THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
FEBRUARY 2004, Volume 39, Number 4. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan.
Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: BROWN, INGALLS, STACY, SHOWERMAN, LIVINGSTON, LAZARUS, PATRICK,
FLETCHER, DAGGER, McDOWELL, GOODEMOOT, FOX, WOLCOTT, SLOWINSKI, RAIRIGH,
HEFFELBOWER, HUNT, GUNN, LEIK, FORD, OLDS, MARTIN, KNOX, NORTHRUP, STAUFFEL,
GEORGE LEIGHTON BROWN, 82, husband of Gaylia BROWN BROWN, brother of Bernadine
STALTER, son of Walter & Mary SNYDER BROWN, son of Fred E. BROWN, son of James
H. BROWN, son of John & Sarah (Sally) INGALLS BROWN, who settled at SE ¼ Sec. 24
Sebewa Township on KEEFER Hwy. in 1838.
Mary SNYDER was the granddaughter of Dr. George WASHINGON SNYDER, Civil War
Veteran. Gaylia is the granddaughter of Stacy BROWN, son of Delia STACY & Irving
A. BROWN, son of Melissa SHOWERMAN & Eleazer BROWN, who settled on 160 acres at
NW Sec. 26 & NE Sec. 27 Sebewa Township, on MUSGROVE Hwy. at Sunfield Rd. in
George served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s and in the
U.S. Marines in the South Pacific in World War II. He was a barber in Lake
Odessa and Ionia, then retired from the Michigan Department of Corrections. He
was a life member of Sheridan VFW and they were longtime active members of Ionia
Historical Society, as well as Sebewa Center Association.
R. GEORGE LIVINGSTON, 66, husband of Janice (Jan) BROWN LIVINGSTON, father of
Richard LAZARUS, Vivian Amy PATRICK, Dawn Fletcher, Roy George Livingston, Jr.,
Joseph LAZARUS, Mary JAYNE, Elizabeth (Beth) HELMS, Carl Eric LIVINGSTON, Laura
Davis & Mathew LIVINGSTON, brother of Margaret SCHWALLIE and the late Shirley
ELLSWORTH, son of Roy & Ruth DAGGER LIVINGSTON. Born in North Canton, OH, he was
a longtime employee of United Airlines and active on the councils of St.
Patrick’s Church and Knights of Columbus. Recently he worked for Portland
Federal Credit Union. Burial in the Spring in East Sebewa Cemetery. Jan is the
daughter of Marian & Burton BROWN, son of Harry BROWN, son of Fred E. BROWN, son
of James H. BROWN, son of John & Sally INGALLS BROWN, similar to above BROWN
J. FORD McDOWELL, 63, brother of Robert, James, Ross and Joel McDOWELL, son of
Marian GOODEMOOT & John McDOWELL, son of James & Ethel McDOWELL. Marian was the
daughter of Sadie FOX & Donald GOODEMOOT, son of Russell GOODEMOOT, son of John
& Mary J. GOODEMOOT, great-great-granddaughter of Oliver WOLCOTT, Governor of
Connecticut and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Ford farmed all his life on the family farm, the former Roman SLOWINSKI farm,
was Chairman of Ionia County ASCS Committee, member of Lake Odessa Co-operative
Elevator Board, Berlin Township Board of Review, Lake Odessa Lions Club, and
Central United Methodist Church and Choir. Burial in the Spring in Lake Odessa
GLENWOOD R. RAIRIGH, 73, husband of Flossie HEFFELBOWER RAIRIGH, father of Glen,
Gerald, Greg and Gailen RAIRIGH, brother of Peggy CURELL and the late Frances
OWEN, son of Glenn & Etta HUNT RAIRIGH. He was a lumberman, plant protection at
Diamond Reo & Motor Wheel, owner of a saw shop, antique appraiser, and former
Sunfield Township Treasurer. Burial in Woodland Memorial Park. According to the
late Clarence SAYER & Glenn RAIRIGH, the RAIRIGHS are related to Clarence’s
maternal grandmother, Amelia (Mrs. Theodore) GUNN, of Sebewa Township, although
her family spelled it RARICK, at least on her tombstone.
PHOTOS ON FRONT COVER: GRAYDEN & ANN SLOWINS ARE ON THE WAY TO FLORIDA with
photos at Louisville, KY and Birmingham, AL.
