THE BICENTENNIAL FARM
Considering the rate of declassification of centennial farms, it would seem beyond possibility that Sebewa should ever have a bicentennial farm, meaning that the line of ownership should have been kept in one family for 200 years.
At the height of farm occupancy in the late 1800’s Sebewa had about 350 farm units of an average of 65 acres. Now, less than a century later, there is a mere handful that qualify as centennial farms.
With the present trend of land consolidation to fit the needs of current models of efficient farm machinery and the trend of farmers’ descendants to drift toward more lucrative sources of income, it appears that the bicentennial farm is a mirage and even the centennial farm may disappear in the files of some corporate structure.
THE BICENTENNIAL TREE
In 1876 our pioneer ancestors in this area were still busy clearing the land of forest growth and finding a place that needed draining to make a few fields for crops. Apparently no thought was given to planting a centennial tree to mark our 100 years as a nation. We have yet another year to mark our celebration of 200 years of existence as a country by planting a tree we designate the bicentennial tree.
But where do we plant such a tree that would stand a fair chance of escaping enthusiastic destruction by the shapers of the next century? We have seen the rural schools become relics though once they seemed as permanent as motherhood. The Sebewa Corners Methodist Church, built in 1876, has again come up for sale, advertised as having two apartments. U.S. 16 or Grand River Avenue blossomed into an artery of Michigan traffic and then became a rural road. What assurance do we have that the great I 96 will have a longer useful life? Who can say that Sebewa’s crops a century hence will risk exposure to uncontrolled rain and sun? Or will there even be a need for crops? Could it be that solar power from a given acreage might be more valuable than any crop ever grown there?
All of which comes down to the question of where can we plant a tree and expect posterity to leave it to the growth process for a century. Perhaps we should opt for the cemetery, knowing that is where the concentration of present Sebewa citizens will be when the Tercentennial arrives.
Henry Smith reports finding the preserved remains of a pioneer effort on his 40 acres facing M 66. The land there has a high water table and drainage has been a problem. In working on the drain system Henry uncovered a shallow well or spring enclosure that has long been in disuse. A section of a hollow log had been placed vertically in the ground where a supply of water accumulated in its inner space. Although long covered over, the log section had not rotted in its long soaking. Some of the previous owners of the farm were Frank McDonald, H. Warner and Thomas Warner.
Several times this summer season a Sandhill Crane has been seen in Sebewa. The bird surely had his reasons for being here even though it could not have been to pose on a sand hill. The large ungainly shape and the gray uniform color with a red cap help identify the sandhill crane. It has a length up to 37 inches and a wingspread up to 87 inches according to a bird book.
Talk of the gingko tree on the Blanchard house lawn prompted me to measure it. By Lynn Morris’s tape, it measured 100 inches in circumference about three feet above the ground. Mention of its size brought comment from Harold Hathaway that the gingko on the Congregational Church lot at Portland was at least that large. Mrs. Hathaway held the end of the tape while I circled the tree to find the same 100 inches. The two trees differ in that the Ionia tree grew a straight 30-foot log while the one at Portland threw out huge branches a few feet above worshipping heads. The church tree is supposed to have been one of many that were brought from Asia by returning missionaries. The gingko on the Hall-Fowler Library lawn in Ionia measures 67 inches on the circular tape.
Repetition starts a habit; thus I started measuring a few big trees that came to view. The two soft maples on our schoolyard measured 125 and 130 inches respectively. A huge oak tree at the southeast corner of the Oak Hill Cemetery in Ionia was 140 inches in girth. It has a short log with many enormous branches.
In Mrs. Mae Gierman’s lawn near the road is an ash tree that measures 105 inches. In her back yard is an oak of 115 inches that Harry Mapes told her his brother planted when the Mapes family lived there and Harry was a little boy.
Finally for this report there is a hard maple in my yard that shows 95 inches in circumference. This was left standing or planted by the Emanuel Tran family when they moved the Ben Probasco Sr. cooper shop from the Center corner about 1867 and used it for a dwelling. The old cooper shop is now the garage part of the toolshed that incorporated it in 1937.
Using the electronic calculator with the formula Diameter equals Circumference divided by Pi, we have these diameter equivalents without reducing the trees to stumps. 100 = 31.8; 67 = 21.3; 125 = 39.8; 130 = 41.4; 115 = 36.2; 105 = 33.4 and 95 = 30.2. Modernized the figures read 81, 54.3, 101.5, 93.3, 81 and 77 in centimeters of the metric system instead of inches as first given.
