Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 1 Number 1
Transcribed by LaVonne I. Bennett

     LaVonne has received permission from Grayden Slowins to edit and submit Sebewa Recollector items of genealogical interest, from the beginning year of 1965 through current editions.


   At a meeting at the Sebewa Center Schoolhouse on Thursday, August 12, 1965, an organizational group of a dozen people formed the Sebewa Center Association for the purpose of owning, preserving and providing for proper community use of the District #4 schoolhouse.  The following motion was adopted:

   That an organization known as the Sebewa Center Association be formed for the purpose of securing the property known as Sebewa Center School District #4 of Sebewa Township and maintaining it for its historical significance and for the general use of it by the community.

   OFFICERS ELECTED WERE:  President Robert W. Gierman (Wilfred), Vice President Harlan Leifheit, Secretary-Treasurer Lucille Meyers, Trustee Clarence Sayer, Trustee Wilbur Gierman.

   It was voted to accept membership with dues of $1 per person annually.

The dues will be accepted on a money return basis if for any reason the school property is not obtained from the Lakewood District.

   A committee on constitution and by laws will recommend to the next meeting a constitution for adoption.  When it is evident that the transfer of the property can be made, the Association will file for incorporation as a non-profit corporation, thus insuring that no member will be liable for the activities and responsibilities of the Association financially, except as he chooses to contribute to them.

   Being in general agreement with the purposes of the Sebewa Center Association I hereby submit my name for membership with the dues of $1.—

____________Date   _______________Name   _______________Address 

Received $1.00 from ______________________as 1965 dues for the Sebewa Center Assocation. 

____________Date       __________________Lucille Meyers, Secretary-Treasurer



I  Membership  Dues 

1.  Individual membership dues shall be $1.00 per year.

2.  Family membership dues shall be $2.50 per year.

3.  Life membership dues shall be $25.00 per person. 

II  Duties of Officers

1.  President:  the president shall preside at all meetings, be chairman of the executive board; and serve as ex-officio member of all committees.  He may call special meetings for transaction of business of the association.  He shall exercise supervision of association property, affairs and activities of the association and responsible for carrying out such rules and regulations as may be set up for its supervision.

2. Vice President:  he shall assist the president in the execution of his duties.  He shall preside at all meetings in the absence of the president.

3. Secretary-Treasurer:

a.   He shall keep minutes of all meetings and records of all business transactions.

b. He shall act as historian for the association.

c.   He shall receive all monies for the association, keep them in a bank approved by the executive board and make disbursements at the direction of the executive board.

4.  Trustees:

a.   The trustees shall assist the president and vice president in the execution of their duties and act as members of the executive board.

III  The Executive Board

1.  The members of the executive board shall be the president, vice president, secretary-treasurer,  the trustees, and the immediate past president.

2. The executive board shall have the power to transact business including borrowing money for the association as long as they act in the best interest of the association.

3. The executive board shall meet at the discretion of the chairman of the board or at the request of 3 of its members.

4. The executive board shall present to the membership at the annual meeting a report of the activities and financial transactions of the association.

IV    Elections

1.  All officers shall be elected for three year terms with president, vice president, and secretary-treasurer being elected for the first year for 1, 2, and 3 year terms respectively.  The two trustees, for the first year shall be elected for 2 and 3 year terms respectively.

2. Officers shall be elected at the annual meeting

3. Officers may serve more than one.

4. Vacancies will be filled by appointment of the executive board.

    V       Committees

1. Committees shall be appointed by the president.  Standing committees shall be appointed by the executive board.

2. The standing committees shall be as follows:  (a) membership, (b) ways and means, (c) program, (d) nominating, and (e) maintenance.

3. The nominating committee shall prepare a slate of officers for each election.  They shall obtain approval of all nominees before submitting them for election.  Additional nominations may be made by the members from the floor.

Respectfully submitted 8-25-1965     ZACK YORK, NORA SINDLINGER, Constitutional Committee.




1.     This Association shall be a non-profit corporations.


1.     This non-profit corporation shall be known as THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION.


1.     The purpose of this organization shall be to maintain the Sebewa Center School House and grounds for its historical value; to insure its preservation for posterity; and to administer its use by the membership of the association and by the community.


1.     The membership of the association shall be unlimited in size.

2.     Membership is open to any person interested in preserving the cultural heritage of the school and community.

3.    Membership shall be available (a)individual, (b)family, and (c)life.

4.    Members joining before the second Saturday of June 1966 is passes, shall be charter members.


1.     The officers of the Association shall be:  President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and two Trustees.

ARTICLE VI.  Executive Board

1.     The executive board shall be made up of:  President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and two Trustees.

2.    The immediate past president shall be a member of the executive board.

ARTICLE VII.  Fiscal Year

1.     The fiscal year shall be from the second Saturday in June to the second Saturday in June of the following year.


1.     An annual meeting shall be from the second Saturday in June to the second Saturday in June of the following year.

ARTICLE IX.  Property

1.     The property of the association shall not inure, in whole or in part to the benefit of any individual; and no distribution of its property or income shall be made to any individual or individuals.  Upon dissolution of the association, all money and property belonging to the association shall be given to another organization or organizations created for like or similar purpose.

ARTICLE X.  Amendment

1.    This constitution may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the membership present at the annual meeting.

2.    Any proposal amendment must be submitted to the membership for consideration at least two weeks prior to the annual meeting.


   For a number of years after the settlement of the Village of Portland, there was quite an Indian village at Shimnecon, where Okemos had his residence, if indeed, he had any one residence anywhere.  On all gala days from the Fourth of July to temperance picnics he was always on hand and generally attended by from 8 to a dozen young Indians, all of whom he claimed for his children who were about 10 years old.  Though no act of dishonesty was alleged against him or them, their curiosity was unbounded and their personal attentions to everything save neatness, were without fear.  A dirtier set of little savages are seldom met with and if the old Chief ever felt those lofty emotions of native dignity described by parlor writers, they were exhibited when passes through our streets at the head of his juvenile guard, or sought a free pass at the circus by virtue of his being a “big chief”, or his great age, which he always claimed to be 110 years.  He was never known by any white man here to be younger and to his credit, be it said, he was never any older.

