Onondaga, Early 1900s – 2000s
Onondaga in southwestern Ingham County is an unincorporated community...and historic as well. Onondaga was named after the Iroquois nation of Native Americans, who were mainly based in New York.
The first settler in the town of Onondaga was from the New York area: Oliver Booth arrived in 1834...when he passed away, he became the first death in town as well. When his wife Harriet gave birth to a girl on Christmas Day, their daughter Hannah became the first female born in town.
A post office soon followed, established in 1844. Onondaga's first doctor was Hiram Frye, practicing from the 1840's until 1877. The Onondaga Hotel was erected in 1847-1848 which also housed the post office and a grocery store. In 1867 Onondaga's first major general store was opened, with many dry goods and mercantile.
Around 1870, the Michigan Central Railroad was constructed to go through the town and soon more trades, settlers and travelers came to Onondaga where businesses began to flourish. At this time, the town was known as “Onondaga Station & P.O.”.
Onondaga Township businesses included a grain & flour mill, produce shop, four churches (First Congregational Church of Onondaga, Baptist, Methodist and Wesleyan Methodist), two more general stores, blacksmith, justice of the peace, carpenter, masonry, "The Knowledge Seekers" ladies' literary club, schoolhouse, train depot, cheese factory, cider mill, Farmers' State Bank, hardware & tin shop, Red Cross Society, and a few stores that sold farming equipment and mechanical goods.
Nowadays, the town is a wisp of it's former heyday but retains its historic atmosphere. The old school still stands as well as a few old downtown storefronts and many old homes. Onondaga is currently WILX-TV's city of license with a transmitter west of town, and host to the ever-famous Onondaga Dragway, three-and-a-half miles east of town on Bellevue Road.
To get an historic feel of Onondaga's early settlers & residents, visit the cemetery, a half-mile east of town on Oak (Rossman) Road.
Take a drive-thru soon and pay a visit on your next Michigan roadtrip!