The Central Lake Lumber Company founded the town of Essex in 1899. The Company built a branch of the Pere Marquette Railroad in Banks Township to transport its products to market. During the fall of 1903 the company's advertisement -- "Wanted at Essex 50 men and 10 teams for the Season. Steady work." -- attracted many loggers to Essex. When the company first arrived it dammed King Creek to create an area to wash the logs. The creek is one of the few reminders of the location where the town existed.
At the beginning of 1901, a reporter visiting Essex noted thirty to forty houses, a large sawmill, a stave factory, a shingle mill one store, a telephone office, a blacksmith shop, a livery stable and a post office. A 1902 Central Lake Torch reported signs announcing "Shoes Repared Hear," and Harness Repared Here." The first postmaster was Henry Chamberlin, who came in 1900. Arthur B. Meech, the second postmaster, was installed on May 16, 1904. The post office closed four months later as the lumber supply and population declined.