  The Reverend Henry Jackson, living at Shimnecon, lost a little child by death and the funeral was held in the old red schoolhouse in this village and was attended by the most of the Indians then at home, among whom, was Okemos.  When the friends were looking at the corpse for the last time, the Chief delivered a short address in Indian dialect, not to the by-standers but to the child, whom he believed had gone to the land of the good Indians.  Okemos lived and died a pagan.  He saw two many of that class of white folks with whom he came in contact for his Indian nature to kindly accept.

   The period of his youth was one of bloodshed between the white race in this part of the world and in their quarrels the red men were entangled and the impressions made on his savage nature were never effaced.

   The following is from the papers of the late Rufus Hosmer, publisher of the Lansing Republican:

   On a bleak day on the 6th of December of 1858 a small train of Indians entered DeWitt, a village of Clinton County, Michigan, having with them drawn upon a hand sled the remains of an old Chief of the tribe of the Ottawas.  The corpse was that of Okemos and they who accompanied it were his only kindred.  They had brought the body from a favorite hunting grounds of the deceased upon the Looking Glass River, five miles northeast from DeWitt where the Chief had died the previous day.

   They bought tobacco and filled the pouch, powder for the horn, and bullets for the bag.  They bought also, contrary to the usual custom of their race, a coffin in which they placed the remains and then under the winter sky, took up their silent march toward the Indian village of Schimnecon on the Grand River, 24 miles below Lansing, the seat of government, which had been in later years, the principal residence of the Chief, there to commit him to his final resting place  until he should be called to roam in the Happy Hunting Grounds.

   Such an occurrence would not be noteworthy except for the history and character of the deceased, in which connection it seems to impress the recollection of scenes of life and qualities of nature fit to be commemorated.

   Okemos was chief of the Ottawas.  His volunteer biographer knew him well, as well as a white man usually knows an Indian.  From the winter of 1848 until his death on the 5th of December of 1858 he would have attracted any person’s attention not wholly careless of man or not given up to the idea that Indians are all alike.  Either stately, dignified, taciturn and impassive or drunken, brutal and thievish for these are the two prevalent ideas of Indian character.  The one coming from Cooper or Schoolcraft; the other from any four-corner grocery in the west where the race is not extinct and whiskey is sold.  One might turn over the pages of Catlin, exhaust a day on Stanley’s Smithsonian Gallery, read all about Chinchahooks, Uncas and Tonowand of many dogs and bring up with Longfellow and still not find an Okemos.

   The curious of Indian lore may challenge this spelling of the name but Okemos he was called by himself and all who knew him; so let it stand, although aboriginal savages may insist upon Ongema.  Even the stage has no Okemos.  When Forrest and Proctor hold the stage, at least the Indians’ feature of it, in comparison with whom stature and size considered poor Okemos, at his best estate, was altogether vanity.  Yet, one knowing him would opine that he was just such an Indian as these gentlemen would not have preferred as a supernumerary in case of a mock battle, for fear the old man might have made a mistake and taken it to be serious combat.

   Okemos divided his life quite equitably between two periods, the former of which was spent in fighting, and the latter in the telling thereof.  It would be hard to say which he enjoyed most.  He boasted.  Indians are given to boasting.  First of his prowess, next of his descent, albeit he claimed lineage from Pontiac, a fact we leave to those to reconcile, who are curious in aboriginal tribes.

   He was not born on the Grand River though, for the most part, when not campaigning or hunting, that was his home, but upon the Shiawassee and not far from what, in late years, has been known as Nag’s Reservation.  He went early, however, to live upon what was afterward the “great trail” leading from the rapids of Grand River to Detroit.

   The events which follow, should they meet the eye of those who know the subject of them in life, might challenge their beliefs so far as relates to his participation in the border warfare between the Indians and the Americans on the shores of Lake Erie in the latter part of the last century.  In this regard it is no more than fair to state that all relating thereto is here presented upon the word of the Chief, himself, unsupported by other testimony.  While those incidents which are represented to have occurred in what is familiarly known as “the last war with England: are given upon the testimony and knowledge of gentlemen of the state active at the time in or cognizant of the scenes represented.  In justification of the past as well as in reply to such as may doubt the authenticity of this account of the early scenes in the life of the Chief, it may well be asked how it happened that he, unable to read, having no sources of information except by observation, should know anything about St. Clair’s campaign and failure or that Wayne succeeded him and did not fail.  And more especially, how did he learn the different characteristics of the leaders?  Yet, most certainly, he did know these.  He knew the route of St. Clair in 1791 and of the triumph of Wayne three years afterwards and of many facts, details and incidents, how impossible to recall, relating to the successful campaign of the latter.

   In reference to the campaign of General Harmer, the scene of which was further west, he was in ignorance.  With all these facts, it will be said, as Womba the witness remarked, of Saxon’s treaties, made an old man of Okemos.  He was an old man and bore every mark and sign of it.  He claimed at his death, a hundred years.  Perhaps he exaggerated as people of his race are wont to do, but those who fought against him in 1813-14 and who subsequently knew him well as he passed yearly to and from through Detroit, concur in placing him 47 years ago in full maturity—say from 40-45 years, which, to be sure, would make him only 17 in St. Clair’s campaign and 20 or thereabouts in that of Wayne’s.

   It is easy for them to have been mistaken a year or two as Indians are deceptive in appearance as well as the white man.  The facts stated by the Chief and especially the harmony and unanimity of his story, many times repeated, as to its prominent incidents lead to belief.

   The last interview of the writer with this old Chief was in the fall of 1858, a short time before his death in the cars on the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad.  He had been upon a visit to a chief living upon the Flint River in Northern Michigan and was returning to his home at Shimnecon.  The old man was smoking and talking in the baggage car when the conductor came up for tickets.  The old man produced a trip pass that some officer of the road had given him, upon which, the conductor inquired pleasantly if he was an editor.  The chief did not understand the question and from the smiles of the bystanders concluded it was something offensive and starting to his feet said in answer “Big Chief me, plenty fight once”.  This answer of the Chief, brief as it was, told the story of his life.  His early days had been eventful and brief as it was, told the story of his life.  His early days had been eventful and even in their ashes glowed their fires.  His anger told the story of his temper, his conceit and his passion.  An explanation soon followed, however, and the old man laughed heartily with the rest.  In truth, no editor could have given the substance of life in fewer words.

