Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 46 Number 3
Transcribed by LaVonne I. Bennett


     LaVonne has received permission from Grayden Slowins to edit and submit Sebewa Recollector items of genealogical interest, from the beginning year of 1965 through current editions.


THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR – Historical Newsletter from Sebewa (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI)
Volume 46, Number 3, DECEMBER 2010 (Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. SLOWINS):

SURNAMES: Spohn, Willemin, Luscher, Wilson, Ainsworth, Cassel, Heintzleman, Gierman, Way, Titus, , Watkins, Schrauben, Slowins, Leik, Stuart, Crapo, Goodwin, Weippert, Divine, McGowan


RECENT DEATHS:

 WILLEMIN, ELAINE A. (BUGSY) Spohn, 77, born July 15, 1933, died July 30, 2010, widow of William F. (Bill) Willemin, mother of Dr. Russ (Kathy) Willemin, Denny (Meg) Willemin, Dr. Doug (Laura) Willemin, Mike (Shari) Willemin, and John (Chris) Willemin, 15 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, sister of Virginia Ann (V.A.) (Al) Goodrich, Doreen (Jack) Warder, Diane (Dennis) Goff, Dan (Margo) Spohn, daughter of Sena Petersen & Paul Spohn.
   Bugsy was a member of St. Patrick’s Church in Portland and St. Mary’s Church in Carson City.  She attended Coleman rural school and graduated from Portland High School, Class of 1950.  If we recall correctly, her favorite teacher at Coleman School was Miss Marie Leik (Slowinski).  Bugsy is fondly remembered by her classmates and friends in Portland, as well as her neighbors at her second home at Crystal Lake.  She was buried at Portland Cemetery. 

LUSCHER, (WILSON), Joyce Edna, 88, born in Sebewa Township, May 30, 1922, died September 14, 2010, widow of Walter Luscher, mother of Judie (Chuck) Goodman of Portland, Bill (Karen) Luscher of Buchanan, TN, and Laurel Lee (Jack) Manning of Portland, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, sister of Carol Cassel of North Muskegon and the late Royal and Keith Wilson and Rose Ainsworth, daughter of Ella Peacock & Victor Wilson.
   Joyce was a school teacher for over 40 years, including Sebewa Center and other rural schools, and 24 years teaching fourth grade in Portland Public Schools, retiring in 1985.  She was buried at East Sebewa Cemetery.

GIERMAN (HEINTZLEMAN), Marcella I., 90, born August 19, 1920, in Superior, WI, died September 27, 2010, in Grand Rapids, MI, wife of Wilbur Gierman, mother of Cheryll Warren of Owosso, Janet (Leon) Rudd of Ionia, Eric (Lorri) Gierman of Jenison, and the late Rev. George Gierman, daughter-in-law Adrienne Gierman of Traverse City, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, sister of William (Josephine) Heintzleman of Lowell, Lucille (Wesley) Meyers of Sunfield, and the late Alvin Heintzleman, Ray Heintzleman, Velma McCullum, Edith Edwins, Ethel Grover, and half-brother Charles Heinzleman, daughter of Hannah Halverson & Walter Heinzleman.
   Funeral at Sebewa Center United Methodist Church, and buried at East Sebewa Cemetery.


FRONT PAGE PHOTO:  Portland Manufacturing Company – Maple Street façade of block-long structure.  Located in present-day City Hall parking lot.  Load of Terriff’s Perfect Washing Machines In crates ready for shipment by rail. 


ALBERT ABRAM WAY and PORTLAND MANUFACTURING COMPANY by Grayden Slowins

   A. A. (Ab) Way was a longtime businessman in Portland, born in 1853, died in 1937, buried in Portland Cemetery.  His wife Jennie was born in 1855 and died in 1932.  Their only child was Nora E. Way (Titus), born in 1879, died in 1954, buried with parents.

