THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
DECEMBER 1998, Volume 34, Number 3. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: SMITH, BAIRD, HALE COLLINGHAM, BOYINGTON, DANIELS, WOLVERTON, FIRST,
TRYON, WILLETS, FRANKS, REYNOLDS, CASSEL, HOFFMAN, BRETZ, WHORLEY, TURNER,
OATLEY, LOWE, BECKER, BEERS, GIERMAN, WENGER
ALZEO (MIKE) SMITH (Update), widower of Clara Louise JESSUP SMITH, father of
Charles L. SMITH, Mary L. KLEINFELT, Margaret A. TROYER, Richard Ben SMITH &
Alice E. BERENS, brother of Velda HALE, Bernice DARLING, Beatrice HOLLENBACH,
Ruth, Helen & Maxine SMITH, Sarah SHAFER, Irvin & Oliver D. Smith, son of Mabel
BAIRD HALE & Benjamin F. SMITH, son of Oliver D. SMITH & Elizabeth COLLINGHAM,
daughter of Jacob & Lucy BOYINGTON COLLINGHAM.
LARRY A. DANIELS, 60, husband of Judy GREEN DANIELS, father of David DANIELS,
Diane PETERSON & Julie JOHNSON, brother of Margene SMILEY, Dallas & Gary
DANIELS, son of Beulah & Oren DANIELS, son of Anna U. & Andrus W. DANIELS, son
of Sarah D. & Orren W. DANIELS, son of Eunice & Andrus W. DANIELS. He was an
excavating contractor and former member of Lakewood School Board.
RANDY WOLVERTON, 54, husband of Linda Gayle FREDERICKS WOLVERTON, father of Lisa
PETERSON, Diane SPRAGUE & Robert WOLVERTON, brother of late Kathryn WOLVERTON,
Joan SLAGER & Kerrie IDEMA, son of Pauline B. FIRST & Richard E. WOLVERTON, son
of Lester WOLVERTON.
TRYON AND WILLETS FAMILY UPDATES:
Jim WILLETS recently brought us from the Floyd EVANS estate sale several
booklets of Official Proceedings of the Ionia County Board of Supervisors for
years 1911-1912 thru 1966-1967 and one for Board of Commissioners 1971-1972. We
don’t know what happened during the reorganizing years 1968-69-70. Jim was a
brother to Charles, George, Viola, Virginia and an infant Leland Rue WILLETS.
They were the children of Ray WILLETS, who had sisters Hattie & Bertha and lived
in Lansing. They were the children of Ray WILLETS, Sr., who is buried in East
Sebewa Cemetery. He was the son of Leland RUE WILLETS Sr., who lived on the 50
acres at NW ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 7 Danby, east side of KEEFER HWY., where Joe & Karen
TOWNER live now. Leland RUE WILLETS was the son of Stephen WILLETS and both are
buried in Spaulding Cemetery on DEXTER Trail near SPAULDING Road Sec. 25 Lyons.
Ray WILLETS Sr. was married to Marcia TRYON, sister of George TRYON & another
brother. They were the children of Otis TRYON & Catherine POOLE, whose mother
was a BARNUM from Sunfield. Otis was the son of Noah & Marcia A. TRYON, who are
buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Otis is buried east of Greenville, but his
second wife – Gracie LUMBERT TRYON MARTIN is buried with her last man, Ray
SMITH, in East Sebewa Cemetery. Storyteller Welcome (WECK) LUMBERT was a
half-brother to Otis Tryon thru their mother’s marriage into a different line of
LUMBERTS, who were numerous in the early days of Sebewa & Odessa Townships. Some
are now called LAMBERT. One very old woman called Aunt Sylvia LUMBERT, written
about in The RECOLLECTOR Vo. 9 No. 1 & Vol. 20 No. 4, was a LUMBERT both before
& after marriage.
Otis & Gracie TRYON had one daughter, Clarabelle TRYON ROACH SHARP, and husband
John SHARP, who are also buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Jim WILLETS’ niece met
and married Darrius HART, son of Fred & Hope JACKSON HART of Sebewa, while both
were working at the Saturn plant. Fred grew up on the Charles E. HART farm at S
½ SE ¼ Sec. 13 Sebewa, on the west side of KEEFER Hwy., not far from the old
Leland RUE WILLETS farm.
FRANK FAMILY UPDATE:
Some months ago Judy FRANKS REYNOLDS of Parma, MI, contacted us about the FRANKS
families of Sebewa, from whom she is descended. We sent all FRANKS information
we had from East Sebewa Cemetery and put her in touch with Julia CASSEL WHORLEY.
Now she writes for information on the OATLEY family. Our reply is included here.
We do not, however, find James Henry OATLEY, who married Mary A. (Evaline?)
FRANKS, but is not listed as being buried with her in East Sebewa Cemetery. Can
“SEBEWA TOWNSHIP, settled in 1838; organized in 1845.
