Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 9 Number 5
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, April 1974, Volume 9, Number 5    
 

With threats from the powers that be some of the railroads in the county will soon be discontinued, this should be a good time to review the beginning of the railroad that has served Portland and Ionia for a little more than a century.  From the pages of the PORTLAND ADVERTISER as the OBSERVER was known for its first two years, we have the following items:

     May 5, 1868.  90,000 ties wanted between Ionia and Lansing.  Ionia and Lansing Railroad Company.

     April 27, 1869.  Large quantities of railroad ties are being floated down Looking Glass River.

     November 9, 1869.  THE RAILROAD, YES!  Before this paragraph is read by our patrons the iron horse will give this village its best neighs.  Last Saturday the track was laid to within a mile and a half of the village and yesterday the work progressed finely.  Of course there is to be a celebration and a meeting was held last evening to make arrangements though too late to get a report in this paper. 

     BREVITIES.  The I. & L. R.R. advertises for wood to be delivered on the line of their railroad in quantities of not less than 20 cords.  For wood 28 inches long delivered at this place, they will pay $1.25 per cord.  The railroad bridges at this place are all now completed, ready for the iron.  A subscription circulated in this village last week to raise funds for building a depot for the railroad on the east side of Grand River and on the south side of the Looking Glass River.  We understand over $1200 has been raised. 

     November 15, 1869.  It is said that when a Kentuckian first heard the whistle of a locomotive, just after its invention, he jumped his height in the air, clapped his hands to his sides and crowed like a rooster.  It is somewhat interesting to notice the effect of the sound of the whistle on the brute creation when they hear it for the first time.  On Thursday last, whenever the whistle from the locomotive resounds in the village, dogs a mile off joined their notes in the general clamor, some barking fiercely and others with their heads skyward, howling out their fears as though a calamity undefined and to be dreaded more than a proclamation from the village marshall in dog days was at hand.  Sheep started at a full gallop around and across their pastures, horses and cows seemed terrified out of their wits as though all creation had broken loose and run off the track.  This terror in the brute creation is always to the first opening of a railroad.  But after a year or two the effect is lost and animals seldom regard the locomotive with fear.

     November 30, 1869.  The stage line formerly running between this place and Lansing has since the advent of the railroad been taken off that line and is now running between this place and Ionia.  It leaves Portland three times a week upon the arrival of the train from Lansing.

     December 14, 1869.  The Ionia & Lansing Railroad Co. has nearly finished their engine house and turntable on the west side of Grand River.

     Some of our citizens have expressed their surprise that the locomotive should be passing up and down the road on the Sabbath, claiming that its tendency is detrimental to the sacredness of the day.  While we do not claim to be posted on the matter, it is presumed that when the road is finished, these matters will be adjusted and the solemnity of the day will not be marred or disturbed by the movement of railroad trains.

     August 26, 1872.  People intending to take the cars here should recollect that trains are run by Detroit time, which is several minutes faster than our time.    


OUR VALUATION

     From the current tentative tax assessment roll for Sebewa Township we have the figures for the property valuation of the township.  The breakdown is under four groupings:

Residential   $746,000.00; Commercial  61,300.00; Utilities 142,800.00; Agricultural  3.618,500.00.

     A total of these four classifications is $4,569,400.00 gives $5,272,034.00.

     Figuring 640 acres for each of the 36 sections in the township, we divide by 23,040 to get the per acre valuation of $440.00.

     It would take 7.9 acres of that valuation to buy a $3500 automobile.  One acre would buy about 880 pounds of white beans or peanuts or 285 gallons of milk.  Fifty-seven acres would be required to pay for a $25,000 house.  If we restrict the figures to the valuation of agricultural land, the figure of value per acre comes out at $348.

     A fairly new trend in the dwelling pattern is the use of 54 mobile homes scattered about the township.  Current inflation, disproportionate energy costs and fluctuating farm markets will be reflected in further changes in the township pattern of doing things.  The reported sale of the Circle M farms of some 600 acres in the south part of the township and the auction of Mike Guy & Son of personal property may be an indication that the big operation is not necessarily the best. 


