THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
Association, August 1988, Volume 24, Number 1.
Editor Robert W. Gierman. Submitted with written permission of current Editor
Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: PETRIE, VAN HORN, HATHAWAY, SLOWINS, RYDER, VANHOUTEN, WAY, BARCLAY,
EVANS, LOVELL, WELCH
1918 PHOTO ON COVER; MEMBERS OF THE FIRST CLASS OF THE SESSIONS SCHOOL – Shown
are members of the first class of the Sessions school who attended the
dedication ceremonies of the placing of a bronze plaque on the front of the old
cobble-stone school by the Stevens Thomson Mason chapter of the D.A.R. September
29, 1918. Some of the students have been identified by relatives of the former
students, but a number are still unidentified. Perhaps some Ionia residents can
identify the rest. Those identified are, from the left, first row, William
Howard, Clinton Gates, next two unidentified, Mrs. John E. Morrison, Mrs. Riley
Harwood and Edith Allen; second row, first two unidentified, Mrs. Thomas
Mitchell, Wade Allen, Phoebe Adgate Scheurer, Minnie Adgate, Chester Adgate, the
next two unidentified; third row, Mrs. Bertha Brock (DAR representative, Philo
and Milo Adgate, Mrs. Arthur Loomis, Rev. F. P. Arthur, who delivered the
dedication address, and a son of the first teacher of the school, Amasa
Morrison, John E. Morrison, Walter Meach and John Morrison.
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD.
Merl Petrie, Carlton Van Horn and Bessie G. Hathaway.
ACROSS IONIA COUNTY BY PRAIRIE SCHOONER By Grayden Slowins
Wilfred has told about the arrival of the Levi Hissong family in Sebewa Township
about 1920 by covered wagon. Here is a story about the Slowins family, who began
preparations 51 years ago this month, in February, 1937, to move from a rented
farm in Boston, across Berlin & Orange, to a newly purchased farm in Portland.
And we were so hard-up in the Great Depression that we even lacked a canvas to
cover the wagon.
Dad was an unemployed auto worker who had returned to his ancestral trade as a
shepherd. I was born near a sheep barn in Sec. 30 Boston, and the first sound I
heard after my mother’s voice was probably the “Baaa” of a newborn lamb. We
lived on three different rented farms in my first 5 years of life, all on US-16
(Grand River Ave.)
In the Fall of 1936, the auto factories began to roll again, but the work was
seasonal, mostly Fall & Winter, so Dad sought a small farm to buy, closer to
Lansing. They had dickered with Charles & Cora Ryder VanHouten, who had sold out
and moved from Sebewa to a smaller farm at Portland. But they weren’t quite
ready to sell yet. So my family bought Albert (Ab) Way’s farm across the road.
It was in Sec. 28, all inside the Village, now City, of Portland. Dick Watkins
lived nearby and was working it.
All summer Dad & Uncle Frank Slowinski farmed both places. They got the crops in
first on the Boston farm. Four men, including two neighbors, planted 10 acres of
corn in a day with hand planters. The field had been marked both ways
(check-rowed) the day before with a horse-drawn marking horse. Then they began
to load plow, roller, disc, drag, etc., on the wagon each day & go to Portland.
Each morning they would milk before daylight, then head east toward the dawn.
After working in the fields all day, they headed west with the setting sun. The
14 Brown Swiss cows were milked by hand and the milk hand cranked thru a
cream-separator. The skim milk went to the calves, hogs, & chickens.
They put village electricity & water in the house and prepared for that first
hard winter. Mother home-schooled me, and on October 10, 1937, it was time to
make the move and live “there” not “here”. All farming tools and supplies that
couldn’t be spared earlier were now loaded on the wagon. They milked early that
morning, and the 5 cows who were to make the move were strung out like a “wagon
train” behind. I can’t recall just how they were tied.
We did have the use of Grandpa Slowinski’s flatbed truck to move the household
goods and some other things, but in those days trucks usually came with no cab
and a homemade affair served without doors – like Randy Wolverton’s silage
wagon. Since seat belts had not been invented yet, and without doors, I was
instructed to squeeze over next to Dad and hand onto his belt. Because sometimes
we reached speeds of 30 MPH on the downhill!
But on this final grand moving day, clothing, kitchen supplies, Mother, and Baby
Sister Sandra rode in the care with Uncle Frank. As eldest son, I was allowed at
age 5 to “ride shotgun” on the team & wagon. When I rode a horse, I always rode
the “off mare” and hung on tight to those knobs on the collar. We started east
along the shoulder of US-16. The high wooden wheels with steel rims clattered on
the stones and on the cement when we had to duck around culvert abutments. There
were cars & semis passing, but you had time to reach safety when you heard one
There were also laying hens in crates on the wagon. We had not received a share
of the Boston sheep and would buy a new flock from Mr. Martin, father of Walter
Martin who bought the Charles VanHouten place. The farm we left belonged to
Mattie Cool, mother-in-law to Uncle Elwood Brake, Sec. 22 & 27 Boston. We were
headed for Sec. 28 Portland.
The first sight of interest was the historical marker for the first roadside
picnic table in Michigan, or the USA, or maybe the whole World! Next was the
beautiful, deep, winding valley of Lake Creek and then Miltenberger’s Pond, from
which we had hauled water when the well went dry.
In Berlin we passed the farm, general store, and gas station of County Clerk
Lylia Patrick, grandmother or great aunt of Duane Patrick. Then past the farm of
Walter A. Lee, whose brother Reuben Lee had an insurance fire in Boston about
1932. Two elderly people removed every item of furniture in the dead of night,
including the piano, without assistance from firemen or anyone else! Then past
the farm of (William) Henry Harrison Sherwood, whose youngest son is Wayne. We
American farmers were a proud & patriotic lot back then, before the disastrous
wars in southeast Asia. We named our children after Presidents and Generals, not
Rock Stars. We had William (Tecumseh) Sherman Keefer, Ulysses (S.) Grant Keefer,
and Sheridan Wilson Keefer still living in Orange & Portland Townships at that
Next came the farm home and gas station of Charles Rudd, grandfather of Leon.
Then the Martin & William O’Beirne sheep barn, said to be the longest barn in
Ionia County when it was built, being older than the Ed & Emory Townsend sheep
barns. It was owned by Mary A. Gierman when we passed that way in 1937. It fell
down some years ago and the land is now mostly owned by Leon & Janet Gierman
Rudd. If you turned south at this point, before I-96 Freeway cut thru, you would
have passed the neat & thrifty farms of the Schnabel & Slowinski families.
Heading east instead, we passed the Robert Schnabel, Paul Hausserman, & Minnie
Sarlouis farms, and crossed into Orange (township). We passed the Fred W.
Brickley farm, and those of Thomas Christianson, Alfred Ferris, Guy Lapo, Riley
Sandborn, A. Fred Klotz, Alfred Whitlock, Lucinda Burhans, Warren Rowe and
George Rowe. As we neared Portland, we passed what had been the Prine* Barclay
showplace and had recently been purchased by Edwin Rowe. He too had an insurance
fire in Sec. 11 Orange. Uncle Frank got a job working for Ed Rowe, but within
the year Ed hanged himself & his dog on a big oak tree down the lane. Josie
continued to run the farm for a while and died just a few years ago at almost
100 years of age. Uncle Frank went to work at the prisons of Ionia & Jackson and
retired with 40 years service.
In 1942 at age 10, I became Master Shepherd and in 1957 moved the operation to
Sec. 27 Sebewa. During the 45 years since 1942, I have hauled more than 10,000
lambs to the Portland Stockyards. Every one of them was born on our farm. We
never purchased a lamb. The first trips were made with an Allis-Chalmers “C”
tractor and a little red 4x6 trailer that held 9 fat lambs, since I was too
young to drive a car or pickup. The yard was owned by Stiles & Co. before
Michigan Livestock. Guy Harwood was manager and then Charles Croel. Both are now
dead. Sydney J. Brown was their trucker and he became manager for MLX. He has
been succeeded by Larry Squires. At today’s price, around 81 ½ cents/#, 10,000
lambs would be worth almost $1 million. But of course many went at 15 cents – 18
cents back then and when they reached 25 cents we thought we were in heaven! I
have never missed a lambing season, even while in college or the Korean War. But
the land where I tended my sheep so many years ago is now covered with houses &
condos. Slowins Avenue crosses the creek approximately where the farm lane
bridge stood. END
*Prine Barclay was married to Rosetta Gunn, daughter of Joshua Gunn. Prine had
come to Sebewa to help build the Sebewa Center Methodist Church. His penciled
autograph is to be seen on a brick, high on the north west corner of the church.
When Joshua Gunn died around 1900 there was controversy over the settlement of
his estate between the Barclays and Fred Gunn. The Barclays sold the east one
half of the north west quarter of section 22 to James Cassel. The Barclays then
bought the property just west of Portland on Grand River Avenue.
As Prine was a first class carpenter, he proceeded to build for Rosetta and
himself a beautiful and well finished home. With some persuasion and surely some
money, this home became one of the first in this part of the state to have rural
electric service from the Portland electric plant.
As luck would have it, my brother, Charles Albert Gierman had a birthday on the
same date as was Rosetta Barclay’s. Our family was once invited to the birthday
dinner celebration with the Barclays. I remembered we borrowed Uncle Carl’s car
and went there for the dinner. We where shown around the new house, which was as
yet not quite finished.
Rosetta died before Prine did. He sold the house and moved to Oregon where he
also died. I never heard of a reconcialiation between Rosetta and Fred. RWG.
We have enough material to fill our ten pages but how could I do this without
mentioning the hot and dry weather of the summer of 1988?
There is more to the Joshua Gunn and other Gunn and their stories but that will
have to wait until another issue.
A TEACHER LIST, School District #1, Fractional District of Sebewa and Danby.
Courtesy of Fannie Sandborn, who compiled it from old school records.
4-17-1865 Julia Olmstead; 11-20-1865 Lucy A. Warren; 5-14-1866 Anna Dorin;
11-12-1866 J. H. McClelland, 11-18-1867 J. H. McClelland,
11-16-1868 Oma C. French; 6-8-1868 Frora (Flora?) Lewis; 5-4-1869 Harriet Howe;
11-8-1869 Grace W. Brooks; 5-2-1870 Ella Meredout; 11-14-1870 James Stringham;
5-1-1871 S. Tillie Carpenter; 11-13-1871 Jerome Sterling;
5-27-1872 Elvina Probert; 11-2-1872 James A. Stringham; 5-25-1873 Elvira Probert,
5-1-1871 L. Tillie Carpenter, 11-13-1871 Jerome Sterling; 11-18-1872 James A.
Stringham; 5-19-1873 Elvira Probert; 11-17-1873 Wesley Meyers;
5-5-1874 Elvira Probert; 11-2-1874 John W. Davids; 5-3-1875 Effie Kibby;
11-8-1875 J. H. McClelland; 5-1-1875 Mary Merryfield; 8-21-1876 Julia Cartright;
11-13-1876 J. H. McClelland; 5-17-1877 Liddy Shipman; 5-7-1877 Nellie Colburn;
11-11-1877 Ransom J. Taylor; 11-5-1879 Susie M. Bedlow;
12-8-1879 S. A. Wyman; 4-12-1880 Cleophus DeCamp; 8-12-1880 Cleophus DeCamp;
4-11-1881 Cleophus DeCamp; 11-14-1882 S. F. Deatsman; 8-1-1881 Della Brown;
10-3-1881 Della Brown; 11-14-1881 Cassius Sacket; 11-7-1883 Della Brown;
11-22-1884 Edward D. Way; 1885 Edward D. Way; 1885 Jas. D. Burkhead; 4-11-1887
W. J. Hutchison;
9-12-1892 May L. Spaulding; 11-14-1892 S. F. Deatsman; 3-6-1893 S. F. Deatsman;
9-4-1893 Jennie Lyda; 9-10-1894 Levi A. Burhans; 9-9-1895 Levi A. Burhans;
9-7-1896 Lottie Erdman; 11-2-1896 Lottie Erdman, 4-5-1897 Edith Henry; 9-6-1897
Edith Henry; 11-1-1897 Edith Henry; 4-4-1898 Edith Henry; 9-5-1898 Ora C. Allen;
11-22-1899 Nellie High;
6-12-1900 A. Bruce Gibbs; 1901 A. Bruce Gibbs; 9-1-1902 Agnes Erdman; 8-23-1902
Agnes Erdman; 9-7-1903 Agnes Erdman; 6-1-1904 Loren Grieves, 4-25-1904 Reva
Benedict; 9-5-1904 E. M. Roy; 8-31-1905 E. M. Roy; 9-3-1906 Dorothy Samain;
6-8-1907 A. Bruce Gibbs; 6-20-1907 Anna L. Wilton; 1908 Maude Samain; 1909 Maude
Samain; 9-30-1911 Elizabeth J. Cornell; 1913 Belle Young; 1917 Ruth Morganthau;
1918 Gladys H. Pickens; 1919 Gladys H. Pickens; 1921 Don McCormick; 1922 Don
McCormick; 1923 Ruth M. Grieve; 1924 Thelma Keister; 5-22-1925 Marguerite M.
Stiles; 8-16-1926 Claud J. Scott;
4-22-1927 Don McCormack; 6-4-1928 Don McCormack; 1933 Gladys Baum; 1937 Gladys
Baum; 1938 Margaret Wainwright; 1939 Esther Mosser; 1940 Esther Mosser; 1941
Margaret Braendle; 1944 Elaine Kohn; 1945 Clara Wise; 1947 Esther Bonhagel; 1948
Ivah Aikens; 1949 Lula Dushee; 1955 Lula Dushee; 1955 Eleanor Branton; 1957 Lula
Durkee; 1957 Alice Martin; 1958 Lula Durkee;
1958 Nora Peters; 1959 Nora Peters; 1959 Mildred Halladay; 1961 Mildred Halladay;
1961 Mildred Halladay; 1961 Paul Webster; 1969 Mildred Halladay; 1969 Mason
From 1930 on where dates are missing, the same teachers served as listed on the
The schoolhouse was sold to Richard Wolf for use as a dwelling after remodeling.
Since his death it remains as a place that used to be.
Here we have the address of Frank H. Rathbun: 11308 Popes Head Road, Fairfax, VA
FLOYD EVANS INTERVIEW By Grayden Slowins:
I’m Floyd Evans, live on Emory Road in Danby Township, 6577 Emory Road, born
November 19, 1908. My parents were George Evans & Anna Evans, formerly Anna
Gibbs of Sebewa Township. It’s the E1/2 of SW ¼ Sec.7 Danby Township. Then I’ve
got, across the road in Sec. 18, another 57-58 acres that I added later.
At the present time I have on my head a cap that my granddad wore in the Civil
War. He served in the Civil War and had come from Pennsylvania originally, and
then landed in Bath, Michigan. I don’t know how long he lived in Bath, a short
time anyhow. Then he came over to Sebewa Township Sec. 11. His name was Jake,
Jacob W. Evans, and Susan was my grandmother’s name. They got there, I don’t
know just what year, about 1880s. (Note: They appear on the home 40 in the 1875
Dad was born over there. He had brothers, Joe was the youngest one, and Bert –
Herb’s dad and Mildred Brown’s dad, and another brother, John, was the oldest
one, and a sister, Carrie. John lived in Owosso for years and ran a candy store.
He wasn’t a farmer. The rest of them all ended up being farmers. Along about
1923 or 1924, in that area, he went to California, and that’s where he died. He
had a daughter, an adopted daughter, named Grace Ewing. I never saw her after
they went to California either. We used to get a letter from her, but haven’t
for several years. She was a little older than I am. She’d be probably 85 or so.
Joe stayed on the homestead. Bert, after he got married, lived 2 or 3 different
places. He lived over where Ron Arnesen does; and someplace before that, but I
don’t know where it was. Then he ended up where Sid Brown owns now. That was
across from Bill Rosevere. Bill was Supervisor of Sebewa for years. I used to go
over and cultivate his corn for him while he went to Supervisors’ Meeting. He
was quite a fellow, William Rosebere, he lived for being Supervisor.
Of course I helped thresh back in those days, over in that neighborhood. Usually
I drove Uncle Bert’s team, and I hauled bundles quite a bit for some reason over
in that neighborhood. Herb was working here & there. He worked I the milk plant
quite a few years, so he wasn’t around at threshing time and I drove their team.
That 80 over in Sec. 12 Sebewa became for sale in the Knox estate, and in 1940,
I think it was, I bought it to add to our farm operation. I thought I needed a
little more land, which I did. I bought this across the road here in 1936-1937.
Got it from Ed Buck. That was known as the Gene Mathiesen place. Mathiesens
lived in Portland, you’ve probably heard the name. I don’t know what business
they were in, but they were business people and they owned some land around the
countryside. I can’t remember when they owned it. Buck owned it all the time I
can remember. He was a stock buyer and farmer, owned a big farm over in Orange
Township. He had 40 acres over on Tupper Lake Road where Louis Folkerson lives
now. Ed used to pasture his cattle over here, that was how he came to buy this.
He used to ship in his cattle and drive them out and start them on pasture here,
then when pasture got short, drive them on over to that 40. Then in the Fall, at
time to house them, he’d take them back over to Orange.
There was a house & barn down the road here, but he rented the house mostly to
thieves. They never had a well down there with water fit to drink. So they had
to come up here to our well to get water. They’d drive my mother’s old hen &
chickens home and that sort of thing. When I started farming, I rented it from
him. He had run out of renters. Various ones who had lived there did dabble at
farming it for him, too. About the last one that did the farming was Albert
Coon. He was a bachelor. He lived all over the countryside here, wherever he
could get inside someplace. He seemed to have a team of horses and a plow, and
he’d do a little farming. That wore out and the barn got in pretty bad shape and
someone tore it down. Then I bought the place. I had rented it 3 or 4 years from
him. One day he came out here and he said “You’ve worked this place for (however
long it was), why don’t you buy it?” I didn’t have much money at that time and I
said so. I had it to beans that year & we did have a pretty good bean crop, it
looked like we were gonna get some money. Anyhow he said “well, come on down to
the Bank tomorrow morning and that’s all there is to it”.
“Gee!” I said, “I still don’t have any money”.
“Well”, he said, “You’ve got a stack of beans over there”.
“Ya, part of them are mine and part yours”.
“Come on down to the bank in the morning”. So I went, and darned if he didn’t
give me a Deed to the place and said “You can pay me for it someday!” He wanted
to get rid of it. It was only $3000 or something like that. It didn’t amount to
anything, and yet in those days it was a lot of money. So I’ve owned it ever
When I got out of High School in Portland in 1928, I started that Fall working
on the Clarksville Road over here. That’s when they graveled from the city
limits out to Sunfield Road. I worked on that all Fall, worked in the gravel pit
down by Portland-Danby bridge. That’s where the gravel came from for that road
originally. Then I worked around the farm here that winter. I intended to follow
that contractor. He had a big job the next summer up north, road building. He
was Sam Solomon from Lansing. I liked the work. But in the Spring of 1929, Laban
Smith came out one day & wanted to know if I wanted to work in the Hardware
quite a bit with the rest of the kids, and it sounded pretty good. Paid $18.00
per week and I was staying at home. Solomon stopped in one day when he heard I
was working at the Hardware, and wondered if I was going to work there. That was
alright with him, as he had plenty of help anyhow. So I worked there four years.
(To be continued).
REMINISCENSES Continued By Myrtie Candance Welch
MY ENGLISH TEACHER
Miss Aldrich was never married. Her name was Charlotte Z. Aldrich. She always
signed her assignments in this manner: Cza. Someone in our class decided it
would be fun to play a joke on Cza. On our next papers we turned in to her, each
one, instead of signing our names, signed our initials, joining the letters
together in the same manner she used.
Next day, before Cza began our class, she stood at her desk and said “Girls,
don’t ever sign your names like that or you’ll turn into an old maid like me”.
Next time we turned in our papers we signed our full names, even the middle one,
like Myrtie Candance Lovell. Miss Aldrich, after looking at our papers, said
“Now, that’s much better. I felt I just had to warn you”. She was full of fun
and we did our best to please her.
Miss Aldrich lived across the street from our house. I used to help her look
over papers and mark them on Saturdays. I liked that. We had her as a teacher
only in my Freshman and Sophomore years. She moved away to California. The whole
town hated to have Miss Aldrich leave as she had taught in Vermontville for
years. She was a very dedicated teacher.
When she left, she gave me her bicycle. I was certainly thrilled with that.
Later in my school live, Ma moved back to the farm and I used to ride my bike
back and forth to school.
Coaster brake bicycles were never even heard of at that time. No brakes at all,
every time the wheels turned, so did your legs on the pedals. The only way you
could slow down was to stop pedaling and drop your feet to the ground, letting
On the way to school was a very steep grade called Corey Hill. I couldn’t pedal
my bike up that far, so I walked, pushing the bicycle along side of me. It was a
long hard climb. On the way home, going down, you had to fight the speed of your
bicycle by dropping your feet to the ground every now and then. This to me was
rather boring and I just had to do something outlandish to liven up the trip
home a bit. From the tope of that hill you could see a long way down the road to
the north. I thought “I’ll bet it would be fun to put my feet up on the handle
bars and ride on down”. So, looking to see that no one was coming or that no one
was anywhere around to see me, my next thought was “I’ll do it” and up went my
feet. Perched on that small bicycle seat, with both my hands and feet on the
handlebars, I began rolling down that hill, gaining speed at every turn of the
wheel. I felt like I was flying like a bird and I must have looked like one,
Now the road at the bottom of this grade was covered with white sand, just the
kind you put in sandboxes. I’ll bet you think I fell off. Well, I didn’t.
Hanging tightly to the handlebars, I plowed right straight through. The sand did
break the speed of my bike, slowing it down just enough for me to drop my feet
down to catch the pedals.
I reached the foot of the grade just in time, for around the curve in the road
came some people driving toward town. I rode my bicycle along past them like a
perfect little lady, which certainly I was not. Hypocrite, I think.
JOHNNIE WELCH AND SYLVIA LOVELL MEET.
Time August 17, 1904. Place---Sunfield Farmers’ Picnic. Mable Wright, Sylvia’s
friend (their friendship formed on the west road from Bismark (invited Sylvia to
come to Farmers’ Picnic that year with her and her boy friend, Arthur Dow.
Arriving in Sunfield, the three were walking down the street and met Johnnie. He
and Art were second cousins. Naturally they stopped to visit a little,
introducing Sylvia to Johnnie, who was alone. Soon they decided to make it a
foursome and spend the day together. Before the day was over, Johnnie asked
Sylvia for a date. Telling him she would think about it and write her answer to
him later, Sylvia came home with Art and Mable.
On the way home, she fired questions at Art to find out what she could about
Johnnie. After all, he was a perfect stranger, never had heard of his parents,
didn’t know anything except that he was a farmer. She knew Ma would want to know
a little about him before letting Sylvia go any place with him.
Next day, after repeating all the things Art Dow had told about this stranger,
Ma decided he must be quite a bit older than Sylvia but he was a farmer and
that, of course, pleased her. Finally Ma asked “How old is he?” Sylvia said that
his birthday was the day before hers, but left unsaid their specific ages
because Sylvia was two years older than John. Ma never knew until their license
to be married was published. Sylvia didn’t lie. Ma didn’t ask for years.
So, after the talk with Ma, Sylvia wrote to Johnnie and gave him permission to
come over. Addressing the letter to Mr. J. W. Welch, not knowing that was his
Grandfather’s name and she should have added Jr., she touched off some
fireworks. The girl Johnnie had been dating for some time lived right across the
road from his grandparents. She picked up the mail, delivering it to them.
Always if there were any letters, Grandma Rachel and Grandpa John would have
Sadie (the girl friend’s name), open them, reading them aloud. Sadie did just
that with Sylvia’s letter. Johnnie always said that her reading it saved him the
embarrassment of telling Sadie himself.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
Association, October 1988, Volume 24, Number 2.
Editor Robert W. Gierman. Submitted with written permission of current Editor
Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: SAYER, YOUNG, RISCHOW, CARTER SMITH, PEABODY, DUTCHER, RANDALL, KYSER,
EVANS, SKINNER, HAY, ADAMS
Front page: Photo of a barn raising. “This picture is from the Sayer collection
of photos and seems to be that of the erection of the barn on the E. A. Demaray
farm near the corner of Kimmel and Musgrove in the SW corner of Section 21. You
can see why the barn still stands straight despite its shabby outward
appearance. This is how they used to do it.
