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Dates in Royal Oak History



1819    First road surveyed by government surveyors into Royal Oak - Gateway to Oakland County.
             First land entry  made by William Thurber who paid $1.25 per acre.
             Territorial Governor of Michigan, Lewis Cass, rests under a majestic old oak and he is reported to have
             remarked: "This is truly a Royal Oak!"  The location of the tree was north of what is now Crooks Road
             and west of what is now North Main Street.

1822    Henry O. Bronson build the first tavern near where Rochester Road and N. Main come to a point. (Possibly                   just east of the Royal Oak Cemetery).   
         
1825    First Cemetery ( 4 or 5 burials) opened at Main and Eleven Mile Road. Bodies were later moved to the Royal
             Oak Cemetery.
             Just prior to 1825 the first frame school house was built. It's first teacher, Harriet Castle, age 15, was
             salaried at $1.50 per week.

1826    First mercantile business established by David Chase at Chase’s Corners.
             The Royal Oak Post Office was established on April 6th,  Joseph Chase, Postmaster (located at Chase’s
             Corners,  Thirteen Mile and Crooks Road).

1828    The Detroit - Saginaw Turnpike constructed.

1829    Tavern opened on Saginaw Turnpike at Woodward and Lafayette by a woman named Mary Ann Chappell.

1830    First maker of grain cradles in the area (by John Benjamin II).

1831    One of the earliest settlers, Orson Starr, purchased an 80 - acre tract of land for $160.

1832    Royal Oak Township detached from Troy Township by act of the Michigan Territorial Legislative Council
             Meeting.

1835    Royal Oaks first industry, the manufacture of cowbells was established by Orson Starr, and operated for forty
             years. Almon Starr later manufactured brick and drain tile in the vicinity of Chase’s Corners (Thirteen Mile 
             and Crooks). Tom Starr, who helped compile this information, is a member of this family.

1836    First sawmill by Detroit Pontiac Railroad furnished the area lumber as well as railroad ties. Village of Royal
             Oak was first laid out.

1838    First Railroad from Detroit to Pontiac was run by horsepower for a short period.
             Post Office in Royal Oak Village established,  Moses Johnson was the postmaster.
             A Methodist Church was built, southern part of the village on land owned by Mrs. Fay. (N.W. corner of
             Washington and Seventh Street.) Village of Royal Oak formally platted.

1839    Hotel built by James Simonson, named  the "Railroad Exchange". This was thestage coach terminal for
             stages coming in from Rochester, Romeo and points beyond.
             The first Baptist church built in a house for a contribution of $25.00, located at Main Street and Third.

1841    New Chair and furniture factory built.

1842    Congregational Church established at Main Street near Third.

1845    Chair and furniture factory burned. Orson Starr house built at 3123 N. Main at 13 Mile Rd. One of Royal
             Oak's oldest  standing frame houses.

1852    First Library established as a reading room in the home of a physician,  people brought books for exchange
             reading.

1853    United Presbyterian Church (Thirteen Mile and Crooks) – “The Irish Church.”

1857     Township library established in the home of the township clerk, it was open every Saturday for an hour or
               two.

1868    First Catholic Church at Twelve Mile and Campbell (1/4 acre donated by Edmund Loughman (Lockman).
             Services were held once a month by a priest from Centerline for this parish of 25 members, mostly
             of German and French origin.

1870    Royal Oak Town Hall built at a cost $1,664.00. Library was moved into this building.

1874    First Lutheran Church established. The Lutheran Orphan Asylum was built, mostly for orphans who were
            deaf mutes.

1876    First newspaper - called “Experiment” – published by Reverend George W. Owen, a Methodist Minister.

1877    Census of Businesses: one sawmill: three blacksmith shops; one hotel; three general stores; one millinery
             store; two drug stores; two physicians; and one town hall.       

1878    First telephone was brought to Royal Oak, four years after it had been invented by Alexander Graham Bell.

1879    First telephone in general store of Louis Storz.

1880    Detroit United Railroad (electric) to Pontiac and Orchard Lake.

1889   Royal Oak Village incorporated March 18, 1891.

1900    Population 468.

1901   Mineral water first sold as "Tuttlingen Health Water", from a well at First Street and Main. It was delivered to
            Detroit in glass bottles transported by horse and wagon.

1902    Detroit United Railway acquired Detroit Northwestern electric line which operated from Detroit to Flint and a
             line from Detroit to Pontiac.
             Royal Oak Tribune founded as a weekly.

1903    First electric light plant owned and operated by William Hilzinger.

1907    Royal Oak Savings Bank, first bank in town, S.E. corner of Main at Fourth.

1909    First automobile, James W. Anderson, M.D., owner

1910    Population 1,071.
             First moving picture house was built by Edward Roy, named “Idle Hour.”   
             No police force, only a village marshal, Alex Lewless.

1913    Formation of the first organized Volunteer Fire Department, on February 13th.

1914    Red Run Golf Club organized.
            January 6, Henry Ford announced minimum wage to be $5.00 for eight hour day. This event played an
             important role in the rapid development of the area.

1915    Royal Oak Bank, organized by John B. Peters.

1916    Woodward Avenue becomes a 16 foot-wide paved strip.

1918    First police department formed.

1919    First bus line, Royal Oak to Big Beaver and Highland Park, operated by George Hallock.

1920    Population 6,007.

1921    Royal Oak incorporated as a city November 8, 1921, with George A. Dondero elected the first Mayor.
             George Dondero was the first resident of Royal Oak to serve in the United States Congress.

1922    Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce established.

1924    First Radio Station.  A temporary license was issued in 1925 to owener A.G. Miller with call letters WAGM.
            The station failed and was latter sold to J.B. Sparks, his elest son Garnet and
            other investers in 1929 and became WEXL.

1925    Royal Oak City constructed first 48-inch steel water line to bring Detroit water to Royal Oak.

1927    Detroit’s largest suburban telephone exchange at Fifth and Williams Street.

1928    Washington Square Building built.
             Royal Oak Fire Department Northwood Station completed.
             Royal Oak Theatre opened in the Washington Square Building .
             Detroit Zoological Park opened at Woodward and ten Mile .

1930    Grand Trunk Railroad relocated, first commuter service established.
             Discontinuance of Eastern Michigan Railroad, formerly D.U.R., under Lloyd Clawson, Mayor. Royal Oak paid
             $12,200 for the tracks from the Fair Grounds to Catalpa Drive. Leased to D.S.R. for $5,000 per year for
             service to Ferndale and Royal Oak. In 1945, 1,313,400 passengers used this service.  When the service
             was discontinued in 1947 the tracks were sold for scrap for $20,151.

1937    Fifty acorns brought from Royal Oak, England.  Planted in the Detroit Zoological Park, later transplanted to
             Memorial Park.

1939    Royal Oak Historical Society established.

1940    Population 25,087

1950    New Daily Tribune Building opened (enlarged again, 1962).
             Population 46,898.

1955    Present City Hall opened its doors.

1957    Kimball High School built at a cost of $4,500,000.

1960    Population 80,612.

1963    New Royal Oak Library completed.

1964    New Royal Oak Police Headquarters completed, including the cell block for both male, female and juvenile
             prisoners. There is also a target range, wide enough for six stations at both twenty-five foot and a
             seventy-five foot range.

1966    New addition to the Royal Oak Post Office completed.

1967    Population 95,000.

1968    Royal Oak made “All American City.”

1970    Population reaches 100,000 mark.

2007    Royal Oak Historical Society leases the Northwood Station a.k.a. Royal Oak Fire Station #2, from the
            City of Royal Oak for a Royal Oak Historical Museum. 

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