THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Center Association,
DECEMBER 1994, Volume 30, Number 3;
submitted with permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: LEIK, MORIARTY, SLOWINSKI, SCHNABEL, LEHMAN, SANDBORN, KILMARTIN,
LONG, FOX, CARD, TUBBS,
COVER STORY: (With photo of the CHIPPEWA COUNTY COURT HOUSE,
SAULT SAINTE MARIE)
We begin a series this issue on the county court houses of the 83 counties of
Michigan. We visited the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula in July and begin
with CHIPPEWA County at Sault Sainte Marie. This court house was built in 1877.
It is an example of Second French Empire style of construction, and its
architect was John SCOTT. The walls are two feet thick of solid stone. The front
façade of the building has three bays, with the central pavilion projecting
beyond the others. Above it rises the clock & bell Tower. Two additions to the
rear were built in 1904 and 1930, and match the style and look of the original.
Both the tower and the main building feature steep mansard roofs, once covered
in slate, now in asphalt shingles. A wrought-iron widow’s walk once ran along
the roof, but was removed for safety reasons. Above the third floor is a statue
The original structure cost $20,000. The 1904 addition cost $25,000 and made a
“T” shape of the court house. The 1930 addition enclosed a corner to expand the
Treasurer’s office. The main floor has the statutory offices of Treasurer, Clerk
& Register of Deeds, with their original vaults. There is high wainscoting and
molded tin pressed into fancy designs on the ceilings. In the main courtroom
upstairs, two columns bear ornate cast-iron capitals, which add elegance to the
courtroom. An original skylight in the courtroom was removed many years ago, but
has recently been replaced with a modern structure to admit more sunlight to
this north-facing room. The Circuit Judge’s chamber has a working fireplace. The
judge’s desk and much of the other furniture is the original and has been
refinished. The Probate courtroom is also on the second floor.
Board of Commissioners and the Prosecuting Attorney’s offices are on the third
floor. Equalization, Corrections, Probate Court offices, and Maintenance are at
the garden level, along with lounges. A $1,264,500 restoration project was
carried out in 1988, including a State of Michigan Equity Grant and a grant from
the Hudson Foundation plus township support and a county millage levy. The
project included bringing the court house up to safety standards and making it
barrier-free. Among the greatest changes was the addition of an elevator,
designed to blend well with the historic architecture.
THE LEIK FAMILY by Grayden SLOWINS
Anthony LEIK was born and raised in Bassenheim, near Koblenz, Germany. There was
a military school in Koblenz and his brother attended, but Tony was rejected. So
in 1894 he came to America to be a farmer and married Ellen MORIARTY, sister of
Michael. Mike had bought the farm on Keefer Hwy at W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 6 Danby, where
George LEIK lives now, in 1893, and his daughter Mary was born there that same
year. Then came a son, Daniel, who died in infancy, and a daughter, Rhodda, who
lived to age 27. Mike’s wife was Rose KILMARTIN, daughter of Jeremiah KILMARTIN,
from over on Portland Road, Sec. 33 Orange.
Anthony bought the farm around the corner on Knox Road, E ¾ SE ¼ Sec. 31
Portland, where Dan LEIK lives now, in 1905. Tony’s oldest son, Jerry, followed
him on the home farm and is now deceased. When he took over, Tony moved to a new
brick house on South Kent Stl, but walked to the farm every day with an ax,
scythe, or other tool over his shoulder- - just as they had done in the farm
villages of Germany. Jerry was succeeded by his son Dan.
Tony’s oldest daughter, Helen, was born in 1898 and graduated from Portland High
School in 1916. She became Sister Ethelreda S.S.J. of Nazareth. She died in
Marie was born August 15, 1900, graduated from Portland High School in 1919, and
attended County Normal and Ferris State College. She was a practical nurse,
long-time rural school teacher, and kept house for her father. She married her
old boy-friend, George SLOWINSKI, late in life. They died 10 days apart in July,
Henry was born November 3, 1903, and attended St. Patrick’s School. He was
married to Mary Rose LEHMAN, a cousin to George SLOWINSKI. Her grandfather Anton
SCHNABEL was a brother to the SLOWINSKIS’ great-grandmother Anna SCHNABEL
SLOWINSKI. Henry & George LEIK operated LEIK Brothers Garage in Portland for
nearly 30 years, first selling Chevrolet and then Dodge-Plymouth cars & trucks.