   Okemos was wounded in the battle of the Thames and was left on the field; but his great tenacity of life saved him.  This was in the war of 1812.  He escaped and buried himself in the woods until his wounds were healed and at first opportunity he took to the field again.

   It must have been late in the summer of 1813 when Okemos joined an Ottawa Chief by the name of Karabec, who had up to that time been friendly to the Americans but who was goaded by the sneers and taunts of his tribe, to take arms against them.  Under the sting of an accusation of cowardice, the bitterest insult to a redskin, Farabec said “I will go and fight the white man.  Let all the braves follow me and he who stays behind is a coward”.  But 22 of his men followed him and one of them was Okemos who was an Ottawa, and as Indians reckon consanguinity, was a cousin of Karabek.

   With him also, was Standing-Up-Devil, Ottawa brave of some distinction and a brother of Okemos.  They took towards the Sandusky River to join General Proctor, who was then on the march toward the Sandusky River to join General Proctor, who was then on the march toward Fort Stevenson on the Sandusky, which was at that time held by Captain Crogan with a small garrison of men.  The Indians in the British pay and interest had been for some time gathering about the solitary fort and General Harrison felt much solicitude for the brave Crogan and his little band and transmitted an order to abandon and evacuate the fort as soon as he could do it with safety.

   Crogan, cool as he was fearless, knew that the hour of safety had passed for that movement.  The woods surrounding him swarmed with dusky savages.  The enemy lay in wait, coiled, ready for a spring.  Believing that whatever communication he might send would fall into the hands of the enemy, Crogan replied to General Harrison’s dispatch, refusing to obey and insisting that he had men, stores and ammunition in abundance and that he would hold out the place against all comers.  Contrary to Crogan’s expectations, Harrison and not the enemy received and read this dispatch and was filled with surprise at its tenor.  No sooner was it read than a strong squad of dragoons under Captain Vail, a brave and efficient officer was detached and ordered to the fort for an explanation.

   Okemos at his death was a man of great age.  It is a trait of the Indian to exaggerate in this respect but as all, advanced in that respect feel certain pride in that circumstance, but intrinsic and direct evidence of persons now living prove him to be at least 90 years old.  He claimed for himself more than a hundred years.

   Aside from the scenes in which Okemos took an active part, how eventful was the period in which he lived!  The Old French War, The American Revolution, the career of Napoleon—its opening to its close--, the War of 1812, The War With Mexico, The War of the Crimea and the bloody constests of the East India.  All occurred within the space of this Indian’s life.

   Okemos was an old man.  In his prime before age and wounds had doubled him up, scarcely over five feet in height.  He had little apparent dignity except when he had occasion to throw himself upon it to check undue familiarity, to impress obedience or subordination.  And then his austere regard of control was imperative, fierce and effectual.  But the natural mood of the Chief was quiet and his temperament social.  For an Indian he might have been called talkative, though a lurking devil in his eyes seemed to warn even the most heedless that fun and danger might be only a step apart.

   Okemos was a chief, not only by artificial rank of his own tribe, but in his instinct talents and courage.  No better type could be imagined of mad insensibility to danger coupled with coolness and sagacity than existed in this little warrior.

   From the outset of his life, as soon as his foot was upon the warpath, he became the implacable enemy of Americans.  He first drew his scalping knife as a young brave in the frontier campaigns of the eastern shores of Lake Erie, and as usual with old men, his clearest recollection were of his first campaigns.  He fought them tiger-like and held rank from the first battle.

   With a fair reputation for temperance and drink, old Okemos had a poor reputation especially among the thrifty housewives round about, for the like virtue in eating.  He never did take a meal which some unwary and benevolent person might offer him without leaving his host wrapped in wonder as to how much provision could be stowed away in so small a carcass.

   Okemos had in his lifetime four wives.  One of these he took upon a visit to the Boyfort Indians who live at the head of Lake Superior.  While there, one of these terrible scenes of winter famine described by Longfellow came on.  To take the story of the old man himself, he became satisfied that he could not live there much longer and he concluded to cut short his visit and return.  A difficultly arose.  His wife, a young woman, whom he had just married, became sick from hunger and could not travel.  So, said Okemos “Me bury her”.  “Before she was dead” was the astonished inquiry.  “Ugh” said the Chief.  “She most dead.”

   After the Chief’s return he soon procured another bride, who also died.  Not long subsequent to which while he was eating one of his formidable dinners at the house of a hospitable Lansing friend his entertainer asked after his squaw.  The old man put on a serious face but kept on masticating, defined an imaginary grave upon the floor with his knife and pointed solemnly upwards, shook his head with gravity and held out his plate for more.

   Okemos was a strong character.  He was not only brave, effective and prompt in action but he was sagacious and shrewd and had a knowledge and judgement of men which was almost unerring.  He was a formidable enemy and not an Indian fought upon the borders who gave our troops more trouble.  He was fierce, vindictive and bloody; also in the hour of victory indiscriminate in his thirst for carnage.  In his control of men and his power to lead and hold them in places of danger, he was an aboriginal Swuaro.  His name could rally strength at all times and for all enterprises.

   The preceding story of Chief Okemos was published in the PORTLAND OBSERVER in 1873 and, so far as we know, has never been reprinted since.  Remember that the style of writing of 90 years ago was not governed by today’s ideas.  The attitudes reflected are probably truer frontier living than the average TV dish that purports to be that.

   There are other accounts of Okemos and the Shimnecon Indians that we shall present later to round out the picture.  Among them is the one by Hall J. Ingalls, who lived just north of the Weippert mill, in which he tells of Okemos’ burial.  Hall was a boyhood friend of the Shimnecon Indians.

   Okemos was buried at Shimnececon.  The Daughters of the American Revolution also marked that grave in the Indian cemetery near the south end of Okemos Road in Danby.  The grave is nearly a quarter mile east of the road and quite near Grand River.  The stone marking the location of Shimnecon is a little to the north on the same road.  Hall Ingalls was present at the ceremonies of the grave and village site markings.


