The city of South Lyon, located in present day Lyon Township within Oakland County. The first settlement in Oakland county dates back to 1817, while South Lyon began in 1832 under the name Thompson’s Corner. While the first settler of the town is unknown, Thomas Dunlap, William Thompson and Obit Letz bought holdings withing the area in 1832. The settlement of “Thompson’s Corner” sat on the current day intersection of South Lyon’s business district, 10 mile and Pontiac Trail. The intersection was originally marked with four trees with the numbers 19,20, 29, and 30 carved in them. Pontiac trail was a well traveled Native American trail at the time of settlement. The original residents migrated from Wayne county and originally were from New York, coming to Michigan by way of the Erie Canal. 1 The area around the settlement was mostly marsh land and the primary way of travel was through horse and wagon through horrible conditions such as harsh winters and muddy, rainy roads. 2
In 1833, the residents of the current day Lyon Township petitioned the State legislature to set aside 36 square miles for a township that would be called “fruitland,” not for its abundance of fruit, but as a reference to the future of the settling of a virgin land. The State legislature decided to instead honor the senator Lucius Lyon. He came to Michigan in 1821 as a surveyor and was elected to be Michigan’s first U.S. State Senator. He worked on the Ohio/Michigan border dispute, admitting Michigan to the Union, and the acquisition of the Upper Peninsula. 3
Thompson’s Corner Obtained their first post office in 1847 and, because of it’s location in the township, the little settlement obtained its name of “South Lyon”. With a population of about 400, the settlement was finally incorporated into a village in the year 1873, and finally into a city in 1930. The first church service was held in 1842 in a Methodist church. Soon, there was a Presbyterian church across the street, as well as a Lutheran and Catholic church in the area. The Lutheran church is now in the South Lyon Area Historical Park. The settlers were noted for their dairy farming and would often send Detroit upwards of 250 cans a day over the railroads. The town was a bustling railroad central with three different railroads running tracks through the town. 4
The South Lyon Union School district was formed in 1876. A large wooden building was erected to hold the community’s 100 students. There were about 20 single room school houses in the South Lyon Area. This building was later replaced with a brick building in 1915 which was used up until the 1990’s. It was torn down and replaced by a building which would serve as the city hall building and the school administration building together. 5
1. Don/Gary Production. “As Time Goes On” South Lyon Area Historical Society.
2. South Lyon Area Railroads. Brochure.
3. Lyon Township Historic Pictures Brochure
4. Don/Gary Production. “As Time Goes On” South Lyon Area Historical Society.
5. Don/Gary Production. “As Time Goes On” South Lyon Area Historical Society.