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Known as Ada Village, Ada is an unincorporated community in Ada Township, which is in Kent County, in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Ada is situated along Michigan Highway 21 (M-21), about twelve miles east of Grand Rapids. The village is in the southern part of the township, at the confluence of the Thornapple River and the Grand River.

The community grew up around a trading post established there by Rix Robinson, who came from Massachusetts in 1821, buying land there in 1833, where he was the first white settler, although Lucius B. Lyon has been credited with founding the village. A plaque erected by Kent County refers to Robinson as the Founder of Western Michigan. He married an Indian woman and served as Supervisor for Kent Township in 1834, Ada Township in 1840, Associate Judge of Circuit Courts for Kent County in 1844, State Senator in 1845, State Commissioner of Internal Improvements in 1846, and a Member of the State Constitutional Convention in 1850. He also negotiated with the federal government for the Native Americans. He made Ada his home for the rest of his life.

Both the village and the township were named for Ada Smith, the daughter of Sidney Smith, who was appointed as its first postmaster on January 5, 1837.

The Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad came through the area in 1853, crossing the Thornapple River at the village site, and the Ada Depot was established there. The D&W Railroad later became the Detroit, Grand Haven, and Milwaukee Railway. The tracks are now part of the Grand Rapids Eastern Railroad.

The village was platted by G.A. Dalrymple and H.F. Dunn on September 4, 1857. By 1862, Ada had several businesses, including general stores, a flour mill, sawmill, blacksmith, carriage maker, a boot and shoe store, two churches, hotels, a doctor, an attorney, and three justices of the peace. Later, a basket factory was built next to the flour and saw mills along the Thornapple River.

In 1856, a covered bridge was built, extending Bronson Street across the Thornapple River, just south of the point where it joins with the Grand River. The bridge was listed with the Michigan Register of Historic Places in 1969, and with the National Register in 1970. However, the bridge collapsed due to heavy snow in 1979 and was restored with private funds. Shortly after, the bridge was completely destroyed by fire. With the help of Amway Corporation, which is headquartered in Ada, it was again rebuilt, but is now a restoration, resting on concrete abutments, and is open only to pedestrian traffic, connecting the village with a park on the other side of the river.

The focus of this category is on the Village of Ada, although topics related to Ada Township may be listed here as well.


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