THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
AUGUST 1989, Volume 25, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of current
editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: WALKINGTON, HAGER, SANDBORN, NASH, SLOWINS
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD include the names of Verl Walkington, Merton Hager and
HOW ONCE IT WAS!
1st ANNUAL COMMENCEMENT – Districts No. 4 and 7. Sebewa - Sebewa Center and
Johnson – SEBEWA CENTER CHURCH – Tuesday Evening, June 12, 1894.
CLASS MOTTO – We climb the ladder round by round
TEACHERS: S. F. Deatsman, Dist. No. 4
Miss Hattie Olry, Dist. No. 7.
CLASS OF ’94.
Graduates Dist. No. 4: Gladys M. Olry, Rhoda M. Deatsman, Nellie E. Meyers, Ada
B. Luscher, Clare Murphy.
Graduates Dist. No. 7: Carrie B. Daniels, Ella P. Deal, Jessie M. Baldwin, Sam’l
L. Kauffman, Fred C. Sindlinger
Prayer – Rev. No E. Gibbs
Music - Give the Passing Hours to Pleasure – Quartette
Salutatory, Welcome, Thrice Welcome – Carrie B. Daniels
Recitation – The Boys of Our Country – Beach Estep
Essay – Biography of Lincoln – Clare Murphy
Solo – Bertella Bradley
Essay – One Step Higher – Ella P. Deal
Recitation – After Examination – Mary E. Green
Essay – Evils of Ignorance – Rhoda M. Deatsman
Mouth Organ Solo – Hugh Showerman
Essay – Biography of Napoleon – Fred. C. Sindlinger
Recitation – Being a Boy – George Gierman
Essay – Pleasures of Knowledge – Ada B. Luscher
Music – Adieu, Adieu, My Mountain Home – Quartette
Essay – Citizenship and Education – Samuel L. Kauffman
Recitation – John Maynard – Barret E. Armour
Essay – Choice of a Profession – Nellie E. Meyers
Music – Quartette – Deatsman Brothers
Essay – We Climb the Ladder Round by Round – Jessie M. Baldwin
Recitation – A Chicken Quarrel – Orvil E. Brown
Solo – Blanche Townsend
Recitation – Little Golden Hair – Winnie Estep
Valedictory – Yesterday and To-Day – Gladys M. Olry
Duet – Misses Bradley and Sindlinger
Presentation of Diplomas – S. F. Deatsman, Miss Hattie Olry
Music – Good Night – Quartette
Organist – Mrs. S. F. Deatsman
BACCALAUREATE ADDRESS – Sunday, June 3d, at 2:30 P.M. – Rev. N. E. Gibbs.
THE SESSIONS SCHOOLHOUSE, built in 1849 on Riverside Drive three miles west of
Ionia, will have to wait, at least until September, for the dedication of its
restoration. We have the duplicate of the bronze metal marker placed on the
building by the D. A. R. in the 1918 restoration. The original was soon stolen
and never replaced.
Mrs. Berta Brock provided the D. A. R. spirit to get the Ionia County Board of
Supervisors to make the 1918 restoration. The D. A. R. was so wounded by the
theft of the marker that nothing further was ever done to keep that historic
It was closed as a schoolhouse in 1898 when the brick schoolhouse across the
road was built. In the year of 1907 the farm, including the schoolhouse was
purchased for the location of the Ionia County “poor farm”. Sometime in that
period a large opening was made on the south side of the building to make it
usable as a sheep shed. The 1918 restoration filled that opening.
Once it had lath and plaster on the walls. The new door is yet to be made and
put in place. Watch the local papers for notice of the time and details of the
new restoration dedication.
VERL IRENE WALKINGTON – FUNERAL SERMON by John Piercefield
Verl Irene Walkington was born May 25, 1910, passing away on May 18, 1989, at
the age of 78. It is for this reason we are here today paying our last respects.
Psalm 103: 2 – Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. John
14:1-4 – “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 here to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You
know the way to the place where I am going.”
Opening prayer was by David Flagel.
Mary Liverton married Louis Sage in 1871 and born to this union were 3 sons,
Alonso, Samuel, and Louis. Father Louis Sage died in 1874 and Mary Liverton,
with three young sons, married and became Mary Anderson. Young Louis grew up,
married Iva Mae Clark and took care of his mother and step father as they lived
on a farm outside Winn, MI. Born to Louis and Iva were 2 daughters, Verl &
Lucille. It was growing up on a family farm that taught the principles of hard
work, personal integrity and patient persistence. Verl Sage graduated from Mt.
