THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
JUNE 1989, Volume 24, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of current
editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: LOVELL, WELCH, BENSCHOTER, KLOPFENSTEIN, WILLIAMS, DOWNING,
PIERCEFIELD, SNYDER, SHUMWAY, HUNT, COE, PATTERSON, ELLIOT, WELLS, CROSS,
PHILLIPS, SLOWINS, NASH
Pictured here (photo on first page of current issue) is the Sebewa Center
Methodist Church where for 23 years past the Annual Meetings of the Sebewa
Center Association have been held. Previous to that the annual school reunions
since 1923. The picture here was taken by Clarence Sayer with his glass negative
camera soon after the church was built in 1891. Located at the intersection of
Bippley and Shilton roads we shall have our Annual Meeting there on May 29, 1989
with a potluck supper at 6:30 P.M., followed by a short business meeting and
then the Amish program by G. VanderMark and wife of Belding. They have become
well acquainted with the Amish community north of Greenville and give an
interesting account of their religion and way of life. They show a collection of
clothing, toys, books and such things. If you don’t like pot lucks, just come a
bit later for the program. The VanderMarks have given their program in both
Ionia and Lake Odessa and were very well received at both places. Everybody is
welcome to attend. Bippley Road runs east and west four miles north of Sunfield
and Shilton intersects both Clarksville Road and Musgrove Highway one mile west
of the Sunfield Road…
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD: Myrtie Welch, Don A. Benschoter, Glendull C. Klopfenstein
and Mamie Williams Downing. So far as I could see it was Allen Cross and I who
were the only ones attending Mamie’s funeral who had also been her pupils when
she taught the Sebewa Center School the year of 1918-19. Glendull Klopfenstein
was married to Bernice Shumway, our Sebewa Center teacher from 1934 to 1936.
Wilma Hunt Coe is now the oldest surviving teacher of our school. She taught
from 1920 to 1923. Wilma is now at the Ionia Manor.
THE WEST SEBEWA COUNTRY STORE is open and displays the welcome sign. At the time
of her death, Mrs. Letha Patterson turned over the operation of the store to her
son-in-law. He kept it running for a year or two when he went to a convalescent
home in Coldwater. Soon the Robert Elliot family took it over and have been
running it since. The WEST SEBEWA INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS was the
builders of that building and they dedicated it December 6, 1910. The first
floor of the building has always been used as a country store. From 1914 to 1917
the store was rented to W. R. Wells for $160 per year.
ALLEN CROSS spent one day at Pennock Hospital for a hernia operation, one day
because that is the time allowed by Medicare for paying for that operation. He
will go back soon for stitch removal. His neighbor, Mrs. Galen (Bernie) Phillips
is in a Lansing hospital suffering from a leg aneurysm.
SERMON FOR FUNERAL FOR MAMIE DOWNING by John Piercefield (her grandson)
Psalm 46:1-11. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall
into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains
quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of
God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not
fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of
Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations He
has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he
breaks the bows and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. ‘Be
still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be
exalted in the earth’. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our
Psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
We do not always see things the way God sees things---through our eyes Death is
never a precious thing but to God who sees everything as it stands in eternal
order, death is a passageway to life eternal. Let’s look through our eyes first.
The time was 1858, as Adolph and Barbara Schaupp, brother and sister, left
Germany to come to America. They settled in Saginaw County where Barbara met
Fred Sindlinger and moved to Sebewa Township. Theresa, born in 1874, was one of
two girls born to Fred and Barbara. In 1898, Tracy married Lewis Williams in a
double ring ceremony with Ralph Friend and Lucy Halladay. Mamie Lucille was born
on February 22, 1900, the third generation in Sebewa.
Her life had begun at one of the most dynamic periods in American history, the
beginning of the 20th Century. Medicine had recently discovered immunizations
for typhoid, leprosy, tuberculosis, malayria, and the plague. Ten million
bicycles were the rage; and the automobile and airplane were still dreams and
drawings for the most part.
The Panama Canal was being purchased and built as America followed Teddy
Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy through the Spanish-American War and on to China
with the Open Door policy on trade and overseas expansion. While Mamie was
growing up in Sebewa, America was growing up in the world.
