THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Historical Newsletter from Sebewa; Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI;
February 2014, Volume 49, Number 4. Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden
EVENTS OF 1914 By George E. Leik, contributed by Charles Leik.(We may have published parts of this series of articles twenty or more years ago, perhaps submitted by George himself, but even if we did, they are worth repeating, and we hope they will lead to sequels.) It was early in 1914 and preparations were under way to move back to the farm from Quarterline St. Henry, Jerry and I liked the idea. I don’t think Marie was too concerned and Helen was completely against it. She thought town life was much more dignified than living on a farm. All farm equipment had been sold off at auction only two years before. A double buggy and a single buggy were retained. The double buggy was bought new probably about 1905. The single buggy was old, rickety, and ready for replacement. Dad’s first purchase was a fine team of Belgian horses that weighed in at about 3000 pounds. Rob was four years old and Doll was five. They were bought from the Rademacher family living on the first farm west of Uncle Jim Moriarty on Lookingglass Ave. The price was $450. The horses were kept in the barn where we lived. I don’t remember the exact sequence of the following purchases, but they were all in rapid succession. One evening after school the two horses were led downtown by their halters and tied to telephone poles in front of Ferris Wilhhelm’s harness shop. I think the shop was in the building now occupied by Milt Smith’s music store. Loitering farmers’ sons gathered to voice their opinions. Uncle Jim was one of them. He was a good judge of horses and the fitting of proper size collars. Wilhelm and his helper, George Whitney, made the harnesses from slabs of leather just as it came from the tannery. Dad had ordered the harness to be void of frills, such as brass knobs on the hames, and other ornaments avid horse-lovers wanted. The horses were then driven up the street to John Bauer’s wagon shop. The site, including the same building, was later bought by Henry and me for a used car lot. The wagon was a pretty sight, painted red, striped in black and “John Baurer”, the builder, painted on the rear axle. I’m sure the wagon was bought and paid for previously, as I don’t recall talk of price, etc. The price was $55 including the neck yoke, evener and whiffletrees. Jerry, Henry, Dad and I all sat on the wagon reach or on the rear axle and rode up to our home on Quarterline St. It was in March, so must have been near sundown when we got home. The first job for the wagon came the very next day. We had a pile of wood that had been moved down from the farm and now had to be moved back. I don’t recall what was used for a wagon-box. It may be that “dump boards” were borrowed from the Urie brothers who lived next door and carried on a small farming operation in town. It must have been a warm day, as I remember when getting home from school that night the pretty new wagon was covered with mud. The roads in those days were a hog-wallow in Springtime. Another purchase made was a sleigh with a 16-foot-long platform and high side-racks mounted on it. It was bought at some farm auction, whether before or after buying the team, I don’t know. It was hauled to Quarterline and left on the back of the lot near Albro St. Another article bought was a forty-foot extension ladder. That was bought at a Mrs. Ingraham’s auction. That auction was on the farm now owned by Iran Lay. Mr. Ingraham was a suicide during the winter and his wife was leaving the farm. At that time the farm was known as The New Sydney Farm. The owner was a Mr. Rudolph who was living in Sydney, Australia, or had been living there. The tenant who lived on our farm for the two years we were in town was Wm. Leik, with wife Seraphine, son Harold and three daughters, Romida, Florence and Philomenia. Mr. Leik was Dad’s first cousin. He bought the William Phillips farm, two farm homes to the west. (Elizabeth Margrat farm, now belonging to Iva Pung’s family.) While these events were taking place a third horse was bought for we kids to drive to school. The horse’s name was Nancy, a gentle fat dark brown horse that was not too fast on the road and could also be used as a third horse when a three-horse team was needed. Price was $200. She was bought at Chris Margand’s auction. Chris was a widower of three years and lived on Barr Rd. directly across the road from the farm that I bought in 1942 from my Uncle Henry Stoeffel. I recall hearing Mother tell Dad to pay above average price if necessary to get the horse, on account of the horse’s reputation for safety and not being afraid of automobiles. Rob and Doll were afraid of automobiles and it was scary to meet a car on the road and have them act in a very frightening manner. It was not uncommon for horses to “run away” with whatever they were drawing and cause serious accidents resulting in death. We were soon settled on the farm. The house was quite a “let down” from the house on Quarterline St. Mother started papering and soon had the house in respectable condition. Mother always papered the sidewalls and hired Myron Way to do the ceilings. Myron was an elderly man who was one of Mother’s early school teachers. He lived on the corner of Grand River Ave. and Friend Rd., next to where Vandervenne later had a grocery store. I’m sure there wasn’t much income from the farm. I do remember of taking a double crate of eggs to town each week. A double crate was 30 dozen and brought $5.40. I also remember Mrs. Dell Northrop and a hired