The town of Cortland became a reality in 1873, when the first railroad was built and the town had a depot. Being one of the stops on the railroad, one of the officials did not particularly like the name Baconsburg and decided that the name should be Cortland. The man responsible for the name change is said to be Orrin Gates.
The village was incorporated in 1874 and at that time was officially named Cortland. The village comprised one square mile at the time of incorporation with the center of the village designated with an iron stake which is located on the lot of the Methodist Church.
The first mayor of the village was Asa Hine and the first clerk was W.W. Post.