The first home in Clarkston was built in 1830 by Linux Jacox with Butler Holcomb being sold the land claim in 1832 and expanding the town with more homes and a sawmill, this led to an increase in population as well. The Saginaw Turnpike was also built in 1832 which aided in travel and population growth. This also led to the town becoming more of a vacationing spot with the quiet town, Deer Lake, and the Mill Pond.
The Clark brothers, Jeremiah and Nelson, were then sold the rights to the water of the pond (and land) by Holcomb, who then built a dam for a grist mill. The Clark brothers became major influences in the town, in which Clarkston was named after. Clarkston then expanded over the next few years with more stores and businesses opening, ranging from general stores to blacksmiths to shoemaking.
Another major contributor to the town was Henry Ford. The president of Ford Motor Company had an interest in water power and began a “Village Industries Program” in the 1930s to establish small manufacturing plants in villages, including Clarkston! He bought one of the plants as well as an old school building which was transformed into an apprentice school. A steam engine, featured in the power plant in Clarkston, is pictured below. The population in grew from about 400 people in 1900 to 1,000 people in 1990.