WHO USES THE LIBRARY?

     In a report to the Portland Library Board, Mrs. Betty Anesi stated that in the first seven weeks of this year there were 290 users from Portland, 63 from Portland Township, 50 from Danby Township, 5 from Orange Township and 5 from Sebewa Township.  That means that more than a thousand people of Sebewa did not take the advantage that is theirs to visit and use the nearby treasure house of knowledge and entertainment during that time.  A mitigating thought is that some of the benefits of the library are scattered through the pages of this bulletin to reach many of our residents, sort of a second hand.  Libraries at Lakewood, Ionia and Portland welcome all residents within the county to use their facilities.    


Deaths in the area since our last issue have been Raymond Kenyon, Barry Foster, Ray Thuma, Raymond Sandborn and Elmer Leigh. 


RECALL.  Votes in the February election for recall of four of the seven Ionia County Commissioners failed to recal in each district by about 2 to 1 margins. 


DANBY PIONEER LIFE AS TAKEN FROM THE ACCOUNT BOOKS OF WILLARD BROOKS   By Betty Anesi

     In the year of 1828 Willard Brooks and his brother, Charles, contracted with a man named Charles Sanford to work as peddlers.  They dealt in quality goods and fancy goods, at least Willard did.  He had silks, velvets and brocaded dress patterns.  He handled silver earrings and teaspoons and things like that.  He kept a very good account of his sales.

     One of the first account books we have of his is his little peddler’s book with a tape around it that he carried around in his pocket in the neighborhood of Batavia, New York.  He kept the names of every customer he had and a list of everything he sold then over a period of several years.  Additional notes characterized some as “slow pay, or that there was a complaint that lace sold was not up to standard or that somebody intended to move on some future date.  Willard’s little book would be a treasure to somebody familiar with the Batavia area.

     To explain how we know of Willard Brooks involved a recent event.  Mrs. Carl Smith, whose husband is a great grandson of Mr. Brooks, brought to the Portland Library a shopping bag of family letters in a packet and the account books that Willard Brooks had kept from the time he came to Michigan in 1838 until he died in 1883.  He wrote down every transaction that he ever made and most of those in the early days were not for money.  He would put his neighbor’s name on the left hand page and his name on the right and on that page he noted what he got from then and on every other page he listed what they gave him in return, properly valued.  About every six months they would balance out and whoever was in debt to the other would somehow settle the account with a bushel of potatoes or perhaps a promissory note, which both would sign and that would clear the account for new entries.

     Mrs. Smith said “I don’t know if these account books will be of any interest to you because you can’t make head nor tail of them; they are all mixed up.”  It was not until I started putting the items on not cards and shuffled then around to chronological order that I found what Willard surmised that there was an awful lot of good paper left unused, so he returned to the blank spaces and started making entries for his new accounts.  Thus the accounts were mixed up until they were sorted by dates on the note cards.  Once I did that, I came up with a fascinating picture showing what his life was like over that period of years.    

     Willard and his brother, Charles, came to Jackson, Michigan.  Willard was already married and I believe Charles was also.  Willard had a little daughter, Mary, who came with them.  His wife was Losina Sanford, who was either a sister or a daughter of the Charles Sanford he had worked for, for so long.  Apparently Sanford had financed him, mostly on getting land here and in turn he bought some land for Sanford as a matter of speculation.  In some of the letters, Sanford asked about the current value of his property.

    When they came to Jackson, they met up with a young man named Churchill, who was also from western New York state and was coming to Ionia County.  The men soon found they were headed for the same township as Danby was not yet separated from Portland.  Choosing the best transportation available, they came downstream on Grand River on a raft with their household goods.  They had a terrible time.  In the spring flood of the river there were snags and other navigational hazards that caused then losses and damage.  Finally they landed in Danby Township.