Henry farmed at E 110Ac SE ¼ Sec. 30 & W ½ NE ¼ Sec. 31 Portland, on Grand River
Ave., where Philip LEIK lives now.
George LEIK was born April 30, 1905, attended St. Patrick’s School and graduated
from Portland High School in 1923. Besides the garage, he and Henry owned
various farms in Portland & Danby Townships, as well as town properties. He
farmed Mike MARIARTY’S old place, and to day his sons, Charles & Edward, own the
Theo YAGER farm, Theo BULLING farm, John SHAY farm, and Adelbert NORTHROP farm,
in addition to their home place.
Charles lives in Great Falls, VA, and works for the Export-Import Bank. Edward
was a pilot for Eastern Airlines and now for United Parcel Service. He lives in
Florida. George spends his summers on the farm and winters with the boys, mostly
in Florida. They renovated the 1858 vintage house in 1983-85 and are working on
the barn. The following story, EVENTS OF 1914, is as George LEIK wrote it:
EVENTS OF 1914 by George LEIK:
It was early in 1914 and preparations were under way to move back to the farm
from Quarterline St. Henry, Jerry and I liked the idea. I don’t think Marie was
too concerned and Helen was completely against it. She thought town life was
much more dignified than living on a farm.
All farm equipment was sold off at an auction only two years before. A double
and single buggy were retained. The double buggy was bought new probably about
1905. The single buggy was old, rickety and ready for replacement. Dad’s first
purchase was a fine team of Belgian horses that weighed in at about 3000 pounds.
Rob was four years old and Doll was five. They were bought from the RADEMACHER
family living on the first farm west of Uncle Jim MORIARTY’S on Lookingglass
Ave. Price was $450. The horses were kept in the barn where we lived. I don’t
remember the exact sequence of the following purchases, but they all were in
One evening after school the two horses were led downtown by their halters and
tied to telephone posts in front of Ferris WILHELM’S harness shop. I think the
shop was in the building now occupied by Milt SMITH’S music store. Loitering
farmers’ sons gathered to voice their opinions. Uncle Jim was one of them. He
was a good judge of horses and the fitting of proper size collars. WILHELM and
his helper George WHITNEY made the harnesses from slabs of leather just as it
came from the tannery. Dad ordered the harness to be void of frills such as
brass knobs on the hames and other ornaments avid horse lovers wanted.
The horses were driven up the street to John BAUER’S wagon shop. The site
including the same building was later bought by Henry and me for a used car lot.
The wagon was a pretty sight, painted red, striped in black and “John BAUER” the
builder painted on the rear axle. I’m sure the wagon was bought and paid for
previously as I don’t recall talk of price, etc. The price was $55 including
neck yoke, evener and whiffletrees. Jerry, Henry, Dad and I all sat on the wagon
reach or rear axle and rode up to our home on Quarterline. In was in March so
must have been near sundown when we got home.
The first job for the wagon came the very next day. We had a pile of wood that
had been moved down from the farm and now had to be moved back. I don’t recall
what was used for a box. It may be that “dump boards” were borrowed from the
URIE brothers that lived next door and carried on a small farming operation in
town. It must have been a warm day as I remember when getting home from school
that night the pretty new wagon was covered with mud. The roads in those days
were a wallow in springtime.
Another purchase made was a sleigh with a 16 foot long platform and high side
racks mounted on it. It was bought at some farm auction whether before or after
buying the team, I don’t know. It was hauled to Quarterline and left on the back
of the lot near Albro St. Another minor article bought was about a forty foot
extension ladder. That was bought at a Mrs. INGHRAM’S auction. That auction was
on the farm now owned by Ivan LAY. Mr. INGHRAM was a suicide during the winter
and his wife was leaving the farm. At that time the farm was known as The New
SYDNEY farm. The owner was a Mr. RUDOLPH that was living in Sydney, Australia or
had been living there.
The tenant that lived on our farm the two years we were in town was Wm. LEIK,
wife Seraphine, son Harold and three daughters, Romilda, Florence and Philomenia.
Mr. LEIK was Dad’s first cousin. He bought the William PHILLIP’S farm only two
farm homes to the west.
