THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Newsletter from Sebewa;
AUGUST 2005, Volume 41, Number 1. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: LEHMAN, WILSON, THUMA, JEWELL, GROSS, WESTVEER, MOSSON, VROMAN, YOUNG,
RUSSELL, WRIGHT, KRUGER-MILLS, CHAPMAN, NEEDHAM, SCHNABEL, ROLL, GRENIC, SAYER,
WARNER, SHELTON, GIERMAN, GUNN, KLAGER, BENSCHNEIDER, RARICK, GRIMES GRAY,
AUSTIN, DANIELS, SLOWINS, GIBBS, PRYER, MEYERS, LEIK
JOHN CLIFFORD WILSON, 95, widower of Margaret THUMA WILSON, father of Duane
WILSON, Janice JEWELL, Barbara GROSS & Sharon WESTVEER, brother of the late
Charles WILSON, son of Sarah MOSSON & Alfred WILSON, son of Francis (Frank)
WILSON, who family settled in Sections 1 & 2 Sebewa Township before 1891. They
farmed all their life on the Edwin & Bart BUCK farms on Peck Lake Road in Orange
Township, first as tenants and then as owners. Margaret passed away two months
before him and they are buried beside his grandfather Frank in East Sebewa
MARJORIE CHAPMAN VROMAN, 81, widow of Joseph VROMAN, Jr., mother of Patricia
YOUNG, Phillip VROMAN, Karen RUSSELL, Barbara WRIGHT & Susan KRUGER-MILLS,
sister of Gerald & Gordon CHAPMAN, daughter of Marjorie NEEDHAM & Archibald
Chapman. She came to America as an English war bride in 1945 and after raising
her family was bookkeeper at their HSV Redi Mix Company and longtime treasurer
and choir member at Zion Lutheran Church. She is buried at Woodland Memorial
ELEANOR SCHNABEL, 91, sister of the late Rita & James SCHNABEL, daughter of
Elizabeth ROLL & Robert SCHNABEL, son of Marina GRENIC & Martin SCHNABEL, son of
Regina & Anton SCHNABEL. The Martin SCHNABEL family settled on the corner of
HARWOOD & Portland Roads in Berlin Township in 1857. Eleanor attended Ionia
County Normal and taught in rural schools for nine years. She worked at
Ypsilanti Reed/AC Spark Plug for two years during WW II and retired after thirty
years as a teller at Ionia County National Bank in 1975 at age 62. She built a
new house on Alden Drive in North Berlin Township and lived another 30 years in
retirement. She is buried at Mt. Olivet.
STANLEY SAYER, 87, widower of Sherry WARNER SAYER, father of Naomi SHELTON, son
of Edna GIERMAN & Clarence SAYER, son of Isabelle GUNN & Jacob SAYER, son of
Christena & John SAYER. Edna GIERMAN was the daughter of Christina KLUGER &
Charles GIERMAN, son of Sophia BENSCHNEIDER & Frederick (Fritz) GIERMAN.
Isabelle GUNN was the daughter of Amelia RARICK & Theodore GUNN. Stanley farmed
all his life on the family farm on KIMMEL Road in Sebewa Township and retired to
a small farm on David Highway at Collins in Portland Township.
GRACE GRIMES GRAY, 94, first wife of the late Duane GRAY, sister of the late
Carol GRIMES and a brother in California, daughter of Bertha & Marion GRIMES.
Grace was born dirt poor on a forty-acre farm at the S.E. corner of CASSEL &
YORK Roads in Sebewa Township. She overcame great odds to acquire an education.
She paid her room, board, books & tuition to Portland High School by working as
a live-in maid for the Chester BLANCHARD family. While their own daughter, her
classmate, did not have to lift a finger to do household chores that normal
She is listed as a graduate of Lake Odessa High School in 1929, and then
attended Ionia County Normal. She taught rural Ionia County Schools and
eventually became a fully certified Elementary teacher in Lakewood Schools, from
which she retired. Her last years were spent within a wall of silence, ending at
Cumberland Manor in Lowell. She is buried with her father, mother, and baby
sister on their lot in West Sebewa Cemetery.
FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Historic Barn Display, Ionia Free Fair, July 21-30, 2005.
