THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
JUNE 2004, Volume 39, Number 6. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan.
Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: SLOWINS, GIBBS, SHERK, SCHANTZ, BREAK, GIBBS, SMITH, ENGLAND,
GILLETTE, HEINTZELMAN, TAYLOR, Van HOUTEN, McNEIL, GOODEMOOT, ROBERTS, FOX,
CREIGHTON, BENEDICT, COURSER, FRIEND, COMB, HALLADAY, CARPENTER, MEACHAM,
MANLEY, KELLY, WALL
LOUISE SMITH ENGLAND, 94, widow of Frederick ENGLAND, daughter of Dana WEBSTER &
Daniel SMITH, son of Hannah GILLETTE & Laban A. SMITH, Sr. A former employee of
Maynard Allen State Bank and teacher in Portland Public Schools, she retired to
Cadillac, MI, & Sebring, FL, with her husband, and died in Florida. (See Vol 27,
No. 3, December 1991, for extensive history of this SMITH family, who settled in
Portland Township on Divine Hwy. in 1866.)
KENNETH E. HEINTZELMAN, 62, father of Kenneth HEINTZELMAN, Jr. & Lisa
HEINTZELMAN, brother of David & Ronald HEINZELMAN & Sandra (KYRIL) BROWN, son of
Evelyn TAYLOR & Everett HEINZELMAN, son of Harry HEINTZELMAN, son of William E.
HEINZELMAN, who settled in Sebewa Township on BIPPLEY Road before 1891. Kenneth
served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, was buried at BALCOM Cemetery with military
MAX L. Van HOUTEN, 85, husband of Ruth BRANDSEN Van HOUTEN & widower of Reva
GOODENOUGH Van HOUTEN, father of Lyle, Roy & Lee Van HOUTEN and Joan DEER, Joyce
GATES & Judy SHILTON, stepfather of Karen DARLING & Marlene McKENNA, brother of
Vada ROSHER, son of LaVerne Van HOUTEN & Lulu McNEIL Van HOUTEN, daughter of
Milo McNEIL, son of Charles McNEIL, Sr. who settled in Sebewa Township on
Clarksville Road before 1891. Max was a lifelong farmer, worked at various farm
machinery dealerships, and is buried at West Sebewa Cemetery.
REX W. GOODEMOOT, 70, husband of Eunice ROBERTS GOODEMOOT, father of Pam
Carpenter, Kitty LAWSON, Angie CAMPBELL, Darci SCHEIDT & Tim GOODEMOOT, brother
of Helen ROBINSON, Peg FAULKER & Don GOODEMOOT, and the late Francis, Ford,
Myron GOODEMOOT & Marian McDOWELL, son of Sadie FOX & Donald GOODEMOOT, son of
Russell GOODEMOOT, son of Mary J. CREIGHTON & John GOODEMOOT, who settled in
Sebewa Township on Clarksville Road before 1875. Rex worked for Lake Foods (Lake
Odessa Canning Co.), National Crop Insurance Corp., and other Ag related
businesses, and enjoyed farming and his home welding & fix-it shop. He is buried
at Lakeside Cemetery.
MARJORIE ANN COURSER BENEDICT, 78, wife of John BENEDICT, mother of Deborah,
Michael & Dale Marie BENEDICT & Dee Ann PRINCE, sister of Eugene COURSER & Lucy
STOLT, daughter of Dale COURSER & Evelyn FRIEND, daughter of Lucy HALLADAY &
Ralph FRIEND, son of Jane CARPENTER & George FRIEND, son of Polly Ann MEACHAM &
John FRIEND, who settled in Sebewa Township on MUSGROVE Hwy. in 1854, son of
Betty COMB & John Friend, Sr.
Marge graduated from KILMARTIN School in Orange Township & Portland High School,
attended FERRIS Institute, graduated from Michigan State University, taught Art
in Lowell, and was well known in the area for her own paintings. She is buried
at BALCOM Cemetery.
JAMES FRANKLIN MANLEY, 82, husband of Verna M. KELLY MANLEY, father of Terri
GLASS, Nancy (Joe) VERGESON, Kathy COBB & Steven MANLEY, brother of 15 deceased
brothers & sisters, son of Anna L. WALL & John P. MANLEY. A U.S. Navy Veteran,
Jim lived for many years on the former Rush P. BALDWIN farm on Grand River Ave.
in Portland Township, was active in the Portland VFW, and is buried in West
FRONT PAGE PHOTOS OF PUTMAN, CT, TOWN HALL & WILLMANTIC, CT, WINDHAM COUNTY
BUILDING AND TOWN HALL.
