Before Ellsworth received its present name, it was called Ox Bow. Farther south it was called Needsmore. Louis DeLine gave it the name Ellsworth. Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth was DeLine's commanding officer in the Civil War and was killed early in the fighting. Ellsworth was a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. In honor of his commanding officer, DeLine named the town for Colonel Ellsworth.
This northerly township of Antrim County, called Banks, was organized by an act of the Michigan Legislature on March 11, 1863. The plat map of 1910 shows schools and churches as well as roads that went around steep hills. Two examples of such roads include Essex Road at Peebles Road, and the Ellsworth-Atwood Road, where Bentley Hill was skirted by going north on Friske Road, then west just past the Doctor School and back south to the bottom of Bentley Hill. Most of the property owners' names on this map are only familiar to people over 50 years of age. . Elsie Timmer's Gleanings from Ellsworth's Yesteryears tells us more about the schools within Banks Township.