Items of Genealogical Interest
Volume 21 Number 4
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.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Association;
FEBRUARY 1986, Volume 21, Number 4. Robert W. Gierman, Editor.
Submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: CARPENTER, WELCH, SAYER, KREAMER, EDDY
A NEWLY REGISTERED VOTER is George Carpenter, aged 90. He is old enough to have
been eligible for entry in the genealogy book “Carpenter, the Rehoboth Family”.
But with sixty listed with the name of Henry, I cannot match him in the list. If
he were born in 1896, he would have been a year or two old when the book was
published. His age seems to make him the oldest male resident of Sebewa
Township. He is living with his grandson on Goddard Road a half mile south of
Tupper Lake Rd.
MRS. MYRTIE WELCH being interviewed by Zack York was a video tape I made last
summer. If you have a video tape deck and would like to borrow the nearly hour
long cassette for a look, give me a call…..Since Christmas Mrs. Welch has gone
to stay with her daughter, Mrs. Willson, who now lives at Auburn, near Bay City.
Myrtie and Edna Sayer share the same birth date, July 5, 1890.
FROM THE 1885 DIARY OF ANTHONY KREAMER
May 4, 1885. Sowed oats, 12 acres. Mr. Shace got 7 bushels of oats @ 35 cents
May 5. Went to Portland. Drew $1,115 pension money. Paid $9.75 debt and hotel
bill 75 cents. Got line straps, bull ring, door lock $1.00. Hog rings 25 cents.
Paid $1.50 for Observer. Bought a ledger for the Post. Gave wife $10 to buy
May 6, 1885, Wednesday. Went to Vermontville. Paid $135.65. Paid Loomis $33.70.
Paid Fleming $29.15. Paid H. P. Martin $29.65. $1.95 for a pair of shoes, $1 for
horse medicine, 65 cents for dinner and horse in barn, 10 cents for beer.
May 7. Plowed all day. Dave Figg and wife were here. Went to Post meeting. Cow
had a calf. Jo Childs helped me in afternoon with two teams. Was awful cold.
May 8. Plowed till 5 o’clock. Rained in afternoon. Tom VanBuren sowed oats. Jo
Childs helped me till 3 o’clock with two teams. Paid my wife $131.30 on accounts
and a note of $25.10 took up. Paid wife note $58.20. Total $189.50.
May 9. Snowed. Drawed in logs to Haddix mill. Got 1,220 feet sawed. Went to
store. Paid Ed Stinchcomb $25 on account. Paid S. A. Wright $2 that belongs to
her son-in-law. Paid on goods 65 cents. Am to pay wife $37.20 on Haddix account,
to be applied to note. Clem Haddix mill burned down.
Sunday, May 10, 1885. Clapps folks were here, and Sybil Wright. Gave them 15
lbs. sugar. Was cold day.
May 11. Plowed all day. Was a warm day.
May 12. Plowed most of day. One of my horses was sick. Laid down in furrow.
May 13. Spaded in garden in forenoon. Plowed and dragged potato patch in
May 14. Plowed some. Went to Post meeting. Paid Ed Stinchcomb $25.
May 15. Plowed and dragged all day. Sold 38 bushels of corn to Conchright @ 25
cents per bushel. $9.50.
May 16. Plowed. My wife went to Vermontville and got me a pair of boots. I paid
a mowing machine note $45.65. Did some milliner trading. It was a warm day.
Sunday, May 17, 1885. Went to Ed Stinchcombs a visiting.
May 18. Plowed most of day. Sold 6 calves. Two pair old heifers for $15 to Al
Griffin. Was a cold day. Al paid $10 on the cattle. Is to take them away in a
AUTOMOBILES IN EARLY PORTLAND AND ABOUT
From the RECOLLECTOR of October 1972 is this paragraph citing the story of Ionia
County’s first automobile as told by Mrs. Helen Eddy Hollen, a former teacher in
the Portland Public Schools. Her father, N. J. Eddy, the Portland jeweler and
watch repairman of 1898, learned of an auto that was for sale. Some “rich man”
of Detroit, Chicago or maybe of Grand Rapids had a son who owned an automobile.
