THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR - Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
Volume 18, October 1982, Number 2. Submitted with written permission of current
editor, Grayden D. Slowins:
DRIVE SUNFIELD HIGHWAY past the pioneer settlement of the Eleazer Browns and
Jacob Showermans and you will see the homestead that was built by son, Lucius,
and long occupied by grandson, Hugh Showerman, replaced by a neat space of
openness. A sign of the time, perhaps, the house was torched to make way for
THE SUNFIELD SENTINEL, December 7, 1916 OBITUARY – Irving A. Brown Died
Irving Adelbert Brown, a pioneer resident of Sebewa and widely known thru this
section died Sunday. Mr. Brown had been in poor health for some time but death
came rather suddenly, heart failure and paralysis being the cause. Irving A.
Brown was born in Sebewa, Michigan Jan. 9, 1847, and died at his home there
(part of the same homestead) Dec. 2, 1916 aged 69 years, 10 months and 23 days.
In 1865---a boy of eighteen---he enlisted in Co. H. Sixth Michigan Cavalry, and
served one year. While still in dismounted camp near Washington, expecting to be
ordered to the front, the war ended, and soon after the grand review, his
regiment was sent west against the Indians. He was honorably discharged at Fort
Bridger, Utah, and returned to civilization with seven comrades in a private
His next few years were spent in and near Ionia, Michigan, attending school and
teaching. He began the study of medicine, but was forced to give it up because
of eye trouble, which for some time threatened him with blindness. December 8,
1871, he was married to Delia M. Stacy, who, with their three sons and his
brother, Heman S. Brown, survive him. Soon after their marriage they moved to
his old home in Sebewa, where the rest of his life has been spent.
In early manhood he joined the M. E. Church at Ionia, transferring membership
later to Sebewa Corners, and later still, helping to organize the class at
Sebewa Center, where for years he served as class leader and Sunday School
superintendent. Truly brother Brown did serve his God and his country and his
influence will be felt for years to come. The funeral services were held
December 5 at Sebewa Center church, Rev. D. C. Crawford of Palo, Michigan, a
former pastor, preached the funeral sermon.
FIFTY YEARS OF MARRIED LIFE – Heman Brown and Amelia Maxim – THE SUNFIELD
Heman Brown and Amelia Maxim began that intimate acquaintance and friendship
which culminated in their marriage fifty years ago today (January 1, 1916) in
the winter of 1848-49 when he did chores for his board for her father (John
Maxim) and both attended school at the old Knox or Merchant schoolhouse, she at
the age of fourteen and he at the age of twenty.
After the winter of intimacy in the home circle and school room, their
friendship ripened as opportunity for intercourse came to them from time to
time, until the troublesome days of the Civil War brought many loving hearts to
a realization of their realizations toward each other. Except for one summer, he
had worked his mother’s farm, while the bride-to-be had spent at least one
summer within the wall of the school room teaching the young ideas how to
On September 5th, 1862, H. S. signed the enlistment paper, pledging loyal
service to United States for three years unless sooner discharged by proper
authority. Passing through all the preliminaries he was sent to Washington with
his regiment, the 6th Michigan Cavalry, in the winter of 1862-3. His horse
falling lame on the very first raid made by his regiment, he soon fell behind
the column and was captured by prowling bushwackers.
After being in captivity a total of only 17 days, during the last five of which
he enjoyed the far famed hospitality of Libby Prison, he was paroled not to
fight against the Southern Confederacy until properly exchanged, and was
returned to federal lines. Although a prisoner for only so short a time he
exhibited a wonderful capacity for hard-tack, salt pork and coffee when he again
reached his friends. Indeed, at first, it almost seemed that his friends were
continuing the policy of his captors in that he was not allowed to satisfy his
craving for food.