Pleasant H. S. and began taking courses at Saginaw Business College. It was
about Nov. 1930, at a local dance in Winn that a young man caught her eye and
she his. He was a local boy and she a local girl but until now they hadn’t
noticed each other.
They danced, dated & fell in love. On Aug. 22, 1931 Verl Sage became Mrs. Ora
Walkington. The newlyweds moved early in 1932 to their present farm & home on
1711 Goodemoote Rd. Later that spring of ’32, Ora came down with blood poisoning
while fixing a fence row. The plowing needed finishing, the team of horses were
waiting and Verl took the reigns. She finished plowing and began fitting the
field for planting as well as caring for Ora. Verl seemed always able to meet
the needs of the situation and quietly control them towards the desired goal.
She was not afraid of work—hard work—farming like many other vocations in the
1930’s was tough. By 1929, with the stock market collapse, and banking crisis,
there was also an ongoing crisis in agriculture in the US that was started after
WWI. Many Europeans were returning to their farms & the demand & prices for
American grains had fallen by some 30%. “American farmers had overexpanded
acreage under cultivation during the war years, bringing marginal land into
production, so as prices fell, farmers had to produce more to meet their
But hard work and farming have gone hand in hand for years, since prices were
depressed, trading commodities (eggs, grain, vegetables, for sugar, coffee,
fruits and seeds), became the way of business in the rural communities. The
times were hard but the people were enduring. It was that enduring, persistent
quality of commitment that was so much of Verl’s life. These qualities were what
enabled Verl to be the faithful, loving wife and eventually mother of six
1.”Generations of Americans”. P. 642-643.
At the end of 1935, Verl was expecting the birth of their first child. She was
afraid that the child would freeze to death in their present home which was a
converted granary. Ora consoled her and promised a house by fall. Their present
house was started in July and finished Cot. 1936 before Loren, their first son
was born. They built their life and farm together during some of the hardest
economic times in our country’s history. Verl and Ora, as many others, survived
by being committed to each other and to their common goals. That commitment was
lived out for nearly 58 years.
Verl could be both a leader & a follower. Her seemingly endless energy, with her
commitment to quality, enabled her to be a leader in the local PTA, the West
Sebewa Community Club, Farm Bureau or Orange Thimble Club. She became a leader
by her example, her enthusiasm and her ability to always be in control of the
situation at hand. She was always busy, an organized busy, not like some of us
who are busy all the time and never get things done. Stopping into her house she
would offer you coffee & a piece of pie or cinnamon roll while she had bread
baking in the oven, dough rising on the counter, dinner on the stove, and as she
sat and talked she would be crocheting, or mending. Somehow, she always seemed
to get things done on time almost as if having more hours in a day than the
She was a good leader because she taught not only how to work but how to enjoy
working. With a husband and six children to feed, especially on the farm, there
was always laundry, baking (7 loaves of bread every other day), canning, fixing
the meals but Verl also had time for gardening & her flowers (glads & iris’s)
and her chickens. There was pride in her work and it was evidenced by the
grocery money earned from her egg sales and by the care of her flowers,
beautiful flowers, everywhere. Around the house, in the yard, the barn, granary
& out buildings. It was her message to her community that she enjoyed living
life and the beauty that God provides in nature, she would nuture and share. The
back-breaking work was overshadowed by her commitment to enjoy the work placed
before her and to do it well.
These characteristics also made her a good follower. Devoted to being the best
wife, mother & eventually grandmother of 23, great-grandmother of 12, she
hand-made gifts for presents, the knitting & crocheting & quilt making yielded
gifts that were more than money, they were from the heart. Good followers are
devoted- despite the circumstances or the task & Verl was devoted to her husband
& her family. Good followers do not have to have the spotlight and are often
overlooked but can be found as the support and foundation for several other
lives and events. A typical Sunday may begin with Verl playing a favorite hymn
on the piano and one by one of the children would file down the stairs and
eventually gather around and sing along. Good followers focus on others, rather
than themselves. Verl’s focus was on her family. There was no room for
selfishness and there was no room for waste – whether food, money, cloth or
time. She would save the last cup of soup or make mash bags into sheets, then
cut into hand towels – nothing went to waste but at the same notion, if anyone,
family, friend or stranger, needed what she had saved, she would gladly give it
and more. There always seemed enough.
There is a story of one sunny day that Verl and some of the children picked a
manure spreader full of sweet corn. Ora saw the task and declared they would
never get that much sweet corn canned in one day. Verl stated they could and
they would settle the matter at suppertime. Verl and the children worked
feverishly but as supper drew near, they could see no end in sight. At
suppertime, Ora was amazed that the job was complete with all the quart jars of
corn in the kitchen. Little did he know that for one of the few times, if not
the only time, Verl had wasted anything. She carted the uncleaned sweet corn and
dumped it in the ditch across the road, then parked the spreader where it was
Verl & Ora enjoyed their friends and neighbors, in fact they even played match
maker to some. As the story goes, a new school teacher had began teaching at
Kilmartin school about 1950 which schooled five of the six Walkington children.