OUR SECOND TRIP TO FLORIDA by Grayden SLOWINS:
Sunday, February 22, 2004, up at 6:30, 30 degrees and clear. To church………Turned
the key in RV for first time in four months and were on the road at 2:00………to
beat tomorrow’s snowstorm………there was some snow & ice on the park driveways and
we needed heat all night.
Wednesday, 52 degrees……U.S. 231 to the southeast state line into Florida……saw a
stock trailer with a herd of Emus in it. Later, in Starke, we saw geese in a
stock trailer………registered at KOA, on our site before 5:00PM………had a nice visit
with Marie STEFFEN, the oldest generation of the owner family…………she remembers
we are the sheep-farmers from Michigan and even gets the name SLOWINS
right…………perhaps her most important function is to make the repeat visitors feel
like family. We estimate her age to be close to 80, considering the ages of her
children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all help in the park. Her
son John & wife Debbie are the spark-plugs of the operation, with Debbie being
as much in control of the inner office as any good Township or County Clerk.
Grandson Matt and wife Rhonda are listed as park managers. Great-granddaughters
Lindsay & Jordan are just old enough for school & preschool, but are involved
Friday…..to the Florida Flywheelers’ Antique Tractor Show near Ft. Meade & Avon
Park. Met John & Jane COOK from MUSGROVE Hwy. Lake Odessa, MI……Case was the only
steam traction engine displayed, no Rumelys nor Averys, etc and no grain
Monday, March 1, 2004………I went for a walk and visited Wally GIMBEL from Ontario.
He was born at Freeport, southeast of Waterloo, Ontario and his grandparents and
other ancestors are buried in a cemetery on that same farm. His father was an
Allis Chalmers dealer……his antique tractors are still in a new shed on the farm.
Almost all land around Breslau & Martins’ Corners has been developed to houses &
a Toyota factory. (His wife) Dorothy was a SHERK from the Niagara-Hamilton-Dundas-SHERKTON
area. Their SHERK reunion brings people from all over North America & Europe.
Wally’s mother was a SCHANTZ. He is familiar with our BREAK family homestead at
Breslau, near Cressman Mennonite Church, about two & one-half miles from his
birthplace, and the WENGER family homestead a little further north near St.
Jacobs at Martins’ Corners, near the Martin Mennonite Church. Both their
families trace back to the original Swiss Mennonite Company and we are most
likely shirttail relation. Wally pronounces Breslau as Brezlau, Woolrich as
Woolich, and Palmerston as Pamerston.
(To be continued)
BYRON GIBBS’ WORLD WAR II MEMOIRS CONTINUED
– November 9, 1942 – November 21, 1942:
The group I was with from Company C 126th Infantry, 32nd Division got on a C-47
at Wards Air Field near Port Moresby, New Guinea Nov. 9, 1942. Then we flew to a
place I do not know and landed on a newly prepared jungle landing strip. As I
recall the pilot said during the flight that he had received a message on the
radio a new landing area was now open and he would land there. This may have
been near Pongani. When I got off the C-47 I thought it surely was the first
plane to land there I remember thinking the pilot had done a good job to safely
land on the short runway. I wondered if he would be able to take off and clear
We must have assembled somewhere not too far from the landing strip and started
on a long single file walk. We had very limited rations. As I remember, we
started with two days C rations and two emergency chocolate bar rations. Each
bar was for one day and three squares. At some time we got a small cloth draw
string sack of rice and one Australian ration in a tin like the old Lucky Strike
flat fifty tin. This contained a package of powdered vegetable soup, a bar of
compressed fruit like a plug of tobacco and a roll of milk tablets.
After a few days on the trail rations we were low. I remember at one break time
on the trail someone found a squash in an abandoned native garden and whacked it
up and we were eating it raw. Capt. BUSH was with us at the time and asked what
we were eating. I do not remember the answer but he asked for a piece and sat
there eating it with us. Raw squash is not very tasty but better than nothing.
I think right beside the trail at the location some bamboo was growing. I
chopped into a section and got part of a canteen cup of clear cool water to
Before we got in the really rugged country, the trial split and some ahead took
the fork to the right, the group I was with continued on the left fork. I think
this is where Captain Bush went on the other trail and possibly part of Company
As we kept on going, the hills got pretty high. These hills were actually part
of the Owen Stanley Mountain Range. We would walk all day to get from the top of
one hill to the top of the next one. It did not look so far to the next hill but
it took all day to get to the top. We usually stopped on the top around three
o’clock in the afternoon to get our evening meal cooked in our canteen cup then
lay on the ground and get soaked from the rain that started every night. The
only place to keep anything dry was under our helmet in the webbing of the
We started on the trail carrying only what was considered necessary. This was
nothing we as individuals decided. There was no mess kit. We were allowed to
have a spoon. I think we each had a shelter half and a mosquito bar and no extra
clothes. I carried a full cartridge belt of ammunition and two extra bandoliers.
