THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Historical Newsletter from Sebewa; June 2011, Volume 46, Number 6:
SURNAMES: Burhans, Dorman, Slowins, Leik, Vincent, Keefer, Fleetham, Creighton, Gibbs, Cooper, Mauren, McCloy.
FRONT PAGE PHOTO of BURHANS BLOCK, IONIA, MICHIGAN
THE BURHANS FAMILY OF IONIA By Grayden Slowins:
As an update to our paragraph in the April issue about the BURHANS family of Sebewa and Portland, we quote an account book from the Burhans family of Ionia passed down to us through the Ariel Morris estate. The book is titled “A Record of Rants and Tenants, By Mrs. Rachael A. Buchan’s, Ionia, Mich.” We don’t really know how Ariel happened to have it, but suspect that she or her husband, Lynn Morris, settled the Rachael Burhans estate.
We claim no knowledge of any connection between Rachael Burhans, her husband, Winslow Burhans, and the Burhans families of Sebewa and Portland, but if we went back far enough probably there is.
Rachael A. Dorman, born in July 1831-32-33 in New York, lived in Ionia, Michigan, was listed in 1860-1880-1900 censuses; estimated date of marriage recorded by daughter – 1860, was married to Winslow P. Burhans, born 1822 in New York. Their children were: Hannah D. (Dollie) Burhans, born 1862, Winslow P. Burhans, Jr., 1867-1870, and a second Winslow P. Burhans, Jr., 1875-1900.
Widowed by 1891, Rachael was left with several store buildings her husband had purchased or had built on Main Street in Ionia. Some were single or double store fronts, including the eastern-most and perhaps more of the three small brick buildings west of the Orson Co/Resurrection Life Building and possibly the western portion of the Coe Building. The main source of her income was the Burhans Block. This is the three-story, double-front building located between the theatre and the Webber/Voelker/Barker Building. (See photo.)
The United States Government rented, on 5-year lease contracts over many years, first 5 years the east half, thereafter the west half of the ground floor for use as the U. S. Post Office. The first contract began January 1, 1889, at $750.00 annual rental, paid quarterly in $187.50 installments, rent payable at Webber Bros. Bank. She rented all the other rooms and suites in the Burhans Block and other buildings, usually for $4.00 to $16.00 per room per month in the early years.
This steady income, plus whatever else her husband left her, although meager by 2011 standards, allowed her to build and maintain that salmon-pink sandstone and brick house at the corner of Rich and Lafayette Streets, now owned and occupied by Schrauben-Lehman Funeral Homes. This was built after her husband’s death. The 1875 Plat Map shows they had acquired the lots and probably planned the home together. Winslow P. Burhans owned the land running along Rich Street between Washington and Lafayette Street, with the original house setting in the center and running north and south instead of east and west as today. By 1891 he was dead and she had sold the south two-thirds of the lot to a Dr. Logan. This would appear to include the old house. One can’t be sure of the house dates, because deeds only show ownership of the land and not structures on the land. When people on the House Tour claim their home dates to 1842, they know only the date the land was first taken up from the U. S. Government.
The new house was designed for entertaining to the tastes of Rachael and her daughter, Mrs. Willis (Hannah D., Dollie) Vandeventer, whose husband was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Vandeventers apparently never lived in Ionia, except to visit, entertain, and be entertained, each summer before the first Monday in October, at which time the new term of court began. Willis Vandeventer was born in 1859 and married Dolly in 1883, in Ionia.
Tenants in Rachael A. Burhans’ buildings in order listed were:
1. Royal A. Hawley had law offices in Burhans Block, Rooms 10-11-12 second floor west side, @ $175.00 per year.
2. Nichols & Harrigan (SP?) had law offices there after Hawley moved, @ $135.00 per year.
3. Mary K. Harman rented all the rooms in the third story @ $120.00 per year, with credit for cleaning other offices. Rooms in the upper floors were often lived in, but what were the plumbing arrangements?
4. John L. Taylor rented the first floor east side, after the Post Office moved to the west side, renewed every two years, @ $500.00 per year.
5. Thomas Bailey, proprietor of the Bailey House Hotel next east, rented part of the first floor east side for a restaurant & lunch counter, @ $8.00 per month.
