Michigan, originally part of "The Northwest Territory" became a state
in 1837. Benzie County was formed from a portion of what had been Grand Traverse
County by the act entitled "An Act to Organize the County of Benzie" passed
by the State Legislature on March 30th, 1869.
Prior to the creation of Benzie County, the Board of Supervisors of Grand Traverse
County set aside the eastern section of Benzonia Township to establish Homestead
Township on October 12th, 1864 and the Township of North Climax on April 10th, 1867.
The name was later changed to Inland Township in 1869.
Around this time northern Michigan was opened for homesteading.
Early pioneers came from "out east" to stake their claim. To stake a claim,
the government required $1.25 per acre as well as five years of homesteading on the
The first homesteaders toiled endlessly to make a home here. The land consisted of
unbroken and heavily forested wilderness disturbed only by local Native Americans
in the pursuit of game. The settlers lived in dwellings that ranged from rudely constructed
hovels which were covered with bark stripped from trees to cabins made from inch-thick,
two-foot wide pine boards sawn at local mills. The roof would be covered with cedar
shakes. The water supply consisted of having a cistern and using rain water as well
as drawing water from rivers, lakes and standing water.
Homesteaders survived by raising gardens that generally consisted of potatoes and
root crops, fishing the local streams and rivers, and hunting game. It is said that
the rivers were full of rainbow, brook and grayling trout that everyone from small
children to visiting grandfathers would fish. One story from Inland Township tells
of a local pioneer catching a 62 pound sturgeon using his pitchfork in the Platte
The timber industry was in full swing with virgin stands of
white pine and dense hardwood. The Village of Honor in Homestead Township and the
Village of Bendon in Inland Township sprang up as logging towns. The villages filled
rapidly with people, houses and stores with no real roads to get to or from them.
For the most part, travel was primarily along the Old Benzonia Trail that followed
along quite closely on the same route as the ancient Indian trail that went from
Mackinaw southward along Lake Michigan to Manistee and beyond, keeping inland far
enough to maintain a fairly direct line. Passing through Benzie County, it naturally
skirted the Deadstream Swamp and crossed the Platte River where the banks were low
and firm enough.
These trails were developed by the railroads and lumber companies and soon became
main thoroughfares. The now developed roadways allowed for newer types of commerce
including “resorters” or people who would come up from the cities for summers on
the lake. As the stands of pine and hardwood began to dwindle, the mills switched
over their machinery for sawing cedar and making shingles. Timbering and agriculture
had been the economic base of the townships for the fifty years. After the collapse
of the timber industry, many of the offspring of the early settlers were forced to
leave the area to find employment.
Today, tourism, small business and fruit farming provide the
local income in this area which lies in the heart of Michigan’s cherry growing region.
The majority of Homestead and Inland Township residents commute to industrially and
commercially developed neighboring communities for employment.
The Platte River runs through both townships and hosts the Michigan Department of
Natural Resources Fish Hatchery located about 5 miles east of Honor. It produces
Coho and Chinook Salmon and Steelhead in abundance. The Platte River furnishes some
of the Midwest’s greatest Trout fishing as well. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular
pastimes on the beautiful Platte River.
Fall and winter pastimes include ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country
skiing. Hikers and skiers enjoy many miles of marked and unmarked trails throughout
the area. Homestead and Inland Township are a blaze of color in the fall and attract
many color enthusiasts. Waterfowl and deer hunting seasons also draw in many sport