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Otisville, Michigan is a small village in Genesee County, along M-15, just south of M-57. Wilson Road (Main Street) intersects M-15 in the center of town.

The village is surrounded by Forest Township. There is a string of small lakes or ponds in the eastern portion of the village, including Dock Lake, McCormick Lake, Bullhead Lake, Picnic Lake, and several smaller bodies of water. Picnic Lake, in the southeastern part of the village, is a private lake with an island.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Otisville include Otter Lake, Columbiaville, Millington, Davison, Mt. Morris, Clio, Vassar, Burton, Goodrich, Birch Run, Lapeer, Flint, Montrose, and North Branch.

With a population of under nine hundred, Otisville is largely a residential community today. With an economy supported by commuter residents and local agriculture, the village includes several stores and small businesses.

European-American settlement of the area began sometime before 1840, as there were at least three homes there by that date, including those of Henry Heister, Matthew McCormick, and Stephen and Amos Biegel. John H. McCormick was the first European-American resident born in the settlement, which was sparsely populated until the early 1850s.

In 1851, John Hayes came to the community with men and equipment to build a sawmill on the east side of what is now M-15, near Picnic, McCormick, and Dock lakes. The following year, Francis Otis, who, along with his two brothers, owned five thousand acres of woodland in the township, bought the sawmill from Hayes. At one time, there were eleven sawmills operating in Otisville.

The Otis family arrived in the town that would be named for them in 1852. Two of his brothers came from New York, while another came from Cleveland.

A post office was established on February 14, 1855 as Forestville, with John Crawford as postmaster. On April 5, 1861, the post office name was changed to Otisville. In 1863, the townsite was platted and recorded by William F. Otis and T.D. Crocker, and the Pere Marquette Railway opened a station in Otisville in 1874. Otisville was incorporated as a village in 1877.

Otisville's economy ran in three phases. Like many Michigan communities, the village was formed as a lumber town. Its lumber era ran from 1850 to about 1880, after which it was dependent on agriculture until about 1935. Lastly, it became a local industrial center.

The village had a rich vein of gravel on the east side, and the Otisville Stone Company supplied gravel and sand to the state highway department, as well as a large asphalt company, for years. However, about thirty years ago, its excavators hit an underground water source that filled the gravel pit so quickly that its equipment is still at the bottom. The former gravel pit is now a narrow, privately-owned lake. Today, its major industry is the Mason Tackle Company, which manufactures fishing lines, tackle, and other products.

The focal point of this portion of our guide is on the village of Otisville, Michigan, as well as online resources representing local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities.


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