Some of the earliest inhabitants of the area were the Leghoya people. Not much is known about them, but ruins of their settlements dating back to c.1400 can be found in the area.
During the mid-1800s, the area prior to the formation as a village, was an outspan area for resting teams of draw animals transporting goods across the region mainly due to the water of the small lakes dotting the area.:302 Modern Ermelo was founded by Dutch Reformed Church Reverend Frans Lion Cachet (1835–1899). He would minister to the many farms in the area. A congregation was started by Cachet in 1870, and was recognised by the 5th annual general meeting of the church in April 1872.