1816—THE YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER by Alice R. Young
Speaking of unusual weather, meteorological observers generally agree that the
spring of 1816 was the toughest ever. Vermont was probably the hardest hit. On
June 8 of that year snow fell in all parts of the state and on the highlands and
mountains attained a depth of five or six inches.
Icicles a foot long were seen and many vegetables were killed on the ground.
Frost and snow were said to have occurred during every month of that year in
Vermont. Respectfully submitted, Alice (R.) Young, 10555 W. Portland,
Clarksville, MI 48815
Earlier Miss Young had told me that her genealogy reached back to John Alden and
Priscilla. She spends her summers at her farm home but in the winter she goes to
Cumberland Home near Lowell to be easily comfortable. When I visited her early
this summer we talked of the Sessions School. Alonzo Sessions owned the land
that became school property. He had become prosperous and at the time of his
death he had made a will with the various heirs duly designated. Also as a last
item in the will he instructed that no settlement be made until after he was
buried on his farm land. So, the will was carried out and he was buried on a
little rise in his farm land. With the property distribution made, the heirs
then had him disinterred and removed to the Highland Park Cemetery.
In the August Recollector, you will find the name of Miss Young’s sister, Belle
Young, as teacher in the High School at Sebewa Corners school in 1913. The above
“Year Without a Summer” was from a clipping pasted in an old scrapbook. RWG
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD: Tina Rischow, Stella Carter Smith, Harold Peabody, Lettie
Dutcher and Alta Randall. All were members of The Sebewa Center Association.
Donald Kyser is also on this list.
AHOY LONDON AND THE BRITISH ISLES
Many of you knew I was taking a vacation trip to the British Isles in late
August and early September for two weeks. Here are some of the highlights. We
were a party of 32 with only two couples not retirees. Some 21 people with only
two others from Michigan boarded a British Airlines 747 at Chicago for the
direct flight of seven hours to London. We left Chicago at 8 P.M., E.D.T, and
arrived in London just a while after daylight. London clocks are five ahead of
ours. Only three of us were from Michigan.
It was a considerable ride from Heathrow Airport to our downtown hotel in
London. My first impression was of the many, many four or five story buildings
with the dozens of chimneys protruding from the roofs. Coal was banned as a fuel
for heating in the 1950s and that pretty well cleared the city of its notorious
fogs. At the same time it was mandated that the chimneys be kept. Housing many,
many buildings is in condominium type flats. Rentals are mostly unavailable.
Start walking and you do not come to the end of it.
The city is full of statues and monuments—even one for Abraham Lincoln. So many
relics from the Roman occupation late in the first century to 400 A. D. and on
to the present that I kept my pictures and story of the 141 year old Sessions
School rather quietly packed.
The Thames River has many bridges, occupied house boats and historic buildings
along its banks. Time restricted us from visiting many places of interest. Many
streets were lined with Sycamore trees. We missed seeing very many Sycamore
trees on leaving London. We did visit Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London
where many tour groups watched. Windsor Castle was an important tour with many
large halls with exhibits of arms and weaponery, great dining and entertainment
rooms, costumery and famous paintings and murals. London has many parks, even a
square mile in size.
My encyclopedia gives London’s area as 620 square miles (compare that with Ionia
County’s 576). A green belt has been established around the city where
development is prohibited and farms prevail.
Fairly recently a motorway (freeway to us) a double three lane road was built
around London. As soon as it was built, traffic became so heavy that it was
decided a double five lane road was necessary and the extra lanes are now being
built. No billboards are allowed along the highways of Britain. I started
looking for unpaved rural roads but none showed up in all our trip. There were
no muddy cars. Even the trails to off road farms were paved. The roads were well
marked with signs directing traffic to every cluster of houses that had earned a
As you travel roads here you expect to find houses hidden by trees and shrubs.
Not so in Britain. Many houses are obvious duplex arrangements with a chimney at
each end decorated with a strapped-on TV antenna of small size. You see whole
villages and towns with the houses well exposed and only an occasional tree of
any size near them.
Again I was surprised to see so much wheat and barley as yet not combined.
Nearly every field had a pattern of tracks where spray rigs had treated the crop
to limit the growth of the straw. Big round bales of straw followed the
combining. Often these were stored, wrapped in shiny black plastic. More another
FIFTY YEARS OF TRI-COUNTY ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE
Tri-country Electric Cooperative got its start at Eaton Rapids where Miller
Bros. Ice Cream Company had some hydropower at their plant on Grand River. In
the depression years of the 1930s, President Roosevelt created by executive
order the Rural Electric Administration May 1, 1935. A year later Congress
passed the Rural Electrification Act. At that time, only one out of ten farms in
Michigan had electric service and there was no push from the utilities to better
At Eaton Rapids, William V. Clegg and others under the leadership of Lynn
Walkling of East Lansing began thinking of getting a start with lines from
Miller Bros. to tap their supply of power. On March 26, 1937 they formed a
cooperative named after Eaton, Ingham and Jackson counties with the name of
Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The first meeting of the Board of Directors was
held in Lansing on March 27, 1937. They applied for funds from the Rural
Electric Administration to build service to their farms. A first loan of
$400,000 was granted them by John M. Carmody, R. E. Al administrator.
Construction soon started. Meantime Lynn Walkling, Manager, promoted membership
applications across the county line into Ionia County, stirring interest in the
townships of Campbell, Odessa, Sebewa, Danby, Portland, Lyons and Ionia. Farmers
were ready to receive the service. Miller Bros. were able to install some diesel
generators to take care of what they could see as an expanding load. Lines were
energized and the first group of farmers had their service.
Mr. Walkling resigned as manager in July of 1937 and Dolph Wolf was named to
succeed him. Areas in Barry, Ionia, Clinton and Gratiot counties were planning
to get electricity from Tri-county Electric Cooperative.
More generating capacity was added by a diesel operated plant at Vestaburg in
1939. In February of 1941 another diesel generating plant was built with offices
for the cooperative’s headquarters in Portland.
With the load every expanding and lines extending into Clare, Clinton, Gratiot,
Isabella, Mecosta, Osceola and Saginaw counties, the Board of Directors along
with the cooperative organizations such as Ottawa and Allegan, Cherryland (along
Lake Michigan below Traverse City), Presque Isle, Top of Michigan and Western
Michigan at Scottville, pooled their generating capacity and transmission lines
to form Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative in 1982.
Wolverine has 1,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 100 substations.
It has contract sources of power from Detroit Edison and its own steam plant on
Lake Charlevoix and several other sources including the Consumers Power J. H.
Campbell plant near Grand Haven.
In April of 1988 Tri-county Electric Cooperative had 17, 221 customers, 13,689
of them residential with average bills of $55.83 per month. It has 2589 miles of
distribution lines with a total of 13,383,990 KWH sold for that month.
Robert W. Matheny of Portland is Tri-county Electric Cooperative’s manager.
FLOYD EVANS - GRAYDEN SLOWINS interview with FLOYD EVANS, continued:
In the meantime my mother died, so Dad and I lived here. In 1932 was when we got
married and Dad lived with us. We started farming. He was getting to the point
where he wanted to quit farming & do something else. Sid Brown was getting going
in the trucking business and Dad was going with Sid quite a lot on the truck. He
liked that pretty well and it gave him something to do. So we started farming,
and in 1935 he died and we inherited the 80 acres. I was an only child.
In the gravel pit I had been paid 45 cents an hour. I started out at 40 cents
working in the pit down there, running the screener and stone crusher and
loading the trucks. They had a bunch of old Model-T Ford trucks. They didn’t
have any cab on them. All they had was a dump box on the back and a seat. Some
didn’t even have a windshield, you set right out there. They held about a yard
and a quarter a load. The gravel, after it went over the screener and thru the
stone crusher, went up into a bin. They backed in under the bin and I pulled the
lever and that would load the truck. They dug it out of the bank with a drag
line and up into a hopper. A conveyor moved it up on top of the screener. The
big stones went on down thru the stone crusher and then into another conveyor to
the screener and kept going and into the bin. Mainly I had to keep the crusher
and screener going and keep them greased. I’d get in an hour or so before the
trucks got started in the morning and an hour or so after the truckers would
stop at night. I was tightening the belts and greasing the equipment around
I always wanted to drive truck. Really what I aimed for when I went there, I
though I’d get to drive truck, on those old Model-Ts. I could drive our old
Model-T, that’s what I learned to drive on, to drive a car. I asked the boss one
day, after I’d been there a while. There was an extra truck or two sitting
there. The drivers, I don’t know what happened to them, but anyway they were
idle. I asked him if I couldn’t drive truck. He said “Why do you want to drive
I said “Well, I always wanted to be a truck driver, and they’re getting 45 cents
an hour and I’m getting 40 cents.
He said “Well, there’s no problem there. You can just as well get 45 cents and
stay where you are”.
So that took care of that and I stayed right with the crusher the rest of the
time. There was no limit to the hours, from daylight until dark or a little
after. It was along the last of August when we went to work there, and they did
all that graveling from then until the first part of December. When we finished
up, I remember that it was pretty cold and there were a few days when we were
hauling gravel when we had a little problem with freezing on the conveyors and
Then at the last end when they got finished, they sent everybody out, the truck
drivers and including me. We took the shovels and went out and trimmed up the
shoulders of the road. What shovel work there had to be done, we did that for a
couple days, and that ended it. I think, if I remember right, it was about the
12th of December when we closed up altogether down there. Then the next Spring,
of course, was when I went to work in the Hardware.
My mother’s dad was Norm Gibbs; his stone is up there in the cemetery. There
were actually three Normans in the family. Norm Sr. was my granddad, his was
Lillian, Lil. They lived up on Knoll Road where DeBruyn’s property is. Or not
DeBruyn’s, but the junkyard there- Piercefield’s. Tom was their boy, my mother’s
brother, and he lived where DeBruyn’s are. I don’t know what year, but anyhow
when he got married, he married Walker Downing’s daughter from up west further
there and that’s where they lived all their lives.
The other Norm Gibbs, Mother’s brother, lived where Linda Sandborn does now, or
Linda Russman. He’s buried up here too. He went from there over on US-16 and
sold out the Knoll Road place to Art Elvert. He was getting to the point where
he wanted to quit farming. So they went over there, that was a smaller place,
and they sold produce, garden produce, there on US-16 for a few years and that’s
where he died. His wife was Emma Luscher, a sister to Edna McNeil Wenger.
Mother’s sister, Nellie, married Hans Arnesen, a Norwegian and they lived on
Petrie Road there, where Ron does. Mother’s older sister, Martha, was Del
Northrop’s wife and lived on Knox Road. They didn’t have any kids, but Arnesen’s
had one boy and his name was Norm.
I’ve got one boy. He’s a school teacher. He’s lived all over the country here.
He started out by going to Church School up at Cedar Lake and graduated there.
From there he went down to Berrien Springs to college and graduated from there.
That’s where he started teaching public schools, down there. He taught in
various country schools around there for 3 or 4 years, I guess. Then he went to
Benton Harbor and was there about 2 years, I think. He didn’t like that very
well, it was pretty rough in Benton Harbor Schools, a pretty rough situation at
that time. He didn’t care for that, so then he got into their church school. He
went over to Adrian and was there, I don’t know how many years, several years.
Then he went up to Cedar Lake & taught up there where he went to school and had
graduated from High School. That’s the Advent Church and School. Then he went
from there to Battle Creek and taught in the Advent School down there, too. He
went from there over to Gobles and last year he moved from Gobles—was only at
Gobles a couple years. Now he’s at Holly, Mich. His name is Gordon.
He has just one boy, Scott. Scott followed him around and always went to school
with his dad. He graduated from Battle Creek High School and never thought much
of going to college. He started college once in Berrien Springs, but for some
reason or other he didn’t like school that well and he gave up. He wanted to
work, so he did. He worked at various things around Battle Creek for a few years
there. He worked for contractors and his last job was in an oil station outside
Battle Creek, east on I-94. He worked there quite a little while. He got it in
his head, when he quit Berrien Springs College, to go with another kid
hitch-hiking all over the country. I don’t know where all they did go, but they
went west and down into Texas and back. For some reason, after working in the
oil station and not liking it very well, just a job, he decided to go out west
again to Utah. So he and another guy went to Utah and went to work there. He
seemed to know people everywhere, from his hitch-hiking travels, I guess.
Anyhow, he’s been out to Utah ever since, about 5 years now. He’s a pipe-fitter.
He worked on dams and other construction work when he first went there. He went
to Salt Lake City first and then went out from there to where-ever the jobs
were. He actually camped on the job, and here about two years ago he got in a
pretty big outfit and they wanted him to learn the pipefitter’s trade. So they
got him to take a correspondence course and he got licensed to be a pipefitter.
I was born right here and lived here all my life. My wife is Angela Adams Evans.
Her mother was Calla Skinner, and her grandmother Skinner was a Hay. The Skinner
family lived down in Shimnecon. Angela’s mother married Oral Adams. They lived
in Shimnecon too, when they were first married, and Angela was born there. Also
she had a sister Margaret, 14 months younger, and then her folks separated and
he went into the Navy. Soon after Angela was born, some Indians came by and
blessed her, and she’s pretty proud of that. Mrs. Skinner was widowed and
married Casper Schaeffer, who lived there with Margaret and her. They went to
the Knox School and lived there with the grandmother and Cap Schaeffer. He was a
pretty big farmer there for a few years. He finally sold out and went down into
My wife and her sister lived with them a little while down there and they got
grown up, but neither of them graduated from High School. Then her mother
married an architectural engineer and of course he was shipped all over the
country. That’s how they lived here and there for a few years. Then Margaret
married a man down in Indiana and stayed there. She had stayed with the
grandmother and never did move around with her mother and step-father quite as
much as my wife. But Angela got tired of it, too. So she contacted Nora Wheeler
over here, who is Cap Schaeffer’s daughter, and came to live with them. That was
when the old shirt factory was starting in town, when I was working in the
Hardware. She came over there to live and she got a job in the shirt factory,
and that’s how I met her. She wanted a ride back and forth to the shirt factory
to work every day. So that’s how I met her. Her sister has been married to three
different guys, lived all over the country. She lives in Georgia now.
We started farming when we got married in 1932. Dad was away with Sid. Then when
he died in 1935, we really got into the farming in 1936. To start with we had
cattle, we milked cows for a few years. I never was a good milker and never
liked milking very well. Dad always had a few cows, 4-5-6-7, and after he died I
thought there ought to be a better way to make a living than milking cows. So I
got rid of the cows and increased the cattle business and the hogs. We had a lot
of hogs for a few years and feeder cattle. Used to buy quite a lot of feeder
cattle from Ed Townsend over there on Kelsey Road. He sort of took us in under
his wing. We sold hogs to him and bought cattle of him and sold cattle to him.
Then the sheep business, I don’t know just how we did get started in that. When
Dad was alive, he always had sheep, too. There were a few yers I got rid of the
sheep. I don’t know why, but I did. Then got back into them again. When I really
got into them was thru Ed Townsend. He came over one day and said he had a
carload of old Western ewes coming. I had rented the old Wakely place down east
there across the road, starting in 1936 or 37. I used it for pasture. It was
hilly and stony and everything else undesirable for farming. So he knew I had
that place and he wondered if he could pasture those 300 ewes on it. I didn’t
have anything on it right then, so we made a deal. I can’t remember for sure
just how it worked out. But he brought the 300 ewes, those old wrinkly
Ramboulettes, and left them there for a while. Then one day he came over and
said “Well, I’ve got a deal on. I’ll give you half of those ewes, so that will
make you 150 for pasturing them, and take the other 150. I’ve got a place for
them. Make up your mind, what you don’t want of the 150 or can’t house them
during the winter, I’ll find a place for them too”. It hadn’t been only 2 or 3
months they’d been there on pasture, so it was a pretty good deal.
He found a home for a few more, and I mixed the rest in with my other ewes and
bred them to a good Suffolk buck and we got some pretty good lambs. Finally the
old ewes got pretty aged and they went to market. What really put us out of the
ewe business was dogs. That went on for one summer at least. We had had pretty
good luck, for as much as we pastured back around the river there. That one year
tho, they started right out when I turned the sheep and lambs to pasture in the
Spring. They hadn’t been out there over a week. I went down there one morning
and there was a lamb on the wrong side of the fence, on the Huizenga side, and
dead ones scattered around here & there all over the place. So I hunted dogs all
that summer. I’d bring them home for a while, but didn’t have room, so I’d take
them back for a while. Then the dogs would get after them and I’d lay over there
nights. But I never could get the dogs. Finally, along in September I sheared
the sheep and got rid of what lambs we had managed to raise. Along in November
we got kind of a wet snow and I went over to see if they were all right. They
had a little growth of wool, were huddled down in a hollow, and seemed all
right. But while I was over there, here came a couple of dogs over the hill. I
got a shot, had a shotgun along, but they were too far away. The dogs took off
and went east, but there was hardly enough snow to track them. I came home and
ate dinner and got to thinking maybe I could find them down the road to the east
here. So I got in my pickup with my rifle and an old German Mauzer belonging to
Sam Fryover. So I had three guns with me. I drove clear down to Portland-Danby
bridge and back, but didn’t see a dog. The sheep were 40 rods from the road,
because I had a fence across and a gate, where you see that green lane between
the fields. I had alfalfa in that front field and 5 dogs were going across that
field over toward the sheep. I drove up and stopped and rushed over with a gun.
They had a ewe down just out from the gate a little ways.
REMINISCENCES OF MYRTIE CANDANCE LOVELL WELCH – Continued
Johnnie Welch. At this time everyone, even his own people, called him Johnnie.
John Welch was his Grandpa. It was a long time after Grandpa John died before
people began calling him John. The Lovell family never did. My Mother and all of
us certainly approved of Sylvia’s new friend, a favorite of everyone all his
John William Welch, Jr., was born to Perry John Welch and Lucy Bishop Welch on
March 18, 1886. He had one brother, Perry Ray, 1889, five sisters, Myrtle, 1893;
Hazel, 1896; Ethel, 1897; Helen, 1898; Lucy, 1902. Also Perry and Lucy’s first
baby, Cora Mae was born on April 30, 1863 and died June 25, 1865. Her death was
an accident. Sitting near the table in her high-chair, she pushed against the
table, tipping the chair over backwards, breaking her neck. She died
immediately. Her Father took the high-chair into the woodshed and completely
demolished it. The high-chair was not to blame but her poor Mother raised all
seven of those other children without the help of a high-chair. Cora Mae’s
Father never allowed another in the house.
At the age of twelve, Johnnie went to live with his Grandparents, John and
Rachel on the old Welch homestead located the first farm south of the Welch
cemetery. His parents, Perry (more often called P. J. or Fred) and Lucy owned
the eighty acres, the first farm north of the cemetery, living there at the
Johnnie worked his Grandmother’s farm from 1898 to 1918. He and Sylvia were
married in 1905. Juanita was born to them in 1907 and Lucille in 1909. During
this time the old, old Welch house burned and the now standing one was built in
1909. Johnnie owned eighty acres on Dow Road, the first house south of the Dow
Church, and lived there while the house was being built. He sold that place, he
bought a farm on M-43 down near Grand Ledge. Later he traded that farm for the
one just north of the Dow Church and lived there for the rest of his life.
Johnnie died of a heart attack September 19, 1945.
JOHNNIE AND SYLVIA.
In 1903 when Sylvia started “keepin’ company” with Johnnie, we lived on East
Main Street in Vermontville. Now Johnnie, being a farmer, had chores to do, so
he came to see Sylvia on Sundays in the afternoon, arriving in time for dinner
but always leaving early enough to take care of his stock and do the milking.
This was back in the horse and buggy days with no car to whiz over to
Vermontville and then whiz back. It took a little time in those days.
Although Johnnie was only a little past seventeen at this time, he had worked
Grandma Rachel’s farm since he was twelve and had some money, more than a lot of
other boys had at twenty-one. He even owned a small farm out on the Smock Hills
east of Sunfield near Gates Road. He used it mostly for grazing his young
cattle. There were too many hills for plowing the soil.
Johnnie was a very neat dresser, had a rubber tired buggy and had a pretty, fat
bay mare he called Molly. The Lovells were always proud when Johnnie came into
our driveway. Sylvia’s beau, no other girl in town could match this one.
At the east end of Main Street, you come to a fork in the roads, the right hand
going to Charlotte, the left going north was the road Johnnie came into
Vermontville over. I used to walk out to this fork in the roads to meet him,
just so I could ride in that rubber tired buggy behind his pretty little Molly
horse, hoping all the neighbors would see me.
Time moved swiftly, soon Sylvia was planning her wedding. I felt lonely already,
first Mae, then Arby and now our fun-loving Sylvia, too. She loved her old home
so much that she wanted to have her wedding there. Mae and Fred were living on
the farm, so, of course, Sylvia was welcome to come home to be married.
Sylvia and Johnnie set up housekeeping at Grandma Rachel’s in the same two rooms
that Grandma and Grandpa John built for Johnnie’s parents so long ago. Grandpa
John was still alive. He liked Sylvia so much, I presume Grandma Rachel did too,
but she never would say she cared for anyone.
Grandpa called Sylvia, Susie. He died the night before Juanita was born. Sylvia
sat by his bed all that night. His mind went way back to his boyhood days in
Vermont. He talked most of the night. Sylvia said he’d say “Listen Susie, can’t
you hear that brook splashing over the stones? It’s right behind our cabin, you
When in later years Ray and I went east, we were in Vermont several days. We
looked for an overnight cabin until we found one with Grandpa’s babbling brook
Living in just two small rooms took a bit of doing. Sylvia soon had them looking
so cozy and neat; they didn’t mind. They were happy and starting down the road
of life together made this a real home. To be continued.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
Association, December 1988, Volume 24, Number 3. Editor Robert W. Gierman.
Submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: CARROL, R (K?)USSMA(UL?), KAUFMAN PEW, WISKEMANN, HENDERSON, TAYLOR,
BRANDSON, GIERMAN, EVANS, LOVELL, WELCH
PHOTO OF SESSIONS SCHOOL
Sometime between 1898 and 1918 this is how the Sessions School looked when it
was used as a sheep shed. In 1918 the Board of Supervisors did a restoration
that replaced the south wall that had been opened.
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD are those of Floyd Carrol, Stuart K(R?)ussma(ul?), Thelma
Kaufman Pew, George Wiskemann, Olive S. Henderson, Guy Taylor and Robert J.
MORE ABOUT BRITAIN AS I SAW IT by Robert W. Gierman
As I promised last issue, here is more about Britain as I saw it. As I grow
older and now at 79 I can notice that I do not function quite as well as when
younger. It seems that when I have one thing well in mind, I pursue it and other
things are somewhat neglected or forgotten. We look at Britain on a map and at a
glance think it is small and we could drive around it in a day or so. We toured
in a 49 passenger Volvo COACH and chalked up 1600 miles on our trip.
London is at the southeast part of the isles and has a warmer climate than most
of the land mass of the British Isles. Sycamore trees grow freely there but, go
north a bit and those Sycamores or Plains Trees disappear as in Michigan
crossing Grand River to the north, climate allows very few Sycamores. I was
keeping an eye out for a Gingko tree but did not find one though Ginkos are
listed in “The Trees of Britain and Northern Europe”, a book I bought there.
Britain, too, lost its elms to the Dutch Elm Disease. The demand for ship
building timber there, followed by clearing for many, many small farms on any
previously forested acres eventually ended Britain as a forested land. That way
of cutting accounted for the great amount of clear cutting in our east as the
great timbers fell and headed for Britain for ship building. Nobody seemed to
know the importance of leaving some of the land to keep growing a forest.
Even up into Scotland the forests had been cut and not until the last 30 or 40
years have the highlands there been replanted through a government scheme. Now,
traveling those highways we could see small mountain after another covered with
On our tour we had three stops at farms. The first one was a large one of 300
acres. The family was expecting us and had coffee, tea and light dessert for
everybody. There were a surprising number of chairs throughout the house. I
asked our hostess how old the house was. She said 250 years while the one next
door was 300. After that I did not again show my picture of our 141 year old
Sessions School. Houses in Britain are generally built of stone, the available
material. If once they had timber, now most of it is gone.
The farmer there in his mid eighties had spent his life on that farm. His wife
had died and he was remarried. Two sons worked the farm. It had been that way
for two or three generations, the same family renting from the same family of
owners. That, apparently was the custom there. Two little granddaughters flitted
around having a good time with the visitors.
Outside we donned our disposable plastic boots and went to the outbuildings.
Barns and sheds were of more recent construction, a bit similar to our newer
farm buildings in Michigan. In one building there was a grain drier, droning to
prepare the wheat crop for market. Farm tools and tractors were evident, some
with familiar names and others quite functional but different.