   If these lines have stirred memories or suggested other incidents you would like to contribute for publication, please be assured they will be welcome.   Sooner or later we shall get them on record.  These sheets are punched to fit a 3-hole notebook cover.  A flexible cover with pressure clasps is available from any school supply store for a dime.


   When we hear the neophyte radio announcers stumbling across the Upper Peninsula with GOgeebic, OnTONogan and KeWEEnaw, the sound clashes with the recollections of our first-grade exposure to proper pronunciation as expounded by Mrs. Jennie Weippert.  After our first seat-of-the-pants impression of that lady, we never doubted her authority.     

THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR; Bulletin of THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION, September 1965.  Volume 1, Number 1.  Submitted with written permission of editor, Grayden D. Slowins:


   There will be a meeting of the members of the Sebewa Center Association at the School House on Thursday, September 16, at 7:45 P.M.  The purpose of the meeting is to adopt a constitution and bylaws.  The committee on Constitution and By Laws has done its work and their recommended document is to be found on following pages.  If you note any serious omissions or take issue with any of the provisions, please be prepared to discuss them before action is taken to adopt the document.  This form met the approval of Superintendent William Eckstrom of Lakewood.  The Lakewood School Board requested that such approval be made before the Center School property was transferred.

   Preceding the business meeting, Maurice Gierman will show slides and give commentary on the trip to Southern Russia, Poland, Switzerland and Germany.  After the 8:45 business meeting there will be light refreshments.

   If you can bring folding chairs for your own seating, it will be helpful.  Everybody is invited to attend the meeting and anybody interested in this activity is welcome to the membership with the payment of dues.


   Any organization that is to function needs effective communication.  Since the general ring on the party line no longer serves that purpose effectively, the printed page will be used for THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION.  It is our hope to use the bulletin some three or four times a year or when a suitable occasion arises, to inform and to recall the events and forces that have gone before to make the community what it is.  Knowledge and appreciation of the history of a place makes that place much more than a spot on a map or a piece of real estate.

   On page 3 is the explanation of the origin of the Sebewa Center Association.  On Thursday, August 19, a group consisting of Zack York, Clarence Sayer, Wilbur Gierman and Robert W. Gierman met with the Lakewood School Board.  After a presentation of our aims and purposes the Board asked us for our offer on the Sebewa Center School property.  They agreed to accept our offer of $500.  The playground equipment will remain for the benefit of the children of the community.

   Application has been made to the Michigan Corporation and Securities Commission for a charter as a non-profit corporation.  As soon as the incorporation is complete, the real estate transfer will be made.  There are two basic reasons for incorporation.   The first is that it provides a method of ownership that will continue as long as there are members and the annual fee of $2 is paid to the State of Michigan; this despite any death or drop-out of individual members.  The second advantage of the incorporation is that any liability arising from the ownership of the property is limited to the assets of the corporation and cannot be passed on to the members.


   At the time we met with the Lakewood School Board we had 42 paid members,  this number has now increased to 59.


   The newest resident of Sebewa Center is Cheryl Lynn Carr, daughter of LaVern and Helen Carr, born in Ionia on August 29.  It seems that without a maternity hospital, Sebewa will have no more-well planned births.  It was not always this way.  Sebewa’s first white settlers’ baby was Martin Van Burer Terrill (Grandfather of Lester Campbell of Portland), born to John F. and Polly (Ingalls) Terrill on November 13, 1838.  Polly was the daughter of Jonathan Ingalls, the only revolutionary War soldier to be buried in Sebewa.  His grave is marked by a roadside stone a half mile south of the Sebewa Corners Methodist Church.  He lived from 1762 to 1843.  (The Sebewa Cemetery was not established until 1858).  He came from New Hampshire as one of Sebewa’s early settlers.  The Daughters of the American Revolution, Ionia Chapter, set the marker in 1921.


   One of the oldest houses of Sebewa now stands in the way of a new home, almost completed, on the Philip Spitzley farm.  The old house was built by Jacob Showerman and has well served several generations of his descendants.  Ben Probasco was born in that house as was his father, Eugene, before him.  Eugene’s mother was Deborah Showerman.  Before the sale of the farm to Mr. Spitzley, this was one of Sebewa’s Centennial Farms, granted a certificate by the Michigan Historical Commission, attesting the ownership in the same family for 100 years.


   Plans are in progress to celebrate the formation of THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION and its acquisition of the School House corner with a Sunday afternoon Open House in mid October.  Committee will soon be named to plan for the event.  Further information will be supplied when the plans have been developed.

   Solicitation for funds for the building purchase will be made at or previous to the open house.  Nobody is going to be assessed or told what he should donate for this purpose.  All contributions must be voluntary in the best sense of that word.”


   At one time we considered compiling a book or booklet on Sebewa history and using the funds from the sales to finance the Association project for upkeep and the necessary expense.  Instead of that method we shall try to present the same material in bulletin form from time to time with copies going to the members as a benefit of membership.  If it was not Mrs. Weippert who acquainted us with the fable of the strength in numbers as illustrated by the boy trying to break the bundle of sticks, then some later good teacher did.  It is this principle we plan to use.  A small membership fee from a large number of people would be preferable to a large fee from a few.  We suspect there are many people outside our immediate area who still have sentimental interests in Sebewa.   If you find them, send or give the membership fee to our treasurer, Mrs. Lucille Meyers, R 1, Sunfield.  Be sure to include a correct address for all new members.


   On the School Grounds there is a picnic table and brasier.  There will be a few warm days left this season for you to use the facilities.  The brasier was made from the fire pot of an old Round Oak heating stove found in Maurice Gierman’s junk pile.  Maurice had used the stove a year or two before installing central heat.  Before that the stove warmed the upstairs of the Town Hall for the Junior Farm Bureau.  It was the first-housekeeping stove for George and Mae Gierman.  Originally it had served Mae’s parents, Mr. & Mrs. Gravener Oatley at Mesick, Michigan.  What next?


LAKE ODESSA Addresses:                                                              

Mr. & Mrs. Garland Bailiff & F.                     

