THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
DECEMBER 1992, Volume 28, Number 3.
Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: VanHOUTEN, HOUGH, BRADEN, HUFNAGEL, SCHMITT, KLOECKNER, FEDEWA,
WISELOGLE, SCHNABEL, LINEBAUGH, LOWREY, BRAKE, BLANCHARD, FERGUSON, SMITH,
BELAND, VanHOUTEN, RYDER, CRAPO, MURDOCK, HENRY, BEAVER, ROLLS, SHEPHERD,
SHOWERMAN, KELLY, LEIGH, HOLCOMB, GIERMAN, HUNT, ALBERTS, DAWDY, ROGERS, HAMLIN,
KIMBALL, BIPPLEY, ARNOLD, BOYES, McWHORTER
THE REV. GERALD F. VanHOUTEN, 81, son of Clara Hough & William Glenn VanHouten,
son of Amanda Braden & John Jacob VanHouten, son of John Henry VanHouten &
Betsey Ann Ryder, daughter of Stephen & Elsia E. Ryder. He was husband of Edna
Beer and was a retired roofer, trucker, and Church of God minister.
ANTHONY J. SPITZLEY, 92, son of Katherine Hufnagel & Joseph Spitzley, son of
Mary Catherine Schmitt & Anton Spitzley, son of Anna Marie Kloeckner & Johann
Jakob Spitzley, who emigrated from Prussia to Westphalia, MI, in 1846. See
RECOLLECTOR Volume 27 Number 4. He was widower of Louise Martin, father of
Lorraine Fedewa & Joseph Spitzley, brother of Elizabeth Pung, Katherine Westren,
Helen Barratt, and the late Mary K. Lay & Leona Miller.
IONIA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH by Grayden Slowins (As Martin Schnabel might have
told the story to his great-great-grand-nephew.)
I was born in Posen, East Prussia, August 5, 1826, and came with my wife Marina
& son Peter to Ionia County in 1857, just in time to help build that beautiful
new Presbyterian Church at the town called Ionia County Seat. We settled on a
sheep farm in Berlin Township, but our family was always involved in
construction work. In fact, my sister Anna Slowinski’s daughter, Paulina,
married one of the original partners in Benhagel Brothers Construction Co.
In 1857 we were tradesmen & laborers on that wooden church. We quarried & cut
the stone for the foundation, molded & fired the brick for the chimneys, and did
the carpentry. That building was destroyed by fire during Sunday Service, June
28, 1908. The tower was ignited by embers from a burning depot, which was
ignited by sparks from a locomotive. In 1909-1910, Benhagel Brothers were the
prime contractors and all the Schnabel, Slowinski, Steinberg & Biehler relatives
laid brick & stone. The cornerstone was laid June 27, 1909, and we had it ready
for dedication March 13, 1910. In 1969 some of my great-grand-nephews, who had
helped in 1909, came out of retirement to lay a few bricks on the new addition.
You can see some cut stone and VanderHeyden brick from the original church in
the furnace room and the tower basement.
I understand the church was first organized some 15 years earlier, in 1842. In
the beginning they had a hard time deciding their denomination, being first
organized at the old Court House in October, 1842, as the First Congregational
Church of Ionia. They soon moved to the old Episcopal Church, which is now the
parish house, and shared that building until they built their own in 1857.
In 1845, they became Presbyterian. In 1848, they became Congregational again. In
1857 they adopted the Presbyterian form of government. In 1868, there was
dissension and a group withdrew to organize a Congregational Church. Rev. Job
Pierson came to the Presbyterians at this time and served for 10 fruitful years.
While here he wrote over 400 items for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, as well as
keeping the first daily log of the weather readings in Ionia. He left to become
librarian at Alma College. The Congregational group purchased the original
Methodist building and continued for a good while before returning to the fold.