In the farm yard was a large bed of silage with wood reinforcement at the sides
covered with a huge plastic with nearly a hundred old tires whose weight
protected it from the disturbance of the wind. There was a herd of Holsteins
here but they were out to pasture. Only the bull and some young stock were in
sight. A mow of large round straw bales filled one building. We had seen many
round bales of hay or straw stacked at field edges, tightly wrapped in black
plastic. More later. RWG
IONIA COUNTY HAS OLDEST COBBLESTONE SCHOOL (THE SESSIONS SCHOOL)
Ionia Sentinel Standard 10-11-60; Reprinted with permission
An old landmark in Ionia county was restored the past year, by action of the
Ionia County Board of Supervisors.
The oldest cobblestone schoolhouse in the State of Michigan, the Sessions
school, is located in Ionia county on West Riverside Drive on the south side of
the road across from the county infirmary.
All that remains of the old schoolhouse is the outside structure and the roof,
which was replaced by workers in the last restoration project. Vandalism over
the past 100 years has caused much concern to members of the Ionia County Board
of Supervisors, who have tried to preserve the old schoolhouse as a memorial to
their ancestors. Decay and vandalism over the years have removed wood floor,
plaster, windows and the front door. Vandalism in recent years has caused damage
to the east side, the south end of the building with part of the stone walls
Workers have relayed the walls and boarded up the windows. They have also placed
a new plank door to prevent entrance to the old building. A new shingle roof to
help maintain some of the original appearance was also placed on the building.
It had been forty years since the building was last restored. The Ionia County
Board of Supervisors voted in 1918 to have the old schoolhouse put back in
September 29, 1918, the Stevens Thompson Mason chapter of the DAR placed a large
bronze tablet on the outside wall of the schoolhouse, which is known as the
Sessions School. The tablet has since disappeared.
Inscription on the tablet read as follows: “Sessions School House, Built 1847”.
Doubtless the oldest cobblestone schoolhouse now standing in Michigan restored
by the Board of Supervisors of Ionia county in 1918, tablet placed by Stevens
Thompson Mason chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution of Ionia, Michigan,
August 28, 1918.”
Taking part in the 1918 dedication ceremonies besides Rev. Arthur were Mrs
Oliver Kidd McGannon, who was regent of the Ionia chapter of the DAR, Mrs.
Bertha Brock, after whom Bertha Brock county park is named, Mrs. Marion Hosford,
granddaughter of George Hosford, a well known early settler of Ionia county,
Mrs. Carrie Sessions Loomis and Mrs. Levi Marshall.
An old clipping from an Ionia Daily Sentinel of August 30, 1918 lists some of
the first students of Sessions school who attended the ceremonies. They were
Clinton Gies, Mrs. Lewis Tanner, Mrs John E Morrison and William H. Howard. Old
scholars from way included Clare Allen of Jackson, Mr. Marsh of Muir and one
woman came from Illinois to attend.
Residents of Ionia, outside the DAR at the ceremonies included Judge A. B. Morse
and wife, K. R. Smith, A. R. Lode and many others.
Restoration work in 1918 included individual fashioned windows, hanging of the
old door with a latch, placing of a new roof and miniature corduroy road laid
across the deep ditch in front of the school, which was left after the road was
The schoolhouse was built in 1847 by Alonzo Sessions, former lieutenant governor
of Michigan and the Crane brothers, James and Nathan, masonry workers, who had
worked for Sessions in payment for some land they had bought. It was built
entirely of field stones on the 1,000 acre farm of Sessions. Sessions also had a
home built of cobblestone, which was taken down to make way for the county
For 51 years the Sessions school continued in operation. A new brick school was
built on the north side of Riverside Drive on the county farm about 1898 as the
Sessions school was too small to take care of the increased enrollment.
After Chester Adgate bought the Sessions property, he sold 326 acres to the
county which included property where both schoolhouses and the present county
farm are located.
An old class roll book which is owned by Robert Patrick whose mother-in-law,
Mrs. John E. Morrison attended the Sessions school, listed 30 students in 1875.
Although Patrick did not attend the Sessions school, he said he knew many of the
students, living in Berlin Township all his life. He said he attended the Eddy
school which is located near the Patrick farm, which has been in the Patrick
family for 100 years. The farm is located on the David Highway near Jordan Lake
He said the youngsters attended school differently in his time than they do
today. The only time they went was when the farm work was done. Thus, most of
the older boys only went to school for a few months in the winter and late fall
and early spring. He said some of them went while still in their twenties to
finish school. The roll book Patrick has shows the ages of the students from
five to twenty years of age.
Responsible for the last restoration plans were members of the Welfare Committee
of the Ionia county board of Supervision of Keene township, chairman Gary Newton
of Otisco and Jerry Burns of North Plains township. Harold Bennett of Berlin
township was appointed to serve on the committee of the restoration of the
LLOYD EVANS’ INTERVIEW, Continued:
I didn’t want to hit the ewe, but I took a shot and missed the first shot. The
dogs were 2 or 3 beagles, a mixture, and one big yellow collie. I had never seen
any of them before. One beagle started coming back and he got pretty close to
the gate. I got him with the old Mauzer, he wasn’t over 10 or 15 feet from me.
Couldn’t help but get him. Then here was another one behind him and I got that
one too. I got all the beagles. I couldn’t see the collie and I had to load the
gun by that time again. While I was loading the gun, here comes the collie along
the fence, to see where his partners were. So I got 5 dogs right there in a
pile, had them laying touching each other. But the sheep were ruined and after
that we just bought feeder lambs, quite a lot of times.
Now we are approaching the E. C. Derby farm. That’s Turner Creek coming across
Keefer Hwy. from the west. It starts up in Sec. 12 Sebewa, where the Stiffler
boy just built that new house on the land we used to own. It comes down across
Floyd Carroll’s and across where George Livingston lives, that was the Bill
Turner place. The upper end is called the Sweet & Semaine Drain. The Derby barn
set right there close to the road, where Hitchcock’s south driveway goes it. You
can sort of see the old barn grade coming in right off Keefer Hwy. The house was
up on the hill to the south, right across from the old Hart house. Now they have
sold their son this part where that pole toolshed is and that north driveway.
Ray just has a 50 ft. drive out to the road. This old road that curves around
here is where they came in when they took gravel out of here years ago. The son
is a heavy equipment operator by profession and he changed the lay of the land
to smooth over some of the mess made by gravel digging. The old Hart place was
Ingalls before that. Doc. Morse owned this whole thing and then this half was
sold to Skip Spurgeon and Devereaux got the south half. Spurgeon was going to
develop this and sell lots, before he got that from your dad’s place. I came out
here with Steve Smith to appraise it and at that time there were no roads
visible. The County or State had taken gravel out from the south side, too, but
the roads were all grown up to brush. You can see some of the road was up at the
next higher level there. Hitchcock’s started cutting their way back to the
river, built a shop back there, and lived in it while they built the house.
We never hauled gravel out of here, on this side, when I was young. We got it
over on the south side, where Pat Laughlin owns. My dad was Township Pathmaster
and he always worked out most everybody else’s road tax. After using the horses
and wagon, he bought an old Model-T Ford truck and built a dump box on the back
of it and hauled gravel with that. He and I shoveled and hauled 18 loads of this
gravel onto Keefer Hwy. one Thanksgiving Day, and that’s the last gravel I ever
shoveled out of the bank with a shove.
When I was a kid going to school, this was pretty clear land. Derby used to farm
back in here and pasture, and most of these trees weren’t here. He didn’t really
have much flat land. Of course it’s been dug up and changed around. I hadn’t
been back in here for years, until that time with Steve Smith, and it had all
grown up to trees.
That gravel there came out of that hole. There’s still patches of gravel here.
They got gravel out to build their private road. Gary, the boy, bought two old
cranes, got them for practically nothing. He was a crane operator for Brown
Bros. in Lansing for years. They cut their way back to the river, built their
road, built that shop building, and lived in that for a year or two, while they
built the house. The boy lives here, too, he never married. They have a
daughter, too, in Florida. She’s an attorney, graduated a couple years ago.
This was quite a gully, a regular waterway to the river, before they changed the
lay of the land around and filled in. That big gully going down to the river
used to go all the way up thru here. This was old Clanty Derby’s pasture land,
all this. When we go back, I’ll show you where I used to cut across on the way
home from school. There, this is about the area where I used to cut across. From
where that pond is over there, I came down in here and the old brick yard was
right in this area where the house is now. I can remember a few boards and maybe
part of a roof of a building setting here. I used to cut across here and there
used to be an old hoot owl on a tree in that washout lots of times. He would
hear me being kind of quiet and he would hoot, and after a while take off. He
may still be there – some big hoot owls are here yet.
When they built the house, they found pieces of brick & tile. There was a piece
of tin from the roof still here. Apparently they mined clay first for the
bricks, then got down to gravel. Right there are some of the brick fragments, by
that wild cherry tree. About a 20 ft. radius has never been dug up. There is
some old iron from the equipment, and that looks like some pieces of the tile
they made. This corner piece is part of a brick. Wish we had pictures of the
clay & gravel mining and the brickyard. Someone said Deveraux had some. (The Don
March house in S ½ of SE ¼ Sec. 36 Sebewa would appear to be the only house
still standing that was built of Sebewa Brick. It was the home of Henry & Eva
Snyder, parents of Winnie Benschoter, now 92, and later was owned by her brother
Vern. There was at least one more house of these soft red bricks in Sebewa. It
stood on the NE ¼ of NW ¼ Sec. 6 Sebewa, although the bricks were mostly fallen
away already 30 years ago, and all is gone now. Our Odessa Township neighbor,
Ray D. Farrell, was born in that house 98 years ago, on February 4, 1890. He
married Hattie Eldridge November 15, 1917, and they honeymooned by horse & buggy
to jobs at a logging camp at Seney, U.P. Mich. They have been married over 70
years. Sebewa has always grown them tough! Ray’s mother & baby sister are buried
in our west cemetery.)
I never got back in here when they were really hauling gravel- I was working in
the Hardware then. That was after Derby’s time – along in the 30’s. I don’t know
where they went with it, where they used it. I know the County got some of it,
but where they graveled the roads, I don’t know. Hitchcock found a 1924 Ionia
County Road Commission license plate around the remains of an old truck. They
had a stationary drag line in here to dig the gravel. You can see where it
pulled back up to a rock or stake with the cable wrapped around it, and a
pulley. The buckets went out on one line and back on the other.
I don’t know what relation Clanty Derby was to Carl & Hugh Derby in Portland.
Some, I think, and Carl & Hugh were cousins, not brothers. Clanty & Millie were
old people when I was a kid going to school. (They owned the farm in the 1875
Plat Book and the 1906 Plat Book.) I don’t know what year they died, nor if they
went to a home or anything, or whether they died here. People always called him
Clanty, even tho the Plat says E. C. Derby, probably Clancey. He died first, I
know that, because she lived there in the house alone for some time. One day we
had a school picnic, the last day of school in the Spring. It was an awful hot
day and my folks took me up to school with a lunch basket and our dish to pass.
Expecting the basket to be pretty empty, I could carry it home. But it was hot
and I got awful tired. I stopped and went in and asked Mrs. Derby if I could
have a drink and if she would take me home. She drove an old Model-T Ford. But
she said I could walk home. She wouldn’t take me. But I got home and didn’t die
– thought I was gonna! She was a different old lady, she didn’t want to have
anything to do with kids. “Don’t step on my grass” she would say. The kids never
bothered here, they knew enough to keep away.
No-one lived in the place after her that I know of. It more or less fell down.
It was once a show-place too. Why nobody ever got ahold of it and restored it or
kept it up, I don’t know. Must be the family paid no attention and it kind of
disappeared. The barn was torn down or the wind blew it down. I don’t think
either building burned. I can still see, in my mind, the trim on the front of
the house. There was a cement sidewalk from the road to the front porch, with
all its curly-cue carvings on the railing and around the eaves. It was a yellow
house, with the trim in white, I think. It had been painted quite a few years
I never could see that he did much farming when I walked across here. This was
all cleared and pastured, but I don’t know how he ever raised enough winter feed
for his stock. The most farming he did was over on the Laughlin area on the
south side. A little hay and some oats for his horses and cow, 6 – 8 acres at
most. He ran a threshing rig for spending money. There used to be parts of old
Separators and Steam Engine boilers lying around in the grass.
REMINISCENCES OF MYRTI CANDANCE LOVELL WELCH – Continued
With Johnnie and Sylvia living in just two small rooms took a bit of doing.
Sylvia soon had them looking so cozy and neat. They didn’t mind, they were happy
and starting down the road of life together made this a real HOME.
The kitchen was a little cramped at times. Johnnie always had a hired man who
lived with them, besides threshers, corn huskers, etc. Always called for a gang
of men. We managed. I say we because at vacation times I was there helping
Sylvia about as much as I was home.
The new house was built after I graduated and I spent the whole summer there. It
was Sylvia’s pride and joy. I was always sorry about the old one, but so happy
with this one. It was better for Grandma Rachel too. The north room with a nice
big bedroom adjoining was planned especially for her. I really think she was
proud of it herself.
Grandma’s life ended in this house on June 1, 1918 at age 95. Soon after this a
big change came up in Johnnie’s life. He was asked to move. Myrtle, his oldest
sister, had been married a couple of years to Robert Steadman, living in rented
rooms in Grand Rapids. I cannot remember what Bob did but Myrtle was a telephone
Coming home to her mother, asking for help, Myrtle said she was pregnant and
they would not be able to live on Bob’s salary, no home to call their own, etc.
Johnnie’s mother asked him why he and Sylvia couldn’t move to their farm down by
Grand Ledge. If they would, she could rent this farm to Myrtle and Bob so Myrtle
could have a home.
Of course it was a shock to Johnnie but he really thought he’d be better off on
his own place than renting here. It was a much better farm than the 120 he was
working so he told his mother he’d leave. He told Sylvia and she didn’t want to
go so far away from the Dow neighborhood. Going to Grand Ledge into a strange
place with strange people, Sylvia said she just could not do it.
In talking to a very special friend, David Parker, who lived on Dow Road, the
first house north of the Dow Church, David solved his problem. They decided to
trade, farms, David saying that Mrs. Parker would just as soon go down there.
Sylvia was so happy, they moved, Johnnie remodeled the house, making it really
nicer than the new house on the Welch place. It was here that Sylvia died from
the terrible disease of cancer on July 31, 1922. It was a sad ending of a happy
“Ped” and Lucy Welch, Father and Mother Welch to me and I shall call them that
in this chapter. I, never in my life, called them by their first names and I
cannot do that, even now. “Father!” Sylvia and I were so fond of him and we
enjoyed calling him that. I think one reason was that having lost our own father
so long ago, we were happy to have one now. I know he was as fond of us as we
were of him. He never spoke an unkind word to either of us.
When Father and Mother Welch and Ray bought the grocery and shoe store in
Sunfield, Father asked me to go with him to the wholesale house in Grand Rapids
to help him buy the shoes. We went on the 11:00 train, coming back on the 6:00
P.M. At the wholesale house he introduced me as his daughter, not
daughter-in-law or he could have said Ray’s wife. But, no, I was always Daughter
to him and Sylvia was too.
Now I’ll try and tell you what I can remember of the life of Father and Mother
Welch. I’ll need to skip dates for a few years. I have written before that they
went to housekeeping in the two rooms built by Grandma Rachel especially for
them. By the way, this old house of Grandma’s was the first frame house built in
the township. I am just assuming it was here that little Cora, their first child
was born and died. Next was Johnnie.
This I do know, on October 16, 1889, Ray was born in Shaytown. At that time the
folks had a general store there and also the Post Office. Father was Post
Master. They sold this business to Will Wells. Living there for three years, Mr.
Wells moved to Woodbury, operating a general store there for years and became
quite prominent in the affairs of Sunfield Township.
Whether the folks bought the eighty acres north of the cemetery before or after
they lived in Shaytown, I cannot tell you. This is where they moved when they
left Shaytown and where their five girls were born. Father was a farmer and
owned and operated a grain thresher with a big steam engine, bean thresher and a
portable sawmill. In those days, if you needed a barn, usually you had the
material right on your own land. Every farm had a big woods. The trees could be
sawed into the lumber without buying it.
Father had this portable sawmill and many barns around the area were built of
the lumber he prepared. The big beams, the rafters, the flooring, with every
piece cut for its proper use. It was a good deal like the ready-cut houses of
today. About this time in the early 1900’s people began cutting down their
woods, just having the trees cut down and sawed into logs. Clearing off these
woods gave the farmer more land for cultivation.
In 1906 Father was on just such a job as this, when a terrible thing happened.
An accident occurred, resulting in the loss of his right leg. Father and his
crew of men were working on this big job down by Quimby, Michigan. It was so far
away they would stay for a week, just coming home from Saturday until Monday.
This Monday morning, he and his engineer, Ora Moore, arrived before any of the
others. Fire must have built in the engine and kept going to get the steam up to
a certain pressure for power to run the saws.
Father stepped up to the conveyor to do some oiling. Ora, being busy with the
engine, didn’t see him, turned the switch to start the saw and, quick as a
flash, Father was carried to that powerful saw just as though he was a log. It
cut off his foot just above the ankle.
Someway Ora, with help from the people where Father was working, managed to get
him into town where the crew was boarding. The doctor from Hastings came soon
enough to stop the bleeding. Johnnie was called by telephone. He and his mother
Ray was left behind but couldn’t take it, not knowing what was happening, he
hitched up one of their horses and started for Quimby. Ray’s folks didn’t have
very good horses for driving, just big clumsy work horses. I guess Ray must have
thought he’d get there just as soon by walking. His slow progress was making him
more nervous than ever. My brother Arby lived on the old home place on Ionia
Road. Ray was going there; he knew Arby had a good driving horse, so he stopped,
telling the story and asked to change horses there. Ray was only fifteen years
old and Arby thought “I wonder if he knows how fast to drive a horse that far”.
If a horse were driven at top speed without a slowing down every little ways,
you could “break their wind” and they would be no good again. Arby said he took
another look at Ray and thought “He can take my horse, if he spoils her it’s all
right”. He said Ray looked so young, so frightened and sad. He loaned him the
horse. Ray returned it that night in just as good shape as ever. Arby told me
this himself. Ray and I were “keepin’ company” at the time, so I was glad to
have Arby say that.
Ray and Johnnie brought Father’s foot back; made a box for it, burying the foot
in Welch cemetery on the Welch lot. Father kept complaining of the pain in his
foot that wasn’t there and someone came up with the idea the boys had not buried
the foot in the same direction that Father was lying in that bed. So the poor
boys had to dig up their box and see whether it was lying straight or not. Of
course it was just a superstitious whim, for the foot kept right on paining him.
The next thing, gangrene set in. The doctor had to cut Father’s leg off below
the knee to stop the spreading of the blood poisoning. This didn’t stop it, so
later they cut it off again about six inches below the hip, leaving a stub just
long enough to fit a wooden leg. Those nerve spasms that bothered him so much in
just the foot, kept on in the whole leg and did at times all the rest of his
life. Father was only 42 years old when this happened. The doctor was pretty
wonderful, working under the conditions of the times, to have saved his life. It
was just a private home, no electicity, no running water, nothing convenient for
anyone. Mother Welch stayed there to care for him with Mrs. Caslelein helping
I don’t remember how long it was before Father was well enough to come home. He
used crutches for a while, then later he got an artificial leg. He became very
clever with that leg, could walk so well that you could scarcely detect it.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
FEBRUARY 1989, Volume 24, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of current
editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: LEAK, GRAY, DODGE, SARGEANT, BRODBECK, CAVANAUGH, GOODRICH, PEABODY,
GIERMAN, WILLIAMS, DOWNING, SINDLINGER, CARR, LOVELL, WELCH
Here below is the picture of Gerald Joynt and Wilfred Gierman on the back of our
1922 $350 new Ford Runabout. Charlie and I drove it to Lake Odessa to High
School for four years. Note the rim for the spare tire. Crates of eggs and
crates of chickens were hauled on the left running board for shipment to the
Detroit Commission House for marketing. The train left Lake Odessa just after
high school morning assembly and we could look out the east windows to see our
produce on its way to market.
OUR DEATH LIST PEAKED AT THE END OF 1988. They were Maurice Leak, and extending
to Lake Odessa and Portland, Duane M. Gray, Dean Dodge, Ila Sargeant Brodbeck,
Elouise Cavanaugh and, reaching to Sunfield, Loretta Goodrich
MY TRIP TO TENNESSEE by Robert W. Gierman:
I’ve almost worn out this story among people tht I see but many of our 470
members are not that close, so, here goes.
Many will recall that Maurice and Vera Gierman sold their house, farm buildings
and 16 acres from their farm, had a sale to dispose of the remaining farm tools,
and took leave with wanted furniture in a Ryder rental truck for a new summer
home at Fairfield Glade, some 100 miles east of Nashville. Come cool weather in
mid October they invited me to make a visit and I accepted. I had my plans to
get up early on Friday, drive the 660 miles, be there for Saturday and return on
I did get up at 4 a.m. and by 4:30 I was on the road, finding my way through
Charlotte to Interstate 69 headed for Fort Wayne. By the time I reached the
state line, daylight had come and WKAR FM began to fade. Foliage was truly
beautiful all the way. The fall colors had arrived.
Through Fort Wayne and on toward Indianapolis I got acquainted with the rest
stops along the road but somewhere along there, my mind buzzed an unpleasant
thought. In my rush to get going I had left my billfold, including my various
identification cards, in my every day trousers, flung across the arm of the
davenport, and here I was, well away from friends, without even a penny or
drivers’ license. I knew there was no point in turning back, for I could run out
of gas going north as well as south.
On past crowded Indianapolis I knew I was going to have to beg when my gas tank
got low. At Shepardsville, Kentucky my time was up and I had to turn off and be
the begger. I found a gas station close by with a modern grocery store and
approached the cashier with my sorry tale. She said “you had better see the lady
at the counter”. Her reply to my now established story was “Every now and then
we get such a sad case and we send them on to the (Southern) Baptist Church”. So
there I went, trying several doors before I found the office in the building out
I was met by a very pleasant secretary, told my story (third time) and was told
I could see the pastor in a moment. When that time came and I started my story
the fourth time I began feeling like I was way down here looking up at him away
up there. He said they sometimes had to help folks out and he asked a few
questions so that I got the impression he was sure he’d never hear from me again
after I got my tank of gas “If it didn’t come to more than ten dollars”.
He called the gas station and I got my fill and signed the book and went on to a
hundred miles plus east from Nashville to Fairglades and found the friendly
faces of Maurice and Vera and Deanna, who was visiting there.
It was a nice trip but I would not start again unless I knew for certain I had
cash instead of a story I had to tell four times to get unstranded. Coming home,
it rained all the way from Louisville, Kentucky. File this away in your memory
the next time you start out.
SOME THINGS I REMEMBER ABOUT SEBEWA CORNERS by Mamie Williams Downing:
I, Mamie Downing, was born about three quarters of a mile west of Sebewa
Corners, on the farm of my grandmother, Barbara Sindlinger. She owned about 50
acres. Her husband had been killed when the horses started up and threw him off
the tank wagon that he was returning to the next threshing farm. My grandmother
kept the farm and raised two girls, Esther and Theresa on this place. She had
her own cows, chickens and garden and did her own work. She rented the fields to
When her husband first got killed, her brother from Saginaw County came to
Sebewa Corners and bought the farm that was later owned by the Knapp family,
right by the mill pond. They stayed there until he got her straightened out and
got her farm running. He worked the farm for a few years and then returned to
Saginaw County. I think his wife died when he was living here and was buried in
the Sebewa Cemetery. After several years when he returned to Saginaw he removed
her body from this cemetery and took it there.
Grandmother then rented the fields to the farmers in the area but she did her
own milking. That is how I learned to milk, helping her. Also I helped her raise
chickens, at least I thought I was helping. She lived there and raised her two
girls. Aunt Esther married a man by the name of Willis DuBois at Oneida Center
near Grand Ledgge where they lived the rest of their lives. Later my mother
married Lewis Williams, I think about 1898 in Sebewa. I was born to this union
on February 22, 1900.
My father helped my grandmother with her chores but during that year he was sick
with what they called TB. He went to Utah where he was much better. He was so
homesick he came back here and was worse and he died when I was about eleven
months old. Again we were without any man on the farm. My mother and I still
lived with my grandmother.
At that time, as I remember, there were two stores at Sebewa Corners. One was on
the north side of what is now Musgrove Highway and that was owned by Frank N.
