The Pleasanton Township Master Plan was adopted March 9, 2015.
A sneak peek from the Introduction to the Lakes to Land Community Township Master Plan…
Carved from rolling hills, perhaps it was Pleasanton Township’s verdant fields and forests that attracted retired minister George B. Pierce and fellow newcomers Dwight E. Sibley and Charles Bailey in 1863. They were among the first settlers to this part of what was then Brown Township; when Pleasanton Township was established in 1864, Pierce accepted an appointment as its first postmaster.
He was not the only minister to settle the area. Reverends Prickard and Bell arrived in 1866. A Methodist church was probably constructed by 1868, but records verifying the location have not been found. Reverend A. Joy established a Baptist church in 1869, probably attended by Canadian immigrants who counted many Free Will Baptists among their numbers. Mary Pierce, wife of George, donated land in 1892 to construct a new church across from Pleasanton Township Cemetery on “the State road,” now US-31. Its Methodist congregation voted to move to Bear Lake in 1979, and the venerable old building has hosted services for the Lighthouse Baptist Church since 1980.
Homesteaders arrived rapidly following the Civil War, and by 1870 Pleasanton Township was home to 65 families. The first shop, school and sawmill arrived in 1871.In 1877, a local resident predicted that “whoever chronicles the history of Pleasanton ten years hence will no doubt inform the world that it is one of the most flourishing towns in the State of Michigan,” and indeed by 1880 the community had two schools, a public library, a fenced cemetery, and two churches.
But the area was never as densely populated as early residents anticipated. The post office closed permanently in 1909. The population decreased by about 20% during World War I, when residents left for better-paid factory jobs in the cities. Some returned during the upheaval of the Great Depression, but most did not.
As other areas became more crowded, Pleasanton Township ripened into a place of peace and natural beauty. Its rich agricultural lands have maintained sustainable farms for over a century. Along the shores of Bear Lake, summer cottages have sprouted where the old mill once stood. In 1980, the Census recorded that seasonal residents of Pleasanton Township outnumbered the “locals” for the first time, and the majority of year-round residents commuted to jobs in Manistee and other areas rather than farming. The promise of Pleasanton Township lies in the preservation of its past and willingness to embrace the future.