In 1861 the Judson Kingsley and John Wall families, from Dekalb County, Illinois and New York respectively, were the first settlers in our area. Just before the Civil War in 1861 there were no roads or highways, just trails between settlements. In 1871, the railroad was constructed through Judson Kingsley’s property. Judson Kingsley built a train station and opened the first post office in what was known as Kingsley Station. In 1874, Dr Myron S. Brownson bought 1,000 acres adjoining the Wall’s property and became their neighbor. In 1876, Judson Kingsley platted the land west of the old Hotel DeFrance as the "Village of Kingsley." In 1882, Dr. Brownson platted the land around Main Street as the "Village of Paradise." In 1893, land west of the railroad and both plats were incorporated as the Village of Kingsley.
Throughout the late 1800's, the Village flourished with the lumbering industry being the predominant economic base and by 1894 the population grew to about 800. The business district was along Brownson Avenue, close to the railroad. There were three lumber mills, three hotels, a livery barn, a flour mill, livery stable, blacksmith, the Brownson Sanitarium, several churches, a school, and a variety of establishments offering food, drink, groceries, supplies, and other necessities. On July 4, 1894 and uncontrolled fire burned down most of the town while residents were in Manton or Fife Lake attending festivities. The town was rebuilt and another fire destroyed a full block in 1900. In the early 1900's the lumber industry collapsed and the economic base changed to farming with Kingsley as the center of the rural community.
Through the late 1950's and early 1960's, Kingsley was a thriving village center with a dry goods store, department store, meat market, grocery seven gas stations, and two bars. On Saturday nights, entire families went to downtown Kingsley to buy weekly staples, shop, socialize, and catch up on the latest news and gossip. During the warm months, a free show was provided by the local merchants - spectators sat outdoors on wooden benches and the movie was projected onto a screen put up on the side of a building (on the site of the existing KMP Building).
By the late 1960's. farming had become less lucrative and road improvements made Traverse City more accessible. Gradually, Traverse City became the major employment and economic center for those residing in and near Kingsley. Currently, the dynamic of the Village is changing as new residential, commercial, and employment opportunities emerge.