Welcome to the Village of Hesperia

The Founding of Hesperia

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Lumbering was the reason people originally came to the area and like other settlements, Hesperia, a part of Michigan’s rich lumbering history, was primarily a logging town through the 1800’s. The White River, flowing through Hesperia, was used to move logs from forests to sawmills in the area.

Daniel Weaver inspired the movement to establish a village on the banks of the White River where Oceana and Newaygo County met. Weaver had earlier settled and developed Fremont (originally known as Weaverville), and eventually moved his family to what is today, the Village of Hesperia. He was instrumental in creating a thriving logging town.

Weaver was attracted to the area by the power of the White River that was important for his interest in operating a sawmill closer to the White River so he would not need to haul the logs to the sawmill he owned in Fremont. When he visited the store owned by Joseph Sweet near the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1865, he found level land and good waterpower. It was the building of a dam on the White River that spurred the growth of the village and led to its continued existence. The dam eventually provided electrical power to the village around 1911.

Weaver’s, son-in-law, Thaddeus Waters, began laying out the town in 1866 with assistance from William Hoskins, who had erected the first permanent home in the settlement in 1858. John P. Cook, joined the developing community and found the plat less than acceptable so he redrafted the layout with Waters to the present plat. They decided to call the village “New Ocea”. This was later changed to “Hesperia”. Cook, Weaver, and Rowland sections were added later.

Many of the settlements in Newaygo and Oceana Counties came and went as the forests were cleared of trees during the lumbering age in Michigan. What remained through all the years was the White River, the dam and a community of enterprising people. Logging and sawmills, which still operate yet today in the area, were replaced in a large part with agriculture and related commerce. The Hesperia Dam, which was it is believed to have been constructed around 1860, eventually brought to the Hesperia area another significant attraction, bountiful sport fishing.

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