girl, Irene Sargent, taking a double crate to town twice a week. A double crate was a little too long to set flat between the sides of the buggy back of the dashboard, so one end had to rest on top of a side, making it ride at an angle. As spring passed and blended into summer, the hens “let up” on their laying and a single crate sufficed. I would guess our hen flock numbered 100 hens more or less. They roamed the farm at will, picked their own living and chose their own nests. They often hid their nests under burdocks of horse mangers and “sat” on a nest of eggs, and after three weeks showed up leading a brood of little chicks. We did not do all the farming. I think Ernest Sandborn put in the oats on a 50-50 basis. A new walking plow, a land roller, a two section drag and a John Deere No. 999 corn planter were bought. When June and haying time came, a McCormick mower and dump rake had to be bought. The plow was a Champion with a heavy cast iron beam. The plow and roller were both made to by Witte’s Foundry in Portland. He made the molds, melted down the iron and poured the metal into the molds, at the foundry located just above where Sam Burman built his brick house in the 1920s. The parts such as plow moldboard and landside that were made of steel, came from outside sources. The field planted to corn that year was kitty-corner across from the Knox Rd. and Nelson Rd. intersection. The new Deere planter was used and the corn checked, that is planted in hills so it could be cultivated in both directions. Most corn was planted that way so as to have better control of weeds. The field was twelve acres. The lower part of the field, where the ravine runs west to east, was badly infested with thistles. Dad told Henry and Jerry he would give them &5 each in the Fall if they kept the thistles down with the hoe. They hoed all summer and did a good job. The hay was put up by ourselves. The wheat was harvested by Wm. Leik. He had planted the wheat the previous Fall and had a half interest in it. I mentioned in the early part of the story that our single buggy was old and dilapidated. I recall that the left front wheel had a broken section in the rim between two spokes every time that spot contacted the ground, there was a thump. The roads that Spring were really muddy. Wheels went into ruts that let the buggy down half way to the axle. Nancy was a quiet, gentle horse and sometimes would stop and turn her head around and look at us when she got tired. Sometime during late Spring or early Summer a sale catalog came from Sears. There was a buggy shown in bright colors that was on sale for $49.75. That included what they described as a “rubber covered boot”, that fitted over the dashboard and reached up and fastened to the top bows at a height that could be seen-over by a grown person. We ordered a buggy. The mail brought a card from the freight depot saying there was a buggy there for us. The mail was carried by horse and buggy. We were at the end of the route, so we didn’t get the car till about 3 or 4 p.m. Jerry and Henry drove down in the buggy, thinking the only thing they would have to do was install the wheels, which they expected would be tied in a flat position under the buggy box. It was far different. The buggy was packed in a small, very efficient package that would take some time to assemble. They came home and went back down the next morning with the wagon and platform rack, and loaded the crate containing the parts and came home. The crate was unloaded under a maple tree near the road and everyone except Mother and Dad wanted a part in assembling. The job was soon done. The running gear (wheels, axles, springs, etc.) were red with black stripes. The box, dash, seat and top were black; the upholstery was fine greenish-black broadcloth. It was a pretty and stylish vehicle. I’m sure we hooked Nancy to it and went on the road. It was sometime around the middle of July that I heard the first talk about going to Fowler to visit Uncle Pat and Aunt Mary Ann Long. I am sure the last previous time we met was in 1912, when we all went in the double buggy to cousin Jim Long’s wedding. At that time we did not attend the church services, but went to the bride’s folks’ farm somewhere south and east of Fowler. We drove a horse by the name of Ned that we borrowed from Wm. Leik. Mother, Henry and I were the ones to go this time. We left home about 6:30 a.m. We were right in front of St. Pat’s when the 7 a.m. bell rang. At that time St. Pat’s sat parallel to Grand River Ave. just east of the priest’s house at the corner of Church St. I suppose we went north on Divine Hwy. No roads had names at that time. Mother knew the general direction, but had to kind of guess her way along. Suddenly we came to a farm that she said was sure was where a Mrs. Tony Marin lived and she would not go past without stopping to see her. It was a prosperous looking farm. We drove in and it was Mrs. Martin. I’m sure they hugged and kissed. Mr. Martin soon had a bottle of wine and saw that we had all we wanted. We stayed no longer than half an hour and hurried on, for we had a “long way to go”. Mr. Martin was a quiet man. Their two sons, George and Ferd, were backing the wagon out of the barn, probably to draw hay or wheat bundles. The Martins later on bought the house just east of the church that had been occupied by Dad’s Uncle Henry Leik from about 1913 to 1924. We came to a corner where we turned north. Mother recognized it to be Stevenson’s Corners. I think I could still find it. The Longs lived about two miles west of Fowler and about a mile or more north. It must have been about 11 a.m. when we got there. I think Uncle Pat was around the house as well as