Ionia County Communities

     Ionia County consists of 16 Townships - Berlin, Boston, Campbell, Danby, Easton, Ionia, Keene, Lyons, North Plains, Odessa, Orange, Orleans, Otisco, Portland, Ronald, Sebewa. The following table represents the way the townships are laid out.

Otisco Orleans Ronald North Plains
Keene Easton Ionia Lyons
Boston Berlin Orange Portland
Campbell Odessa Sebewa Danby

    Lowell and Lowell Township are not in Ionia County, they are in Kent County, although due to their close proximity to Ionia County I have included some information about these areas. As Ionia County was formed from the parent county of Kent, some records for people in the Lowell area may be found in the Ionia County records. And, likewise, some people who lived in the western part of the county in the townships of Keene and Boston, near the current community of Saranac may have records in Kent County.

The following community facts and descriptions were taken from the 1995 Ionia County Area Telephone Directory, published by gni Directory Services- P. O. Box 340 - Greenville, Michigan - 48838

Belding (Otisco Township)
The village of Belding was originally a logging community. The first settler, Levi Broas, built a sawmill on the river through the area in 1838 and thus the community was first called Broas Rapids. The sawmill was later sold to a Mr. Patterson. At this time the settlement was referred to as Patterson Mills. In 1884, the area's first silk mill was built. The owners of the mill were the Belding family. It was this mill that gave the city it's present name. The last Belding Brothers Mill closed in 1932. Present population: 6,000

Clarksville (Campbell Township)
     Jeremiah and Martin Campbell, immigrants from Ireland in 1840, settled the land now known as Campbell Township. In 1849, this little village was known as Skipperville after the owners of a local cheese factory. Clark L. Howard started the first post office and opened a store in the community in 1875. He named the village after himself. It was incorporated as a village in 1925. Present population: 360 - Township population: 1,454

Hubbardston (North Plains Township)
     J. R. Langdon, a land speculator purchased about 200 acres along the banks of Fish Creek. In 1852, a part of that acreage were purchased by Joseph Brown of Kalamazoo. He built a dam and a sawmill on that land. These projects exhausted Mr. Brown's capitol so he sold his holdings to    Hubbard, Taylor and Company. Hubbardston was incorporated as a village in 1867. Present population: 401

Palo (Ronald Township)
     Prior to 1845, Matthew VanVleck, and his son, John established a trading post in the northeast corner of the township. At this time the settlement was known as VanVleck Settlement. In 1846, the name was changed to Palo on honor of Zachary Taylor's victory at Palo Alto in the Mexican-American War. That same year, the First Baptist Church of Palo was established. It was originally called Prairie Creek Baptist. In 1852 the Palo Methodist Episcopal Church was organized. Both of these churches are in existence today. Ronald Township was established in 1845 by Representative A. L. Root. - Township population: 1350

Lake Odessa (Odessa Township)
   Humphrey R. Wager, a capitalist from Ionia developed Lake Odessa in 1887. He suspected that the railroad would soon pass through the area, so purchased an 80 acre farm on the route. The Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railway built their track to connect Grand Ledge and Grand Rapids. The first train came in 1888. The village was incorporated in 1889. The village was named for the two lakes, Tupper Lake and Jordan Lake, and the Township of Odessa. - Present population: 2,256

Lowell (Lowell Township)
    The Indians believed that the place where two rivers met was under divine protection from storms and tornadoes. The legend was the reason for the concentration of the Ottawa Indians in the early 1800's. A young French "free trader", Daniel Marsque, saw this an opportunity to trade with the tribe. Upon marrying the medicine man's daughter, he established a fur trading post on the south bank of the Grand River. He eventually sold the post and went on to farm a 40-acre tract of land on the north bank of the Grand River and east of the Flat River. This area became Lowell. - Present population: 3,983

Lyons (Lyons Township)
     Lucius Lyon was the founding father. In 1836, Mr. Lyon concerned with the survey of government lands, entered the land upon which the Village of Lyons now stands and proceeded to carry out his project of creating a village. - Present population: 824

Muir (Lyons Township)
    The Village of Muir is located on a tract of land first improved by W. Z. Blanchard and J. C. Blanchard who cleared a farm there, built a farm house and barn and installed a farmer as a tenant. Many stores and businesses sprang up with the passage of the railroad. In 1860, the village that was originally known as Montrose was changed to Muir after H. K. Muir, the superintendent of the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway. - Present population: 658

Orleans (Orleans Township)
    Click on link for history of Orleans Township.

Pewamo (Lyons Township)
     The village of Pewamo was named after an Indian chief from the area. His name "Pewamo" meant "One who scattered in many parts a thing he struck". This Indian chief was a friend and hunting partner of one of the areas early settlers. A pioneer trader erected a store and a dwelling in 1859. - Present population: 544

Portland (Portland Township)
    The settlement known as Portland was given it's name because of it's fine boat loading. The land was purchased from the US Government in 1833 by Elisha Newman. The first postmaster was Joshua Boyer, who opened his office in 1837. - Present population: 3,889

Portland Centennial Book - a great look at 100 years in Portland, Michigan

Ronald (Ronald Township)
     The original petition for organization of this township, March 19, 1845, suggested the name Northport.  Since there was already one other town in the state with that name, it was instead named Ronald - after a hero in a novel being read by then-representative (in Legislature) Mr. A.L. Roof.

Saranac (Boston Township)
     In 1836 the land on which the Village of Saranac now stands was purchased by Judge Jefferson Morrison of Grand Rapids from the US Government. The naming of Saranac seems to remain rather a mystery. Some believe it was named by the local Ottawa Indians, but others believe it was named for Saranac Lake in New York State where Judge Morrison was born and raised. In 1851 the village was renamed Boston, but eight years later returned to the name of Saranac. - Present population: 1,461


Last update December 24, 2007