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Cambridge Then & Now

DEMOGRAPHICS:  Population 5,733.     Elevation: 971 ft. (296m).    County: Lenawee
BRIEF HISTORY: Excerpts from Cambridge Heritage: The history of Cambridge Township & the Village of Onsted, compiled by Audrey Woods

The part of Lenawee County which is known as the Township of Cambridge comprises  Congressional Township 5, Range 2 East and contains 36 sections of land.  The surface of the Township is rolling, with many picturesque lakes, giving variety to the landscape.  The north half of Cambridge Townships is somewhat rolling and very hilly in some sections, interspersed with many beautiful, clear lakes.   That area was  termed “oak openings”.  The south half was called “heavy timbered lands”, rather level, abounding with large and stately oaks and majestic black walnuts.  From the highlands in the vicinity of the lakes, two small streams of water meander their course until one helps to form the north branch of the River Raisin, and the other the south tributary of the same stream.  The military road was surveyed and laid out by the United States government in 1825, running from Detroit to Chicago and passing through the north part of the township.

White settlers first visited the lakes bordering the Sauk Trail in the 1820’s.  The Pottawatamies were the last resident tribe in the area from 1700 to 1830.

Wamplers Lake was developed in the 19th century.  Several large landowners controlled the lake for many years, limiting development.  Among them was the Hayes family, whose bequest had a lasting impact on life at Wamplers Lake.  Cedar Hill State Park was dedicated on the northeast shore in the 1920s, making it among the oldest in the state park systems.  The Hayes family later donated land to expand the park, with the stipulation it be named for Walter J. Hayes, who had served as a state senator.  On the line between the Townships of Cambridge and Franklin is one of the most charming of the many beautiful lakes of Lenawee County, Sand Lake.   The Rev. William Lyster became fascinated with the beauty of Sand Lake and it’s surroundings and at one time owned nearly all the land about the lake.  He constructed his log house on the southern shore in 1835.

The records of the United States land office shows that John Gilbert, of Monroe County, New York, entered the first land, 160 acres in section 4, in 1825.  The second lot was purchased by Isaac Powers in1829 and the third lot was purchased by Charles Blackmar in 1831.  Peter Onsted was another earlier settler, in the spring of 1855 he came to the township and settled near the site of the present village of Onsted.

In the fall of 1835 a number of citizens met in council at the inn of Abram Butterfield to give a name to the township.  Among those present were Butterfield, Isaac Powers, William Blackmar, Nathaniel S. Wheeler, Joseph Achins, John Pawson, Paul Geddess, John Stephenson and John Smith.  Together they unanimously chose Cambridge as the name for the township.  The first school house was erected in the east part of the township in 1835, on lands where the Springville school house now stands.  Dr A.N. Moulton was the first practicing physician who settled in the township in 1834.  The first township meeting was held at the house of Abram Butterfield, April  4, 1836.  Isaac Powers was elected supervisor and justice of the peace; Paul Geddes, justice of the peace and township clerk; Harlow C. Smith, justice of the peace and assessor;  A.N. Moulton, justice of the peace and Dr. James Geddes, constable and collector.  There were twenty-six voters at the election.  In 1836 the first store was erected by Hart & Mosher  and a saw mill was built on Wolf Creek.  The cornerstone for the first church, St. Michaels & All Angels,  was laid in June 22, 1855 and the first sermon was delivered by the Rev. William Lyster on October 31, 1858.  In 1838 Sylvester Walker opened a hotel at Cambridge Junction.  This house sustained a well earned reputation among travelers.   St. Joseph’s Chapel was started in 1854, but the first mass not held until 1863.  Upon the building of the Michigan & Ohio railroad in 1883-84, a thriving village sprang up taking the name of it’s founder, Onsted.

GEOGRAPHY: According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 35.5 square miles (91.9 km²), of which, 32.0 square miles (82.9 km²) of it is land and 3.5 square miles (9.0 km²) is water. The total area is 9.80% water.


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Home School Groups:
MI Homeschooling Co-ops
*Irish Hills Homeschool Group




Crosspointe Church
Gateway Church
Irish Hills Community Church
Saint Joseph's Shrine
Saint Michaels and All Angels Episcopal church
Springville United Methodist
Saint Mark Lutheran Church of the Irish Hills

Onsted Kiwanis
Onsted Festival & Committee
Knights of Columbus
Onsted American Legion Post 550 
Son's of the American Legion
Legion Rider's
Onsted American Legion Auxiliary Post 550
Walker Tavern Wheels historical Baseball team
Friends of Walker Tavern  Call 517-467-4401 or 517-442-9205

Onsted Sweet Clovers 4-H Club
Onsted Community Recreation Committee (OCRC)
Cub Scouts / Boy Scouts  call 517-442-9205

Onsted Park
Hayes State Park 


St Joes
winter road
Sprv Mill Oct 1941
St Michaels
Lime lake