Between 1840 and 1850, a religious man, Amos Williams, settled near a river and it is the common belief of some of the earliest settlers that he named the sparkly trout stream, which flows into the South Arm of Pine Lake, The "Jordan River" after the famous river Jordan in Palestine. The date of the earliest settlement around the south arm of Pine Lake is given as 1869. At that time the firm of Nelson, Redington and Company, carried on lumbering operations and the settlement located at what is now called Waterman’s Hill, west of Rogers Road, south fo East Jordan, was called "Nelsonville," with the establishment of a post office in May, 1869. Mr. D.C. Nettleton was the postmaster for a short time, but soon moved to Charlevoix and the office was moved to Intermediate.
In 1867, Solomon G. Isaman settled on 80 acres of land near the west shore of Pine Lake. In 1873 he began selling goods stored in a corner of his home, which in 1874 became a post office with the name "South Arm." This building later became the residence of Mrs. Mae Heinzelman and was located at 104 Water Street, next to the Taylor IGA Groceries.
Mrs. Heinzelman’s father, Henry B. Stohlman, was a native of Germany and came to the region in 1876. He went into business with Mr. Cole, who built the Eagle Hotel where Taylor’s IGA later stood. He continued on with the general store alone after Mr. Cole’s withdrawal in 1882. Mr. Stohlman became postmaster in 1883.
In 1874, Mr. W.F. Empey built a store where Amos Williams had settled. Later he moved to the present site of East Jordan on the east side of the lake. He persuaded other pioneers to settle here and in May 1878, a post office was established and Mr. Empey was appointed postmaster. In 1877 when the post office was bout to be established, the question of a name for the settlement arose. Mr. Empey sent a number of names to the State Department, but they were rejected as there were other offices having the same names. At last he sent, along with others, that of "East Jordan," which was adopted. And thus the village was named.
In 1884 East Jordan was noted the Charlevoix County Seat, removing it from Charlevoix. (In 1886, Boyne City secured the majority vote and became the County Seat. In 1897 Charlevoix secured it back again.