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The Village of Ellsworth, Michigan is the seat of Banks Township, in the northwest segment of Antrim County, in the northwest Lower Peninsula.

The village includes the western section of Saint Clair Lake and the northern part of Ellsworth Lake, which are connected by the Intermediate River. Saint Clair Lake is a 64-acre body of water that is popular with boaters, swimmers, paddlers, and fishermen. Situated between Six Mile Lake and Ellsworth Lake, it is part of the Elk River Chain of Lakes. Like most of the lakes in the Upper Chain, it is relatively long and narrow, and its western end extends into the northeast portion of Ellsworth. The northern part of Ellsworth Lake is in the central-southern part of the village. The lake is fed by the Intermediate River from Saint Clair Lake on the upstream end, which continues to Lake Wilson from its southern terminus. The 120-acre lake is also part of the Elk River Chain of Lakes. Skinner Creek enters the village in the north and empties into the river between Saint Clair Lake and Ellsworth Lake.

The Elk River Chain of Lakes consists of more than seventy miles of connected lakes and streams in Antrim, Charlevoix, Grand Travers, and Kalkaska counties. Consisting of fourteen lakes and connecting rivers and streams, Ellsworth Lake and St. Clair Lake are among the Upper Chain of Lakes, which includes Six Mile Lake, Hanley Lake, Benway Lake, Wilson Lake, Ellsworth Lake, Saint Clair Lake, and Intermediate Lake, while the Lower Chain of Lakes includes Lake Bellaire, Clam Lake, Torch Lake, Lake Skegemog, and Elk Lake. The Chain is intended to be navigable by small boat, although a portage is necessary for some places to avoid a dam in Bellaire and culvert in Ellsworth. Saint Clair Lake is the uppermost of the lakes in the chain.

The chief routes to and from the village are Atwood Road and Ellsworth Road, which form Main Street within the village limits, as well as East Jordan Road (Lake Street), Six Mile Lake Road (Resort Drive), and Pleasant Hill Road (Bridge Street). The nearest cities and villages are East Jordan (6.0 miles), Central Lake (8.0 miles), Charlevoix (11.1 miles), Bellaire (16.2 miles), Boyne City (16.6 miles), and Boyne Falls (18.8 miles).

Although Ellsworth was not incorporated as a village until 1938, settlers came into the area before 1870, although not much is known of them. The current village of Ellsworth includes the former villages of Needmore and Ox Bow.

According to a very well written history of the village by Elsie Timmer, published in 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Noyes took up a homestead just two miles west of Ellsworth in 1866. Later that same year, Lois Hardy built a log house along Skinner Creek, in an area that would now be in the center of the village, near Center and Main streets. She lived there with her sister and brother.

In 1881, Augustus Davis came from Canada, along with his nephew, Erwin A. Dean. He built a sawmill and log houses for his woodcutters at the channel of what was then known as Campbell Lake. He named the settlement that grew around his sawmill Ox Bow. Around the same time, another cluster of homes was being built along the banks of the creek, further south. A man by the name of B.F. Wrisley is credited with naming that community Needsmore.

On February 1, 1884, a post office was established to serve both communities. Lewis A. DeLine was named postmaster, and he chose to name the post office for Colonel Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the Civil War; Mr. DeLine had served under him.

By 1891, construction of a railroad line from Traverse City to Petoskey was underway, largely to serve the lumber industry. Originally operated by the Chicago and Western Michigan, the line was later sold to the Pere Marquette Railroad Company, later becoming the Pere-Marquette District of the Chesapeake and Ohio lines. With the coming of the railroad, the Ellsworth settlement became known as Old Ellsworth, as new construction took place along the railroad line, west of the lakes, taking the name Ellsworth.

Railway sidings and spurs began to jut out from the railroad line, including the Crego siding, the Crampton siding, the Phelps siding, and a spur running to Essex. Soon after the railroad line was completed through Ellsworth, passenger trains began to come into town. By the summer of 1900, excursion trains began to come through town, stopping wherever a passenger wanted to get on or off. In 1911, a parlor car was added to the passenger train. Gradually, as motor vehicles became more affordable and roads were improved, automobiles took over. The last passenger train departed Ellsworth on September 1, 1962.

In the early 1900s, Banks Township business began to be enacted from Ellsworth and, in 1938, Ellsworth was incorporated as a village.

 

 

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