The son died and the auto was put up for sale. Mr. Eddy made the purchase and
had the car shipped to Portland by flatcar. It was a Locomobile Steamer, built
in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Locomobile Company had bought out the rights to
the car from the Stanley Bros. and began producing it under the Locomobile name.
Like the early Stanleys, it had a boiler under the seat, heated by a gasoline
flame underneath. The cylinders were vertical and the rods could be seen working
up and down. One lever controlled the flow of steam to the cylinders and another
lower did the steering. The single cylinders and another lower did the steering.
The single seat accommodated Mr. and Mrs. Eddy and the daughter, Helen. It was
driven around town rather than any country road. When a real excursion was
wanted they went all of the way to Eagle and back. Several times, Mr. Eddy
stopped the car to get out and lead somebody’s frightened horses around it. In a
year or so after selling out to Locomobile, the Stanley Bros. decided to go back
to automobiles and started building another steam car, which was too much
competition for Locomobile and led to its demise. Later, Mr. Eddy traded his
Locomobile for a Stanley Steamer. As far as Miss Eddy was concerned, it did not
compare to the Locomobile. “You’d get out in the country and the boiler would
pop off and you would have to wait for it to build up a head of steam before you
For a list of Automobile companies of 1915 we refer you to the October 1973
issue of RECOLLECTOR. Also, the February 1971 issue of the RECOLLECTOR describes
the 1909 one cylinder Reo, owned by several people successively.
Following are quotes from THE PORTLAND OBSERVER as researched by Lucille Esch:
June 15, 1904. Two more automobile touring cars have been added the past week to
the list already here. There are now seven owned in Portland. The two new ones
are owned by O. N. Jenkins and E. D. Woodbury, the former having bought a Ford
and the latter a Rambler. The other owners are Robert Ramsey, F. H. Knox, W. W.
Terriff, Thomas Frost, while N. J. Eddy has a Locomobile or steam machine.
Portland probably has more of these machines than any other place of its size in
1904. Dick Merrifield of Sebewa has bought an auto and he will, with E. C.
Derby, make a run to St. Louis with it to visit the World’s Fair.
March 1, 1905. E. C. Herolz has received the Rambler touring car, which he
purchased some time ago. It has a canopy top and other adjuncts not possessed by
other cars of this make owned in Portland.
April 12, 1905. Frank Jenkins and Herb Emery were in Detroit to drive home the
Oldsmobile touring car recently purchased by Dr. Alton. The machine is a very
pretty one and the Doctor already has begun to call upon his patients in the
country by the new conveyance. He says it works like a compound cathartic pill.
November 12, 1905. John McClelland received his Rambler touring car last
Thursday, 1905 model, his side doors and other up-to-date improvements and is
1906. There was no reference to individual cars but a notice that in October,
Governor Warner was to visit Portland in an auto party, which was visiting the
entire county. (Special feature in Portland was to view the Commonwealth ___.)
Called off because of a very heavy rain storm.
September 7, 1907. Herb Emery was shot at while driving his car. He had pulled
over to the side of the road so a buggy could go by and the revolver was fired
from the back of the buggy.
November 9, 1908. E. D. Woodbury has a 7 passenger Olds. W. W. Terriff a 2
passenger Olds, Tom Frost a 6 cylinder Olds, Dr. Horning has purchased the
Franklin car that Mr. Woodbury has run for the past season.
December 7, 1909. James Webster will retire from the shoe business and will open
a garage after the first of the year. He has the option on several good autos
and will take the agency for one or two of them and operate a salesroom in
connection with an up-to-date repair department. He is trying to get a location
on the main block on Kent Street. George Bandfield will open a salesroom for
autos. He has bought the Goodwin Marble Shop and will show the Hupmobile there.
This racy little car is attracting much attention and Mr. Bandfield already has
a number of prospects.
February 1, 1910. James Webester bought a Regal touring car at the Detroit Auto
Show and acquired the agency for this vicinity. He bought a six cylinder R. A.
C. made at South Bend, Indiana.
Now a column called A Notes: Louis Gibbs bought a Regal from J. Webster and sold
his Reo to Dr. Lathrop. Arthur Nunnely bought a Brush runabout. George Bandfield
sold a new Hupp to Dr. Weston of Muir. Mr. and Mrs. Wood are in Detroit to bring
home a Ford. Dr. Alton FINALLY drives his own car. E. C. Herolz has bought a new
Rambler—went to Wisconsin to get it.