Aunt Mary Ann and Rachel (Mrs. Dr. Fox). Pat went to the cellar and got us a bottle of beer, which Mother, Henry and I divided between us. I don’t remember anything about Duard, then 14 years old and the youngest of the family. He was killed in 1927 north of Westphalia in a car accident. Ed and the hired man were cutting wheat and came in from the field at noon. They washed up at the pump. Ed was a jovial young guy of about 22 or 24 years of age and made a big thing of the straw hat he was wearing with the top of the crown missing. We had a big dinner of the type husky farmers would eat who had probably not eaten since seven or before that morning. In the afternoon meal Rachel, Henry and I drove our horse and buggy to Jim Long’s. His was the wedding that took place in 1912 that I mentioned previously. Jim lived on his own farm and was in bed with rheumatism that made him unable to continue farming. On Sunday we went to the Fowler church in their double buggy with two horses. Some must have gone in another rig, for it would have been impossible for all of us to get in one buggy. That was one year before the present Fowler church was built. After dinner Coon (Conrad) and Nellie Fox came. Mrs. Fox was Pat and Mary Ann’s daughter. They lived a mile or two north of Pewamo and a little west, or about five miles west of the Pat Long residence. Near evening Mother, Henry and I went to the Fox residence. Coon, Henry and I rode in their buggy, Mother and Nellie rode in our buggy. The five miles seemed a long distance. Mother slept upstairs in their spare bed, while Henry and I slept on the floor. Morning came and after breakfast we headed for home. I don’t recall much of the homeward trip; not even the time we got there. Our wheat bundles were put in our barn to be threshed the latter part of August. They were supposed to be in the barn six weeks before threshing, so as to give them time to “sweat”. That was the time necessary for all moisture to evaporate from the grain, making the kernels hard and resistant to weevil. The big event of August was the outbreak of WWI. We did not take a daily paper at that time, but some one of us went to town every day and brought home a paper. We soon subscribed to the Grand Rapids Press (G.R. Herald came by mail in most rural areas, because it was an early morning paper and could catch the mail). One of us kids was at the road every day when the mail came, to get the paper and learn the latest war news. I plainly recall being out in the yard near noon one early day of the War. Frank Card, the man on the Knox Farm, was coming home from town with horses and wagon. He stopped his team and called out to me that Great Britain had declared war on Germany. August was our month for threshing. Herb Tubbs was the thresher and would usually start at the Knox School or the east end and do one farm after another until the whole road was cleaned out. (Everyone in the mile and three-fourths neighborhood helped the others, to speed things along in good weather and get to theirs sooner.) When they got to our place an argument took place between Dad and Wm. Leik. Dad wanted Bill to haul his wheat to the elevator, the same as he did when living on the farm. Bill thought he was no longer obligated to do it and wanted to put the wheat in the granary. The machine was in the barn and threshing delayed. Tubbs became impatient to have his machine idle. Rather than cause further delay, Dad consented and put his half in the granary. There was a big crop of wheat that year and at threshing time it was bringing $.75 a bushel in Portland. With the start of WWI, shipments increased to the Allies and prices started to rise. When ours was finally sold during the winter, the price was about $1.50. (In 1918, with the U. S. in the war, the price reached $3.00.) After our threshing was finished, the machine went to the Knox barn across the road. I don’t know what grain they were threshing, but I do remember they were storing it in the granary near the road. The grain was carried by four men from the machine to the storage bin. Of course the number of men varied according to the distance carried. Dad was one of the carriers. The mail came in the afternoon. The headlines in very large print said the Germans were within 15 miles of Paris. I ran across the road and told Dad the news. His comment was “They are probably there by now.” Thus ended the summer of 1914. Helen was back in Portland High School and all the rest of us were at St. Pat’s.
Bernice E. Allen Hamp, 90, born near Lake Odessa May 2, 1923, daughter of William & Laura (Lane) Allen, died at Hastings December 1, 2013. She was widow of Roger Hamp, whom she married June 28, 1941; mother of Allen (Mary) Hamp, Doug (Georgia) Hamp, LaVon (Marsha) Hamp, and Jerry (Janet) Hamp; grandmother of 10, great-grandmother of 25, and great-great-grandmother of two; sister of Roger (Alona) Allen, and the late Paul (Alberta) Allen and infant sister Barbara Allen; also preceded by special friend Laverne Eldridge. Bernice was a 4-H Leader and long employed by Lakewood Grain and as Odessa Township Township Treasurer. Her father Will Allen and grandfather Clare Allen, son of one of the many George Allens, attended Durkee Rural School with the Schnabel & Slowinski children on Portland Road in Berlin Township, while living (since before 1875) on the Allen homestead later occupied by Laverne Eldridge. We do not remember just when the family moved onto the Charles F. Durkee Farm on Jordan Lake Road, but are pretty sure Roger, Bernice and Paul were all born on Portland Road and may also have started at Durkee School.
Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
Last update March 07, 2014