While these events were taking place a third horse was bought for we kids to
drive to school. The horse’s name was Nancy, a gentle fat dark brown horse that
was not too fast on the road and could also be used as a third horse when a
three horse team was needed. Price was $200. She was bought at Chris MARGAND’S
auction. Chris was a widower of three years and lived on BARR Rd. directly
across the road from the farm that I bought in 1942 from my Uncle Henry STOEFFEL.
I recall hearing Mother tell Dad to pay above average price if necessary to get
the horse on account of the horse’s reputation for safety and not being afraid
of automobiles. Rob and Doll were afraid of automobiles and it was scary to meet
a car on the road and have them act in a very frightening manner. It was not
uncommon for horses to “run away” with whatever they were drawing and cause
serious accidents resulting in death.
We were soon settled on the farm. The house was quite a “let down” from the
house we had on Quarterline St. Mother started papering and soon had the house
in respectable condition. Mother always papered the sidewalls and hired Myron
WAY to do the ceilings. Myron was an elderly man that was one of Mother’s early
school teachers. He lived in the house on the corner of Grand River and road
next to where VANDERVENNE later had a grocery store.
I’m sure there wasn’t much income from the farm. I do remember of taking a
double crate of eggs to town each week. A double crate was 30 dozen and brought
$5.40. I also remember Mrs. Dell NORTHROP and hired girl Irene SARGENT taking a
double crate to town twice a week. A double crate was a little too long to set
flat between the sides of a buggy back of the dashboard so one end had to rest
on top of a side making it ride at an angle.
As spring passed and blended into summer the hens “let up” on their laying and a
single crate sufficed. I would guess our hen flock numbered 100 hens more or
less. They roamed the farm at will, picked their own living and chose their own
nests. They often hid their nests under burdocks, horse managers and “sat” on a
nest of eggs and after three weeks showed up leading a brood of little chicks.
We did not do all the farming. I think Ernest SANDBORN put in the oats on a
50-50 basis. A new walking plow, land roller, a two section drag and a John
Deere No. 999 corn planter were bought. When June and haying time came a
McCormick mower and hay dump rake had to be bought. The plow was a Champion with
a heavy cast iron beam. The plow and roller were both made by WITTE’S Foundry in
Portland. He melted down the cast iron, made the molds and poured the metal into
the molds at the foundry located just above where Sam BURMAN built his brick
house in the 20s. The steel parts such as plow moldboard, landside were made of
steel and came from outside sources.
The field planted to corn that year was kiter-corner across from NELSON R. and
KNOX. The new Deere planted was used and the corn checked, i.e. planted in hills
so it could be cultivated in both directions. Most corn was planted that way as
to have better control of weeds. The field was twelve acres. The lower part of
the field where the ravine runs west to east was badly infested with thistles.
Dad told Henry and Jerry he would give them $5 each in the fall if they kept the
thistles down with the hoe. They hoed all summer and did a good job.
The hay was put up by ourselves. The wheat was harvested by Wm. LEIK. He planted
the wheat the previous fall and had a half interest in it.
I mentioned in the early part of the story that our single buggy was old and
dilapidated. I recall that the left front wheel had a broken section in the rim
between two spokes. Every time that spot contacted the ground there was a thump.
The roads that spring were really muddy. Wheels went into ruts that let the
buggy down half way to the axle. Nancy was a gentle quiet horse and sometimes
would stop and turn her head around and look at us when she got tired.
Sometime during late spring or early summer, a sale catalog came from SEARS.
There was a buggy shown in bright colors that was on sale for $49.75. That
included what they described as a “rubber covered boot” that fitted over the
dashboard and reached up and fastened to the top bows to a height that could be
seen over by a grown person. We ordered the buggy. The mail brought a card from
the freight depot saying there was a buggy there for us. The mail was carried by
horse and buggy. We were at the end of the route so we didn’t get the card till
about 3 or 4 p.m. Jerry and Henry drove down in the buggy thinking the only
thing they would have to do was install the wheels which they expected would be
tied in a flat position under the buggy box. It was far different. The buggy was
packed in a small very efficient package that would take some time to assemble.
They came home and went down the next morning with the wagon and platform rack
and loaded the crate containing the parts and came home. The crate was unloaded
under a maple tree near the road and everyone except Mother and Dad wanted a
part in assembling. The job was soon done. The running gear (wheels, axles,
springs, etc.) were red striped with black. The box, dash, seat top were black.