May 7, 1910. O. C. Allen has agency of the State of Washington for the Regal
automobile. A carload has already been shipped.
May 17, 1910. Ramsay-Alton is to make auto bodies. The H. J. Hayes Mfg. Co. of
Detroit, which has two factories employing 1,000 men takes stock to the extent
of $10,000 and promises concern for all the business it can care for. Steel
frames will be shipped here for the wood work. Since there is no indication that
the automobile business will slacken up for at least 10 years, the officers
consider this a wise move.
The auto business has affected every other line---jewelry has been hit because
men are buying autos instead of diamonds and have been denying themselves many
things in order to enjoy a wise motoring.
Will Russel and Fred Pilkington enventually go to Detroit to learn the auto
February 1, 1910. In company with John Webster and Oscar and Carl Derby, he
drove the machine across the snow from Detroit to Portland without mishap.
Although the Regal is practically unknown in Portland, Mr. Webster picked it
from a big line of low priced cars. Herb Emery, R. W. Alton, F. S. Lockwood, W.
D. Crane, Ted Wilson, A. S. Nunnely and O. C. Allen also attended the Auto Show.
February 8, 1910. George Bandfield has made the first auto sales of the season
in Portland. Two Hupmobiles to Dr. Alton and Herb Emery, February 15, 1910. He
sold two more Hupps to Ed. Dwight and W. H. Coe of Ionia.
March 8, 1910. Portland auto owners met in the office of Fred Mauren and formed
an automobile club with a charter membership of seventeen. E. D. Woodbury was
elected president, Fred Mauren, Secretary and Dr. F. W. Martin, Treasurer.
Another meeting will be held in W. F. Selleck’s office when the by-laws will be
adopted and new members taken in. It is the expectation that every auto owner in
and around the Village will join the club. During the summer, sign boards will
be placed on all the roads around Portland. The matter of good roads will be
taken up later.
March 22, 1910. Ted Wilson has been infected with the auto microbe and the
insistent little cuss will not let him alone. A. Nunneley is also suffering from
the same malady and rumor has it that both will be driving their own cars in a
few weeks. C. A. Estep expects to bring his home, weather permitting and G. W.
Allen goes to Chicago to get his. He bought a six cylinder R. A. C. made at
South Bend, Indiana.
1911. Hack Services---anywhere in the Village, 25 cents. Horse & Auto Livery,
Cornwell & Son, successor to Alf Allen, then to Welch, then Alton bought it back
just before he died. Bryon Welch took over after Alf Allen. Reed & Trumpower at
the old Rink Building.
Blacksmiths; Archie Valentine, 1912, Fred Berkshire in old Wm. Smith stand on
Kent St., 1912. Will Davis on Maple Street, E. A. Sweet – Horseshoes in old Fred
Berkshire stand, 1915.
Wagon Maker: L. L. Williams with A. Ruessman on Water Street
Garages: John Leslie, B. W. Jackson and B. B. Bowes
Studebaker Wheel (bicycle) sold by Lung & Packard, 1912
1914: Clarence Sayer of Sebewa purchased from Oscar Derby, The Portland Garage,
Clarence Sayer, Proprietor – Local Agency for Buick – General Auto Repairing –
Full line of Goodyear and Firestone tires. He advertised in the December 23,
1915 Portland Observer the price list of these 1916 models:
Heavy Six touring car $1,485; Heavy Six Roadster $1,450; Light Six touring car
$985; Light six Roadster $950.
Citizens Phone 10; Bell Phone 155
December 23, 1915: W. S. Kenkins & Son advertised – Auto Repairing. All
accessories for Fords. Call Citizens 66; Bell 197
Garages – John Leslie, B. W. Jackson, B. B. Bowes
Around 1916 Francis Burger and Arthur Balderson bought Clarence Sayer. Burger
entered World War I and Balderson kept the garage going. When Burger came home,
he and his wife Flossie bought out Balderson and they were a team.
