Ortonville: A Living Time Capsule
By Abigail Rowe
Found just on the edge of Metro Detroit, the town of Ortonville measures at less than 1 square mile and has a small population of 1250, but the size does not define the impact that the small town has had on many lives. The village of Ortonville was founded in 1848 and it’s safe to say that the lives of those who live, work and gather here have changed drastically with the times. Even so, the homey and nostalgic feel of Ortonville and Brandon Township remains strong for everyone who’s been a part of our tight knit community for the past 175 years.
In 1848, the Village of Ortonville was home to many small businesses that benefitted from the small but growing population. These businesses were what you would typically expect from a town of our size in the late 1840’s; a saloon, blacksmith and baker were just a few of the many businesses run by Ortonville’s early generations. In the following years, Ortonville became the commercial hub of Brandon Township, most likely due to the presence of the Town Hall and Post Office. Today Ortonville is still home to small businesses and the hub of Brandon Township, the addition of events and activities has made Ortonville even more of a central area of the entire township. In 2023, Ortonville is home to Septemberfest, Abigail’s Pride, a Farmers Market, and Christmas in the Village, as well as Parades for Homecoming and Memorial Day. Because of these events and activities, Ortonville has evolved into not only a commercial center but a community hub.
Naturally, the everyday lives of everyone in Ortonville are vastly different than they were 175 years ago. This particularly impacts the teenagers here. In the past, teens were expected to work on their families farm or for their families business, Education was limited as we only had a one room schoolhouse. Now teens in Ortonville have much more of a chance at education at Brandon High School. There’s also plenty more opportunities for teenagers to partake in social activities, programs run through the library as well as the Brandon School District give teens a safe environment to socialize and partake in leisurely activities.
As we’ve seen, there have been many changes in the daily life of the people who live in Ortonville. Despite the drastic changes, we have retained the closeness that this community has provided people since its earliest days. The early days of Ortonville remain in part of the community, just as much as the modern technology and innovation that has been incorporated as a part of the everyday lives of the people who live here. Even Though the village is, to many people, merely a gas station run on the way to Grandma’s cabin up north, Ortonville holds a place in the hearts of the many people who live or work in Brandon Township and consider Ortonville their home.