Oakland County, Michigan
Oakland County was established by an Executive Proclamation made by Hon. Lewis Cass, then Governor of the Territory of Michigan on January 3, 1819. The city of Pontiac was set as county seat by another proclamation made March 28, 1820. Later that same year, the County was divided into two townships; Oakland and Bloomfield.
The first settlement in Oakland County was made in 1817. Although growth was slow, settlement became faster when the canals and railroads began to make their way through the Territory. The first white settlers here, found Native Americans occupying the area, and although they were generally peaceful, the did gradually move further west. (some by force) The original white population was made up largely of New England settlers and New York citizens.
Southfield Township was first known as Ossewa Township founded July 12, 1830. Only 17 days later, on July 29th, the name was changed to Southfield. The first land purchase here was recorded in May of 1821, by John Wetmore, however the first actually settler here was John Daniels, who came in 1823. Daniels worked his land, and sent for his family the following Spring.
The other early settlers all arrived here by way of Royal Oak and Birmingham, because of the lack of roads. The first road in the township was Territorial Road, from Detroit to Farmington, which followed a route through the southwest corner of Southfield Township. Local roads, along section lines, were gradually built in a few years, starting about 1832.
The first sawmill was built on the Rouge River by Joshua Davis and Michael Beach in 1829. The first gristmill was built in 1837 by Ezekiel Sabin, and was also located on the Rouge River. Two small tanneries were started about 1830 by Hiram Rust and Mr. West, (whose given name is not listed).
The first township meeting was held April 4, 1831, at the home of Benjamin Fuller. Mason James was made meditator and George White was appointed clerk for that day. The first election shows:
H.S. Babcock - Supervisor ;
A.H. Green - Township Clerk ; M
Benjamin Fuller Jr, David Brown and James Hall - Assessors ;
Mason James, William Lee and Morris Jenks - Commissioners of Highways ;
Ebenezer Raynalde - Director of the Poor ;
Thaddeus Griswold - Constable and Collector ;
George Gage - Constable ; and
Abraham Crawford - Pound Master.
Franklin Village developed most quickly, and was offically named and the Post Office was established here in 1828. Dr. Ebenezer Raynalde settled in Franklin as the first physician in Southfield and also became first Postmaster. The first school was opened in 1828, with Miss Sophia Gotie as it's teacher. In the summer of 1829, Dillucena Stoughton, built the first brick house in Oakland County, in this village. In 1830, a public house was built by Elijah Bullock and a store was opened by William Houston.
The first settlements in what would later become Southfield Center were in 1829, by Archibald Green and Niah Dodd, about the vicinity of today's 10 and Half Mile and Berg Roads. Green opened a blacksmith shop on his farm and manufactured cowbells, as well.
John Trowbridge opened a store in 1832 or 1833, near the site of the High School. John Thomas opened a tavern on the northeast corner of Ten Mile Road and Lahser, about this same time. This location became known as Crawford's Corners. In 1833, the Southfield Post Office, opened in the tavern and Thomas was elected Post Master. Township meetings were also held at the tavern and the Michigan Militia trained here. Amos Davis opened a professional weavers shop nearby.
With the opening of the gristmill in 1837, other settlers were attracted to the area. Cornelius Lawrence built a large frame house and opened it as a hotel and tavern. In 1838, John Trowbridge closed his store, and moved his mercantile business and the Post Office nearer to the mill. This settlement became know as The Burg, but later gained the official name of Southfield Center. In 1877, the village contained a flour mill, a Post Office, 2 wagon shops, a Town Hall, and the Methodist Church. The saw mill, which had been built in 1829, changed hands many times. In 1842 Chester Reynolds built a carding and fulling mill as an addition and later, Roberts put in machinery and turned out cloth for a year or two. In 1877, the building was known as Erity Mill.
The first school in Southfield was opened in a log house in 1830. At the second Township meeting in April 1832, they elected five commissioners of common schools, to hold office for three years each. In 1834, nine districts were organized and by 1877, there were ten total districts with nine school houses.
The First Congregational Church of Southfield was organized October 15, 1831. Services were held in the log schoolhouse, or sometimes in a barn. In 1837, the congregation built a frame church beside the cemetery, just north of Ten Mile Road. In 1852, the building was sold to the United Presbyterians, who moved it to a new location. The Congregationalist built a new church in 1856, and by 1865, the church became the First Presbyterian Church of Southfield. The congregation was disbanded in 1919, and the building was sold.
The First Methodist Protestant Church in the State of Michigan, was organized August 2, 1840, in Franklin Village, their first building was erected in 1863.
The Southfield Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1852 and they built their structure in 1855, in Southfield Center.
The Southfield Associate Presbyterian Church was organized April 16, 1850, and for its first 2 years, worship took place in the school on Lahser Road. In 1852, they purchased the building of the Southfield Congregational Church and moved it to the corner of Ezekiel Hutton's farm, located on Ten Mile Road. It later became the United Presbyterian Church.
The Southfield Cemetery was first used in 1828, for the interment of Elias Aldrich, the first person to die in Southfield Township. In 1847, the proprietors gave the cemetery to the Township, and it has been in their ownership ever since. The Franklin Cemetery, was given to the township about 1827 or 1828 and its first interment was made in 1829. The first recorded meeting for the Franklin Cemetery Society was held in 1852. There were also burial places beside the Reformed Presbyterian Church and The First Presbyterian Church.
It would be many years later when the original Township of its 36 square mile would begin to break up. On May 12, 1953, the incorporation of the City of Lathrup Village took place. Franklin Village incorporated November 3, 1953. The Village of Bingham Farms was incorporated on June 7, 1955, and the Village of Westwood on September 23, 1957. (this would later be chartered as the Village of Beverly Hills in 1959)
Contributed by Linda Ball