   Ab was General Manager of Portland Manufacturing Company, with other principle owners being W. W. Terriff and C. J. Warren.  The original mill was water powered by a mill race on the east side of the Grand River, at the dam located behind Portland Carnegie (now District) Library.  Later its line-shafts were powered by a steam engine whose boiler burned the sawdust, wood scraps, and slab wood.  Still later they may have moved manufacturing to the mill located on the race on the west side of the river, parallel to Canal Street, with the building standing at the west end of the upper bridge, where that red-brick water-well pumping station has stood for the past 75 years or so.  But for most of its life that building housed R. B. Smith’s flour mill.

   Portland Manufacturing Company made home appliances of wood, including Terriff’s Perfect Washers and North Star Refrigerators (ice boxes).  Their products were varnished, detailed and stored in a large wooden building torn down about 1940.  It stood just north of the concrete building built for Barton Brothers Implements, later used by Zerfas Brothers Implements and they by Bell Telephone and Ferris Implements.  The office was on Kent Street and the paint shop, storage and shipping were on the Maple Street end.  (See cover photo)

   In June 1899, Ab Way bought the 40-acre farm on the west edge of town from the sisters Emma C. Dickson Merchant and Erma L. Dickson, a minor child, paying each $1000.  He was a member of Portland Village Commission for many years and served at least one term as President of the Commission, a position often referred to as Mayor.  He brought municipal water and lights to his door yard, but never into the buildings.  When the factory closed, Ab stored many rejected or excess wood parts and the wood boxes they shipped products in, above the horse barn and left for the next owners.  Ab had a nice horse barn/buggy shed/tool shed, plus a good 6-8 cow dairy barn and granary.

   During his last years, Ab had Dick Watkins work his farm, along with the Merrifield/Merchant/Sullivan 20 acres behind, separated by 20 acres split off by the Coldwater, Marshall & Mackinaw railroad grade and creek trestle.  Dick lived with his mother in the house between Allie & Emma Esch and Matt & Mamie Schrauben, on the west side of Alton Park.  He farmed with a nice team of horses and kept them part time in the Ab Way barn and part time in the Ed Sullivan barn on Ionia Road end of the land, according to where he expected to use them next.  He also plowed and tilled gardens and did similar work on the west side in Portland.

   In June 1937, Ab Way sold the 40-acre farm to Donald & Crystal Slowins and moved with daughter Nora to the home of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Ada Philips, on Quarterline Street.  He died that same year.

   Coincidentally, Donald Slowins also served on the Portland Village Commission and City Council during the years of transition, 1965-1971, and on at least two occasions served as Acting City Manager.  After retiring from farming and other employment, Donald & Crystal Slowins developed the east half of the farm with single-family homes and the west half was later developed by others with condominiums and more single family dwellings.

   The upper bridge, now called Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, was built in 1889, by the Groton Bridge & Manufacturing Company, of Groton, N.Y., and opened to traffic in 1890.  In the 1930s it was upgraded by removing the floor planks, adding more steel bracing below and putting in new planks.  This was to carry the US-16 detour traffic while the lower bridge was replaced.  It was restored again in 1990 in recognition of its 100th birthday anniversary.

   Anthony Leik took the contract to build the icebreaker when the upper bridge was new.  He built forms with sturdy rough-sawed lumber and mixed the cement for the concrete bottom, sides and top. As it went up, he filled the center with field stone hauled from stone piles on his farm on Knox Road.

   There is no connection with today’s Portland Products Company, which developed from Danby Manufacturing Company, nor with the Portland Manufacturing Company that came after Holly Carburetor Company and before Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge (TRW).  All the original buildings of Portland Manufacturing are now gone, as are the Ab Way farm buildings, except the farmhouse, which has been remodeled several times, but still contains very modest remnants of its original American Frontier Greek Revival styling, if you know where to look. 


UPDATES & CORRECTIONS: 

   Volume 46, August 2010, Number 1:  Concerning Norma Jean David Stuart obituary, Elaine Garlock informs us that Elara Shafer, great-grandmother of Norma Jean, was a daughter of David Crapo, who farmed on Clinton Trail in the center of Sec. 36 Odessa Township.  David was a brother of Henry Crapo, an early Governor of Michigan, who also owned land in Odessa Township.  Egara & John Shafer’s son Charlie Shafer had two wives.  The first was Ida VanBuren, mother of Ewilda Shafer David, mother of Kenneth David and Norma Jean David Stuart.  The second was Wilhelmina (Minnie) Augusta Slowinski, mother of Joyce Shafer Carpenter, mother of Michael Carpenter and Kay Carpenter Conner.

