Oneida County was formed in 1864. The name, an Indian word for a member of an Iroquoian tribe once in New York State, was chosen by the legislature because some of the early settlers were from Oneida, New York. Soda Springs was designated to be the county seat. Brigadier-General Patrick Edward Connor had laid it out the previous summer, 1803. With three companies of soldiers, and some families of Morrisites, he established Fort Connor, and created the first hotel and general store. However, treaties with the Bannock and Shoshone Indians in the fall of 1863 brought about by the presence of troops made travel along the Oregon Trail safe for the first time. As immigration dwindled,, the strategic importance of the military post declined. A bill of the Territorial Legislature passed on January 5 1866 moved the county seat to Malad City. For two years the county government was maintained in the upper level of Connor’s adobe hotel in Soda Springs.
The valley was visited between 1818 and 1821 by Donald McKenzie, a French-Canadian, and his party of trappers associated with the Northwest Company. Legend says that the name “Malade” was given to the largest stream by some of these trappers, either because they were made sick by drinking the alkaline water, or because they ate food that was tainted by the water. The word is French for bad water, or sickness.