The Greater Ortonville Chamber of Commerce  •  P. O. Box 152   •     Ortonville, MI 48462   •    248.627.8079
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Ortonville MuseumThe Ortonville Historical Society's Museum is located in downtown Ortonville.
366 Mill St PO Box 155 Ortonville MI 48462

The Old Mill was built by the founder of Ortonville, Amos Orton, and was operating in 1856. The original mill was 36 feet by 48 feet, three stories high with a rubble stone basement. The particular site, by the Kearsley Creek, was chosen to make use of the water power which turned the undershot wheel over the millstones to grind the feed. Amos OrtonAmos built a dam in town, south-east of where the fire department now stands.

The mill race was created when citizens helped to dig a trench from behind the mill toward the area of the dam, and laid a retainer wall of stone and earth on each side of the trench at the site behind the mill building. A mill race is water flowing in a channeled area, controlled by the dam. The earth which was removed from the trench was used to berme the wall of the dam and the area behind the mill on the east side of Kearsley Creek.

A second dam was controlled at the South Street bridge, as we know it today. The mill pond was formed in the low boggy area, still visible on the southeast side of South Street on property now owned by the school district and continued behind the houses on the east side of South St. up to where it was dammed near the end of Pond St. A second bridge over South Street was built in town in the area of where Davis Street now meets South Street. The flume, a controlled body of water confined behind the mill, ran under the building providing the required power. At this point, there were two bridges across Mill Street, one directly in front of the mill and the other to take care of Kearsley Creek. These two waterways came together about 200 feet north of Mill Street.

The land was "taken" from the United States government on May 24, 1836 by Eldridge Kinne for the consideration of one dollar. It was passed to David Ball for $500, and on March 18, 1849 to Amos Orton for $75. In all likelihood Mr. Ball became owner of an entire tract, while selling Amos Orton the portion on which the mill was erected. It is also indicated that Amos Orton was deeded three parcels for a total sum of $165.

Six years later Amos Orton began building his dream, a grist mill to grind feed for the many area farmers who were clearing the land and setting up farming in the surrounding area. His sawmill was already in operation and the dam over South Street was built for that purpose.

Click to see LARGE mapHistory indicates the building of railways which, in reality, were never completed. In one case, stock in the company had been sold, and eventually taken over by another railway constructed in another area. Perhaps the route of the railway had been rumored when Amos Orton felt assured it was to come through the area. He would then be able to ship his grain and special flours throughout the state and subsequently become a very prosperous man. The passing of Mrs. Orton in 1863, coupled with the disappointment of the re-routing of the railroad, left Amos Orton disillusioned and he leased the mill to William Algoe in 1864. Orton moved to Fenton and then to Okemos, near Lansing, and returned to Ortonville to live his last days with his daughter, Mrs. Leonard Wolfe.




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The Greater Ortonville Chamber of Commerce
P. O. Box 152   •   Ortonville, MI 48462   •    248.627.8079

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