The early settlers of Iona were mostly English, and they always looked down on
us Germans, but we got the last laugh. They hired us to build the First Baptist,
First Methodist and First Presbyterian Churches on the flats, not much above the
flood plains beyond the railroad tracks that also came thru in 1857. No wonder
the drains back up and the toilets overflow! Then we built the Episcopal Church
& Church of Christ on higher ground. When we began to build our own churches, we
moved up Washington Street for the German Evangelical (Zion) Church, and to High
& Baldie Streets for SS. Peter & Paul Catholic. Now we could look down on the
English! Highest of all was St. John’s Lutheran, also German. Martin Schnabel
SCHOOL COMMISSIONER UPDATES: J. Calvin Linebaugh served after Harvey Lowrey.
The order and dates are as follows:
Harvey H. Lowrey – 1905-1919.
J. Calvin Linebaugh – 1919-1923.
Elwood M. Brake – 1923-1962.
Bruce T. Blanchard – 1963-1975.
Thomas J. Ferguson – 1975-Present (Soon to retire).
Near the end of Brake’s tenure, the title was changed to County School
Superintendent, the office became appointed instead of elected, and was moved
from the Court House to the Annex. Early in Blanchard’s tenure the title was
changed to Intermediate School Superintendent. Elwood Menno Brake’s cousin,
Charles Elwin Brake, was County School Commissioner in Wayne County during some
of the same years, and Bruce Blanchard and his wife, Elsie, taught under him.
Harvey Lowrey was Superintendent at Inkster under Charles Elwin Brake.
BELAND FAMILY HISTORY by Henry B. Beland
HENRY BELAND SR. & ROSA BELAND, my parents, lived on a farm near Loda, IL. In
1924, due to depressed farm prices and the high price of land in Illinois, they
decided to move to Michigan, where land prices were much cheaper. Many others
came about the same time. In March they and their five children, Gladys aged 14,
Leah 13, Rosa 11, Henry J. 6, and Thomas 1 year, moved to Sunfield, MI. My
father had made a previous trip by train and located an 80-acre farm one half
mile north and three quarters of a mile west of Sunfield. The cattle, horses,
chickens, farm machinery, and all household goods were loaded on two railroad
box cars. A young man was hired to ride along in the box cars to feed and water
The day after our possessions were loaded, the family started out for Michigan.
My father had a 1920 Maxwell touring car, so with the seven of us and some of
our more valuable possessions, we were more than a little crowded. It was the
first of March and the weather was on the cold side. At that time there were no
road maps like we have today and the highways were not marked with road-signs.
Also most of the roads were gravel rather than pavement. My father would stop at
a gas station and get directions for a short distance and then have to stop
again. Several times we made the wrong turns and had to back-track. The first
day’s driving got us as far as Stevensville, MI, which is just south of Benton
Harbor. Eventually we reached Sunfield. Two days driving for what can be made in
about four or five hours today. When we reached Sunfield, the neighbors had
everything unloaded from the train and moved to the farm.
The first day at school was an exciting experience for me. The day we were to
start in school the road by our place was impossible for cars, due to the mud. I
started walking to school with my sisters. Kenyon Peabody came along on
horseback and gave me a ride. He dropped me off by Scheels Garage while he went
to stable his horse. I had no idea where the school house was and before Kenyon
came and rescued me, I nearly panicked. Eventually I got to school and found the
primary room. Mrs. Jilbert was my teacher. Harold Hanna, Frances Hough, Lula Mae
Flewellen and I went through all twelve grades together. Elmer Van Antwerp
joined us in the eighth grade. We graduated in 1936. My three sisters all
graduated from Sunfield H. S.
I have many fond memories of my school days. Although we did not have the many
fine facilities that the schools have today, I think we have a well-rounded
education, for much of which I will give credit to the dedication of the
teachers we had back then. In the spring of 1937 my folks moved to a farm near
Lake Odessa, but I have kept close ties with my Sunfield friends.
After high school, Elmer Van Antwerp and I attended Davenport Business College
in Grand Rapids. After business college, I came back to the farm and farmed with
my father until 1943, when I married Beulah Kime of Clarksville. We then
purchased a farm of our own and lived there and farmed until we retired in 1984.
