Items of Genealogical Interest
Volume 22 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 1987, Volume 22, Number 4; Robert W. Gierman, Editor;
submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: JENISON, HUIZENGA, DARLING, BULLING, PIERCE, PRANGER
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD were Pearl Huzenga (Jenison), LeRoy Darling, Theo Bulling
and Viverne Pierce.
THE PRANGER REUNION
August in 1986 Sherm and Muriel Pranger attended the Pranger Reunion in Platte,
South Dakota where more than 300 of his great grandfather’s family were in
attendance. In 1892 the Prangers left the Netherlands where it seemed there was
little chance of land ownership, for America and Platte, SD. Sherm’s
grandfather, Sjoerd (Sherman in Dutch) first came to Fruitport, Michigan where
his wife had relatives and a year later joined the family group in Platte.
There, there were five Pranger families, each blessed with seven to ten
Sherm was born in 1917 and attended school in Platte. At the age of 20 in 1937
at a time of dust storms and troublesome locusts with economic depression, he
hitch-hiked to Michigan, visited relatives in Grand Rapids before coming to
visit his father’s sister, who was married to John Ruiter. They lived on Bippley
Road in Odessa, a ¼ mile west of M 66. It was from there he started working for
William Balduf on a threshing crew. He remembers driving his team and wagon
close to a pear tree and picking and eating the fruit. There were no fruit trees
where he had lived in South Dakota.
Six months later his parents followed him to Michigan. Most of us knew him as a
carpenter and as the manager of the lumber yard sales office of Theo Lenon and
Smith Bros. at Sunfield.
From the original five immigrants including Grandfather Sjoerd, there are more
than 1,200 descendants, 183 in Platte Community and the rest scattered from
Alaska to Florida and Maine to California.
Sherm and Muriel enjoyed their visit to the reunion and Platte and went on to
visit the Black Hills and the Bad Lands.
The Pranger name came about in 1811 when Napolean decreed that all the conquered
Dutch people have family names. The name is of German origin meaning “one who
displays” or “the place of display”.
STEAMBOATING ON THE GRAND
Reminiscences of Early Days, by J. C. Pratt in Saranac Local, researched by R.
In 1842 there was plying on Grand River, between Lyons and Grand Rapids, a scow
(1) covered with canvas in case of rain. We do not recollect the name of the
craft. It was the property of Daniel Ball (1) of Grand Rapids.
In 1843-44 the boat “South Bend”, similar to a canal boat in every respect,
except there was a pass-way on each side of the boat for the men to travel from
stem to stern, and vice versa. The boat was propelled (as were all boats before
the introduction of steam) by setting poles. As business of moving grain
increased and more and more merchandise was required, another boat, the “Jesse”
was put on the river in 1845-46, and was run in connection with the “South
Bend”. At times when the river was high, the water was too deep for using the
setting poles and the current strong, they were compelled to send a rope from
point to point in a row boat, fastening one end to a tree, and then altogether,
a long pull, a strong pull, etc. They would pull to a point where they had tied,
then re peat the performance. This locomotive was of necessity very slow,
frequently taking from six to eight days to get from Grand Rapids to Ionia,
making freights very high.
Later, in 1846 the boat “Fred Hall” was put on the line by Irish and Van Allen
of Lyons. The same year the “Jonah”, another pole boat was put on by Wm. Beach &
Co., of Rochester, N.Y., who were buying wheat here to supply their mill at that
The next year, 1847, the steamer “Humming Bird” commenced plying on the line,
commanded by Captain Robert S. Parks, formerly an old resident of the county. It
carried passengers and freight, and did some towing of boats up the river. This
was a great convenience to people, as the boat would run up to a bank anywhere
and take on passengers and freight or discharge the same. This boat made the
trip from Ionia to Grand Rapids in one day and back the next, thus giving the
inhabitants some communication with the outside world.
We forgot to mention another pole boat, or rather canoe, which was called the
“Marasuck Canoe”. It was some sixty feet in length, made by the Indians out of a
very large whitewood tree, and capable of carrying twenty-five barrels of lime.