THE FIRST AUTOMOBILES AND THE LAST BUGGY by George LEIK:
The first car in our southern Michigan farm community of Portland was a 1904
RAMBLER purchased by the local watch repairman. This car was one of few in
Portland or as a matter of fact, the world, that preceded my birth in April,
Henry FORD established his company in 1903 and Ransom E. OLDS was producing the
“curved dash” Oldsmobile the same year.
The first car that I distinctly remember was a REO touring car owned by Dr.
Frank MARTIN. It was a two cylinder with the engine under the front seat and
cranked from the side. Dr. MARTIN drove to our farm several times in summer 1908
to treat me for sunstroke.
A WHITE steamer was another car that frequented our road. It belonged to Fred
KNOX, the local banker who owned a neighboring farm. The car was silent except
for a slight hissing sound and I believe it had a rear entrance. The final drive
was a roller chain (like a huge bicycle chain) and completely open to the mud
Mr. KNOX drove the steamer until 1913 when he purchased a WHITE gasoline-powered
touring car painted orange with black trim; I don’t remember whether it was a
four or six cylinder. WHITES were manufactured in Cleveland and I remember that
the car arrived in Portland on a railroad flatcar.
Another early auto in our neighborhood was a one cylinder BRUSH “Runabout” that
was built in Detroit. Later its owner replaced it with a REO. Incidentally,
“REO” stands for Ransom E. OLDS who started this company about 1908 when he sold
OLDSMOBILE to GENERAL MOTORS. Neither REO or WHITE survived long as automobiles
and both became truck manufacturers that survived as independent companies until
In the spring of 1914 our family purchased what was to be our last buggy. It was
on sale in the Sears Roebuck catalog for $49.75 and included a rubber covered
boot that fitted over the dashboard and protected the driver and passengers from
The buggy arrived in a crate at the railroad station and my older brothers,
Jerry and Henry brought it home with the team and wagon. They unloaded it under
the maple tree and everyone helped assemble the running gear (wheels, axles and
springs) that was red with black stripping. The box, dash and seat top were
black and the seats had black broadcloth upholstery. We immediately hitched it
to our driving horse Nancy and went on the road for a “spin”.
In 1915 our neighbor Del NORTHRUP who we kids called Uncle Delly purchased a six
cylinder GRANT touring car that was made in Ohio.
Our family finally became motorized in 1916 with the purchase of a Model T that
had a black radiator shell instead of the familiar brass one. In the first
several years we seldom drove the Model T in the winter and used either the
buggy or a sleigh. But by 1920 the horse-drawn vehicles were retired and the car
was our only method of transportation, although we kept a team of horses for
field work until 1946. By the early 1920s virtually everyone in Portland had an
automobile; the transformation had taken only 20 years! END
LEIK FAMILY UPDATE:
In connection with the above story, Charles LEIK has recently completed an
eight-year restoration of a 1946 Dodge Power Wagon. He had some mechanical help
on the engine from Ron WELLS and the beautiful multi-coat paint job was done by
Also in connection with the LEIK family, a few words about the Henry STAUFFEL
family. A World War I Veteran, Henry came to the United States in 1923. A
painter by trade, he found his first job painting in a hotel in Detroit,
probably the old Book-Cadillac, whose ornate-but-scavengered interior was
recently in the news. Henry was a brother to Mimi (Mrs. Marcus) GALER, and his
wife was a sister to Tony LEIK.
So they came to Portland and had a farm on BARR Road, later owned by George LEIK.
After selling to George, they owned a gas station and cabins on U.S. 27 north of
St. Johns. When the highway was re-routed, their station was done and they
retired to a home on the St. Mary’s River in the U.P. Their only child, Enga, a
retired teacher, is still living and spends her summers up there.
Letter from Byron L. GIBBS of Mt. Pleasant, MI, to Ms. Nancy BRUNETTE in
Mulliken, MI; Dec. 18, 2003:
Dear Ms. BRUNETTE – The family record of Byron GIBBS (1850-1908) shows his
mother Mariam AMES GIBBS was born April 12, 1821, in Courtright, State of
Delaware. She married Robert GIBBS in Holmes Co., OH, Jan. 1, 1840. She moved to
Isasbella Co., Michigan, in 1855 and two years later to the Township of Sebewa,
Ionia Co., Michigan, where she lived until the time of her death which occurred
January 25, 1896, at the home of her daughter Mrs. Columbus SANDBORN. She joined
the Methodist Episcopal Church with her husband Jan. 23, 1852, and afterwards
transferred her membership to the Wesleyan Methodist Church which she was a
member of at the time of her death.
