Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 6 Number 1
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, Bulletin of the The Sebewa Center Association, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association, August 1970, Volume 6, Number 1

 

OUR ANNUAL MEETING JUNE 13, 1970

     At our 5th annual meeting Allen Cross was elected vice president and Sherman Pranger was elected trustee replacing Harlan Leifheit and John York respectively.  Their terms run for three years.  Thus our list of 1970-1971 officers are as follows:

     President Robert W. Gierman

     Vice President Allen Cross

     Secretary-treasurer Faith Shilton

     Trustees Wilbur Gierman

                      Sherman Pranger

     Program features were selections by the Sunfield Senior Citizens Kitchen Band led by Mrs. Evelyn Foster and music of the modern style with a group of local young people whose spokesman was Douglas Sybold.  Attendance on that rainy day was about 75. 


THOSE BOTHERSOME DUES

     Already 164 members have paid the dues for the 1970-71 season.  That is a few steps from the 332 paid in last year but there seems no indication that we shall not reach or surpass that figure.  Several new members are included in the 164.  For those of you beyond the circle of our wheels who may have not paid the new year’s dues, please mail them to our treasurer, Mrs. Faith Shilton, R 1, Portland, Michigan  48875.  The dues pay the expenses of printing and mailing THE RECOLLECTOR, the maintenance costs of our old school building and contribute a little to our bank account to protect The Sebewa Center Association from that “rainy day” that cannot clearly be foreseen. 


CORN LILY LANE

Corn Lily Lane is a name we might well give to a stretch of Bippley Road a half mile west of the Center where the familiar tawny orange blossoms dominate both sides of the road during July.  This persistent lily is more of an historical marker than a cultivated flower.

     Years ago, nearly every housewife acquired a root of the showy flower from an obliging neighbor to start a circle of summer flowers.  Being very hardy and even a little hard to kill, it has just enough attraction to forestall a campaign of eradication.  At many of the home sites on the 20-acre farms of the 1880s the open well has been filled in, the fieldstone building foundations buried and to once shady lawns planted to corn; but the roadside patch of corn ?? proclaimed the memory of our second generation pioneers.

     The reference books and plant identification manuals prefer to call our neighborhood corn lily the day lily.  Its Greek name means “the lily whose flower lasts for a day”.  The flowers are for a day, perhaps, but the plant seems good for a century. 


ABOUT OUR AUTHORS IN THIS ISSUE

     Malcom (Mac) Slater was a Sebewa boy and lived with his family a mile north of Bippley Road on Petrie Road.  His sister was married to Gid Ralson, a half brother to Charlie, Joe and Walt.  Gid bought a jewelry store in Portland and Mac went to work for him and there developed his interest in jewelry and optometry.  (Charlie Ralston is reported to have said of Gid that he would not let him repair his drag, to say nothing of anything smaller).  The account of Sunfield as Mac knew it and wrote it has been kept and supplied to us by his daughter, Mrs. Rose Steward, the Sunfield librarian.

     In the list of people mentioned as doing business on Sunfield’s Main Street are many who were once Sebewa residents.  Among them were Alva Deatsman, Claude Peabody, Floyd Greiner, Martha Gierman, Ralph White, P. F. Knapp, Zal Slater, Leo Dilley, Sam Creighton and Harry Mapes.

     This installment covers the rain business block in Sunfield.  Dr. Slater did the whole business section of the town in similar fashion. 


THE PASSENGER PIGEONS

     John Lich supplied us with the passenger pigeon story from Florida friends whose relatives knew Mr. Joseph Dodson of Kankakee, Illinois.  Mr. Dodson made a business of making and selling bird houses, feeders and other equipment to promote the welfare of song birds.

     Other sources blame the extinction of the passenger pigeon on a disturbance of the habitat and ecology of the birds as much as on the carnage of the pigeoners.  When thousands of acres of forest land was cleared to make way for farms, much of the food and shelter for the pigeons was destroyed.  The last of the  pigeons were seen in 1914. 


