THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
JUNE 1997, Volume 32, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D.
SURNAMES: SMIHT, CARR, HUXTABLE, TRAVIS. PIERCE, KNOX, BIPPLEY, HIGH, BALDWIN,
CARPENTER, HALLADAY, JOHNSON, BISHOP, SLOWINS, NASH, HAZEL, RALSTON, BRANCH,
PARKS, CRAPO, SPITLER, OLRY, TOWNER, PATRICK, WEKENMAN
JACK S. SMITH, husband of Dorothy, father of Jacqueline CARR, Raymond & Phillip
SMITH, brother of Robert E. SMITH & Mary Jane HUXTABLE. He was a farmer,
elevator employee, agriculture teacher, Sunfield Township Treasurer, then
SCHOOLHOUSES IN SEBEWA TOWNSHIP by Grayden SLOWINS:
School districts were originally designed to be the lowest units of government
in Michigan and the Northwest Territory. A congressional township was 36 square
miles and could be evenly divided into 9 statutory school districts of 4 square
miles each. Thus no child would have to walk more than two miles to school. This
did not always work out, due to irregularities of geography or other reasons.
Sebewa was never quite that way from the start, due to patterns of settlement
and the government land which needed to be drained before it could be farmed. In
1875, ten school districts were located all or part in Sebewa Township. Some
were more than 4 square miles, and the fractional districts shared from another
township were less. BIPPLEY was a fractional district lapping over from Odessa
on the west. KNOX was located in Portland Township, with fractions in Orange,
Danby & Sebewa. PIERCE was fractional lapping over from Orange just west of
KNOX. Actually HIGH & HALLADAY were fractional too, lapping out of Sebewa into
Reading left to right and top to bottom on the attached map, the ten school
districts were: West Sebewa, TRAVIS, PIERCE, KNOX or BIPPLEY, Sebewa Center,
Sebewa HIGH, BALDWIN, CARPENTER, HALLADAY.
By 1891, BIPPLEY school district no longer came into Sebewa from Odessa, and
BALDWIN & CARPENTER districts had disappeared. They were replaced by JOHNSON,
GODDARD & BISHOP, so there were still ten school districts in Sebewa Township.
The fate of these buildings is as follows:
West Sebewa – a home
TRAVIS – falling down
PIERCE – fell down
KNOX – was a home, later burned
BIPPLEY – was a home, now gone
Sebewa Center – community center
Sebewa HIGH – a home
BALDWIN – gone
CARPENTER – was a granary, now gone
HALLADAY – a home
JOHNSON – a home
GODDARD – a home
BISHOP – was a corncrib, now gone.
In 1997, about one-third of the township is in Portland School District and
two-thirds in Lakewood School District.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE YOUNG SHEPHERD by Grayden SLOWINS:
A good time to start the shepherd’s year is September 1st. All Spring lambs
should be weaned by or before this date, sheared, and placed in the feedlot to
finish for market or later breeding selection. All mature ewes should be dried
off on dry pasture or hay for a couple weeks, then advanced to better pasture,
with grain added the last three weeks before breeding and first two weeks during
breeding. One-half pound per head per day of a corn & oats mixture is sufficient
for this period of stimulation, which is called “flushing”. Grain the rams too……
The market lambs are started off in the feedlot with medium quality alfalfa hay
& plenty of fresh water…..
Rams should be placed with groups of about 30-40 ewes at breeding time. November
7 is the breeding date to get new lambs April 1…….
Be ready for that first lamb the last few days of March……
Let the new family eat, drink, rest, dry, and get acquainted, before you attempt
any assistance with suckling……
Put in ear tags before turning out of the maternity pen…..
When all have lambed, the flock can be turned into the yard, and when the
pasture is several inches high, usually the second week in May, they will be
ready to go……
Our ancestors in Switzerland and the shepherds in New Zealand today do not feed
wheat, because they are not in grain-growing areas. They pasture sheep in the
mountains in summer and bring them to the valleys in winter. This style of
sheep-raising also produces good lambs, but on grass alone.
This set of instructions is prompted by the fact that after 65 years of
Shepherding, arthritis and degenerative joint disease and rapid muscle
deterioration are forcing our retirement. We have simply worn the old body out
handling all those bales of hay all these years. We have also given up the care
of the Sebewa Township Cemeteries, but will continue as Township Clerk & Editor
of The RECOLLECTOR. Hopefully the proper medications in the properly regulated
dosage, plus physical therapy, and minus the activities which aggravate the
condition, will allow us some relief.
We were ordered to quit in April, during lambing, when the excruciating pain &
swelling caused almost total shut-down of body movement. But we persevered and
will send the ewes to a good home in September, with a young family we trained
as shepherds, where we can visit them.
We close with a story about our good friend and mentor, the late Edwin NASH. One
day a woman from a public health organization came to the Board of Commissioners
and urged them to fund a new program to educate the public about better health
maintenance. She told of a farmer who came to the Emergency Room with parts of
three fingers cut off in a corn head. The doctors sewed and bandaged him and
sent him home that same afternoon. A few hours later the nurse purposely passed
his farm on her way home from work, to see how he was doing. To her horror, he
was back in the cab of the combine. She jumped out and reprimanded him: “You
could get infection in that hand from all the dust, and besides you are still in
shock from the trauma and could have another accident! Let somebody else do it.”
He replied “Lady, there are 100 cows in that barn and if I don’t pick it, they
don’t get to eat it. And it’s up to me, there ain’t nobody else”.
The public nurse said “Doesn’t that show these farmers need educating about
taking care of themselves?”
In his quiet, dry way, Ed NASH said “He__ no, it just shows the public needs
educating about what it means to be a farmer!”