It was a pretty and stylish vehicle. I’m sure we hooked Nancy to it and went on
the road, felt the fine greenish black broadcloth upholstery and fitted on the
rubber covered boot that would give such good protection from storms.
It was sometime around the middle of July that I heard the first talk about
going to Fowler to visit Uncle Pat and Aunt Mary Ann LONG. I am sure the last
previous time they met was in 1912 when we all went in the double buggy to
cousin Jim LONG’S wedding. At that time we did not attend the church services,
but went to the bride’s folks’ farm somewhere south and east of Fowler. We drove
a horse by the name of Ned that we borrowed from Wm. LEIK. Mother, Henry and &
were the ones to go this time. We left home about 6:30 a.m. We were right in
front of St. Pat’s when the 7 a.m. bell rang.
At that time St. Pat’s sat parallel to Grand River just east of the priest house
and corner of Church St. I suppose we went north on Divine Hwy. No roads had
names at that time. Mother knew the general direction, but had to kind of guess
her way along. Suddenly we came to a farm that she said she was sure where a
Mrs. Tony MARTIN lived and she would not go past without stopping to see here.
It was a prosperous looking farm. We drove in and it was Mrs. MARTIN. I’m sure
they hugged and kissed. Mr. MARTIN soon had a bottle of wine and saw that we had
all we wanted. We stayed no longer than half an hour and hurried on for we had a
“long way to go”. Mr. MARTIN was a quiet man. Their two sons George and Ferd
were backing the wagon out of the barn probably to draw hay or wheat bundles.
The MARTINS later on bought the house just east of the church that had been
occupied by Dad’s Uncle Henry LEIK from about 1913 to 1924.
We came to a corner where we turned north. Mother recognized it to be
STEVENSON’S Corners. I still think I could find it. The LONGS lived about two
miles west of Fowler and about a mile or more north. It must have been about 11
a.m. when we got there. I think Uncle Pat was about the house as well as Aunt
Mary Ann and Rachel (Mrs. Dr. FOX). Pat went to the cellar and got us a bottle
of beer which Mother, Henry and I divided between us. I don’t remember anything
about Duard, then 14 years and the youngest of the family. He was killed in 1927
north of Westphalia in a car accident.
Ed and the hired man were cutting wheat and came in from the field at noon. They
washed up at the pump. Ed was a jovial young guy of about 22 or 24 years of age
and made a big thing of the straw hat he was wearing with the top of the crown
We had a big dinner of the type husky farmers would eat that probably had not
eaten since seven or before that morning.
In the afternoon Rachel, Henry and I drove our horse and buggy to Jim LONG’S.
His was the wedding that took place in 1912 that I mentioned previously. Jim
lived on his own farm and was in bed with rheumatism that made him unable to
continue farming. The next day was either Saturday or Sunday. If it was Saturday
I can’t remember anything of the day. On Sunday we went to Fowler church in
their double buggy and two horses. Some must have gone in another rig for it
would have been impossible for all of us to get in one buggy. That was one year
before the present Fowler church was built.
After dinner Coon (Conrad) and Nellie FOX came. Mrs. FOX was Pat and Mary Ann’s
daughter. They lived a mile or two north of Pewamo and a little west or about
five miles west of the Pat LONG residence. Near evening Mother, Henry and I went
to the Fox residence. Coon, Henry and I road in one buggy and Mother and Nellie
rode in our buggy. The five miles seemed a long distance. Mother slept upstairs
in their spare bed while Henry and I slept on the floor.
Morning came and after breakfast we headed for home. I don’t recall much of the
homeward trip; not even the time we got there.
Our wheat bundles were put in our barn to be thrashed the latter part of August.
They were supposed to be in the barn six weeks before threshing so as to give
them time to “sweat”. That was the time necessary for all moisture to evaporate
from the grain making the wheat kernels hard and resistant to weevil.
The big event of August was the outbreak of WWI. We did not take a daily paper
at that time, but some of us went to town nearly every day and brought home a
paper. We soon subscribed to the Grand Rapids Press. One of we kids was at the
road every day when the mail came to get the paper and learn the latest war
news. I plainly recall of being out in the yard on the early days of the War
near noon. Frank CARD, the man on the KNOX Farm was coming home from town with
horse and wagon. He stopped his team and called out to me that Great Britain had
declared war on Germany.
