THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Center Association,
JUNE 1995, Volume 30, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: ADGATE, BUCHNER, SHOWERMAN, BIPPLEY, WILLIAMS, COOK, LEIK, KAUFFMAN,
(PHOTO ON FRONT PAGE: BARAGA COUNTY COURTHOUSE)
C. LOUISE BUCHNER, 86, born June 2, 1908, widow of Melvin G. BUCHNER, mother of
Carla WARNER & Ann FORMAN, daughter of Cora HENRY & Frank SHOWERMAN, son of
Louise E. & Lucius SHOWERMAN, son of Desire & Jacob B. SHOWERMAN, who settled in
October, 1836, on the farm where she was born, and which she sold to Phil &
Betty SPITZLEY in 1960.
EDITH AUDBREY BIPPLEY, 88, born December 8, 1906, widow of Donal BIPPLEY, mother
of Terry GLEASON & Don BIPPLEY, sister of the late Myrtle CHILDS, Iva REED,
Mildred INGALLS, Bernice BULLING, Claude WILLIAMS & Gerald WILLIAMS, daughter of
Leon WILLIAMS & Mable COOK, daughter of Emily & CHARLES P. COOK, son of Ursula &
Pierce G. COOK, who commenced farming at W ½ SE ½ Sec. 19 Sebewa, MUSGROVE Hwy.
GEORGE E. LEIK, 89, born April 30, 1905, widower of Matilda, father of Charles &
Edward, brother of the late Jerry, Helen, Marie & Henry LEIK, son of Anthony &
Ellen MORIARITY LEIK. He was a noted auto dealer, businessman, farmer, walnut &
pine forester, and author or subject of numerous articles in THE SEBEWA
JOHN L. ADGATE DEAD AT AGE 96 by R. C. GREGORY, 1992 – SARANAC,
March 24 – Funeral services were held Wednesday for John ADGATE, dean of Ionia
County businessmen and community leaders.
ADGATE died Sunday, March 22, at Ionia County Memorial Hospital after several
months of failing health. He was the last surviving grandchild of the John
ADGATE who came to Ionia County at a young man in the 1830s.
For many years ADGATE was one of Ionia County’s best-known men. He was a grocer
for decades, past president of Saranac Community Schools’ board of education,
past director of Independent Bank, and was long involved in a number of other
Robust and active until the last year or so, he was one of Ionia County’s few
surviving veterans of World War I.
The son of Chester and Nora HARWOOD ADGATE, John Lloyd ADGATE was born Nov. 29,
1895, in his parents’ house of Riverside Drive in Berlin Township. The property
was acquired by Ionia County in 1907 for use as a county infirmary. It was with
considerable delight that ADGATE told the audience at the dedication of a marker
at SESSIONS School House in 1988 that he had been “born in the poor house”. The
ADGATE family home was moved and the brick county infirmary building constructed
after the county acquired the farm.
Although SESSIONS School House had been replaced by the County Farm School House
by the time ADGATE started school in 1900, he remembered playing in the older
cobblestone building as a little boy.
The county infirmary was torn down after it and the surrounding farm of 326
acres were donated by Ionia County to the Department of Natural Resources to
become the core of what is now Ionia State Recreation Area.
His parents continued to farm and his father continued as a cattle dealer. The
family moved to the village of Saranac and young ADGATE went to work in a
grocery store at 16. A few years later, in 1915, he and relatives bought a meat
market in Saranac. The store evolved into a supermarket but only after it was
moved to its present location in 1958. ADGATE’S Supermarket has been operated by
ADGATE’S son, J. Bernard ADGATE, since 1957.
Some two years after entering business, John ADGATE was one of the first Ionia
County men drafted for service during World War I. He left from Ionia, by train,
for training at what was then called Camp Custer. He said, years later, “They
knew I was in the grocery and meat business, so the next morning after I arrived
at Camp Custer, they put me on KP”.