* If your trees rate a mention here, send us in writing the measurement, the species and the location. Our membership will be made aware of them. RWG
As a Bicentennial event for next May the Grand River Watershed Council plans a grand paddle down the Grand River by as many canoeists as can be enlisted. Those who do not wish to make the entire trip can start and stop as they wish. Some will start at the headquarters of the tributaries. Decals and insignia will be available. For more information and registration, interested persons may write the Grand River Watershed Council, 3322 W. Washington Ave., Lansing, Michigan.
DEATHS OF PEOPLE WITH SEBEWA CONNECTIONS since our last report have been those of Tom Downing, Mrs. Ethel Thorp, Walter Reed and Mrs. Mattie Seybold. All have left some mark on the mosaic that is our past. Add the name of Alice Tran Knight.
GOING TO THE STORE MORE THAN 100 YEARS AGO – Imagine yourself in your great ___, ___, grandfather’s place hitching up your oxcart or saddling your horse, leaving your little clearing in the woods, following the dusty or muddy trail to P. G. Cook’s general store at Sebewa Corners. You are going because there are some essentials you need. Perhaps your salable crop is not harvested yet. You must use your face for your credit card. Mr. Cook will allot you a page in his account book and enter the two or three necessary items under your name and then he will transfer these to his ledger. Later, when you manage to have a little income, you will square the account and start over again.
For the years of 1859 and 1860, here are some of the items and prices in the store as shown in Mr. Cook’s account book. However trivial these purchases may seem in comparison to today’s offerings, they were the things that thrilled the family as store-bought goods. A small saddlebag would have held most purchases. Mr. Cook is in his store with these items for sale from time to time.
1859: 1 pint alcohol $ .20, 1 gun cone .10, 1 stone crock .25, 2 tumblers .25, 1 meat dish .31, ¾ yards alpaca .47, 62 feet plank .32, 1 fourth reader .50, ¼ lb. Alum .03, 1 bottle essence .08, cap lace .25, 1 lb. Salts .25.
1860: opium .13, camphor gum .13, whiskey .06, 1 darning needle .01, county order 4.00, Subscription on Ionia Journal 1.00, 1 ½ yds. Lace .38, 2 lbs. saluratus .16, garden rake .50, 8 fish hooks .24, manure fork 1.15, 1 gal. jug & contents .85, ½ lb. Allspice .10, 1 qt. Whiskey .20, 1,000 feet lumber 8.00, boy’s work in haying 9 ½ days 4.75, Postage on Letter .02, Cradle nib .18, 1 box pills .25, 1 rocking chair .63, Horse to Portland .25, opium .05, ½ lb. fine cut .19, fever powders .10, Paregoric .12, Quinine and calomel .50, Buggy to Portland .25, 1 flour duster to Henrietta Howell .10, Ink .05, 1 ball twine .12, 1 file .10, 1 bottle ague cure 1.00, 1 watch key .25, Order for coffin E. A. Nichols September 24, 1860 2.00, 1 oz. nutmeg .13, 3 lbs. Tallow .37, 31 ft. black walnut .31, 12 sheets foolscap .12, 2 hanks linen thread .12, 31 lbs. Buckwheat flour .41, 2 oz. extract .12, castor oil .10, 1 peck onions .25, 1 shawl 1.25, 1 broom .18, Oxen 3 days’ plowing 1.50, Trip to Lyons 1.00, Slate pencils .02, 1 rock chain 1.00, Setting shoes 1.05, 1 hat 1.00, 1 cap .63, 1 lamp 1.00, To horse keep 1.87, Horse shoeing .45, 12 lb. beef .72, Fix buggy for Mrs. Smith 2.50, Keep horses over night .45, 19 ½ lbs. Pork .78, killing hog .38, 1 pitcher .38, 13 lbs., 13 oz. butter 1.74, 17 lbs cheese 1.38, 1 bush scythe (to be paid for within 1 year) 1.00, 1 curry comb .19, 1 spade 1.25, 1 wooden bowl .50, 2 yds. Tape & 2 doz. Brass nails .15, 1 pair gloves .25, 3 bottles pain reliever .75, 3 yds jackinett cambrie 1.12, 1 lb. salts .13, Land side for plow .63, 1 augur .50, 1 wooden bowl .63, Chalk line & 2 fish hooks .07, 12 sheets of paper .12, ½ lb. tea .25, 1 scythe snath .50, 48 grains quinine .25, 1 bottle gargling oil .50, 1 scythe stone .18, Door hanging .33, t tumoler .12, 1 pitcher .13, 1 axe halve .06, 1 padlock .19, fix clevis .15.