There was a stub of a pencil in my pocket, a jackknife and in my pack a cloth
pouch with a razor, spare blades, a stainless steel mirror and a small bottle of
quinine tablets to prevent malaria and a small bottle of iodine for treating the
water in the canteen. There was the canteen with the cup and the first aid
packet on the cartridge belt. I wore my Benrus wrist watch in an Australian
leather carrier with a snap down leather cover so the luminous dial would not be
visible at night. I carried a bush knife, bayonet and a 1903 Springfield WW I
bolt action rifle because as squad Corporal I was to be the rifle grenade
launcher but I never had the attachment or any grenades. None of us in company C
had any grenades.
It was hot and humid on the trail. At one time I remember the going was very
difficult and as a Corporal I was at the very end of our squad and Company D.
The heavy weapons Company was right behind. I remember feeling sorry for those
fellows carrying mortar tubes, bases, machine guns, and mounts and mortar
ammunition. They were at about the limit of human endurance. They wanted to stop
and rest. The Company Commander said no one will fall out. He pulled his service
revolver and said he would shoot anyone who fell out. I remember his face yet.
His eyes were glazed and he had several days stubble of beard. I was sure at the
time he meant what he said.
On these days walking single-file on the trail we had no one preparing meals for
us. We each did our own cooking. I remember cooking one meal that turned out
well. Part of a potato or yam was cooked in the canteen cup with some of the
Australian powdered soup as seasoning. After finishing this half cup I cooked a
small amount of rice over a coconut husk fire and added lemon drop I had somehow
managed to save. That made some very good lemon flavored rice pudding.
It was hard to find much to eat as we were not re-supplied on the trail.
Sometimes there was an abandoned village with a native garden with something
edible or sometimes coconuts.
I remember one evening getting off the trail not very far, looking for something
to eat and finding a banana tree with a nice bunch of short pink bananas. I had
never seen pink bananas and as I was looking at the bunch a native appeared from
nowhere. We had seen no natives along the trail. He said in Pidgin English words
I could understand like “no”, “bad”, “no eat”. So I did not touch the bananas. I
thought they might be poison. About 50 years later I saw pink bananas in a large
chain grocery. The native may have been protecting his food supply rather than
having any concern for my health. The little bag of rice made several meals. I
was very glad to have had it.
It seemed as if we walked up one hill and then down another day after day. It
may not have been as long as it seemed. When on the single file trail, we went
through a number of native villages. I cannot now remember the names of any of
them except Bofu. I learned sometime later, Major Boerum with our group, reached
Natunga on Nov. 14, 1942.
The first evidence along the trail of the enemy was a tennis shoe. (The type
with a big toe having a separate compartment.) Not long after that we got out of
the hills and into fairly level country with high grass and bushes.
The 1st Battalion minus of the 126th Infantry under the command of Major Richard
D. Boerum arrived at Popondetta on the Sanananda Track in the 7th Australian
Division sector on November 21, 1942 and we were placed under Australian
The 1st Battalion minus of the 126th Infantry consists of Company D less one
squad. The 3rd Platoon of Company C and the Weapons Platoon of Company C with
officers Lt. J. M. Folkerstsma and Lt. Harry Richardson and some of the
Battalion Headquarters. There was a total of 218 men.
In the Popondetta and Soputa area we got some air drops of canned corned beef in
burlap bags kicked out of the open doors of low flying C 47s. When the bags hit
the ground, they broke open and the cans went flying. Tins of biscuits were also
dropped. American C rations they had found were not rugged enough to be dropped
this way. They found out most cans broke open. Some of the corned beef cans
broke but most seemed to just get dented up a bit. Cold corned beef in itself
did not make a good meal but it was a welcome change at first.
From November 9-21, we had eaten about five days regular and emergency rations
and the rest of the time a little rice and what we could find on the trail.
By this time our clothes were rather stiff from perspiration as the only washing
we got was the nightly soaking by rains on the Owen Stanley Mountains. Around my
waist where the cartridge belt was there were several large sores due to the
constant moisture and irritation from the cartridge belt. The feet and shoes
were getting in bad shape, also. I expect we got used to how we looked and
probably smelled. I was still remarkably in good physical condition as were most
of the others. We all had no doubt, lost considerable weight on the long walk.
My weight on Nov. 30, 1942 was down to 117 pounds from the 152 pounds in South
Australian on May 30, 1942.
I was impressed by the courage and stamina of the Australian soldiers in the 7th
Division. Most were a little older than we were. They were for the most part men
who had lived and worked outdoors. Some had been ranchers, miners, and
construction workers. They were in very good physical condition in spite of the
hardships and dangers they encountered in pushing the Japanese back over the
Owen Stanley Mountain Range toward Buna.
(To be continued)