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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
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
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
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
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
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.
1923 First Radio Station, WAGM Owned by A.G. Miller. Latter sold to J.B. Sparks in 1928 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
1939 Royal Oak Historical Society established.
1940 Population 25,087
1950 New Daily Tribune Building opened (enlarged again, 1962).
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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