Staple & ring and mend chair .60, Fix axe .38, Bushel bagas .13, Wintering cow 10.00, 5 lbs. Sugar .45, 1 lb. soda .10, 1 box matches .07, 2 pairs slippers .75, 1 can oysters .30, 3 lb. crackers .15, cloth for baby’s cloak 1.50, Cloth for wife’s circle 2.00, Myself & team one day 1.00, Scouring brick .08, Claria E. Cook’s photos 1.25, 3 yds. Cotton .30, 3 yds. Linen .25, 1 box collars .15, 1 dozen buttons .08, mouth organ .15, 1 spool thread .05, ½ lb. cinnamon .15, ½ lb. ginger .10, Team in barn .50, 2 cords wood .80, Kerosene oil .30, 20 yds. Carpet 2.50, 1 nursing rubber .15, Butchering hog .75, 2 cigars .10, 1 pair overshoes 1.50, 2 quarts syrup .33, 5 lbs. Sugar .45, ½ ton hay 4.00, 200 lbs. Flour 5.00, 1 tooth brush .15, 4 lemons .10, cod fish .53, 1 bar soap .20, 1 lb. raisins .12.
From 1860 to 1878 the pattern of purchases had changed to all sorts of things that might have been considered extravagances before 1860. Most of the 1878 items were purchased by Mr. Cook after he had left the store and was in Portland as Justice of the Peace.
For the stories that follow me we should change the caption to REAL DAUGHTERS to indicate that it refers to the Frank twins, daughters of John Peter Frank, who was a soldier of the American Revolutionary War.
Several years ago the Daughters of the American Revolution organization adopted the form (reproduced emblem shown above) to mark the graves of first generation daughters of Revolutionary War Veterans. It is a bronze plaque of 5 ½ by 8 ½ inches attached to the tombstone of the honored daughters.
Locally these markers are to be found on the gravestones of Julia Ann Frank Demaray and Elizabeth Ann Frank Russell in the Lakeside Cemetery at Lake Odessa. To find them you may go about a quarter of the way south from the north end of the cemetery and just over the slope of the hill to the west. While not side by side, the graves are near each other.
There was enough of a gap in time and space between the Thirteen Colonies of the Revolution and the settlement of interior Michigan to make a veteran of the Revolution a rarity in this area. Nearly as rare were the Real Daughters. During the Bicentennial celebration you may find it interesting to visit these graves as well as those of veterans Jonathan Ingalls south of Sebewa Corners at roadside and William Pangbourn in Snow’s Corners cemetery near the intersection of Woods and Steadman roads in Ronald Township.
Our Sebewa Center Associations member, Audrey Demaray Kussmaul, is a granddaughter of Julia Ann.
From The Lake Odessa Wave of 1911 as taken from The Grand Rapids Herald
With all due respect and reward to the reminder of the Daughters of the American Revolution, it was the real twin daughters, Julia Ann Frank Demaray and Elizabeth Ann Frank Russell of Lake Odessa who received the most attention at the Pioneer Section at the West Michigan State Fair at Grand Rapids, which closed Friday.
On Thursday, when these two lovely old Ladies spent their entire day there spinning, piecing, working samplers and quilting. They were really the guests of honor at a continuous reception. Many an aged man and woman, who remembered the time when at least some of the things exhibited in the old colonial kitchen were in use and who hesitated to approach the more stately dames of the present generation, paused to speak to the twin daughter, feeling perhaps, a kinship with their seventy years.
It was the twin daughters who were appealed to whenever doubt as to the use or usefulness of any of the many queer and unfamiliar objects there under discussion. It was they who showed all the curious ones just how to snuff a candle and they who convinced the skeptical how smooth and fine a hand woven line might be made. It was their merry laughter which rang longest and loudest in the comical dismay of the little maid of today viewing with half frightened, half awed eyes the flax wheel and the sampler of her grandmother or of the curious but not altogether faithful silhouette of her great great grandmother. The twins are familiar through their years—they are nearly 71—and partly because they are a part of the life of pioneer Michigan with the use of nearly all old-fashioned things.