Mamie’s father died when she was 11 months old and for seven years she learned
to help her mother, milking the cows and learning to sew. She wasn’t so sure she
was all that helpful but her mother was patient. It was these early years filled
with love and trials that developed in Mamie her near endless patience and
contentment. Her ability to remain unruffled yet caring, despite the
circumstances, is a monument that will never be erected but will never be
On March 4, 1908, Tracy married George Snyder, a widower with two boys, Clifton
and Max. To Tracy and George were born three boys and one girl: Don, Dale,
Dorothy and Leon.
The time was 1910. A women’s rights movement was in its infancy, Teddy Roosevelt
was out and William Taft was in. The 16th Amendment was passed authorizing the
levy and collection of taxes on income. To show how times have changed, people
were standing in lines for the opportunity to pay their taxes – cheerfully. The
Federal Farm Loan Act authorized funds and accepted agricultural land as loan
collateral which helped farms grow but put them in debt.
It was at this time, at the early age of 10 that Mamie’s house burned, and they
escaped with very little but the clothes on their backs. Out of necessity, Mamie
was learning to work hard, save money and stay out of debt. These principles of
productivity, thrift, and living within your means would become the trademarks
of her life.
The heroes in those days were local and real. Neighbors would get together and
play Flinch, many books were read, and a vacation was when another family would
come over and spend the night because the travel was so far. Mamie’s earliest
memories begin at this time of horsepower, hard work, and happiness. She was
learning one of the most difficult lessons in life, being content with the
simple pleasures of life. She developed character with callouses, patience with
contentment, and grace through giving her all to the task at hand.
It was 1917, Mamie had met Homer Downing and graduated from Sunfield High
School. She went to work cleaning at Petrie’s for $3/week. She went on to
Central Michigan College, receiving her teaching certification and began
teaching at Sebewa Center School. Homer asked her out soon after.
They were married on June 7, 1919, in Ionia and returned home the next day to do
chores. World War I had ended, women had won the right to vote, and radio
broadcasting grew from a single station in 1920 to 500 by 1924. Americans
everywhere were now able to listen almost immediately to events far away. The
world was becoming smaller in many ways.
Automobiles were replacing horses on the streets and tractors in the fields. The
heroes were Babe Ruth, Charles Lindburgh and Henry Ford. Homer and Mamie were to
spend the next 64 years together before his death on February 14, 1984. They had
three children, one who died at birth and a son and daughter. Bruce and Cleo
became the fourth generation in Sebewa. Community picnics and plays were their
social life. Their life was touched with the Great Depression, the aftermath of
two World Wars and many economic recessions, but through it all their bond one
to another not only stood the test of time but flourished.
The time was 1965, I was 10 years old; the threat of Soviet Nuclear missiles in
the Western Hemisphere became evident in the Cuban Missile Crisis as the Cold
War went into a deepfreeze. Michigan was solidly entrenched as the car capital
of the world, as car manufacturing was on a roll. Many left the farms beginning
work for the car companies and its associated industries.
Television, that invention that would not last, was sweeping the country
as we tuned into the Ed Sullivan Show, Bonanza and I Love Lucy for relaxation
and entertainment. Our heroes were John Wayne, Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy
and G I Joe, all bigger than life and the music on the radio air waves was not
hymns or polkas. It was called rock & roll. Leading the British invasion of
music were the Beatles, the Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones. The Civil Rights
Movement was underway after years of struggle and discontent was evidenced in
the cities on the campus and the workplace. Drugs such as marijuana, LSD, and
speed were sold to the youth as a mark of rebellion and independence.
It was in this dynamic time in history that my earliest memories begin. We would
learn at Travis School and from the media all the happenings in the world but
when we left school and walked home to Grandma’s house her world became our
world. We evidenced the patience, the caring and the tremendous energy she
expended on her husband, her house, and her grandchildren. My life was not
filled with discontent but with a living understanding of peaceful contentment.
Life became a dichotomy with the viewing of discord in America on tv but the
living of harmony in Sebewa.
We seldom discussed world or national problems but we always discussed the
details of our day, sharing wisdom lived out in their years. I remember learning
to eat shredded wheat, drinking Vernors ginger ale and cleaning my plate at
dinner with a slice of bread. All these things learned respect and consideration
realizing that as a youth I did not have all the answers to life, but with my
grandparents I knew where to get many of them.
