Rock Lake township was named after the lake in its northwest corner, which contained an abundance of boulders along its shore. It was organized on October 26, 1876.

The railway village of Balaton was platted in July of 1879, and incorporated in 1892 in Rock Lake township. It was named after the large Lake Balaton in western Hungary.

Lake Yankton adjoins Balaton. It is named for a division of the Dakota people, and flows southeast to Lake Shetek and the Des Moines River.