     Willard’s land was in section 3 of Danby, which is now located as on Charlotte Highway just south of the I 96 overpass.  Willard had had experience as a surveyor.

     Among the account books was a little hand written manual or surveying that somebody gave him before he left New York state.  His surveying may not have been of the best, if you use some of the crooked roads and doglegs of Danby township as an example for your judgement.  He was promptly elected highway commissioner by the 18 voters of the first township election.  He continued to be a township officer of one office or another for the most of the rest of his life.

     In 1838 he started out with his first little account book.  The first entry shows he paid Charles Sanford by putting his deed on record—a 75 cent fee—and paying the taxes on the property, an amount of $3.00.  He did very little in the way of trade that year.  In 1839 he began trading in Portland.  The Newman brothers had built a bridge across the Looking Glass River and had a grist mill.  One of the brothers had honey, which was a valuable article because other sources of sweetening available did not satisfy the local demand.  The sugar that could be brought in from the East often suffered damage when the trip into the back country was by water.  Passable roads had not yet been opened in 1839.  That year Mr. Brooks furnished the Newmans with butter, beef and wood for the schoolhouse.

     Some transactions were devious and complicated.  Once he took a load of wood to James Newman for which he took his pay in flour.  He delivered the wood to Newman’s house and loaded in the flour for credit at the store,  went to the blacksmith where he traded off part of his store credit for getting a wheel fixed and then back at the store he used another part of his credit for groceries.  So he took part of the flour home, got the wheel mended and still had some credit at the store.  It was a day’s work but no cash had traded hands.  His books show him using less than $150.00 cash a year at that time.

     By 1841 there is evidence he was keeping cows for in that year he bought milk cans, earthenware bowls and two crocks.  Somebody in town was selling yard goods, and candle wicks.  For these he paid in lumber.  Clarissa Barber entered the accounts as the hired girl.  Clarissa was with the family off and on for several years; she was there when she was needed.  Appreciation for her was shown in the next generation when granddaughters were named Clarissa.  1841 seemed to be a hard year as Willard was not able to pay outstanding notes.  However, he did manage to buy some ribbon and some Grecian lace for Losina.

     1842 marks his entry into the whiskey business.  Details are somewhat vague because Mrs. Smith edited those accounts by removing some of them from the books because, “It didn’t sound too nice”.  He handled whiskey by the barrel and paid off a lot of his debts with it.  He gave James Newman 16 gallons of whiskey for a $4.25 bill at the mill.  He also paid Dr. Botchford Beers a $30.00 doctor bill and that was a pretty big bill in those days when an ordinary wage was $1.00 a day.  This is the only reference I ever saw to Botchford Beers for in all other places I saw it, it was M. B. Beers.  Maybe Botchford didn’t like the name.

     He paid a store bill at Nicholson’s with 47 bushels of ashes—somebody must have been making soap or saleratus.  New names of Way, John Brown, Asher Kilborne, Olin Aaron, French and Rev. Mr. Clark began to appear in the accounts.  From Newman’s in exchange he got 3# of honey and a hide.  Willard Brooks had a sideline in which he could use the hide.  He was good at repairing shoes as his accounts showed him doing for the rest of his life in return for goods and services that his neighbors could furnish him.

     He paid his school taxes of $3.25 in District #3 that year.  Also he worked out his subscription on the bridge for $1.00.  He also paid Samuel Sutler for paying the mill boy for shoes, thread and nails by giving him a quart of gin valued at 56 cents.

     By 1840 he was getting corn, wheat, butter and whiskey from Newmans.  There seemed to be a plenty of corn and oats but not much wheat.  He bought the wheat for seed and raised so little he apparently had none to sell next year.  That year he worked for neighbors threshing and mending boots.  He sold oats and barley.  In 1841 came the first entry for buying clothes.  A man named Daniel Hall worked for him to make a pair of pantaloons for 75 cents, a coat for $2.00, a shirt for 31 cents, a pair of pants for 75 cents and he repaired a bonnet for 37 cents.  Losina Brooks was not to do without her bonnet.