THE SEBEWA TOWN HALL

     Town Hall and not townhall is the proper way to spell the name of the building.  The story of the building of the town hall is directly from the records of the township clerk.  The clerk’s records and the township assessment rolls are kept in the rodent proof metal cabinets at the Town Hall.  Sebewa was organized as a township in 1845.  Most of the records of the township government for the next 125 years in those cabinets. 


SIX YEARS AND THIRTY DEADLINES

     As we go to press with this issue of The Recollector we start our sixth year of publication.  Each issue builds up to a minor crisis that subsides when the last copy is mailed.  Many of you have contributed interesting material and ideas to cover the bare bones of the history of Sebewa and the forces bearing upon it.  Without that help and feedback, we’d surely run out of inspiration and material for these pages.

     The work of assembling the printed sheets to the shape of “that little paper” has been spread among the members widely.  The names of all who have helped in arranging, stapling, punching, addressing, folding and stamping would fill a large part of this sheet.  Our thanks to all.           


BUSINESS CHANGES IN SUNFIELD SINCE I CAME HERE (1910) by Dr. Malcom G. Slater (1880-1962)  Written in 1948

     Beginning at the west end of Main Street on the south side Frank Merritt had a printing office in a wooden building where the gas pumps of the Fix It Garage now stands.  P. J. Welch and son, Ray, built the garage and had the Ford agency there in the building of the Trask garage.  Ed Barnum was the mechanic.  The building was sold to Roy Freemire and L. Scheel, who operated a garage there.  Freemire sold out to Joe Blough.  He sold out to L. Scheel, who became sole owner.  Scheel sold it to Merle Trask, who operates the garage now.

     In the wooden building next east there was a bakery run by Mrs. Kirtcher.  Mr. and Mrs. William Gilbert bought the building and lived there for some time.  It was once used by John Palmer in conjunction with his elevator across the street.  Mr. Frank Cornell ran his store in the building for some time.  The Gilberts traded it to Charley Gilbert for the home Meda and Mrs. Gilbert live in now.  Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Bascom lived there until their deaths.  I think Charlie Bascom now owns it.

     The G.A.R. Hall was as it now is.  My father, Zalmond Slater, was a member of the Sunfield G. A. R. Post here.

     The house and building where Mr. O’Toole now lives was occupied by some one whose names I do not recall.  Dr. Ed Snyder built the buildings.  Roy Freemire, Henry Davidson and Mrs. Jackson lived here.  Dr. Huyck lived there and had his office in a part of the house.  In the office building, Mr. Palmeter ran his shoe repair shop and Al Wolf and Leo Dilley had a radio repair shop there too.  Sam Creighton lived there and another time the restaurant man, Nick Harrer, and his mother lived in it.

     The next building was first occupied by Emmet VanAntwerp as a candy store.  That was just before I came to Sunfield.  A Mr. Reik had a shoe repair shop there.  Some man from Grand Ledge ran a barbershop there and sold out to George Need and Ernie Hitt.  Ivan Deland ran an ice cream parlor in it for a while.  It was then sold to Happy Corey.  Will Fleetham then owned the shop and sold it to his brother, John Fleetham, who still is there.

     The next brick building was occupied by a man named Roarbeck.  Mr. Deatsman and H. H. Mapes had a store there before that.  Roarbeck was in the building when it burned.  Cole and Norte built the building up again and Ed Cole had his hardware there before he sold out to L. Wssink.

     Ray Welch bought that part of the building after he had his fire in the east part of Main Street.  He still owns it.  Fred Norte occupied the west half of the building with his clothing, shoes and grocery stock.  Norte closed out his stock and then for a time it was Elmer VanAntwerp’s Farmers’ Food Basket grocery.  Maud Hanna later opened a drygoods store here and then sold a half interest to Doris Cure.  Later Miss Cure became the sole owner.  She sold out to Mrs. Ralph ????m the present occupant.  It was in this building that Paul Palmer had the Post Office.