November 16, 1998:
Judy FRANKS REYNOLDS,
9275 County Farm Rd., Parma, MI 49269
Dear Ms. REYNOLDS;
Here is the information I found on your questions, plus a printout my wife
happened to be working on that has a REYNOLDS family who once lived in the
Putnam Township area near Pinckney.
Elta CASSEL & George HOFFMAN are probably buried in Portland Cemetery.
The BEERS family would also be in Portland Cemetery.
In the East Sebewa Cemetery we have:
Isaac BRETZ – born 3/12/1826 – died 12/9/1883
Eliza BRETZ – born 1829 – wife of Isaac
They are on Block 10, Lot 19, Graves 1 & 2.
Mary A. OATLEY – born 5/14/58 – died 3/14/1884; wife of J.
H. OATLEY. She is on Block 8, Lot 5, Grave 1
William TURNER – 1848-1919
Melintha TURNER – 1854-1935
James D. TURNER – born 4/11/56 – died 8/30/1880
Jeannett TURNER – wife of ?
They are on Block 3, Lot 9, Graves 1,2,3,4.
In the West Sebewa Cemetery we have:
Simeon OATLEY – 1826-1901 – Father
Sally OATLEY – 1829-1873 – Mother
They are on Lot 65, Graves 2 & 4.
Barney OATLEY – 1863-1947
Anna M. OATLEY – 1869-1912
They are on Lot 109, Graves 2 & 3.
Another son of Simeon & Sally OATLEY, and brother of
Chester & Barney, was buried at Mesick, MI:
Gravener B. OATLEY
Sarah GUNN OATLEY”
OUTDOOR IMAGES – Tom HUGGLER – Writer/Photographer
Phone 517-566-8155 – Fax: 517-566-7076. E-mail:
October 4, 1998
Janet RUDD, President, Sebewa Center Assoc.,
1426 W. Grand River, Ionia, MI 48846
Duane MEYERS and I recently looked over the Robert GIERMAN historical collection
which is being housed, temporarily, in the Archives Dept. of the Michigan
Historical Library on Allegan Street in Lansing.
A total of 21 boxes of notes, photos, records and other historical data are in
the collection. According to archivists Dave Johnson and Helen Taylor, these
materials do not fit into current collection themes. In short, the Library would
like someone to take all the materials off their hands. If we don’t, they will
Samples of information that Duane and I uncovered:
Box #1: 1967 Ionia Cty. Soil Survey, Sebewa Center Assoc. Bylaws and
Constitution, 1965, Warranty Deed for the Sunshine Property to Sebewa Twp.
Box #2: Grand Valley Rock & Mineral Society News, 1963-1971. Copies of SEBEWA
Box #3: Lakewood Schools Enrollment & Annual meetings from 1895. Same for Sebewa
Twp. schools from 1917. Various
accts. and ledgers for individuals and townships.
Box #4: Teachers’ contracts, government documents, census information.
Box #5: Photos
Box #6: Bob GIERMAN’S copies of THE RECOLLECTOR
Box #7: Local historical society scrapbooks.
Box #8: Personal diaries, information about Ella Jean PETOSKEY
Box #9: Ionia County materials and records
Box #10: Scrapbooks, IOOF West Sebewa from 1910, various records
The rest of the boxes contain similar materials, including school records from
1865. Duane and I thought the Association might be interested in getting these
materials back, then setting up several tables in the old schoolhouse. Members
could sort the information according to subject and put everything out onto the
tables. The next step would be to inform the public through local newspapers, as
well as our newsletter. We could set apart a few hours one day when people could
take whatever momentos they wish.
What do you think of this idea? Regardless of what we do, we need to call Dave
Johnson (517)373-1452 within the next month or so, or he will likely authorize
destruction of the collection.
In reference to a grant for repairing the old schoolhouse, I called the Michigan
History Division of the Secretary of State’s office and was told to contact
either the Historical Society of Michigan in Ann Arbor or the Michigan Council
for the Arts. I have not had the time to do either. Perhaps you or someone else
would like to look into it?
I’m sending a copy of this letter to Graydon in the event he wishes to print it
in the RECOLLECTOR.
Sincerely, Tom HUGGLER, cc: Grayden SLOWINS, Duane MEERS
COVER PHOTOS: Colorado State Capitol is one of the most
beautiful Capitol buildings in our nation. Sitting on a high knoll, it can be
seen & photographed from many directions, especially from its beautifully
landscaped Civic Center Mall. The dome is covered with solid gold leaf, donated
by a local mining company so copper would not be bought from elsewhere. At the
opposite end of the Mall is the City/County Court House.
LOWE FAMILY UPDATE: (From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER) February 7,
Egbert Yandall LOWE was born March 23, 1819, in Ulster County, N.Y. He came to
Michigan in 1836, locating in Monroe and following his occupation of milling.
