OFFICERS FOR OUR TWELFTH YEAR
The Sebewa Center Association Annual Meeting was held on June 12, 1976 as announced. The principal business of the meeting was to elect a vice president for a 3-year term. Wesley Meyers was reelected to the office without opposition. The officers for the 1976-77 year are:
We ended the 1975-76 year with a paid membership of 385.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, BLUFF ‘EM
On the front page of THE SUNFIELD SENTINEL of July 8 appeared this advertisement: “Notice---Will the party who stole my anvil please return it and avoid trouble. I was on the porch when you stole it. Don Benschoter.” Now Don adds coyly that he was snoozing on the porch at the time and he is still looking for his anvil.
With the aid of a timely rain, cornfields have thrown up a blanket of short visibility and where this happens to come close to both sides of the road, what was an open vista a few weeks ago, has become a virtual tunnel of highway. While it may be a driving pleasure to zoom through the open-top tube, it once again behooves each of us to be more than cautious at intersections for the month or two that corn must have its way. If you are not the crossroads nissle (missle?) you might be the target.
This item is from THE PORTLAND OBSERVER of November 28, 1876. “New Mill in Sebewa. Mr. Andrew Weippert has commenced the erection on Sebewa Creek of a new grist mill, and expects to have it in operation before spring. It is to be of two run of stone and is to be propelled by water power. Col. Quackenboss has the contract for the building and mill.”
At the same time, the Lowe mill was operating on the same Sebewa Creek a mile to the south on Musgrove Highway. THE OBSERVER notes it this way: “Mr. E. Y. Lowe of the Sebewa Mills is a successful miller and makes an excellent article of custom flour. A thorough test of his flour convinced us of this fact.” The Lowe mill that had different names under previous and succeeding owners is long since gone. Its site is marked by the stone channeling of Sebewa Creek at Howard Knapp’s residence on Musgrove Highway.
The Weippert mill still stands, though in somewhat of a dilapidated condition. The present owner, The Cadillac Ferndale Corporation of Warren, Michigan, seems content to let it go the same downhill direction it has taken for the past thirty or forty years. Last year and the year before it was used as a backdrop for a Shakesperian play in a movie production by Michigan State University students. For their purpose the roof was “thatched” and the building made to look like old English architecture. About ten years ago arsonists put the torch to the house that Frank O’Brien had built near the mill.
After the death of Andrew Weippert the mill was operated by Harry Gibson and later by a Mr. Merritt. There seemed to be a running feud between Mr. Merritt and the fishermen who were tempted to fish his mill pond. I recall that John Cole used to depend on that pond for his summer protein. John’s scraggly horse and topless buggy with fishpole extending to the rear was a familiar sight on Bippley Road.
John claimed a distinction that was unique in Sebewa. He said that as a young man in Pennsylvania before coming to Michigan, he had once taken a flight in the basket of a hot air balloon. After being up so high he lost sight of things, he made a safe landing. I was goggle eyed as John told the tale.
1876 was the date of the building of the Methodist Church in Sebewa. While the building has lasted the century, the organization floundered a few years short of it.
Also in 1876 Pierce & Co. had just completed a contract for furnishing Nichols, Shepard & Co. of Battle Creek, with five thousand dollars worth of spokes and felloes. Ephraim Probasco sold his hotel on James and Maple Streets in Portland to Mr. Wileus Simpson. Mr. Probasco returned to his farm (later the Roseveare farm) in Sebewa. Two hundred logs were drawn to Gunn’s sawmill in section 21 in one day. Nathan C. Carter shipped forty loads of white ash lumber from his mill at West Sebewa.
Burton Seckston won first premium at the Ionia Fair for the best yoke of four-year-old steers and Mrs. Fell got the first premium as mother of the best natured boy. A number of “our boys” were ready to leave with the Light Guard excursion to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. At Detroit the Army was recruited men for service against Sitting Bull.
Political parties were vying each other in erecting the tallest poles (tamarack) proclaiming their slogans at Portland, Sebewa, Odessa and many other communities around.
A wild turkey weighing twenty-three pounds was shot in Danby. Henry Halladay issued invitations for a Christmas party at his hotel on the Danby-Sebewa line.