     The building next east was built by Mr. Fisk.  He and Ed Cole opened their hardware in it and later added shoes.  My father worked there at one time.  Ed Cole bought Mr. Fisk out later.  Skip Dunham was bookkeeper for Cole and Fisk.  Jim Hager, Claude Peabody and Floyd Greiner were the tinners for Mr. Wassink.  After the building was vacated by Cole, John Gearhart & Ireman opened a general store there.  I think he sold out to Mrs. E. D. Mapes, who operated it for some time.  Some of her clerks were Elsie Freemire, Martha Frantz, Aleeta Lyons, Mrs. Miller, Eldron Dunham and Effie Hager.

     Perhaps I am mixed up on the order of the people who operated stores here.  (Doc Russ had it for some time, perhaps before Mrs. Mapes.)  Ralph Wiggins moved in with a grocery store and had the Post Office there.  He also had a chicken hatchery there.  Ralph White had a grocery there on one side later, closing it out after a time.  Byron VanBuren was a partner a short time with Ralph.  The building stood empty for a time until purchased by Burt Creitz for an onion storage.  Then Ray Welch and Son bought it, repaired it and put it in fine order and now have part of their hardware store there.

     The next wooden building was occupied by Frank Bacon as a justice of the peace along with his insurance office.  My father and mother bought it from Mr. Bacon in 1910 when I opened a jewelry store there and practiced optometry.  Later I closed out the jewelry and used it only for optometry while I was going to school again.  I had the optometry office there until I purchased the Dr. Peacock building across the street.  The building was empty for some time, getting in bad shape when a Mr. Voltz bought it.  He repaired and put it in good order again.  Mrs. Voltz ran a beauty parlor there and they had living rooms upstairs.  It was later occupied by P. J. Welch’s shoe shop, Ed Franks Radio shop, Porter Brothers electrical goods.  They sold out to Mr. Meecham.

     The next wooden building was occupied by Mrs. F. Bacon as a small bakery and grocery store.  Bread was shipped in on the train then.  Mrs. Bacon sold to Billy Garner and wife.  They sold to Lige Jackson and wife.  They sold to Burt Culver and wife.  Burt Gleason and Orley Baughman had barbershops there.  ( I am not sure but I think Claude Miller opened a barber business there).  There was a small fire during the time Orley had the shop and the building was empty for a while until Bun Perrin opened his pool and card room there.  He died shortly after opening there.  He had just put in beer but never lived to sell any.  Irvin Evans ran the place until the Perrin estate was settled.  Then Max McWhorter became owner of the place and is operating it now.

     The cement block building was completed after I came here by Bascom and Lemmon, who operated a meat market there without groceries.  Mr. Bascom sold out to P. F. Knapp and the firm was Lemmon and Knapp then.  Then Mr. Lemmon became the sole owner.  Charles Aves worked there then.  Phil Green bought out Frank Lemmon and later added groceries to his line.  Mr. Green sold to Harold Hanna, who operated the grocery and meat market until he bought the Turner building and moved the business there.  He retained the block building and he operates a locker service there now.

   There were two wooden buildings and one brick one between the locker and the Elliott Grocery then.  The first wooden building was occupied by the Henry Knapp general store and some drugs.  After that Mrs. E. D. Mapes opened a store there.  She sold out to Mr. Beebe.  Shorty Weeks worked for Mr. Beebe.  Beebe moved to the Norte building after the fire, which destroyed all three of the buildings.

     The next wooden building was occupied by Bascom & Lemmon with their meat market until they moved to the cement building where the locker is now.  Jim Nichols owned the building then.  There were several different kinds of businesses run in the building.  As near as I can remember, Ralph Haskins had his tailor shop there.  Martin Wirt had a repair shop and Charley Walrath had a harness and shoe shop there.  A. V. Holten put in a vulcanizing and general repair shop.  D. G. Turner bought the building, repaired it and operated his general store there until the fire.