6. A. E. Cottingham later rented the east front rooms first floor and one room above, for his dental office, @ $175.oo per year, payable $14.50 monthly.
7. Mr. Gaffney rented Rooms 10-11-12 second floor west side after Nichols & Harrigan, $175.00 per year.
8. E. J. Montgomery rented Rooms 7-8-9 second floor west side @ $80.00 per year.
9. Mrs. Parker rented the small brick block on the north side of West Main Street for a store, @ $16.00 per month, soon moved out.
10. Mr. McMillen rented front two rooms third floor east side, @ $4.00 per year.
11. May Rogers rented front two rooms third floor east side, @ $3.50 per month.
12. M. Skillinger rented all rooms third floor east side, @ $8.00 per month, later reduced to $5.00 per month.
13. Basement under Post Office rented to unnamed party, @ $1.50 per week, party soon gone.
14. Roger Peca (SP?) rented Pickford house, @ $10.00 per month, later reduced to $8.00 per month as credit for repairs he made.
15. Mr. McAlary rented house on Cemetery Street (now Yeomans Street), @ $7.00 per month.
16. Joseph Dehn rented building on north side of Main Street formerly occupied by Mrs. Parker, @ $240.00 per year, to be paid $20 monthly with first three months in advance.
17. Henry Candy (SP?) rented basement under Post Office (west side) @ $50.00 per year, payable quarterly in advance.
18. Received groceries weekly from Joe Dehn to apply on rent.
19. Theron M. Nesbett rented one room on upper floor @ $5.00 per month in advance.
20. Mrs. Mary K. Harmon rented all the rooms on third floor, plus Rooms 3-4-5 on second floor, @ $216 per year - $18.00 monthly.
21. Jesse J. Steele & Joe A. Steele rented brick block on north side of west Main Street @ $16.00 per month in advance.
22. Bible & Thompson rented first floor east side formerly rented to John L. Taylor, @ $480.00 per year, provided they pay own improvements.
23. John McKenna leased a second floor room @ $125.00 per year.
24. Robert J. Brecken & Mr. Gable rented the West Main store building, @ $36.00 per month.
25. John Young rented the restaurant & lunch counter rooms on east side of building, @ $480.00 per year.
26. William Buck leased and later bought the West End store building.
27. State Telephone Company rented Rooms 4-5 second floor formerly rented to Mary K. Harmon, for phone office, @ $130.00 per year.
28. George Dye, Jr. rented Room 10 as a one-room office @ $4.00 per month.
29. Harvey Kidder rented a one-room office @ $4.00 per month.
30. Fred G. Lauster rented rooms for a market, @ $50.00 per 3 months.
31. John Carten rented rooms for a store, @ $12.00 per month.
32. H. J. Harrigan rented a one-room law office, @ $11.25 per month.
33. Marcussen & Company rented one-room office, @ $15.00 per month.
34. U. S. Express Company rented building January 1, 1909, @ $29.17 per month. (Final Entry)
AUCTION A SUCCESS By Grayden Slowins
Our auction of farm machinery, household furnishings, antiques and collectibles on Saturday, April 23, 2011, went well. After several days of heavy rains, with water standing everywhere, the sun came out about 10:00 AM, just in time for the start of the sale. Over 400 people registered to bid, and many of these were couples or families, so the crowd estimate was between 500 and 600 people. Many relatives, friends, and casual acquaintances showed up for the social event and entertainment. With so many faces, we often could not speak the name of the person we saw or heard say our names.
As always, some things brought only average prices, while many small items sold for unbelievably high prices. Among the most ridiculous were several one-quart glass Mason jars with tin oil spouts that sold for $12 - $15 each! A daisy glass butter churn with a hole in the bottom brought $20. An antique hand-crank wooden wall phone sold for $145. Toy tractors (Allis-Chalmers brand for an Allis-Chalmers crowd) brought $45 - $85. Choice post-drivers sold for only $3 each, probably because they looked like work. With scrap iron prices currently at $245 per ton, the dealers bid anything metal up to that level. With copper quoted at $6 per pound, a brass gas funnel was bid see-saw fashion in $1 jumps from $17 up to a final $50. The bottom line showed very satisfactory results.