THE VanHOUTENS OF SEBEWA by Grayden Slowins
The family begins with John Henry VanHouten, born December 27, 1813, died in
Sebewa, January 23, 1897, buried in West Cemetery. He married Betsey Ann Ryder,
born in Shenango County, NY, January 19, 1828, died in Sebewa December 18, 1902,
daughter of Stephen Ryder, who died in Sebewa, February 3, 1880, & Elsia E.
Ryder, born 1804, who died in Sebewa April 24, 1876, all buried in West
Cemetery. John & Betsey lived at Salem, Washtenaw County, MI, until 1854, and
their first four children were born there. Then they moved to Sebewa Township,
Ionia County, and lived on the Alleman farm on Tupper Lake Road. In 1875 Stephen
& Elsia Ryder owned the 80 acres at W1/2 SW1/4 Sec 29, but the buildings faced
on Tupper Lake Road. In 1891 their daughter, Betsey VanHouten, had inherited
this land and her son Charles owned the north 40, where he built his home. By
1906 Charles had sold the whole 80 to Grover H. Cook and moved to E60Ac NE ¼ Sec
JOHN H. & BETSEY A. VanHOUTEN’S CHILDREN were:
1. Henry VanHouten, January 26, 1847 –
2. Stephen VanHouten, November 5, 1848-July 9, 1851.
3. Susan VanHouten, February 21, 1851-
4. Elsia VanHouten, April 15, 1853-
5. John Jacob VanHouten, August 1, 1855-
6. Charles VanHouten, November 18, 1857-May 25, 1944.
7. George W. E. VanHouten, November 18, 1860.
8. Daniel (Chub) VanHouten, August 9, 1863.
9. Reuben Edwin VanHouten, December 14, 1865.
10. Frank E. VanHouten, October 17, 1869.
HENRY VANHOUTEN married Martha (Mattie) Crapo and their children were:
1. Stanley VanHouten
2. Harry VanHouten
3. Edna VanHouten
SUSAN VanHOUTEN married Luther Murdock, Joshua S. Henry, and Martin Beaver.
Susan & Luther Murdock’s child was:
1. Mary Della Murdock Rolls – mother of Cecil Lorea (Buster) Rolls. When Susan
married Joshua (John) S. Henry, he already had:
2. Cora Henry Showerman (Mrs. Frank) Shepherd (Mrs. Dan)-mother of Louise
3. Lydia Henry Showerman (Mrs. Elmer Jay)-mother of Flossie Kelly
4. Edith Henry Leigh
Susan & J. S. Henry’s child was:
5. Lula Henry Holcomb (Mrs. George) – mother of Pauline H. Gierman
When Susan married Martin Beaver, he already had:
6. Hermine (Hermie) Beaver Hunt (Mrs. John) – mother of Walter.
ELSIA VanHOUTEN married Charles Kelly and their children were:
1. Nettie Kelly Alberts (Mrs. William)- mo. Of Marjorie Gilden, Lyle & Dempster
2. Rhyde Kelly Dawdy (Mrs. Roy) – mother of Douglas & Richard.
JOHN JACOB VanHOUTEN married Amanda Braden and their children were:
1. Bernie VanHouten – married Pearl Sawdy Bennett.
2. Dorr VanHouten – died age 22.
3. Cleo Wayne VanHouten – married Alma Martenies and had:
Gordon – February 29, 1932 – father Of Deborah & Stephen.
C. Wayne then married Ruth Hopkins and adopted her children:
Ruth Ann VanHouten
David VanHouten – married Patricia Piercefield.
4. Clifford Clifton VanHouten
5. William Glenn VanHouten – 1881-1969 – m. Clara Hough and had:
Clarence – died young.
Gerald F. – 1910-1992.
Geneva – married Harry Denny.
Paul – died 1979.
Keith – married Dortha McQuillen.
6. Clyde VanHouten – married Ruby Smith.
7. Beulah VanHouten – married Clarence Ashbaugh.
8. Greta VanHouten – married Lewellyn Smalley.
CHARLES VanHOUTEN married Cora Ella Rogers, born in Sebewa, December 10, 1860,
died in Portland, November 20, 1955, daughter of Henry W. Rogers – 1834-1900 &
Anna Marie Beck – 1835-1902, who lived at W ½ NW ¼ Sec 36 Sebewa and are buried
in East Cemetery.
