SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Bulletin of the The Sebewa Center Association, Bulletin
Center Association, October 1972, Volume 8, Number 2
WHERE did that second September go—the one we needed to get ready for October?
THE FIRST AUTOMOBILE OWNED IN IONIA COUNTY
At the September meeting of the Portland Historical Society, Mrs. Helen Eddy Hollon told this interesting story of Ionia County’s first automobile.
Her father, N. J. Eddy, Portland’s jeweler and watch repairman of 1898, learned of an auto that was for sale. Some “rich man” of Detroit, Chicago or maybe of Grand Rapids had a son who owned an automobile. The son died and the auto was put up for sale. Mr. Eddy made the purchase and had the car shipped to Portland by flatcar. It was a Locomobile steamer built in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The Locomobile Company had bought out the rights to the care from the Stanley Bros. and began producing it under the Locomobile name. Like the early Stanleys, it had a boiler under the seat, heated by a gasoline flame underneath. The cylinders were vertical and the rods could be seen working up and down. One lever controlled the flow of steam to the cylinders and another lever did the steering. The single seat accommodated Mr. and Mrs. Eddy and daughter, Helen. It was driven around town some on the village streets that farmers of that time disparaged as being worse than any country road. When a real excursion was wanted they went all the way to Eagle and back. Several times Mr. Eddy stopped the care to get out and lead somebody’s frightened horses around it.
The PORTLAND OBSERVER of that year noted that Mr. Eddy had acquired some smokeless gunpowder like mustard seed but seemed to take no notice of the car.
In a year or so after selling out to Locomobile, the Stanley Bros. decided to go back to automobiles and started building another steam car, which was too much competition for Locomobile and led to its demise.
Later, Mr. Eddy traded his Locomobile for a Stanley Steamer. As far as Miss Eddy was concerned it did not compare to the Locomobile. “You’d get it out in the country and the boiler would pop off and you would have to wait for it to build up a head of steam before you could travel”.
Mr. Eddy became familiar enough with the steam engine so that he later built a little steam engine that was a feature of Portland’s sidewalk popcorn stand.
Mrs. Hollon presented the Portland Society with pictures of the jewelry store window and two patents that were granted to her father. One was for a watch regulator that attached to the hair spring of the watch and the other was a device to hold spectacles while they were being worked on.
Mrs. Hollon is a former teacher in the Portland Schools and now resides in Portland.
AREA TRAVELOGUES 1972-73 SEASON
Travelogues for this area now seem limited to the cities of Charlotte and Hastings. Here are the schedules:
CHARLOTTE at the Charlotte High School Lecture Hall at 8:00 P.M. sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Charlotte. All dates come on Saturdays.
October 7, 1972 Robert Q. Ostlund FRANCE’S FABULOUS NORMANDY
November 11, 1972 Ray Green THE NEW ISRAEL
January 27, 1973 Jonathan Hagar SCOTLAND AFORE YE
February 24, 1973 Dennis Cooper EASTERN CANADIAN HOLIDAY
March 31, 1973 Robert Brouwer RIO COLORADO
April 21, 1973 James Forshee THE
The Kiwanis Club of Hastings presents on Tuesdays the following:
October 10, 1972 James Forshee THE EUROPEAN ALPS
November 14, 1972 Ralphael Green HONG KONG
January 9, 1973 Comdr. Karl E. Stein BEWITCHING BRAZIL
February 6, 1973 Joe Adair GRECIAN PANORAMAS
March 6, 1973 Bob O’Reilly ALLURING AUSTRALIA
April 10, 1973 Julian Gromer WHEELS ACROSS AMERICA
TWO OTHER PROGRAMS
Visitors are invited to attend programs to be presented in Lake Odessa and Sunfield by the respective historical societies at the regular meeting dates.
On October 12 at an evening meeting in the Page Building the Lake Odessa Area Historical Society will present Lester Coykendall, who will talk about the History of the State Police 8:00 PM
The Sunfield Historical Society at a meeting at the G.A.R. (now D.U.V) Hall will have for the speaker, Sargeant Wm. Allen on Tuesday, October 17, at 7:30 P.M.