Cornell. It was a two story building, the upper part being used as an Opera
House for Sebewa. The lower part was divided. The west side of the building was
groceries, hardware and anything that the farmers needed. On the east side was
dry goods and ladies hats. In the corner of the east side of the store was a
lady who was the bookkeeper. She was sitting at the desk most of the time. The
one I remember was Lillian Alleman. The Allemans were Sebewa residents. She
owned a little building across the road. I think probably that she stayed nights
I do not remember so much about my mother working in Cornell’s store. Around the
corner facing east on Keefer Highway was a store owned by John Bradley. This was
quite a small store but it had everything one would need, groceries, hardware as
well as the Post Office. My mother worked in both stores at different times but
I remember her working in Bradley’s store. She worked in the Post Office.
There was no R. F. D. yet, so all the mail was distributed there at Sebewa
Corners after it was brought in by Star Route from Sunfield as I suppose, every
day. I remember the big barrels of crackers and the shelves of cookies. They had
a glass front so you could see what kind of cookie on each shelf. There were
very few crackers and cookies in packages. The Uneeda biscuits were in packages.
They were a cracker and they were very good and people thought that was quite a
treat. There was a little building built on the north side of the store where
there was an ice refrigerator. I think they kept some meats and ice cream. I
remember having an ice cream cone and probably more than one.
Later the R. F. D. was started and different people took the civil service
examination. Lawrence Knapp who owned the farm just west of the corner of
Musgrove got the mail route that served the area north of Sunfield. The Sebewa
Corners residents still picked up their mail at the Post Office but the people
in the country got their mail in their mailbox beside the road. Lawrence Knapp
was the mailman for many years. Peter Knapp, Lawrence’s father, had a part of
the route for a while. Peter lived across the road from my grandmother in the
place we now call Sunshine. I used to go over to the Knapps and Mrs. Knapp would
warm potatoes for me with butter. I thought those were the best tasting potatoes
I had ever had.
The Sebewa stores were still running. I think the Cornell store burned later and
the other store was sold but kept running. The Odd Fellow hall on the corner was
built several years later. A lot of the men of Sebewa Township were Odd Fellows.
The hall was used for different things. There was a small blacksmith shop
between the Bradley store and the hall. The first house north of the Bradley
store was a house owned by Cornells. It was quite a large house. The Bradley
house was the next one.
On the south side of Musgrove there was a building, an old building that Cornell
used to house his ckickens that he had bought from people around the Corners.
Right on the corner quite a good sized house that was lived in by the Friend
family. I think they used to raise horses. There were several houses on south of
the Friend house and then the Sebewa Methodist Church, built in 1876. That
church was closed in 1966.
On the east side of Keefer Highway there was a farm on the southeast corner
owned by Arthur Halladay with no house there except his house. There were more
houses on the east side of Keefer Highway, more than were on the west. That road
is the division between Danby and Sebewa Townships. I remember the north house
on the Danby side as being used by the doctors of the village. Sebewa almost
always had a doctor. I don’t remember Dr. George Snyder. I thought he built that
north house. He lived there and doctored in Sebewa for several years, in fact I
think he brought me into the world.
The next one I remember was Dr. Moore. He came after Dr. Snyder removed and went
to Mulliken where he practiced for the rest of his life. Dr. Morse married a
Sebewa girl, Nellie High and they lived in that same house. He later removed to
Lake Odessa and practiced there the rest of his life. The next doctor was Dr.
Crawford, who lived in that same house. When he left, he went to Sunfield where
there was one other doctor. He stayed there the rest of his life.
There were no stores on the Danby side of Keefer. If ever there were, it was
before my time. West of the Knapp farm was a grist mill and a flour mill. I
think it was a good flour because everybody used it. They used to come from
quite a distance to get flour there. There was a small house right in the yard
of the mill, which was used to house helpers in the mill or they rented the
house to someone else. As I remember, the mill was owned by the Lowe family.
They ran the mill for several years.
The house the manager lived in was just west of the creek and dam. It was a
nicer building than the other little house. The little house was later moved
away by Gordon and Rachel Binns over onto Keefer Highway on Sebewa Creek. Later
Howard Knapp bought another house and moved it in and landscaped the yard.
Howard passed away last winter in Florida. On the farm they built a big chicken
coop and delivered eggs into Lansing.
Across the road and a bit west was a camp grounds owned by the United Brethren
denomination. In the summer they had two weeks of camp meetings. At that time
everybody went to the camp meetings both Sundays. I think they had a cafeteria.
The meetings were in big tents with benches for seats, at least before they
built the tabernacle. I suspect they used gas for lighting. They had a barn
where they could care for their horses.
There were several churches in Sebewa Township, the Methodist at Sebewa Corners,
the United Brethren just west of the Halladay school, the Sebewa Baptist church
on Musgrove Highway, the Church of God nearby and the Church of Christ at West
I attended the Sebewa Fractional District Number One (School?), the High, being
at the High family farm. My Grandmother’s farm was in the Halladay district but
the distance to that schoolhouse was quite a bit more than to the High, so
grandmother got her farm annexed to the High district. I started school at the
Sebewa High. I would go with my mother in the morning when she went to work and
wait for the rest of the crowd to go to school. I went there until I was eight
years old when my mother married again to George Snyder, a son of Dr. George
Snyder. We moved to about three quarters of a mile south of Sebewa Corners and I
went to the Halladay School until I graduated from the eighth grade. Sometimes
we would want sardines or bologna for supper and I would walk to the store and
The Sebewa Cemetery was a little west of the corner on Bippley. The school on
Memorial Day would march over there and place bouquets on the Veterans’ graves.
There were several veterans buried there. The Baptist Cemetery behind the
Baptist Church was also kept up by the Sebewa Township Board. As I remember when
I was little, the sexton lived on the Danby side at Sebewa Corners. He was Dan
Collingham, sexton for many years.
I made a mistake on the churches; there were two more churches than I listed.
One was the Sebewa Center Methodist Church which is still running. They share
their minister with the Mulliken Methodist Church. The Christian Reformed used
to be a very active church but it has been closed and the building is used as an
antique shop and they also finish antiques. The Christian Reformed people attend
churches at Lake Odessa and Ionia now.
My mother used to do quite a bit of sewing for people, especially for families
that had girls. When she was not working at the store, that was her occupation.
When Mother remarried, Grandma sold the place to Joe Bliss. END
GOING TO JAMAICA WITH A PURPOSE by Kendall Carr
This is Kendall Carr’s account of his and seventeen others efforts to repair
damage to churches suffered in hurricane Gilbert last August. Jamaica is located
south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea. It is the largest Caribbean island after
Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) 4232 square miles,
population estimated at over two million. Kingston, on the north side of the
island, is the capital, population of 112,000 plus. It is on one of the finest
harbors in the West Indies. The island has large deposits of bauxite, the ore
from which aluminum is made. Sale of bauxite, tourism and tropical agriculture
are the exports.
Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, conquered and settled by
Spaniards under a license from Columbus’s son in 1509. Spanish exploitation
decimated the native Arawaks. It remained Spanish until 1655 when Wm. Penn,
father of the Pennsylvania Wm. And Robert Venables captured it and in 1670 was
formally ceded to Britain. A huge sugar industry was built up in the 1700s.
Slavery was abolished in 1833. In 1962, Jamaica won complete independence from
Britain. The language is a creole English.
HERE ARE KENDALL’S WORDS:
It was a project through our church for a man to go with a group. The United
Conference had it set up and had already sent another crew there in November. We
started talking about it about the first part of November. Our one worker soon
turned into two and that soon became three. Dale Collier was the first, the
second was our pastor Kevin Cherry and finally, with a little persuasion, I
became the third. We were the team from the Sunfield U. B. Church.
Ticket arrangements were made by Dale Collier’s wife. We flew from Lansing to
Dayton on Piedmont and from there to Miami on Eastern. Then Eastern Airlines
took us to Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston is the capital of Jamaica. We were told
to be prepared to sleep on the church floor. We each arrying a sleeping bag, one
traveling bag filled with canned and dried food and another bag filled with our
clothing. When we got there we did not have to use our sleeping bags because we
had a nice home to stay in. There were two ladies who cooked our big variety of
food. We did get tired of the food, a lot of macaroni and cheese.
The project was to be working on churches where roofs had been blown off by
hurricane Gilbert. We replaced two church roofs, one school roof and a ceiling
in a church and some work in a parsonage. One church was in Kingston and two
where in the adjacent mountains. The Conference rented a big van-bus to
transport workers and all the materials we needed at the job site. Sometimes it
took two trips to get all the men and materials there. The driver was a
Jamaican, pastor Warren. He did all the driving and all the running around for
Every day after work we would return to Kingston, have our supper and then split
up to the home assigned to us for the ten days. Four of us stayed in one home,
three in another and the others similarly in other houses. There was some
language problem. They talked English but faster speaking with a little bit of
slang mixed in. It took me a while to really catch on to it. They would talk
more clearly when speaking to us. It was fun. We had a good time trying to
understand each other. After two or three days we did pretty well together.
There were some workers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and even one from
Canada, our crew leader. All had the same time of three hours, going through
customs and immigration. We had to be very patient. They checked all our tools,
hammers, screw drivers, tin snips and such. We did not need a passport but had
to show a birth certificate.
We did not see many of the tourists for which the island is noted. We got down
town in Kingston and found it impressive in some locations. They had nine stores
but also nearby were trashy stores, sometimes just across the street. People
dressed nicely but often we would see these same people standing in front of a
fenced in lot with a very poor shack for a dwelling.
The downtown area was nicely decorated for Christmas, Christmas trees decorated
with lights, an inviting place to hang around with your friends. The temperature
was in the 70s and to us not reminiscent of the Christmas season. They hung
lights on trees they had around there with no pines or spruce that we were used
to. They had some poinsettia trees that they decorated. There were coconut
palms. Outside of town the bananas were just recovering from the hurricane
The city had a big cement factory, a coco-cola factory and battling plant and we
could see that a lot of people worked at the harbor where the ships came in.
There were a lot of contractor type of people to repair homes and such. We had a
good reception and nobody showed any disrespect for what we were doing. Many
expressed their thanks for the Americans coming so far to make the church
repairs. They were impressed with our ability and the speed at which we did the
work. The largest church we worked on took us about three days. They said it
would have taken them three weeks if not longer to do the same job.
The building materials had been sent over from USA in a big container. There was
steel roofing to be used in replacing the old steel. It was fastened by quite
long screws. It was easy to work with but first we had to tear off the old
steel. That was work to do that but we had good materials to work with. We had
electricity there but up in the mountains we had to use a gas generator to power
our electric screwdrivers. I think all the Jamaicans were impressed with how we
worked together and how we worked to make something that looked bad came to be
looking pretty nice when we got done.
After we had finished the one church in Kingston we mowed the lawn with
machetes. Some of the Jamaican young boys helped us do that. They enjoyed that
and made fun of us for the way we cut the grass. We had a good time together;
they knew we were not used to using machetes. I brought one home but I’m not
going to use it to mow my grass. That Washington Gardens Church with the new
roof and yard cleaning looked pretty nice. Another crew was scheduled to come in
for painting in late December.
Roads there were generally paved though sometimes rough. One think we saw a lot
of was dogs. I think they have burglary problems as each family seemed to have
from one to six dogs, mostly three or four. The homes were enclosed by fences
and often the gates were left open or the dogs could jump the fence. The homes
had burglar bars on the windows. Sometimes when we were walking down the street,
the dogs would start barking and we would have up to ten following us. There
were also a few cats, roosters and pigeons in their back yards. The pigeons were
for eating. We were told that after the hurricane the birds were fewer. There
were some cows and pigs running loose in the streets, pasturing what they could
The people there were mostly black people. We were working with them as
Jamaicans. So far as going any farther than Jamaica, I have no interest in doing
that. Some of the workers were going to Haiti in January on a similar project
and others mentioned Sierra Leone in Africa. But at this point in time I do not
have that interest.
We had to walk four blocks from the house where we lived to the house where we
ate and had devotions. Elderly ladies would stop us and say “boys, you are doing
a good job in coming over here and fixing up our church and making it look so
nice”. They would ask how we liked the weather. There are a lot of different
denominations of churches there and I think at other times they have had outside
help with their buildings.
There were a lot of automobiles there but a lot of people did not have them for
transportation. People just walked to their employment or rode the bus. When we
walked we noticed that several of the homes had no cars. They would walk to a
main street corner and catch a bus to go to market, downtown or wherever. Like
the British, who were there when cars came, they drive on the left side of the
road and the driver sits on the right. They drive at a pretty good speed.
Going up and down the mountains was an experience for us. The traffic on the
narrow roads, the horn honking going around blind curves and people walking the
edge of the road all drew our attention. The roads were busy. On Saturday our
whole work crew took the day off and Pastor Warren, a black Jamaican, drove us
across country to the northeast to Ichos Rios, a tourist center and exporter of
bauxite. The countryside was mountainous. We saw some banana groves and coconut
groves as we did not see in Kingston.
I bought a newspaper, read it and found it much like ours. They had a lot of
papers and a lot of paper boys selling papers when cars stopped at a traffic
light. The mountain people live quite differently from the city people. Their
homes are shacks made from wood, steel, cement or whatever they can find. They
do some terracing but not a lot. Many make craft articles and catch a bus going
to Kingston and try to peddle their products to make money that way. They have
electricity in some spots but water has been a problem. Water is brought up to
mountain people in big tanker trucks. The people stand at roadside stopping
points with their pails and other vessels to get what ever they can handle. They
lug water to their homes over their heads. We were careful not to drink the
water. We had water shipped from Miami in gallon plastic jugs. None of us got
sick from impure water.
The local people wanted to sample our water and wanted our empty plastic jugs.
Rev. Kevin Cherry and Dale Collier were along with me on the trip. Rev. Cherry
did not want to climb but busied himself cutting boards and picking up the
things we threw down.
Coming back to Miami we again had to go through customs with a list of the
contents of our bags. Rev. Cherry had listed the coconuts in his baggage and had
to give them up. I did not list mine and brought them on home.
Ten days was long enough to stay away and it was good to get home.
JOHNNIE WELCH AND HIS GIRLS; Continuing Myrtle Candance Welch’s Story
At the time of Sylvia’s death, Ray and I owned the John Deere Implement Store in
Sunfield. We stayed with Johnnie and the girls the night of the funeral,
remaining for several days with Ray driving back and forth daily to work. We
didn’t know whether to just come and leave them alone or stay on.
One morning as Johnnie and I were watching Ray leave for town, Johnnie turned to
me saying “Jim, this is not treating Ray right. It’s time the girls and I start
building our lives together. The longer we put off being alone, the harder it
will be”. He was right. That is just what Ray and I had been wanting to hear. We
knew it was just what they should do but until Johnnie decided, we couldn’t
leave. Next day we came home.
Juanita could cook very well for a girl her age and with Lucille’s help the
house looked so nice and neat. All of our family were very proud of them.
Sylvia, feeling ill so much of the time, had trained the girls to help her.
Consequently they knew how to do most everything connected with running a home.
The only thing that I thought they did wrong was never talking about Sylvia. If
they only had, their grief would have been easier to bear. I know so many
memories that should have been shared with each other. It is hard, I know, but
the more often you talk about different things that have happened, the easier it
becomes. First thing you know, youmight think something funny and you can even
laugh about it. I have faced so many losses over the years. I try to face them
all in this way. I love to talk about Ray, especially to my children. We have
had many a laugh together about things that happened when Ray was here. It keeps
the memory of him so fresh and precious.
Of course everyone has a special way of facing these things. That was Johnnie
and Juanita’s way, just bottling it up inside. Lucille was always so eager to
talk to me of her mother. She would think of things that used to happen, then
ask me if I thought she was remembering it correctly. Johnnie was very proud of
his girls and they had many happy times together.
When Juanita and Lucille started in High School, they always came here for their
noon meal. I quite often hurried around at noon, baking a big Johnnie-Cake for
Juanita to take home. Her Dad always had Johnnie-Cake and milk for his lunch. I
worked in the store every day.
Juanita quit high school, learned the art of hair dressing, opened up a shop in
Ray’s den here in this house. Permanents were unheard of in those days. Her
trade was called Marcel Waving; an electric curling iron was used. Juanita was
very good and soon she had aplenty of customers. She always went home in time to
prepare her Dad’s supper.
It wasn’t an easy job. Some people’s hair was so fine, like mine, and you would
have to spend about an hour before the waves would stay. Coarse hair was easier
and the wave would stay in longer. She soon had regular weekly customers. I
cannot remember the charge but I think it was fifty cents.
Later on, Johnnie rented his farm, moved in to town, working for Standard Oil
Co., delivering oil and gasoline to farmers. I think he kept this job just one
year. The heavy lifting he was required to do was affecting his back, so he
decided farming was easier and moved back home.
Three things happened around this time. Lucille and Edward Trowbridge married.
Johnnie remarried Daisy VanHouten and Juanita married Wesley Dorin. Lucille and
Edward had two boys: Wendell was born in 1927 and died September 16, 1955. Duane
was born in 1929 and lived in Lansing with his father, Ed. Juanita and Wesley
had eight children: Larry, Kenneth, Mick, Wesley, Jr., Jim, Raymond, Sally (so
much like her Grandma Sylvia) and Dianna. Ethlyn Lucille Welch Trowbridge was
born July 17, 1909 and died in May of 1980. Juanita Grace Welch was born March
22, 1907 and died April 26, 1984.
Johnnie and Daisy. Daisy VanHouten, daughter of Neil and Ida VanHouten was a
brother of Johnnie’s Grandma Rachel Welch. Neil and Ida, near neighbors and
close friends of Sylvia and Johnnie, so Daisy was no stranger. Sylvia always
thought so much of her, I often felt Sylvia would have chosen her to look after
Johnnie and the girls if she could.
Of course, everyone on the Welch side of the family were well acquainted with
Daisy, but to the Lovells, she was a perfect stranger. Upon meeting Daisy, they
all liked her and were happy to welcome her into the family. Even after
Johnnie’s death, we always asked her to our family get togethers.
Johnnie and Daisy had a son, J. W. Welch or Dub, as everyone called him. He was
born October 28, 1928 and was a natural born farmer, just like his dad. When
Johnnie died on September 19, 1945, Dub took over the farm just like a man. He
was only 17, not through High School yet, carrying on for his mother. He was
always so kind and thoughtful of her. Dub graduated from Sunfield High School in
1946. A year or so later he married Zeda Catlin. Her parents, Forrest and Noma
Catlin operated a store in Hoytville for a number of years. Dub and Zeda had two
boys, David and Douglas and an adopted daughter, Pamela. The boys are both
married now and David, living in Florida, has two children. Zeda’s parents spent
their winters in Florida. Soon Dub and Zeda were going down there, too. Zeda
would go first to put the boys in school, then Dub left as soon as his fall work
was done. They bought a home near Naples.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
APRIL 1989, Volume 24, Number 5.
Submitted with written permission of current editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: GIERMAN, SEYBOLD, LOVELL, WELCH, PHILLIPS, BUCHNER, JOYNT, WILLIAMS,
BRANDSON, GOODRICH, PEABODY, SAYER, PETRIES, EVANS, SLOWINS, VanHOUTEN, BARY,
LaPORTE/LADOR, HOPKINS, DUNSMORE, WILSON, BRAKE
FRONT PAGE PHOTO of 1922 Ford Roadster: “Here facing up from 63 years ago is the
1922 Ford Roadster pictured at the front of the February Recollector. Maurice
and I are pictured here in the whittled down and slightly built up version of
that car that Charlie Gierman and Claude Williams fashioned for a vacation trip
to the Upper Peninsula and around Lake Michigan. With very limited funds they
managed to pay their fare on the ferry across the Straights of Mackinac and then
worry as to where the 25 cents gas was coming from. Twice they stopped for a few
days to work for farmers harvesting their fall crops. Somehow they made it
around through Chicago and home without getting their necks chopped off on that
no windshield piece of tin in front of them. I once drove it to Lansing—with no
driver’s license. Imagine trying that stunt today!
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD. Alfred Brandson, Loretta Goodrich Peabody and Edna Sayer,
who died February 16. Interestingly, her birth “twin” (Myrtie Lovell Welch) as
for date (both born July 5, 1890) died March 7, 1989. We have published Mrs.
Welch’s story of reminiscenses by installments. She wrote these when she was 94.
The remainder of the story will follow.
This winter has been one of travel for many of Sebewa for a touch of summer as a
break from winter. I was in Florida the last week in January, Ruth Seybold is
there with the Dale Petries; Wilbur and Marcella are visiting the George
Giermans and Galen and Bernie Phillips were in Mexico for two weeks. It used to
be that it was the Buchners and Mrs. Joynt who wintered in Florida.
INTERVIEW WITH FLOYD EVANS, continued ~ by Grayden Slowins
“10” - I used to cut thru here to avoid the dog at Raymond Kenyon’s. His boy,
Norman, was just a little kid when I was riding my bike to school. But he used
to sic the dog on me. He would stand out by the house and say “Get him!” to the
dog. The dog bit me a couple times. So I cut thru here and made it home just as
quick or quicker than by road.
Herb’s dad used to work that place of Mrs. Spencer’s on the north. There was a
pretty good swimming spot in the river about straight out from this new house.
On a hot summer day, Herb & I would take our dip in the river down there between
the two gullies. Strip our clothes off and jump in and cool off, then go back to
work again. Spencers got that farm from Highs, I think. The house on the lot out
of it were Vaughn & Janet Carter live was built by Fedewa, who lived where
George & Jan Livingston do, on the Turner place. He built it and sold it to
Vaughn. That was the George High farm, according to your old Plat Book, but his
older brother John lived there when I remember and George lived in the town of
Sebewa. Harry Gibson ran the grist mill and left it to start that orchard. He
bought the farm from Bill Turner or after Turner died. Gibson sold the farm to
Fedewa and then Fedewa built across the road.
Now we can walk down to the pond and around the back of Pat Laughlin’s house.
That pond wasn’t there when I used to pick my way thru here – it was just mucky
& wet. This path led to the house owned by Melvin Chapin, back on the creek at
the foot of Erdman Road. Chaplin lived on this side of the creek. Later he built
a bridge across from Erdman Road, first a swinging foot bridge. He forded the
creek at low water with his car. Later he had a better bridge. At one time there
was a second house back by Chapins, or maybe before his. There was a root cellar
in the hill too. On the south side of the creek, on what is now State land,
there is a big hill. We used to call it “The mountain” when we used to go over
there to play during noon-hour from school.
Here is where the old Derby house was. That Juniper was in the front yard. There
good wild blackberries here in summer. There is a little outbuilding foundation,
probably a chicken coop. Here is the house foundation, with another room that
joined corner to corner. Almost like a separate building, but they were joined.
Perhaps a woodshed. Over there is a well or cistern. And there we are, back to
the basement barn foundation.
I started school at the Sebewa “High” country school about 1915 or 1916. When
they called the roll, you answered by number not by name. My number was 36, I
was the last one called. It was a one-room school with a big old furnace in the
west end. The platform and entry were on the front or east end. The baseball
diamond was between the schoolhouse and the road. The road wasn’t as wide as it
is today. I don’t remember how many was the most that attended, but there were
11 or 12 in the 8th grade class when we graduated. My first teacher was Miss
Bell. I don’t know where she came from, but I believe she stayed at Spencers.
Don’t remember how long she was there. Then we had Miss Kiester, Fred Kiester’s
sister from Ionia. Then Don McCormack taught. He lived with his mother, Maude,
over on Musgrove and rode a horse to school. My last teacher was a woman named
Grieves from Ionia, sister to Russell Curtis’s wife. She stayed at Lindsley’s,
where Tena Rischow lived.
There is no-one around here now that was in school with. Cornelius was the
youngest of the Huizenga’s and he was older than me. That family was John, Fred,
Grace, Tom, and Cornie. Cornie and I roomed together at Doc. Benedict’s my first
year at Portland High School. Doc was Coach, too. There was a whole army up and
down these roads back Charlie Kenyon, the Bishops. Oh yes, Kenneth. Buster
Stemler is still around. His brother Herbert moved over to Sunfield, I guess. He
did live down at the end of Erdman Road, but sold out to his son last year.
Melborn Sandborn probably attended 1 or 2 years at this school. His folks,
Lon’s, had lived next-to-oldest son, Jake, who was down here. The old-timers
around here are about gone. Charlie Wheeler is the only one older than I am.