Later in his service he tested the quality of rebel lead by having one of their
bullets pass thru his foot from above the great toe joint to below the small toe
joint. This disarranged so many of the small bones usually found in that
locality and took so long to rearrange them that he was kept from the fighting
line until the close of the war. Once while dressing the wound, his surgeon said
to him “If you had been a drinking man, nothing could have kept your foot from
Finally the three years of service was ended and he was discharged Nov. 24,
1865. Meantime white-winged doves of peace had been flying regularly between
camp and home and it did not take long after the discharge to fix the wedding
date as January 1st, 1866. The ceremony was performed at the home of the bride’s
parents by Reverend Blanchard of Portland, grandfather of the present Blanchard
The newly wedded couple began housekeeping in the spring on his mother’s farm
and at once commenced that life of hard work and economy, which has always
characterized them and which has brought to them the competence they now
possess. The title to their present home was transferred to them by his mother
at a named consideration of $200 in fulfillment of an agreement made at the time
of his enlistment and in recognition of the help he had given in supporting the
family since the death of his father in March 1852.
They lived on his mother’s farm until the spring of 1873 when they built a
temporary house on their own premises where they lived while accumulating
material, making plans for, and building the present structure.
This sketch would not be complete without reference to the church work, which
has occupied so much of their thought and energy. There had been a preaching
appointment and summer Sunday school at the High schoolhouse north of the
Corners almost from time immemorial, the preaching being supplied from Portland
or Lyons and later from Danby and the Sunday school by local talent. Here H. S.
received considerable experience as teacher, superintendent and choir-master
even before his war service.
Soon after the close of the war the community divided into various functions,
each advocating a different point of meeting. There being no prospect of
immediate harmonizing of the various interests, D. F. Barnes, P. E., of Ionia
District, drove out from Ionia, bringing Rev. E. A. Tanner, a young student from
Drew Theological Seminary of Madison, N. J. After discussion of conditions, Rev.
Tanner was left with H. S. Brown and wife, apparently with instructions to
develop a paying appointment at the schoolhouse of school district No. 4,
usually called the Center school. The point not developing as expected, renewed
efforts to bring the various factions together resulted in a point of
established in the hall above the blacksmith shop at the Corners and under
pastorate of the Danby pastors, to which circuit Sebewa was attached. After a
few years that veteran church builder, Rev. T. J. Spencer, was appointed to
Danby and was not long in ascertaining the possibilities at Sebewa. In due time,
satisfactory subscriptions had been secured, the church was built and dedicated
free of debt just before conference in 1876. In all this work our friends did
their full share but perhaps their best appreciated work was holding the free
singing schools at the church on Sunday afternoon in the interest of church
And so the influence of their lives have been for loyalty, uprightness and
piety. They quietly wait, unfearing, near the point of departure for the final
Compiled by I. A. Brown (Heman’s brother)
A LETTER FROM CORPORAL DON BENSCHOTER TO HIS WIFE. Coblenz, Germany, Dec. 6,
Dear Wife: Will write you a few lines again tonight to sort of make up for lost
time. Our company went on guard last night at 4 o’clock. Two corporals and
myself have a detail of 12 men guarding a shoe factory here in Coblenz about a
half mile from where the Moselle flows into the Blaine and about 60 rods from
our main barracks. Will hold this guard for about three days and then be
We have a nice room in an old office in the factory, has steam heat and electric
lights and street car line, so you see everything is lovely.
I suppose by the time you get this letter the snow will be good and deep in
Sebewa and you will be hovering around one of those registers to keep your blood
Haven’t heard from you since about Nov. 20, when I was in Commency, France, for
there has been such a great movement of troops and supplies that I suppose the
mail is all balled up somewhere, but I hope to hear from you soon. Had a little
snowfall night before last and there is still some on the ground yet, so you see
it seemed quite like Xmas yesterday to see the white coat lying on the ground.
Well, I guess this is all for tonight, will close and write again in a few days.
Wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping to see you by your next birthday (Is not
that taking time enough?) I am as ever your true loving husband.
Cpl. Don A. Benschoter, Co. H. 39 Reg. 4 Div A. E. F.
P.S. Received eight letters from you and eight from my mother as well as one
from Mrs. H. S. Allen, also the papers your mother sent, today. Some mail! Tell
all the folks I wish them a bright and Happy New Year.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN LICH SR.