Sgt. Allen is from the Central Michigan Philatelic Society of Lansing and will discuss the Postoffice history of Eaton County. He is a State Policeman attached to the Capitol Security Division.
OUR TRIP TO EUROPE LAST JUNE by Elmer Gierman
The flight from Detroit to London was a new experience for us. Flying through the night, away from the sun, is a short 5 hours of darkness.
After a short stop we flew on to Frankfort, Germany where our son, Mike and his wife were waiting for us with a rented car. Here we first noticed the excessive number of automobiles parked in every available space, most with two wheels on the sidewalk and two in the street. Electric street cars were crowded with people.
After our first German lunch of sausages and cucumber salad we visited the Goethe home nearby.
With our rented car we started south toward Munich. The country is rolling, lots of trees and fertile farm land. We noticed the walled towns in Bavaria where the farm buildings are all in town. We stayed overnight in the old town of Rothenburg, where the city wall is preserved for tourists to see.
In Munich we visited the site where the Summer Olympics will take place and ate dinner in the Olympic tower. Here we visited famous museums and attended an opera in a theatre rebuilt after severe bombing during the last World War. We drove out to the memorial prison at Dachau where Hitler disposed of 30,000 Jewish people—a grim reminder of what took place in our day.
Our trip to Florence, Italy was by train, riding overnight in a sleeper, which was a poor place to sleep. Florence is a beautiful city with red tile roof buildings spreading up into the surrounding hills. Not far from our hotel, which was on a hilly street, a Roman theatre had been uncovered. Florence is famous for its paintings and sculptures, which are housed in the old palaces and government buildings of former Kings.
We rode back to Zurich by train on a sunny afternoon. The Alps with snow- capped peaks and fertile valleys were greater than we expected. Zurich is a clean city visited by many tourists.
With another overnight train ride we were in Paris, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Versialles and the underground electric railroads, then north to Rotterdam, the much bombed city of Holland. It is now rebuilt with high-rise apartments and office buildings and modern shopping centers. Here we visited the dock where the Pilgrims took off for London in a leaky boat. We made the same trip by plane in an hour.
Everyone knows about the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the traffic congestion at Picadilly Circus. Hundreds of young travelers with their blue jeans and moving around with a pack on their backs.
The freeway from London northwest toward Manchester and Liverpool is a very busy road carrying a lot of freight. We were glad to get into the more scenic vacation country of Wales. In this rocky and mountainous country sheep are grazing everywhere. At Swallow Falls on the Conway River, shops sell all kinds of woolen goods and unclipped skins to be used for throw rugs.
A trip from Holy Head to Dublin by ferry and we were in Ireland’s biggest city—not unlike other big towns with lots of shops and congested downtown traffic. We drove the care again on the inland route down to Wexford. The countryside is as many times described—narrow roads, white cottages and now and then a horse and wagon to indicate that rural living has not progressed much.
Back to England on the boat again and a stop at Salisbury, famous for the great cathedral finished in 1258 and the Stonehenge monuments of unknown origin. Soon we were heading for Detroit via Pan Am at 600 miles an hour. We took the northern route over ice and snow- covered Greenland and Labrador. In another hour we had landed in Detroit where the temperature was 85. We had been on our way by taxi, bus and plane for twelve hours and felt quite exhausted. The end.
The end, yes but we go on to finish the story. Just why Elmer should have omitted the big excitement of the European trip from his report we leave to you to guess. His oral account is something like this:
Muriel’s Grandpa Joynt had emigrated to the United States from Ireland and she was curious to know if there might be some Irish Joynts that could be easily found. Thus it was that they rented an Audi auto in London for the trip through Wales to the seacoast where the ferry embarked for Dublin. The ferry was to leave at a certain time that allowed for only a hurried trip through Wales. Now the roads of Wales are not the long straight stretches of Texas, nor even the gently curved roadways of most of Michigan. When Mike pushed the Audi a little too hard down a curved wet blacktop highway, wonderful car though he agreed it was, it sort of took off rather than following the curve.