Most purchases were removed that day or Monday. On Tuesday we were able to sweep out the toolshed for the new owners, leaving only a small pile of unclaimed household items and a couple small piles best described as trash. The rain began again, so we could not haul the trash away. Photos in this or succeeding issues will show the farm machinery display and the crowds enjoying the day.
SHARRON JUNE DUNSMORE VanVLECK KIRCHER McCARGAR , 75, widow of Harvey VanVleck, Fred Kircher and Richard McCargar, mother of three sons, Rick of Pleasant Lake, MI, Lynn of Apollo Beach, FL, and Matt VanVleck, of Saranac, MI, sister of Ardelis Endrei of North Olmsted, OH, and Alaina Trout of Onekama, MI, daughter of George & Ariel (Denton) Dunsmore (Morris), daughter of Arthur Elliot Denton & Cora DeAlice Vandecar, daughter of George A. Vandecar & Agnes A. Schnabel, daughter of Michael Schnabel & Mary Cantant, daughter of John Cantant. Born in Ionia, MI, June 2, 1935, died February 4, 2011. Sharron was a Probation Officer in Eaton County, MI, and a photographer in Eustis, FL, and Ionia, as well as an officer in Kircher, Ore and Refining in Oregon. Funeral at First United Methodist Church, Ionia.
WALTER A. LAWRENCE, 78, husband of JoEllen Lawrence, father of James (Lara) Lawrence of Knoxville, TN, and Sarah (Richard) Mann of Cedar Springs, MI, brother of Howard Lawrence, Jr., Margaret Jack, Paul (Martha) Lawrence, late Luther and Gordon Lawrence, son of Clara Luther & Howard Lawrence, grandson of Alexander & Etta Talcott Luther and Cyrus S. & Maggie Lawrence, who settled before 1891 in Sebewa Township, on the Henry & Ethel Hoort farm. Walter, who was born in Lansing, where his father was State Banking Commissioner and State Treasurer under Gov. Fred W. Green, died March 12, 2011.
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET” Gathered from back issues of PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER
May 22, 1947: The Ionia County Road Commission has been taking down three towering poplar trees which for years have stood along the sidewalk on Water Street on the lot where the old WORDEN Hotel stood. Their removal marks death of the last relic of that era. Towering over 80 feet in the air, these old giants have seen many summers come and pass. Gradually dying, it was deemed best to cut them down. Employees of the commission were here first of the week and took them down in sections. The Worden Hotel stood on that corner for many years, but was bought by the state and wrecked to make room for widening and raising US-16 when the new bridge was built. (1936) The land on which the hotel stood was transformed into a roadside park and is one of many beauty spots along the Grand River in vicinity of Portland. (When I-96 replaced US-16 in 1956-1957, the park was turned over to the City of Portland and names Toan Memorial Park.)
On a more personal note; The word hotel has special anguish for me. I was taught to read phonetically by my schoolteacher mother. But the English language can have its pitfalls. In Second Grade Reading Class I mispronounced the word when we were reading about visiting Yellowstone National Park. I said there were hot’els in the park. The smart-aleck boy who laughed at me is still alive today. Forty years later there was a TV program called “Hot’el Baltimore” staring Conchita somebody, who is now the housekeeper on “Two and a half Men”. I felt redeemed but was still scarred for life. Our teacher, Miss Esther Terwilliger, had put me in the “B” (slow) reading class for a couple months. At age 50, we learned I had always had undiagnosed Dyslexia. I read well, just slowly.)
July 8, 1928: A faithful old bay horse, daily companion of William Sherman Keefer, dropped dead near Knox’s Portland Elevator Co. Friday, died in the harness as the saying goes.
Alan Green, son of Mr. & Mrs. Lemuel Green, who enlisted last fall in the navy, will be home in a few days, having been granted a discharge.
Misses Christine and Constance Webber are converting the little brick garage at the lower end of the Webber lot into a cozy tea room. (This little brick building located along Grand River Avenue opposite the flour mill was a new and used book store in later years.)
It was quite warlike out on US-16 Friday, where autos were being stopped for brake inspection. One of the officers told Justice John B. Hecox that 50% of the vehicles stopped had faulty brakes.
During the storm Friday evening, the John Gross home on Looking Glass Avenue was struck by lightning, causing minor damage.