My grandfather was John Lich I from Lansing, Illinois. He was an onion set
farmer. My maternal grandfather was Henry Dorn. He was a plasterer by trade but
he lived on a truck farm when he first came from Holland. Next year my wife and
I and three couples, friends, are going to go to Holland in June to visit the
place of origin. One of the men was born and raised there. He grows plants and
he plans to take us all around Holland. I really look forward to that trip. I
like to have somebody along who knows the place.
My mother’s name was Sadie and my dad’s name was Peter. My parents had three
children. I was the oldest, Henry was two years younger, and our brother, Peter,
died when he was five years old. I was born in 1915 in Chicago at 63rd and
Crawthers, where the folks lived at that time, adjacent to the Midway Airport in
the clearing section of Chicago.
My dad had a produce store in the Chicago market. He sold to the grocery stores.
The grocers would come to the market early and buy their vegetables from a
produce man. He would stay all night at the market while the farmers were
bringing their produce in. He and others were called scalpers because they would
buy from the farmer who wanted to get back to working on another crop. The
scalpers would then sell to the storekeepers at an hour more convenient to them.
When I was seven years old, as I remember, I sat on the thousand bags of sweet
corn. The ears were bagged, 5 dozen to a sugar sack. Farmers could not afford to
stay at the market for a long time to wait for the top price so they would sell
to a fellow like my dad. The store keepers depended on him. When the melons were
ready in Indiana we would send trucks to get them. We would try to get tomatoes
from as far south as Indianapolis to have them before the local crop. From that
age on I was always with my dad on the market. We did everything in cash. I can
remember walking around with a roll of bills as they say, “you could choke a hog
My dad was very good in figuring. Charles Dawes, who was later Vice President of
United States, had pneumonia and tuberculosis. He was at Houghton Lake,
Michigan. A man by the name of Anderson, a big plastering contractor, owned a
big ranch at Houghton Lake and was a personal friend of Charles Dawes. He had a
special open air house there where Dawes was sent for the treatment that was
popular then. Mr. Anderson taught my dad arithmetic. He was fantastic at
arithmetic. You could give my dad a string of figures and when you were through
he would give you the addition or subtraction. He taught a little bit of that to
me. You would take the round figures and then take the odd ones along with it
and you could work it out pretty well. My folks were at that ranch for two
years. My mother did the cooking. It was there that my brother, Henry, was born.
I was two years old and, of course, do not remember.
In Chicago my Grandfather Lich had four children and Grandfather Dorn had ten
children. They had rough going when they came to Holland. My dad grew up with a
group of guys around the stockyards. When he married my mother he was drinking a
little too much to suit Grandpa Dorn. Grandpa got hold of Mr. Anderson, the
plastering contractor, and asked him if he had a place for his son-in-law. He
needed a foreman on the ranch at Houghton Lake. Pa took the job and got
straightened out all right. When we went back to Chicago he got into the produce
I went to high school in Chicago. I went only two years because it was right
through the depression. I had a chance to get a job then with a fellow by the
name of Sam Muscaralla, an Italian guy. He had a route for delivery to stores
all over the South Side. We knew him at the market. He wanted to know if I would
drive truck for him, so I quit high school. At that time the banks were closing.
My mother was at a Ladies Aid meeting and heard that the Bain Banks of
Chicago---a big group of banks, were having problems. My folks had some money, a
nice new house in Chicago, I had $700 and my brother had $400. I remember
sitting around the table when my folks said maybe if we boys did not mind, we
could take that money out and make a payment on the house. Mama went there that
morning and drew that money out and at noon the bank closed. That was quite a
Shortly after that Nell and I got married. I worked for Sam Muscaralla. My dad
had begun to have ulcers and quit the market. He was elected Chief of Police at
Evergreen Park. He held that position through four administrations for fourteen
years. He did a good job at that. One time there was a truck for Arthur Dixon
Transfer Co., a big cartage company in Chicago, that came through Evergreen Park
with an overload. That was in 1934. Pa pinched them. They sent out a foreman to
see if they could fix the ticket and get the thing straightened out. Pa said
there was no fixing the ticket. They just had to get their trucks within the
After they talked and visited, the guy asked if there was anybody there that
would need a job. The Arthur Dixon Transfer Company had the complete cartage
contract for the World’s Fair. They moved everything into the Fair and they
moved everything out of the Fair---all the foreign villages went in there
through Dixon. A man by the name of Hibbard had that contract and he worked for
Arthur Dixon. Even every ice cream cone went through there. All the parts for
Ford Motor Company and Chevrolet (they made cars there at the fair) all went
At that time they had 400 teamsters who would haul freight from every railroad.