The schoolmarm was in need of a place to stay and was invited to the Walkington
house. She lived in an upstairs room & while watching out the window one day,
she spied a young man in the field across the way hunting & she wanted to go
hunting. Ora informed the young man of the school teacher’s interest in hunting,
they were introduced, and they got along pretty good. Eventually, they got along
so good that young man asked the schoolteacher to marry him and they became good
friends and neighbors to Verl and Ora ever since, as Richard and Marion
Goodemoote. Friendships in this community go back far as generations build upon
the previous foundation. In close communities, time can build monuments to
friendships or barriers of mistrust. Verl built monuments to her friends &
neighbors with her genuine caring and generosity.
Verl was interested in her past – it may have been sparked by an assignment
Bonnie had in school but, she wrote letters and gathered information on the
Walkingtons & the Sage families. Her genealogy information traces the
Walkingtons back to England and it was her interest that influenced my
grandparents, Homer & Mamie Downing to do the same and now my sister Lori, has
been sparked – who knows how many others. But Verl also made time to follow
local events and people. She accumulated files on literally hundreds of families
from newspaper clippings & public announcements, complete with cross references
for marriages, births & deaths.
Later in their lives, Ora & Verl were traveling more to Niagara Falls or
Florida, even Hawaii, but upon every leaving Verl would fee bad leaving family
behind as there was work to be done. Verl and many people here today are the
last of the generation where thrift meant more than possessions, where devotion
to husband & family meant more than personal interests, and where love, loyalty
and hard work were things families shared together, rather than self-seeking,
short-lived personal freedoms to do your own thing.
If we learn and remember nothing else from the life of Verl Walkington, let us
learn the true meaning of commitment to others, backed by love and labor, no
matter what the costs. Death is seldom timely, convenient or anticipated, but
all of us will pass through death to either eternal life or eternal separation
from God. The preparation is up to us.
Let us strive to say with the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8---“For I am now
ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is lad up
for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will
award to me on that day---and not only to me, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing.”
This poem was written by Great-Grandma Mabel Walkington to Cynthia, and was read
at Mabel’s funeral:
“When the golden sun is setting, And your life from care is free.
When of others you are thinking, Will you sometimes think of me?”
Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great-grandmother, neighbor, friend or relative
such as Verl will not be forgotten, but remembered by her influence, her life.
Psalm 62:1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12---“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation
comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will
never be shaken. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. My
salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in
Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is my refuge.”
GRAVESIDE: Psalm 103:13-19; 104:1-5---“As a father has compassion on his
children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we
are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the
Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their
children’s children---with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His
precepts. The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules
over all…O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothes with splendor and
majesty. He wraps Himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the
heavens like a tent and lays the beams of His upper chambers on their waters. He
makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds
His messengers, flames of fire His servants. He set the earth on its
foundations; it can never be moved.”
It is never easy to say goodbye but we know there is a better resting place. We
will all leave this world by way of death or until the Lord comes and we can
take nothing with us. What we leave behind will be shared with others, what we
share with others are our memories. They can never by taken from us.
“When the golden sun is setting, And your life from care is free.
When of others you are thinking, Will you sometimes think of me.”
Verl, the memories you’ve given us will be remembered and never forgotten.
EDWIN NASH INTERVIEW by Grayden Slowins
Charlie Benedict came here to work for grandfather and continued for Dad and
then for Mother when she was widowed. Grandfather and Dad and Mother all worked
in the bank and she continued to do so. When Charlie, an old lumberjack, died,
his son Frank kept the farm going. Then when he quit, I took over.
Grandfather married a Markham girl, whose family lived where my son, Jim, does
now at S ½ S ½ Sec. 10. I bought it of Allie’s estate from Oren, his son, who
wasn’t a farmer. He lived in Grand Rapids and sold lumber. He was a brother to
June. Gardner Compton bought the west 40 from Lenhard, who got it from the
Markham estate. Dad had one sister, Emma (Mrs. Arthur) Stevenson, whose family
owned the department store in Ionia. Later she lived with her daughter in St.
Croix, Wisconsin. I had one sister, Adelia (Mrs. Leo) McAlary of Ionia.
After High School I had gone to work across the road at the elevator, except for
one year when I was laid up with TB. Bed rest was the main cure. They collapsed
the lung to rest it.
