Vintage Photos of Lake Odessa, 1900-1950s
I get asked a couple of times a year about Lake Odessa:
“Where's this lake that's called 'Odessa'?”
“How come there's no lake named Odessa in Lake Odessa?”
“If there's a lake named Lake Odessa, then where is it?”
Reasonable questions, all...and usually asked by those who don't live near Lake Odessa. If you live there, you should already know the answer.
The town of Lake Odessa lies in Ionia Township, a little over 30 miles west of Lansing. It began life as a community named 'Russell Settlement' until capitalist Humphrey Wager moved in and immediately saw dollar signs – he figured this was a good place to make some money. So with that in mind, he re-named Russell Settlement to 'Bonanza'. Once a post office was implemented in 1880, the Pere Marquette Railroad came through. With the extra settlers and businesses that the railroad brought, it was decided to move the town to a better location.
Once they moved Bonanza a mile southwest, the townsfolk again re-named the town – this time as 'Lake Odessa'.
But why? There was no lake named 'Odessa' in the area. There is a Jourdan (now Jordan) Lake, Tupper Lake, Duncan Lake, Cat Lake, Augst Lake.....but no 'Odessa Lake' or 'Lake Odessa'. According to Michigan Place Names, the name came from Odessa Township and the abundance of lakes in the area: mainly, Jourdan, Tupper, and probably Augst, all three lakes named after early settlers. The town was given its permanent name in 1880 and was incorporated in 1889.
Take a look at the gallery below, showing many vintage photographs of Lake Odessa, going back to the late 1800s!