In that part of Wales the fields are lined with low, loose-stone fences. The contact with the fence was head on and with a loud crash the car plowed through the fence, stones flying, and finally stopped just short of a river in flood. Fortunately nobody was hurt. Muriel and Anna Marie were taken to a farm cottage and quickly served a spot of tea to relieve the excitement.
The men went up the road a piece to a hamlet resembling Sebewa Corners and found an auto mechanic working on a car. He promised help in a minute or two. Stowed under a stairway was a large coil of “hay rope”. This was loaded into the old Land Rover and everyone proceeded to the accident scene. The Rover was stationed firmly in the road with the women out directing traffic to prevent any further accident. The men paid out the rope from the Rover’s winch and attached it to the Audi. The mechanic’s instructions were to the point. “When she starts moving, gun her and then you don’t dare stop until we get her in the road”.
The Rover droned on the winch, the Audi buzzed and began to move backward up the wet grade. But somebody’s surveying was amiss. The new line of travel formed the second leg of a triangle and the hole in the fence was just where it should have been. So, it was crunch and crash again as the Audi shoved a second opening through the stone fence with its rear.
And here is the reason for Mike’s praise for the Audi—the travelers climbed in and caught the next ferry to Dublin with Anna Marie driving, for she had “grounded” pilot Mike for the rest of the trip all the way back to London.
Incidentally, there were no Joynts in the Dublin telephone book. Could it be that Muriel could have learned that by dialing 555 1212 in the right exchange?
Elmer and Muriel now live in an apartment at 522 N. River St. in Alma 48801
THE IONIA COUNTY COURTHOUSE - By Phyllis Brown Laviolette, County Clerk
From its opening on a stifling July day in 1886 to the present time, Ionia County’s Courthouse has dominated the local skyline. Standing at one end of the business sector, it almost appears that the courthouse was designed to act as a buffer between the business portion and the residential areas to the east and north. Since Ionia is spread out along the floor of the Grand River Valley, with hills on all sides, the Courthouse can be seen for miles in several directions; especially during the seasons of the year when the valley’s trees are devoid of their foliage.
A four-story structure, topped by a dome on which is poised a statue of the “Goddess of Justice”, the building’s actual erection in the early 1880’s represented something of a triumph for those persons living in the central and western portions of the county. For many years, ill tempers on the part of citizens in the eastern areas around Lyons and Portland denied the county the necessary funds to build the courthouse by voting against proposed millage increases. This animosity stemmed from the days in 1836 when the county was organized, and Ionia won out over Lyons and Portland in contention for the honor of being named the County Seat. From that time until 1882, all efforts to raise the millage met with defeat, largely due to the influence of residents in the east half of the county. During this period of time, county business was transacted in a one-story building, which stood on the site of the present courthouse.
In 1882, a committee of the Board of Supervisors was instructed to report in January of 1883 with plans for a “Temple of Justice”. The group did as instructed, and when the plans were presented to the public, the millage for the building’s construction was voted. Its cost was estimated at $45,000.00, however, success was still not at hand. The contractor went bankrupt during the project, and work stood idle for a time. Not to be deterred, the Board of Supervisors appointed a committee of their own membership to carry out the program, with the building reaching completion in 1886. By then its total cost had reached $57,000.00. Accounts from that period not that the cost of furnishings, termed “the best of the times”, added another $5,300.00 to the final total.
Dedication ceremonies were held on July 3, 1886, a day the local paper noted downed hot and proceeded to get hotter. A total of nine speeches were delivered at the dedication. These were interspersed with singing, prayers and poetry, and, although the program began at 11 o’clock in the morning and contained a period of games and contests during the afternoon, the dedication banquet that night proved so lengthy it had to be interrupted by the fireworks display, which concluded the festivities.
From that time forward, the courthouse has contained those offices usual to all counties. In addition, the structure has also housed the Selective Service offices, the Juvenile Detention rooms, and the Welfare offices, among others.