All day Thursday they worked in turn at all the old occupations, which were provided at the fair. They operated flax and wool wheels, dipped candles, set figures in samplers and pieced a block or two on the pioneer quilt, which was in process of construction. It was their quilting, however, which most delighted the onlookers, for both sisters insisted upon having a bit of broken china with which to cut the threads in true old-time style. This novel process surprised and charmed the onlookers. The other quilters, falling in line with the innovation, also demanded bits of china and the quilting party went merrily along with each seamstress disdaining the exquisite little scissors or other cutlery of those days and snipping the thread with a dexterous twist of the china. In the early days of the twins the only cutlery known as scissors was a bulky object quite too cumbersome for fine quilting and women were wont to preserve their broken fine china, utilizing the delicate edge for the purpose of cutting threads.
The twins have retained much of the joyousness which characterized them as girls and were quite the merriest attendants at the fair. Something of their old time mischief gleamed from their eyes and it was easy to credit the legends concerning them. They are said, in the days when they were as alike as the proverbial “two peas in a pod”, so alike that their mother and lovers could not always tell them apart, to have enjoyed greatly and frequently cheating both, especially the latter, who on more than one occasion took the wrong twin to the right place or the right twin to the wrong place according to the fancy of the twins themselves.
Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Demaray were born after their father’s return from the war. He was 80 years old when the twins arrived at the home he had secured for his second wife and the aged soldier was so proud that for days he used to scour the country inviting folks to come to see his wonderful babies. Both married and they were separated for many years but a few years ago decided to live near together. They are regarded as a great find by Sophia De Marsac Campau Chapter D. A. R. of which they are members and are frequent guests in this city.
End Grand Rapids Herald story.
From The Lake Odessa Wave Times of June 21, 1912.
The many friends of the Daughter of the Revolution organization were shocked to learn that on June 3, death removed one of the well-known members, Mrs Calvin C. Demaray of Lake Odessa, Michigan. Mrs. Demaray had been in poor health for some time but the illness was not thought to be of a serious nature. The Sunday previous to her death she had visited her sister, Mrs. Russell. It was while there that she was taken dangerously ill, from which she never recovered.
Mr. and Mrs. Demaray had been married for fifty-six years. The funeral was held on the following Sunday at the U. B. Church here. Had Mrs. Demaray lived until October 24, she would have reached her seventy-second milestone at which time she and her sister Mrs. Russell had planned to have another of their birthday anniversary celebrations. These have been kept up from year to year in a truly patrotic style as is befitting for the people who have been so honored—their life story.
It was the merest chance a short time ago that Lake Odessa folk awoke to the fact that they had been entertaining in their midst two women who were destined to become of national fame. Mrs. Julia Ann Demaray and Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Russell had preferred to live unobtrusively and unlike the majority of those who may boast of having had a parent in the Colonial Army, reserved their Revolutionary reminiscents for their own firesides.
Reading some notice concerning some revolutionary history for a local paper, Mrs. Russell called at the office to make inquiries and accidentally dropped a word which led to the identification of her sister and herself as the only twins among the thinning ranks of those whose fathers were soldiers in that bitter strife for the liberty of the original thirteen colonies.
Theirs was a remarkable case in more ways than one. In the first place it is probable that not a dozen times in the history of the Western Hemisphere has a man of 76 been the proud father of twin daughters. The man in question was John Peter Frank, who responded to a call for volunteers when England’s yoke became too burdensome and who joined the Colonial Regiment recruited at Philadelphis in 1776 and who was connected with Washington’s army in all its checkered career of bitter reverences and valiant success. It is rather a paradoxical proposition that this soldier of the Revolution would have moved into Canada a few years after the death of his first wife, a loyal devoted little patriot, that Frank should have married an English woman many years his junior.
This was the atmosphere to which the twins, Julia Ann and Elizabeth Ann were introduced in 1840. Frank’s second wife was a devoted mother and a dutiful helpmate. Frank was never seriously hurt during all his fights under Washington but he suffered severely from exposure and that he should have lived to the age of 95 and to die from what might be termed an accident seems almost beyond the realm of possibility. The weight of years never bore heavily upon this man. (Here a portion of the microfilm copy of the story was missing. Ed.).
He had walked two miles to the post office and back in an hour. He was as straight and spry as most men of fifty. It is a family tradition that he was engaging in shingling his son’s house when he succumbed to heat prostration. He was hurried to his home and died within a week. His wife survived only about a year. An elder half- sister opened her home to the orphaned twins, who were reared by this motherly woman.
Julia Ann was the first to marry. Though a Yankee at heart, she wedded an Englishman and early moved to United States to satisfy a longing cherished since childhood. Her sister followed suite also choosing an Englishman. It so happens Mr. Russell’s ancestry won fame in the armies of England though they did not fight in the Revolution. His father was a soldier under Washington in that memorable campaign when the indomitable Napoleon was made to bow to defeat before the onslaught of the British.
