Native Americans used many paths as they
walked through what is now Royal Oak. During the early 1700’s to the
mid 1850’s, one of the paths led from Main Street to Essex Road and
became Crooks Road. Another path wandered from the east end of the
Detroit River near Peche Isle. Across the sandy ridges, the two met
at the brow of the hill which Almon Starr later chose for his home.
The path crossed the hill over what is now 13 Mile Road. We think
Starr Road was another part of this path, and it led northwest to
meet the main Saginaw Indian Trail which is now Woodward Avenue.
The hills where the trails met was the highest place around and of
sandy soil, so it is likely the Native Americans camped here at
least one night. Evidence of this was found by the great grandsons,
as they gathered arrowheads from this area. The Native Americans
probably stayed in the Royal Oak area for several days in the fall
to gather the cranberries which grew profusely in the bog located at
what is now 11 Mile & Woodward.
We know the trail across his land was not in use when Almon Starr
built this red brick house in 1868. However, it was clearly visible
and early settlers told the Starr family of their dealings with the
Indians. One of the stories passed down in the family was that at
the crest of the hill, there was for many years a small building
that was a trading post, where the Native Americans traded the fish
they had dried during the winter for beads, cloth and pots and
In 1939, Mrs. Rhoda Starr Green, Oliver’s mother, led the Children
of the American Revolution in planting a tree near the edge of the
The Almon Starr house was lived in by descendants of Almon Starr
until 1963, five years short of the building’s centennial year.
In 1985, when the Friends of the Almon Starr Historic House were
encouraging the city to acquire the house for use as the Royal Oak
Historical Museum, the legend of the Indian Trail was rediscovered.
The Friends had raised funds to renovate the house, but when that
was no longer possible the Friends instead purchased the large
boulder with the bronze plaque noting the history of the trail and
placed it on the lawn of the Almon Starr House next to the trail.
The dedication of the plaque was held May 17th, 1987. Today (May 19,
2012) marks the 25th anniversary of this event. This year is also
the 175th anniversary of the Michigan’s statehood. We are today
rededicating this piece of Royal Oak and Michigan history.
by Local Historians Lois Lance and David G. Penney, PhD
Joan Larson and David
G. Penny PhD at the Indian Trail marker on the lawn of
the Almon Starr House