When I want to talk to the old-timers now, I just get in front of the mirror and
I was elected Supervisor in 1947. But I was Justice of the Peace 2 or 3 years
before that. (Note: Justices occupied the seats on the Township Board now filled
by the Trustees.) I’ve been Supervisor the longest of any Danby Township
Supervisor, and longer than anybody that’s Supervisor in Ionia County now (Ed
Nash started in 1951.) My first meeting of the old Board of Supervisors was in
1947, just after the Spring Elections. Carl Gierman, Supervisor of Sebewa, was
about the only one I knew, although I had heard of some of the others. His seat
was just a little way from where old John Alleman used to sit. (Charles McNeil
became Sebewa Supervisor in Spring of 1949.) Lloyd Burger of Lyons Township had
been Supervisor a long time. It was quite an experience for me, going up there
to that meeting. I didn’t know where to go or what to do or anything about it.
So Burger got me by the hand and took me over by the window and says “That’s
your seat there, that’s where John sat”. So that’s where I spent all the years I
was on the Board of Supervisors. Gierman was next after Rosevere in Sebewa, I
believe, then Charles McNeil. They haven’t changed Supervisors too many times in
Sebewa either. Then Evelyn has been on 11 years now – Boy! She does a good job
We had a lot of splits of parcels in the 1970’s when I was Assesor in Portland
City and Danby too. Just a lot of small parcels around the township here. Then
it slackened off a little. But now for the last couple years again there have
been really more splits. I just about get snowed under, this last summer
especially. You pick up the Deeds from the Equalization Office. Then you look at
your map and try to decide where the property is and where it’s out of. Then you
write up a description of it. Then type a card. Then type up a form that goes to
the computer. You have to change the old card too, and if they split it 3 or 4
ways, then you make 3 or 4 changes to the original card. I worked for Portland
City for about 4 years, and for Equalization for about 4 years before that. This
was after the Board of Supervisors was replaced by County Commissioners. Bernard
Ardis and I had been Supervisors together and knew each other pretty well. His
first day as Supervisor was the same as mine. When they started the Equalization
Department, he was hired by the Commissioners as Director. And of course that
was when they had Gem Survey come in and do the whole county. So he didn’t need
anybody for a year or two, until they got done. Then he found he needed some
help and wanted to know if I was interested in some part-time work. So the first
year I started in September and worked thru the winter until April. That kept
growing, and I was doing this out here in Danby too and trying to farm a little.
When I went to do Portland, I let Petrie start farming the land and he has ever
since. Harold Buck had been Assessor in Portland and I had worked with him when
I was at Equalization. Then he died and they had to have someone. I became 65
years old and the policy of the County Board of Commissioners was you wouldn’t
work for the County after age 65. Alyce Durak Mulder took over after me and
became full time. She had been Ionia Township Supervisor and was well qualified.
When my dad came here, part of the present house was here and part of this
shed—from this side of this door over to that door where the strap hinge latch
is –that was the barn. He built on the left end. Then I helped him build on the
part to the right to house the old Model-T truck when we got it. He bought this
place in two long 40’s. That log house was back in the woods on the west 40. The
well is still back there. The farm was owned by Holbrook Bros. and one lived
here and one back there in the woods in the log house.
Dad was quite a tinkerer, fixing farm equipment, plow points, putting a cold
shut in a log chain, etc., and he needed a place to tinker. Also he needed a
grain bin. The log building set on skids back in the woods. So in the winter
when snow was on the ground, he hooked onto it and skidded it up here. He put
stones under the skids. Later the skids got rotten and he & I jacked it up and
put it on stones again. It set up there quite good for a lot of years. Then a
few years ago, it got to moving in the Spring and slid off the stones. I just
left it. There are some antique irons hanging on it. One thing I would like to
get out is one of those old Terriff Perfect Washer Machines made in Portland of
I remember Ab Way, who lived where your folks bought the farm. I believe I would
recognize him if he came walking in the driveway right now. And his brother,
Myron Way, who lived where Vanderveen was later. He was a nice, quiet,
easy-going fellow, but his neighbor shot him thru the bedroom window. Came down
the road on crutches carrying a shotgun to do it. That’s how they tracked him
Another old guy over in that neck of the woods was Ed Rowe. He farmed a lot of
land, a hard worker. First guy to have a two-row cultivator with horses. You’d
see him on the road with it. His wife came to town to shop, but he very seldom
came with her. She did all the shopping, bought all the repairs and hardware,
Josephine (Josie) was her name. He was a working guy, but he got tired of
working and hung himself in a tree back in the lane, he & his dog. Tied the
horses to the fence.
One last project I would like to see competed before I retire is blacktopping
those south two miles of Keefer Hwy. It would cost $100,000 per mile and neither
of us could pay the whole shot on our mile. But we could pay more than the
one-eight share townships have paid in the past. You and I are about the only
ones left on the Boards who remember the deal when we did the north four miles.
When we are gone, it may never get done. We need to go after the country jointly
and get the job done. END
FROM OUR FAMILY HISTORIAN, JANICE E. WILLIAMS OF PRAIRIE VILLAGE, KANSAS. My
roots all started in Ionia County on both sides of my family. My great
grandmother Mary Anette Bary was born in Orange township in April, 1859. Her
parents were John Bary and Olive LaPorte or Ladore. Olive’s mother died in Ionia
on a visit from Sebewa. She was Eliza Rubore Lador. One of her sons, Francis
Lador died in Sebewa. On my mother’s side, Alice Marie Hopkins was born in Palo
to Charles Albert Hopkins and Anne Dunsmore Hopkins. My daughters’ father, Gary
Neff as also his mother, Lillian, were both born in Sebewa. She was the daughter
of Oren B. Reeder and her mother was Sarah Louise. My roots are deep there.
ANOTHER IN A SIMILAR LIGHT. 2-11-89. Dear Grayden and Anne Slowins: Have I ever
written to thank you for the information on Riley Wilson and Sebewa Township? My
father, Max, was born there before the family moved to Ionia where Riley was
sheriff. He is remembered for cleaning out the Red Light District down by the
railroad tracks. I never knew either of my paternal grandparents although I have
pictures of them. Love, Jane Brake.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
JUNE 1989, Volume 24, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of current
editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: LOVELL, WELCH, BENSCHOTER, KLOPFENSTEIN, WILLIAMS, DOWNING,
PIERCEFIELD, SNYDER, SHUMWAY, HUNT, COE, PATTERSON, ELLIOT, WELLS, CROSS,
PHILLIPS, SLOWINS, NASH
Pictured here (photo on first page of current issue) is the Sebewa Center
Methodist Church where for 23 years past the Annual Meetings of the Sebewa
Center Association have been held. Previous to that the annual school reunions
since 1923. The picture here was taken by Clarence Sayer with his glass negative
camera soon after the church was built in 1891. Located at the intersection of
Bippley and Shilton roads we shall have our Annual Meeting there on May 29, 1989
with a potluck supper at 6:30 P.M., followed by a short business meeting and
then the Amish program by G. VanderMark and wife of Belding. They have become
well acquainted with the Amish community north of Greenville and give an
interesting account of their religion and way of life. They show a collection of
clothing, toys, books and such things. If you don’t like pot lucks, just come a
bit later for the program. The VanderMarks have given their program in both
Ionia and Lake Odessa and were very well received at both places. Everybody is
welcome to attend. Bippley Road runs east and west four miles north of Sunfield
and Shilton intersects both Clarksville Road and Musgrove Highway one mile west
of the Sunfield Road…
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD: Myrtie Welch, Don A. Benschoter, Glendull C. Klopfenstein
and Mamie Williams Downing. So far as I could see it was Allen Cross and I who
were the only ones attending Mamie’s funeral who had also been her pupils when
she taught the Sebewa Center School the year of 1918-19. Glendull Klopfenstein
was married to Bernice Shumway, our Sebewa Center teacher from 1934 to 1936.
Wilma Hunt Coe is now the oldest surviving teacher of our school. She taught
from 1920 to 1923. Wilma is now at the Ionia Manor.
THE WEST SEBEWA COUNTRY STORE is open and displays the welcome sign. At the time
of her death, Mrs. Letha Patterson turned over the operation of the store to her
son-in-law. He kept it running for a year or two when he went to a convalescent
home in Coldwater. Soon the Robert Elliot family took it over and have been
running it since. The WEST SEBEWA INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS was the
builders of that building and they dedicated it December 6, 1910. The first
floor of the building has always been used as a country store. From 1914 to 1917
the store was rented to W. R. Wells for $160 per year.
ALLEN CROSS spent one day at Pennock Hospital for a hernia operation, one day
because that is the time allowed by Medicare for paying for that operation. He
will go back soon for stitch removal. His neighbor, Mrs. Galen (Bernie) Phillips
is in a Lansing hospital suffering from a leg aneurysm.
SERMON FOR FUNERAL FOR MAMIE DOWNING by John Piercefield (her grandson)
Psalm 46:1-11. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall
into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains
quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of
God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not
fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of
Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations He
has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he
breaks the bows and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. ‘Be
still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be
exalted in the earth’. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our
Psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
We do not always see things the way God sees things---through our eyes Death is
never a precious thing but to God who sees everything as it stands in eternal
order, death is a passageway to life eternal. Let’s look through our eyes first.
The time was 1858, as Adolph and Barbara Schaupp, brother and sister, left
Germany to come to America. They settled in Saginaw County where Barbara met
Fred Sindlinger and moved to Sebewa Township. Theresa, born in 1874, was one of
two girls born to Fred and Barbara. In 1898, Tracy married Lewis Williams in a
double ring ceremony with Ralph Friend and Lucy Halladay. Mamie Lucille was born
on February 22, 1900, the third generation in Sebewa.
Her life had begun at one of the most dynamic periods in American history, the
beginning of the 20th Century. Medicine had recently discovered immunizations
for typhoid, leprosy, tuberculosis, malayria, and the plague. Ten million
bicycles were the rage; and the automobile and airplane were still dreams and
drawings for the most part.
The Panama Canal was being purchased and built as America followed Teddy
Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy through the Spanish-American War and on to China
with the Open Door policy on trade and overseas expansion. While Mamie was
growing up in Sebewa, America was growing up in the world.
Mamie’s father died when she was 11 months old and for seven years she learned
to help her mother, milking the cows and learning to sew. She wasn’t so sure she
was all that helpful but her mother was patient. It was these early years filled
with love and trials that developed in Mamie her near endless patience and
contentment. Her ability to remain unruffled yet caring, despite the
circumstances, is a monument that will never be erected but will never be
On March 4, 1908, Tracy married George Snyder, a widower with two boys, Clifton
and Max. To Tracy and George were born three boys and one girl: Don, Dale,
Dorothy and Leon.
The time was 1910. A women’s rights movement was in its infancy, Teddy Roosevelt
was out and William Taft was in. The 16th Amendment was passed authorizing the
levy and collection of taxes on income. To show how times have changed, people
were standing in lines for the opportunity to pay their taxes – cheerfully. The
Federal Farm Loan Act authorized funds and accepted agricultural land as loan
collateral which helped farms grow but put them in debt.
It was at this time, at the early age of 10 that Mamie’s house burned, and they
escaped with very little but the clothes on their backs. Out of necessity, Mamie
was learning to work hard, save money and stay out of debt. These principles of
productivity, thrift, and living within your means would become the trademarks
of her life.
The heroes in those days were local and real. Neighbors would get together and
play Flinch, many books were read, and a vacation was when another family would
come over and spend the night because the travel was so far. Mamie’s earliest
memories begin at this time of horsepower, hard work, and happiness. She was
learning one of the most difficult lessons in life, being content with the
simple pleasures of life. She developed character with callouses, patience with
contentment, and grace through giving her all to the task at hand.
It was 1917, Mamie had met Homer Downing and graduated from Sunfield High
School. She went to work cleaning at Petrie’s for $3/week. She went on to
Central Michigan College, receiving her teaching certification and began
teaching at Sebewa Center School. Homer asked her out soon after.
They were married on June 7, 1919, in Ionia and returned home the next day to do
chores. World War I had ended, women had won the right to vote, and radio
broadcasting grew from a single station in 1920 to 500 by 1924. Americans
everywhere were now able to listen almost immediately to events far away. The
world was becoming smaller in many ways.
Automobiles were replacing horses on the streets and tractors in the fields. The
heroes were Babe Ruth, Charles Lindburgh and Henry Ford. Homer and Mamie were to
spend the next 64 years together before his death on February 14, 1984. They had
three children, one who died at birth and a son and daughter. Bruce and Cleo
became the fourth generation in Sebewa. Community picnics and plays were their
social life. Their life was touched with the Great Depression, the aftermath of
two World Wars and many economic recessions, but through it all their bond one
to another not only stood the test of time but flourished.
The time was 1965, I was 10 years old; the threat of Soviet Nuclear missiles in
the Western Hemisphere became evident in the Cuban Missile Crisis as the Cold
War went into a deepfreeze. Michigan was solidly entrenched as the car capital
of the world, as car manufacturing was on a roll. Many left the farms beginning
work for the car companies and its associated industries.
Television, that invention that would not last, was sweeping the country
as we tuned into the Ed Sullivan Show, Bonanza and I Love Lucy for relaxation
and entertainment. Our heroes were John Wayne, Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy
and G I Joe, all bigger than life and the music on the radio air waves was not
hymns or polkas. It was called rock & roll. Leading the British invasion of
music were the Beatles, the Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones. The Civil Rights
Movement was underway after years of struggle and discontent was evidenced in
the cities on the campus and the workplace. Drugs such as marijuana, LSD, and
speed were sold to the youth as a mark of rebellion and independence.
It was in this dynamic time in history that my earliest memories begin. We would
learn at Travis School and from the media all the happenings in the world but
when we left school and walked home to Grandma’s house her world became our
world. We evidenced the patience, the caring and the tremendous energy she
expended on her husband, her house, and her grandchildren. My life was not
filled with discontent but with a living understanding of peaceful contentment.
Life became a dichotomy with the viewing of discord in America on tv but the
living of harmony in Sebewa.
We seldom discussed world or national problems but we always discussed the
details of our day, sharing wisdom lived out in their years. I remember learning
to eat shredded wheat, drinking Vernors ginger ale and cleaning my plate at
dinner with a slice of bread. All these things learned respect and consideration
realizing that as a youth I did not have all the answers to life, but with my
grandparents I knew where to get many of them.
Mamie was a woman of grace with that ability to live and experience the dynamic
changing times and yet remain unassuming, somehow untouched by the turmoil that
may be around her. She was never discouraged or downhearted. She was not a
seeker or a dreamer of some better world but she was always seeking to please
living her dreams. She was always prepared for whatever came, ready ½ hour
early, listening rather than talking, watching rather than sleeping. Her love
for fishing and bowling probably illustrates it best. She would rise early with
her cane pole and straw hat and fish till nightfall if necessary. If they caught
fish they would eat them for supper, if not, something else was fixed and they
would go again tomorrow, never giving up. And her bowling continued until she
was 88, consistent regular practice and enjoying every minute of it.
She never ran for public office or held powerful positions in society, but her
grace and patience and duty was the real strength of America. Among all of
America’s military, geographic, political and economic achievements none will
stand out in my mind greater that her life and the principles she lived by.
There is always the sorrow we feel at the death of a loved one but with Mamie
even her death is a victory. She had sins and to walk in the newness of life
knowing she had through obedience to God gained the greatest victory of all –
LIFE OVER DEATH –Even in her death she was prepared to meet with God not as
Judge but as Lord and Savior. It is to this entrance into eternal life that we
now bid our farewell. Your lessons of life will never be forgotten……
John 14:1-2. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in
me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told
you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
INTERVIEW WITH EDWIN NASH by Grayden Slowins
This is Edwin Nash. I was born May 16, 1907, son of Ernest Nash & Lynn Weston
Nash. Mother was originally from Grand Rapids. Dad was born on this farm, at NW
¼ Sec. 10 Campbell, and so was I, but I wasn’t born in this house. This house
burned, the old house burned, the winter before I was born. I was born in that
house right over there next north. That house was built quickly and cheaply and
I was born there. They must have put it up early in 1907, because I was born in
May. Later it became a tenant house for the farm help.
The old house burned right in the middle of the winter, in January. They lived
for a time, I think, over Charlie Marvin’s Hardware Store. A lot of things they
didn’t get out of the house. They didn’t get their clothing out. They got some
dining room furniture out – that china cabinet was one thing, and the dishes in
it. I guess they got all that out, and even the living room things. But they
lost all their clothing except what they had on. Evidently they couldn’t get
into the bedroom.
At that time the Benedicts worked the farm. There was another house right back
here to the south-west behind this one, where they lived. Mother got the canary
out and took it to their house. It was right in the dead of winter and deep snow
and colder than the dickens, I guess. That’s why it burned. Everything was
fueled with wood stoves and one got overheated. It was a big house, on this same
foundation, just that extension to the north on the living room is extra and the
bathroom. So, practically the same size. Most of the old wall was re-used. You
can see it in the basement.
This is a photo of the old house. Same shape, only the bay window was moved from
the front room to the dining room. The old house was about the same shape, but
it had a different roof – gable type now instead of the old hip roof. You can
stand up in the attic of the front part now. It was big. I don’t know when that
old one was built. It must have been here quite a while before it burned. These
trees are here yet from the old house.
My grandfather, Edwin Nash Sr., and grandmother, and my father’s sister, Aunt
Emma, are in that photo of the old house. Also Emma Headworth is there, the
woman your mother (Crystal Brake) roomed with when she came to High School. She
and her sister, Mable, drove a Shetland pony (Lady) on a basket-type cart to
High School from the country in good weather and tied it in our barn. There used
to be a horse barn here in front where that workshop is now. That’s how all the
country kids got to High School, and on bad nights they stayed over. Your mother
may also have stayed with a doctor’s widow (Gaylord Laughlin’s mother, I think).
Headworths lived on Ferney Street here in town, where Esta Slater Stuart Kole
lives now. Emma was a good friend of our family. Her father was Georgie
Richardson and he had worked this farm at one time. He lived across the section
in SW ¼ Sec. 11. He was quite a character, an old Scotsman. Used to dress up in
his kilts for special occasions.
Grandfather was born in Schenectedy, New York, and later the family moved to
Lapeer, Michigan. We still have relatives there, but I never went to visit them.
He didn’t farm for long, I don’t think. He found out there was more money in
lending money! Grandfather was fortunate. He came in here and was farming during
the Civil War and made some money then. After the War he opened the Bank when
the town started. Of course he cleared the land, he and his father and brothers.
Great-grandfather was Amasa Nash and he lived right here and had four grown sons
when he came here.
Campbell was part of Boston Township until 1849, a good 10 years after Sebewa
and some of the other Townships were organized on their own, even tho the
Campbell family came in 1840. Amasa Nash and his sons: Calvin, Marcus, Edwin,
and Charles, came here in 1847. Also William Mercer, who became the first
Supervisor and was grandfather to Thaddeus Mercer, who in turn was grandfather
to Margaret (Mrs. Ron) Story. Thad Mercer lived just over the townline into
Boston Township on Darby Road – some of what Larry Behrenwald owns now, on the
west end of Morrison Lake at SW ½ Sec. 35 Boston. But the original buildings
were out on Darby Road.
Amasa Nash was the first Township Treasurer. The Township was named after the
first family, the Campbells, who later moved to California in the gold rush and
have no descendants left here. But the village was named after Clark L. Howard,
who built a General Store and Post Office in 1875, just in time for the
railroad. Then Grandfather and the McCormacks and Ferneys platted the corners of
their farm to start the village. Trowbridge was in on it, too. He was a
stonemason and builder, I think. Alva McCormack was the pioneer of that family.
He had two sons, Chauncey and Fay, and a daughter, Carolyn, who married Otis
Ackerson, and that’s how it comes down to Maynard Ackerson and family. Margaret
Ackerson Rush, who was in your mother’s class, was Otis’ daughter.
Charles Nash was the father of Alien (Allie) Nash. He lived right south of here
on N ½ Sec. 10 and Allie did too. So Allie and my dad, Ernest, were first
cousins. June (Mrs. Gardner) Compton is Allie’s daughter and second cousin to
me. Charles Nash Jr. was a brother to Allie and father of Warner Nash, another
second cousin to me.
Calvin Nash was the father of Orvin and grandfather of my second cousins, Calvin
Nash Jr. and Fay Nash. Calvin and Orvin lived on the land that surrounds the
cemetery. The buildings are east on the side road. It’s N ½ NE ¼ Sec. 15 and
later was owned by Charles Nash Jr.
Marcus Nash lived just east of town on Darby Road, at W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 11. There’s
no-one left of that family. One of them went up by Lapeer, I think. An old bum
called Peg-leg Nash, I think his name was Frank, lived on that Marcus Nash place
when I was a boy. Must have been his son, and a first cousin to my dad. The old
house was still there then.
I started school in an old building behind the present building. Here’s a school
picture when I was in Kindergarten, wearing an Indian costume out in front of
the old building. I remember when this one was built. It was built about 1916.
My dad worked hard to promote building it and I think they had to borrow
$20,000. It’s on a lot platted out of our land. Before that they had only 10
grades. I think the first class graduated in 1902, but only from 10th grade.
Mable Brake may have been in the first class of 12 grades, about 1918. There was
also a private school called Transue Academy. My mother went to that. They sent
my dad to Detroit to High School. I think that’s why he worked so hard to get
one here. It wasn’t very popular and that $20,000 bond issue was a lot of money.
It was only one district, District #2, the size of a country school district.
Just the farms and this little village. Batchelors were on the Schoville farm
north of town and fought the bond issue. But they wanted the big drain cleaned
out and the two issues kind of get tied together.
I graduated from High School in 1925. Your mother was 3 or 4 years older,
graduated in 1921, I think. Her brother, John Brake, Jr., was in my class and
their cousin, Burdette Livingston, was too. Burdette’s second wife, Alice
Preston Jackson, was a year behind us and Don Braendle was a year ahead.
Grandfather had these rooms on the north front of the house that are the living
room and music room now. The fireplace was his heating stove. They had heated
the old house with stoves and he didn’t like the new furnace. He died in 1909.
Dad was married twice – his first wife had sugar diabetes and no kids. My mother
was younger than him, but he wasn’t an old man when he died in 1923. To Be
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
AUGUST 1989, Volume 25, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of current
editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: WALKINGTON, HAGER, SANDBORN, NASH, SLOWINS
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD include the names of Verl Walkington, Merton Hager and
HOW ONCE IT WAS!
1st ANNUAL COMMENCEMENT – Districts No. 4 and 7. Sebewa - Sebewa Center and
Johnson – SEBEWA CENTER CHURCH – Tuesday Evening, June 12, 1894.
CLASS MOTTO – We climb the ladder round by round
TEACHERS: S. F. Deatsman, Dist. No. 4
Miss Hattie Olry, Dist. No. 7.
CLASS OF ’94.
Graduates Dist. No. 4: Gladys M. Olry, Rhoda M. Deatsman, Nellie E. Meyers, Ada
B. Luscher, Clare Murphy.
Graduates Dist. No. 7: Carrie B. Daniels, Ella P. Deal, Jessie M. Baldwin, Sam’l
L. Kauffman, Fred C. Sindlinger
Prayer – Rev. No E. Gibbs
Music - Give the Passing Hours to Pleasure – Quartette
Salutatory, Welcome, Thrice Welcome – Carrie B. Daniels
Recitation – The Boys of Our Country – Beach Estep
Essay – Biography of Lincoln – Clare Murphy
Solo – Bertella Bradley
Essay – One Step Higher – Ella P. Deal
Recitation – After Examination – Mary E. Green
Essay – Evils of Ignorance – Rhoda M. Deatsman
Mouth Organ Solo – Hugh Showerman
Essay – Biography of Napoleon – Fred. C. Sindlinger
Recitation – Being a Boy – George Gierman
Essay – Pleasures of Knowledge – Ada B. Luscher
Music – Adieu, Adieu, My Mountain Home – Quartette
Essay – Citizenship and Education – Samuel L. Kauffman
Recitation – John Maynard – Barret E. Armour
Essay – Choice of a Profession – Nellie E. Meyers
Music – Quartette – Deatsman Brothers
Essay – We Climb the Ladder Round by Round – Jessie M. Baldwin
Recitation – A Chicken Quarrel – Orvil E. Brown
Solo – Blanche Townsend
Recitation – Little Golden Hair – Winnie Estep
Valedictory – Yesterday and To-Day – Gladys M. Olry
Duet – Misses Bradley and Sindlinger
Presentation of Diplomas – S. F. Deatsman, Miss Hattie Olry
Music – Good Night – Quartette
Organist – Mrs. S. F. Deatsman
BACCALAUREATE ADDRESS – Sunday, June 3d, at 2:30 P.M. – Rev. N. E. Gibbs.