He served in Company K of the 338th Regiment of the 85th Infantry Division, a
replacement and training division. Sixty-six years later, ADGATE’S memories of
army service were sharp and clear. He told The Sentinel-Standard in 1984, that
when his outfit reached France, on August 7, 1918, it was “the saddest day of my
“They took 215 men away from the company, leaving only the corporals and the
sergeants and the cooks. I knew where they were going---to the front. At least
70 got killed.”
After the Armistice, ADGATE was shipped home by way of Brest early in 1919. He
kept his Army foot locker that “went to France and back with me”, and it still
contains much of his original issue: uniform, mittens, leggings, dog tags, and
gas mask”. Reviewing the contents of the foot locker in 1984, he said, in
remarks that seem characteristic:
“I’m not a fellow to do too much worrying. I know when we were going overseas,
we got to discussing how long we’d be over there. ‘Hell, I said, ‘I’ll be
tickled to death if I ever get back’.”
ADGATE called himself “one of the lucky ones”. Seventy years after the
Armistice, in 1988, he received a certificate of appreciation from the French
government, awarded to American veterans who had been honorably discharged after
service between April 6, 1917, and Nov. 11, 1918.
He returned to a lifetime of work, in business, banking, and public life. He was
married to Helen POOLE in 1920. They moved into the stone house, located in
Saranac on Main Street, behind his house at 45 Mill Street. They were to have
ADGATE’S store occupied a good deal of his time but as the Depression was
waning, he was elected a member of the Saranac school board. He continued as a
member for 30 years, 25 of them as board president. He led the campaign for
state permission to build a new high school and then worked to pass the 1963
bond issue, which made construction possible. The high school opened in the fall
of 1964. Among the first students to attend the then-new Saranac High School was
Bruce CHADWICK, a relative of John Adgate, who is now Superintendent of Saranac
Meanwhile, in 1945, as World War II was ending, ADGATE began to explore the
possibilities of re-establishing a bank in Saranac. He said, in 1946, the State
Banking Department suggested “that if the (Saranac) community could interest an
established banking facility through a branch office, the community would
probably be better served. “Through ADGATE’S efforts and those of Saranac
Community Club members, a proposal was presented to the directors of the State
Savings Bank of Ionia, now Independent Bank.
The bank directors approved the proposal in January 1946 and other permits were
obtained soon afterward. A large part of the capital increases needed to open
the Saranac branch was subscribed through ADGATE’S efforts. There are still bank
stockholders who say they bought a few shares at the time because “John Adgate
said it would be a good idea”.
ADGATE was elected a director of the bank in January 1946, filling a vacancy
created by the death of Dr. F. M. MARSH of Ionia. At the close of 1945, total
resources of the bank were $7,313,940.34. The bank, including the Saranac
branch, flourished. In May 1956, the Saranac branch moved into its new offices
on the corner of Bridge and Church Streets. Adgate remained on the bank board
for 25 years until 1971 when his son Loren became an officer of the bank. In
1972, on the retirement of the late Willard G. HAWLEY, Loren C. ADGATE was
elected president of what is now Independent Bank. Bank resources are now
ADGATE remained vigorously and actively engaged in the grocery business and
numerous other activities after formal retirement. His concern for the bank
continued and he was often consulted about its affairs. He also served as a
director of Universal Metal Products of Saranac and of Saranac Metal Products.
He was the oldest active member of Saranac Community Church at the time of his
Family, business, and public affairs by no means exhausted ADGATE’S energies.
One person who is past 80, when informed of ADGATE’S death, said “Well, he had a
fine life. He smoked a lot of cigars and played a lot of euchre”. Those
sentiments ADGATE himself often expressed. Even in his final illness he often
said he had had a wonderful life.
He took up golf when he was 45 and pursued the game at Ionia Country Club and at
Morrison Lake Country Club with interest and intensity. When he was 90, he shot
his age as a golf score. He was also an avid bowler and a skilled pool player.
He was at his death the oldest surviving member of the LeRoy C. DAUSMAN Post,
No. 175, of the American Legion which he joined after he returned from France.
He was long active in American Legion affairs and served as vice commander of
the American Legion of Michigan. He was active in Independent Order of
Oddfellows (IOOF) and the Masons.
