Sibley County was named in honor of General Henry Hastings Sibley, pioneer, governor and military defender of Minnesota. He was born in Detroit, MI February 20, 1811; went to Mackinaw, entering the service of the American Fur Company in 1829; and came to what is now Minnesota in 1834 as general agent in the Northwest for that company. He was headquartered in Mendota (then called St. Peter's) where he lived 28 years. He moved to St. Paul in 1862 where he resided the remainder of his life. He was a delegate in Congress, representing Minnesota Territory 1849 - 1853. He was the first governor of the state, 1858 - 1860. During the Sioux War, 1862, he led the suppression of the outbreak and in the next year commanded an expedition against the Sioux in North Dakota. He was a regent for more than 20 years at the State University and was charter member of the Minnesota Historical Society and its president in 1867 and again in 1876 until his death.
Among the Sioux or Dakota people, with whom Sibley had a very intimate and wide acquaintance, he was called "Wah-ze-o-man-ee" - Walker in the Pines - a name that had a potent influence among them far and near, as long as the Dakota race dwelt in the state. (excerpt from memoir by J. Fletcher Williams)