   The next building was the brick one.  Warner Bera operated a store there before I came.  Charlie Thomas operated his drug and grocery store there and Alva Deatsman worked for him.  He sold out to Dick Richards of Portland, Mr. Richards’ father ran the drug store until it was closed out.  Norris and Ives operated a grocery there after that.  Jesse Norris operated the business until the fire.  Since then the lots have been vacant.

     The next building, the brick one, was damaged by the fire as were the Stinchcomb stores.  Bun Perrin occupied this building when the fire did the damage to the buildings.  Mr. Perrin did not lose any fixtures.  He then moved to the building where McWhorter is.  David Stinchcomb was the first person I remember of occupying this building.  He sold out to Ed Stinchcomb, who opened a grocery and shoe business there.  Ed sold out to P. J. Welch and Son, Ray.  They sold to Barnum & Taylor.  In turn they sold to a Mr. Nixon and Nixon sold to R. S. Wiggins, who operated there until he moved the business to the big Fisk building.  Glen Turner, I think, then bought the building and opened a new grocery and meat business.  Mr. Turner rented the business to Harold Hotchkiss and operated it himself again.  Mrs. Turner rented to Ben Barnum, who ran the business for some time.  Then Mrs. Turner put in a Mr. Beebe for manager, finally closing out the stock.  Then Harold Hanna bought the building and opened a fine modern grocery and meat store.  Hanna sold out to Mr. and Mrs. Ray Elliott, who are operating the business.  Will Hyde is the meat cutter and Winston Ives is the clerk.

     The next brick building was occupied by George Creaser with a jewelry store on one side and Miss Heath operating a millinery store on the east side.  She later sold to Mrs. Beemer.  Creaser had a sale as his health was bad.  He sold some of the jewelry stock and I bought the balance.  It was here that Archie Stinchcomb ran Sunfield’s only movie theater called the “Roseland” in honor of his wife, Rosa.  This was before Sunfield had electricity.  To run the projector, Archie belted up an old Titan tractor to a generator.  When the tractor began popping everybody knew the show was about to begin.  Delbert Tichnor and Bina Stinchcomb were the piano players for the movie.  If the tractor failed, the pianists did double duty to hold the audience in the darkness while all hands tugged on the belt to try to start the tractor.  If that failed, they were invited back next evening to finish the picture.  A feature was the weekly serial and each episode ended in a cliff hanger to tease a good crowd for the next week.  Mrs. Beemer sold out to a Mrs. Hixon of Portland and she opened a ladies goods store.  Later she sold out to Mrs. Stinchcomb.  Mrs. Stinchcomb finally closed out the business.  Elmer VanAntwerp Sr. then bought the building and has his real estate office in it.

     The next brick is the Stinchcomb building built, I think, by Ed.  David was with Ed in the drug store for some time but Ed was the proprietor for years.  After and before his death, his son, Archie, operated the business until 1947 when it was sold to Kirtland, who is operating it now. 


POETRY FROM SEBEWA

     Clara Shilton Horton, born in 1867, took to writing verses from her sickbed around the turn of the century.  The booklet of 61 pages was printed by “Doremus & Mauren, Book and Commercial Printers, Portland, Michigan”.  The poems were sold to neighborhood friends.  Clara was the sister of Samuel and Andrew Shilton.  Here are two selections from the little book: 