A lifelong Democrat, he was for many years active in his party’s affairs both
locally and at the state level.
His family was his heart’s blood. He once told a granddaughter that he and her
grandmother were married in Ionia by a “Five-dollar preacher….That was the
greatest day of my life”. His wife Helen died on Oct. 23, 1974.
As he became homebound, euchre became more important and friends and relatives
gathered to compete with and against him. He loved his grandchildren---and all
his grandsons grew up knowing they were expected to test his grip in handshakes.
They rarely won the grip, even in late years. After a leg was amputated in
September 1990, Adgate was cared for by family and nurses. His favorite nurse,
Rose Emmons, worked hard to make his life---and euchre games---comfortable. He
didn’t give up cigars until his final illness.
He was the youngest of his parents’ children. Two brothers and four sisters
preceded him in death.
He is survived by three sons, Roger of Ann Arbor, J. Bernard of Saranac, and
Loren C. of Ionia; 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
Funeral and committal services will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Saranac Community
Church, with the Rev. Stanley HAGEMEYER, pastor, officiating. Burial will be in
Memorials have been established for Saranac Community Church and Saranac
Community Schools, in care of the funeral home. The family will be at Lake
Funeral Home, Saranac, Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m.
ADGATE UPDATE: Since last issue we have received a flood of
information from various sources. The obituary of John L. ADGATE is from the
March 24, 1992, issue of IONIA SENTINEL-STANDARD. The following corrections or
additions may be inserted in last issue:
LOWINA (LOWAINE) ADGATE, daughter of JOHN & CATHERINE TAFT ADGATE, married Riley
HARWOOD, son of Isaac & Sarah EDDY HARWOOD.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Jay; married Alta EAGLE, had Harold, Lois, Gladys, and Stanley HARWOOD
2. Guy; married Emma GALLOWAY, had Clayton, Clifford, and Thelma
3. Iva; married William KNEALE, had Riley & Howard and Mrs. Glenn FIRST
4. Ora; married Grove and had one daughter
PHENA (PHOEBE) born November 28, 1884, daughter of Chester and Norah HARWOOD
ADGATE, married Ray SMITH
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Alden; father of Elwayne (John) SMITH
3. Arthur, father of Diane ADAMS
JOHN LLOYD ADGATE, born November 29, 1895, died March 22, 1992, son of Chester &
Norah ADGATE, was married to Helen POOLE 1920
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Roger, born May 30, 1925
2. J. Bernard born January 24, 1927
3. Loren C. born April 17, 1934
ROGER ADGATE was married June 18, 1950, to Rhea YERKEY
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Steven Roger
2. Robert John
3. Ann Kathleen
J. BERNARD ADGATE was married April 6, 1952, to Marilyn J. VAN VLECK
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Cheryl Lynn
2. John Loren
LOREN C. ADGATE was married August 24, 1958 to Marilyn Jane GWINN
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Karen Sue
2. Joseph Loren
3. Patricia Ellen
4. William Chester
5. Frederick Allen
6. Richard Lloyd
KAUFFMAN UPDATE: The farms of Jonathan & Samuel KAUFFMAN were in
the NE ¼ Sec. 18 Sebewa, not NW ¼ as printed last time.
HEIRS OF SAMUEL DEXTER: If you are a descendent of Samuel DEXTER, founding
father of the City of Ionia, you are requested to contact Ionia County
Prosecuting Attorney Raymond P. VOET as soon as possible. There is litigation
about to be filed which may affect your interests. Alice ALDRICH BULLING, of
Sebewa, who died this winter, was a direct descendent of Samuel DEXTER, but she
had no descendants of her own. Do you know anyone else?
FERN CONKRITE played a piece on the piano at her 100th Birthday Party! There
were over 150 people, old-time music, speeches, ice cream & cake. May she have
We continue our tour of Upper Peninsula Courthouses with the BARAGA County
Courthouse at L’Anse, pictured on our cover. There have been some small
additions on all sides of the basic 1880’s red brick structure, in an attempt to
make it serve this rather remote resort county with only 7,954 permanent
residents. The jail is next door.