   Volume 46 October 2010, Number 2:  In 1920, Edward (not Edwin) L. Goodwin was wrecking the south part of the old Hinman & Perrigo Foundry in Portland.  It was located in the second block south of Grand River Avenue, on the east side of Maple Street.  (Not the first block, where Wards’ Garage is located, as indicated.)  He apparently never built on that lot, but used it to display his monuments until 1948, when he tore down the north part also, after him monument business was moved to the west end of Grand River Avenue bridge, and Sun Theatre was then built on both lots. 


“VOICES FROM THE PAST”  & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET” Gathered from back issues of PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER: 

October 13, 1960: 

   We have our first experience in bow & arrow deer hunting a few evenings ago, when we invade expanses of Portland State Game Area, west of Section School, at end of Towner Road, off Charlotte Hwy. in Danby Twp.  Our son Dick is doing the hunting and we just go along for the ride.  Although we see no deer, we enjoy the beauty of the area.  Bright Fall sunshine, trees in full Fall color, peaceful Grand River, all add to the enchantment.
   It is difficult to imagine such a wild area within a short distance of town, but it is there for the enjoyment of those who will drive out to it.  Long called “Little Egypt”, it is a tract of outstanding natural beauty.  One spot we visit is the mouth of Rice’s Creek, near which we fished for trout as a boy.  In the river, bass are jumping up as twilight comes, there are ducks slapping the water, squirrels and birds create a noisy turmoil in the trees.  If there are any deer nearby when we enter, they get fair warning from these creatures to clear out, as danger is near. 

MARCH 2, 1961:

   Nowadays new Michigan-made autos are being shipped to many destinations in the U. S. A. by rail instead of by haul-away trucks.  Special railroad cars patterned after haul-away trailers can carry 6 to 9 autos.  The railroads are happy over getting back this new-car business, which they years ago lost to trucks, and the truckers are very unhappy about losing it. 

APRIL 22, 1948:  Seventy-eight years ago (1870) D. G. (Grif) Weippert lived in Portland on Smith Street near the old Brown School that stood at the southeast corner of the school plat, where the tennis courts are now.  He taught school here and at one time boarded with Mrs. Charles VanHouten, on whom he called Tuesday.  While a resident here Grif found a candle-snuffer, which looks like a small pair of scissors, with an enlarged pocket on one blade.  In that day they were commonly used, because it was more than 17 years before Portland’s municipal electric plant became a reality.  When Mr. Weippert later moved back to the Sebewa-Sunfield area, he took the snuffer along.  Tuesday he dropped the gadget on the R & O counter and explained its use.
   Oliver (Bristie) Smith, who has spent most of his years at electrical work, also farms.  The family owns what years ago was the White place or “White Sanitarium” at the east village limits (north side of Grand River Avenue at the end of Bridge Street).  Bristie tells us that a week or so ago his five ewes gave birth to eleven lambs.  One had four, one three, one two, another had two but one died at birth, and one had a single.  (Ed: Such records are not uncommon in small flocks, because the shepherd has kept his/her very best ewes and given them the very best feed and individual care.)
   Mrs. Ida Decker and son Dower have purchased the John & Harriet Clark property at the bend in Beers Street (now Riverside Drive), and expect to put it in good repair for their immediate occupancy. 

April 22, 1908:

   Monroe B. Divine, senior proprietor of Hotel Diving, died at Hotel Burke in Lake Odessa, of apoplexy.  He had gone there to visit and was suddenly taken ill. 