Standing with horses in front of the barn are:
Frank & Regina LEHMAN, with son PETER at Family Barn, 307 W. KNOLL Rd. Current
Owners are Tom & Chris WILSON.See our Family Barn Story in Volume 32, OCTOBER
1997, Number 2 or <TheBarnJournal.org>
OUR THIRD TRIP TO FLORIDA – CONTINUED; by Grayden SLOWINS:
Thursday, February 24, 63 degrees & misty……
Saturday, 50 degrees………Talked with Sally & Henry from Barre, Vermont. Second
marriage for both, she has seven children and he has two………following the trend
most everywhere, little Barre, the monument capital, is getting built up to
homes. Henry’s father had the International Harvester-Massey-Ferguson-New Idea
dealership, but their hilly stony land is only good for hay & pasture, and most
small dairy farms have lost out. Some have been turned into hobby farms raising
sheep as they did prior to 1830………
Tuesday, March 1, 43 degrees & sunny. At the potluck supper we sat with Elmer
(Dude) & Barbara MOHN from northwestern Illinois near the Mississippi River. He
is age 68 and retired from Keystone Wire Co. which made Red Brand Fence and Red
Top Posts. We used a lot of both products on our Sebewa Sheep Farm and are just
now pulling out the last to recycle them and make way for eight-wheel
center-articulated tractors & wide tillage, planting and harvesting tools………
Friday, March 4………Biked another one and a half miles after lunch. J. W. STEFFEN
shot a Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin) Snake in the back pond today. The
temperature got to 67 degrees by noon and with very little breeze, it was just
right for sitting outside to read. Lots of bikers……
Saturday, March 5………Mail arrives Saturdays and with a high of 72 degrees, it’s
time to sit outside to read & absorb 72 degree sun. TO BE CONTINUED
BYRON GIBBS’ WORLD WAR II MEMOIRS CONTINUED:
Santo Tomas University. This, the Japanese had used as a prison for interned
civilians and 67 American Nurses captured at the fall of Corregidor. I had heard
when the American forces re-entered Manila a First Calvary tank rolled up to the
gate and broke it down. The Japanese prison commander charged the tank with his
drawn sword and was shot by the tank commander. I did visit Santo Tomas and saw
some of the hard wood cages in which prisoners had been kept.
At night we could look out over the city and see very few lights. The Signal
Center was one of the places with lights on all night and as busy at night as
during the day with messages coming and being sent all over the world. The
equipment had to function at all times so members of the maintenance team were
on duty night and day.
During the summer of 1945, I was seeing many planning messages in the code room
for the invasion of mainland Japan giving casualty estimates. The number of
doctors, nurses, and other personnel required, the number of hospital ships and
the tons of medical supplies. This was very disturbing. I would go in the
evening to our quarters on the fifth floor of the Chico Building and lay on my
canvas folding cot thinking isn’t there any way we can avoid this.
It made me feel sick inside to think of the casualty estimates. I could never
talk to anyone about what I had seen. We never discussed anything we had seen.
The estimate of the number of casualties was very large and I expect they were
accurate based on our experience in other island invasions. This however would
be worse than Iwo Jima or Saipan. On mainland Japan every man, woman, and child
would become a guerrilla fighter defending their sacred homeland. I am sure
President Harry Truman reflected on these estimates in making his decision to
drop the atomic bombs that caused a sudden end of hostilities and the saving of
many more Japanese and American lives than we can imagine.
By June 7, 1945, censorship was lifted to the extent that we could now say we
were in Manila and we could mention places in the Philippines we had been. About
this time I ordered some Heller Swiss jeweler files to be used in making some
small parts. The Heller Company sent them at no charge which I certainly
During WW II all radios were the tube type, both military and civilian. There
was an effort to make radios smaller and lighter. A Sargent in the radio repair
section had a small battery operated radio he wanted to sell as he was expecting
to go home soon on rotation. It was a General Motors (GM) Pocket Portable, Model
985775 measuring 4 ¼” W x 7 ½” H x 2 ¾” D. It had a standard superheterodyne
circuit but with miniature parts.
The tubes were 1r5, 1t4, 1s5, 3s4, and the batteries were a B 67 ½ Volt Eveready
#467 and the A battery a D flashlight battery. It did not work when I bought it
and I knew it. I just paid 15 pesos ($7.50) for it about June 25, 1945 and I
repaired the open lead to the oscillator coil and replaced one tube and it
worked fine. I have never seen one of these described or for sale any place. I
still have this unique radio.