September 30, 1915. One thousand machines are expected in a big parade of Paved
Way Boosters. Reo and M. A. C. bands to accompany them. Purpose of the tour of
inspection over the two proposed routes. Wolverine Pavedway and the Board of
Directors, with the party, will make their choice from the impression they
receive along the routes, natural advantages and enthusiasm
And desire of people along the way. Henry Ford and Governor Ferris will be along
to study the advantages the road will bring.
These items of early auto history in and about Portland come from a search of
news items of the Portland OBSERVER by Lucille Esch and her interviews with
Flossie Burger, still alert in her nineties.
When Francis Burger came home from the war, his wife, Flossie Burger, bought out
Arthur Balderson and they ran the garage as Burger and Burger, doing jitney
business also. He drove for all the funerals and they drove for several of the
doctors. She drove more in summer and he in winter.
She did bookwork for the garage and drove to Lansing to pick up parts as well
and probably was the only woman in these parts so employed at that time.
They built the cement block building where the J. & J. store is now. The
Portland Garage had been only on Maple Street but they ran it through from Maple
Street to Kent Street with rooms above. In later years they sold it to Guidi,
who then sold it to Joe Mekoff.
Mrs. Sayer, now at 95, remembers that when Clarence was operating the garage it
was a time of local option. Ionia County was “dry” and Kent County was not.
Frequently the local imbibers would ask him to make a Saturday night trip to
Lowell to celebrate the good times available in Kent County. She remembers the
distressed calls of wives and mothers, trying to find out when their loved ones
Clarence recalled when an exhibitionist circus performer, to add interest to the
upcoming tent show, asked him to drive a heavy car over his chest. Two small
piles of planks were laid down, the man laid on his back with inflated chest
between the piles and Clarence drove over with no apparent harm to the
Some will remember the R. C. H., the Velie and other early cars that Clarence
Lucille Esch remembers that in winter time the children used their sleds to
slide down hill and across Grand River Avenue—later U. S. 16. At that time
nobody worried about auto traffic there. In winter it was proper to put the care
in the garage, jack up each of the four wheels and let it rest until the good
weather of summer.
Now, with the freeway taking the through traffic, who would carelessly risk his
neck with a casual walk across Grand River Avenue?
MYRTIE’S MEMORIES * THE HORSE - CONTINUED PART V
Another time, Ma, Grace, Pearl and I were headed for Sylvia and Johnnie’s to
spend the day. Grace was driving as usual when, down the road, coming toward us
was a thresher’s outfit. Big steam engine, puffing along, huge separator, team
of horses pulling the water wagon. It was quite a parade headed our way. Of
course Ma was frightened, the road very narrow and a ditch on our right. It was
just common courtesy for the engineer to stop his big engine, get off to ask if
we would like him to lead our horse past. (They always did that if they met a
woman driver. Women were not supposed to know enough to handle a horse). So, the
gentleman asked and Grace said “No, I can handle it, our horse is not afraid”.
But my mother said “yes, please”. So, the gentleman took hold of the horse’s
bridle and led us past. The horse? It never gave a second glance to the big
noisy thing with its string of scary looking tools following along. But Grace?
Her pride was showing and she was really upset with her mother. Ma? She heaved a
big sigh of relief and thanked the man kindly. Pearl and I? We were just the two
little guys who weren’t expected to have an opinion for or against. You might
have had one but you didn’t express it to your elders. Those were the days when
children were seen but not heard.
Have patience, just this one more horse story and I’ll unhitch them and call it
a day. Where we lived in Vermontville on East Main Street, there was no barn, so
we couldn’t keep a horse. There was a livery stable where you could rent them so
when we wanted to go anywhere, that’s what Ma did. Mr. Kelley had lots of nice
horses and then one old one that nobody but my mother would ever rent unless all
others were out. That horse was the one for her! It had an ailment called the
string-halts. He would be moving right along, when all of a sudden his right
hind leg would begin to jerk and up it would come, sometimes almost hitting his
stomach. It was funny and like somebody had a string on his hoof and would jerk
his leg up and underneath its body. I suppose that was why it was called the
string-halts. (It was a good deal like the seizures I had, after falling down
the back porch). It never stopped the horse whether he was walking or trotting.
He just kept doing his thing. I was always glad the kick went toward his body
and not back at the buggy.
Uncle John was ashamed of us when we would drive into his yard. He told Aunt
Sylvia he was always glad to see us but he wished Ma would rent another horse.