Charles and Cora’s children were:
1. Fern VanHouten – 1882-1972, married Glenn Olry.
2. Ethel Bell VanHouten – 1884-1974, married J. Almer Gibbs, mother of Maynard,
Dean & Max.
3. Floy VanHouten – 1887-1975, married Guy McLeod, mother of Velva Dunning,
Roswell, Coralane Boyes & Verland.
Coralane & Hary Boyes’ children were:
1. Dawn Boyes Huhn (Mrs. Ronald)
2. Charmaine Ann Boyes Miller (Mrs. Robert)
3. Charlene Jan Boyes (Mrs. Jim English)
4. Geoffrey F. G. Boyes – m. Joy Ingvartsen.
5. Margo Lana Boyes McCord (Mrs. Stephen).
4. Arlo VanHouten – 1890-1954, married Marian Hamlin (sister of Hermine Smith
(Mrs. Laban), and had:
Margaret VanHouten Kelley (Mrs. John)
5. Weir VanHouten – 1895- still living in Colorado.
6. Cloyce Henry VanHouten – 1898-1979, married Alma Rademacher. Their children
Neil – 1-2-1931.
John Charles – 3-17-1941.
7. Ilah Lucille VanHouten – 1902-1988, married Ernest Farmer.
Their children were:
Betty Lou Pohl, Robert & Roger.
GEORGE W. E. VanHOUTEN married Kate Anne Rogers, daughter of Henry W. Rogers and
Anna Marie Beck, and sister to Cora E. Rogers VanHouten.
Their children were:
1. Ralph – 1883-1886.
2. Mabel – married Oren Robinson & Mr. Huff.
3. Howard – married Lettie.
4. John – married Erma.
5. Minnie – married Ira White & Ralph Brown.
6. Vanchie – married Orlo Houghton.
Daniel (Chub) VanHouten married Anna Kimball and lived first on SE corner and
then SW corner of Tupper Lake Road & South State Road. They had two daughters
who died as teenagers.
Reubin Edwin VanHouten married Anna Bippley Arnold, born November 16, 1867, died
May 26, 1951, and lived on High Street in Ionia, up the hill from the livery
barn. Their children were:
Then he was married to Nora Catermole – no children.
Frank E. VanHouten married Blanche Arnold. Their children were:
Coralane McLeod Boyes gave us much of the information on the above VanHoutens,
for which we are very grateful. Max McWhorter gave us information on the
VanHoutens that once lived southeast of Sunfield and were no known retation to
the Sebewa families. Their founding father was Peter Vanhouten, who had a son
John, who had a son Neil, who had a son Zene, whose widow Edna lives in
Portland, and whose son Arlo lives in California.
Max VanHouten gave us information on his family, which lives in Sebewa but is no
known relation to either of the above. His great-grandfather, D. H. VanHouten,
came from the Hastings area and settled on 100 Ac at NE3/4 NE1/4 Sec 30 Odessa
Twp, of which Gaylia VanHouten Rathbun owns the E60Ac today. His buildings were
on the west 40Ac. His sons were Archie and LeRoy. Roy was Gaylia’s father and he
got the portion she owns. Archie owned 95Ac at NW3/4 SE1/4 Sec 24 Odessa. His
children were LaVern, Merle & Frieda. LaVern VanHouten married Lula McNeil,
daughter of Milo, and they were parents of Max.
MEMORIES by Fred Wiselogle (continued)
In the twenties radio suddenly became a fad – and the “in” thing to do was to
build your own; commercial sets just weren’t available……slid along the wire to
locate the station. Then there was a galena “crystal” about the size of a pea –
connected into the circuit by a “catwhisker” – a fine wire that was used to
tickle the galena until a critical position was found – at which time music came
in through the earphones. Why, we’d reached KDKA of Pittsburgh – the goal of
every radio hobbyist. Of course the sound was very weak – after all, there were
no batteries or electrical power; there was no amplification; every bit of the
sound energy coming through the earphones was carried by the radio waves
originating in Pennsylvania. And each of us in the house had to be directly
quiet while my father was wrapped up in the radio – else he would miss some
priceless word from the announcer.