Lt. PETERSON and I had gone swimming a few times with two nurses form the 248
General Hospital, Lt. Frieda JOHNS and Lt. Helen SCHLABACH. The weather was good
for swimming any time. The temperatures in Manila are mild, year around. The
average temperature in January is 75 degrees and the average in June is 82
degrees. On July 19, Helen SCHLABACH came back to the 248 General Hospital from
New Guinea and Lt. PETERSON and I went out there. The 248 General Hospital was
located just east of Manila in Pasig about 5 miles from downtown.
In July I continued to send most of my pay home. I would send $100 money orders
and keep a record at their number to be sure mother received them.
The hometown paper, the CLARE SENTINEL, came regularly and it was passed around
for the others to read…..there were letters from servicemen in it. One was a
letter a service man wrote to his dad, he said in part…….”was very glad to get
your letter. It was the first one you have written me in over a year.” The
fellows had a good laugh about this. You would not have been proud of neglecting
to write his on in over a year.
On August 1, 1945, we now have an Officers’ Club in a rented place with a pool
and an outdoor dance floor. This was located within walking distance. We went
there, Lt. PETERSON, Lt. Frieda JOHNS, Lt. Helen SCHLABACH and myself. We took
along sandwiches for a picnic supper.
On the evening of August 10, 1945, I was in our quarters on the 5th floor of the
Chico Building and the field phone rang about 9:00. It was Lt. SUSTURKA who was
duty officer at the Signal Center that evening. He was excited and said he just
got a message from our short wave monitor station that Japan was willing to
discuss terms of surrender.
It must have been around 11:30 before word got around to all the soldiers and
ships in the harbor after the armed forces radio news broadcast. It was dark
then and there was now a lot of firing in the streets and an occasional stray
bullet would ricochet off our walls and ceiling. The ships in the harbor were
firing their guns and it looked like a 4th of July celebration. Someone asked me
if I did not want to go out and celebrate. I told them no I had gone all through
the war without getting shot and I did not want to get shot as we were about to
see the war end. We knew now that we could plan on going home sometime within a
August 18, 1945, the float switch on the water tank needed repair. It looked as
if this switch would need to have the contacts cleaned every three weeks or so.
That week I also had to fix the burned out speaker transformer on my Knight
radio. This repair was successful and the radio ended up working like new.
Near the end of August, Lt. Helen SCHLABACH was head nurse at the 248 General
Hospital. The point system was now at 106 points to go home. It would take
sometime yet to get to my 83 points. Mail was still being censored even though
the war was over. The last letter opened by a censor was a letter to mother
dated Aug. 31, 1945.
The first of September I went up to San Fernando with another officer who had
business to do up there. The trip one way is a little over 40 miles. It is on
the way to Clark Field. I had never seen the country before so it was
interesting to me. It seems as all the farmers between Manila and there grow
mostly rice, a little sugar cane and a few bananas. The rice fields were
beautifully green. On the way up there we met a convoy of trucks loaded with
surrendered Japanese. It was the most live Japanese soldiers in one bunch that I
had ever seen. They were all dressed in their best uniforms and were wearing
their packs and cartridge belts. They did not look at all starved to me and in
fact they looked as if they had been eating pretty well. Most of them looked as
if they were glad it was all over.
September 22, 1945, Lt. PETERSON and I took a repaired radio to the 248 General
Hospital. There were now many British former prisoners of war patients. Some had
been prisoners since before the fall of Singapore there for treatment. They all
seemed to be in good spirits but very thin and a large number had TB.
In the last week of Sept., Lt. PETERSON, Lt. Frieda JOHNS, Lt. Helen SCHLABACH
and I went swimming. To got too late to get in the mess hall so Lt. PETERSON
took us to an excellent Chinese place run by Mr. WONG. It was in a house on a
side street of a residential section on the far side of Santa Mesa about five
miles from the center of Manila. There was no sign, just word of mouth to bring
business. Mr. WONG was a Chinese American citizen who had a fine restaurant
downtown before the war. It had been destroyed and he was starting over in his
house. The chop suey was delicious. I think the wonderful Chinese meal was only
about $1.50 at the time. Lt. PETERSON had a jeep at his disposal all the time
and one time previously, I had gone there with him. How he had ever located it
in the first place, I do not know.