Maternal Grandfather of Byron GIBBS (1850-1908) Ansel AMES was born 1795. He was
an American Soldier in the War of 1812, enlisting the first year of the war
(this was the father of Mariam AMES GIBBS).
Maternal Great-Grandfather of Byron GIBBS (1850-1908) Cheney AMES (the
grandfather of Mariam AMES GIBBS)
Some time ago I obtained a photo copy of the 1875 plat map of Sebewa from
Grayden SLOWINS. Section 11 shows 20 acres L. G. AMES in the NW ¼ of the section
near the TRAVIS District 8 School. (Editor’s note: Adda L. AMES, wife of Lorenzo
G. AMES, is buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. She died July 6, 1869. Apparently
Lorenzo and Adda are not close relation to Byron, nor Byron L. GIBBS.)
I have an abstract of the property in Section 11 my father bought in 1910 and it
came eventually to me. The abstract lists owners as follows:
#1 Worlin GREY by patent from United States of America Nov. 2, 1837; Recorded
July 19, 1848, Liber F of Deeds, page 72. 320 acres the west half of Section 11.
#2 David BALLENTINE
#3 Alexander H. MOMSON
#4 John CLIFFORD
#5 Nathan D. CLIFFORD
#6 Sylvester DEAN
#7 Nathan D. CLIFFORD
#8 George W. PIERCE
#9 Mary E. BICE
#10 William GOTT
#11 School District Number Eight, one-half acre, eight rods by twelve rods Oct.
#12 John E. AMES and Mattie F. AMES 12 acres Oct. 26, 1871
#13 John E. AMES, March 29, 1888 Liber 93, Page of Deeds 481
#14 Watson MERCHANT
#15 Henry P. YOUNG
#16 James CROWELL and Orpha M. CROWELL
#17 Albert COON
#18 James COMISKY
#19 Edward C. COMISKEY and James COMISKEY
#20 Albert Bruce GIBBS Jan. 28, 1910, Liber 160 page 375 (A.
Bruce GIBBS from #10 William GOTT.) (eventually to Byron L. GIBBS)
Some entries were small portion transfers.
John E. AMES and Mattie F. AMES are the only AMES shown on the abstract. I do
not know why L. G. AMES is shown on the 1875 Sebewa Plat Map but not on the
Sincerely, (signed) Byron L. GIBBS.
ABSTRACT OF TITLES – PATENT TO DATE:
Commencing 15 ½ rods East of the Northwest corner of Section Eleven (11), Town
of Sebewa, thence South 15 ½ rods, thence West 4 ½ rods, thence South 14 ½ rods,
thence East 16 ¾ rods, thence North 30 rods, thence West 12 1/6 rods to the
place of beginning, be the same more or less, being in Township Five (5) North,
Range Six (6) West, Michigan, and 5 acres of land off from the South side of the
following described piece of land: Commencing at the Northwest corner of Section
Eleven (11), 60 rods, thence East at right angles with said Section line 27
2/3rds rods, thence North parallel with said Section line 60 rods to Section
line between Sections 11 and 2, thence West along said Section line to the place
of beginning, containing in whole description 10 acres.
ALSO, Commencing at the Northwest corner stake of Section Eleven (11), Town Five
(5) North, Range Six (6) West, running thence East 8.0 rods, thence South 12
rods, thence West 8 rods, thence North 12 rods to the point of beginning.
(Containing 0.6 acres more or less, returning to TRAVIS School lot to the
original 10-acre description.)
Cc: Grayden SLOWINS.
BYRON GIBBS WORLD WAR II MEMOIRS CONTINUED:
The day before Thanksgiving, I went with the cook to draw rations for
Thanksgiving dinner. We got six turkeys, which had a total weight of 87 lbs.
