The History of Rochester Hills, Michigan
In the U.S. state of Michigan, Rochester Hills is a town in Oakland County. The city had a total population of 70,995 as of the 2010 census.
Originally, the area was settled as early as 1817 and organized in 1835 as Avon Township. In 1967, the town of Rochester was incorporated and the remaining portion of Avon Township was incorporated and renamed in 1984 as the town of Rochester Hills. As Metro Detroit’s northern suburb, the area is around 12 miles north of the city of Detroit. It is home to the University of Oakland, and is ranked as one of the state ‘s richest cities and among the 50 most educated cities in the U.S.
The area now known as Rochester Hills was populated by Native Americans, namely the Potawatomi, prior to European settlement. To grow crops, fish, and fly, the Potawatomi relied on the plentiful water supplies of the area, such as the Clinton River and Paint Creek. They resided here until the Detroit Treaty of 1807 forced them, along with the peoples of Odawa, Wyandot, and Ojibwe, to cede their land in Southeast Michigan.
James Graham, who arrived in 1817, was the first European settler. By following trails built by the Sauk Native Americans, Graham and his family reached the area. In 1835, Avon Township was organized. In 1869, Rochester Michigan was incorporated as a village within the township. In 1948, under the Home Rule Act, the township adopted a charter. A post office was also built in 1948 under the name of Brooklands for the area just west of Dequindre Road between Auburn Road and Hamlin Road.
Avon Township filed a petition to become a town in 1967. The petition was approved by township voters in January 1968 to move forward with pursuing city status. Residents voted down three new town charters, the first in March 1969, the second in May 1970, and the third in September 1971. The town of Rochester then attempted to annex all of the township, which the Michigan Boundary Commission unanimously refused. Petitions to consolidate Avon Township and Rochester were filed in 1972. In April 1974, while passing by four votes in Rochester, the unification petition lost by 350 votes in the township. In May 1974, the Michigan Boundary Commission approved Rochester ‘s petition to annex 2,2 square miles of Avon Township. In August 1978, the township became Avon Charter Township. The Court continued to contest the 1974 annexation until November 1981, when the township was ordered to forfeit the annexed land.
A city charter was adopted by township voters in May 1984. Avon Township became the City of Rochester Hills on November 20, 1984. The new city’s name was put to a referendum, with “Avon Hills” being the other alternative. The name “Rochester Hills” was won by a landslide of voters based on the historical connections of the city to Rochester and the rolling hills that abound in the city. Township Supervisor Earl E. Borden became the first mayor of Rochester Hills.