BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF CLEON TOWNSHIP
Cleon Township is located in the northeast corner of Manistee County, farthest from the county seat which is Manistee. The eastern border is the county line between Manistee County and Wexford County. To the south of Cleon Township is Marilla Township and to the west is Springdale Township. The northern border is the county line between Manistee County and Benzie County. The pioneers of the township paid little attention to the industrial community and were even too far away to self their agricultural produce to the large city population
The early settlers arrived in Cleon Township late in 1865, selecting property on which to enter homestead claims. Kaleb Ream picked a homestead and filed a claim in November, 1865, but did not actually settle until 1866. Other settlers including George Estabrook, Micajah Amos and Oliver Gernell arrived in 1866 and homesteaded adjacent pieces of property. In that first year, to fulfill the homestead requirement of living on their property, the four families built a single log cabin, measuring 18 feet by 26 feet over an exact corner where their properties met. Each family could then live on one comer of the cabin on their own homestead. Cleon Township's first supervisor, Alonzo Chubb, was appointed in 1866. The first school district was established on April 5, 1869, and a log cabin school was built in Section 11. In the next twelve years there were four more school districts created and schools built. A post office was established on January 31, 1871 , with Joseph Seamons as postmaster.
The post office was in his home on County Road 600. After the Ann Arbor Railroad was completed, the post office was moved to Viaduct Road with Mrs. Spencer as postmaster. Since the train did not stop there, the mail clerk hung the outgoing mail to a post where it was picked up as the train went by, and the incoming mail was thrown off the train. Shortly after Cleon Township was settled, Wexford County established its first courthouse in Sherman, north of Mesick. This was closer to Cleon Township than the county seat of Manistee and so in 1868 the township was transferred to Wexford County. Several years later the Wexford County seat was moved to Cadillac and in 1881 Cleon Township became a part of Manistee County again. Within the first decade, over two hundred people settled in Cleon Township. It had many farms and was blessed with an overabundance of good farmland and lumber. By 1889, the homesteads of Cleon Township had developed into productive farms. There was not a center of commerce and industry near, but Cleon Township had the ultimate transportation of the era with four major railroads. These were the Manistee &
The village expanded immediately and within two years had reached a population of 300, the number necessary for incorporation. Thus, in February, 1891, Copemish became the first incorporated village in Manistee County. Many businesses sprang up which included blacksmith shops, saloons, hotels, a post office, stores, and even a bank. The population went from very few in 1889 to 300 in 1891 and 500 in 1900. Although Copemish had two saloons in 1905, it could also boast of three churches: Congregational, Methodist, and Church of Christ. Today, there are two churches: St. Raphael Catholic Church on M-1 15 just outside of Copemish and Pomona Bible Church on Marilla Road in Pomona. It was also unique as a northern Michigan school district when in the early years it built a large, eight-room masonry school and took several decades raising sufficient students to fill the building. Today, the township is part of both the Mesick School District and the Benzie County Central School District, which operates Betsie Valley Elementary School located in M-1 15 just outside of Copemish. Over the past half century Copemish has seen many of the changes experienced by other northern Michigan communities as transportation patterns have been altered. The railroads are gone and a new highway, M-1 15, was built which bypasses the village. Although these changes have reduced commercial activities, some businesses have survived, including M R Products. Cope Tool and Die has closed,
but Cleon Township has bought the building and it is now
used as the township hall and offices. There are a handful of small businesses including a hardware store, a gas station, a bar/restaurant, a beauty salon, a resale shop, an auto garage, and a self-storage. A new family park has also been erected. Honor State Bank opened a branch in Copemish in October, 1990. Many residents continue to live in Copemish although they work in other communities. In 1991 Copemish celebrated its centennial year with a weekend filled with activities. This has become a summer tradition which has turned into Copemish Days. The festival includes a parade, a horseshoe tournament,
a flea market, children's games, food, and a horse pull among other things. According to the 2000 Census, Cleon Township has a total population of 1,063. That is an increase of 106 people, an 11.1% change since 2010.
BENZONIA — A glass backboard, a hotel and Fowler. Those are three things Copemish players on the former school’s historic 1952 team hadn’t seen before.
The Copemish Cyclones played in the 1952 Class D boys basketball finals at Jenison Fieldhouse on the campus of Michigan State University...Click here to read complete article
Northeastern, the Frankfort & Southeastern, the Chicago & West Michigan, and the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Northern Michigan. With the railroads, many little villages sprang up. Harlan, located in the village with a post office. Pomona, located on the line between Sections 15 and 16 in Cleon Township, had twenty acres laid out for a village. An Evangelical Church was built in 1890, and this holds the distinction of being the first church constructed in Cleon Township. There were two stores, a post office, a telephone office, a blacksmith shop, a sawmill, and a schoolhouse located in Pomona, but not a saloon.The population of Pomona was an estimated 75 people. Yates, located at the intersection of County Roads 597 and 600 at the Marilla-Cleon Township line, started out as a logging camp and sawmill. Yates had a stagecoach stop which later became a post office. A little store named Yates Store was built on the corner. In 1879 the Yates WCTU built Yates Chapel. Woodman Hall and a school were also built. The population was approximately 75 people. Copemish, the biggest village of all mostly located in Section 18 but with outskirts in Sections 7, 8, and 17, was platted at the intersection of two major railroads, the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Northern Michigan and the Manistee