This was for the 80 we expected to be present. Many were home on furlough and
those over 28 years old had been discharged. The army was now also willing to
release from the two and one-half year training period any only son with a
widowed mother if his financial support was needed at home. On this basis I
filed a request for release. I had been sending home money orders each month of
about $15 but this was not really enough. It was however the best I could do as
I only received $23.30 cash each month after the deduction for insurance.
The priority for a furlough was given those who would be serving the full two
and one-half year training period. It was thought that those who requested
release would soon be home any way.
The Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 20, 1941 was a meal to be remembered. Lt. Arthur
BUSH, our Company Commander, must have saved the company fund during maneuvers
for this occasion. He had menus printed in a booklet form that were set at each
place setting in the mess hall. In the booklet addition to the menu was a list
of all the members of Company C including those transferred or discharged during
The menu was shrimp cocktail, celery hearts, stuffed olives, saltine crackers,
roast young turkey with cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, celery dressing,
snowflake potatoes, creamed peas, escalloped corn, candied yams, lettuce and
tomato salad, hot rolls, butter, coffee, mince pie, pumpkin pie, layer cake,
mixed nuts, fruit, cigars and cigarettes.
There were only 80 there for this dinner, the others were home on furlough or
had been discharged. This dinner made up in a way for not being home. I would
have to wait for a while to get home.
At the end of November we were on a field problem with our packs, the WW I
helmets and gas masks. It was very cold and we also wore our long underwear
which the fellows called “goobie gothches”. That was a new term to me. About
this time we had our blood tested and type “O” was stamped on my dog tags.
On Thursday, Dec. 4, 1941, we had been on a night problem and then to Lake
Pontchartrain at New Orleans. On Sunday morning Dec. 7, 1941, we were on army
trucks going back to Camp Livingston. We found out about the attack on Pearl
Harbor when the convoy was at Baton Rouge. We knew this meant war.
DECEMBER 7, 1941 – NOVEMBER 9, 1942:
We arrived back in Camp Livingston Sunday, December 7. The following day we were
on alert and there was a lot of confusion. We were issued some live ammunition
and were guarding some highway bridges. The headlines of the Alexandria Daily on
December 8 read “U.S. IN WAR”.
There was the feeling the Japanese may have espionage teams that would destroy
vital highway bridges, refineries, critical electrical facilities and factories.
This feeling at times, we thought, bordered on hysteria.
I remember some from our company were guarding one bridge and the nights were
rather cool. This bridge had a surface of creosoted paving blocks and on the
bank at the end of the bridge, a small pile of these blocks were kept for
repair. One of the guard details, to keep warm, burned some of these blocks.
Later when we were overseas in Australia, the Company Commander got a bill from
the road commission for the blocks that were burned. As I recall, the bill was
just a few dollars.
The Company Commander told us about it and paid the bill from the company fund.
We thought the action of the road commission was rather petty. I am not sure of
the bridge location but I do know that on December 12 we were guarding the
bridge on US Highway 51 at North Pass and South Pass near Akers, Louisiana.
By December 18 I had sent home by express my photo album, many other things I
had no room to store and a money order to mother for $10.00. We knew a move was
coming but we did not know where. On December 22, the 3rd Platoon of Company C
under the command of Sg. Bert Adams, was sent to Ponchatoula, Louisiana and
billeted in the upstairs over the fire hall on folding canvas cots. The platoon
was self sufficient with our own kitchen personnel. The platoon was assigned the
duty of guarding a small shipyard construction ocean going tugs. Those tugs we
found out would be going to Iceland. Our platoon in Ponchatoula we referred to
as the AFF (Adams Expeditionary Force).
This was my first experience of being in a small southern town and seeing first
hand what segregation meant. We had no colored people in Clare, Michigan when I
was a boy. When I worked in Detroit in 1939, 1940 and early 1941, there were
many colored people living in an area I drove through to get to work. There were
colored beauty shops, restaurants, and other small colored businesses. I did not
think of this as segregation, it just seemed normal since the same was true of
other groups. The Polish for example lived in Hamtramck and had their own shops
and small businesses but this was the way things had always been. We did not
look at it as segregation, it was considered a matter of choice, that people
would live with their own group.
In Ponchatoula on the main street, there were two identical drinking fountains
several steps apart, one with a sing for white only, the other for colored only.
The two drinking fountains were connected to the same water supply and both
fountains looked identical, only one for white and the other for colored. This
was my first view of a sharp dividing line for white and colored.