In 1966, its 80th year, the basement offices are occupied by the Drain Commissioner, the Public Health Department, and the Extension Service. On the first floor are the offices of the County Clerk, County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Abstractor, and the Probate Court. The second floor is devoted almost entirely to court facilities, and contains along with the courtroom, the Circuit Judge’s chambers, court stenographer, as well as the law library, jury room and Board of Supervisors room. The third floor is used only for storage. All other county offices, such as Intermediate Board of Education, Mental Health Department, Social Welfare, etc. are housed nearby.
In recent years, a restoration and refurbishing project has returned the Courthouse to its original state on the outside, and into a functionally modern office building inside. Interior ceilings in offices were lowered, modern counters constructed, new furniture and equipment added, and the heating system modernized. Old woods throughout the building were returned to their original finish. All the marble fireplaces, of which nearly a dozen exist, but are not used, were re-polished to their original lustre.
Sandblasting the exterior removed 75 years of grime and revealed a rare shade of rose-colored Ionia Sandstone on the upper portion of the building and a gray sandstone from Ohio in the lower levels. Window casings were trimmed in white, with the dome receiving a corresponding coat of paint.
Noting the beauty of the structure by day, Ionia’s Business and Professional Women asked to have the dome lighted by night, and contributed cash for the project.
Thus, when visitors drive into Ionia from the east, west or south…..either by day or night…..the courthouse dome, with the “Goddess of Justice” poised at its peak, is visible to guide their approach. The end.
This article was originally published in MICHIGAN COURTHOUSE REVIEW of September, 1966. Our thanks for permission to reprint.
TO REMEMBER WECK
Welcome Lumbert was buried in Sebewa’s East cemetery in the central part of the new section. A little metal marker indicated the grave. After nearly thirty years the marker has rusted beyond legibility and it hangs atilt on its corroded stake. Perhaps not intentionally, some bird dropped for Weck a seed of juniper that has taken root and grown to a sizable tree.
So, who will properly mark this storyteller’s grave if we do not? By shopping for a used stone, I found we could get his name, birth and death dates on the stone for approximately $40 and I have ordered the stone to be inscribed.
I am not really asking for money, but if anyone wants to share in the project with a small contribution, it will be accepted that way. Five dollars has already been contributed for the memorial. Robert W. Gierman
REMINISCENCES OF PIONEER DAYS IN SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN Second Installment By George Dallas Sidman
Spring came at last and the forest trees were already putting forth their green leaves and sweetest aroma when Irene Baker came to our cabin one day, gaily attired and decorated in her semi-barbarian costume, and begged of my mother permission for me to accompany her to the Indian village where she was going on a visit to her grandmother. Irene and I had become great “chums” by this time and she was anxious to show me off to her dusky relatives. She had often told me of the people in the village and especially of the children and games they played among themselves, so I was eager to accompany her on that beautiful spring day. I can remember to this day how my mother, recalling the many tales of Indian massacres she had read, seriously objected to my going on so dangerous a trip. She finally consented, however, and I have no doubt, spent a day of anxiety, firmly believing that I would be brought home with my body full of poisoned arrows, or minus a scalp.
That visit to the Indian village was one of the red-letter days of backwoods life and can never be forgotten. Irene led me directly to the wigwam of her grandmother which in this instance was a comfortable log cabin with many, if not more, of the comforts of civilization than might be found in my home. The “bajous” (salutation) of the friendly people that greeted us on all sides and the language in which they conversed with Irene was wholly unintelligible to me, but I soon learned that most of them could speak and understand English quite well, especially the “papooses” to whom I was introduced. I was soon made at home by the little boys who not only entertained but greatly astonished me by their exploits in shooting with the bow and arrow and paddling dugout canoes on the river. I reciprocated the pleasure the boys gave me by teaching them how to play “blankalilo”, a game I had learned in York State and which, because it was appropriate to the woods, became very popular among the children of the village. I often visited the Indian village during the period that we remained on the homestead. In fact, Irene and those Indian children were the only playmates I had for nearly two years.