THE SESSIONS SCHOOLHOUSE, built in 1849 on Riverside Drive three miles west of
Ionia, will have to wait, at least until September, for the dedication of its
restoration. We have the duplicate of the bronze metal marker placed on the
building by the D. A. R. in the 1918 restoration. The original was soon stolen
and never replaced.
Mrs. Berta Brock provided the D. A. R. spirit to get the Ionia County Board of
Supervisors to make the 1918 restoration. The D. A. R. was so wounded by the
theft of the marker that nothing further was ever done to keep that historic
It was closed as a schoolhouse in 1898 when the brick schoolhouse across the
road was built. In the year of 1907 the farm, including the schoolhouse was
purchased for the location of the Ionia County “poor farm”. Sometime in that
period a large opening was made on the south side of the building to make it
usable as a sheep shed. The 1918 restoration filled that opening.
Once it had lath and plaster on the walls. The new door is yet to be made and
put in place. Watch the local papers for notice of the time and details of the
new restoration dedication.
VERL IRENE WALKINGTON – FUNERAL SERMON by John Piercefield
Verl Irene Walkington was born May 25, 1910, passing away on May 18, 1989, at
the age of 78. It is for this reason we are here today paying our last respects.
Psalm 103: 2 – Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. John
14:1-4 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In
my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am
going here to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You
know the way to the place where I am going.”
Opening prayer was by David Flagel.
Mary Liverton married Louis Sage in 1871 and born to this union were 3 sons,
Alonso, Samuel, and Louis. Father Louis Sage died in 1874 and Mary Liverton,
with three young sons, married and became Mary Anderson. Young Louis grew up,
married Iva Mae Clark and took care of his mother and step father as they lived
on a farm outside Winn, MI. Born to Louis and Iva were 2 daughters, Verl &
Lucille. It was growing up on a family farm that taught the principles of hard
work, personal integrity and patient persistence. Verl Sage graduated from Mt.
Pleasant H. S. and began taking courses at Saginaw Business College. It was
about Nov. 1930, at a local dance in Winn that a young man caught her eye and
she his. He was a local boy and she a local girl but until now they hadn’t
noticed each other.
They danced, dated & fell in love. On Aug. 22, 1931 Verl Sage became Mrs. Ora
Walkington. The newlyweds moved early in 1932 to their present farm & home on
1711 Goodemoote Rd. Later that spring of ’32, Ora came down with blood poisoning
while fixing a fence row. The plowing needed finishing, the team of horses were
waiting and Verl took the reigns. She finished plowing and began fitting the
field for planting as well as caring for Ora. Verl seemed always able to meet
the needs of the situation and quietly control them towards the desired goal.
She was not afraid of work—hard work—farming like many other vocations in the
1930’s was tough. By 1929, with the stock market collapse, and banking crisis,
there was also an ongoing crisis in agriculture in the US that was started after
WWI. Many Europeans were returning to their farms & the demand & prices for
American grains had fallen by some 30%. “American farmers had overexpanded
acreage under cultivation during the war years, bringing marginal land into
production, so as prices fell, farmers had to produce more to meet their
But hard work and farming have gone hand in hand for years, since prices were
depressed, trading commodities (eggs, grain, vegetables, for sugar, coffee,
fruits and seeds), became the way of business in the rural communities. The
times were hard but the people were enduring. It was that enduring, persistent
quality of commitment that was so much of Verl’s life. These qualities were what
enabled Verl to be the faithful, loving wife and eventually mother of six
1.”Generations of Americans”. P. 642-643.
At the end of 1935, Verl was expecting the birth of their first child. She was
afraid that the child would freeze to death in their present home which was a
converted granary. Ora consoled her and promised a house by fall. Their present
house was started in July and finished Cot. 1936 before Loren, their first son
was born. They built their life and farm together during some of the hardest
economic times in our country’s history. Verl and Ora, as many others, survived
by being committed to each other and to their common goals. That commitment was
lived out for nearly 58 years.
Verl could be both a leader & a follower. Her seemingly endless energy, with her
commitment to quality, enabled her to be a leader in the local PTA, the West
Sebewa Community Club, Farm Bureau or Orange Thimble Club. She became a leader
by her example, her enthusiasm and her ability to always be in control of the
situation at hand. She was always busy, an organized busy, not like some of us
who are busy all the time and never get things done. Stopping into her house she
would offer you coffee & a piece of pie or cinnamon roll while she had bread
baking in the oven, dough rising on the counter, dinner on the stove, and as she
sat and talked she would be crocheting, or mending. Somehow, she always seemed
to get things done on time almost as if having more hours in a day than the
She was a good leader because she taught not only how to work but how to enjoy
working. With a husband and six children to feed, especially on the farm, there
was always laundry, baking (7 loaves of bread every other day), canning, fixing
the meals but Verl also had time for gardening & her flowers (glads & iris’s)
and her chickens. There was pride in her work and it was evidenced by the
grocery money earned from her egg sales and by the care of her flowers,
beautiful flowers, everywhere. Around the house, in the yard, the barn, granary
& out buildings. It was her message to her community that she enjoyed living
life and the beauty that God provides in nature, she would nuture and share. The
back-breaking work was overshadowed by her commitment to enjoy the work placed
before her and to do it well.
These characteristics also made her a good follower. Devoted to being the best
wife, mother & eventually grandmother of 23, great-grandmother of 12, she
hand-made gifts for presents, the knitting & crocheting & quilt making yielded
gifts that were more than money, they were from the heart. Good followers are
devoted- despite the circumstances or the task & Verl was devoted to her husband
& her family. Good followers do not have to have the spotlight and are often
overlooked but can be found as the support and foundation for several other
lives and events. A typical Sunday may begin with Verl playing a favorite hymn
on the piano and one by one of the children would file down the stairs and
eventually gather around and sing along. Good followers focus on others, rather
than themselves. Verl’s focus was on her family. There was no room for
selfishness and there was no room for waste – whether food, money, cloth or
time. She would save the last cup of soup or make mash bags into sheets, then
cut into hand towels – nothing went to waste but at the same notion, if anyone,
family, friend or stranger, needed what she had saved, she would gladly give it
and more. There always seemed enough.
There is a story of one sunny day that Verl and some of the children picked a
manure spreader full of sweet corn. Ora saw the task and declared they would
never get that much sweet corn canned in one day. Verl stated they could and
they would settle the matter at suppertime. Verl and the children worked
feverishly but as supper drew near, they could see no end in sight. At
suppertime, Ora was amazed that the job was complete with all the quart jars of
corn in the kitchen. Little did he know that for one of the few times, if not
the only time, Verl had wasted anything. She carted the uncleaned sweet corn and
dumped it in the ditch across the road, then parked the spreader where it was
Verl & Ora enjoyed their friends and neighbors, in fact they even played match
maker to some. As the story goes, a new school teacher had began teaching at
Kilmartin school about 1950 which schooled five of the six Walkington children.
The schoolmarm was in need of a place to stay and was invited to the Walkington
house. She lived in an upstairs room & while watching out the window one day,
she spied a young man in the field across the way hunting & she wanted to go
hunting. Ora informed the young man of the school teacher’s interest in hunting,
they were introduced, and they got along pretty good. Eventually, they got along
so good that young man asked the schoolteacher to marry him and they became good
friends and neighbors to Verl and Ora ever since, as Richard and Marion
Goodemoote. Friendships in this community go back far as generations build upon
the previous foundation. In close communities, time can build monuments to
friendships or barriers of mistrust. Verl built monuments to her friends &
neighbors with her genuine caring and generosity.
Verl was interested in her past – it may have been sparked by an assignment
Bonnie had in school but, she wrote letters and gathered information on the
Walkingtons & the Sage families. Her genealogy information traces the
Walkingtons back to England and it was her interest that influenced my
grandparents, Homer & Mamie Downing to do the same and now my sister Lori, has
been sparked – who knows how many others. But Verl also made time to follow
local events and people. She accumulated files on literally hundreds of families
from newspaper clippings & public announcements, complete with cross references
for marriages, births & deaths.
Later in their lives, Ora & Verl were traveling more to Niagara Falls or
Florida, even Hawaii, but upon every leaving Verl would fee bad leaving family
behind as there was work to be done. Verl and many people here today are the
last of the generation where thrift meant more than possessions, where devotion
to husband & family meant more than personal interests, and where love, loyalty
and hard work were things families shared together, rather than self-seeking,
short-lived personal freedoms to do your own thing.
If we learn and remember nothing else from the life of Verl Walkington, let us
learn the true meaning of commitment to others, backed by love and labor, no
matter what the costs. Death is seldom timely, convenient or anticipated, but
all of us will pass through death to either eternal life or eternal separation
from God. The preparation is up to us.
Let us strive to say with the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8---“For I am now
ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is lad up
for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will
award to me on that day---and not only to me, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing.”
This poem was written by Great-Grandma Mabel Walkington to Cynthia, and was read
at Mabel’s funeral:
“When the golden sun is setting, And your life from care is free.
When of others you are thinking, Will you sometimes think of me?”
Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great-grandmother, neighbor, friend or relative
such as Verl will not be forgotten, but remembered by her influence, her life.
Psalm 62:1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12---“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation
comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will
never be shaken. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. My
salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in
Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is my refuge.”
GRAVESIDE: Psalm 103:13-19; 104:1-5---“As a father has compassion on his
children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we
are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the
Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their
children’s children---with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His
precepts. The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules
over all…O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothes with splendor and
majesty. He wraps Himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the
heavens like a tent and lays the beams of His upper chambers on their waters. He
makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds
His messengers, flames of fire His servants. He set the earth on its
foundations; it can never be moved.”
It is never easy to say goodbye but we know there is a better resting place. We
will all leave this world by way of death or until the Lord comes and we can
take nothing with us. What we leave behind will be shared with others, what we
share with others are our memories. They can never by taken from us.
“When the golden sun is setting, And your life from care is free.
When of others you are thinking, Will you sometimes think of me.”
Verl, the memories you’ve given us will be remembered and never forgotten.
EDWIN NASH INTERVIEW by Grayden Slowins
Charlie Benedict came here to work for grandfather and continued for Dad and
then for Mother when she was widowed. Grandfather and Dad and Mother all worked
in the bank and she continued to do so. When Charlie, an old lumberjack, died,
his son Frank kept the farm going. Then when he quit, I took over.
Grandfather married a Markham girl, whose family lived where my son, Jim, does
now at S ½ S ½ Sec. 10. I bought it of Allie’s estate from Oren, his son, who
wasn’t a farmer. He lived in Grand Rapids and sold lumber. He was a brother to
June. Gardner Compton bought the west 40 from Lenhard, who got it from the
Markham estate. Dad had one sister, Emma (Mrs. Arthur) Stevenson, whose family
owned the department store in Ionia. Later she lived with her daughter in St.
Croix, Wisconsin. I had one sister, Adelia (Mrs. Leo) McAlary of Ionia.
After High School I had gone to work across the road at the elevator, except for
one year when I was laid up with TB. Bed rest was the main cure. They collapsed
the lung to rest it.
I had worked in the office at the elevator. They sold it to the Farmers
Cooperative and they burned out and later sold to Roy Smith of Caledonia and he
sold to Carlton H. Runciman of Lowell. Norm Stewart ran it for Roy Smith and I
worked for him too. He married my mother and died about a year later right here
in this house. He was the father of Lester Stewart, Esta’s husband.
My wife was Marion Pardee from a pioneer family in Bowne Township, just over the
line in Kent County. We were ready to get married about 1928-29, but the
Depression hit and we waited almost 8 years. We got married in 1936 and moved
right in here. Mother had rooms here, just as Grandfather had with her and Dad.
Dad died when I was 15 and she kept on working in the bank. It was called the
Edwin Nash State Bank and the old checks had a photo of these barns and house –
even into the 1960’s when they merged.
I have emphysemia now and dust has always been a problem for me. First it was
the threshing crews. Allie Nash had a threshing rig and did ours. Later we had
our own threshing machine, but didn’t do much custom work. For many years we
used chopped hay. It was a mess to put up and worse yet to feed. It was handy if
you could put it down right where you needed to feed it. We had dairy cows back
then and milked until Jim came in with me. Now we raise beef cattle.
Jim went to college four and a half years. He went 2 years to Grand Rapids
Junior College and had lots of credits, but Michigan State wouldn’t accept all
of them toward his degree in Crop Science, so he had to go an extra term beyond
his 2 years at MSU. Jim has one child, a boy Sam, who is 5 years old and just
started school. None of his grandparents are very big, nor his parents either,
so he isn’t very big. Jim’s wife, Pam, was Sam Bustance’s daughter. Her sister
Nancy is the wife of Larry Patrick, Campbell Township Clerk.
My daughter, Mary, used to work for Kathleen Maloney in the County Treasurer’s
office. She married Russell Foster, a minister in the Fundamentalist Bible
Church. They lived in Nebraska for 9 years, but are back in Michigan now. They
have 3 sons and 2 daughters. One granddaughter has a child and the other is
expecting; so we will soon have two great-grandchildren. Marion plays the piano
and cello and used to give lessons and played in Verdier Joslin’s string trio in
I first go on the Township Board in 1951 as Supervisor. I was appointed to fill
out Lou Todd’s term, think it was in November, 1951. Those on the County Board
of Supervisors at that time or soon after were: McGinn, North Plains; Sam
Detmers, Keene; Alex Sibley, Easton; Frank Stout, Ionia; Lloyd Gibbs, Orange;
John Avery, Portland; myself, Campbell; Gerald Williams, Odessa; Charles McNeil,
Sebewa; Floyd Evans, Danby; Bernard Ardis, Fred Keister, Frank Sharp, and one
more from the City of Ionia; and a couple from City of Belding.
Portland was not a city at that time, so didn’t have it’s own Supervisor. Fred
Keister used to photo the entire Board once a year or at least every two years.
It was a good historical record, but the later editors just photo the Chairman,
Vice-chairman, and Clerk.
Over the years there have been a lot of changes. I was on the Building Committee
when we built the second jail. The old jail had been let go bad. They had half
the money for a new jail and bonded for half. I think the total cost was
$250,000, but that may not be right. The boiler was under the jail to heat the
Court House too, same as now. The boiler was under the jail to heat the Court
House, too, same as now. The custodian and his wife lived in the west end of the
basement of the Court House and kept the Juvenile Detention kids too. Leo and
Clarabelle Edwards were the last. Every department except the Road Commission
was in the Court House or Jail, there were no other buildings, owned nor rented.
I remember when we had to cover the skylight in the rotunda. It was unsafe, you
could walk on it in the dome room, and a terrible heat loss too. We lowered the
ceiling in the Court Room. The plaster was bad because of roof leaking. They
removed the chandelier and sold it for $5, I think. The center part is out at
the Ionia Fishing and Hunting Club and Floyd Evans has the rest. Russ Gregory
wants to restore the ceiling and get the chandelier back up. Later we replaced
the windows with double-pane thermal type and replaced the radiators. The
windows were loose from drying out all those years. We stripped and refinished
the woodwork and walls and restored the mural at the top of the landing. There
had been other decoration in gold leaf, but not all could be restored. We found
the shutters and put them back up. We finished and re-finished the third floor
for Prosecutor and Board offices. The elevator was a big expense, but it was
I remember when we were mandated by the State to establish the County Public
Health Department. We started with one nurse, Mrs. Gallagher, and housed her in
the Court House Basement. I was on the Health Board and we bought the Perrone
Building for $50,000 for the Health Department.
I remember when we were mandated, in late 1966, to establish the Mental Health
Department. Gerald Williams was Chairman of that Board. There was just one man
and secretary. You what it’s like now!
The District Court system was also mandated. Taking it away from the Justices of
the Peace was a mistake. It got too far away from the local individual and the
costs soared. Gardner Compton was a good one here in Campbell, Fox was in South
Ionia, and Asa Burnett in Ionia. They did arraignments for criminal cases to
Circuit Court and everything.
In 1968 we had to switch to the County Board of Commissioner system. The old
Board of Supervisors was the best way! But we couldn’t be on both the Township
and County Board, so had to choose, and the County Board became a smaller board.
It has varied from up to 24 people and of course some didn’t do very much work.
Someone from another county even sued the State and tried to prove that the
“One-man-one-vote” principle didn’t prevail, because they are an administrative
body and not legislative. Quick as they start legislating, they get into
trouble. But the Circuit Court and Appeals Court and eventually the U. S.
Supreme Court ruled against us. It was a blow to local governments across the
nation that recognized regional needs as well as population. It was Okay for the
U. S. Senate, but no-one else I guess.
Gary Newton became Sheriff. Sam Detmers had gone to the Road Commission. We were
required to establish a County Equalization Department. Bernard Ardis became
head of that and Floyd Evans assisted him. Lloyd Gibbs had been Township
Supervisor, Member of County Board of Supervisors, and State Legislator, all at
the same time. Others had before him also, Clyde Stout for one, I think. That
really gave liaison between units of government. Lloyd died in those offices.
Gerald Williams became Drain Commissioner. I am the only one left who has served
continuously as Supervisor and then as Commissioner. Evans and Sibley are still
Supervisors. Floyd has four years seniority on me, forty two years in the
Now they want to take assessing away from the Supervisors. Some people are
always dissatisfied. They have always fought over taxes and assessments. They
did with Grandfather in 1849, when he collected $200 to run the entire Township
including the School. They did it with Dad in 1916, when we raised $250,000 to
build a Jail. And now it’s costing $4,000,000 to build another Jail.
The State will make it a lot worse, with no knowledge of local conditions.
Locally you can appeal your assessment, and if something is really wrong, you
can change assessors every 4 years. They were mad at Charlie McNeil and now at
Evelyn David. But she is sharp! Good head for figures! We disagreed on the
Allocation Board, but I never held it against her. She maybe was right in some
respects. The Schools ARE hard up. But they give in too easily to the teachers’
unions. Ken David was pals with Jim in school. He will do okay as Supervisor,
but no one can do better than Evie!
Jan Livingston is another good person – in the Friend-of-the-Court office. She
does her job well and never complains. Ann Eberstein – our Administrative
Secretary – is another good one. The gal before her was, too. Barb Trierweiler
is a real good County Clerk. She came in with 20 years experience under a good
Kah-Wah-Dee-Weh is an 87 page publication by Mrs. Jean Frazier. It is a study of
Michigan’s major Indian tribes, the Chippewas, the Potawatomies and the Ottawas.
This is an interesting treatment of Michigan’s Indians and may be yours for
writing Jean Frazier and enclosing $6.95 plus tax. Her address is 617 Winifred
Dr., Lansing, MI 48917.
A book about Roxand Township and Mulliken’s early history with contributions
from many sources is available for $15.00 from Mrs. Wm. Feasal, Jr., 435
Charlotte Hwy., Mulliken, MI 48861. I got mine at the Merrifield Hardware. The
Feasels, Merrifields and the Fraziers are all Sebewa Center Association members.
The Eaton County Historical Society is publishing a book of recollections and
historical tales along the Clinton Trail. There will be more about the book next
time after it is published.
THE GUS MACKER BASKETBALL 3 DAY FESTIVAL at Belding ended July 9 with 4, 169
teams playing with an estimate of 125,000 onlookers for the affair. Kevin David
along with a team called B. M. F. of Travis Loes, Jerud Jackson and Matt
Steward, all of Lake Odessa took a third place in the event. John Piercefield
said that he got into the ball tossing event with another team. Sebewa ranks
well in sports as well as in scholarship at Lakewood and Portland.
West Sebewa held its annual pot luck picnic at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Don
Possehn Sunday, July 9 with lots of youngsters and their elders present.
Strangely, I could not find anyone familiar with the origin or of the early
members of that picnic.
On the same afternoon John and Ramona Dickinson celebrated their 50th wedding
anniversary at Lake Odessa with many family members and friends present. They
have moved to a new house across the road from the Clyde Stout farm on Kelsey
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
Association. OCTOBER, 1989, Volume 25, Number 2. Submitted with written
permission of current editor Grayden D. Slowins.
SURNAMES: SESSIONS, ADGATE, MEYERS, GIERMAN
THE SESSIONS SCHOOLHOUSE – Here is the triumph of the final restoration of the
exterior of the old Sessions Schoolhouse. With the fine new Ionia High School
and Heartland Institute now opened, it would seem it might be a long time before
people would be asked to spend time inside the old building that was closed for
school operation in 1898, so long ago that only John Adgate, now near 94,
remembers visiting school there as a tad when he was too young to attend school.
All the rest have passed on, leaving their descendants aplenty in the Ionia
environment and scattered about the country.
After riding in the parade at Saranac as Mr. Saranac in the Bridge Festival
parade, John Adgate arrived at the Sessions Schoolhouse September 9 to help
celebrate the restoration of the building by talking to the group of some sixty
people about visiting the school where his older brothers and sisters were in
attendance. It seemed that when his mother had her fill of his enthusiasm, he
would be sent across the road to the schoolhouse to be with the older children.
It has been said that the small building accommodated as many as thirty-five
children. A wood stove was central with a smoke pipe through the midroof. The
walls were lathed and plastered and the children’s desks were around the room.
Since the building was replaced by a larger brick schoolhouse to the west, it
had varied uses as a holding place for people with communicable diseases to a
place to shelter sheep. It was then that the wooden floor was replaced with
concrete and a big hole in the stonework was made for easy entry for the sheep
from the south side.
By 1918, under the prodding of Bertha Brock and the Daughters of the American
Revolution, the Ionia County Board of Supervisors decided to restore the
building as a relic as it was recognized as the oldest cobblestone schoolhouse
in Michigan. The work was done, windows were planked closed, and the door also
of plank was nailed shut. A marker of bronze noting the restoration was placed
in the window to the north east. Shortly there came vandals and the marker was
stolen, leaving the DAR with the feeling that nothing could ever be safe in that
In 1959 the Board of Supervisors again repaired the roof and then sold the
entire County Farm to the Department of Natural Resources for use as part of the
Ionia Recreational Area. Because the building is recognized as a State
Historical Site, and a National Historic Site, it is protected from demolition
by any person, owner or other. Because of this recognition, Steve Dice of the
Ionia Recreational Area had figured that the DAR did not own the building. It is
now established that the title to the building and the lot passed to the DAR
with the purchase of the County Farm property.
Noting the condition of the roof and the door I asked Steve to see if he could
get it in his budget for repair. This was tried and failed to be approved. Then
Steve said if local people would pay for the materials he would get volunteers
to do the work. Last year a group of men from Saranac replaced the roof with
care to keep it like the original pattern, but that left the creaky old door as
was shown in Dick Evans “Along the Michigan Road” in 1988.
I prevailed on Sherm Pranger to make the door repair. That turned into a project
for Sherm’s grandson, David Vollinck, to do the work to earn his Eagle Scout
Badge in the Saranac Boy Scout organization. They did a beautiful job. That left
another project for Dan Zander another Saranac Boy Scout to earn his Eagle Scout
Award. It was the painting up with masonry of some of the stones that had
loosened, then with the mowing of a parking lot getting a loud speaker system by
Ralph Bartelt who also served as chairman we were ready for the ceremonial
program Jerry Roe, a State Historical Commissioner gave an enthusiastic report
on this and other ventures in Historic Preservation, recognized people whose
near relatives had attended the school and everybody had coffee and cookies that
The Ionia County Retired School personnel, the Historical Societies of Lyons,
Portland, Sebewa, Lake Odessa, Ionia, and Saranac and Boston provided the funds
for the restoration along with several private donations.
Fortunately Monroe McPherson had in his collection of Historic Ionia a picture
of the bronze medallion that filled the window though later stolen. From that
picture we were able to get another like it and David Vollinck securely fastened
it to the door as is pictured here. It seems that about once in thirty years the
building needs a restoration. We hope that the youngsters as yet unborn will
respond when that time comes. Robert W. Gierman
SEVEN WEEKS OF “WHERE’S MY WHATCHACALLIT”
On the first day after my 80th birthday things started out well. Maurice and
Vera had been here for ten days, visiting around the community, playing golf and
seeing old friends, and attending our Sebewa Center Association free ice cream
social, which was twisted around to be my 80th birthday party. Many of you
missed that event because it got late before my surprise came, with all kinds of
well wishes and the presentation of the Special Edition of the Recollector. More
than 20 people waited out the affair before driving home.
Saturday morning Maurice and Vera hustled around and left for their summer home
in Fairglade, Tennesee. I left that morning for Ionia to get my car serviced at
9:30 and did not return until 12:30 p.m., playing around a bit after my car was
serviced. I know that my “Meals on Wheels” delivery came at 10:45 but I had
arranged with the man to bring the food trays inside when I could not be here at
his time of delivery and so he did.
