In 1882, as three new railroads began to lay track in Huron County, two cousins from Saginaw, John G. and John S. Owen, bought land in the Columbia Swamp. The following year they opened a sawmill to harvest the native oak. John G. Owen hired Quincy Thomas, a civil engineer to survey a town site in 1887. The streets, alleys and parks were dedicated to the public for their perpetual use, and the village was named Owendale. The sawmill burned in 1896, and the Owendale area turned from lumbering to agriculture.