By October 28, 1945, Lt. TANNER took Lt. BETT, Lt. FORCINA and I to Binan about
15 miles south of Manila to get some wooden shoes. We got back late so we went
to the mess at the Manila Hotel. This was where the high-ranking officers were
billeted. Lt. TANNER lived there so he could take us as his guests. They had
fresh salad and soup with the meal at one peso (50 cents). This was a bargain.
As of November 1, 1945, I was the highest point officer in the Signal Center
with 83 points. Lt. BETT had 81. On this date the Chico Building was turned over
to civilians and we moved to an area across the street from the Waterworks
Building. As of November 1, I was relieved of duties at the Signal Center. My 83
points looked good now. Officers with 85 points are now on orders to return to
the U.S. Things were beginning to move rapidly.
On November 2, 1945, I was promoted to 1st Lt. I did not know it till I saw it
posted on the bulletin board November 7. On November 9, I received orders to go
to the 21st Replacement Depot for shipment to the U.S. The order was dated
November 8, 1945.
On November 10, we knew there would be a message to General MacArthur with
official notification of Japanese Capitulation and his appointment as Supreme
Commander of the Allied Powers effective with receipt of the message. We had
every Teletype in the Signal Center hooked up so everyone could get an original
copy of this message.
November 15, 1945, at the Replacement Depot, about 6 miles east of Manila, I
sold my Knight Radio to an American soldier. Now I wish I had kept that radio.
November 19, 1945, I wrote that I expected to be in the Replacement Depot up to
29 days as there were 600 ahead of me to go but things moved fast. I was now
scheduled to leave November 22, as advance officer for 200 going. Lt. BETT is
also going. He was promoted to 1st Lt. Nov. 20. Shipment was postponed until
0830 Nov. 23, 1945.
The trip across the Pacific was one that passed quickly. No more black outs, no
evasive course, just straight to San Francisco where we arrived on December 15,
1945. I went to Camp STONEMAN then Camp BEAL near Marysville. I hitchhiked from
there to San Francisco but I got there after the Biltmore Garage where the car
was stored had closed for the day. I located Mr. BROCKMAN at home and he said he
would have my car out in the morning, ready to go. That night I stayed at the
Guest House at Fort MASON. The next morning Dec. 16, 1945, I picked up the car
and went to Camp BEAL.
In February 1945 when I arranged to leave the car at the Biltmore Garage, Mr.
BROCKMAN had asked how long I would store it. I really had no idea but I gave a
guess at nine months. Here it was ten months later that I picked up the car.
I was in the Oakland Regional Hospital December 19, scheduled to go before a
Disposition Board December 21. There I might be reclassified as general service
from limited service for the purpose of being discharged and eliminating a lot
of red tape. I now had the car in a garage a block from the hospital being
greased, having the oil changed and being washed.
December 23, 1945, I was at the Camp BEAL Separation center and had started
processing. December 24, 1945, at 11:30 a.m., I am ready to leave after lunch
for home. That day I signed up to remain in the Reserves and joined the Reserve
I started driving on the southern route which is longer but is recommended this
time of year. That night Dec. 24, 1945, I had traveled 300 miles and stayed
somewhere north of Bakersfield, California. On Dec. 25, 1945, I drove to
Flagstaff about 489 miles. It was snowing there and four or five inches of fresh
snow was on the ground. A bus stop was about the only thing open to get
something to eat. It looks very pretty out, the snow coming down and no wind.
The next morning driving was all right and on Dec. 26, 1945, I drove about 500
miles arriving at Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Driving after dark there was little traffic and the 1940 Ford really run smooth.
The night of Dec. 27, 1945, I stayed in Tulsa, Oklahoma after driving about 470
miles. The night of December 28, 1945, I stayed in Springfield, IL, after
driving about 488 miles.
The next night, Dec. 29, 1945, I arrived home in Clare, MI, after driving about
385 miles. It certainly did seem good to be home. The next day, Dec. 30, 1945, I
typed a letter to the Personnel Adjutant, Oakland Regional Station Hospital
requesting a copy of Order 306 dated 21 Dec. 1945 that reclassified me as
general service and sent me to Camp BEAL 22 Dec. 1945 for processing.
I was now on terminal leave until March 25, 1946 and on the army payroll and on
active duty till that date. END
EDITOR’S NOTE: We have received numerous compliments on Byron GIBBS’ story from
people who have been in that part of the world. Bill PRYER and Wes MEYERS and
others were there in WW II, and Charles LEIK was there in his work with the