One tray for the refrigerator and one for the toaster oven to keep it hot until
I was ready for it. But I had forgotten to check the toaster oven. It was left
with the switch on “toast” and when the door was closed, it began to heat and
heat and heat. Normally I had left it with the toaster switch in the “off”
position and the thermostat controlled things so that the food was nearly kept
warm. The result was that when it got to boiling and past it still did not shut
off and you can imagine what happened to that corner of the kitchen.
When I opened the back door and saw black streaks running down the wall and air
so dense with black (plastic) smoke I could hardly see, I knew I had a fire but
no flame. Luckily no doors or windows were left open, so there was as yet no
flame. Wilbur also poked his head in and backed off quicker than I and the fire
department was called. It took them a little time to get here and all I could do
was to sit in the lawn chair and await their arrival. I heard a crash and
thought perhaps the ceiling had fallen in. Instead when the firemen put up the
ladder, broke the window and inserted the hose, it was evident that the kitchen
cupboards with all the dishes, canned goods and other paraphinalia had tumbled
to the floor. There was no flame until the window was broken.
Solder on the hinged glass cover to the old recently restored clock melted and
dropped the cover to the table. Fans were put in place to remove the heavy
smoke. Every little cobweb seemed a rope of soot. Although the fire damage was
entirely in the kitchen, the smoke accumulated in the rest of the household was
terrific. It was then that I began to hear tales of smoke and clean up going
back many years.
Next was to contact my insurance representative. My policy allowed keep in a
motel but I chose my house at Sunshine. It was good to have a place of my own
but without water there it made for many complications. We arranged for a
contractor to repair the kitchen and clean up the smoke damage. He sub-let the
clean up, the electrical repair, and the plumbing. A big van was placed in the
yard to keep the cleaned furniture and boxes and boxes of books and papers.
Once stacked away in there I don’t know where to look for papers that I need, my
tooth brush nor comb and all the other things used in keeping up daily life. All
closets were emptied of clothes and taken to Ionia for cleaning. Fortunately for
me my washer and dryer kept in operation and I could get by with the frequent
laundering I could do.
My routine was to sleep at Sunshine, get up and have breakfast. Make my coffee
in a hot pot on my bed, my toast in a new toaster resting on the back of an
overstuffed chair, cereal and milk from the refrigerator following by fruit and
roll, hurry home for a shower, get back to Sunshine to meet the food man, get
home at noon for lunch and the mail and keep out of the way of the help.
Now the kitchen has been refinished, the cupboards in place with soon the new
floor cover, move in the range and refrigerator. Walls have been gassed with
ozone and repainted so maybe before frost I can get back to some kind of
VANDALISM AT THE BIPPLEY ROAD EAST SEBEWA CEMETERY.
If my memory serves me correctly that cemetery has been vandalized four
different times in the many years it has served the community. Located as it is,
well away from any houses, it seems to attract that something that seems to
smolder inside many persons who enjoy trampleling on the cares of others.
A few years ago my great grandmother’s stone along with others was snapped over
to the ground. These old and somewhat brittle stones seem to attract the
distructors. At that time the Amey Meyers, cut in the rock had become well
weathered and hard to read, so I took it to Steve Yenchar who is employed by the
Lowell Granite Company to cut a new inscription on the back side of the stone.
He brought it back with a legible inscription and showed me how to reset it with
epoxy where it had broken and there it has stood since---until a time this
summer when vandals went through the cemetery again, snapping and pushing over a
dozen or more markers including Amey’s.
I noticed that some repairs had been made but Amey’s stone still laid there. I
went back there with my weekend visitor, Jacob Peter and his little son and with
his help I planned to apply the epoxy and erect the stone as I had previously
done with some others. But to my surprise the job had been done. Grayden Slowins
with Steve Yenchar had worked through the cemetery and as much as possible
restored the broken markers and monuments. Our good wishes to our township
government for their timely works. RWG
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
DECEMBER, 1989, Volume 25, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of
current editor Grayden D. Slowins.
SURNAMES: SMITH, OAKS, WALKINGTON, CARR, PLANT, HOWLAND, KENYON, PROBASCO,
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD. Gordon Oaks, Ora Walkington and George Carr were the
In dealing with the (winter) weather, here is another approach to it. It is told
by Henry Smith.
“On October 9, 1969, I had the misfortune of breaking my left tibia bone. I was
in a cast for almost a year. About six months after the beginning of my lay up,
my daughter, Marilyn, was crocheting an afghan. I said to her “Do you think you
could teach Dad how to do that? I’ve got to have something to do”.
It was difficult, for I seemed to have two left hands. It took me four or five
months to complete the job. She got started on different types of afghans and I
have followed through by making about 135.
While I was recuperating from the broken leg, I worked for the Kilpatrick
Missionary Society piecing quilt tops. I have mad several of them. For the past
five years I have worked for Social Services of Charlotte through the Senior
Citizens organization of Sunfield. It was my idea to help the under privileged.
Five years ago we had seven pairs of mittens that we gave away in Sunfield. Each
year we have increased the number.
It worked up to going to nutrition dinners around Eaton County to get volunteers
to work at the program. Last year the group of people who worked with me donated
418 items at Christmas time. This included people from an area of some 7 or 8
square miles in the northwest corner of Eaton County. This year we plan to fill
a quota of more than 500 items and we are getting close to that fulfillment. We
make stocking caps, mittens, scarves, blankets, anything to make youngsters
comfortable. Social Services furnish the yarn. The Church of the Brethren makes
the quilts. Lucy Wright of Sunfield has made several. It is remarkable what
Senior Citizens can and will do.
My neighbors, Wayne and Blanche Jackson are making stocking caps. As of last
week they had about 135 completed. I can do two or three pairs of mittens a day.
I have received several awards for volunteerism from our Governor and his
THE PORTLAND AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY has made application for a State Historical
Marker recognizing Eda PLANT as the first woman in Michigan to vote for elected
officials. Portland in December of 1918 had its first village election after
previously operating as part of the township government. The constitutional
amendment giving women the right to vote was adopted August 26, 1920 but
Michigan had recognized that right in December of 1918. It will be April 1990
before the application is recognized.
MRS. RAYMOND (EDNA HOWLAND) KENYON recently celebrated her 99th birthday at her
home in St. Petersburg, Florida. She writes in a good hand “I am comfortably
situated here in a building 21 stories high and I am on the 7th floor. My only
exertion is to prepare my breakfast. Everything else is provided. Some times I
long for the good old days but realize, of course, they are no more. I am fairly
active yet but use a cane now for walking is rather difficult. I will keep in
touch with you. Sincerely, Edna Kenyon”.
Should she make it another year she will be Sebewa’s third to make 100 after Ida
Evans and Florence Cassel.
STORIES TOLD BY MR. & MRS. BEN PROBASCO, SR.
These stories were told to my mother when she was yet Miss Nellie Meyers early
in the 1900s. She carefully copied them and they have been kept since. Here are
the stories. – Robert W. Gierman.
When Mr. Probasco was only sixteen years old he, although he was not a Mexican
War soldier, bought a Mexican War soldier’s warrant, signed by Zachery Taylor
and took up 160 acres of land in Sebewa. It was some years after that he came
here from Ohio accompanied by Emory Gunn, Theodore Gunn’s brother, hunting his
They went to Eleazer Brown to get him to act as guide, which he was accustomed
to do, but, being sick, he was unable to go. He directed them to John Estep, who
lived on the place now owned by Mrs. Greiner. Besides directing them to his land
he offered Mr. Probasco a tame deer. But as Mr. Probasco had no way to take care
of it, he was obliged to refuse the gift. His 160 acres proved to be where Fred
Gunn now owns. He cleared sixty acres here, building a log house and the barn,
which are still standing although remodeled.
Mr. Probasco can tell stories of Johnston and Jackson, the Indian interpreter
who preached to the Whites and Indians at an old log schoolhouse between Eugene
Probasco and Hugh Showerman’s houses. Mr. and Mrs. Probasco can tell of the
meetings of the Shimneconing Indians. They had singing books with the hymns in
English on one side and in Indian on the other side. Whites and Indians sang
together in their own language. The Indians seemed to be good Christians and
their prayer meeting and preaching services were good.
There was an Indian village on the bank of the river just east of Sebewa Corners
known as Meshimneconning or “Little Apple Orchard”. Here there was a mission and
school for the Indians.
Charles Ingalls, Hall Ingall’s father, who then owned the Greiner place, finally
bought out the Indians at Shimnecon. In payment for their land he built them a
saw mill somewhere north of here. The Indians didn’t understand running it, some
of them were killed and they abandoned the mill.
Mr. Probasco told how they tried to get the schoolhouse at the Center instead of
a mile east. One year they fitted up his cooper shop for a schoolhouse, Lurette
Brown, afterwards Probasco, teaching there. One day the teacher and scholars
became frightened at a huge black snake and set for Mr. Probasco to come and
kill it. He shot it and for quite a while and at some distance away they could
hear it lash the ground with its tail. It measured over six feet.
This brought out another story. It seems he measured the snake by a tin horn six
feet long. He brought the horn with him from Ohio and when on his way from
Charlotte to Sebewa astonished the natives by playing a tune at every
settlement. He could play pretty and the horn could be heard a distance of three
miles. Every man, woman and child within hearing ran out to see what was coming.
All of which proves that the old time settler had a taste for fun even in a
wilderness. They used the horn to call the men to dinner and the horn could be
heard a distance of three miles. When someone got lost going after cows, to help
them find their way home, the horn was a help. It was also found to be
invaluable at chivarees.
They tell how the door was left open and the woman of the house was busy, when
she looked up might find an Indian standing, wrapped in his blanket. He would
always ask for something to eat and, being supplied, if anything was left would
be put in his wamus or hunting jacket. The Indians used to make a good deal of
sugar. They didn’t put much of it into cakes but stirred it off mostly. To hold
the sap they used troughs made of logs hollowed out or bark. Once a Shimnecon
visitor saw a papoose in one of the troughs taking a bath in the sap. A buyer of
one of the cakes of sugar found a coon’s foot in it. Probably put in as we put
in butter to keep the sirup from boiling over. Nevertheless their sugar looked
and tasted nice.
The animal stories are interesting also. Mrs. Probasco tells how she used to go
after cows alone when a young girl. Having no fences, all the cattle in the
country ran loose in the woods—the only way to distinguish them was by the sound
of the bells. She would catch the sound of their bell and start out, soon losing
herself in the woods---the only way to distinguish them was by the sound of the
bells. Always pursuing the bell until she found her cows, she would follow the
Sometimes the cattle would take a circular route and she would come home in the
opposite direction than for which she started. Once when after cattle she found
a bear’s nest in a hollow tree. Another time she found a fawn in the road,
picked it up and carried it home. Her father would not allow her to keep it, so
she gave it to a neighbor girl. Deer were very plentiful and could be shot from
the windows. Mr. Probasco tells how he used to kill deer easily after he moved
on the place where he lives now. There was a high rail fence along the road by
Mrs. Greiner’s place and the deer didn’t care to jump. So he would chase the
deer down that way and they would be an easy catch.
His bear stories are equally interesting. When he lived where Fred Gunn now
does, he had a yard partly fenced off on the north side of the road. One day he
heard a drove of hogs barking and making a terrible noise as if frightened. His
wife told him he had better go see what was after the hogs. When he went he
discovered a big bear. It would stand up on its hind legs and then drop down on
all fours a little closer to the pigs, trying to get the pigs to make a grand
rush so he could grab one. Mr. Probasco but having a revolver, only scared it
Benjamin Probasco, Sr., was born in 1831. RWG
MEET MY GRANDFATHER, ALBERT W. MEYERS by Robert W. Gierman
I have but the faintest memory of Grandfather, Albert W. Meyers, as I was less
than four years old when he died. But the stories I heard from time to time
pictured an interesting man. He was the eldest of seven children whose mother
died at an early age. His father and one of his two children of that marriage
were younger than my mother.
Grandfather Meyers sort of took over the family for a while and my Great
Grandfather pursued his career with his new family and his profession as a
United Brethren Minister. In 1878 my Grandfather married Lydia Shipman, who,
after finishing the rural school of the time, went on and taught the Baldwin
School at the intersection of Kimmel and Musgrove Highway. My mother, Miss
Nellie, was born in 1879. Another eleven years went by before Archie was born,
followed by Harold (Harry) two years later.
I had heard the stories of Grandfather’s threshing rig, with the dusty straw
carrier instead of a blower. It was common then for farmers to stack their grain
bundles so that they would keep dry until the thresher might reach them.
Threshing season ran from early August until well after frost as the machine
covered a large area. Grandfather had a crew that went with him and often slept
in the barns where the machine was operating. As I recall it, at least one
steamer that he had was hauled about by a team of horses. He had a reputation of
never wasting the daylight hours of summer.
Grandfather, with his yen for machinery, had a portable sawmill. He located it
near the road where the drainage ditch crosses Bippley Road a bit east of
Sunfield Road. There he sawed pickets for the fences that were popular at that
time. Also he and his crew followed about Sebewa and neighboring territories
sawing lumber for barns and houses about to be built.
Recently Howard Meyers showed me the account book Grandfather had kept covering
some of his activities. I had seen news items in the locals of the old Portland
Observer and some other papers that told where the sawmill was working and where
it would move next but somehow I had missed seeing the account book.
Here from that book is a list of the people Grandfather dealt with and the
products he had made for them. Maybe you will find the names of some of your
relatives and neighbors of that time.
In the year of 1900, December 15 to 21 was James Morariety for sawing, Will
Barnes December 20 & 23, Dec. 21, A. M. Barnes, Dec. 21, George Bower Dec. 22,
and G. Wilkins Dec. 24. Skipping on to Dec. 29 and January 5, 1901 was Fred
Yager. George Davis Jan. 3 and 25 as well as Geo. Alleman on the 8th of Jan.
There follows David Figg, John Hammond, David Leak, Frank Torpy and Rufus
Goddard, all on the 10. These are followed by Charles Ralston, John Olry on the
25th. On February 2 was O. V. Showerman, Gid Stinchcomb, Ancil Green, Will
McClelland, Alfres(d?) Cassel, Jack Brown and Harvey Sleight. Skipping to March
9 was Geo. Thorp, I. A. Brown, Leon Williams, Frank Guy, Ike Baughman, J.
Lippincott, Clayton Petrie, Jacob Sayer, Ed Townsend, Guy Lapo, George Gunn, Wm.
Heintzelman, Chas. Estep, Chas. Kauffman, all in February.
In March it was Elem Tran, Chas. Cook, Archie Beaver, Frank Harper, Ed Leak, J.
Luscher, J. D. Johnson, James Cassel, Ed Demaray, E. S. Deatsman, Leonard Cross,
Frank Kimble, Chas. Kelly, Henry Pettingill, C. Roust, Prine Barclay, Fred Gunn,
Wm. Priestman, M. Brown, Byron Estep, Alfred Coe, Chas. VanHouten, John
Brownfield, John Leak, Sam Gunn, Ben Lowe, Charles Gierman and Jess Van Sicklen.
For April it was Merrit Allen, Frank Way, Clark Haskins, J. Roseveare. For May
it was John Benschoter, James Pierce, S. C. McClelland, C. L. Halladay, E.
Duffy, Arthur Halladay, Jacob Stemler, Allen Culver, George Wheeler, Manley
Conkrite, Lambert Cramer, Wm. Rogers, C. O. Hiar, Emmet Marcy, George Chase,
Peter Knapp, Herb Brown, James Brown, Elmer Marcy, Fred Brown, Sherry Hubbard,
W. W. Merrifield, H. Townsend, V. Franks, T. H. Gunn, James Johnson, Wm. Smith,
L. A. Olry, Ike Baughman, Joseph Gragg, Eugene Halladay and Alva Deatsman.
Just imagine all that trek to the Bippley Road sawmill in the mud and the slop
it must have been.
Grandfather suffered a dehabilitating injury by a sawmill-tossed piece of lumber
and later was severely kicked by a horse in Lake Odessa. It all contributed to
his death in late December of 1912 at the age of sixty.
(Followed by a photo of Albert Wesley Meyers and Lydia Shipman Meyers.)
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR - Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
FEBRUARY 1990, Volume 25, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of current
Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: STOEL, GUNN, CROEL
First we note the death of Andrew L. Stoel at Williston, Florida, where he had
lived since 1968. He had attended the Sebewa Center School and Lake Odessa High
School. His family and two brothers survive viz Raymond of Denver and Gerald of
Recently Wilbur Gierman, while going through some of his Mother’s relics, came
across this business card of his great grandfather, Theodore Gunn. Together we
have put together the story that goes with it. Some quotations from the Portland
Observer are helpful as well as an excerpt from the 1890 Ionia County Album
recounting Joshua’s life.
BUSINESS CARD: “GUNN BROTHERS, Portland, Michigan. Cutting Hard Wood Lumber,
Ash, Basswood, Grained Oak, Cherry, Black Walnut, Rock Elm, & C. PLEASE GIVE US
September 19, 1869 was the day on which Joshua Gunn and Miss Rachel Rider were
Turning to a couple of items from The Portland Observer we have:
May 18, 1881---Messrs Gunn Bros. haul their lumber to Portland and ship by rail
about a million board feet annually.
November 11, 1882---We understand Mr. Theodore Gunn has shipped his sawmill to
Pine Lake. He removed it to the railroad last week.
Another item tells of dismantling the building of the Gunn mill and its being
hauled to the Staples farm for use in erecting the Staples cane mill where cane
sirup was to be made.
Theodore Gunn rented his farm to his son-in-law and moved his family to Pine
Lake as did Henry Pettingill and some others from Sebewa. Wilbur explains that
Pine Lake was at or near East Jordan at the lower part of Lake Charlevoix.
Miss Ella Gunn remembered seeing sail boats come in to be loaded with lumber for
shipment. Pictured below is the mill crew and the building housing the sawmill.
OUR EUROPEAN TRIP by Grayden Slowins
June 25, 1989, was our 35th Wedding Anniversary and we had been planning a trip
to Europe, especially Switzerland, for most of those 35 years. So Wednesday,
July 5, we left Detroit Metro Airport on Pan Am Flight 054 at 6:10 PM, non-stop
to London. We had dinner & breakfast on the plane and tried to sleep in between.
Ann had flown to Los Angeles two years before, but this was my first flight. We
took Antivert to avoid air sickness, but were a bit apprehensive, especially
when the plane was delayed in loading and takeoff. The real discomfort was
pressure and popping in the ears, which gave me an ear-ache for a couple of
Arriving in London on Thursday morning, we were met by a Brendan Tours hostess,
who put us in a taxi to Novetel London, in the Hammersmith & West Kensington
area. After lunch we took an optional bus tour to Windsor Castle, about 20 miles
west of London. It has been home to British Royalty since William-the-Conqueror
came in 1066. It was beautiful inside and out. Almost every monarch has added
something to the structure and Victoria’s statue guards the gate.
Friday morning we had a guided bus tour of London. Then on our own via
“Underground” (Subway is simply a tunnel for crossing the busy street) to St.
Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, the largest in London, where Diana & Charles were
married. Took photo of Ann with statue of Queen Anne-the-Good out front. Got
some beautiful pictures inside, especially of the organ, choir loft, and
At 5:30 PM we met our main tour guide, Patricia, at the hotel and headed for
Harwich on the North Sea. Then overnight on the ship Koningin Beatrix (Queen
Beatrice) to Hoek Van Holland. After dinner and sleep on the ship and an early
breakfast Saturday, we disembarked, passed thru customs, and boarded our nice
bus with driver Ari and 37 other tourists, to Amsterdam. There were many
youthful travelers on the ship who did not book a cabin, but simply slept
everywhere in the halls and lounges with their sleeping bags.
The hundreds of acres of glass greenhouses were unbelievable. Then we began to
see Dutch Texel sheep on pasture everywhere. They resemble Dorsets in body, but
their ears are more like a North Country Cheviot or a Montadale. We also saw
tame rabbits pasturing in a large flock. Friesen cattle (Don’t call them
Holsteins!!:) pastured everywhere. Another black & white breed, which we call
Dutch-belted, are called something else in Dutch. Many of the fences are small
canals or ditches and they move the animals to pasture by small boat with
stockracks like our trailers.
Next a tour of Amsterdam by canal boat. Many of the buildings along the canals
were built for home industries and have several stories with a freight door at
each level and a hoisting beam-and-pulley at the peak for “Removals”. Most are
homes or apartments now and there is one lane of traffic on the 20 ft. strip of
land on each side of the canal, plus a parking lane. The ancient arched stone
bridges are works of art.
Most buildings rest on pilings driven into the sea bottom. Willow is used for
this, because it is resistant to water. Then a tour of a diamond-cutting factory
and the Rijksmuseum with it’s many Rembrandts, the Dutch Masters, etc. Also an
early church organ and a stained glass window portrait of Dutch organist,
Next to Volendam, a small fishing and sailing resort village built behind the
dikes on the Zuider Zee. And to Edam & Zaanstad & Purmerend, where cheeses are
made in cottage industries and windmills still grind away and wooden shoes are
made by lathe from willow wood, which is light weight, workable, and water
resistant. Our hotel for the night was 10 ft. below sea level! Boats were tied
along the canals by each house like we park cars. Also there were bike paths
everywhere, with a centerline for two-way traffic.
“Amsterdam has been the capital for the last 200 years already – since Louis
Napoleon, brother of Bonepart, was king!” said Patricia. For the last 150 years
they have been ruled by queens. “We love her and say that if we become a
democracy, we will elect her president!” But now there is a royal son and heir
to the throne. Amsterdam is named for a dam on the river Amstel, first built in
the year 1270. The Dutch West India Company was headquartered here and sent it’s
most famous governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant, from here. The canals
are the city’s sanitary sewer system and get “flushed” 5 times a week. For
reasons of fire prevention, all houses but two are built of brick.
On to Cologne, Germany, and the famous twin-spired cathedral with it’s great
pipe organ. We got to hear it finish playing the Sunday Service at noon and then
walked around and took photos. It began to rain just as we photographed the
Glockenspiel performance across the street, so we found a welcome refuge and
lunch at McDonald’s next door. Only a small area of the stone façade was damaged
by WWII and has been left to show the exposed bricks behind it.
We traveled thru 2000-year-old Bonn, now the capital of West Germany. Then an
afternoon cruise on the Rhine showed us many beautiful castles, villages, and
vineyards. A tour of beautiful old Heidelberg Holiday Inn, one of the nicest
hotels and dining facilities we had. Photographed Kaiser Wilhelm II’s portrait
on the lobby wall. He was, after all, the grandson of Queen Victoria and not an
evil man like Hitler. And he was their last monarch, which stirs a bit of
nostalgia. Outside our bedroom window we could see and smell a freshly combined
Monday took us to the ancient city of Rothenburg, with lots of crafts to shop
and Black Forest Cake to eat! We saw people cutting hay with a sickle-bar mower
and then forking it onto a wagon or gathering the hay and straw with a front
mounted, three-point, pickup attachment – a thrower, not a chopper. The largest
tractors in Europe were not over 60-65 HP, usually Massey-Ferguson, Deutz-Allis,
or Case-International. We stopped in a small town called Meitingen, really just
a cluster of low-roofed barn-houses, for a drink called Spaetze. It was made by
mixing Cola and Fanta Orange half and half. This gave us a chance to photo the
farm buildings and machinery close up. The sheep in Germany were like our
crossbreds, with black and white spotted faces. Then on to Munich, capital of
the German State of Bavaria, to spend two nights.
Tuesday, we toured Old Pinakothek Art Museum with it’s collection of Rubens and
other great masters. Especially appropriate for us was Rubens’ “Schaefer Stunde”
(Shepherd’s Hour). The maiden appears to push the shepherd away, yet holds onto
him with both hands! Toured the other public buildings of this old capital city,
including Nymphenburg Castle and the Olympic Tower. Also several old churches
here, as we had at Rothenburg, and another Glockenspiel.
Wednesday we left Munich early for trip to Oberammergau and more shopping.
Bought an Alpine hat here. Oberammergau has put on Christ’s Passion Play every
10 years for 350 years, as thanks to God for saving them from the Black Plague.
Every resident of the little town has a part in the play and gets to be on stage
– at least as an extra, even the sheep and Brown Swiss Cows. Guests stay in
private homes, eat there, and get their tickets for the play there. The next
event will be in 1990. Then to two of King Ludwig II’s three castles: Linderhof
– which we toured, and Neuschwanstein – which we didn’t (too much climbing for
tour groups). Also saw Hohenschwangau castle, home of Ludwig’s parents. His
third castle we had seen on an island in the Rhine. Ludwig was the last King of
Bavaria before they joined the German Unification in 1871.