Mr. Ernie Bartotti                                       

Mr. & Mrs. Melvin Buchner

Mr. & Mrs. Theo Bulling

Mr. & Mrs. LaVern Carr & F.

Mrs. Reva Clark

Mr. Lester Coykendall

Mr. Dean Cross

Mr. & Mrs. Wellman Darling & F.

Mr. & Mrs. William Eckstrom

Mrs. Martha Gierman

Mr. & Mrs. Maurice Gierman

Mr. & Mrs.Lyle Ingall

Mrs. Geneva Kneale

Mr. James Leak

Mr. & Mrs. Zeno Leak

Mr. & Mrs. Harlan Leifheit

Mr. & Mrs. George Petrie & F.

Miss Mabel Ralston

Mr. & Mrs. Max Rischow & F.

Mr. George Sargeant

Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Sayer

Mr. Stanley Sayer

Mr. & Mrs. John Shay

Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Shetterly & F.

Mr. & Mrs. Grayden Slowins & F.

Mr. & Mrs. Henry Smith & F.

Mr. & Mrs. Larry Smith & F.



Mr. & Mrs. Sid Brown

Mrs. Anne Dow

Mr. & Mrs. Richard Droste & F.

Mr. & Mrs. Harold Hanna

Mr. & Mrs. Howard Kenyon

Mr. Theo Lenon

Mr. Harold Meyers

Mr. & Mrs. Howard Meyers & F.

Miss Linda Meyers

Mr. & Mrs. Wesley Meyers

Mr. & Mrs. Carl Petrie

Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Petrie

Mr. & Mrs. Ben Probasco

Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Sandborn

Mr. & Mrs. Melborne Sandborn

Mrs. Mattie Seybold

Mrs. Gladys Shaffer

Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Stambaugh

Mr. & Mrs. Clyde Thuma

Mr. & Mrs. Volney Thuma



Mr. & Mrs. Arlow Aves

Mrs. A. C. Barley

Mrs. Vern Bullen

Mr. & Mrs. George Carr

Miss Gladys Coe

Mrs. Elfa Creighton

Mr. & Mrs. Allen Cross

Mr. Howard Cross

Mr. & Mrs. Russell Curtis

Mr. & Mrs. Homer Downing

Mrs. Tom Esch

Miss Kay Fender

Mrs. Mae Gierman

Mr. Robert E. Gierman

Mr. Robert W. Gierman

Mr. & Mrs. Wilbur Gierman

Mr. & Mrs. Allyn Goodemoot

Mrs. Bernice Gunn

Mrs. Ruth Olry

Mr. & Mrs. Wallace Sears & F.

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Seybold & F.

Mrs. Nora Sindlinger

Mrs. Kathryn Strong

Mr. & Mrs. O. J. Walkington

Mr. & Mrs. Robert Wenger

Mrs. Virginia Wood

Mr. & Mrs. John York

Mr. John Rodney York



Mr. Bruce Blanchard

Mr. & Mrs. Wm Burras & F.

Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Coe

Mr. & Mrs. Elmer Gierman

Mr. & Mrs. Maynard Gierman

Mr. Ross Horwood

Mr. & Mrs. Leon Lockwood

Mrs. Ariel Morris



Miss Pauline Gierman

Mr. & Mrs.Lloyd Jarchow

Miss Helen York

Mr. Joel York

Mr. & Mrs. Zack York



Mr. & Mrs. JoeSpeas & Stephen, Holt

Mr. & Mrs. Richard Ward & F., Holt

Mr. William Anderson, Greenville

Mrs. Belle VanAntwerp, Sunfield

Mr. & Mrs. Johathan Pumplin, Ann Arbor

Mrs. Dora Tysse, Holland

Mr. Bernard York, Pasadena, California

Mr. & Mrs. Ronald York, Grand Ledge

Mr. & Mrs. Ray Heintzleman, Battle Creek

Mrs. Julia Whorley, Saranac

Mrs. Ida Howell, Mesick

Dr. & Mrs. Waldo Frankenstein & F., Bellevue

Mr. Jan Gierman, East Lansing

Mr. Clarence McNeil, Lansing

Mrs. Mildred Halladay, Sunfield

Mr. & Mrs. Harold Peabody, Tucson, Ariz.

Mrs. Harold Jewell, Coldwater

Mr. & Mrs. Blanchard Rice, Midland

Mrs. Don Nash, Lyons

Mrs. Beulah Cassel, Muir

Mrs. Gretchen Cominetto, Midland Park, NJJ

Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Joynt, Birmingham

Miss Frances Sears, St. Johns

Mrs. Pearl DeVries, Wyoming

Mr. & Mrs. Charles Gierman, Grand Rapids

Mr. & Mrs. Paul Fisher, Sunfield

A total of 181 adult members March 1, 1966



Mr. Paul Fisher of the Mapes Fisher Funeral Home of Sunfield has donated 46 folding chairs to the Sebewa Center Association.  This most welcome gift makes our building usable without scouring the neighborhood for chairs for each meeting.  A table building project is in the offing.


A. W. Meyers on January 3, 1896, gave a chattel mortgage to the Enterprise

Mfg. Co. for $290.00 covering one new Buckeye Sawmill standard size with two head blocks, carriage, lumber trucks and tools.  Also one 54 inch solid tooth saw  and 60 feet and 9 inches 4-ply rubber belt.  From Sebewa Township Chattel Mortgage Records.

SEBEWA—June 9, 1897 (from Portland Observer).  Albert Meyers has finished sawing the logs here and has moved upon Dr. Snyder’s place with his mill, cutting for him.  The Doctor is using the lumber to build an addition to his house.

February 18, 1898.  Albert Meyers will soon finish the sawing on Archie Brown’s place.

May 24, 1898.  Albert Meyers’ sawmill is busy cutting lumber out of the timber bought of Malvina Halladay by Wm. Ransey and F. N. Cornell.  Mr. Ramsey is also making arrangements to cut the oak timber of C. L. Halladay’s farm.

So it went from location to location, sawing the timber that was abundant in Sebewa. 