This was a peaceful town. The jail was even unoccupied. The main industry in the
community centered around strawberries. Ponchatoula was called the Strawberry
Capitol of the World. There was a processing plant for strawberries that for one
thing shipped the strawberry topping to soda fountains all over. We did have
some of that strawberry topping one time when some was delivered to our kitchen.
It was excellent. I also remember one time when some fresh water shrimp or
crayfish that had been boiled in some spicy water was delivered to us as a gift.
They were delicious.
There was a veneer plant that made a thin veneer not for furniture but for
making strawberry boxes. In our fee time we visited the strawberry processing
plant and the veneer plant. I was surprised at the lack of any machinery guards
to prevent injury. There seemed to be a lack of any state regulation. No license
was required to drive a car there but the car did need to have a $2 license
plate………The other platoons of Company C were guarding other locations. I think
some of the company was at a refinery at Baton Rouge. It was now Christmas and
the town people in Ponchatoula wanted to have a soldier with them for Christmas.
I told Sgt. Adams I would rather not go because Christmas for me had always been
at home, since that was not possible, I would prefer to spend it quietly.
One day near the end of 1941 our Company C’s 1st Sargent visited us in
Ponchatoula and asked us if we had any questions or problems. I asked him if
there was any way I could have an allotment from my pay sent directly to my
mother. I told him sending a money order was not always easy to do. He said he
would find out. He thought it would be a good idea and he would also like to do
it. This resulted in an allotment of $15 per month to go directly to mother.
This left me with $8.30 cash at the pay table after the deduction for life
My letter to Gertie noted the dentist visited us in Ponchatoula and I got four
fillings in 15 minutes with the dentist using a portable drill. My letter to
mother the same day, Jan. 23, 1942, said I filled out the income tax forms
showing the 1941 income from American Metal Products was $663.70 and from the US
Army $219.00 making a total of $882.70. All over $750 was taxable for a single
man and I would have to pay about $9.00 tax, but if I showed mother as a
dependent there would be no tax.
By Jan. 29, 1942, we were back at Camp Livingston. There was KP duty Feb. 1, 2,
and 3 followed by a practice alert on February 6 for rail movement. Everything
had to be packed and crated to go by train. We then went to the drill field then
back and unpacked everything.
By February 15 we knew a rail movement would be coming very soon. I took the
noncommissioned officer exam and passed it. I was determined to do the best I
could since I was in the army until the war was over. At that time I also
submitted an application for commissioned officer and I was examined by the
officer board of the Battalion. I knew this was a long shot because only 36 from
the entire division were to be selected and we expected they all would be
On February 20, 1942, we left Camp Livingston by train and arrived at Ft. Devens,
Massachusetts the morning of Feb. 23. There, for the first time, we had wooden
two story barracks buildings that held 63 men. Thirty-one were down stairs and
thirty-two up stairs. Since we were one of the first units to arrive, we had the
job of starting the coal fired furnaces of barracks and also setting up the
My first trip to Boston was Saturday, Feb. 28th. I got there late in the
afternoon and came back on the last train at 11:30 P.M. The cost at the time for
a round trip from Ayers to Boston was 75 cents and the bus from Ayers to Ft.
Devens was 10 cents.
On March 7, I was on KP duty. This was followed by guard duty. My post was
around the water tower and it was snowing and blowing. The two hours I was there
along about 2:00 a.m. you could hardly see and by the time I walked around the
four legs of the water tower the foot prints were nearly covered.
One day I heard on the Boston radio station that the Chief Signal Officer asked
electrical engineers to apply for a commission as an officer in the Signal
Corps. With the permission of our commanding officer, Arthur BUSH, I notified
the Chief Signal Officer I was interested.
On Saturday, March 14, we had a Division review with 30,000 soldiers marching 12
abreast. On this day also there were no more civilians allowed on camp.
On March 17, I left from Worchester for Clare on the train for a 10-day
furlough. This was my first time home since I started my military service. It
was wonderful to be home and see Gertie and mother. The time went quickly and I
was back at Ft. Devens at 10:30 in the morning of March 28 after a 24-hour train
trip. The following day I found out I was promoted to private first class. This
meant a few dollars more pay and one more stripe on my sleeve. (To be continued)