Chas. L. Hecox, then a resident of this village (Saranac), took the contract of
furnishing the lime for the county buildings or offices, which were built in
1844, and occupied until a year or two ago. He transported the lime in above
mentioned boat from Grand Rapids.
Later the steamer “J. F. Porter” was put on. This boat had two locomotive
engines, and was capable of running ten miles an hour against a stiff current.
This boat was a credit to the company who put it on the line, and our river
banks were always lined to greet the traveling public, as she was almost
invariably loaded with passengers both ways.
The succeeding year, or in 1849, Robert S. Parks drew off the “Humming Bird” and
had constructed a stern-wheel steamer called the “Naubeck”, named after a noted
Indian chief. She was a staunch and good boat, but did not make as rapid a
traveler as the “Porter”. It was well fitted up for freight, and had good
accommodations for passengers. It was on this new steamer that our friend and
fellow townsman, Chas. L. Wilson, earned his first money, which he never got.
Perhaps if Charlie had possessed a little of the cheek he has since acquired, he
might not have been so badly left by the doughty captain.
In 1850 a stock company from Grand Rapids built and put on this line the steamer
“Forest Queen”. She was a magnificent boat, but was too large for the river
above the Rapids. She was not completed so as to start very early in the spring
and, as the water was getting too low for her to run on the intended route, she
was drawn off and run between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven. She was a failure as
an up-river boat on account of her size, and made only two or three trips, not
getting above Saranac. The freight rates those early days were comparatively
cheap; being only 44 cents per hundred from Chicago without classification. The
rate was for goods laid on the bank, including cartage around the Grand Rapids
Capt. R. Simmons, a former old settler of Saranac and Boston, was for a time
pilot on the “Humming Bird”, “Porter” and “Naubeck”, and master of one or two of
the boats spoken of, Vine Welch, of Keene, since deceased, was an old river
pilot when the first steamer came in the river. The railroad caused the river
transportation to be slow and the boats were drawn off.
LAKEWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT:
Wm. Eckstrom has released some records of the West Sebewa School District. Mrs.
Richard Goodemoot has perused the record to find the names of those attending
school there from 1927 to 1963. Three years of records were missing. The list
follows concluding with the list of teachers:
Cheney, Josephine Cheney, Alma Cheney, Daisy
Cheney, Clara Creighton, K. Carl Goodemoot, Ruth
Goodemoot, Ruby Green, John Green, Orlo
Green, Gordon Hunt, Walter Leak, Lorraine
Lesher, John Lesher, Madalund Litchfield, Durwood
Litchfield, Atheline Litchfield, Maxine Litchfield, Alvin
Martin, Lloyd McNeil, Charles Nickolson, G. Robert
Peacock, Wayne Peacock, Catherine Thorp, Marshall
Wallace, Roger Brown, Florian Brown, Nyol
Brandt, Robert Barclay, Bertha VanHouten, Clifford
Friendly, Lloyd Kenyon, Willard Kenyon, Loraine
Goodemoot, Earl Leak, Anna Bella Kenyon, Madonna
Sargeant, Mavis Sargeant, John Jr. Goodemoot, Merle
Leyrer, Paul Layrer, Willa Layrer, Gloria
Smith, Kenneth Vance, Richard Creighton, Frederick
Goodemoot, Richard Zwilp, Mary Hatt, Herbert
Layrer, Martin Kill, Albert Kill, Frank
Smith, Carlton Sharlow, Arlene McCaul, Anna Mae
Brandt, Hazle Brant, Max Brandt, Ray
Brandt, Ruth Van Putten, Gerald Van Putten, Katherine
Lakin, Glenna Mae Lakin, Teddy Sharlow, Elizabeth
Shetterly, Philip Smith, Beverly Vance, Marilyn
Janes, Betty Janes, Carl Tompkins, Amy
Tompkins, Denver Tompkins, Gorden Tompkins, Leota
Johnson, Ethlyn Barkley, Marian Schnabel, June
Tomlinson, Richard Commee, Edmund Sargeant, George
Commee, Durwood Johnson, Gordon Johnson, Marlene
Becker, Marian Blackmer, Jacquiline Commee, Clarence
Coe, Joyce Shetterly, Shirley Smith, Roger
Becker, Louise Brandt, Betty Brandt, Evelyn
Blackmer, Donna Shetterly, Joy Downing, Cleo
Commee, Loren Creighton, Rex Smith, Calvin Jr.
Hissong, Max Simmons, Claude Jr. Morley, Sherdyne
Raymond, Kenneth Raymond, Donald Raymond, Nancy
Raymond, Shirley Coe, Larry Brandt, Roy
Eldridge, Joanne Smith, Della Galvan, Sarah
Galvan, Rachel Galvan, Tabita Galvan, Raquel
Galva, Esther Esparza, Consuela Esparza, Elizabeth
Esparza, Pauline Baily, Jr. Baily, Polly
Baily, Alice Baily, Marguarette Baily, Morgorie
Smith, Donna Sedore, Shirley Thomas, Robert
Brofford, Thelma Wybenga, Katheryn Davis, Larry
Piercefield, Jerry Thorp, Donna Piercefield, Janet
Piercefield, Wayne Piercefield, June Piercefield, Wanda
Smith, Tommy Shetterly, Linda Brandt, Leon
Carey, Nancy Carey, Norma Carey, Noretta
Lich, John Thomas, Robert Bursley, Robert
Beaver, Barbara Bursley, Lawrence Bush, Arleen
Graul, Jerry Graul, Melvin Smith, Mary Lou
Ingrahm, Betty Avery, Dorne Avery, Robert
Creighton, Rodger Piercefield, Patricia Thomas, Aaron Lee
Bailey, Joe Piercefield, Bonnie Landeros, Mary Lou
Landeros, Ruth Cavazos, Lupe Cavazos, Janie
Pinkston, Karen Goodemoot, Kenneth Pinkston, Brian
Thorp, Richard Cavazos, Joe Cavazos, Pete
Champlin, Donald Harris, Norman Harris, Doris
Harris, Betty Harris, Larry Harris, Ernest
Beaver, Arlene Harris, Robert Lich, Evelyn
Piercefield, Wilma Dexter, Walter Dexter, David
Dexter, Lynden Avery, Jimmy Brandt, Melvin
Bush, Ronald Hale, Donald Hale, Sharlene
Brown, Jimmy Orta, Esther McNutt, Vonnie
Creighton, Ronnie Creighton, Penny Sandborn, Julie
Smith, Elaine Garcia, Reymundo Garcia, Ramiria
Montalvo, Roman Montalvo, Rafael Garcia, Richard
Thorp, Dianne Garcia, Victor Oviedo, Lupe
Oviedo, Tony Lich, Linda Montalvo, Pancho
Thorp, Bonnie Sandborn, Marcia Pinkston, Craig
Thorp, Donald Possehn, Carole Montalvo, Richard
McNeil, Clay Taylor, Ronald Haverstick, Kenneth
Taylor, Ruth Ann Haverstick, Jimmy Taylor, Roger
Haverstick, Sharlotte Taylor, Rhoda Lich, Larry
Piercefield, James Ludwick, Roselie Piercefield, Wayne
Binns, Paige Piercefield, Dorothy McNeil, Corinne
Possehn, Christine Possehn, Robert Smith, Victoria
Thorp, Connie Sandborn, Suzan Smith, David
Haskins, Arthur Haskins, Carolyn Haskins, Willis
Conley, Joe Downing, Vicki Goodemoot, Keith
Haskins, Henry Thorp, Larry Risner, Richard
Risner, Theodore Conley, Maston Downing, Diane
Possehn, Donna Baker, Sue Ellen Baker, Bonita
Conley, Gene Goodemoot, Jane Sandborn, Kay
Risne(e?)r, Debra Risner, Steven Ritenburg, Kathy
Conley, David Ritenburg, Vicky
FOLLOWING IS THE LIST OF TEACHERS AT THE WEST SEBEWA school from 1920 through
C. Earl Champlin
MYRTIE’S MEMORIES, CONTINUED by MYRTIE (LOVELL) WELCH:
SETTIN’ HENS AND SUCH
Back in the “hey-day” of my life, we raised chickens,
as did every farmer. Our henhouse was built along one side of the wall inside
with a row of nests for the hens to lay their eggs in on the opposite wall.
Can just hear you younger readers say “Now what crazy
thing is she talking about? What are roost and hens’ nests?” My more antiquated
children know but for the others I’ll try to explain. Roosts first. Ours were
started with 3 two-by-fours about 4 feet long. One end mailed at right angles to
the wall, half way between top and bottom, then a board slanting from the roof
to the edge of this first board. Three of these were used to hold the roosting
poles, one at each end and the third in the center so the weight of the chickens
couldn’t make the poles sag. The poles, small enough for a chicken to cling to
with their feet, were then placed length-wise between the supports. Fastened to
the slanting board, one pole above the other (not directly above, of course), it
now looks like a stairway with no steps hanging to the wall. Just the poles.
Sometimes you might be a little late with your chores,
darkness came before you had taken water and grain to the chickens. Always had
that out for them ready for the next morning. With a lighted lantern hanging
from one arm, a pail of water on the other, you’d enter the henhouse. What a
sight greeted your eyes. All those chickens clinging to the poles, all facing
the same way, backs to the walls, eyes closed, they were asleep. Maybe one or
two would open a sleepy eye, give you the once over, and just go back to sleep.
BUT, if you made the least bit of noise then pandemonium would start. They were
very much awake, roosters squawking, hens cackling, all flying down off their
poles, you didn’t tarry. You just gathered your lantern and fled out the door.
As soon as you left with the light they would quiet right down.
Chickens made a good burglar alarm. If people heard
them making a fuss in the night, someone always investigated immediately. Most
men would carry their shotgun out with them. Maybe you wouldn’t see anything,
could have been a rat, weasel, skunk, or some other wild animal wanting a
chicken dinner or it could have been a man. Plenty of chicken thieves around in
Guess it’s about time I began on those nests. This was
just a simple board mounted like a shelf on the opposite side from the roosts. A
board along the front to keep the eggs from rolling out, small boards about four
inches high, spaced cross wise about twelve inches apart the full length of the
shelf, made a box like nest just large enough for one hen. These were covered on
the bottom with straw to keep the eggs from breaking when laid. Now in the early
spring, some of these older hens would decide a family of little chickens would
be a nice thing to have. So she would quit laying eggs, climb into one of those
cozy little nests and there you would find her when you went to gather the eggs.
You couldn’t scare her off, had to pick her up and throw her out, being very
careful to reach under her from the back to get hold on her legs. She would
fight back, picking your hands with her sharp bill, if you didn’t take care.
You’d give her a toss but if she really wanted to sit in that nest for the next
three weeks, (time it takes for eggs to hatch), she’d fly right back in and set
Reporting to Ma, she’d tell me to keep that up for
three or four days until we knew for certain she was going to set, then we’d put
the eggs underneath her. You didn’t put fourteen perfectly good eggs under a hen
then have her decide after a few days that she didn’t really want a family that
bad and have her leave the nest. The eggs would be spoiled and have to be thrown
Well, this old hen persisted, we put nice fresh straw in the next, marked
fourteen eggs with blue carpenter’s chalk, and let the old hen crawl in. She’d
take her beak and her feet to push the straw around, making a little hollow in
the center, she arranged the eggs in it. Dropping gently down on them, they
would still not suit, so she’d poke her head around underneath herself, first on
one side, then the other until they felt exactly right. Then spreading each wing
out a little way from her body, she’d settle down for a long three weeks ahead
of her. She would leave her nest just long enough to eat and drink and maybe go
outside the hen house long enough to scratch around in the ground a bit. Always
get back on the nest before the eggs would get cold. If they were allowed to get
cold, they wouldn’t hatch.
When the little chickens began to appear, Ma (not me)
would take them out of the next, put them in a pasteboard box, tuck a cloth
lightly over them, take them in the house until all the eggs were hatched. If
she had left them in the nest, after the appearance of one or two chicks, old
mother hen would be so proud and anxious to show them to the world, she might
just leave her nest with them. Then the rest of the eggs would get cold and no
more little ones.
Pa had made several box structures to house the hen and
her tiny chicks. These looked like tiny houses, had a slanting roof over the
top, the back and sides and floor were built solidly, but the front had slats
across so the chicks could go in and out. Ma (not me, again) would carry the old
hen out and place her inside the little house then returning the baby chickens
to her, she’d start clucking and the little chicks would run to her crawling
underneath her feathers to keep warm. When the chickens were two or three days
old, we let the hen out of her house part time. After getting the hen and her
babies settled in their cozy little house, Ma told me to go clean out that nest,
dispose of the eggs that didn’t hatch and now were rotten, then put clean straw
in. I didn’t like this nasty job but went about it anyway. Soon finished
everything but disposing of the rotten eggs. Three of them. Ma had said, toss
them way back into the orchard and don’t make a mess around the hen house.
Gingerly, I pick up an egg, going just outside the door, closing my eyes, I gave
that egg the hardest underhand toss I could. The thing landed in the apple tree
right over my head, down it came PLOP, right at my feet. You’ll have to imagine
what happened next, for really I remember no more of the incident. I’ll bet
someone else finished my job.
Guess I forgot to explain why Ma put the mark of blue
chalk on her eggs under that old hen. Sometimes, another hen would decide they
wanted to lay their eggs in that nest. So every night, when you gathered in the
eggs, you had to lift that old settin hen up to check. If there was an egg with
no blue mark on it, you knew that one was freshly laid, so you’d take it out of
Modern incubators have been in use for a good many years, taking the place of my
old “Settin Hen”.
LIFE AT LOVELL’S
Arby’s bout with the bees, comes to mind right now, so I think I may as well
start with that. Pa was not at home. Time – summer. Place – supper table. All
six children seated in their proper places, Ma came to sit down, carrying a
large plate covered with fresh hot biscuits. Conversation started in this order,
Ma: Wish your pa was home, we would have honey for these biscuits.
Arby: I can get it for us.
Ma: I don’t want you to try it. You’ll get stung.
Arby: No, I won’t, I’ve watched Pa get it, and I really know how.
Ma: Well, go ahead, if you think you can, but get Pa’s hat with the veil. That
will protect your head and face at least.
Arby: I don’t need that! Pa never uses it! He just reaches inside the hive and
pulls out a block of honey. The bees never pay any attention to him, so why
would they bother me.
Off he goes with Ma and we five girls right behind him. Cocky Arby leads the
parade. Now, the bee hives were at the edge of the garden, probably twenty five
or thirty feet from the south side of our house.
Bold as brass, Arby squats down and reaches inside the hive and removed the
honey. Before he could even straighten up, those bees came out by the hundreds,
swarming all over his face, neck any place they could see a bare spot to light.
Arby started screaming at the top of his lungs, running as fast as his old long
legs could carry him. Past the house, past the granary, on down the hill he ran
to the horse tank, probably sixty or eighty yards from the hive. Tank was full
of water, so Arby quickly ducked his head in to rinse the bees off.
Now, I know this is no way to end a story. I’m sorry but I can remember no more.
I would like to know as well as you, how Arby was affected, whether anyone had
any supper, if they did, could they eat the honey, etc., etc. What do you expect
of me, this happened before my Dad died, so it had to be at least eighty four
Just thought of something! Suppose that was why Arby was bald at such an early
age. Wish I could remember what Pa said and if the bees drowned. Whole thing is
hilarious now but at the time a tragedy.
SYLVIA’S EASTER EGGS
I’ve told you earlier in this history, every farmer raised chickens back then.
This was a yearly custom in my family, at least. Don’t know whether or not other
people followed it, but we did.
Two or three weeks before Easter Sunday, whoever did the nightly chore of
gathering the eggs, would start snitching a few out each night and hiding them
somewhere. Keeping the place a deeply guarded secret. On Easter morning, they
would take a pail and get them, bringing them in for Ma to cook for our
breakfast. When I say “they”, I’m always referring to Mae, Arby, Sylvia, and
Grace. I’ve told you before, Pearl and I were the LITTLE girls. THEY wouldn’t
think of trusting us with such an important thing as hiding place of the Easter
This year Sylvia insisted on gathering the eggs and wouldn’t even tell the rest
of the THEY’S where the hiding place was.
Of course, every year my mother would pretend she didn’t know what was going on
but kept saying to my dad, she couldn’t understand why the hens were not laying
as many eggs as usual. They had been laying so well, but were dropping off so
suddenly. He’d go along with her and make believe he didn’t know either.
Usually, one or the other of them would know where the eggs were being hidden,
but this year, Sylvia kept her secret well.
Now, last fall before winter set in, my dad had made a frame about twelve or
fourteen inches wide around the horse tank, filling the space with straw. This
would keep the water in the tank from freezing. Sylvia decided in this straw,
she would have a splendid place to hide her Easter eggs.
Wonderful! No one would ever guess this one, they didn’t either. But one day,
the thing backfired on her. A few days before Easter, my father and Arby decided
to remove that banking from around the horse tank. Said the weather was getting
so mild, probably the water wouldn’t freeze very hard, just maybe a thin scum,
so they sat to work clearing the straw away.
Sylvia, who was watching out the north windows, suddenly began crying, so hard
my mother said she was actually sobbing. She finally stopped enough to tell my
mother, the Easter eggs were in there. Later, my dad told her if he had known he
would have left the straw in place until Easter morning. Ma sent Sylvia down
with a pail to bring her eggs up to the house. Remember Ma telling, Sylvia had
stashed away over one hundred eggs. No wonder she was heart broken and no wonder
Ma thought the hens were dropping off. Sylvia always thought so much of
tradition. Every little thing meant so much to her. Sylvia, very special to each
MYRTIE – THE MORON
When you finish this article, I know you will all agree that Moron is a very
fitting name for me and for once I would not argue. I can visualize this
happening as though it were yesterday. Winter time, the family all at the table
except me. I had been dancing all over the place, telling everyone how I could
hardly wait, I was so hungry. Ma’s supper looked so good but as I was about to
sit down Ma said “No one filled the water pitcher, Myrtie take it outside and
bring some fresh water in for supper”.
Filling the pitcher, I started to carry it inside, when suddenly I thought “Here
is my chance, no one will be coming out if I hurry. I’m going to see if this is
Someone had told me if you stuck your tongue on a piece of iron in the winter
time you couldn’t pull it loose. The whole top of your tongue would stick fast
to the iron. Deed and double, (as my Grandma Croy (Cory?) used to say), I knew
better than that, it just wasn’t true. Now, the pump handle was a nice clean bit
of iron so I quickly put my tongue down on that. Jerking back up, looking at the
pump handle, top of my tongue on it, I found it to be true.
Casually walking back into the house with my pitcher of water, I took my place
at the table. Refusing everything that came. My, the questions soon began to fly
and remarks like “I thought you were so hungry”, “this is so good, try it”, etc.
My mother saying “you just must eat something” when all I wanted to do was get
away from the whole bunch and cry. I could have screamed, it hurt so.
Soon after supper, Sylvia asked me to go down the garden path to the little
house. I said I’d go, she picked up the lantern to light our way and putting it
down by our feet while we sat, it also threw off a little heat to keep us warm.
Settling in for the duration, Sylvia said “Now, Myrtie, you tell me what
happened out at the pump to make you lose your appetite. “Promise me, Sylvia, if
I tell you, you won’t tell the others”. She promised and she never told until we
were back in the house, then she told the whole story. I can hear the laughter
yet. After Ma got through laughing, she fixed me some warm milk. I did manage
that. Now, I know it is true, but I had to prove it, didn’t I? Still like to get
to the bottom of everything.
November 15, 2013