August was our month for threshing. Herb TUBBS was the thresher and would
usually start in at the KNOX School or vice-versa and do one farm after another
till the whole street was cleaned out. When they got to our place an argument
took place between Dad and Wm. LEIK. Dad wanted Bill to haul his wheat to the
elevator the same as he did when living on the farm. Bill thought he was no
longer obligated to do it and wanted to put the wheat in the granary. The
machine was in the barn and threshing delayed. Tubbs became impatient to have
his machine idle. Rather than cause further delay Dad consented and put his half
in the granary.
There was a big crop of wheat that year and at threshing time was bringing $.75
a bushel in Portland. With the start of WWI shipments increased to the Allies
and prices started to rise. When ours was finally sold during the winter the
price was about $1.50.
After our threshing was finished the machine went to the KNOX barn across the
road. I don’t know what grain they were threshing but I do remember they were
storing it in the granary near the road. The grain was carried by four men from
the machine to the storage place. Of course the number of men varied according
to the distance carried. Dad was one of the carriers. The mail came in the
afternoon. The headlines in very large print said the Germans were within 15
miles of Paris. “They are probably there by now.” Thus ended the summer of 1914.
Helen was back in high school and all the rest of us at St. Pat’s.
I have a few memories of the old (upper) bridge in Portland as it was being
renovated about 1989. My earliest recollection of the bridge was from driving
over it in a horse and buggy with Dad or Mother (Tony or Ellem MORIARTY LEIK)
around the years 1908-10, and seeing the sign on each end that stated anyone
driving over the bridge faster than a walk would be fined $10. I never heard of
any fine being collected.
The origine ice-breaker was a heavy timber construction and was replaced by the
concrete breaker about 1914 or 1915. Dad had his fine 3000 pound team of
Belgians. He was approached by a village official and offered the job of hauling
the sand bags for building the coffer dam. In the summer when the water was
shallow the first load was delivered by driving through the river from the west
side. The horses had difficulty walking over the stones of the river bed, so the
following loads were unloaded on the bridge and slid down a chute to the dam
site below. The pay is $5 a day for the team, wagon and driver. It was a ten
The finished ice breaker was level – not tilted as it is today. As I understand
it the builder was not aware of a water main (wooden) that crossed the river at
that point. Later the water main broke allowing the ice breaker to settle. At
the Portland town meeting in the spring of 1917 or 1918 there was a vote on the
type of bridge decking that was to be installed to replace the original. I was
attending St. Pat’s at that time, but did not go that day, and instead was at
the town meeting with Dad. The meeting was in front of the old fire-barn on the
south end of Kent St. The two types of floors discussed were a plain plank floor
like the original, or one of creosoted plank covered by creosoted wood blocks.
The latter type was quite a bit more expensive, but was chosen by the voters. It
had a life expectancy of fifty years which it greatly exceeded. A later event in
the bridge’s life was the reinforcing of the under-structure in 1936 when M-16
traffic was routed over it where the two lane bridge on Grand River Avenue was
replaced by the present four lanes. (Now that bridge is being replaced also.)
More on the Michael MORIARTY house & farm from Charles LEIK: The house was in
very bad condition in the 1920s and was actually used as a granary from 1920-25.
Uncles Jerry & Henry rebuilt the foundation walls in the mid 20s and rebuilt the
rear wing of the house. I was born there in 1943 and Mary MORIARTY, who was born
there 50 years earlier, was my godmother.
We have a Round Oak stove over 100 years old around which my father and I both
played as children and it still is in active use. My brother and I did extensive
renovations on the house in 1983-85 and today it is entirely modern, and
comfortable, but has the original lines (a Victorian front porch built by Uncle
Mike at the turn of the century was removed).
Michael MORIARTY sold the farm to Jerry & Henry LEIK in 1925. Henry sold his
share to Jerry in 1930. Jetty sold it to Anthony LEIK in 1936. Anthony sold it
to George LEIK in 1939. George sold it to Charles & Edward LEIK in 1989.
(Editor’s note: George LEIK is great-uncle to those new triplets: Margaret,
Hannah & Madeleine Engler! John’s mother was a sister to George’s wife,