Mrs. Demaray moved to Michigan more than forty years ago and settled in the northern part of Barry County. She and her husband were among the early pioneers of their section. Mrs. Russell, coming on a visit, was so taken with the west and Michigan that she with her husband, moved there at once. They settled in Bonanza, the village which was the beginning of Lake Odessa.
The knowledge that two Lake Odessa women were twin daughters of the American Revolution stirred the officers of the Grand Rapids Daughters of the American Revolution to investigate. The claims of the twins have been looked up and Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Demaray enjoy the privilege of being the only twins drawing pensions as the result of parental services with the Colonial armies. End.
Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Russell was eighty years old when she died in 1920.
BICENTENNIAL LAKE ODESSA 1976
A colorful event is being planned for Lake Odessa for the weekend of July 4, 1976. The week of July 4 is traditionally the week of the Lake Odessa Fair. For one very bright evening all residents and boaters around Jordon Lake will have a simultaneous show of lights, fireworks and flares commemorating our country’s 200th anniversary.
For a show unequalled, that would be a good place to have your boat launched for the ceremony. The Lakewood High School Bandboosters will be selling flares to willing participants.
Record rains for August of this year did more than spoil beans, muddy the roads and make the grass grow. During a heavy rain August 21 Clyde Avery of West Sebewa heard a low-flying plane that seemed to be in trouble. By the time he could look out to the source of the sound a single engine plane had landed and quickly mired in the wheat stubble next to his dwelling.
The occupants of the plane were William Bates, a flying instructor at Willow Run Airport and from nearby Belleville, David Beuchi, who had chartered the flight to Grand Rapids and return. Despite knowing there were two rainstorms crossing his path, Bates had left Grand Rapids for the return trip, planning to outmaneuver them. The storms converged over Sebewa and the flight ended in the Avery wheatfield. The field became so soft the plane could not taxi, much less take off again.
The man notified the Grand Rapids airport and called for the family car at their home port for the return. Meantime N 32524 was prominently on view to passersby on Goddard Road. Frequent rains continued until the first of the week in September when the ground became a little more firm and the men returned September 5 to try for a takeoff.
As the field was not yet solid enough to get the plane in the air they taxied it to the Clarksville Road, looking for sufficient clearance to get airborne. With too many high lines, trees and fences on the Clarksville Road for a safe attempt at flight the taxing plane had soon reached M66. There the stretch to the south looked promising.
Clyde stopped traffic from the north while David Beuchi held it back from the south at Goodenough Road. Things were ready for takeoff north from the Goodenough corner.
Nobody had counted on Glenn Desgranges, Lake Odessa policeman, being in the line of traffic held back. As any policeman would, he inquired as to what was going on and promptly radioed the State Police Post and held the plane on Goodenough Road while traffic resumed. The State Police were soon on the scene and continued thumbs down until they had checked with all the authorities via radio as to proper ownership and licensing of the plane and pilot.
When they had satisfied all queries the policemen again halted M 66 traffic, the plane headed north, was soon in the air and left the confines of Sebewa. The fliers were back to flying and the farmers could turn to their beans.
A few days later a candygram arrived in the mail for the Averys. Just in case you have never received a candygram, Clyde says it is like a florist’s telegraph delivery with candy in the box instead of posies. It was mailed from the Lansing office of Western Union.
KIWANIS TRAVELOGS: Travelog offerings by Ionia, Hastings and Charlotte Kiwanis Clubs for the coming season are listed here. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are the respective club show nights. Season tickets are available. Fall 1975 & Winter 1976
October 2 U.S. Virgin Islands Gary Peterson
November 20 Bright Belgium John Strong
January 15 Figi, Western Samoa & Tonga John Ebert
February 5 Fantastic East Africa Vance Kabourek
March 11 America’s Hidden Jewels Joe Adair
April 26 The European Alps James Forshee
October 7 Enchanting Bali Nicol Smith
November 11 San Francisco—Then and Now John Strong
December 9 Mountain Safari Julian Gromer
March 2 Adventure Across South America Rudi Thurau
March 16 Tennessee and Kentucky Joe Adair
April 13 The People of Spain Howard Pollard
October 18 Scottish Kilts and Castles Gary Peterson
November 29 Isles of the Mediterranean Howard Pollard
January 31 New Zealand Trevor Dornbush
February 28 Adventure Across South America Rudi Thurau
March 27 America on Parade 1776-1976 Robert Brouwer
May 1 Fabulous Florida James Forshee
Last update September 13, 2014