Mamie was a woman of grace with that ability to live and experience the dynamic
changing times and yet remain unassuming, somehow untouched by the turmoil that
may be around her. She was never discouraged or downhearted. She was not a
seeker or a dreamer of some better world but she was always seeking to please
living her dreams. She was always prepared for whatever came, ready ½ hour
early, listening rather than talking, watching rather than sleeping. Her love
for fishing and bowling probably illustrates it best. She would rise early with
her cane pole and straw hat and fish till nightfall if necessary. If they caught
fish they would eat them for supper, if not, something else was fixed and they
would go again tomorrow, never giving up. And her bowling continued until she
was 88, consistent regular practice and enjoying every minute of it.
She never ran for public office or held powerful positions in society, but her
grace and patience and duty was the real strength of America. Among all of
America’s military, geographic, political and economic achievements none will
stand out in my mind greater that her life and the principles she lived by.
There is always the sorrow we feel at the death of a loved one but with Mamie
even her death is a victory. She had sins and to walk in the newness of life
knowing she had through obedience to God gained the greatest victory of all –
LIFE OVER DEATH –Even in her death she was prepared to meet with God not as
Judge but as Lord and Savior. It is to this entrance into eternal life that we
now bid our farewell. Your lessons of life will never be forgotten……
John 14:1-2. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in
me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told
you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
INTERVIEW WITH EDWIN NASH by Grayden Slowins
This is Edwin Nash. I was born May 16, 1907, son of Ernest Nash & Lynn Weston
Nash. Mother was originally from Grand Rapids. Dad was born on this farm, at NW
¼ Sec. 10 Campbell, and so was I, but I wasn’t born in this house. This house
burned, the old house burned, the winter before I was born. I was born in that
house right over there next north. That house was built quickly and cheaply and
I was born there. They must have put it up early in 1907, because I was born in
May. Later it became a tenant house for the farm help.
The old house burned right in the middle of the winter, in January. They lived
for a time, I think, over Charlie Marvin’s Hardware Store. A lot of things they
didn’t get out of the house. They didn’t get their clothing out. They got some
dining room furniture out – that china cabinet was one thing, and the dishes in
it. I guess they got all that out, and even the living room things. But they
lost all their clothing except what they had on. Evidently they couldn’t get
into the bedroom.
At that time the Benedicts worked the farm. There was another house right back
here to the south-west behind this one, where they lived. Mother got the canary
out and took it to their house. It was right in the dead of winter and deep snow
and colder than the dickens, I guess. That’s why it burned. Everything was
fueled with wood stoves and one got overheated. It was a big house, on this same
foundation, just that extension to the north on the living room is extra and the
bathroom. So, practically the same size. Most of the old wall was re-used. You
can see it in the basement.
This is a photo of the old house. Same shape, only the bay window was moved from
the front room to the dining room. The old house was about the same shape, but
it had a different roof – gable type now instead of the old hip roof. You can
stand up in the attic of the front part now. It was big. I don’t know when that
old one was built. It must have been here quite a while before it burned. These
trees are here yet from the old house.
My grandfather, Edwin Nash Sr., and grandmother, and my father’s sister, Aunt
Emma, are in that photo of the old house. Also Emma Headworth is there, the
woman your mother (Crystal Brake) roomed with when she came to High School. She
and her sister, Mable, drove a Shetland pony (Lady) on a basket-type cart to
High School from the country in good weather and tied it in our barn. There used
to be a horse barn here in front where that workshop is now. That’s how all the
country kids got to High School, and on bad nights they stayed over. Your mother
may also have stayed with a doctor’s widow (Gaylord Laughlin’s mother, I think).
Headworths lived on Ferney Street here in town, where Esta Slater Stuart Kole
lives now. Emma was a good friend of our family. Her father was Georgie
Richardson and he had worked this farm at one time. He lived across the section
in SW ¼ Sec. 11. He was quite a character, an old Scotsman. Used to dress up in
his kilts for special occasions.
Grandfather was born in Schenectedy, New York, and later the family moved to
Lapeer, Michigan. We still have relatives there, but I never went to visit them.