HAZEL BROS. FARM DRAINAGE: Founded in May, 1885, by George
HAZEL, who dug a ditch around the Village of Bonanza. In May, 1996, his
great-great-granddaughter joined the crew. We predicted then that she would soon
be driving that big Laser-guided STEIGER tile plow. This spring she has been
seen doing just that. Good for her! You go girl!
CHARLES M. RALSTON - From HISTORY OF IONIA COUNTY by Rev. Elem
E. BRANCH 1916:
CHARLES M. RALSTON, a well-known and progressive farmer of Sebewa Township,
Ionia County, and one of the directors of the Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance
Company of Ionia County, is a native of Ohio, but has lived in this county since
he was a babe in arms and may almost lay claim, therefore, to life-long
residence in his county.
He was born on a farm in Seneca County, Ohio, February 25, 1867, son of Andrew
M. and Catherine SPITLER RALSTON, who later became well-known residents of this
Andrew M. RALSTON was born April 3, 1830, in Brook County, Virginia, the fourth
in a family of ten children, having two brothers and seven sisters, and moved to
Holmes Country, Ohio, then Seneca County, when a boy with his parents, Daniel
and Elizabeth PARKS RALSTON. He grew up in Seneca County, then they moved to
Wyandotte County, where Daniel RALSTON died in 1867. His widow is still living
there in 1916. Andrew RALSTON, at the age of twenty-one, began cutting wood on
contract, and for two years worked also at the carpenter’s trade. In the spring
of 1854 he came to Michigan and married Ann M. CRAPO, niece of former Governor
CRAPO, and settled in Sebewa Township, this county, after marriage. To that
union two children were born, of whom one is now living, Gideon D. RALSTON, of
Six Lakes, and Florence A. Upon the death of his first wife, Andrew M. RALSTON
returned to his old home in Seneca County, Ohio, and there he married Catherine
SPITLER. He and his wife remained in Seneca County for about four years after
their marriage and then came to Michigan. Mr. RALSTON resumed his farming
operations in Sebewa Township, this county. When he purchased this place, it had
about twelve acres cleared, and a small log cabin. He became one of the most
substantial farmers in that neighborhood and served the public for some time in
the capacity of Supervisor and then Treasurer of the Township.
They were members of the Presbyterian Church in Sebewa. Andrew M. RALSTON died
on January 21, 1897, and his widow survived a little more than fifteen years,
her death occurring on February 28, 1912. They were the parents of three
children, of whom the subject of this sketch is the eldest, the others being
Joseph G., a well-known farmer of Sebewa Township, and Walter E., of Cement
City, this state.
Charles M. RALSTON was but one year old when his parents established their home
in this county and he grew up on the home farm in Sebewa Township, receiving his
education in the schools in that neighborhood. He was carefully trained as a
farmer and has followed that vocation all his life, now farming one hundred and
On June 20, 1894, Charles M. RALSTON was united in marriage to Harriet OLRY, who
was born on a farm adjoining the RALSTON place, March 9, 1873, daughter of John
C. and Lora KELLY OLRY, and who received her education in the schools of
Portland, graduating from the high school in that place. After his marriage, Mr.
RALSTON established his home on the farm where he now lives and ever since has
made his home there. His wife died on June 25, 1914.
Mr. RALSTON is a Republican and has for years taken an active part in local
political affairs, having served as delegate to county and state conventions of
his party. He for years has taken a prominent part in the Grange and is past
master of the Grange at Sebewa and of the county Grange. He is a progressive and
enterprising citizen and is one of the directors of the Farmers Mutual Insurance
Company, Incorporated, the officers of which concern are as follows: President,
Frederick PITT; Vice-President, George JORDAN; Secretary, J. L. FOWLER; and
directors, William H. MADISON, Peter KOHN, Albert DELZELL, Charles M. RALSTON,
and Nathan GOULD.
Mrs. RALSTON was a member of the Grange, and for ten years was lecturer of the
county Grange. She was highly esteemed and her death was mourned by all who knew
her. Her remains were interred in Lakeside Cemetery, Lake Odessa.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Harriet OLRY RALSTON grew up on the farm where we have lived for
the past forty years. Charles M. RALSTON grew up on the farm across the road,
long owned by Bert & Lilah TOWNER and recently purchased by Ron & Vivian
PATRICK. After their marriage, Charles & Harriet (Hattie) RALSTON lived on the
next farm west, later owned by niece Ruby & Bill WEKENMAN. When Harriet became
an invalid, they moved here with her parents, Glen & Fern OLRY.
GOING TO THE MICHIGAN TERRITORY:
This story was told to my mother by the wife of an old couple who ran the Ben
Franklin store in Portland back in the late 30s-early 40s. The story is about
that woman’s mother, who had been born in an eastern state. One mid-night when
she was about eight years old, she and her six-year-old sister were awakened by
their father and told to each put all their personal belongings in a pillow
case, bring a blanket, and get into the buggy tied out front. “Mother has left
us and we are going to Michigan Territory. We will never speak of her again.”
Many years later a traveler came thru from her childhood hometown. When she told
her story the traveler said “Your mother didn’t abandon you that night; she died
ANNUAL MEETING: Monday, May 26, Memorial Day, pot luck supper at
6:00. Bring table service and a dish to pass, beverages provided. Business
meeting 7:00 PM, elect Vice President.
Bill DAVIS will speak briefly about the 17 boxes of books, papers, maps, deeds,
school inspector reports, etc., from the Robert Wilfred GIERMAN estate and what
to do with them. Program at 7:45 by Tom HUGGLER, free-lance writer,
photographer, Sebewa resident east of Sunshine. His articles appear in Outdoor
Life and similar publications. He will show slides of his recent Siberian
grouse-hunting trip 300 miles northeast of Moscow.