In 1902 Mr. Meyers was struck by a flying timer in the sawmill and before he had fully recovered, he was kicked by a horse.  The injuries left him an invalid until he died in 1912.  Meantime the sawmill was sold to Grant Carbaugh of Sebewa Corners.  Carbaugh operated the mill for many years before he sold it to Clarence Sayer in 1928.  Mr. Sayer did considerable custom sawing besides sawing the lumber for his own tool shed and granary.  In 1951 the same sawmill was sold to Clyde Thuma and it has operated intermittently at his location since.  Machines that remain in operating condition for 70 years are rare.


   The present generation knows little about the remote section of Danby township known as “Shimnecon”.  It was here that the first settlers of this territory formed a settlement and obtained their food from the woods and the beautiful stream.  Game and fish were plentiful in those days and it was a paradise for the Indians, but the government, after many years, set aside a reservation for them near Mt. Pleasant and the White man became master of the situation.  Recently the County Federation of Women’s Clubs placed a large boulder in a conspicuous place in the old settlement, properly inscribing it, and this will be a lasting memorial, but the story that goes with this has never been told more tersely than in the following article by Hall J. Ingalls, now past 80, who as a boy, played and grew up with the Indian boys, spoke their language, knew how to play their games, and became familiar with Indian custom and history.  The Review has succeeded in getting Mr. Ingalls to write a brief history which follows.  It should find its way into scrap books.  It should be on file in school and township library, not only because it will furnish future generations with an authentic story of the original discoverers of this section of Michigan.  The story follows in Mr. Ingalls’ own words:

   “In the spring of 1839 there were about 600 Indians in Meshimmeneconing village, which included both sides of the river at the mouth of Sebewa Creek, just below the big island, in Grand River.  About a mile and a half up the river, on the east side, lived Anawando, the Pottawatomie chief, and his tribe.  On the west side dwelt Nawgunequaw, the Ojibway chief and his tribe.  They had their sugar camps all along the east side of Sebewa Creek.  The two chiefs had several sons, and one son of each chief had been chosen to become chief at the death of his father.  The young chiefs were always together when fishing or hunting.

   Kuwetnedo, the Pottawatomie chief’s son, and Chemindewa, the Ojibway’s son, were both about the same age.  In the fall of 1839, after returning to Meshimmenconing from Grand Rapids, where they went to get their pay from the government, the Indian had a big tum-tum on the west side of the river.  They built a large bonfire, around which they danced, and when they became too badly intoxicated to dance, they fell out.  These two prospective chiefs were among those who became drunk, and got to fighting.  Chemindewa, being the strongest, picked up Kuwetnedo and threw him in the big fire, where he burned to death.  The squaws and papooses never went to these tum-tums, but skulked in the woods.

   After the Indians got sober, the chiefs called the council together to give Chemindewa a trial and he was found guilty.  Everything was taken from him except the clothes he had on, a pair of extra moccasins and a blanket.  The death paint, black and red, was then daubed on his face and he was turned out of the village.  It was the Indian custom for the one nearest of kin to an Indian who had been killed to kill the murderer the first time they met.

   In the fall of 1841, following their return from another trip to Grand Rapids, smallpox broke out among the Indians and all but 150 died.  Stirring scenes were witnessed in those days.  Indians, raving from delirium would run to the river and jump in, most of them drowning.  It was a remarkable thing, however, that of those who got out of the river, the greater per cent lived.

   After this epidemic they looked around for their chiefs.  There were no Pottawatomies and but two Ojibways who were qualified to become chiefs.  These were Dearmack and his brother Menawquet and they were duly ordained as heads of the tribes.

  In 1845 Dearmack and his brother bought the 110 acres of land in the bend of the river, which is the territory now known as Meshimneneconing, of Capt. Fitch.  Then the tribes moved there.  The two chiefs divided it into five-acre lots, for the tribes to clear and on which they were to raise crops.  They built 49log houses, in which to live.

   In 1851 Rev. Mandoga, and his wife came to the village and built a log house for a parsonage.  He and Uncle John Compton tried to convert the tribe and taught the Indian children.  In 1853, Manassa Hickey, the first missionary, came to Meshimmeneconing and in 1855 he built the church.  A year later the school house was built.  Hickey established a cemetery close by, on the east bank of Grand River, near where the old orchard now stands.  This was exclusively for Christian Indians and 15 are buried there.  A rod south of this was the burying ground for “heathen” Indians, where there were 13 graves, among them being that of old Okemos, who had been chief of the tribe at the town east of Lansing, which still bears his name.  He moved to Meshimmeneconing and in the course of time was gathered to his fathers.  His guns, belts and other belongings were buried with him and in later years, because of desecrations, the grave was covered with stone.  The missionary tried hard to convert old Okemos, but his heart was hardened and when asked to become a Christian, he would say “kaw” (meaning no).  His eyes were dull and he couldn’t see, he told the missionary.

   After the government gave the Indians land at Mt. Pleasant, in 1860, Dearmack and Menaquet sold Meshimmeneconing and in 1861 part of the tribes went to Paw Paw, but most of them moved to Mt. Pleasant.

   Though better known as “Shimnecon” Meshimmenconing was always the name of this settlement.  The meaning is “pleasant valley, along the banks of a broad waterway”.  (Published by Fred Mauren Sr. in THE PORTLAND REVIEW in the 1920s.)

   Probably also from THE PORTLAND REVIEW is this clipping from a scrapbook of Nellie Meyers Gierman:  “When was the first schoolhouse built in Sebewa?  It stood just north of the Oscar Dravemstatt barn and the first teacher was Fanny Groger.  The second was on the northeast corner of Hugh Showerman’s farm (Section 22).  The first five teachers were Willard Barr, Lucinda Barr, Phoebe Knox, Eugenia and Deborah Showerman.  Our books at that time were the old Webster Elementary spelling book afterwards changed for Saunders’ Series.  Our grammar was first Kureums, where all sentences were parsed.  Next came Clark’s where the sentences were put in diagrams and every word in a little pen, like pigs.  In fact, we called it “putting our pigs in the pens”.  Our greatest trouble was to get the pig in the right pen.

