post Office was established September 5, 1881. It was probably located in the home of the postmaster who lived a half mile from the railroad. In 1882, Sloan 29 Emery erected a building on the present site of the Maximum Fitness Center. He rented the building as a general store to P.H. McDonald, who had been commissioned as the postmaster. McDonald became the first Emery businessman with the post office in the store. Early in 1883 a scrip deed for the town site was issued to S.M. Emery. The original plat of the unincorporated village of Emery was dated September 29, 1883 and included 40 acres of land. That same year the railroad built a sidetrack on the north side of the main line. D.T. Putnam constructed an elevator and C.D. O'Brien operated a blacksmith shop. In 1883, the oldest remaining building, built by Jerry Driscoll, was used as a post office and a general store. Originally the general store was built where Ray Hillard built his house. In 1884 it was moved to its present location. The 1934 Golden Jubilee edition of the Emery Enterprise had a picture of Ralph Blackburn, the first child born in the limits of Emery. His father was the manger of the local lumberyard.
The 1884 Alfred Andreas Historical Atlas of Dakota contained this description, "Emery has one public school and a Catholic church building, a post office, several stores, a blacksmith shop, grain elevator and a warehouse. The town is new, and growing rapidly."
By 1884, Jame Fahy had erected a hotel in Emery and moved his business from Farmington. The road between the hotel and the store became known as Main Street. Mr. Fahy also built a livery stable north of his hotel. The original hotel building is located on its original site and is currently the Gene Snooty residence. The depot was built in 1884 at the intersection of the present Main Street. John Sloan was the first Emery depot agent. A lumberyard, owned by M.A. Leahy was built where the Emery Building Center is today. A Mr. Sherman had a hardware store and Frank Taylor built a blacksmith shop on the present side of Mels. Bob Hollister built a livery stable and Tom Flaherty purchased the store managed by P.H. McDonald.
I.W. Hinkley built a second general store in 1885. He built the store one block east of what was called Main Street. The building was torn down at the time the new bank was built in 1975. The site is presently used as a parking lot. Cal Taylor built a hardware store in 1885 on the site of the Leiten building. IN 1887, A. and P. Michall built an elevator and in 1888 the Huntling Elevator Company built an elevator that was managed by Patrick Danneher. John Sloan built a fourth elevator in 1889.
The community continued to grow, adding more businesses and residential property. In 1890 a printer by the name of Charles Langle decided the town was able to support a newspaper which was the beginning of the Emery Enterprise. He rented the building that was formerly used by Jerry Driscoll as a wagon shop. Another big boost to the community came in 1891 when Dr. Forrest Doud arrived to start a medical practice. After the arrival of the doctor, Auris Finstad opened a drug store. The first addition to the town site was platted December 22, 1891. George Zeeman, on the site of the future Farmers State Bank, opened the first bank in 1892.
That following year, the first creamery and skimming station was built about 400 feet south of Els Mobile. The creamery was later moved and used as a residence by many families. An 1893 enterprise noted "the new homes in this community are fast taking the place of sod and straw shelters. The money to build them was made right here."