C. B. & Q., the I. C., Northwestern, Burlington---railroads from everywhere.
Dixon was a transfer company for freight. Frank Gary came out and talked to Pa.
Next day Pa asked if I wanted a job with Arthur Dixon. He told Pa I would not
get pushed around and I could go down there and get a job. I went there at age
18 and he put me on the job right off the bat. There were men there who had
worked 35 years. Often they would sit on the sidelines while I would get work.
We had no union at that time. Because I had a drag, I got a job.
He gave me a truck with five helpers and I hauled rolls of paper from the team
truck right underneath the Wrigley Tower where we would take it across the river
over to Popular Mechanics Magazine. It was the heavy paper that made the covers
for the magazines. We had five cars to empty a day. I had a great big Packard,
solid-tired truck. We would unload that---of course I was a pretty decent ball
player and when the printers started having their dinners from eleven o’clock to
two o’clock and played ball on their free time, I was in on the games. I had
what they called a steady house job, a prime job paying $54.50 per week and that
was a lot of money for those days.
Two years later in August Nell and I got married and I still had this steady
house job. In the meantime the union came in. There was a racketeer union, 705,
in Chicago. I have a withdrawal card from them I got when I moved to Michigan. I
voted for the union then. Frank Galvin was the head of the union. He was shot
and killed right on the steps of our building by a rival union. They assessed us
five bucks for flowers for him. The first of December the union went into effect
and with it the seniority lists applied. All that my seniority would get me then
was three half days a week. I would go down in the morning and there was nothing
to do. We would stay around until noon and then there were some tractor-semis
that would pull out. Three half days for the whole month of December was all I
had. There was no more favoritism with guys who had a drag like I had had.
Then I realized I could bump in on a city truck and go with a tractor and
semi-trailer from different railroads with trailer loads of stuff to another.
They would load trucks at night with stuff coming into Chicago to be delivered
to different stores. I got a south run with a pretty good sized Ford truck. I
would deliver goods to various stores all the way out to 135th St. or 140th St.
south and then I’d call back to the dispatcher and he would give me a few
pickups back into the city. That job paid $34.50 but that was better than three
half days a week.
Pa and I had heard that there was a man in Alto, Michigan who had quite a group
of men raising onions and we needed onions. My dad and I came out here and found
Floyd Hunt in 1934. We wanted only the small onions. There was a poor onion crop
here with a lot of small onions they could not sell. We wanted them for onion
sets. There were very few onion sets in Chicago. Onions less than 11/16th were
called over runs. I stayed with Floyd and Jane in Alto. We rented a store on
Main Street where we hired a group of people to screen the onions we bought from
the farmers. All the onions over an inch and one eighth we put in 10# bags and
took them to a warehouse in Chicago where they were sold to the onion set
people, who mixed them with onion sets and that made them a crop to sell. That
is how I got interested in this Michigan country.
I still remember going with Floyd south of Sunfield down where Bert Creitz lived
because he raised onions. His dad-in-law, Clarence Downing, had developed one of
the best strains of onion seed available and that Downing strain is used yet.
Just off Sunfield Highway where you hit M-50 and turn to your left and up a hill
there was an old man who raised some onions in a couple of pockets of muck. They
called him “Shifty-eyed Lumbert”. His eyes would shift back and forth all the
time. I’ll never forget that because it impressed me so much.
One of the things that brought me here to Sebewa was that at that time I lived
here with Floyd when we went all around buying onions and when we would come at
a farm at 11 o’clock in the morning to buy some onions and we would be talking
about the onions, the lady of the house would start making dinner and we had to
stay for dinner. I had never realized that kind of hospitality and friendship.
In Chicago you did not know the people who lived two doors away from you. That
friendliness really struck me.