He didn’t farm for long, I don’t think. He found out there was more money in
lending money! Grandfather was fortunate. He came in here and was farming during
the Civil War and made some money then. After the War he opened the Bank when
the town started. Of course he cleared the land, he and his father and brothers.
Great-grandfather was Amasa Nash and he lived right here and had four grown sons
when he came here.
Campbell was part of Boston Township until 1849, a good 10 years after Sebewa
and some of the other Townships were organized on their own, even tho the
Campbell family came in 1840. Amasa Nash and his sons: Calvin, Marcus, Edwin,
and Charles, came here in 1847. Also William Mercer, who became the first
Supervisor and was grandfather to Thaddeus Mercer, who in turn was grandfather
to Margaret (Mrs. Ron) Story. Thad Mercer lived just over the townline into
Boston Township on Darby Road – some of what Larry Behrenwald owns now, on the
west end of Morrison Lake at SW ½ Sec. 35 Boston. But the original buildings
were out on Darby Road.
Amasa Nash was the first Township Treasurer. The Township was named after the
first family, the Campbells, who later moved to California in the gold rush and
have no descendants left here. But the village was named after Clark L. Howard,
who built a General Store and Post Office in 1875, just in time for the
railroad. Then Grandfather and the McCormacks and Ferneys platted the corners of
their farm to start the village. Trowbridge was in on it, too. He was a
stonemason and builder, I think. Alva McCormack was the pioneer of that family.
He had two sons, Chauncey and Fay, and a daughter, Carolyn, who married Otis
Ackerson, and that’s how it comes down to Maynard Ackerson and family. Margaret
Ackerson Rush, who was in your mother’s class, was Otis’ daughter.
Charles Nash was the father of Alien (Allie) Nash. He lived right south of here
on N ½ Sec. 10 and Allie did too. So Allie and my dad, Ernest, were first
cousins. June (Mrs. Gardner) Compton is Allie’s daughter and second cousin to
me. Charles Nash Jr. was a brother to Allie and father of Warner Nash, another
second cousin to me.
Calvin Nash was the father of Orvin and grandfather of my second cousins, Calvin
Nash Jr. and Fay Nash. Calvin and Orvin lived on the land that surrounds the
cemetery. The buildings are east on the side road. It’s N ½ NE ¼ Sec. 15 and
later was owned by Charles Nash Jr.
Marcus Nash lived just east of town on Darby Road, at W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 11. There’s
no-one left of that family. One of them went up by Lapeer, I think. An old bum
called Peg-leg Nash, I think his name was Frank, lived on that Marcus Nash place
when I was a boy. Must have been his son, and a first cousin to my dad. The old
house was still there then.
I started school in an old building behind the present building. Here’s a school
picture when I was in Kindergarten, wearing an Indian costume out in front of
the old building. I remember when this one was built. It was built about 1916.
My dad worked hard to promote building it and I think they had to borrow
$20,000. It’s on a lot platted out of our land. Before that they had only 10
grades. I think the first class graduated in 1902, but only from 10th grade.
Mable Brake may have been in the first class of 12 grades, about 1918. There was
also a private school called Transue Academy. My mother went to that. They sent
my dad to Detroit to High School. I think that’s why he worked so hard to get
one here. It wasn’t very popular and that $20,000 bond issue was a lot of money.
It was only one district, District #2, the size of a country school district.
Just the farms and this little village. Batchelors were on the Schoville farm
north of town and fought the bond issue. But they wanted the big drain cleaned
out and the two issues kind of get tied together.
I graduated from High School in 1925. Your mother was 3 or 4 years older,
graduated in 1921, I think. Her brother, John Brake, Jr., was in my class and
their cousin, Burdette Livingston, was too. Burdette’s second wife, Alice
Preston Jackson, was a year behind us and Don Braendle was a year ahead.
Grandfather had these rooms on the north front of the house that are the living
room and music room now. The fireplace was his heating stove. They had heated
the old house with stoves and he didn’t like the new furnace. He died in 1909.
Dad was married twice – his first wife had sugar diabetes and no kids. My mother
was younger than him, but he wasn’t an old man when he died in 1923. To Be