Ord was selected as county seat for Valley County in 1873. The town was laid out early in 1874 by the Haskell Brothers and Robbins who had purchased the land for the town site from the Burlington and Missouri Railroad Company. About this time General E.O.C. Ord was in command of the Military Department of the Platte and made at trip up the North Loup Valley for the purpose of establishing or selecting a location for Fort Hartsuff. It was decided to name the new town Ord in his honor.
The town was carefully laid out by a surveyor in May 1875, and the plat was filed in the office of the county clerk. The first building erected was the courthouse which was completed in February 1876. A schoolhouse was built about the same time. The first residence was built in the spring of 1876.
No further improvements were made in the town until the fall of 1877 when W.H. Mitchell moved his paper, the Valley County Herald, from Calamus and began its publication. During 1878 a large migration into the county caused rapid growth. In the spring a hardware-drug store, general merchandise store, and two blacksmith shops were constructed; two law practices started; and the Valley County Courier moved from Vinton.
The village began to make rapid progress in 1880. John Drake and Company started a brick yard, and 100,000 superior-quality bricks were manufactured the first year. About 35 buildings were constructed, more than half were business houses. The Valley County Bank was established in October 1880.
Ord was incorporated as a village on June 23, 1881. On November 8, 1881, bonds in the amount of $5,000 were approved for the Union Pacific Railroad to secure an early railroad up the North Loup Valley. Population by the end of the year increased to 250.
The Ord Flouring and Grist Mill was built for $5,000 in 1881. The quality of flour manufactured was second to none in the state. The Ord City Bank and the Ord Quiz newspaper were established in 1882. By the end of 1882, Ord's population had increased to 500. A branch line of the Union Pacific from Grand Island reached Ord in 1886. Soon to follow was a line of the Burlington which came up from Aurora. A three-story brick courthouse was built in 1921 followed by the Ord Co-Op Creamery in 1926 and Masonic Hall in 1928.
The Evelyn Sharp Airport, built in the 1950s, was named after Evelyn Sharp who graduated from the Ord High School in 1937. She was the youngest person in the United States to earn a transport license to fly a plane and flew the first mail plane into Ord. During World War II she enlisted in the service and transported repaired planes from the West to the East Coast. She was killed taking off from a Pennsylvania airport in 1944 and was buried in the Ord cemetery.