There was a man over near Hastings by the name of Kaiser who had a hundred and
some acres of asparagus. He was selling it to a canning company in South Haven.
They cut him down to a cent and a half a pound. He had his neighbors raising
asparagus also. At that price they could not make anything of their crop. I was
then a 17-year-old kid. He came to Alto and asked me if I knew of a market for
that asparagus. I knew a beautiful market for it with Libby, McNeil & Libby, a
big canning company in Chicago. My dad came out to get a load of onions and I
was all excited about that asparagus crop. I felt that we could make a nice
living and we could pay those guys 2 ½ or 3 cents a pound and they could make a
living and we could get 5 or 6 cents a pound for it in Chicago. My dad said
“Kid, you know nothing about that. We’d have to have refrigeration trucks and
other equipment”. To my protest that we could buy it, it was, “No”. He couldn’t
One week end I went home and went to Libby, McNeil and Libby, saw the purchasing
agent on the seventh floor, told him my story and said I could get the “grass”
if you will buy it. He said, “I’ll take every bit of that you can bring here and
I’ll give you a contract for 5 ½ cents a pound.” I came back and my dad would
not listen to me. He could not see getting into that. I always had that in the
back of my mind. It was then I went to work for Sam Muscaralla and soon after
that for Dixon. The Dixon firm did not work on holidays. So, on a Washington’s
birthday we planned a visit to the Hunts. I had not seen Floyd, Jane, Bud and
their two daughters for some time. I was then married. I had written Hunts a
couple of times. The holiday happened to fall on a Friday and we were off until
Monday. On Thursday Nell and I drove out to Alto. They were glad to see us. On a
drive around the country I asked Floyd about the asparagus. We drive over to
Kaiser’s. There was some 20 acres of asparagus left. The rest had all gone back.
He was then selling to a place in Fennville and getting a fairly decent price
for it. In our ride around I said, “Boy, I sure wish I could farm”.
Floyd said, “You mean that?” I said, “I sure do, I would love to farm.” He asked
if I had any money and I had to reply I had none. I was working but we lived the
check. We stayed there that week end. Floyd said he would see what he could
On March 15 he wrote me a letter to the effect that the Depositors Corporation,
headed by Erm Garlinger, had foreclosed on a lot of the farms around here and
they had what was called the Wallace farm on the Clarksville Road next to Corey
VanDeBurg. Floyd owned the muck land across the road, now owned by DeBruyns. He
owned the 40 acres there and the “Rattle Snake Forty” back of that, back of
Patrick’s. Erm Garlinger had told Floyd that the Depositors Corporation wanted
to liquidate some of their holdings they had out here. He told Erm that he had a
young man in Chicago who wanted a piece of muck. There was a long 40 and a
square forty where Ken and Evelyn David now live. Floyd wrote saying he could
buy me a piece of muck right across from his forty for $1500 for the 80 acres.
It had a spring on the ditch there with a tile where you could get water. There
was an orchard, a well and a basement on the top of the hill a little further
south from David’s house.
The old Wallace farm had been abandoned as a dwelling and the “Swamp Angels”
used to play cards in the old house until they got wild one night and burned the
place down. On March 20 my dad and I and Nell and her mother came to Sebewa to
look at that place. I was all excited. I was going to build a garage-house on
that foundation and try to farm the muck. My dad said, “I don’t see how you can
do this”. It was spitting rain and snow and my mother-in-law was crying. We
walked back through the humps where the ditch had been cleaned out; went up
there and got them a drink from the spring; they thought I was crazy, I guess.
I said to Floyd, “I’ll buy it.” He said “How much have you got”. I said I could
raise a couple of hundred dollars. Would you believe this? He had a little farm
in Clarksville next to Timson’s Orchard southwest of Clarksville. He went to the
bank and put a mortgage on that 80 acres of ground and went to the Depositors
Corporation and bought this forty acres and then turned around and sold it to me
for $100 down and a hundred dollars a year until I paid for it. Floyd was more
than a father to me. He taught me everything I know about farming. I knew about
selling crops but nothing about raising them.
