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Ortonville, Michigan is in north Oakland County, north of the Metro Detroit Region, and about forty miles north of downtown Detroit.

Ortonville is mostly surrounded by Brandon Township, although it borders on Groveland Township to the west. Cities and villages within twenty miles of Ortonville include Goodrich, Clarkston, Oxford, Holly, Grand Blanc, Davison, Metamora, Lake Orion, Fenton, Leonard, Burton, Lake Angelus, Lapeer, and Linden.

Kearsley Creek flows through the city, and is joined by Duck Creek in the city's southwestern quadrant, within the Brandon School District campus.

Brandon Schools is the primary provider of K-12 education in Brandon Township, as well as parts of Groveland and Hadley townships. Within the village limits are the Harvey-Swanson Elementary School and the district's administrative offices, while its other campuses are in the surrounding area.

Although Ortonville's population decreased slightly in 2010 and 2020, these were the only years in which its population has declined since it first appeared on a census roll in 1880. Its peak population was 1,535 in 2000.

European-American settlers began coming into the area in the 1830s, the majority coming from further south in Michigan, although some came from New York and other Eastern states. At that time, Native Americans still inhabited the region, although their village was further south, near Bald Eagle Lake.

Early settlers worked in the timber industry, cleared land for cabins, hunted, and planted crops after the timber was harvested.

Ortonville was named for Amos Orton, who came to the area with his wife and children in 1848 to establish a core of the businesses around which the community grew. He dammed the creek to furnish water power for his sawmill. He also opened a blacksmith shop and a general store, in which a post office was established on August 18, 1857, with Mr. Orton as the first postmaster. He built a small grist mill in 1852, replacing it with a large Greek Revival-style building that still stands today. He later built a luxury home on South Street for his family, which had grown to six children. After the Civil War, the Orton family moved to Fenton, disappointed that the railroad had bypassed Ortonville.

Without a railroad, Ortonville was unable to grow to become an urban center, and instead developed into a somewhat rural, residential community of homes, shops, light industries, and other local businesses.

In 1866, the townsite was platted by Hiram Bell, Charles Herrington, and others, with the hopes of encouraging expansion, although Ortonville wasn't incorporated as a village until 1902.

A private academy was opened in Ortonville in 1867, and it later developed into the public school system that serves the village and township today. Early businesses included a wagon shop, a cabinet shop, a barrel maker, livery, millinery, harness maker, general store, drugstore, meat market, dry goods store, and grocery store, as well as a doctor's office, dentist's office, and a funeral home.

In the mid-1800s, light manufacturers in Ortonville included the Marble Works, W.L. Guiles Carriage Factory, and the Ortonville Foundry. Near the end of the 19th century, Ortonville did get a railroad, an interurban passenger line connecting the town with other parts of the state. The township hall currently occupies the lot where the depot once was.

Ortonville enjoyed a burst of development between 1960 and 2000, during which its population increased from 771 to 1,535.

The focal point of this portion of our guide is on the village of Ortonville, Michigan. Appropriate topics include online resources for the village government, any other governmental entities within the village, and local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, entertainment venues, sports facilities or programs, and recreational opportunities.


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