The area now known as Rochester, was first settled in 1817 by Scottish immigrant James Graham along with his son Alexander Graham, son-in-law Christopher Hartsough, and their wives. As the century progressed more settlers arrived in what is presently known as Oakland County, the area was organized into the Avon Township. Avon Township, would encompass the areas of what are now the city of Rochester and Rochester Hills. Rochester got its name from a large group of settlers who arrived from Rochester, New York, and wanted to pay homage to their original home.
The settlers that arrived in present-day Rochester, quickly took advantage of the three major water sources that ran through Avon Township. Present-day Rochester, was strategically located near the Clinton River, Paint Creek, and Stoney Creek, giving the early settlers access to water made it possible for industry to develop in the area. The waterways provided a valuable source of energy for Avon Township and let to the establishment of water powered mills that allowed farms to provide food and move cut timber to build more homes.
In 1869, what is now present-day Rochester was incorporated officially into Avon Township as the Village of Rochester. Twenty seven years later in 1896, The Western Knitting Mill was constructed in the Village. The mill remains in downtown Rochester to this day and highlights the significance of the water mill industry that established the early foundations of Rochester.