TERRITORY ITEMS by “Apache” August 2, 1882:  “Children, disobey your parents for they don’t know what is good for you, as things have changed since they were of your age, and if they ask you anything you don’t wish them to know, it won’t hurt to lie to them for if you can’t be president, maybe you can be a Brooklyn preacher.  Spend your money as fast as you can get it and a little faster if you can.”


1.  Merchant, Oren, 40, NY; Lodemia, 36, NY; Helen, 10, NY Watson, 8, NY, Florence, 4, NY, Willard, 2, Mich., Wilber, 2, Mich., Pruden, Mary, 35, NY, Jane 12, NY

2.  Mapes, Peter, 41, Upper Canada; Mary, 41, NY; Hiram, 19, Upper Canada, Catherine, 17, Upper Canada, Jesse, 14, Upper Canada, Mahala, 13, Mich., Garch, 9, Mich., Barton, 7, Mich., Alsina, 5, Mich.

3. Dickinson, Geo. W., 34, Vt., Lydia, 32, Mass., Walker, Haled, 61, Mass.

4. Ingalls, Chas. W., 36, N.H. Miller, Catherine, 37, N.H., Manley, 14, Mass., Hall, 13, N.H., George, 11, Mich., Alfonso, 8, Mich., Edward, 6, Mich., Frances, 4, Mich., Sylvester, 1, Mich., Maranda, 18, Mich.

5. Hogle, William, 34, N.Y., Laura, 28, NH, Gilbert, 10, Mich., Marshall, 9, Mich., Josephine, 7, Mich., Dallas, 4, Mich., Erwin, 2, Mich., Ada, 2, Mich.

6. Packard, William, 48, N.Y., Sarah, 35, Mass., William, 10, Mich., Sarah, 6, Mich., Cyrus, 1, Mich.

7. Smith, John C., 34, N.H., Mary, 30, NH, Hill, 11, Vt., Dorin, 3, Mich.

8. Green, Jacob, 32, N.Y., Eliza, 23, Ohio, Delia, 5, Mich., Samuel, 3, Mich., Allace, 1, Mich.

9. Showerman, Jacob,32, N.Y., Desire, 45, N.Y., Lucius, 21, N.Y., Eugenia, 17, N. Y., Debora Jane, 16, N.Y., Orlando, 11,N.Y.

10. Brown, Eleazer, 39, N.Y., Malissa, 39, N.Y., Ervin, 3, Mich., Lucy, 1, Mich.

11. Thompson, Albert,44, N.Y., Emma, 44, N.Y., Hulda, 22, N.Y., Emily (Smith), 20, N. Y., Levi, 18, N.Y., Leuisa, 16, N.Y., Susan, 14, N.Y., Josia, 11, N.Y., Orla, 6, N.Y., Francis, 3, Mich.

12. Lott, Chauncy  (miller), 32, N.Y., Mary, 22, N.Y., Leonard, 5, Mich., Elizabeth, 3, Mich., George,1, Mich.

13.   - - -

14.   White, Charles, 74, Pa., Desire, 71, NY, Alexander, 34, NY, Samuel, 30, NY, Margaret, 21, Upper Canada, Janet (McCall), 11, Ohio, Chas. (White), 10, Ohio, John, 1, Mich., Martha, 2, Mich., Mary Utter, 23, Mich.

15. Fleetham, Richard,48, England, Clarissa, 40, NY, George, 17, NY, John, 13, NY, Joseph, 9, NY.

16. Griffin, David, 35, NY, Margaret, 33, NJ, Ann, 12, NY, Henry, 10, Mich., Newell, 9, Mich., Edw., 6, Mich., Warren, 4, Mich.

17. Davis, William, 40, England, Ann, 40, Scotland, Mary Nichol, 14, Pennsylvania, Caroline Dann, 9, Mich., Walter Dann, 7, Mich.

18. Hogle, Moses, 57, NY, Electra, 58, NH, Louisa, 17, NY.

19. Carpenter, Samuel, 49, MA, Bela, 46, MA, John 26, MA, Francis, 17, MA

20. Reader, William, 35, NJ, Ellen, 32, NY, Henry, 13, NY, Mary, 9, NY, Oscar, 12, NY, Mary, 9, NY, Oscar, 7, NY, Jane, 3, Mich., Benjamin, 1, Mich.

22. Goddard, Rufus, 54, Mass., Hannah, 52, Mass., Daniel, 19, Mass., Rufus, 17, Mass.

23. Rider, Stephen, 45, NY, Eliza, 45, NY, John, 17, NY, Stephen, 15, NY, Rachel, 10, Mich., David, 7, Mich., Daniel, 2, Mich.

24. Drake, Elkanah, 39, NY, Mary Ann, 32, England, Maria Scovie, 13, NY, Richard Drake, 8, Mich., Edward, 5, Mich., Henry, 3, Mich., Sarah, 1, Mich.

25. Weld, Benjamin D., 37, NY, Martha, 35, NY, William, 13, NY, Lovina, 10, NY, Emaline, 8, NY, Francis, 5, Mich., George, 3, Mich., Philena, 1, Mich.

26. Carpenter, Elkanah, 30, NY, Emily, 37, NY, Sarah, 7, Ohio, Mary, 5, Ohio, Rhoda, 3, Ohio, Norman, 1, Mich.

27. Trim, Hiram (blacksmith), 47, NY, Patience, 47, NY, Delilah, 17, NY, Homer, 14, NY, Mortimer, 11, Mich, Aurelia, 10, Mich, Elnora, 8, Mich, Sarah, 5, Mich.

28. Olry, John, 31, France, Clarissa, 33, France, Catherine, 15, Ohio, William, 12, Ohio, John, 12, Ohio, Margaret, 10, Ohio, Mary, 8, Ohio, Lewis 7, Ohio, Francis, 11/12, Ohio

29. Cooper, John, 58, England, Elizabeth, 55, England, Caroline Wardell, 21, NY, Mary, 4, Mich., William, 2, Mich.

30. Estep, John, 38, Maryland, Mary Ann, 35, Maryland, William, 14, Maryland, John Jr., 13, Maryland, Ambrose, 9, Maryland, Francis, 7, Ohio, Austin, 5, Ohio, Margery, 3, Ohio, Augustine, 1, Ohio.