     Names of new neighbors appear in his accounts.  Sarah and Joseph Munn were close neighbors.  For them he did butchering and furnished beef.  Sarah came back and did some knitting, made a pair of corsets and sewed for two days for 62 cents—paid to Joseph.  She also made 3 shirts for 94 cents.  Then a buckskin went to Sarah and Joseph for a $1.50 value.  Willard also bought Eagle Township cranberries for 5 cents a quart.  In the map he drew he showed an extensive cranberry marsh in Eagle Township.

     In 1840 he entered his first record of doing business with a blacksmith.  He paid him for shoeing the cattle and sharpening their shoes.  He always referred to his oxen as kattle, spelled with a K.  The names of John Maxim, Isaac Brooks and Seth Drake appear in this section of the book along with the Densmores;William Densmore made boots for the Brooks family.

     By 1841 Willard had a hired man.  Philo Miller worked for him for $9 a month for seven months.  At the end of the period Willard paid him with a promissory note in lieu of cash.  Nails were expensive.  Carrington Smith made 19 nails for 12 cents.  He bought a good plow and shared ownership with his brother, Charles, and both shared in the expense of repairs for it.

     In 1843 Losina went to town on a February day and joined seven other people to form the Congregational Society.  Though Losina was one of the founders, there is no record of Willard ever joining.  Pat Murtaugh showed in the accounts in 1843.  He worked 3 days chopping on the road girdling trees.  He was paid with a cow bell.  Clarissa Barber came back to work for six weeks for six dollars.  She was paid by an order on Hunter and Silsby’s store and two bushels of wheat.  Picture Clarissa walking home, lugging her wheat.

     Willard began to buy tallow from his neighbors and took it to town for trade.  Anytime there was anything to be made from buying and selling, Willard took advantage of the opportunity.  He never got over his peddler’s instinct.  On little luxury showed that year.  Smith’s store carried molasses.  But for notes he could not pay and a hard year for cash, the Brooks’ grocery purchase were minimal.

     In February, the account shows, L. B. Barnum made a coffin for him for $5.00.  Little Mary, who had come with them from York State had died.  Will Churchill was in partnership with Hezekiah Smith and credit at their store was available to Willard.  By 1844 he had bought more honey.  Also he supplied a 12# pig for a Fourth of July picnic.  Mrs. Brooks had a doctor bill with Dr. M. B. Beers for $10.00.  That year he bought a quarter yard of Kentucky Jane.  Whatever that was, it was purchased through the years in quantities up to 4 yards.  It may have been a trimming, a velvet or a stiffening.

1844 was a bad year financially.  Willard had to go further in debt rather than pay off his notes.  He had a little cash coming in from his whiskey business.  In February he had another bill to L. B. Barnum for $9.10 for a coffin for Losina.  She left him with three children under six years of age.  It took until 1846 to pay the coffin bill—paid in oats.

     In the period following Losina’s death, Willard’s handwriting became noticeably poor.  It appeared that some of the children were being cared for by neighbors away from home.  In August he married Nancy Reed, daughter of John Reed.  When Nancy came, the store bill mounted with items such as ticking, sheeting and leather for shoes.

     Things began to look better in 1845.  Willard paid off his school bill and made his first purchas of coffee.  With his team he began doing hauling, which he seemed to prefer to farming.  He went to the “Dutch Settlement” (Westphalia) for James Newman a number of times.  Smith’s store began carrying salt codfish and that became a staple in Willard’s grocery purchases.  This year he bought a set of teaspoons for 45 cents.  In 1845 was his first purchase of some beans.  From Orange Eddy he bought two bushels of cucumbers.  In March he bought a sugar hogshead from John Reed, who lived in the Centerline Bridge area.  Reed furnished cooperage articles such as sugar tubs, sap buckets and wash tubs.