May 20, 1908:

   Professor Onley Waterman, of Utica, MI, is to be Superintendent of Portland Schools next year.  He will receive a salary of $1000 per year.
   George W. Allen, Will McClelland and James Webster went to Charlotte to inspect some of the new cars which the defunct Dolson Auto Company has placed on the market at reduced prices.
   Prine E. Barclay is getting materials on the grounds for a new house, to be built on his farm west of Portland this summer.  (ED:  This is the stately brick house just west of the Wagonwhell Restaurant and Bowling Alleys, long occupied by the Edwin & Josephine Rowe family, then by Ronald Lenneman family and now is the headquarters for Jim Mayer’s concrete and landscaping business.) 

May 20, 1948:

   The Knapp family is repairing the former Carbaugh (Nancy Chase/Puffer/Murphy) house and will rent it out.  (ED:  This is the now-collapsed farmhouse just west of the Bible Missionary Campgrounds.)
   Ted (Erwin G.) Wilson, is almost 90 and drives every day.  We would guess him to the the oldest local driver, although one would not take him for a man of 89 years.  (ED:  Ted Wilson long owned the farm in Sec. 35 Orange Township and Sec. 1 & 2 Sebewa Township, which was first rented and later owned by Francis Lawless and family.) 

June 17, 1948:

   Frank J. McGowan was buried in Portland Cemetery with full military honors, following services at Portland Congregational Church.  Bearers, veterans of First World War, as was Mr. McGowan, were Oliver Tachopp, Ben Sykes, Sylvester Jenkins, Guy Peake, William H. Harris and Dr. Basil E. Lowry.  Death occurred at the Veterans Facility in Grand Rapids.  For many years he was in the musical entertainment field, including the annual Lowell Showboat.  His wife was the former Ruth Smith, and 20 years ago they became partners in the Portland Country Club with Mr. & Mrs. Charles (Mary) Lockwood, founders.  Later the Lockwoods bought them out.  The women were sisters, daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Ben Smith and granddaughters of the original owner of that farm, Laban Smith, Sr.  Mrs. McGowan died five years ago.  Surviving is one son, Frank, Jr., recent graduate of Portland High School, and a brother Edward, of Brooklyn, NY.
   Rev. George Stanford has been transferred to Vicksburg Methodist Church after five successful years at Portland, coming here from Shelby.  Rev. William Simpson comes here from Constantine. 

March 16, 1941: 

   Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Evans will move soon from their farm in Sebewa Township to Flint, where Mr. Evans will be manager of Witherall Registered Guernsey Dairy Farm.
   The election of Lorenzo Webber as President of Webber State Savings Bank marks the ascendency of the third generation as recognized head of the bank.  (ED:  Lorenzo, Sr., John, Sr. Lorenzo, Jr.)
   The position of Superintendent of Portland Public Schools has been offered to Miss Blanche Vaughn, one of the most efficient instructors at the High School, at a salary of $800 per year.
   The Smith Brothers, Will, Ben and Dan, have purchased a new Battle Creek threshing engine, which is the best one in these parts. 

March 23, 1941:

   Robert Norris (son of Dr. & Mrs. W. W. Norris) has been named valedictorian of the Class of 1941 at Portland High School.  Wendell Brown is salutatorian.  Others with a 3.0 or above grade average include Edmund Zarfas, Earl Foster, Mary Hathaway, Arnold Whitney, Edys Ingraham, Betty Lou Farmer and Jean Lindsley. 

March 30, 1941:

   Francis Burger will begin work in a few days on the extension to his garage which will bring it through to Kent St.  It will be built of red brick and will greatly improve the appearance of Kent Street.
   Peake & Young Market has purchased 100 tons of ice at Lyons for use this coming summer.  No ice was harvested in Portland this year.
   Details of the plans for the new St. Patrick’s Church were completed by Fr. John Griffin at Detroit this week.
   Miles Whitney has been appointed Village Marshall and Albert Way Street Commissioner. 

April 6, 1961:

   Five veteran village employees were honored, representing 175 years of service to Portland.  Oliver (Bristie) Smith of the electric department is the oldest employee in years of service.  He is now in his 46th year, having started work Sept. 1, 1915.  George Allen, hydro-electric plant operator, began May 1, 1918.  Bernard Morse, now village manager, hired in to village Sept. 1, 1924.  Chief of Police Jay Clark went to work Jan. 1, 1932.  Mrs. Flossie Burger has been on the village office staff since Aug. 10, 1933. 