We drove down the hill and headed for Harry and Letha Patterson’s store.
Standing on the steps there was Carl Creighton, a boy twelve or thirteen years
old. I went up to him and told him who I was and that we had just bought the
Wallace farm. He said, “I’m your neighbor next door”. I asked him if he knew if
there was any place around here to rent. He pointed across the fields and said
that George Coe and his wife had just died. Their place was next to Ralph Coe
and maybe if I would talk to Ralph I could find out about the place.
We introduced ourselves to Ralph and had a nice little talk and I told him what
I wanted. He said, “I’ll show you the place.” All the furniture was in there
though the place had not yet been hooked up to electricity. He told me to go see
Rex Karcher, who was administrator for the place. We went to see Rex and
meantime Ralph had called Rex and told him to rent the place to me. On the way
over to Rex’s my dad had said that if we could rent the place for $30 a month it
would be better than trying to build something on the old Wallace foundation
while we were getting the crops in. Finally I asked Rex how much rent he would
have to have. He asked, “Is three dollars a month too much?” I agreed to wire
the house for $15 and that made me 5 months rent in advance.
Nell was pregnant with Johnny. We moved in the house. I worked for Floyd for a
dollar an hour and when I used his equipment on my land he charged me a dollar
an hour for that. Floyd also had the eighty acres of muck on Henderson Road.
The next year I filled the George Coe barn with onions and then moved them over
to Tannis’ Storage at Clarksville. One day, Floyd, acting very much the father
to me said, “You ought to have a hog”. He took me over to John Long’s west of
Clarksville where we bought a Duroc sow with five pigs, one for me and one for
Bud---$25 apience. Bud had six pigs and I had five pigs. I helped Ralph Coe and
Allen Cross and with what we could scrounge and with scraps from the table, I
raised that hog. At Christmas time we butchered those hogs---one for us and one
I took to my mother-in-law in Chicago.
One day Issi Fletcher came over. John Sargeant had lost his place to Issi
Fletcher. John had bought 20 acres across the road and couldn’t pay for it and
just turned it over to Issi. Issi asked how about me buying that land. I said
O.K. what is the price. He wanted $1800 for that forty acres. So I bought that
for $100 down and $100 a year until it was paid. Mrs. Henderleiter was at
Grandma Coe’s. She had a 40 acres on the back of the Sargeant 40. Grandma Coe
remembered a house back there on a knoll and she used to carry butter from a
well back there when she was a girl. She talked to Kitty Henderleiter on the
phone and told her about us as her neighbors. Kitty wanted to sell her 40 to us.
I went to see her and bought that from her for $1200. Then we lived in the
Sargeant house. The George Coe house was rented for a couple of years and then I
bought that forty from Mark Westbrook. That made me 120 acres on Henderson Raod
and the 80 on the Clarksville Road. Those two pieces joined on the corner of
Floyd’s 80. We arranged a legal right-of-way at that junction.
We moved here April 15, 1940. My uncle, Oliver Dorn, who was a truck gardener,
moved us with his nice new truck. I said to him “if I just had your truck.” I
knew where I could buy onions; Corey VanDeBurg was raising spinach and I could
sell these things in Chicago. Uncle Oliver said, “John, you’ve just got to slow
down a little bit. Just look at me. I’m 60 years old and I just got this truck”.
I never forgot that. I was full of steam and raring to go and here was Uncle
Ollie, who had worked and waited until he was 60 years old to get such a truck.
During war times here, labor was short. I organized a group of ladies---Wilma
Coe, Irene Hunt, Grace Bailiff, Dorothy Meyers---they all worked for me for a
number of years helping harvest our celery and onions.
One day I walked over to Fred Sindlinger’s---I had been working a few fields of
his place, Clyde Avery worked a couple of fields and Dale Shetterly worked a
couple of fields. I said, “Fred, would you sell me your farm”. He was concerned
as to where they would live. I explained that with a life lease they could
continue to live there as they had. Two weeks later I saw Fred walking toward
our house. He said they would like to go talk to attorney Douglas Welch about
selling. We made a deal where I would keep up the outside of the house and I
sunk a 21-foot well near the house. Nora had carried water from the spring
always before. They agreed to sell the place at $100 an acre with four per cent
interest. (To be continued.)