My father cleared off and burned the wood on several acres of land around our cabin during the spring and summer after our arrival and in the fall planted a field of wheat. On account of the numerous hardwood roots in the soil it was impossible to plow the ground for the grain but instead he used the busy part of a large tree, dragging it over the ground until the soil was torn up and by the same method dragged the wheat under after it was sown. To plant corn in such soil it was necessary to use an old axe. One stroke was to make an opening in which to drop the kernels and another stroke alongside of it to close the kerf. The harvesting of grain among the roots and stumps of that new land was a task that might stagger the average farmer of this day. No such a thing as mowing and harvesting machines were known then and if they had been in existence, could not have been used in the soil so filled with “wait-a-bits” as the Dutch would say. Although but a child, I was an active participant in the making of that “farm” in old Shiawassee County, where now the whistle of the steam engins on the nearly railroads may be heard at almost any hour of the day or night.
That the wild deer were great pests to the early settlers of northern Michigan was evidenced by the fact that after the wheat came up on the frontier farms those animals would frequently invade the fields and make sad havoc with the tender shoots, if not entirely destroy the crop. We had a great deal of trouble with the deer late in the fall, when they bothered us the most, my father and I would often go out on moonlight nights and watch the “runaways” from scaffolds build in the trees and until we had killed or dropped at least one of these animals the flock would not take the hint and disappear for the night. We lived on venison so much that I have hated the sight of it to this day. Deer were not the only pests, however, that the settlers had to contend with in those days.
Black bears were quite common in the woods of Shiawassee County at this time, however they were not dangerous and seldom came near the settlements unless pressed for food, and as the Indians hunted them—principally for the pelts, which were valuable even in those days—we were never bothered much by them and seldom saw any in our neighborhood.
Bears are very partial to pork, however, and our only experience on the homestead with that wily animal came from my father’s attempt to raise hogs. My father had purchased two young shoats the spring after our arrival and he declared that in spite of the bears he would raise and fatten them. Mr. Baker, who had a better knowledge of Bruin’s propensity for pork, advised my father to follow the good old Irish custom and “keep his pigs in the parlor” if he wished to raise them. Nothing daunted by this advice, however, my father built a pen with heavy timbers and covered it over with immense logs which were solidly staked to the ground. It did not seem possible for a bear or any other animal larger than a chipmunk to gain access to the pen, but it was not a week after the pigs were domiciled when just before daylight one morning we were all awakened by a terrible squealing and commotion among the pigs. It was not two minutes before my father reached the pen with his rifle in hand, just in time to see a big black bear scurrying away on his hind legs and lugging one of the pigs as a man would carry a child. He shot and killed the bear but the pig was so torn and mangled that it had to be killed. Returning to the pen my father discovered that another bear had carried off the other pig, the picked carcass of which was found in the woods later in the day. That settled the hog question for us but the family had a diet of bear meat and pig pork for some time afterward, a decided and pleasant change from venison and squirrel.
It was late in the fall following our arrival at the homestead that I had my first and only personal experience with a bear which was not even forgotten many years afterward, when I stalked lions and other large game in the jungles and on the veldts of South Africa. Irene, who was a thorough Indian in woodcraft, had located the roosting place of a flock of wild turkey on the edge of a tamarack swamp not far from her home. She had obtained permission from my parents for me to go and stay at her home over night and accompany her the following morning on a turkey hunt, an experience I had never had, and promised my father a fine turkey for the Thanksgiving holiday, then near at hand. We got up before daylight and set out in the darkness to pick our way to the roost, accompanied by a little dog that Irene had trained to “tree” turkeys, a scheme of the old hunters of those days. The place Irene had chosen for our ambush was in a thick cluster of ironwood trees near where the flock had its roost in the larger trees, and we had not been there many minutes when dawn appeared and the turkeys began to move about in the tree tops in preparation to get down and feed. Irene had cautioned me that I must let her shoot first and she said that when she did so the birds would probably take wing and fly away and we must immediately follow them, trusting to the dog to tree and keep them interested while we reloaded and cautiously followed for another shot, when I was expected to participate in the sport.
