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When Orion wasn't Orion

Lake Orion Public Libraryís Beth Sheridan, head of adult/teen services, helps search through documents containing the communityís history. photo by K. Crain (click for larger version)
June 22, 2011 - By Katelyn Crain

Intern for Lake Orion Review

Ever wonder why it's called Orion Township, but the village is called Lake Orion? We have too, so we took the initiative to find out for you. After looking through numerous documents, we found the extremely interesting answer.

Up until about 1824, Orion was a part of Oakland Township, which at that time made up the top three fifths of Oakland County. That same year, Orion detached from Oakland Township and became a part of Pontiac Township. Eleven years later, in March of 1835, the state legislature approved the organization of Orion as a separate township. That same year, Jesse Decker was named the first supervisor of Orion Township. The first town meeting was April 5 where his salary was set at $2 per year.

The next couple of years, many big changes took place to the area now known as Lake Orion Village.

In 1836, the creation of the place 'where living is a vacation' began. James Stillson, a traveling auctioneer, purchased 40 acres of land and subdivided it into lots. He had a vision of a busy community, complete with roads, buildings, and stores. Stillson named this place Canandaigua City; and that's exactly what became of this land. The lake was named Lake Canandaigua.

About 18 years later, in 1854, delivering the mail had become quite a problem. Because there was also a city in New York called Canandaigua, the mail intended for N.Y frequently came to Canandaigua, MI, and vice versa. Due to this inconvenience, the post office requested that Canandaigua, MI select a new town name. The name that was selected for the town was Orion Village. The Post office department in Washington D.C choose Orion because it was "short, handy to write and 'altogether lovely.'"

Finally, the township and the village shared their name. It remained that way for 72 years.

Within this time, during 1874, a great part of the village was destroyed by a fire. After this misfortune, Orion Village underwent quick growth. This fire is the reason the majority of current downtown buildings are built out of brick. In 1928, the name of the village was changed from Orion to Lake Orion by popular vote.

This information was found from editions of the Orion Weekly Review; dating back to 1931 and 1951. Additional information was found in the Orion room at the public library, as well as Images of America-Lake Orion.

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