Later on, when radio truly became commercial, Amos and Andy dominated the
evenings; not a single toilet was flushed while they were on the air. Then there
were Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, Father Coughlin’s sermons and Jack
Benny and Fred Allen to entertain us.
My father’s job as passenger agent in Detroit gave him an opportunity to meet a
lot of Detroit’s top automobile executives – from the older Henry Ford on down.
Every winter, Henry Ford senior went down to Florida traveling in his own
private railroad car attached to the end of an ordinary passenger train. Henry
always insisted that the top railroad man, i. e., my father, escord him through
the depot to his private car before the rest of the passengers were put aboard –
and my father once proudly told my mother and me that he had carried young Henry
Ford II, on his shoulders as he escorted the old man down to the train. This
sort of contact proved invaluable for me as I’ll detail later on.
I went to College during a terrible depression during which time my father had
to lay off many of his clerks and associates. It was sad for him and my mother
to agonize over their prospects. The University of Michigan was now building a
medical school right across from our house and I recall selling apples, cadged
from my grandfather Wiselogle, to the workers there. I tried to get 10 cents per
apple. But the smart workers usually bartered my price down to 5 cents.
When I graduated in 1936, with a Sc. D. diploma still wet from the ink, I was
lucky to have a choice between two job offers: one in industry by DuPont to work
in Wilmington, Delaware @ $2,100 a year; the other to teach organic chemistry to
undergraduates in the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, @$1,400
for the year. But because I had no teaching experience – only a fresh Doctor’s
degree, they couldn’t offer me a title of Instructor; I would have to settle for
the title “Assistant”.
Indeed, I recall that most generous contract offer from the then new president,
Isaiah Bowman. It read: “This is to offer you the position of “Assistant” in the
Chemistry Department for the academic year 1936-1937 at a salary of $1,400
unless other arrangements are made by me”.
Didn’t appear that the University was willing to take much of a risk on me! (To
ELECTION RESULTS – SEBEWA TOWNSHIP – November 3, 1992
Registered – 665. Voted – 539. Percentage – 81%
President & Vice President:
Bush – 233, Perot – 149, Clinton – 144, Marrou – 2
Congress – 3rd District
Henry – 286, Fooistra – 148, Whitelock – 9, Normandin – 3
State Legislature – 86th District: Cropsey – 273, Sloan – 197
State Board of Education – Vote for 2
Beardmore – 263, Greenleaf – 219, Straus – 163, Bochenek – 115
Kaufman – 6, Roundtree – 3, Schneider -2, Ruwart – 2, List -2
Regents of University of Michigan – Vote for 2
Nielsen – 233, Laro – 226, McGowan – 150, Deitch – 117,
MacGillivray – 10, Sanger – 6, Hamel – 5, Hudler – 3
Trustees of Michigan State University – Vote for 2
Reinhold – 250, Pridgeon – 227, Traxler – 144, Gonzales – 141
Ancona – 6, LaBash – 4
Governors of Wayne State University – Vote for 2
Fobbs – 231, Bashara – 216, Lewis – 148, Schribner – 117
Kaufman – 11, Carey – 7, Jones – 2
Prosecuting Attorney: Voet – 276, McFadden – 147
Sheriff – Jungel – 330
County Clerk: Trierweiler – 314
County Treasurer: Beattie – 286, Amos – 155
Register of Deeds: Adams – 313
Drain Commissioner: Bush – 326
County Commissioner – 7th District: Willems – 311
Township Supervisor: Stank – 340
Township Clerk: Slowins – 358
Township Treasurer: Carr – 301
Township Trustiis – Vote for 2
Pinkston – 282, Guy – 262, Thorp – 223
State Supreme Court – 8 year term: Riley – 239, Kelly – 73, Roddis – 31
State Supreme Court–2 year term: Talbot–146, Mallet-107, Kaufman-62
Court of Appeals – 3rd District – Vote for 2: Sawyer-208, Weaver-204
Circuit Court – 8th District: Simon – 246