Johnnie always drove such nice ones.
Now, I’ll unhitch my horse from the buggy, turn him loose, he will trot to the
water tank for a drink, then I’ll follow him into his stall, remove the harness,
hand it on the wall back of him, put on the halter, fasten the rope to the
manger, go upstairs in the barn and put hay down the chute to his manger, give
him a pan of grain, clean the stall out, placing new, fresh straw in for his bed
and give him a big pat for a thank you and let him rest. Or I might just remove
his harness and turn him outside the barn and watch him trot out to the pasture
to graze. Maybe he’ll frolic around a little or lie down and roll over to shake
the feel of the harness from his body and scratch his back on the grass.
OUR WOOD HOUSE. This was no shed with a slanting roof, but a rectangular
building with gable ends just like a house, making it much roomier inside than a
Situated about twenty-five feet from the back door, parallel with the house, it
was used for many things besides just a place to store wood. When Old Man Winter
came roaring in, baring his teeth and shaking white stuff all over the ground,
he didn’t frighten us any. My Dad had plenty of good dry wood, cut in our own
woods, to keep us warm all winter. Chunks for the heating stove, slabs all split
to fit the cook stove, piled neatly in huge ranks across one end. Chunks in one
place, split wood in another, ready and waiting to be carried inside to keep us
warm and to cook our food.
Come on Old Man, using our iron pokers to stir the fires and keep them blazing,
we’d fight you ‘til spring. No one really wins. Mother Nature just sends winter
away to some other part of the world, only to send him back to us another year.
We are ready for him again, though. My Dad and Arby always cut our wood for the
following year in the current winter, piled it in the woods to dry out and be
ready for use. That really kept the woods in a nice clean condition. Sawing up
the fallen trees, burning the brush after the good wood was cut out, sometimes
sawing down a tree that looked like a storm might blow it over, kept the woods
clean and made it easy to drive around in at sugar making time.
Now, I’m NOT getting into the sugar making business. If you want to know all
about that, just go to Merle Martin’s, Gearhart’s, Zemke’s or someplace and get
your information there. Really I should tell you the primitive way of making
sugar. You can’t feature from the old way of doing it. Such a wonderful change
and so much easier.
Wood was not the only think Pa and Arby cut in the winter. They also cut ice.
Wood and ice were two items I forget to add to the list of things when I wrote
about our living. When the water in the lakes froze into ice at least twelve
inches or more, the men folk hitched a team to the sleighs, driving out towards
the center of the lake, cut uniform blocks of ice. Bringing it home, they would
stack it up, with plenty of sawdust between and around the blocks for
insulation. They would put it in the north end of our wood house for summer use.
Ice cream, iced tea, lemonade, and, oh, so many things to use ice for.
Home made ice cream was such a treat on a hot Sunday afternoon. Arby would take
the ice tongs and remove a block of ice from the top of the pile, being very
careful not to take up the sawdust away from the next block. If you let air get
in through the sawdust, the ice would melt. Tamping the sawdust back in place,
the next stop was placing the ice in a gunny sack, pounding it with the broad
side of an axe, getting the pieces small enough to pack around the container.
While Arby was getting things going outside, Mae, Sylvia, and Grace were busy in
the kitchen, stirring up the ingredients for the cream itself. The freezer was a
little like a pail, only it was made of wooden slats fastened together like the
staves in a barrel. The bottom had a depression in the center, in which the ice
cream can fitted.
Next the metal can was filled with the cream mixture, just ¾ full (had to allow
for expansion) then the dasher was carefully inserted. This had paddles on the
sides that whipped the cream, while they turned around and around, scraping the
The cover was then put on. It fitted down tightly over the outside like a cap.
The dasher had a slight extension, which came through the cover, then fitted
into gears in the center of the hook-like think that hooked down over the can
and onto the sides of the pail. In the center of this contraption were gears to
turn the can. After this was done you screwed on the handle, packed the space
between can and pail with ice and salt, added to make a brine. Ice alone would
not freeze, so you added salt. Then you started turning. As soon as you could
feel it getting a bit thick, you’d always take the cover off, just to have a
taste to see if it was O.K. You also checked to see if you needed to add more
flavoring. Be very careful, now, because even a drop of brine off the cover into
the cream and the stuff would not freeze. You turned and you cranked until you
couldn’t make the dasher move. It was ready. Opening the cover, you removed the
dasher. A lot of cream came out with the paddles and everyone got a lick at that
with a spoon. Yummie, yummie!! Lots of work, but what fun!