     A new name in the accounts was Milton Sawyer, one of Portland’s more colorful residents.  A year or so after that, Sawyer went off to the Mexican War and ever after he was a fixture in all the Portland parades as flag bearer, riding his bug white horse.

     Almeron Newman started a carding mill in Portland on the opposite side of the dam from the grist mill.  In 1847 Willard paid his bill at John Berry’s store with money he made hauling lumber for Michigan’s new capitol building.  John Seyour had made a deal in which he would have a building ready for the Legislature by a certain time and he had considerable difficulty getting enough lumber for it.  But here was Willard ready to buy and sell lumber and do the hauling as he liked to.  Willard’s father-in-law, John Reed, built a new barn in 1847 and Willard presented three quarts of whiskey for the raising.

     That the children were in school showed in the record where he paid 25 cents for three spelling books and an almanac.  He was Justice of the Peace in 1847.  The opening entries of the 1847 book are an account of his court cases.  All were civil cases except one for assault, which he dismissed because he felt both parties were at fault.  The largest judgement he assessed was for $3.00.  But the next year he charged himself $15.00 to pay the widow Densmore for the mistake he made in surveying a road across her land and cutting trees on it.

     New names that appeared were Charles England, Charles Ingalls and Harrington & Kinney.  Some of the court case names were Alpha Davids, Nataniel Soles, Thomas Hogle, Phillips, Edward Sandborn, John David and a Cryderman.

     In 1848 Nancy left off making her own candles and started buying them at the store.  In February Willard bought 30 sap buckets from John Reed for $7.50.  Evidently he made sugar that year.  In March he noted that he worked one day on the road by the turnpike.  David Simmons was keeping a tavern in Portland and Willard did considerable business with him.  An arithmetic book for 50 cents was needed in school.

     It was in May of 1849 that he made purchase of a large amount of yard goods.  Nancy’s children were to have proper clothing.  He paid $1.25 for apple and plum trees that he ordered from back in New York.  On the 4th of July he paid 38 cents for a dinner.  The same year he bought a pound of madder at Hezekiah Smith’s store—the first time to buy any dyestuff.

     That year he opened an account with the widow Hull and this is one of the few accounts in the books that he never balanced.  Another was that of the preacher.  He furnished the widow with wood, potatoes and some meat occasionally.  She returned with some sewing and knitting now and then.

     He began doing considerable business with his friend, William Churchill in Portland.  George Peake was a new neighbor in Danby.  In 1850 he paid Charles Sanford for working in the sugar bush.  That was Sanford’s first appearance in Michigan.  Willard bought indigo dye and paid 13 cents for two strings of beads.  In July he bought his only orange.

     In 1852 Nancy’s purchases became more fancy.  In the store account were alpaca, silk, trimmings, and facing for a coat—satin.  For the first time they bought raisins and starch.  From that time on raisins were a diet staple.  Another new item was matches.  He also bought 13 lights of glass, perhaps one for a spare.  Fernando Kinney showed up as a blacksmith.  Philander Dawley appeared as a new neighbor and continued in the accounts for a number of years.  There also began the purchase of lamp oil; the candle was out.  Matches were a regular purchase.

     In 1853 he started carting goods regularly from Lansing for Bill Bogue’s store in Portland.  He was paid $1.00 for a round trip.  His sideline of hauling whiskey helped to make the trips profitable.  The spring of that year showed Nancy’s store purchases of a bonnet, trimming, gloves, two joints of stove pipe, lamp oil and a bottle of pepper sauce.  Sidney Perry came to help with the apple trees.  In September he donated some money for the “meeting house bell”—likely the Congregational Church that had been completed the year before.  He loaned Sidney Perry a horse for a trip to Ohio for $3.00.  This year he sold quite a lot of tallow and also some apples from his orchard.

     From Miles Fuller he bought gimp, trimmings, thread, buttons, needles and a china thimble.  Fuller appeared only at a certain time of year for several years, indicating that he was a peddler.