31. Waddell, John, 49, England, Harriett, 44, England, Thomas, 17, NY, Eliza Jane, 15, NY

32. Harmon, Walter, 40, NY, Mary, 40, Conn., Jerome, 20, NY, Charles, 18, NY, Marcellus, 14, NY.

33. Derby, Charles, 25, Vermont, Mary, 36, NJ, Olive, 12, NY, Henry, 10, NY, Cleanthus, 8, NY, Rollin, 5, NY.

34. Maxim, John, 40, NY, Mary, 41 NY, Elizabeth, 12, Mich., Phidelia, 10, Mich., Armenia, 5, Mich.

35. Munn, Joseph, 50, NY, Matilda, 46, NY, Joel, 17, NY, Ann, 15, NY.

36.   Evans, John, 37, Canada, Ann, 32, England, Harriett, 14, Canada, Duncan, 10, Canada, Sophia, 7, Mich., Charles, 4, Mich., Charles, 4, Mich., Temperance, 1, Mich., Malinda, 18, Canada.

37. Benjamin, Daniel, 47, NY, Joanah, 36, NY, Ambrose, 18, NY, Labrina, 15, Mich., Lunner, 13, Mich., Miron, 10, Mich., Ezra, 8, Mich., Harvey, 5, Mich., Mary, 2, Mich.

38. Cook, Pierce G., 34, NY, Ursula, 29, NY, Edward, 7, NY, Ursula, 4, Mich., Marie, 1, Mich.

39. Vinton, Jacob, 44, NY, Betsey Ann, 32, Ohio, Ann, 9, Ohio, Sarah, 4, Ohio, Jane, 1, Mich.

40. Austin, George, 63, NY, Elizabeth, 65, NY, George N., 23, Mich., Sabena, 15, NY.


1-10 years     40%

11-20 years   23%

21-35 years   15%

36-50 years   15%

51 and over   4%

Total Count  244.


   Everybody is familiar with the census.  Yet, who has seen his name in the census list?  Few people live that long, for the individual records are kept confidential for 70 years before they are released to the public view.

   The first census taken in Sebewa was in 1850.  If the 1840 enumeration reached this far, the township was not yet organized.  The 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 census reports have been microfilmed in the handwriting of the census taker and can be seen in libraries that have the films and viewing equipment.  In 1850 William W. Bogue made the count in Portland and Danby townships as well as in Sebewa.  In the listing we have made here, the occupations are noted only when the man was not considered a farmer.  With a plat map of the township as it was in 1850, one can almost follow the roads that Mr. Bogue took in making his list.

   The 1890 census original records were destroyed by a fire in Washington.  We can look forward to seeing the 1900 records in 1970.  The later rolls show a considerable increase in population and thus become somewhat bulky for this medium.  If we find sufficient interest in the 1860 census, we may present it in a later issue.

   In the Pierce G. Cook family in the 1850 list, Edward at 7 years, had less than 15 years to go before he would find starvation in a Southern prison camp.

   Integration was not in vogue in 1850.  Not one Indian name appears in either Sebewa or Danby records.  THE CENSUS TAKER illustration is by Zack York.


   If you find Gramps or Aunty with some ideas that seem not to fit the times, just have a look at some of their school lessons from turn-of-the century texts before charging bias or ingrown thinking.

   From A SHORTER COURSE IN CIVIL GOVERNMENT by Calvin Townsend, copyright 1872 and 1903:  “Five hundred years ago nothing was known of America to the Europeans.  It had not then been discovered.  When Columbus first landed on these shores, the country was one vast wilderness, inhabited by rude and ignorant savages, having no knowledge of law, government, religion, science, literature or art.  They had no churches, no schools, no gardens, no farms.  They lived by hunting and gathering fruits and roots of spontaneous growth.  They clothed themselves with the skins of beasts.  As to their food, they knew not how to preserve it; made no provision for the future, but were dependent on each day’s efforts for each day’s supply.  Hence starvation might overtake them any day.  They lived in rude huts and wigwams, and slept on the bare ground through all seasons of the year.

   Although this country was  occupied by a wild, uncultivated and savage population without law or government in any civilized sense, the Colonists chose to consider themselves as settling an uninhabited territory.”

   Again---from APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY—“Eating and drinking anything for mere pleasure is intemperance and harms the body.  We may not see the harm of eating a single apple in the middle of the forenoon when we are not hungry; and yet, this is an act of intemperance, and if repeated, tends to overwork the stomach and to produce dyspepsia, and possible a fever.  Eating some other things, such as green apples, nearly always produces sickness, and we at once see that it is a form of intemperance.  But eating the first apple was intemperance just as really as eating the green one.  A little pie or cake may be used in place of plain food, buy everyone knows that eating much of it is intemperance and produces sickness.”


   Some people know and some do not that the Shimnecon property now belongs to the Michigan Department of Conservation and nobody need feel he is trespassing on private property if he visits the grave site of Chief Okemos.

   The house on the property was built by William Skinner, grandfather of Mrs. Floyd (Angela) Evans.  Mrs. Evan’s parents were living there when she was born in 1913.  Her mother, Mrs. Orrel Adams, tells her that when she was a week-old baby, an elderly Indian couple made a pilgrimage back to the site of the old Indian village.  The man was blind and was led by his wife.  He said in his version of English, “He leads me”, to explain his blindness.

   When the Indian found out there was a new baby in the house and was shown the baby, he laid his hands on her and blessed her.  He then told Mrs. Adams that she would never have to worry about the child.  Probably this was nearly the last of many pilgrimages back to Shimnecon that were made by its former residents and their children who had heard of the former Indian home.


   If you can no longer see a log house in Sebewa, you can see one by going a half mile east of the township line on Emery Road at the Evans farm in Danby.  Floyd says it was used by a family of the name of Holbrooks at a location in the fields to the north of the Evans buildings.  As it was a rather small house, Floyd’s father was able to haul it with a team of horses, pulling it on skids in the snow.  When the team was stopped for a rest, the building seemed to freeze in its tracks and another team was needed to start it for the rest of the trip.

   From THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Robert W. Gierman, Editor, R 1, Portland, Michigan  48875      


Last update February 15, 2013