The Village of Ortonville: Celebrating 175 years

By David Fleet
Ortonville—  This summer, Ortonville will be celebrating its 175 birthday with a special gathering at September Fest this fall. Over the next six months, The Citizen newspaper will be recounting some of the history of Ortonville with a special page published in the last edition of each month.
“Throughout the year, during downtown events, we are going to be incorporating the 175th into them,” said Downtown Development Authority director Matt Jenkins. “We’re held to certain standards that originated with the National Historic Trust, and now has evolved into Main Street America. We recognize, honor and support the history of the community and the culture it’s created.”
Ryan Madis, village manager will be working to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Village’s founding throughout 2023.
“As the year progresses there will be more looks back and looks ahead, as well as ways to celebrate alongside our slate of other Village happenings in 2023,” he said. “The Village and its partners are actively working to plan these out, so we encourage everyone to check the Village’s website, social media, and in The Citizen to stay engaged with this special anniversary. The big event, including sealing of the Time Capsule, will coincide with the September Fest events on Sept. 16, 2023.”
Prior to the establishment of the village, settlers including the Ball, Perry, Seymour, Huff, Truax, and Kent families arrived to a wooded landscape. Today those names are of local roads and lakes. Perhaps the most notable of the early settlers was Amos Orton.
Born in 1809, Orton made the hazardous trek from Hadley Falls, N.Y. by boat, ox team and wagon in 1839 with a family that included his wife Emily (Prosser) along with two children Laura and Elhanan. Born in Michigan were Elizabeth, Celaska, Celestia and John. That same year Orton built his log house just north of the village. In 1848 he built a dam across the Kearsley Creek and by 1852 erected a sawmill, a house and blacksmith shop. Then in 1852 a country store, stage line and was the first postmaster of the early community.
In 1858, Orton built a three story grist mill powered by the waters of Kearsley Creek and before his death at 77 became an ordained minister.

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