I worked in a restaurant in Vermontville one summer. I think I was fourteen that
year. Mr. Downing, the proprietor made his own ice cream. When he’d remove the
dashers he’d call to me. “Frisky, come lick the greaser”. He never had to call
twice. Frisky was Mr. Downing’s nickname for me. There was a lot of licking to
do all alone. We served a lot of ice cream. It was just delicious. He made
several kinds, but he would never give anyone his recipe.
That was an interesting summer for me and they were interesting people, in their
sixties. They told me much about their past lives. They were brother and
sister---and twins at that. John and Jennie were their names. Mr. Downing was
married but his wife never worked in the restaurant. They lived just a couple of
doors west of us on East Main Street. One or the other would always walk on home
with me when we came home late. Miss Jennie (as everyone called her) had never
been married. She was engaged when she was young to a boy who was killed in the
Civil War. She still wore his ring on the first finger of her left hand as was
the custom in the days of her youth. Often, she’d want to bring me a special
book, or some music and she’d always move her ring to her third finger, saying
then, she would remember because it felt peculiar there.
Goodness sake, I was telling you about the many uses of our wood house and now
I’m fourteen years old, working for my nice friends in Vermontville. (Received
$2.00 per week). Not only have I gone clear around Robin Hood’s Barn but
everyone’s in the neighborhood and it’s four and a quarter miles to
Vermontville. Anyway it popped into my mind, and now it’s on paper. I’ll get
back home again, because my mother might want an armful of wood.
STILL IN THE WOOD HOUSE. Back in Ohio, nearly everyone had a small house in
their back yard. It was called a summer house, used for cooking your meals
outside to avoid building a fire inside and heating your house up in hot
weather. My Dad laid a floor in the center of our wood house, installed a cook
stove and my mother had her summer house. Ma would cook our meals, carry the
prepared food across the strip of lawn, up four steps, across the back porch,
then to the big living room and to the front porch. No problem! She had a nice
cool place for her men folks who were hot and tired from their work in the
fields, to relax and rest. Of course the older girls helped her.
The porch was the type recessed into the house with just one side open. Ours was
about 21 feet long, really just a continuation of the living room, probably 10
feet wide, a door (west side) right in the center, out of the living room. A
door at the south opened into the parlor, one opening into a bedroom on the
north end. The east side was the one exposed to the outdoors, door in center and
entrance steps outside. This opening was covered with screen. Being closed in on
three sides, we used it from early spring until late fall. The table was at the
north end and the south half was furnished with a small stand for your oil lamp
at night, a rocker or two. Just a nice cozy little corner in my world. Such a
lovely place to eat, too. Always proud to have company. There were not many
people who had a dining room like ours.
Here’s one meal I’ll never forget. Back in those days it was customary for your
school teachers to visit the parents of their pupils. An unmarried one would
quite often come for supper and spend the night, thus staying for breakfast too.
Married ones came bringing their wives and children. We never knew ahead of time
when they were going to appear. This time our teacher, Harry Bedford, his wife
and their son appeared at our house just as we were sitting down for our noon
meal. Pushing our chairs closer together, Ma made room for three more people,
hoping she had enough food for all. Well, she did, with the exception of one
dish---Kentucky Wonder green beans. At their best, I think, when old enough for
the beans to pop out of the pods and the pods are still tender enough to eat.
Ma always cooks them with a piece of meat, my favorite dish. Also it turned out
to be a favorite with young Merle Bedford, probably five or six years old at the
time. His father was a strict school teacher but he had no control over his own
kid, who liked MY FAVORITE DISH so well he wouldn’t eat another thing his mother
put on his plate. All at once the beans were gone and my mother had no more in
the kitchen either. Merle was so mad he threw a tantrum, looked up at Ma and
said “You didn’t cook enough, you better get up and cook me some more”. Well, I
hadn’t had enough either, but I would have had if Bedfords hadn’t appeared on
November 15, 2013