MY BROTHERS THREE

     Come listen now a while to me, And you will hear of my brothers three.  John he is the oldest   The oldest of them all; Samuel is the next And he surely is quite small.   Andrew is the youngest,   The youngest of my brothers.  Andrew is the youngest   And taller than the others.  John he is the oldest And surely rocked us all; all the little babies, And did not let them fall.     It was not a painted cradle With rockers on the side, But it was on the faithful knee   The babies they did ride.    Pa made a wooden cradle   And made it stout and deep,   So that the little babies in the cradle they did sleep.     Ma, she had a little chair, But the bottom it came out,   But Pa put one in again   Which was both good and stout.    And he put some rockers on it   And that was just the stuff,   And Mother rocked the babies   And thought it good enough.    Samuel was the little fellow    But he was proud and keen—He was so very sensitive   Misfortune he would screen.   Andrew was a plainer fellow   And told out “What was What”,   He stood right by his sisters—This one was not forgot; The boys they had fine sisters   As sure as I was one    But two have flown from us away,   With our Father and Mother—Now listen to the words I say    Sisters, and each a brother    All in union, let us live    For to God an account we’ll give.    Sisters, two and brothers three    Listen now I say to me,  Do not quarrel, do not sigh;   This life is too very short,   To spend it with a breaking heart.      Then all in union we will be—Sisters mine and brothers three. 

FOURTH OF JULY

Hurrah!  Hurrah!  Hie, O Hie!    It is once again the 4th of July,    When boys and girls have their fun    With fire-crackers and hear the gun   They eat taffy candy till they are sick    O, boys and girls come on the quick,   And see the organ and monkey play!    And the main point of the holiday    Is the greased pig and the pole to climb,   And to hear the lecture all in time.    Hurrah!   Hurrah!   Hie, O  hie!     It is once again the Fourth of July—The day when every nation’s stirred,   The day Independence was declared;   And now I will no longer wait   But tell you now the very date;    Indpendence was declared on the 4th of July     Hurrah!   Hurrah!  Hie, O hie!    In the year of 1776 and the U. S. it was free    And gave us freedom, you and me. 


OUR SEVENTY-YEAR-OLD TOWNHALL – AUTHORITY TO BUILD

     On June 3, 1899 the Sebewa Township Board consisting of Adam Fender, Charles Estep and Irving A. Brown “Moved and supported that I. A. Brown be appointed as chairman of the building committee for the erection of the townhall.  Motion carried.  Moved and supported that O. V. Showerman and J. S. Gunn be appointed to prepare plans and specifications for the new town house would report as follows to wit:

     The town house shall be 28 x 45 feet and studding 16 feet.  Trench for wall average 2 ft. deep, wall 18 inches, 3 feet above level of ground on east end, upper 2 feet block stone.  Center wall lengthwise of building.  Sills 2” x 12” on piece lying on wall, second piece on edge spiked to edge of wall, piece of oak or hemlock.

     Plates 2” x 6” double joints well broken, well spiked together.  Roof 1/3 pitch, rafters 2” x 6” collar beams on each pair near middle, roof boards sound, inch hardwood.  Shingles best cedar 16 inch 4 ˝ inches to weather.  Corner boards of pine.  Windows, 3 on each side, 2 on each end, 8 lights 12” x 22” double strength, cornice 20 inches of pine finished with molding in workmanlike manner.  Folding door in center of east end 5’ x 8’.  Chimney in center of west and starting 4’ below ceiling.  Door and window frames and casings of pine.

      Floor of southern pine #1  4 inches wide.  Walls sheeted inside with surfaced lumber lathed and plastered hair coat, sand coat hand finish.  Hard finish left off lower four feet, which shall be wainscoted with southern pine.  Ceiling ceiled with basswood or pine 3 inches wide.  Wainscoting and casing put on after plastering.

     Platform 16 inches high, 6 feet wide between windows  on west end.  Steps on either side.  Partition 8 feet from east end to form a vestibule as per plan.  Ceiling of vestibule 8 ˝ feet high and floor on upper joist, scuttle hole in ceiling.  Material not specified to be of good quality and suitable for the purpose for which it is to be used and the whole building to be completed in good workmanlike manner.

