The name is properly pronounced "O-NEK-ah-ma", but some local business people have mirthfully utilized a common mispronunciation by tourists and have produced sweatshirts, t-shirts, and bumper stickers with the symbols "1," (pronounced 'ONE comma').
In 1880, the first public buildings were built in the new village. These included the Pierce Grist Mill and The Gibert Brothers' Saw Mill. In 1882, the first school was built next to the present-day Congregational Church. In 1883, a large summer hotel, The Glen House, was built near the Glen, with its three mineral springs that were believed to have medicinal value.
The village was incorporated in 1891 and included the earlier settlement known as Brookfield, creating a long narrow village about 1.5 miles long with the business section on the flat, former lake bottom and residences on the higher land.
In 1889, a branch of the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was extended to the village.
There were 239 households out of which 22.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.66.
In the village the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 115.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.8 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $29,091, and the median income for a family was $47,500. Males had a median income of $23,125 versus $15,455 for females. The per capita income for the village was $16,718. About 9.3% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 2.4% of those age 65 or over.
President John F. Kennedy visited the Chinnock family of Chicago at their summer home in Onekama in 1961.