During the 1820 and 1830s American settlers moved west, some migrating
out of upstate New York seeking land to farm and raise their families
and worship in accordance with their belief. This westward migration
began during this time period and spread to many places on the American
frontier for several decades. The early settlers that came to Royal Oak
were part of this movement. These farmers cleared land to build their
homes and plant crops in the Michigan Territory.
Growth of the Farming Industry
As the railroad industry expanded, logging, milling and other industries
began to develop. One of these farmers, from upstate New York, was
Orson Starr, the township’s first well known manufacturer. Mr. Starr
and his family made their living by producing both bricks and cowbells.
The Starr cowbells are now sought after by collectors of antiques.
In 1845, Mr. Starr built a wooden frame house two miles north of what is
now downtown Royal Oak, just south of 13 Mile Road on Main Street.
This home was lived in by descendents of the Starr Family until the late
1970s when it was purchased by the City of Royal Oak.
The Orson Starr House, located at 3123 N Main Street, is listed in
Michigan’s State Register of Historic Sites and has been designated as
an historic district. The Orson Starr House Historic District has also
received the official project designation of "Save America’s Treasures,"
awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.