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Orion Township, Oakland Co., Michigan

Orion's First Settlers & Decker Settlement

History of Oakland County, Michigan

A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People, and its Principal Interests

Thaddeus D. Seeley, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1912

Volume I, p. 440-441


See also:  Michigan Historical Marker - Jesse Decker/Decker Settlement (New Window)

Chapter XXXI

Orion is in the second tier of townships, directly north of Pontiac, and was therefore a part of the original Oakland township, which, by the proclamation of Governor Woodbridge of June, 1820, included the northern three-fifths of the county.  It was one of the first sections to be settled.

Orion's First Settlers and Events

Judah Church and John Wetmore made an entry of land on section 19, in 1819, and Moses Munson, Powell Carpenter, Jesse Decker, Philip Bigler and others took up tracts in the eastern part of the township; but actual settlement did not commence until 1825.  In that year came the leader of all the pioneers, the Jesse Decker mentioned; Munson located on section 24 and Decker on section 25 in the southeastern portion of the township.  The former built a sawmill, broke some ground and planted the first orchard.  Although Decker did not arrive until afterward and the two joined hands and fortunes, the latter proved the most energetic and a splendid "stayer," and the result was "Decker's settlement," around which clustered the earliest associations of Orion township.

Mr. Decker was everything to everybody, as will be evident by a casual perusal of the following brief record of the early events and pioneers, prepared by William E. Littell for one of the first meetings of the County Pioneer Society:  "I find that the first entry of lands was made in this township in 1819 by Judah Church; the next by Samuel Munson, in 1824, who in the following year built a sawmill on section 24.  In the fall of the same year Jesse Decker, Philip Bigler, Jacob Bigler, and John McAlvey settled in the town.  Mr. Decker informed me that at the time the timber was very scattering, being oak openings except in low places, so that he could look over the country and see a deer run for miles.

"Elijah B. Clark and others settled in 1831, and a little later the McVeans and others, and in 1836 there was a heavy immigration in the town.

"In 1820 the township was made a part of Oakland, which then comprised about three-fifths of the county.  In 1828 it was made a part of Pontiac township, and in 1835 was organized as a separate township and named Orion.

"Jesse Decker was one of the assessors under the territory and had to go clear to Saginaw in making his assessment on (here and there) a settler.  He was also the first supervisor of the town.  There have been twelve supervisors in all elected in the town, seven of whom are known to be living (1879).

"The first general election in the town was held October 5 and 6, 1835, at which Stevens T. Mason received 36 votes and John Biddle, 7.  The first schoolhouse was built in the town in 1834; the first frame barn in 1830, by Jesse Decker, which the issues helped raise.  The first store was opened in 1834 by John Hawkinson; the first postoffice [sic] in 1832, Jesse Decker, postmaster; the mail route was from Royal Oak to Lapeer.  Roxanna Bigler was the first person who died in the town in 1828.  In 1836 two persons were licensed to keep tavern in the town - Jesse Decker and A. Bernethy.

"In 1842 it was resolved by the electors 'to pay a bounty of ten dollars for every wolf, half grown or over, killed in said township.'  The township expenses in 1835, the first year the town was organized, amounted to $36.14.

"Orion used to be a great place for lawing.  Jesse Decker informed me that while acting as justice he had issued as many as forty-two summons in one day.  So much lawing, and so independent was the court, that it gained for the place of appellation of 'The United States of Orion.'  The first church edifice was erected in 1854; the first gristmill in 1836; the first railroad was built in 1872, since which time we consider ourselves quite modernized."

As stated, Orion was separately organized in 1835.  In 1836 the township was divided into four districts and log schoolhouses erected to accommodate them.  Later, the village of New Canandaigua (Orion) built its first schoolhouse - quite a pretentious frame house for those times (1844).

December 31, 2008