It was nearly daylight when Irene suddenly threw up her gun and with its report the next instant an old gobbler came hurling to the ground not fifty feet away. The rest of the flock, now alarmed, sailed away through the woods with a loud clapping of wings, followed by the dog yelping at every jump and with Irene a close second, loading her gun as she ran.
Remembering the old adage about a “bird in hand being worth two in the bush” and forgetting my guide’s instructions, I dropped my gun and ran to the place where the turkey had fallen to find it dead with a bullet hole drilled through its head.
Lugging my gun and carrying, or dragging, the turkey, either of which was a load for me, I started after my companion but she had disappeared from view and, except for the faint echo of the dog’s bark, which I could not locate, all was silent. For an hour or more I trudged along in what I supposed was the direction Irene had taken and finally decided that I was lost. I have a distinct recollection to this day that I promised myself if I ever got out of those woods alive I would never go turkey hunting again—but I stuck to the dead bird.
Finally, in my wanderings and dazed condition of mind I came to an uprooted tree which offered an elevation for me to climb and take observations. I laid down my gun and turkey and started to climb upon the trunk of the tree, but just as my head came even with the top of the log I was startled by hearing a rustling of leaves and a horrible growl on the other side and the next instant I stood face to face with a big black bear as he raised up on his haunches directly in front of me. It was the first time I had even seen a bear in the woods and I was nearly frightened out of my wits at the apparition. Bruin looked at me a minute in perfect astonishment, growling and showing his teeth in a very ugly manner. Suddenly he dropped on all fours, and apparently as frightened as myself, scurried away through the woods, not, however, until I had begun to repeat that child’s prayer, “now I lay me down, etc.” Just how I recovered my gun and turkey I never knew. I was too frightened to advance farther in the direction I had been traveling, so retreated, not knowing how soon the ugly brute might change his mind and return for what must have seemed to him, on second thought, a very bountiful breakfast.
It was nearly night before I struck a wood road that led me to Mr. Baker’s cabin where I found Irene just returned and making preparations to go in search of me. I was permitted to keep the turkey I had so manfully held to all that day and Mrs. Baker went home with me, to carry it and my gun.
My bear story was doubted at first but I was so insistent that a couple of days later Irene took me in search of the place where I had seen the beast. We found the tree and the evidences there proved beyond doubt that it was the sleeping place of the animal, and a few days later the Indians killed it near the spot I pointed out, and as a token of my escapade, sent me one of its forepaws for a souvenir.
It was our second winter on the homestead and during a terrible snow storm that lasted a week or more that we had our first and only experience with wolves. A pack of the disagreeable brutes, evidently in search of food, came to our place one night and tried to get a cow and calf which were securely stabled in a log shed near the cabin. The howling and bellowing of the poor cow from fear made the night hideous to us all, but my father dared not venture outside. He did, however, manage to make a loophole between the logs of the cabin from which he shot two of the ugly brutes and drove the others away. (Third installment in December.)
IT IS WITH CONSIDERABLE REGRET that we note the passing of Mrs. Glenn (Louella) Coe of Ionia and Laban Smith of Portland. Both were members of The Sebewa Center Association. We extend our condolences to the respective families of both.
PROGRESS! HOW DO YOU LIKE THE TAST OF THIS BIT OF NEWS?
The new U. S. Postal Service announces a new plan soon to take effect “to speed the mail” wherein most of the mail collections from towns around an area such as Lansing, for most of us, would be sorted and canceled at the central point.
Thus, unless you took special care to have your letters canceled at your local post office, they would bear the cancellation stamp of U. S. Postal Service with the number 489 as the only identification of the area of origin.
If you go through Hell or Paradise, your postcards mailed from there would likely bear the U. S. Postal Service cancellation and only a number to hint how hot or how happy you might have been.
I’d sooner go for Uncle Sam with an ox cart and consign this new fangled scheme to the first named place.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Last update June 13, 2013