July 8, 1908: Wilber Robinson and Miss Frances Dickson were tied for first-place honors and Leon Lockwood was third, in this year’s graduating class at Portland High School.
The steeple of St. Patrick’s Church was struck by lightening and pieces were scattered over the neighborhood. (This original wooden church, built in 1878, was moved to the northwest corner of the block in 1926 and replaced by the present brick structure. The old church was converted into a parish hall and was destroyed by fire in 1931.)
July 8, 1948: Portland Review & Observer were being congratulated on moving into their new building opposite Portland Carnegie Library.
July 15, 1908: Philo N. Chapel has opened a shoe-repair shop at the foot (north end) of Kent Street.
August 5, 1908: Tony Leik returned last week from a trip to Germany.
September 30, 1948: Although Portland was represented this week at the Annual National G.A.R. Encampment at Grand Rapids, it has been years since John Megarah Post has been represented by an actual member. Philo N. Chapel fibbed his age to enlist in the army at the time of the Civil War, and was the last member of the local Grand Army of the Republic Post. He passed away in 1928. He had passed the required examination in all ways except for weight. Too light for the infantry, he was accepted for the cavalry, which was all right with Philo. The examining officer shot a quick question as to his age, to which Mr. Chapel answered: “I am going to be 18 and I hope to reach that age before long.” The officer smiled and accepted his explanation. Philo served two years under Michigan’s General George Armstrong Custer, and when back from the front on furlough, sat on the courthouse steps at Springfield, IL, and visited with President Lincoln.
December 6, 1962: Fred Vincent, 82, passed away at his home at Sebewa Corners last Thursday morning, and services were held at Ionia Saturday afternoon. Surviving are the wife, Rose, a son Arthur, and a daughter, Mrs. Herbert Moyer, both of Portland, and four grandchildren. Mr. Vincent had at one time been a blacksmith in the Ionia and Muir areas and was a retired farmer. Burial was in Oak Hill Cemetery in Ionia.
December 6, 1962: Portland Realty reports the sale of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Fedewa’s new house, located on Keefer Highway in Sebewa Township, to Vaughn & Janet Carter.
March 7, 1943: Miss Betty Pryer of Portland has accepted a position as assistant chemist at the Naval Ordinance Plant of the Hudson Motor Car Co. in Detroit.
Mr. & Mrs. Harold STORZ have purchased of Mrs. A. WHITTEMORE of Grand Rapids, the former George Ramsey home on Beers St. (Riverside Dr.) in Portland. The Storz family have occupied the home for some time.
March 7, 1903: Oscar DRAKE, a clerk in the Cornell store at Sebewa Corners, was married Saturday to Florence COLE, of Portland.
March 14, 1943: Paul SPOHN, who lives on a farm on US-16 west of Portland, has purchased the ice business in Portland from Bill Blough. (Last issue of the Recollector carried an item that no ice was expected to be put up in February, 1943, because Edwin (Bill) Blough was leaving for the service and could find no-one to take over his ice business.
Sheridan Wilson KEEFER, 69, lifelong resident of Orange Township and its Supervisor for the past 14 years, passed away Saturday morning.
John SHEETS, who has been carrier on the Star Route from Portland Post Office for the past 18 years, has resigned his position and Charles RADER has been appointed to fill the post.
Sgt. Elmer CREIGHTON from Sebewa Township is stationed at Lake Charles, Louisiana. (Elmer later served in an Air Force ground crew in England, using his Blacksmith skills to repair holes shot in planes during bombing raids over Germany.)
Mr. & Mrs. Arnold GROSS are the new owners of the William Earl farm of 100 acres on Looking Glass Avenue.
March 14, 1903: John A. McCLELLAND is having a bathroom built onto the sourth side of his residence in Portland.
November, 18, 1948: William FLEETHAM, 50, of Sunfield, died Sunday at St. Lawrence Hospital, a few hours after suffering a heart attack. Mr. Fleetham, who had been employed in the Lewis Smith barber shop in Portland for some time, is survived by his wife Beulah, the former Beulah URIE of Portland, daughter Virginia VanAntwerp of Lansing, sons Curwood and Jack of Sunfield, and a brother John. Mr. Fleetham had been a musician in several Portland orchestras.
