Historical Information By Jeff Ireland, student of Onondaga Central School, 1984.
In the 1830's, Settlers began to arrive in the eastern parts of the Twp. near Seneca Line and began to take up the indian lands under what was called squatters rights. The Indians were furious and these so-called squatters were fined, some up to thirty dollars. Undaunted by these difficulties, settlers began to pour into the Twp. in such numbers that in 1840 the government decided it would be best to make a treaty with the Indians. The treaty meant that the Indians had to surrender all of the land within the Twp. to white settlers. This property was then opened for settlement. In a very short time, every lot in Onondaga Twp. was either purchased or occupied by white settlers except seventeen lots. These lots were reserved and owned by the Indians. The population of Onondaga Twp. has made many increases and decreases over the past 160 years. For instance, in 1840, the population of white settlers in Onondaga was about 150. The population increased to 1,650 people ten years later. In 1861, the population increased to 2,065. Today the population of Onondaga Twp. is about 1,315. The first actual settlers to arrive in Onondaga Twp. were David Jones and his father who arrived in 1836. They located near the Haldimand County Line and were soon followed by Mr. Joseph Brown. Mr. Brown opened the first tavern in the Twp. in 1836. The next settlers to arrive in Onondaga Twp. were James Ferris, James Chapman and Thomas Conboy Sr.
In 1838, settlers began to arrive in the western end of the Twp. and settled on Lots 3 and 4, River Range. Some of these settlers were Arthur Smith, John Dickenson and William Burrill.
The settlers that arrived in the centre of the Twp. in 1838 were the Howeli brothers, the Duttons, James and Samuel Simpson, and Joseph Matthews. Most of the early buildings built in Onondaga were built between the years 1838 and 1845. There were two taverns built in the year 1838, one built by Joseph Brown, the other built by George May. The taverns were small log buildings which had no rules regulating drinking. About two years later there were two more taverns erected. About the year 1845, David Smith decided to embark in the grocery business in Onondaga Village. Along with his grocery store, David Smith kept a liquor saloon and a bowling alley. Two more saloons were erected and this made a total of seven saloons and taverns in Onondaga Twp. In the year 1838, Captain Murray opened a general store near George May's tavern on the River Road. Along with Captain Murray, Arthur Smith and Robert Doules opened similar general stores. The first old-fashioned log school house in Onondaga Twp. was built in 1846 on the property of Henry Gilmore. By 1857, there were six school sections and five excellent school houses. The one in the Village of Onondaga, costing over three thousand dollars, could fully seat two hundred pupils. This school, S.S. #5, was built in 1876 and today houses the Twp. Municipal Offices, Council Chambers and Fire Dept. The Municipal Road Shed is located at the rear.
In 1959, these five schools were amalgamated into Onondaga Central School which was located on the outskirts of the Village of Onondaga. With the exception of S.S.#5 all the other schools were moved or torn down. Because of declining enrolment, in 1980 Onondaga Central School was turned into a senior primary school grades 5-8 and in 1984, Onondaga Central School closed its doors and was later sold by the Board of Education for a nursing home. To this day, the building stands vacant and boarded up. Onondaga students are bused to Brant School which is now known as Onondaga/Brant Public School. Some pupils go on to attend Pauline Johnson Collegiate in the City of Brantford.
The Municipal offices, located in the old school, are governed by an elected body referred to as the Council which is comprised of a Reeve, Deputy Reeve and 3 Councillors. The Twp. of Onondaga is protected by a Volunteer Fire Dept. which has served the community for over 30 years and has approx. 20 fire-fighters. The Twp. of Onondaga is part of Brant County and the Reeve of Onondaga sits on Brant County Council as our representative. The Twp. of Onondaga, known by the indians as the land of the rolling hills, located across from the Six Nations Indian Reserve and along the shore of the Grand River, is still, after 137 years, a beautiful, growing, agricultural community.