     Exterior painted 3 coats best paint including priming.  Ceiling 3 coats.  Wainscoting, inside casings and doors finished in natural state.

     Respectfully submitted July 15, 1899.  Irving A. Brown, J. S. Gunn, O. V. Showerman 

BIDS RECEIVED

     Four bids were received as follows:

J. A. Eldred $1,150.00  Tryfogle and McGuire;  house $950.00 and sheds $20.00 for each 8 feet.  Barney Oatley:  House $800.00.  Sheds $200.00.  Wolcott & Ramsey; house $735.  Sheds $200.00.  As it will be impossible to build both town house and sheds out of the appropriation, we ask further instructions.  Dated Aug. 15, 1899.  I. A. Brown, O. V. Showerman, members of Building Committee. 

PERSONNEL CHANGES

     W. O. Troub resigned as Township Clerk and was replaced by Frank Showerman.  J. S. Gunn resigned as a member of the building committee and was appointed by the Township Board to oversee the building of the townhall.  Theodore Gunn named his replacement.

ACCOUNTS ALLOWED

To J. S. Gunn $50.00 for lot on which to build townhall.  Said $50.00 to be paid out of the $800.00 raised in the tax of 1899 for the purpose of buying lot and building townhall.

CONTRACT FOR BUILDING TOWNHALL

     It is hereby contracted and agreed between I. A. Brown, O. V. Showerman, and Theodore Gunn, all of the township of Sebewa, Ionia County, Michigan acting as a building committee by authority of the township board and for the township of Sebewa of the first part and Wolcott and Ramsey, lumbermen and contractors of the village of Sunfield, Eaton County, Michigan of the second part that the said Wolcott & Ramsey shall furnish all material, perform all labor and build a town house for said township upon land designated by said committee, at or near the center of said township, that is to say upon the one half acre at the south of and adjoining the lot occupied by the Methodist Episcopal Church near the northeast corner of section number twenty-one (21) in said township, according to the plans and specifications herein recorded.

CHANGES IN SPECIFICATION FOR TOWN HOUSE

     Trenches for the wall to descend towards north or southwest corner to provide for draining wall.  Siding white wood or pine, ceiling material 4 inches wide.  Platform 8 feet wide from near middle of west end to south side on each side of foundation wall.  Three window frames 1 x 2 feet clear of 2 x 12 inch oak with upright ˝ inch iron 3 inches from center to center.  (basement windows.)

     Chimney start 5 feet below ceiling.  Roof boards 1 x 3 inches hardwood.  Sills material not specified.  Sheeting outside instead of inside.  Flooring changed from southern pine to maple store grade.  Order to be drawn on the township for $350.00 when the frame is up.    Frank Showerman, Township Clerk

“PAYMENT IN FULL”

     The Township Board completed a settlement with Wolcott and Ramsey, contractors and builders of the townhall.  A balance of $60.00 was due Wolcott and Ramsey but on account of building not being up to contract, the township board issued an order for $29.00 and were given a receipt in full by Wolcott and Ramsey. 

     June 9, 1900.    Frank Showerman, Township Clerk 

ENTER—THE GRANGE

     April 4, 1904.  Motion made and supported that the Grange be allowed to hold their meetings in the townhall free of charge.  Motion carried.   Samuel L. Kauffman, Clerk 

AUTHORITY TO REMODEL

     April 6, 1908:  It is hereby proposed that the people of the Township of Sebewa grant Sebewa Grange No. 163 the right to raise the townhall one story higher.  The Grange agrees to bear all the expense and leave the building when completed in as strong and good condition as it now is.  The township to own the building when completed.  Provided that the town board be authorized to lease upper story  of building to said Grange for the term of thirty years.  The proposition was unanimously adopted.     G. A. Goodemoot, Clerk 


A SHORT STORY OF THE BRUTAL EXTERMINATION OF THE BEAUTIFUL PASSENGER PIGEON   By Joseph H. Dodson, Kankakee, Illinois

     Many people have asked me how I ever became interested in birds (insectivorous birds) and it came about this way.  I was born in Alabama.  My father was a northern man who came down to establish himself in the milling business and met my mother, who was a southern belle.  To me my mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw.