There were two well organized baseball clubs in Sebewa. One was known as The Light Strikers. They played Odessa’s White Stockings.
Thomas Leak returned to England to visit his old home.
A house of ill repute down near the old sawmill was broken up by the Portland village authorities in August.
A wrestling match was held in Portland between D. B. Phillips of Howell and a Mrs. Rogers of Sebewa. How will our 1976 headlines look in 2076?
WHO IN OUR CEMETERIES WAS FIRST ON EARTH?
Our Revolutionary War veteran, Jonathan Ingalls, though not in the cemetery, had the distinction of being born in 1762.
Next in the Sebewa cemetery is Polly Baker. Her stone marker indicates that she was born in 1770 and lived to the age of 91. Census records suggest that she may have been the mother-in-law of John Maxim, one of Sebewa’s early settlers and grandfather to Del Northrup. The families lived in section one of Sebewa.
Samuel Carpenter was originally buried in the Carpenter cemetery at Tupper Lake and Kimmel Roads. When that cemetery was discontinued, his remains were moved to the Sebewa Baptist cemetery. His tombstone gives his age as 85 and born in 1775. He was the father of Elkanah, Jonah, Henry, Cyril and others of that family. The Carpenter farms were on Tupper Lake Road west of the Bishop school. Cyril’s son, Dr. Henry Carpenter was the father of Claude Carpenter. Claude was the grandfather of Jerry Carpenter of Lake Odessa.
Another eighteenth century birth whose burial is in the Sebewa cemetery is that of Mary Shay Probasco born in 1795. Interest in these dates was aroused in placing a tombstone for Pheba Shay as a Sebewa Center Bicentennial event. Pheba lived on the schoolhouse forty acres just to the west of the corner. Grayden Slowins discovered from the cemetery records that Pheba’s grave had never been marked with a stone. Pheba was the mother of Ephraim Shay, the inventor of the Shay locomotive during the logging era. Although Ephraim amassed a fortune from his locomotive royalties he was far enough away in time and distance not to remedy the neglect of his mother’s grave.
Grayden set a foundation for a marker there last fall and this year, through the courtesy of Steve Yenchar of Ionia and the Lowell Granite Company of Lowell as a bicentennial gesture, a suitable marker was made for Pheba’s grave. Some others of her family were buried there also but the record is not clear.
Mary Probasco was Pheba’s mother. Mary’s son, Henry, lived in Muir and was in the Union Army in the Civil War. At the Muir Church of Christ one of the stained glass windows is dedicated to Mary Probasco’s memory.
Pheba’s granddaughter, Mrs. Charles (Velma) Lewellyn of Slidell, Louisiana has furnished us with some of the Probasco family information.
The story of Ephraim Shay is told in the October 1967 SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR.
Ephraim came to Michigan from Ohio at the time of the Civil War in search of land.
Some members of the Probasco family were already established here. However, news of the war influenced him to enlist in the cause. He served as a medical corpsman in the 8th Missouri Infantry. His tombstone at Harbor Springs does not give the date of birth and death. He lived until around 1912.
After the war Ephraim came back to Sebewa and purchased land in the northwest corner of section 21 where Ken Carr now lives. While there he served a term or two as township clerk and worked at the Gunn sawmill. From Sebewa he went to Sunfield Township and set up his own sawmill. Its site became the familiar Shaytown that is now marked by the ruins of a store building.
From Eaton County Shay went to Wexford County to a little community just north of Cadillac called Haring. His primary interest was lumbering although he also was postmaster. He served one term as Wexford County treasurer. He wanted an economical way to move his logs to the mill. Narrow gauge steel railroad track was too expensive. He tried wooden rails and found that the pounding of the heavy piston rods against the drive wheels soon ruined his track. Then he came up with the idea of driving all the wheels with a shaft and gears at the side of the steam engine. This gave him power and smoothness that did not ruin the inexpensive wooden track.
Later Ephrain found his idea was patentable and salable. The Lima Locomotive Works manufactured extensively under the patents and produced royalties for Shay. From Haring Shay went to Boyne City where there was more timber. From there he moved to Harbor Springs. He did more lumbering and operated a machine shop that serviced many Great Lakes steamers.