     In 1854 he began the purchase of snuff at Churchill’s store and these purchases were continued.  In the spring he bought glass, nails, putty and one wash tub.  He paid William Turner $100.00 for building and supplying the materials for a log house.  He bought a lot of clothes and one satchel, suggesting a trip.  In this year he began selling dried apples at the store in town.

     A new business in town was Lee and Bogue.  Francis Lee was a doctor and Bogue had come to town as a boy of six years with his father, who was an Indian trader at the mouth of the Looking Glass.  Most of the early doctors seemed to have to go into business with some kind of store because most people paid their doctor bills in farm produce and an outlet was needed for the doctor to realize his income.  Francis Lee was a brother-in-law of Bill Bogue.  A new name in Danby was Alfred Towner.

     By 1855 Willard had extended his hauling to Detroit.  For this he got $4.17 for the round trip.  Nancy got a new stove that year and stove blacking became a purchase item.  Other new items were 3 slates, 3 pencils and one licorice ball.  Another item was magnetic ointment.  A number of yards of the finest lawn, a shawl and lots of cod fish were on the list.  About once a month he made the Detroit trip for Churchill.  On one trip he brought a washboard for Nancy.

     John Munyear was paid 75 cents for putting an addition on the Brooks’ house—a larger family needed more room.  At Lee & Bogues he got a bonnet and veil for Mary Ann, a vest and a coat, three yards of ribbon, a bottle of Rudway’s Relief, clothespins and some Kentucky Jane.

     He paid the blacksmith in scrap iron.  He sold apples, plums and blackberries at good prices.  He bought muslin, ribbons, and one double shawl.  He hired George Austin to weave 43 1/3 yards of carpet.  At Bower & Steward he bought a complete set of plates.  Two new neighbors were John Rogelle and Aziel Way.  He never spelled Aziel twice alike.  Pat Murtaugh was hired to rake and bind rye.  It was a good crop that year.  Willard sold plums to the blacksmith, Harrington, for 50 cents a bushel.

     Willard hired Wm. Densmore to pick out lumber for a house, to make sills and windown frames and to frame the house for which he paid $29.55.  A new hired girl was on hand and most of the time he paid her father for her work.  Harriet Eddy was paid in sheeting, muslin and petticoat lace, ticking and such.

     New neighbors were John Jeffery, Will Earl, John Whitman and James Bower.  Willard borrowed William Densmore’s oxen for a day.  Also he paid 50 cents worth of surveying for John Roselle.  At this time he bought two lemons for Harriet Eddy.  From Churchill he bought 25 yards of carpet and a paint brush.  John Miner was paid for weaving more carpet.  Dr. Beers formed a new partnership with Ed Steers—Steers and Beers.

     All through these accounts I get the feeling that Willard Brooks was an indulgent father.  He liked to see his women folks dressed well and he did well by his sons also.  In 1862 he walked over to his brother, Charles, to borrow $2.00 so that Milo could go to the ball at New Year’s time.  Milo was in his late teens.  Lamp chimneys were a new purchase.  This was his last year to buy any calico.  With the Civil War in progress, scrap iron was valuable.  Willard found plenty of it to sell.  Wm. Densmore was called in again and for $2.00 he made a “handsome front door”.  A bed cord was purchased for $1.01.  Could this have been the “springs” for a straw tick?

     By 1863 the daughters all wanted hoop skirts—an expensive item.  Mrs. Towner came and sewed two dresses for each of the girls, two for Nancy and pants for John.  She was paid $2.31.  What an amount of material it took to go over those hoop skirts!  John Jeffries came to help pick apples.  Willard helped Philander Dolley put rafters on the barn in May.  Here was a purchase of 4 yards of velvet!  Mrs. Towner came again and did more sewing.  Willard bought a pair of pants at Bogue & Websters for Milo for $6.00.  He also bought 20 cents work of wall paper.  War prices for plums were $2.00 a bushel, which the blacksmith readily paid.  More metal scrap was sold.  More lamp oil was being used.  Mrs. Brooks and daughters were knitting socks and selling them to Boges for 75 cents per pair and several bushels of apples were sold for $5.00 per bushel to Schofield’s store in Portland.  Tobacco was selling for 50 cents a pound.  A new store item was crackers for 15 cents a pound.  The girls went out to spin for the neighbors; wages to Willard.