November 25, 1908: Someone threw three large rocks through windows at Lyman J. Clark’s store at Jeffery, near Danby Grange Hall. (Anyone ever heard of this ghost town? Was it at Shimnecon?)
December 2, 1948: Cleon CREIGHTON, 51, born in Sebewa Township February 8, 1897. A veteran of WWI, he was a son of the late Daniel CREIGHTON and lived in Sebewa all his life except for military service. Survived by his mother, Minnie Creighton and brother Clifton, he is buried in West Sebewa Cemetery.
Lewis W. GIBBS, 72, widower of Frances COOK GIBBS, father of Mildred Briggs, Violet VerCies, and Lloyd Gibbs, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild, son of Mr. & Mrs. William Gibbs, he was born May 26, 1876, and died November 27, 1848. A lifelong farmer on the Gibbs family farm in Orange Township, he is buried in Portland Cemetery.
December 1948 marked the 52nd anniversary of the municipal electric department of the village of Portland. The first plant at the municipal dam was the only power supply, and it succeeded a privately-owned generating plant which in its day had furnished lights for the downtown section of the village. The present plant at the dam was built in 1932 and replaced that 1896 plant. A short time later the Diesel engine was added at the village waterworks as an auxiliary. Portland has grown so rapidly that these sources of electricity are no longer ample, and the village has a contract with Tri-County Electric Cooperative for furnishing extra power to the village system. For many years the “flat rate” was in effect on electricity, and everyone left every room in the house lighted up. Came the day when that folly was discontinued and the meter system installed. (Even after that, homes at the outskirts of town were allowed to have their porch light wired to bypass the meter and burn all night as a “streetlight”.) The Village Commission is now studying plans for adding more diesel generators to supply added power.
December 16, 1948: Mrs. Sarah COOPER, 85, for many years a resident of Sebewa Township, died at an Ionia Convalescent Home Monday, December 13, 1948, where she had been a patient since being moved from her home a half-mile west of the Sebewa Campgrounds. (Her farm home is now the township park called Sunshine.) There are no surviving children, and her husband, Charles Cooper, died 10 years ago. A half-brother, Wallace Hollenback, had been residing with Mrs. Cooper for some time.
That there was still one wolverine left in the State of Michigan was proven last week, when two sons of Clare Spalding, hunting in a small patch of woods near the James Jeffrey farmhouse in Danby Township, returned from their trip with one of these rare animals as a trophy of the hunt.
January 2, 1918: It is estimated that Clarence Budington (Bud) Kelland’s yearly income from his writing exceeds $35,000! Clarence was born in Portland and residents here are glad to know of his success.
Dr. Robert W. Alton of Westphalia has purchases the Dr. Dellenbaugh hame on the west side and will move here. (This is the large house at Pleasant St and Grand River Ave and included the horse pasture now called Alton Park.)
January 9, 1938: Death, following months of ill health, closed the career of Fred J. MAUREN, Sr., whose entire lifetime had been spent in Portland, and who had been associated with the Portland Review for a half century. He was 69 and death came at his home on Lincoln Street Monday morning, January 6, 1938. In 1883 he started work on the Ionia County Courier, later worked on the Portland Observer, and in 1890 entered the employ of Frank E. Doremus at the Portland Review, established in 1886. In 1892 he purchased half interest and in 1904 took over remaining interest in the paper.
January 9, 1958: Funeral services were held last week for D. W. McCLOY of Bowling Green, Ohio, who died Sunday night. Mr. McCloy was over 90 years old and was the father of Mrs. Welland G. Sprague.
Portland Realty announced the sale of the building at the southwest corner of Kent and Bridge Streets. Plans were to remodel the building and rename it from the Knox Building to the Portland Professional Building. The purchase was made from the Schlernitzauer estate. The building was first occupied more than fifty years before by the W. E. Ludwig Dry Goods Store. Later Will C. Stone had a grocery there, and the next occupant was Frank’s 5 cent to $1 Store (Frank Schlernitzauer).
$5.00 per year by July 1st covers our printing and postage costs. Special on back issues: $69/46 years, shipping included. Please take note of our new, corrected, 2011 address
FROM: Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
702 Clark Crossing, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506-3300
Last update January 17, 2013