     When the Civil War broke out it was necessary for Father, who was a Northern man to move out in a hurry.  So he bought a wagon and two horses and put a cover on it and put mother and me in it with such little pieces of furniture as we could take.  We started out for Alton, Illinois, where my father had another flour mill.  It took us two months to make the trip as we had to travel at night and hide in the daytime because if either the Rebel or Union soldiers discovered us they would have taken away our horses and maybe everything we had.

     After we were settled at Alton I remember the passenger pigeons flying over our house by the millions.  I think I could be safe in saying by the billions.  Tier after tier of them and the clapping of wings was so loud that one could not hear himself speak and it was necessary for one to put his mouth up to another person’s ear if he wished to be heard.

     There was such a vast army of these birds that the sky was as dark as night.  Every man and boy in town who was big enough got busy and built several large bonfires so that when one went out, the other would be lit so as to keep a constant blaze.  These bonfires blinded the birds as they flew over and they flew down, the men and boys who were equipped with long poles, beat them down.  There were so many of them that you couldn’t miss, often four or five would be knocked down at a time.

     The men and boys worked until exhausted and went home around three or four in the morning for a few hours rest, returning later to load up their wagons with the dead pigeons and those wounded so badly they couldn’t move.  These were taken to town, put in barrels and boxes and shipped to the big cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc., where they were considered a great delicacy.

     Now after the men had loaded their wagons and left for the city, Mother gave me a little covered basket and I would look in the long grass and bushes for those birds that were wounded and had a chance to get far enough away so the men couldn’t find them.  Some of them had one eye knocked out; some with both eyes knocked out; some had one leg broken; some had both legs broken; some were with one wing broken and more had both wings broken.

     I put these in my basket and took them home and Mother and I would release them in a coop we had and we gave them fresh water and food.  After they got over the shock we would try and alleviate their suffering as much as possible.  We became expert in setting one wing but if both wings were broken we had to kill the bird.  They were great big beautiful birds with a bluish back and iridescent reddish breast.

     If one leg was broken we would clip the broken one off and turn the bird loose in the yard because it could hop around.  But if both legs were broken we had to kill it because it couldn’t rise from the ground.  If only one eye was knocked out we would let it live but if both eyes were knocked out, we would kill them as they couldn’t see to fly.  And I know it was my sympathy for those wounded birds that caused me to follow this work of trying to save the remnant of our fast disappearing songbirds.

     My father took me to one of the nesting places of the passenger pigeons near Shelby, Michigan.  It was twenty miles wide and 150 miles long and every tree had from 100 to 200 nests in it.  There were 700 trappers there who called themselves “Pigeoners” and some of them had elaborate traps that would catch as many as 2500 pigeons at a time.  After the pigeons had entered the trap and they let the trap door down they would enter with clubs and kill them.  After they had killed all the old birds they could and the squabs were big enough for market, they would cut down a big tree so that when it fell it would carry several others with it with all the squabs in the nests.  The pigeons that were left were too shy to go into the traps and with the young destroyed, the pigeons left, usually going south where they would try to start another breeding place.

     But the express company who handled the shipping of the pigeons would notify the trappers where the pigeons had relocated so they would take their traps and start to the new location.  This method was continued until they were all exterminated.

     The city of Shelby, Michigan has a record of shipping over a million pigeons a week.  There has been a reward of $2500 offered since 1885 for a pair of passenger pigeons and no one has been able to claim it as they are absolutely extinct—the crime of a century.


THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association
Robert W. Gierman, Editor
R 1
Portland, Michigan 48875  U. S. A.

 



Last update May 27, 2013