     New building materials were purchased—72 lights of glass.  Cider apples were sold to Reed.  Milo was getting married and Densmore was working on Milo’s house.  Though hoop skirts were going out of style, the daughters needed three more of them and the price was lower.  The ladies were still selling their knitted socks at the store.  Nancy began buying soap at the store rather than making it.  A new item at Bogues was salt whitefish.

     1867 saw the first indication of Christmas shopping.  Willard bought a half pound of tea, a bible, seven yards of ribbon, two neckties, print, dureen and a package of Prussian blue for dye.  1869 called for only one hoop skirt; but it took two bolts of velvet for the ladies.  40 cents bought one china chamber pot.

     1870 brought Willard’s first crop of clover seed.  A corset was purchased for $1.00 at Bogues.  A skirt cost $2.50 for his first purchase of women’s ready made clothing.  1871 saw a deterioration of Willard’s hand writing.  Magnetic ointment did not keep the joints limber.  The blacksmith that year was willing to pay $3.00 a bushel for plums.  The knitted socks were still selling for 75 cents a pair.

     The ’72 and ’73 accounts are missing.  In 1874 Willard was still mending boots.  He still used the grain cradle though a threshing machine of sorts was used.  More and more of this field work was being done by his sons and neighbors.  They were paid largely by butter and eggs and sometimes he exchanged labor.  In January of 1875 Nancy had 38 pairs of socks to sell at 75 cents per pair.  She bought some embroidery, and he bought jugs as containers.  At Orvis’ store he paid $28.00 for a sewing machine, $7.00 for a wringer.  Neighbors Aziel Way and William T. Smith had their accounts settled by payments in whiskey.  A boy’s suit was purchased from Woodbury’s and a second looking glass for 90 cents.  Orvis allowed him $2.00 for a bushel of walnuts.  From 1876 to December 1880 he paid all his bills to his son, Charles Brooks, in whiskey.  Willard began to do less and less field work and paid cash for most of his bills.  About this time Silas Pilkington started a store in town and offered chees for sail.  Also oysters became available.

     In 1876 the family went to Pilkington’s and bought new rubbers and shoes all around.  He paid in eggs and butter and bought more crocks.  Oil cloth was a new purchase for Nancy.  She also got a yard of veiling.

     Two pounds of cucumber seed was purchased for a new crop.  At Woodburys he bought wall paper and 20 yards of rep.  He no longer supplied onions but bought some for family use.  He hired help for sheep washing and could well pay for it with a good wool crop.  Yarn became a purchase item.

     Bigley was paid $20.44 for taking care of the wheat.  By 1878 he had no store bills for all purchases had been made in cash.  In 1879 some butter and eggs were traded for groceries.  He continued to repair shoes—even those of his grandsons, whose fathers were billed for the leather used.  He bought a coat, vest and shoes but his shirts were still made at home.  He bought the shirting at the store.  In this year he began putting his affairs in order by having a title search made on a piece of property.  He paid J. W. Peake for a trip to Ionia to have some deeds put on record.  Also he paid off some mortgages.  After 42 years at the age of 72 he cleared the mortgage on his farm.

     In 1880 Nancy bought her first yeast cake.  Willard sold his cider press to Reed.  His writing became unsteady.  At this time he began paying most of his bills by check.  He sold his marsh for $50.00.  Another first item in 1881 was a payment of $9.00 for insurance.  He also bought a pair of slippers.

     In 1881 Dr. Wiley was paid $50.00 in cash besides apples and hickory nuts with another check for $7.50.  Willard died in a883 at the age of 75 years.


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



Last update September 18, 2013