The loggers first settled in Roscommon County in the mid-nineteenth century. The residents met at the Gerrish Logging Camp in April, 1890, to elect officers for their newly organized Township. James Watson was chosen as the first supervisor. Originally the Township embraced present-day Gerrish, Lyon and Markey Townships. In 1920, the present boundaries were established. It was named after Sylvester Higgins, Michigan's first chief of the topographical department of the Michigan Geological Survey.
The current Townhall was erected at 2997 E. Higgins Lake Drive (County Road 100) in 1970. The original Townhall was located at the corner of E. Maplehurst and Murphy Roads.
When the forests were cleared, the population ebbed until 1970 when a slow population growth began. Growth has continued to rise as more and more people have discovered the beauty and serenity of the area. The official 2000 U.S. Census recorded a population of 3072 which was a 26.9% increase over the 1990 census count. It has been estimated that a 15% to 20% population growth will occur between now and 2015.
The East Michigan Planning and Development Region earlier this year used U.S. Census data to project Roscommon’s growth. They found that Roscommon County is growing at a steady rate. In that study, Gerrish Township showed a 1.2% to 1.3% increase.
Gerrish Township has an official Recreation Plan in place that is used as a guide for the provision of public recreational services in the Township. It must be remembered that although the local population is small, tourism generates over 100,000 people in the summer season in the Higgins Lake area. In addition, as a result of snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and other related winter sports, tourism and recreation for local residents is of paramount importance.
The strategy for providing recreational facilities and services has been formulated through the analysis of those needs that surfaced through public meetings and a comprehensive review of the present facilities available.
In future plans, items discussed are to develop walking trails at the Township Hall site and at the West Side Park area, improve/change the parking situation at the Gerrish Township Park on the northeast shore of Higgins Lake as well as address the restroom facilities, and develop bike/hiking trails around the lake that connect to other existing trails. Extensive work is currently being done in grant/bond requests in order to obtain and develop property on the southwest corner of the lake for a future Community Park for the Township.