Ionia History

The City of Ionia is the largest city in Ionia County, Michigan, and the county seat. It was organized into a city in 1873.

"People of This Generation..."

This is an excerpt from the "Souvenir of Ionia", published by Chas. J. Seely in 1907. The Souvenir offers an in-depth look at Ionia's rich history, written and photographed from the then-current perspective of 1907, now more than a hundred years ago:

People of this generation, reared among the conveniences of the twentieth century, know absolutely nothing of the hardships and pleasures attendant upon pioneer life. The attractiveness of our beautiful farms and picturesque landscapes, dotted here and there with neat and substantial residences and modern farm buildings, presents a very pleasing contrast to the humble log cabin of the 'thirties' (1830s), whose walls sheltered a few articles of rude furniture, while stumps in the dooryards were the repositories of the cross-cut saw, the beetle and the ax.

Many of the men who were very largely instrumental in the development of this immediate locality were born beneath these humble roofs, their infantile cries being hushed by a mother's soft lullaby as she rocked them to sleep in a cradle improvised from a basswood sugar trough.

The Grand River, (the largest river in Michigan), and its tributaries, the Maple, Flat, and Looking Glass are rivers that have seen the development of the land here from the days of the Chippewa, Pottawatomie and Ottawa Indians who lived along their banks to the coming of the first white settler in the 1830s, Samuel Dexter, who started the town of Ionia.

  • 1831 - First settlers from New York led by Samuel Dexter
  • 1841 - Platted
  • 1865 - Incorporated as a village
  • 1873 - Ionia organized into a city

For more information on Souvenir of Ionia Michigan by Chas. J. Seely, Publisher 1907, download the Souvenir of Ionia, 1907 (PDF). The publication is 73 pages in its entirety and may take a moment or two to download. Enjoy this most interesting publication!

To read more about the City of Ionia's history, visit the Ionia County Historical Society website.