After four years he went back to his old home and voted for President William
HARRISON. After milling at different parts of Michigan, he came to Sebewa in
1868 and bought the FRIEND Mill property, which he has operated ever since. He
was a resident of this place for the last 32 years, except for 4 years spent
He was married to Clarissa WARD on October 24, 1844, at Hudson, MI. She died at
Sebewa December 10, 1891. Of this union six children were born, four of whom
preceded their parents in death. Two sons survive them, Egbert W. (Bert) and
Dayton Otho (Date), both residents of Sebewa.E. Y. LOWE, (as he was called), was
a man of sterling integrity, a kind husband and father, and a good neighbor. He
was always ready to assist in times of need. He was a staunch Republican in
politics. He will be missed very much in the community in which he lived so
long. The immediate cause of his death was a severe cold, developing slight
pneumonia from which he was apparently recovering until the morning of the 28th
(January), when sudden change took place. The action of the heart became weak
and he sank slowly and died at 9 o’clock that evening. The funeral was held at
the house at two o’clock Tuesday by Rev. Skentleberry, pastor of the
Congregational Church at Lake Odessa. The remains were taken to Chelsea, MI, and
buried beside those of his wife.
August 29, 1900: It will be three weeks before Bert LOWE does any grinding
unless he uses steam. Besides putting in a new foundation, he will put in a new
flume for the water wheel.
October 10, 1900: Bert LOWE is having more of a job repairing his mill than he
expected. He not only extended the foundation walls, but also put new timbers
under it. The job will take two more weeks. Fred BROWN is helping him.
October 31, 1900: Bert LOWE will soon have his mill in running condition. Making
the necessary repairs has been a long & tedious job, taking a good deal longer
than he expected, the foundation being in such decay that he was obliged to put
under stone walls and abutments. He is now putting in a new flume.
December 19, 1900: Bert LOWE will go to Detroit in a few days to get a new
purifier for his mill.
March 6, 1901: Bert LOWE’S new feed grinder is a success. It grinds very much
faster than the mill stones and does not take near the water (power).
March 17, 1901: Bert LOWE’S new feed grinder seems to be a success. He can grind
three times as fast and with less power than with the mill stones.
May 8, 1901: Bert LOWE has sold his mill and will soon move to Lake Odessa.
July 17, 1901: We have new residents in our burg this week, as Bert LOWE has
sold his mill property to a gentleman from Holland and he is to take possession
immediately. Mr. LOWE is undecided yet as to what he will do.
August 7, 1901: The new miller has arrived and will soon be ready for business.
September 28, 1901: Mr. DECKER, the new miller who has been ill for some time,
is slowly recovering.
March 12, 1902: C. P. BECKER died at his home March 7. His remains were taken to
Holland, Michigan, for burial.
March 26, 1902: Mrs. BECKER and Chris returned to their home last week.
April 16, 1902: Date LOWE is running the grist mill while Chris BECKER is laid
up with a sore foot.
June 4, 1902: Mrs. BECKER went to Grand Rapids last week to visit relatives.
July 2, 1902: Mrs. BECKER and family expect to move to Holland in the near
September 21, 1904: Elias BECKER, who has purchased the LOWE Mill west of town,
will overhaul the present machinery, installing new when required and put the
mill on a paying basis as soon as possible. This property has been a forlorn
hope for some years past. C. P. BECKER, the present owner’s father, bought the
mill three years ago and undertook to improve the property, but death took him
before his plans could be put into operation. Since then the mill has been
practically inoperative, D. O. LOWE occupying the mill residence and doing what
little feed grinding as came in at irregular intervals. The mill is a good
property and with good machinery and an experienced miller as the present
incumbent at the head, will soon reclaim its place at the front rank.
Mr. BECKER is a man of pleasing personality, making friends of all who met him
during his father’s illness several years ago and he assures us he has come to
stay and will give his patrons the best there is. If he cannot make flour to
supply the demand, he will open an exchange. The feed mill will be put in repair
at once and he invites the patronage of the surrounding community, assuring them
if earnest endeavor and honest dealing will gain their good will, they will have
no occasion to deal elsewhere.
MARGE SMITH, special friend of the late Robert Wilfred GIERMAN, and former Ionia
County Commissioner, Lumber & Hardware Dealer, School Teacher, and Historical
Society Activist, is now living at Fountain View Retirement Village, 3962
Whispering Way Dr., SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546. She would love to hear about
activities she once participated in, in Ionia County.
FARMING NOTE: Our cousin, Chris WENGER, reminds us that in the
bottom of the Great Depression, hogs sold for 3 cents/# and one pound of pork
would buy a postage stamp. Recently hogs have been selling for 18-25 cents/# and
32 cent tamps are going up to 33 cents. It can be argued that with Mega-farm
automation, one extended farm family can produce many more hogs today. But are
they really better off after expenses are paid, or is it just more cheap food
for the consumer?