I had worked in the office at the elevator. They sold it to the Farmers
Cooperative and they burned out and later sold to Roy Smith of Caledonia and he
sold to Carlton H. Runciman of Lowell. Norm Stewart ran it for Roy Smith and I
worked for him too. He married my mother and died about a year later right here
in this house. He was the father of Lester Stewart, Esta’s husband.
My wife was Marion Pardee from a pioneer family in Bowne Township, just over the
line in Kent County. We were ready to get married about 1928-29, but the
Depression hit and we waited almost 8 years. We got married in 1936 and moved
right in here. Mother had rooms here, just as Grandfather had with her and Dad.
Dad died when I was 15 and she kept on working in the bank. It was called the
Edwin Nash State Bank and the old checks had a photo of these barns and house –
even into the 1960’s when they merged.
I have emphysemia now and dust has always been a problem for me. First it was
the threshing crews. Allie Nash had a threshing rig and did ours. Later we had
our own threshing machine, but didn’t do much custom work. For many years we
used chopped hay. It was a mess to put up and worse yet to feed. It was handy if
you could put it down right where you needed to feed it. We had dairy cows back
then and milked until Jim came in with me. Now we raise beef cattle.
Jim went to college four and a half years. He went 2 years to Grand Rapids
Junior College and had lots of credits, but Michigan State wouldn’t accept all
of them toward his degree in Crop Science, so he had to go an extra term beyond
his 2 years at MSU. Jim has one child, a boy Sam, who is 5 years old and just
started school. None of his grandparents are very big, nor his parents either,
so he isn’t very big. Jim’s wife, Pam, was Sam Bustance’s daughter. Her sister
Nancy is the wife of Larry Patrick, Campbell Township Clerk.
My daughter, Mary, used to work for Kathleen Maloney in the County Treasurer’s
office. She married Russell Foster, a minister in the Fundamentalist Bible
Church. They lived in Nebraska for 9 years, but are back in Michigan now. They
have 3 sons and 2 daughters. One granddaughter has a child and the other is
expecting; so we will soon have two great-grandchildren. Marion plays the piano
and cello and used to give lessons and played in Verdier Joslin’s string trio in
I first go on the Township Board in 1951 as Supervisor. I was appointed to fill
out Lou Todd’s term, think it was in November, 1951. Those on the County Board
of Supervisors at that time or soon after were: McGinn, North Plains; Sam
Detmers, Keene; Alex Sibley, Easton; Frank Stout, Ionia; Lloyd Gibbs, Orange;
John Avery, Portland; myself, Campbell; Gerald Williams, Odessa; Charles McNeil,
Sebewa; Floyd Evans, Danby; Bernard Ardis, Fred Keister, Frank Sharp, and one
more from the City of Ionia; and a couple from City of Belding.
Portland was not a city at that time, so didn’t have it’s own Supervisor. Fred
Keister used to photo the entire Board once a year or at least every two years.
It was a good historical record, but the later editors just photo the Chairman,
Vice-chairman, and Clerk.
Over the years there have been a lot of changes. I was on the Building Committee
when we built the second jail. The old jail had been let go bad. They had half
the money for a new jail and bonded for half. I think the total cost was
$250,000, but that may not be right. The boiler was under the jail to heat the
Court House too, same as now. The boiler was under the jail to heat the Court
House, too, same as now. The custodian and his wife lived in the west end of the
basement of the Court House and kept the Juvenile Detention kids too. Leo and
Clarabelle Edwards were the last. Every department except the Road Commission
was in the Court House or Jail, there were no other buildings, owned nor rented.
I remember when we had to cover the skylight in the rotunda. It was unsafe, you
could walk on it in the dome room, and a terrible heat loss too. We lowered the
ceiling in the Court Room. The plaster was bad because of roof leaking. They
removed the chandelier and sold it for $5, I think. The center part is out at
the Ionia Fishing and Hunting Club and Floyd Evans has the rest. Russ Gregory
wants to restore the ceiling and get the chandelier back up. Later we replaced
the windows with double-pane thermal type and replaced the radiators. The
windows were loose from drying out all those years. We stripped and refinished
the woodwork and walls and restored the mural at the top of the landing. There
had been other decoration in gold leaf, but not all could be restored. We found
the shutters and put them back up. We finished and re-finished the third floor
for Prosecutor and Board offices. The elevator was a big expense, but it was
I remember when we were mandated by the State to establish the County Public
Health Department. We started with one nurse, Mrs. Gallagher, and housed her in
the Court House Basement. I was on the Health Board and we bought the Perrone
Building for $50,000 for the Health Department.
