Onekama Township
Manistee County MI

The township of Onekama was erected in the Fall of 1866, and the first town meeting was held the following April, at Portage. N. P. Pierce, H. Hilliards and J. Hilliard were inspectors of election.

The first township officers elected were as follows: Supervisor, E. P. Bates; clerk, Joel Guernsey; treasurer, N. P. Pierce; commissioners, Amos Pierce, S. W. Patch, Josiah Hilliard; school inspectors, E. P. Bates, J. J. McKnight; justices of the peace, S. W. Patch, David Godfrey, Franklin Taylor; constables, Henry Willson, John Wright, Oscar Hull, August Toul.

The township contains about twenty-two square miles, about five miles of which are covered by Portage Lake. It has a frontage of six miles on Lake Michigan, and is bounded as follows: North by Arcadia, east by Bear Lake, south by Manistee, and west by Lake Michigan.


The early history of this township was sketched in the columns of the Times and Standard in 1877, from which we quote as follows: "As early as 1856 a few families found their way into the green old woods, and began cutting down the stately maples, wide-spreading elms, and their companions the beeches, pines and hemlocks. John Wright, Esq., was the first to seek a home near the shores of Portage Lake. He was a fisherman, and he no doubt found the finny tribe abundant enough to suit his moat ardent desire. Very soon he was followed by Messrs. N. P. Pierce, J. Daily and P. McCabe and their families.

"It was no easy task to clear away the growth of centuries and make farms of the land that had so long been occupied by the native Indian as a hunting ground, and no doubt those old pioneers often remembered the ancient vow made by the All Father to Adam, when he was turned out of the garden of Eden: — 'By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread.'

"From the early morn till late at night did they toil, that in a few short years they might look upon broad fields of waving grain. Daily and hourly they dreamed dreams, and saw visions of future happiness when they should sit down beneath their own vine and fig tree, and enjoy the fruit of their labors, with their sons and daughters settled about them.

"But it was not until 1884-'66 that this section of the country began to really put on the appearance of becoming a farming district. About this time there were several sections of government land taken up, and a goodly number of families emigrated from various states, east and west, to try their fortunes in the wilderness. Brave hearts and strong wills they brought with them to assist them in their enterprise."

After the organization of the township, there was a steady increase in the population. The lake shore gave them valuable facilities for making way with the lumber made at the sawmill, and the old forest trees were soon made useful, as well as ornamental. They were converted into commodious and comfortable buildings, and the surplus lumber was exchanged for produce from Milwaukee or Chicago.

There are four school houses in the township, and two post-offices, Pierport and Onekama.

History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan 1882 H.R. Page Pg 86