The Joyfield Township Master Plan was adopted on July 17, 2014. Based on the vision laid out in this plan, the Township has crafted a draft zoning ordinance to guide the Township’s development and preservation. It is available for review at the link below:
A bit of history from the Introduction to the Lakes to Land Community Master Plan…
Reverend Amariah Joy, a Baptist minister from Putney, Vermont, filed Benzie County’s first homestead claim on July 11, 1863 and quickly discovered the realities of life in the wilderness: few people and even fewer roads. He and his wife Frances settled their homestead of 160 acres and spent their first winter in relative isolation, the nearest neighbor over four miles away.
One of those neighbors was Charles E. Bailey, who suggested the name Joyfield for the area’s first post office in 1864, which Joy served as postmaster for 19 years. He also preached the first Baptist sermon in the Grand Traverse region, conducted its first baptism of that denomination, and organized churches along the northwestern coast to serve the large number of Free Will Baptists who had emigrated from Canada.
Like all townships in Benzie County, Joyfield Township was part of once-massive Crystal Lake Township. In 1861, the area that would become Joyfield, Homestead, Inland, Weldon, and Colfax townships separated under the name Benzonia Township; each of the townships organized individually in 1867.
Amariah Joy was the new township’s first Supervisor. He was succeeded in 1883 by his son, William A. Joy, and a year later by Charles H. Palmer. Born in Gowanda, New York in 1833, Palmer was a young teacher with a wandering foot. He found his way to Ecuador and eventually California, where he was when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted in 1861. Afterward, he made his Michigan homestead claim in 1866 and resumed teaching while clearing his land for planting. Eventually his farm boasted a respectable 30 cultivated acres, including 1,500 fruit trees and a unique specialty in nut cultivation. He served as Superintendent of Joyfield Township schools and later Justice of the Peace.
By 1883, the community’s two schoolhouses were bursting at the seams with 73 children, and about 15% of Benzie County’s population lived in Joyfield Township. The population slowly declined after the turn of the century. Some residents moved on to new frontiers, while others headed south to seek steady employment in Michigan’s growing industrial sector. Joyfield’s post office closed permanently on September 30, 1903.
Joyfield Township was then as it remains now: unspoiled beauty, farmers and ranchers living in sync with the seasons, retirees and young families spreading out to enjoy the best that Michigan has to offer. It neatly encloses the intersection of M-115 and US 31: close to everything, yet just the right amount of far away.