THE HEMAN BROWN GOLDEN WEDDING story ended in 1916 on a note of completion of
life. Heman lived until 1923. In December of that year Heman received an
anonymous letter demanding a large sum of money to be made available at a drop.
Heman made an appearance as if prepared to pay but with the “law” observing at a
distance. Nobody showed up to claim the money.
A week later, Heman was dead, presumably from a fall down his hay chute in his
barn. A sheriff’s investigation concluded that there was no foul play. The
neighborhood long held suspicions in the case but nobody---even that renowned
neighboring detective, Oscar Lincoln (Welcome Lumbert) could bring any charges.
Mrs. Brown outlived her husband by many years.
LETTER FROM SOLDIER—August V. Meyers writes of trip from Camp Custer to Camp
Following are extracts taken from two letters written to Will Meyers of Sebewa
by his son, A. V. Meyers, who was among the first to be drafted from Ionia
County. He was first sent to Camp Custer and later sent to Camp McArthur, Texas.
The letters cover the time the soldiers were preparing to leave Camp Custer and
the trip to Texas.
October 30, 1917. Hello Folks:
I am well and having a high old time with all the boys. They hate to see us go
but they are trying to keep us happy and they have done fine except with one
man. He has been crying ever since he heard he was going. One of the boys went
to the Captain for a pass home but the Captain was afraid he could not get back
in time. But the Captain broke down and cried when he told him “No”. And that is
the way the Captain felt. He did not get his orders until too late to let us go
home or he would have got a pass as long as three or four days.
October 31---Leave here at 3:30 PM. It is now at 5:30 and have not left
Kalamazoo. There are lots of people out to see us go through and they are
yelling at us and we are making as much (noise) as they do and lots more. I
sleep in the top berth #1 in car 14. We left Kalamazoo at 6 PM. Mess at 7:10. We
hit Chicago about midnight. Was up until 1:30. We have seen the lake and a few
skyscrapers and not much else.
November 1---Went on siding at 1:30 AM and stayed until 4 AM. In that time we
get a call to change cars as our car had a broken wheel. We were ready to go at
4. Cold and snow on the ground. Get up at 7 AM and were just outside of Clinton
on the Illinois Central. We have gone through lots of little towns since then
and lots of woods of all kinds---Tamarack and hardwoods like we have at home.
Tell Bernice we ate some of the jelly last night for supper and finished it this
morning for breakfast and the boys say it is good. It is the best I ever ate.
An airship in sight. We saw it for about two minutes. We will hit Centralia,
Fulton and Memphis. Good Bye, As ever.
Hello Folks, how are you this morning? I am well and so are all the rest of the
boys. We saw some genuine Southern Pine this morning. They have been threshing
flax here. They have a long sweep on a post and tie horses to it and drive them
in a circle. It is on the ground.
It is clear as a bell this morning, not a cloud in sight. There are some
razorbacked hogs along the railroad just out of Kingsland, a small burg. Big
Barrel Mill at Foryce (Ark.) covers about ten or fifteen acres. Saw an eagle
just now. Not any trees but pine and oak. The roads are mostly gravel and good
gravel at that through Arkansas but they are narrow. Just outside Millville five
miles they are making turpentine and boiling it in a big kettle.
We crossed the Washita River at 10:15. The way they drive a 4-horse team down
here is to ride the back near horse. There is lots of lumber down here. Every
town has a sawmill and it is a big one too. We saw our first cowboy at
Texarkana---the line between Arkansas and Texas. We got here at 1:15 PM and
leave at 3:10. We are in Texas at 3:10. We just passed part of Ringling Bros.
Shows, just pulling out of Anaka at 5:12 and they are bringing in mess. Arrived
at Waco at 5:20 AM Saturday and at McArthur at 6:30. We are all well and having
a good time. My address is Camp McArthur, Waco, Texas.
We live in tents down here. It is warm but not too warm.
August Valentine Meyers
Reprint from THE SUNFIELD SENTINEL of November 22, 1917