April 16, 1921:

   Twelve students will receive diplomas on June 17.  The members of this year’s PHS graduating class are:  Dana Marie Vunk, Gertrude Sprague, Bessie Mellstead, Ada McLean, Malcolm Robertson, Irma Ginnebaugh, Margaret Pryer, Cornelius Van Benschoten, Ethel First, Christine Rogers, Lloyd Gibbs and Beatrice Miller.  


CLASS LISTS – Sebewa Center School (As of 1st day of school each year)

Year:  1950-1951; Teacher:  Maxine Torrey 

Kdg:
Betty Cross
Sandra Meyers
Charles Powell
Kenneth Shilton

1st:
Gerald Brandsen
Raymond Cross
Cheryll Gierman
Jeffrey Gierman

2nd:
Marlene Brandsen
Rosalie Cross

3rd:
Robert Brandsen

4th:
Ralph Powell

5th:
Robert Hollenbeck

6th:
Ruth Bailiff
Elaine Cross
Fred Feutz

7th:
Kendall Cross
Marilyn Powell

8th:
Wayne Powell 

 

Year:  1951-1952; Teacher Maxine Torrey 

Kdg:
George Gierman
Jill Meyers
Judy Powell
Royal Shilton

1st:
Betty Cross
Sandra Meyers
Charles Powell
Kenneth Shilton

2nd:
Gerald Brandsen
Raymond Cross
Cheryll Gierman
Jeffrey Gierman

3rd:
Marlene Brandsen
Roselie Cross

4th:
Robert Brandsen

5th:
Ralph Powell

6th:
Robert Hollenbeck

7th:
Elaine Cross
Ruth Bailiff

8th:
Kendall Cross
Marilyn Powell 

 

Year:  1952-1953; Teacher:  Joyce Luscher 

Kdg:
Robert Cary
Leonard Cross
Sandra Gierman
Linda Meyers
Jerry Shook

1st:
George Gierman
Jill Meyers
Judy Powell
Royal Shilton

2nd:
Sam Carey
Betty Cross
Sandra Meyers
Charles Powell
Kenneth Shilton

3rd:
Jerry Brandsen
Raymond Cross
Cheryl Gierman
Jeffrey Gierman

4th:
Marlene Brandsen
Ruby Carey
Rosalie Cross

5th:
Robert Brandsen

6th:
Nancy Carey
Ralph Powell

7th:
Robert Hollenbeck

8th:
Ruth Bailiff
Elaine Cross 


SKETCH ON OPPOSITE PAGE:  Shows a portion of Portland in 1881.  The building located near the Grand River at top center is provided with waterpower by a raceway from the dam which once stood behind today’s Portland Library.  This building (Number 8 on the sketch) was the original sawmill and woodworking shop of Portland Manufacturing Co. 


PICTURE:

Above:  The building with the fancy entrance served many purposes.  Originally built as a skating rink by two Belding bankers, it was managed by Monroe Divine for a time.  From the bandstand suspended from the ceiling, the Portland Cornet Band played music nightly for the skaters.  Besides amateurs, professional skaters and bicycle riders also gave exhibitions on the fine maple floor.  When the skating craze ended, Portland Manufacturing co. had offices in the Kent St. end of the building and painted Terriff’s  Perfect Washers in the Maple St. end.
   The cover picture (of this Recollector edition) shows a shipment being loaded at the rear of the building, and a small picture at left above shows that famous machine and W.W. Terriff himself in dark suit.  Later the Verity Co. manufactured coat hangers here, then the place was a livery stable, and later Herman Rochlitz (maternal grandfather of Geraldine Pierce Torp-Smith) used it as a feed mill, before it was torn down in 1940.


 

FROM:  Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor
       THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
       3226 E. Musgrove Hwy.
       Lake Odessa, MI  48849-9528




Last update May 27, 2013