Theodore Shay owned a farm on Cassel Road in section 15, Sebewa. Later he was killed in a lumbering accident in the north woods. Ben Probasco tells us that Theodore had such a roughneck reputation that some questioned if his funeral should be allowed in the new Methodist church at Sebewa Corners. His leather boots were left in the church entry as a symbol during the service. Mary Ann Velma Shay married George S…….(last name unreadable……perhaps Shipman?)
FLIGHT (continued) ARRIVAL AT NEW DELHI
After clearance through Indian customs at the New Delhi airport, our group of Prairie Farmers were directed to the tour bus supplied by the Indian travel organization, Trade Wings, through arrangement with our New York Stark Tours. Before boarding the bus my friend, Elias Pl Peter, a native of the southern state of Kerala and who had come on a week’s leave from his job some two hundred miles distant at Jhabua, found me for our first meeting after fifteen years of correspondence. It was my pleasure and honor to receive from him a marigold lei about my neck. I made arrangements to meet him at our hotel after I had time to refresh myself with a bath, shave and change of clothing.
Indian first class hotels are, indeed, first class. My roommate and I were given the bulky key to our room on the eighth floor of the Oberami International Hotel. This rather new building, we were told, was built jointly by Pan American World Airways and Indian capital. In its outward operation there was no indication that it was not all Indian. Passenger operated elevators took us to our floor where we soon found our room and made ourselves at home with the contents of our bags that had not been opened since we left home. Already it was obvious that the topcoat and warm clothing were superfluous in India’s winter climate.
The Oberami International Hotel and the other six hotels where we stayed on our trip were not lacking in any of the furnishings to be found in any good hotel. Floors and halls except for the lobby were carpeted. Chairs were comfortable. Twin beds, though firm, were restful. Lighting was good and some of it fluorescent. Drawer and desk space was adequate. The bath was marble walled with a convenience outlet for 220 volt electricity at the large mirror. It did not take me long to discover that the water was not softened and I was thankful there was a shower special tap or it was carried into the room in a pitcher.
New Delhi and Agra both use the water from the Jumna River for the public supply. So, one does not use that water for drinking or tooth brushing unless he can rely on his rabbit’s foot or some other reliable charm for protection.
Our food was on the house or at least prepaid and we had the choice of two dining rooms. There must have been at least six dining rooms in that hotel to enable them to cater to the special functions held there. For the evening meal, served after 8 P.M., there was always a small orchestra with plenty of amplification—enough so I never knew if others at the table slurped the soup or not. Fish and chicken were in good supply though other meats were served in this predominantly vegetarian Hindu country. One dining room faced the large swimming pool.
At the hotel desk we could change our travelers checks into rupees that we would need for any purchases in the shops or from street peddlers. $100.00 bought a pack of Re828.00 and that made each rupee worth a tiny fraction over 12 ½ cents. It was a little difficult not to regard it as funny money—bills of different colors and denominations. We soon found that there were coins of aluminum called paise that were hundredths parts of the rupee and were in denominations like our nickels, dimes and quarters. The hotel had a corridor of small shops and even a postal station. We quickly learned that it took one rupee and 20 paise to send a post card home air mail. I had Elias purchase a supply of picture cards. Some of the forty I mailed did not reach their destination here until after I returned.
Jet lag is the term given to describe the uneasiness of having ones biological clock out of time with sunrise and sunset. Our flight east had brought us to seeing sunrise ten and one half hours earlier than in wintry Michigan. I had once done the swing shift and spent a season on night shift and was thus a little skeptical of the predictions of disorientation. The one concession I made was to wear two wristwatches with one set for Michigan time. Other than being really tired when evening came I could see no symptoms of jet lag.
At about ten on that Sunday morning I met Elias at the hotel lobby. We walked outside to a bench in the little park on the grounds in front of the hotel. Half sunshine and half shade seemed about right for comfort. He recognized my pink shirt from a color snapshot I had sent him previously. First meetings with someone you have known only by correspondence are interesting. There were no sharp surprises as we were pretty well informed as to what the other was like.
Elias wanted to take me to visit some of his relatives at whose home he was staying while in New Delhi. His wife’s cousin is the wife of Dr. Oommen, an instructor in sociology at the University of New Delhi.
People who move about New Delhi have a choice of several modes of transportation as I soon saw in the movement on the streets. Anything on wheels serves somebody. There were ox carts, pony carts and even an occasional camel cart. These were mixed with bicycles—often with a lady passenger balancing herself side saddle over the rear wheel—motor scooters equipped with spare tire and a good muffler and some motorcycles. Many people moved about on foot. Trying to move in the same streets were autos, taxis and buses.
Five different compact autos are manufactured in India and they prevail over foreign models. In New Delhi it seemed that nearly half the auto traffic was made up of taxis. Besides the regular auto taxis there was a three-wheeler powered by a two-cycle two-cylinder engine with no reverse. It was operated as you would maneuver a bicycle. It held two or three passengers besides the driver under its vinyl top. A larger version of this vehicle was the minibus, which could be crowded up to fifteen people. Another variety of taxi still operating is the pedicab in which the operator pedals his three wheeler with two passengers in the open air rear seat.
The buses made in India were not unlike the ones we are used to. The difference was more in the way they were occasionally packed with passengers. Sometimes I could not see the windows on the opposite side because the view was blocked by standing passengers. There were many trucks operating on the streets hauling the various needs of the people. I saw furniture, wood, lumber and even a load of neatly piled buffalo chips. Almost all the trucks were of a standard model of four wheels and most had a painted sign indicating public transport. The age of the big tractor and semi-trailer has not reached India. The railroads still do the bulky hauling.
Elias hired an auto taxi for our trip to the University. Traffic there follows the English pattern of driving on the left with the steering wheel on the right. This taxi was a long way from being new but the favorable climate there did not make it look like our rusty junkers.
Almost as indispensable as the engine on an Indian car is the horn. Without its musical notes there would be no opening on the street in the movement of carts, bicycles, scooters and pedestrians. With a few tootles on the horn the slower traffic would give over a foot or two to make room for the tooting car. Surprisingly no feeling seemed jarred for being tooted at or lightly brushed as the car shoved on toward the next concentration in the street. I am sure that American drivers would expect an ambulance at every intersection to pick up the casualties if they were faced with that kind of traffic.
Next was to notice the buildings along the streets. New Delhi really is new as cities go. The British, when in control of India, moved its capital from Calcutta to New Delhi in the 1920’s with the completion in 1931. The city of New Delhi sprang up around the government center, leaving Old Delhi beside it much as it had been for centuries. Even Old Delhi has ruins of older Delhis under and around it as we were told when we visited inside the walls of the Red Fort.
Despite the relative newness of New Delhi, many of its buildings have a drab appearance from rusty stains of many rains on their masonry covered thick. It is the contrast between here and there that takes the tourists’ eye. Because of the mild climate it is not necessary to protect plumbing from freezing. There we saw many buildings with the plumbing attached to the exterior walls. Spatial grounds around large buildings were noticeably absent.
Still on our way to the University of New Delhi, I began to notice some other things besides the great numbers of people in the streets. However, it was of the concentrations of people that I made most frequent comment when sending post cards to friends at home. For years we have been led to believe that India and sacred cows were almost synonymous and inseparable. The sacred cow in New Delhi seemed to be almost as rare as the dairy herd has become in Sebewa. Far from being stumbled over, the cows had to be looked for intently even to find a pair. Perhaps the empty tar drums modified as protectors for small trees and shrubs was an indication the cows were once more prevalent than now.
If New Delhi was ever plagued by dogs on the loose, as every small town here suffers, that problem also was under control. By careful watch I finally did see a dog or two on leash. The many brick walls around so many of the larger dwellings seemed to indicate that there had been a problem with free running animals.
Though it was Sunday there was much work going on even to working on the streets and curbs. It was somewhat of a shock to me to see a crew of women working with crushed stone to build a curbing and also see two or three small babies stretched out on the ground just beyond where their mothers worked. As one place a road cut was being made by hand labor through a solid rock outcrop. Some of the chipped debris was being carried away in baskets atop the heads of women workers and in sacks slung from either side of donkeys.
This extensive rock outcropping at the university of New Delhi at the northwest side of the city covered a strip of half a mile wide and at least as long, making a place too rugged for even a turkey roost. Slowly the city creeps in on it with sledge hammers and chisels. Eventually it will probably make a most solid foundation for the homes of coming generations.
THE DIARY OF POLLY TIRRILL (continued)
October 1, 1873. Martin has gone to the fair. 2. In the afternoon went to J. Smith’s. 21. Visited Mrs. Smith. 26. Still Marcy & family here. 27. Stayed with E. Smith last night. 28. All day with Emy Smith. 29. Helped Elvira tie a comforter. 31. Mrs. Buck & Lizza Palmer here today.
November 3. Martin has gone squirrel hunting. 5. Went to Mr. Buck’s. Rebecca went to Gail’s. 6. Came home from Mr. Bradley’s. 7. Becca went over to her father’s. 11. Beck went to Still Marcy’s, I went to Wm. Kelly’s. 13. Dock is threshing today. 19. Rebecca went to Wm. Kelly’s yesterday. 27. Thanksgiving. Snow, snow, the week in & the week out. It’s all right for it’s our Creator that doeth nothing wrong.
December 5. Marin went to town. 7. Brother Deree preached to our schoolhouse today. 10. Went to John Smith’s. 16. Got home from John Smith’s with Olive. 21. Brother Deree did not come today; he is unwell. 24. Came to George Wyman’s and visit among them until the next Wednesday. Charles W. brought us to Charlotte the last day of the year of 1873.
January 1, 1874. I find myself to John Fletcher’s in his new home. Monday, Candlemas Day. A fire in town today.
February 3. Went to Mrs. McComber’s. 7. Went to see Mrs. Whitehorn. February 24, Came back from Charlotte. 26. Came to Martin’s.
March 3. Rainy afternoon for the donation. 13. Becca has gone to Falkner’s. 15. Elder Durree preached here today. 19. A collision on the cars yesterday. 21. Good sugar weather. 24. A fire in town Monday morning. 26. Moore preached to the schoolhouse last night. 27. Went up to Paul Gaide’s. Bec to Marcy’s. 28. Went to the Colby’s. 29. Went to Charles Kelly’s.
April 1. Mrs. Stirling auction day today. 3. Mrs. Howell here. 4. B. & children went up to Mr. Buck’s. I went to Mr. Kelly’s. 5. Family have gone to mill. 15. To town, got a pound of smoking. Mrs. Hagerman died in her seventies. 23. David Mulford came to work. 27. Lee here today. 29. Mrs. Buck here.
May 15. Mrs. Buck here. 18. Neighbors have done Martin’s planting today. 23. The doctor was here.
June 5. J. F. & wife came Saturday. 8. Got half pound of tea. 10. John Fremont home today. 11. Martin no better.
July 4. A beautiful day for the celebration. Went to town. 17. It looks like the judgement that is a coming and that justly. 18. Everything is drooping with the drought. 18. I was up last night with sore fingers. 26. A good rain. 30. M. V. threshed Friday. 31. Found Cherry’s calf.
August 1. The school closed today. 2. Elder Brown preached today. 15. Quarterly meeting met to our schoolhouse. 22. Went to John Smith’s. 27. John Threshed. 29. I came back to N. W.’s. 31. I have been sick the last two weeks. (Sept. 18)
My Brother Jonathan died February 27, 1875.
CLODHOPPER TO TWINKLE TOES
Lots of people did not have to wait for C. W. McCaul with his “Good Buddy” lingo hit record about CB truckers’ communication to learn about Citizens Band Radio and its use. McCaul is going to entertain at the Ionia Fee Fair this year. Mickey Bailey has been using CB for eight or ten years but he drives a highway truck. Only in the last two years has CB become popularized in Sebewa with a “Good Buddy” to be found on nearly every corner.
Federal Communications Commissioner, Richard Wiley, says that it took sixteen years for the first million CB sets to be licensed in the U. S. Now they are licensing them at the rate of a million every six weeks.
Like the old party line, conversations on CB tend to get fouled up with interference when too many people try to use the same limited available radio frequencies. Some of the fun of conversation on early CB has disappeared with competition for its use. Should some CBer illegally boost his four watts power to be heard above the din, he gains the enmity of the rest of the clan as well as making himself liable to stiff penalties by the F. C. C.
The range of communication is supposed to be limited to twenty-five miles. Within that range in a circle about Sebewa that roughly includes Lansing, Ionia, Alto and Nashville in its boundaries we have the local chatter. Call signs are supposed to be used at the beginning and end of a transmission. Part of the fun of talking is to assume a “handle” of a different name from one’s own and thus have a degree of anonymity. If you tune in CB and hear these handles you are likely listening to your neighbor or someone in conversation with him:
Corn Cob, Corn Silk, Stump Jumper, Lady Stump Jumper, Snow White, Stump Jumper Jr., Sod Buster, Short Cake, Earthworm, Teddy Bear, Goldilocks, Sidewinder, Swamp Rat, Wooden Shoe, Woodstock, Red Baron, Coonskinner, Power Wagon, Bulwinkle, Zeroz, Old Farmer, Rod Knocker, Mighty Mite, Inspector, Black Jack, Bad Penny, Black Squirrel, Bigfoot, Littlefoot, Blue Phantom, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Snoopy, Swamp Angel, Raggety Ann, Rubber Duck, Lone Ranger, Flying Farmer, Mother Hubbard, Jelly Bean, Dynamite, Housemaid, Snapper, Bean Farmer, Glass Slipper, Sunshine Kid, Rebel, Hermit, Tony Tiger, Peter Pan, Big Red, Big Dipper, Satan’s Choice, Mother Goose, Red Bird, Bird’s Nest, Big Bird, Robin, Cardinal, Pink Panther, Hayseed, Nanny Goat, Sleepy Hollow, Twinkle Toes, Clodhopper.
Skip is the term given to radio waves that bounce back from the ionosphere and come back to earth at a great distance from their source. The ionosphere changes with sunspot activity and that accounts for CB signals occasionally being heard from other states. It is predicted that when sunspot activity begins to increase in another two or three years, the CB band will become a jumble of squeals and voices from a circle a few hundred miles distant. A rearrangement of frequencies might remedy that trouble so that Peoples Radio could continue to be a popular institution in this country. Our thanks to “Cornsilk” for some of this dope.
THE VERBAL CRUTCH
Normally the sight of anyone getting around with a pair of crutches elicits our sympathy and our good wishes that the ailment will heal and easy mobility will be restored to the wearer. In listening to radio and TV interviews and radio talk shows, it readily becomes evident that we have a rather high percentage of verbal cripples who have no intention of ever getting rid of the crutch words they toss out to fill the gap in the flow of conversation.
When ideas and the words to describe them do not readily come to mind, we hear the constant barrage of words and phrases, completely meaningless, such as “you know”, “et cetera”, “right?”, “and so forth”, “O. K.” and just plain “ah” and “Uh” that are used to fill the conversational void like paper wadding to cushion an article in a mailing package.
What a relief it would be if people would stop feeding us this chaff and say what they mean in a straightforward way! But this kind of reform is as improbable as finding no more empty liquid containers along our highways and in public places— another dream that fades with the coming of the dawn.
Further scrutiny of the current Sebewa plat map brings the list of 200—or—near—acre farm owners the names of Roy Spitzley, Dale Petrie, Theo Yager and John Lich.
Added to the list of Sebewa Centennial Farms with the receipt of certificates from the History Division, Michigan Department of State are the names of William and Patricia Weller, John S. York, Don and Winnie Benschoter, Allen and Leah Cross, Howard and Leona Meyers, Faye Walker and Harold and Leona Meyers, Faye Walker and Harold and Iva Peabody. Some of the metal Centennial Farm markers have been delivered and others will follow. It is with a tinge of regret that we see Faye Walker’s name withdrawn from the list with the sale of her farm to Theo Lenon.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Last update October 12, 2014