The Village of Ada began with a trading post on the Grand River a short distance Northwest of the Thornapple River. In 1821, Rix Robinson, a Sojourner, took over this trading post from Madame Madeline LaFramboise. Rix Robinson then made his home in Ada in 1832 and became the first white man to live in the village. There were many Native Americans in the area, who traded their furs at that trading post. In 1821, Robinson married an Indian woman, Pee-Miss-A-Quot-O-Quay (Flying Cloud Woman). After they separated, he married a second Indian woman, Sippi quay (River Woman). Eventually, Robinson went on to become: the Supervisor for the Township of Kent in 1834, Supervisor of Ada Township in 1840, the Associated Judge of Circuit Courts for Kent county in 1844, a State Senator in 1845, the State Commissioner of Internal Improvements in 1846, and a Member of the State Constitutional Convention in 1850. Robinson also negotiated with the Government for the Native Americans and was considered a peacemaker. Rix Robinson continued to reside in Ada until his death.
By 1862 Ada had a number of businesses which included: general stores, a flour mill, a saw mill, hotels, a blacksmith, a carriage maker, a boot and shoe store, two churches, a doctor, three Justices of the Peace, and an attorney. Later, a basket factory was built next to the flour and saw mills on the Thornapple River.
As the westward movement gained momentum, Ada gained a place on the map. In 1856 a covered bridge was built and the railroad was introduced in 1858. Many people rode the train from the Ada Depot to Grand Rapids and back. For many years the Old Settlers Picnic- Annual Reunion of Pioneers and Old Settlers of Ada and adjoining towns- was held in Ada every summer and many people came out from Grand Rapids to attend the picnic.
After three disastrous fires and the advent and improvement of technology, Ada has evolved from its pioneer days and is now home to the world headquarters of Alticor.
To learn more about Ada’s history, check out the following historical presentations: