THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
APRIL 1989, Volume 24, Number 5.
Submitted with written permission of current editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: GIERMAN, SEYBOLD, LOVELL, WELCH, PHILLIPS, BUCHNER, JOYNT, WILLIAMS,
BRANDSON, GOODRICH, PEABODY, SAYER, PETRIES, EVANS, SLOWINS, VanHOUTEN, BARY,
LaPORTE/LADOR, HOPKINS, DUNSMORE, WILSON, BRAKE
FRONT PAGE PHOTO of 1922 Ford Roadster: “Here facing up from 63 years ago is the
1922 Ford Roadster pictured at the front of the February Recollector. Maurice
and I are pictured here in the whittled down and slightly built up version of
that car that Charlie Gierman and Claude Williams fashioned for a vacation trip
to the Upper Peninsula and around Lake Michigan. With very limited funds they
managed to pay their fare on the ferry across the Straights of Mackinac and then
worry as to where the 25 cents gas was coming from. Twice they stopped for a few
days to work for farmers harvesting their fall crops. Somehow they made it
around through Chicago and home without getting their necks chopped off on that
no windshield piece of tin in front of them. I once drove it to Lansing—with no
driver’s license. Imagine trying that stunt today!
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD. Alfred Brandson, Loretta Goodrich Peabody and Edna Sayer,
who died February 16. Interestingly, her birth “twin” (Myrtie Lovell Welch) as
for date (both born July 5, 1890) died March 7, 1989. We have published Mrs.
Welch’s story of reminiscenses by installments. She wrote these when she was 94.
The remainder of the story will follow.
This winter has been one of travel for many of Sebewa for a touch of summer as a
break from winter. I was in Florida the last week in January, Ruth Seybold is
there with the Dale Petries; Wilbur and Marcella are visiting the George
Giermans and Galen and Bernie Phillips were in Mexico for two weeks. It used to
be that it was the Buchners and Mrs. Joynt who wintered in Florida.
INTERVIEW WITH FLOYD EVANS, continued ~ by Grayden Slowins
“10” - I used to cut thru here to avoid the dog at Raymond Kenyon’s. His boy,
Norman, was just a little kid when I was riding my bike to school. But he used
to sic the dog on me. He would stand out by the house and say “Get him!” to the
dog. The dog bit me a couple times. So I cut thru here and made it home just as
quick or quicker than by road.
Herb’s dad used to work that place of Mrs. Spencer’s on the north. There was a
pretty good swimming spot in the river about straight out from this new house.
On a hot summer day, Herb & I would take our dip in the river down there between
the two gullies. Strip our clothes off and jump in and cool off, then go back to
work again. Spencers got that farm from Highs, I think. The house on the lot out
of it were Vaughn & Janet Carter live was built by Fedewa, who lived where
George & Jan Livingston do, on the Turner place. He built it and sold it to
Vaughn. That was the George High farm, according to your old Plat Book, but his
older brother John lived there when I remember and George lived in the town of
Sebewa. Harry Gibson ran the grist mill and left it to start that orchard. He
bought the farm from Bill Turner or after Turner died. Gibson sold the farm to
Fedewa and then Fedewa built across the road.
Now we can walk down to the pond and around the back of Pat Laughlin’s house.
That pond wasn’t there when I used to pick my way thru here – it was just mucky
& wet. This path led to the house owned by Melvin Chapin, back on the creek at
the foot of Erdman Road. Chaplin lived on this side of the creek. Later he built
a bridge across from Erdman Road, first a swinging foot bridge. He forded the
creek at low water with his car. Later he had a better bridge. At one time there
was a second house back by Chapins, or maybe before his. There was a root cellar
in the hill too. On the south side of the creek, on what is now State land,
there is a big hill. We used to call it “The mountain” when we used to go over
there to play during noon-hour from school.
Here is where the old Derby house was. That Juniper was in the front yard. There
good wild blackberries here in summer. There is a little outbuilding foundation,
probably a chicken coop. Here is the house foundation, with another room that
joined corner to corner. Almost like a separate building, but they were joined.
Perhaps a woodshed. Over there is a well or cistern. And there we are, back to
the basement barn foundation.
I started school at the Sebewa “High” country school about 1915 or 1916. When
they called the roll, you answered by number not by name. My number was 36, I
was the last one called. It was a one-room school with a big old furnace in the
west end. The platform and entry were on the front or east end. The baseball
diamond was between the schoolhouse and the road. The road wasn’t as wide as it
is today. I don’t remember how many was the most that attended, but there were
11 or 12 in the 8th grade class when we graduated. My first teacher was Miss
Bell. I don’t know where she came from, but I believe she stayed at Spencers.
Don’t remember how long she was there. Then we had Miss Kiester, Fred Kiester’s
sister from Ionia. Then Don McCormack taught. He lived with his mother, Maude,
over on Musgrove and rode a horse to school. My last teacher was a woman named
Grieves from Ionia, sister to Russell Curtis’s wife. She stayed at Lindsley’s,
where Tena Rischow lived.
There is no-one around here now that was in school with. Cornelius was the
youngest of the Huizenga’s and he was older than me. That family was John, Fred,
Grace, Tom, and Cornie. Cornie and I roomed together at Doc. Benedict’s my first
year at Portland High School. Doc was Coach, too. There was a whole army up and
down these roads back Charlie Kenyon, the Bishops. Oh yes, Kenneth. Buster
Stemler is still around. His brother Herbert moved over to Sunfield, I guess. He
did live down at the end of Erdman Road, but sold out to his son last year.
Melborn Sandborn probably attended 1 or 2 years at this school. His folks,
Lon’s, had lived next-to-oldest son, Jake, who was down here. The old-timers
around here are about gone. Charlie Wheeler is the only one older than I am.
When I want to talk to the old-timers now, I just get in front of the mirror and
I was elected Supervisor in 1947. But I was Justice of the Peace 2 or 3 years
before that. (Note: Justices occupied the seats on the Township Board now filled
by the Trustees.) I’ve been Supervisor the longest of any Danby Township
Supervisor, and longer than anybody that’s Supervisor in Ionia County now (Ed
Nash started in 1951.) My first meeting of the old Board of Supervisors was in
1947, just after the Spring Elections. Carl Gierman, Supervisor of Sebewa, was
about the only one I knew, although I had heard of some of the others. His seat
was just a little way from where old John Alleman used to sit. (Charles McNeil
became Sebewa Supervisor in Spring of 1949.) Lloyd Burger of Lyons Township had
been Supervisor a long time. It was quite an experience for me, going up there
to that meeting. I didn’t know where to go or what to do or anything about it.
So Burger got me by the hand and took me over by the window and says “That’s
your seat there, that’s where John sat”. So that’s where I spent all the years I
was on the Board of Supervisors. Gierman was next after Rosevere in Sebewa, I
believe, then Charles McNeil. They haven’t changed Supervisors too many times in
Sebewa either. Then Evelyn has been on 11 years now – Boy! She does a good job
We had a lot of splits of parcels in the 1970’s when I was Assesor in Portland
City and Danby too. Just a lot of small parcels around the township here. Then
it slackened off a little. But now for the last couple years again there have
been really more splits. I just about get snowed under, this last summer
especially. You pick up the Deeds from the Equalization Office. Then you look at
your map and try to decide where the property is and where it’s out of. Then you
write up a description of it. Then type a card. Then type up a form that goes to
the computer. You have to change the old card too, and if they split it 3 or 4
ways, then you make 3 or 4 changes to the original card. I worked for Portland
City for about 4 years, and for Equalization for about 4 years before that. This
was after the Board of Supervisors was replaced by County Commissioners. Bernard
Ardis and I had been Supervisors together and knew each other pretty well. His
first day as Supervisor was the same as mine. When they started the Equalization
Department, he was hired by the Commissioners as Director. And of course that
was when they had Gem Survey come in and do the whole county. So he didn’t need
anybody for a year or two, until they got done. Then he found he needed some
help and wanted to know if I was interested in some part-time work. So the first
year I started in September and worked thru the winter until April. That kept
growing, and I was doing this out here in Danby too and trying to farm a little.
When I went to do Portland, I let Petrie start farming the land and he has ever
since. Harold Buck had been Assessor in Portland and I had worked with him when
I was at Equalization. Then he died and they had to have someone. I became 65
years old and the policy of the County Board of Commissioners was you wouldn’t
work for the County after age 65. Alyce Durak Mulder took over after me and
became full time. She had been Ionia Township Supervisor and was well qualified.
When my dad came here, part of the present house was here and part of this
shed—from this side of this door over to that door where the strap hinge latch
is –that was the barn. He built on the left end. Then I helped him build on the
part to the right to house the old Model-T truck when we got it. He bought this
place in two long 40’s. That log house was back in the woods on the west 40. The
well is still back there. The farm was owned by Holbrook Bros. and one lived
here and one back there in the woods in the log house.
Dad was quite a tinkerer, fixing farm equipment, plow points, putting a cold
shut in a log chain, etc., and he needed a place to tinker. Also he needed a
grain bin. The log building set on skids back in the woods. So in the winter
when snow was on the ground, he hooked onto it and skidded it up here. He put
stones under the skids. Later the skids got rotten and he & I jacked it up and
put it on stones again. It set up there quite good for a lot of years. Then a
few years ago, it got to moving in the Spring and slid off the stones. I just
left it. There are some antique irons hanging on it. One thing I would like to
get out is one of those old Terriff Perfect Washer Machines made in Portland of
I remember Ab Way, who lived where your folks bought the farm. I believe I would
recognize him if he came walking in the driveway right now. And his brother,
Myron Way, who lived where Vanderveen was later. He was a nice, quiet,
easy-going fellow, but his neighbor shot him thru the bedroom window. Came down
the road on crutches carrying a shotgun to do it. That’s how they tracked him
Another old guy over in that neck of the woods was Ed Rowe. He farmed a lot of
land, a hard worker. First guy to have a two-row cultivator with horses. You’d
see him on the road with it. His wife came to town to shop, but he very seldom
came with her. She did all the shopping, bought all the repairs and hardware,
Josephine (Josie) was her name. He was a working guy, but he got tired of
working and hung himself in a tree back in the lane, he & his dog. Tied the
horses to the fence.
One last project I would like to see competed before I retire is blacktopping
those south two miles of Keefer Hwy. It would cost $100,000 per mile and neither
of us could pay the whole shot on our mile. But we could pay more than the
one-eight share townships have paid in the past. You and I are about the only
ones left on the Boards who remember the deal when we did the north four miles.
When we are gone, it may never get done. We need to go after the country jointly
and get the job done. END
FROM OUR FAMILY HISTORIAN, JANICE E. WILLIAMS OF PRAIRIE VILLAGE, KANSAS. My
roots all started in Ionia County on both sides of my family. My great
grandmother Mary Anette Bary was born in Orange township in April, 1859. Her
parents were John Bary and Olive LaPorte or Ladore. Olive’s mother died in Ionia
on a visit from Sebewa. She was Eliza Rubore Lador. One of her sons, Francis
Lador died in Sebewa. On my mother’s side, Alice Marie Hopkins was born in Palo
to Charles Albert Hopkins and Anne Dunsmore Hopkins. My daughters’ father, Gary
Neff as also his mother, Lillian, were both born in Sebewa. She was the daughter
of Oren B. Reeder and her mother was Sarah Louise. My roots are deep there.
ANOTHER IN A SIMILAR LIGHT. 2-11-89. Dear Grayden and Anne Slowins: Have I ever
written to thank you for the information on Riley Wilson and Sebewa Township? My
father, Max, was born there before the family moved to Ionia where Riley was
sheriff. He is remembered for cleaning out the Red Light District down by the
railroad tracks. I never knew either of my paternal grandparents although I have
pictures of them. Love, Jane Brake.