I remember when we were mandated, in late 1966, to establish the Mental Health
Department. Gerald Williams was Chairman of that Board. There was just one man
and secretary. You what it’s like now!
The District Court system was also mandated. Taking it away from the Justices of
the Peace was a mistake. It got too far away from the local individual and the
costs soared. Gardner Compton was a good one here in Campbell, Fox was in South
Ionia, and Asa Burnett in Ionia. They did arraignments for criminal cases to
Circuit Court and everything.
In 1968 we had to switch to the County Board of Commissioner system. The old
Board of Supervisors was the best way! But we couldn’t be on both the Township
and County Board, so had to choose, and the County Board became a smaller board.
It has varied from up to 24 people and of course some didn’t do very much work.
Someone from another county even sued the State and tried to prove that the
“One-man-one-vote” principle didn’t prevail, because they are an administrative
body and not legislative. Quick as they start legislating, they get into
trouble. But the Circuit Court and Appeals Court and eventually the U. S.
Supreme Court ruled against us. It was a blow to local governments across the
nation that recognized regional needs as well as population. It was Okay for the
U. S. Senate, but no-one else I guess.
Gary Newton became Sheriff. Sam Detmers had gone to the Road Commission. We were
required to establish a County Equalization Department. Bernard Ardis became
head of that and Floyd Evans assisted him. Lloyd Gibbs had been Township
Supervisor, Member of County Board of Supervisors, and State Legislator, all at
the same time. Others had before him also, Clyde Stout for one, I think. That
really gave liaison between units of government. Lloyd died in those offices.
Gerald Williams became Drain Commissioner. I am the only one left who has served
continuously as Supervisor and then as Commissioner. Evans and Sibley are still
Supervisors. Floyd has four years seniority on me, forty two years in the
Now they want to take assessing away from the Supervisors. Some people are
always dissatisfied. They have always fought over taxes and assessments. They
did with Grandfather in 1849, when he collected $200 to run the entire Township
including the School. They did it with Dad in 1916, when we raised $250,000 to
build a Jail. And now it’s costing $4,000,000 to build another Jail.
The State will make it a lot worse, with no knowledge of local conditions.
Locally you can appeal your assessment, and if something is really wrong, you
can change assessors every 4 years. They were mad at Charlie McNeil and now at
Evelyn David. But she is sharp! Good head for figures! We disagreed on the
Allocation Board, but I never held it against her. She maybe was right in some
respects. The Schools ARE hard up. But they give in too easily to the teachers’
unions. Ken David was pals with Jim in school. He will do okay as Supervisor,
but no one can do better than Evie!
Jan Livingston is another good person – in the Friend-of-the-Court office. She
does her job well and never complains. Ann Eberstein – our Administrative
Secretary – is another good one. The gal before her was, too. Barb Trierweiler
is a real good County Clerk. She came in with 20 years experience under a good
Kah-Wah-Dee-Weh is an 87 page publication by Mrs. Jean Frazier. It is a study of
Michigan’s major Indian tribes, the Chippewas, the Potawatomies and the Ottawas.
This is an interesting treatment of Michigan’s Indians and may be yours for
writing Jean Frazier and enclosing $6.95 plus tax. Her address is 617 Winifred
Dr., Lansing, MI 48917.
A book about Roxand Township and Mulliken’s early history with contributions
from many sources is available for $15.00 from Mrs. Wm. Feasal, Jr., 435
Charlotte Hwy., Mulliken, MI 48861. I got mine at the Merrifield Hardware. The
Feasels, Merrifields and the Fraziers are all Sebewa Center Association members.
The Eaton County Historical Society is publishing a book of recollections and
historical tales along the Clinton Trail. There will be more about the book next
time after it is published.
THE GUS MACKER BASKETBALL 3 DAY FESTIVAL at Belding ended July 9 with 4, 169
teams playing with an estimate of 125,000 onlookers for the affair. Kevin David
along with a team called B. M. F. of Travis Loes, Jerud Jackson and Matt
Steward, all of Lake Odessa took a third place in the event. John Piercefield
said that he got into the ball tossing event with another team. Sebewa ranks
well in sports as well as in scholarship at Lakewood and Portland.
West Sebewa held its annual pot luck picnic at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Don
Possehn Sunday, July 9 with lots of youngsters and their elders present.
Strangely, I could not find anyone familiar with the origin or of the early
members of that picnic.
On the same afternoon John and Ramona Dickinson celebrated their 50th wedding
anniversary at Lake Odessa with many family members and friends present. They
have moved to a new house across the road from the Clyde Stout farm on Kelsey