Thru the Black Forest of Bavarian Alps and a corner of Austria. We saw the
entire country of Liechtenstein and it’s capital, Vaduz, in about 5 minutes.
There are 9 villages and we didn’t visit all of them. Their ruler, Prince Hans
Adam, is also the banker, and the entire government is located in a building
about the size of Hall-Fowler Library in Ionia. Liechtenstein uses the same
money and same army as Switzerland. During our entire trip we changed our
dollars 5 times; British Pounds, Dutch Guilders, German Marks, Swiss Francs, and
French Francs. Brought home some of the smaller coins as souvenirs, especially
Swiss. Most of the larger denominations are paper. The true name of Switzerland
is The Confederation of Helvetica.
It is sometimes said that Switzerland is always neutral and has no army. The
more accurate statement is “Switzerland IS an army!” All able-bodied males aged
18-55 and many women volunteers are in the 650,000 person army. They train 3-4
weeks every two years and their salary is paid by their regular employer, just
like vacation pay. Then they take their uniforms and weapons home with them. You
may laugh to see a man or woman riding off to defend their country on a bicycle,
with an anti-tank gun strapped to their back; but don’t laugh if you are riding
in a tank at the time! Their weapons are as accurate as their watches!
There are fortifications which can rise up from steel covers in the pavement of
all major freeways and other highways around the country. The median dividers
recede into the pavement to provide take-off strips for planes. There are
underground shelters with beds, food, and medical supplies for 85% of the
population to survive several years. The military bicycles are 3-speed models
that can carry a soldier with 65 pounds gear on their back. Horses are also
drafted, as were the Mennonite horses in our War of 1812. They even have career
army Carrier Pigeons!
No-one has attacked Switzerland since Napoleon tried it 200 years ago. And he
only conquered the valleys, no-one has ever conquered the Alps in 1000 years of
trying. Today most neighbor countries have too much money in Swiss Banks to risk
blowing it up. Only the Russians are considered a threat. And just as the
Russians learned and everyone since Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, &
Alexander-the-Great learned in Afghanistan, “It don’t pay to mess with those
shepherds!” Whole regiments of invaders have been swallowed up on mountain
ledges & caves. And even if invaders succeed in perpetrating a Scorched Earth
Policy, as sure as Spring brings the dandelions there will be an old snaggle-toothed
ewe who was left for dead, became pregnant by Immaculate Conception, and brings
forth twin lambs. And there will be a shepherd who survived the winter in those
hills and will take care of that ewe and her lambs, and the nation is born
We entered Switzerland from Austria & Liechtenstein in the north-east, passed by
Wolensee and the eastern end of Zurichersee, saw pea combines at work in the
fields, and then began to see Swiss Weisse Alpenschaf (White Alpine Sheep). We
toured Lucerne and around it’s lake called Vierwaldstattersee to spend the night
Thursday morning we left the tour group and took a ferry boat back to Lucerne,
stopping at numerous resort towns to pick up or discharge a passenger or two.
Scenic farms on the mountainsides; the tractors in Switzerland are more the size
of large garden tractors back home. They pull a small whirligig type of hayrake
or hay rack. Much hay is cut by hand scythe, raked by hand, and forked by hand
onto a wagon or hay truck. Hay looked bleached by rain, same as back home. Much
hay is dried on small stacks around a teepee of poles. There are numerous small
sheds in the lower hills for sheltering sheep & cattle. We did see square bales
in Holland and round bales in northern Germany & France, but only loose hay in
Switzerland until we got close to the French border.
There is no official Swiss language. They speak Sweitz-Deutch in the north,
French in the west, Italian in the south. Romensch is spoken in the east, and
since it is spoken no-where else, could be said to be a Swiss language. Most
European elementary students learn German, English, French, and Dutch or
Italian. Patricia said her native Dutch is sometimes called a throat disease,
because it sounds like clearing the phlegm when they speak.
After buying our tickets and taking a quick photo stop at the famous Capell
Brucke (Chapel Bridge) covered bridge with paintings inside, we boarded a public
train to Interlaken. We could get off and on at any small towns along the route
and did so at the woodcraft town of Brienz. Europass tickets can also be used on
these trains, but not on the smaller private trains into the Alps.
To be concluded in the next issue.
WRITTEN BY Marian Miles Croel; Ionia, Michigan
On August 3rd, 1989, Russ and I left for Istanbul, Turkey. Our route was
Detroit, New York, Zurich, Switzerland – Istanbul.
Our daughter, Angela, who had spent the month of July with us, and her two small
children also left for Istanbul the same day on another airline carrier. In
Turkey we were met by our Turkish son-in-law, Dr. Aziz Tayfun.
The trip took 22 hours, not all spent in the air. We arrived in mid-afternoon at
the apartment of Aziz’s mother. Angela and the children arrived about 4 hours
later – tired but happy to be reunited with their husband and father.
We wasted no time to begin sight-seeing, starting with Istanbul. The city was
called Constantinople in 330 AD when it was declared the Capitol of the Roman
Empire. Many beautiful palaces were built. In 413 AD a wall was built around the
city. Most of that wall still stands.
Istanbul is on the continent of Europe and Asia. The two parts of the city are
separated by the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is a 19 mile long tributary of the
Black Sea. At one end is the Black Sea and at the other is the Sea of Marmara,
with currents flowing in both directions. Many beautiful summer homes are built
along the banks.
Several beautiful palaces are open to the public. Built by Sultans with absolute
power and unlimited money, they are unforgettable. On display were furnishings
and dishes encrusted with jewels. Lots of diamonds, gold and silver were used in
glassware – all on display behind glass.
The Mosques, loosely compared to our churches, are beautiful, too. Build
centuries ago and still used for the practice of the Islam religion.
The call to prayer (a wail) is given five times daily. The faithful must wash
their feet, hands, arms, and faces before prayer. One cleanses the body before
cleansing the soul. Only the men enter the most sacred area. Women can pray but
must go to the side or mezzanine, as they cannot go in with the men. The mosque
has no furniture but the floor is covered with Turkish rugs. The prayer posture
involves kneeling and putting the forehead on the floor. Some of the faithful
have a permanent black circle on their foreheads. Their bible is the Koran.
Central to their belief is Muhammad who is Allah’s Prophet and Allah is God.
They recite “I believe there is no God but Allah. I believe that Muhammed is
Allah’s prophet. There is no God but Allah”. They also recognize five prophets
preceeding Muhammed: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
The Covered Bazaar is not to be missed. Built in 1461 there are 5,000 stalls, or
vendors. There were rugs, antiques, gold, silver, leather goods, copper, brass –
endless objects. One could easily get lost. We bought souvenirs after bargaining
Turkey has undergone some major reforms over the years. The person responsible
was Ataturk, who laid the foundation for the Turkish Republic. Ataturk
introduced reforms such as the Gregorian calendar, monogamy, Sunday as a holiday
and voting rights for women. Ataturk was president of Turkey from 1928 until his
death ten years later. He is revered by the Turks, as the person who has done
the most for the advancement of Turkey.
Unlike the USA, Turkish vehicles do not use unleaded gas nor do vehicles have
emission controls or catalytic converters. I was also aware there are more
cigarette smokers there. They don’t seem to share our concerns about health
After a week of daily sight-seeing Aziz, Russ and I left by night-bus for an
eight hour trip to South Western Turkey. One day ahead of the rest of the
family. Our destination was Ephesus. Aziz had been there several times before
and would act as guide.
From Selsic we took a taxi to the Mother Mary House near Ephesus, believed to be
the house where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, spent the latter years of her life
with John. In the New Testament book of John, chapter 19 verses 25 to 27 Jesus
charged John with His mother’s care. The house is a small brick building of two
rooms with an altar, where people light candles and stop to pray. The past 100
years there have been regular pilgrimages to the house. In more recent years
Pope Paul VII and Pope John Paul ** have visited this special spot. From Mary’s
house we taxied to Ephesus. In the south it was about 90 degrees. About 10
degrees hotter than Istanbul. Ephesus probably was once about the size of Ionia.
It was a principle port on the Aegean Sea. Build before the 10 century Paul
traveled and preached there many times after his conversion to Christianity. I
got goose pimples thinking I might be standing in the same spot where Paul stood
to tell the Ephesians about Jesus. Over the centuries the Sea has filled in
until Ephesus is about six miles from the water. Beautiful statuary still
remains there also a long marble street and remnants of buildings.
A theater which seated 24,000 people still remains. Excavation is constant and
ongoing. Hope we can go back in a couple more years.
We next taxied to Kusadasi where we met Angela and the children, Aziz’s mother
and sister. They rode all day by bus to meet us at a ship where we had a
reservation for an 8-day cruise.
After dinner our ship left port. Our state rooms were very hot. Not much
air-conditioning in Turkey. The ship stayed close to the Turkish border. The
Greek Islands are very close to Turkey and the ship was required to stay within
its territorial limits. The Turks and the Greeks don’t always see “eye to eye”.
Our ship stopped daily for swimming once we got in the beautiful blue
Mediterranean. Our two grandchildren, five year old Ayshe, and one year old
Aylin both loved it. The water was calm and the daily temperature was in the
90s. Swimming seems to be the national sport. Everyone swam, except me.
The ship would tie-up and a launch would come out from the villages to take us
ashore. Some of the villages were 2,500 years old. Building 400 to 500 years old
were still in use. We loved roaming the narrow cobblestone streets looking for
souvenir bargains. Sometimes a bus would pick us up to take us up a mountainside
to view ancient tombs which were burial sites of past rulers and kings. Every
day we went ashore to view some antiquity that we would never see any other
place in the world.
Our ship destination was Antalya, the second largest city in Turkey. Upon
arrival there in the early morning we had breakfast then the launch picked us up
to go to a museum where various statuary, art and antique costumes were on
display. The workmanship on all was beautiful.
Back at the ship we packed up for our all-night bus ride back north to Istanbul.
About 6:00 am our bus stopped for breakfast. Turkish breakfasts are: two kinds
of olives, two kinds of cheese, bread and tea. Coffee and preserves were also
available for foreigners like us. Bread was especially good. Baked several times
a day, fresh bread was always available. Since I’m talking about food I should
say most everything we ate was different or uncommon for us. Lots of eggplant
dishes, zucchini combinations, all using garlic and/or oregano. Oven cooking is
very uncommon. Pies, cakes, and cookies are almost unheard of. Fresh fruits and
vegetables were abundant and excellent. Lambe was the most often used meat. Russ
especially enjoyed the foods – he likes everything.
Back in Istanbul Angela wanted me to make an American breakfast for our Turkish
family and friends. Our last full day there I stirred up a big batch of pancake
batter and also made maple-flavored syrup. The necessary baking powder had been
bought special and was sold by the tablespoonful and put in a plastic bag. The
maple flavoring Angela purchased here and took with her in anticipation of a
pancake breakfast. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, especially our two
On August 24th we started our flight home. We had to be at the airport by 6:00
am. After many security checks, scans and questions we were cleared for
boarding. It was sad to say goodby to Angela and Aziz. We had said goodby to our
grandchildren and Aziz’s family the night before.
Angela, Aziz, and girls would stay one more week before returning to Kuwait to
begin their ninth year there. Aziz to Kuwait University where he is a Professor
in the Engineering Department. Angela back to her job as a Certified Records
Manager and Ayshe to begin kindergarten at the American School in Kuwait.
Every flight we took was late so it was inevitable we would miss some of our
connecting flights. Our arrival in New York was so late we missed boarding for
Detroit where our son Danon was waiting for us. The next flight was five hours
later. A long wait for all of us. Pan Am was never on time but they got us there
and back without incident and without losing any of our luggage so we can’t
complain. There’s so much we didn’t see – we can’t wait to go back. (End)
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR - Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
APRIL 1990, Volume 25, Number 5. Submitted with written permission of current
Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: CONKRITE, SLOWINS, TRANS, PROBASCO
On Saturday March 3, Fern Conkrite had her 95th birthday celebrated by more than
90 guests at the social room of the Portland Housing Complex. Since Fern broke
her hip last fall she has had a difficult time getting mobile again. After an
unsatisfactory stay at Belding Christian Nursing Home, she returned to her
apartment for care. Things got worse and she cannot remember her trip to
Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids. There she was put in intensive care, the
surgery redone, this time properly and was soon back at Portland. She recovered
nicely, is mobile with wheelchair and can keep up with the others with her
almost unlimited store of remembrances of things past.
OUR EUROPEAN TRIP, Conclusion by Grayden Slowins:
At Interlachen we switched to the smaller train and began the climb circling
Wengernalp – our very own family mountain! Grandma Brake was a Wenger, und “Ich
bin Ein Wenger too!”
First to Grindelwald, where we had to switch to an even smaller cog train. Then
we began to catch a breathtaking view of Eiger Glacier & Jungfrau, and as we
approached the town of Kleine Scheidegg, we could get a good view of the twin
peaks of Wengernalp. They are not high enough to have snow in summer. We usually
saw no more than 4-12 beef or dairy cattle in a herd, possibly 20 at most. Even
in high pastures near the tree line, we saw few sheep. They were in higher
sparse pastures reached only on foot or horseback. Everyone’s cattle roamed
freely together in the mountain pastures and drank from hollowed-out-log
community water troughs set in springs. There was birdsfoot trefoil pasture at
the little town of Wengernalp, and other wildflowers. Tourists are encouraged to
hike on the same paths the cattle & sheep use, and the distances are posted in
hours & minutes, not miles nor kilometers.
Finally we approached the picture-postcard resort town of Wengen. It is a bit
larger than Wengernalp – perhaps 600 year-around residents. But there are always
tourists around, skiing in winter and hiking in summer, so population counts are
mis-leading. The air and streams are cool and clear, the scenery is magnificent,
and the people are surely the kindest, gentlest, and most friendly in the world.
This is what we came halfway around the world to experience! The people and
their small farms are thrifty and prosperous. They make their living by sales &
services to the tourists. But they continue to raise sheep & cattle & hay in the
old-fashioned way. The women were raking & forking hay by hand – but they were
not Babushkas. They were wearing alligator T-shirts and designer jeans to do it!
We did not talk to any Wengers – who would have been 8th or 9th cousins at best
– but we saw the family name (Wenger), not just the town name (Wengen), on a
storefront, on a tour bus, and on a tradesman’s pickup truck. We purchased 5
Genuine Wenger Family Manufactured Swiss Army Knives in Wengen, and 28 picture
postcards of the town, and ate ice cream cones. Then back to Interlaken in early
evening for supper and shooping for Anniversary souvenirs. Then relaxing on the
outdoor balcony of our room in the luxurious Royal St. George Hotel dating from
1491, and addressing our postcards. The hotel, which was not part of our package
tour, was reserved and paid thru our Lansing travel agent before we left home.
Friday morning our tour group picked us up in Interlaken and we headed for
Geneva. Saw United Nations Peace Building, Red Cross World Headquarters, Flower
Clock, and Monument to leaders of the Christian Reformation. Nice dinner in our
hotel, where Ann & I got to visit with a father & teenage son from the HongCong
contingent of our tour group. They were eager to hear about our life-style and
knew much about Seattle, Washington and Toronto, Ontario. They have relatives in
both cities and consider emigrating to escape takeover by Mainland China in
1995. He works for a Travel Agency and arranged the tour for his relatives. They
have a comfortable like in HongCong, including a week at a beach-house every
summer, but their living conditions are crowded by our standards.
Into France Saturday morning, heading for Paris. Stopped for juice in Poligny,
saw hometown of Louis Pasteur at Dole, and saw sign for the road to Nancy.
Stopped at Fontainebleau Castle, south of Paris, and to Sacre Couer (Sacred
Heart) Church in Paris. Also Mont Martre Cemetery above ground. I had also
spotted cemeteries along the Rhine in Germany and on the train to Grindelwald.
They bury head-to-toe there, with no alleys nor space between. I suspect if you
are over 6 ft. tall you might have to scrunch your knees up a bit! We had a nice
glazed duck dinner in a restaurant with lots of atmosphere, didn’t try the
Escargot! This was the weekend of Bastille Day and the peak of the Bicentennial
of the French Revolution. So crowds were everywhere and some sights, such as the
Louve, were closed to us because Bush, Thatcher, and the other Heads of State
were there for the celebration and GATT trade conference. But sometimes it
worked to our advantage. The freeway into & across the city had been cleared for
them, but they let our tour bus pass. Also Notre Dame Cathedral was closed to
tourists so big wigs could attend Sunday Service, but they opened it just as we
drove up. Also many Parisians left town, like we do during Ionia Free Fair Week.
After seeing the Cathedral, with it’s organ and stained glass Rose Window and
flying buttresses, we saw the Arc-de-triomphe, Mary Magdalene Temple, and Opera
House. Then to Versailles Castle, with it’s Great Hall of Mirrors where peace
treaties are signed, and it’s gardens where negotiators stroll and argue and
compromise. Our last view of Paris was from the Eiffel Tower at the 200 ft.
level on a clear sunny day.
North to the coast at Calais on Monday morning. The wheat fields of Picardy,
France, approach the size of those in the American Midwest, but still no
tractors over 65 HP and New Holland Combines with headers not over 4 meters (13
ft.) wide. Saw fields of hops, corn, oats, sugar beets, and potatoes, and a few
sheep and Charlais cattle. The trees and field hedge rows reminded us of
Michigan, but the buildings were still in village clusters. Passed small
cemeteries in the fields, where Ionia County men fought in the trenches in WWI
and some are buried there.
From Calais we took a Hovercraft, Princess Anne, to the white cliffs of Dover in
35 minutes. We began to see sheep in Dover, large white-faced sheep and
Shropshires and Suffolks. First there were lots of small flocks and then some
After going thru customs and eating lunch, we went on the Underground to
Westminster Palace, home of Parliament and Big Ben, and into Westminster Abbey
Anglican Church. Ann got to listen to Evensong Service on the organ, while I
rode to the Tower of London and saw where Ann Boleyn was imprisoned and executed
and later her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I was also imprisoned.
Then home on Pan Am Flight 055 non-stop from London to Detroit. Lunch on the
plane and Dan met us at Metro in late afternoon, Tuesday.
BACK PAGE by Robert W. Gierman:
In 1852 Benjamin Probasco Sr. bought the land just east of the Sebewa Center
Schoolhouse on a warrant he had purchased from his brother, who had been in the
Mexican War. On the corner he had built a cooper shop and used it in making
barrels and other items that could be sold locally. Then a little later Ben sold
the property to Gunn Bros. Prior to 1856 when the schoolhouse was built on the
northeast corner at Sunfield and Bippley roads, the cooper shop had been used
for at least one term for a schoolhouse and Ben had married the school teacher.
Sometime in the mid 1880s, the Trans came to Sebewa and, needing a house, bought
the cooper shop and moved it around the swampy area to the north a half mile to
where yet it stands as my garage. Here continues the story told by Sarah Tran,
Elem’s wife, told to me in the early 1950s on tape.
“When Elem’s people lived in Ohio there was a slave woman, whom they called a
cow and calf. There was a great reward out for her capture. Elem’s mother
couldn’t think for the reward. She thought more for helping her. The woman came
to the house for something to eat and for something to put around her baby. She
gave her a plaid shawl.
Elem’s mother swept the path to a pond of water where the woman got to an
overgrown stump for safety. A year or so later when Elem’s people got to Canada,
on the street they met the slave woman and remembered her on account of the
little plaid shawl that she had around her baby at that time.”
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR - Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
JUNE 1990, Volume 25, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of current
Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: HOWARD, VANBUREN, WHEELER, BIPPLEY, LUSHER, SNOW-HUNT-MOLTMAKER,
TORREY, SLOWINS, WALKINGTON, CREIGHTON, LENON, GIERMAN
AMONG THE OBITUARIES FOR THE PERIOD are Bernice Reed Howard, sister of our
member Lloyd Reed, Martha VanBuren, Charles Wheeler, Donal Bippley, Gerald
Lusher and Irene Snow Hunt Moltmaker.
Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Torrey celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Lake
Odessa on April 7, 1990.
ALICE JOHNSON’S WHEAT or WELFARE IN AN AGRARIAN SOCIETY by Grayden Slowins:
On a hot day in July or early August about 1943, they threshed Alice Johnson’s
wheat. She was a widow lady and the last resident member of a once proud pioneer
family. The little one-room schoolhouse at the SW corner was called Johnson
school. Almost every kid in school was a Johnson or their mother was a Johnson.
Now Alice received “Public Assistance” to survive thru the year.
But today was threshing day and some English Common Law applied to this event.
William Resevere, Sebewa Township Supervisor, tended bagger on Daniel
Crieghton’s Port Huron separator, powered by an IHC-Titan tractor. The first 20
bushels must be saved for her seed. Every school child knew you planted 7 pecks
of wheat per acre, so 20 bushels would provide enough cleaned seed for 10 acres.
The next 4 bushels went for her year’s supply of flour at the Valley City
Milling Company. Can you believe that a 60-pound bushel of good wheat got you a
25-pound sack of white flour in trade? Then one bushel of wheat for each mature
ewe at lambing time – 12 bushels needed. Then one bushel for each laying hen –
24 bushels approximately (Screenings from the rest would do for this, you
couldn’t feed a chicken straight wheat “because it would paste up her vent!”
So 60 bushels of un-cleaned wheat belonged to Alice Johnson. The remaining
200-300 bushels would be sold by the Township to pay Alice’s back taxes, grocery
bill, fuel bill & Doctor bill. Anything left over was her spending money for the
new year. There was probably not enough to cover back bills, but Alice was a
contributing member of society and no one noticed the shortfall. Besides, they
ate as well at Alice Johnson’s as anyplace. She had killed her best roosters,
made baking powder biscuits, mashed potatoes & gravy, and fresh garden peas. For
dessert there was pie made from Yellow Transparent summer apples!
And by the way – every Memorial Day a big black Lincoln Continental pulls into
the West Sebewa Cemetery and a well-dressed man places flowers on her grave.
Alice Johnson was indeed a contributing member of society! End.
I’ve had a letter from Alice Johnson from Portland Road west of Clarksville in
which she included her dues and a verse from an old clipping which she regarded
worth publishing. But alas, I have her letter but cannot find the verse, so
Alice, please send the verses again and I’ll try to do better. RWG
FUNERAL SERVICE FOR ORA WALKINGTON by John Piercefield
ORA WALKINGTON – Isaiah 54.7, 8, 10
“For a brief moment I abandoned you but with deep compassion I will bring you
back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with
everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you says the Lord your Redeemer.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love
for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord
who has compassion on you.”
We are here today paying our last respects to Ora Walkington and his family.
When Ora Walkington’s life began, the fireworks & celebration of Independence
Day was barely over. Born on July 5, 1908, growing up on a farm near Winn, MI,
was similar to most any small Michigan town; hard work and long hours were
necessary, but pleasure was taken in the simpler things. Simple doesn’t mean
easy; it means that they didn’t have to be entertained or impressed by
electronic inventions as we do. It was a part of life, a part of pride, a part
of themselves and they had pleasure in their work. It was out of this upbringing
that Ora learned to believe in what he knew and trust in what he believed. These
attributes would be a part of Ora the rest of his life: hard work, pride, and
Confidence and determination may have been what caught the eye of a local girl,
he had never seen before. That dance in Nov. 1930 in Winn, MI was the beginning
of a romance that would envelope over 58 years. On Aug. 22, 1931, Ora & Verl
Walkington were married and less than a year later the newlyweds moved into the
grainary, on what was the beginning of their life and their farm in Orange
Ora Walkington was a farmer. Farming is the oldest occupation known to man. It
began at the Garden of Eden with Adam & Eve: “The Lord God took the man and put
him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen 2.15). Because of
Adam & Eve’s disobedience and rebellion, God cursed the ground and caused it to
produce thorns and thistles and declared “by the sweat of your brow you will eat
your food until you return to the ground since from it you were formed, for dust
you are and to dust you will return” (Gen 3.19).
From Adam’s sin death became the end for all men and the earth would no longer
cooperate in harmony. This is not saying that farming is cursed by God, but
rather the whole earth was cursed and was placed in disharmony with man because
of sin, opposed to man’s work, whether it be thorns & thistles, drought,
hurricane, or earthquake.
Knowing that hard work lay ahead, Ora & Verl Walkington, newlyweds, began living
in the only building, the grainary, in 1932. They were farmers in the truest
sense of the word, committed and ready to work. Farming like many other
vocations in the 1930s was tough. By 1929, with the stock market collapse, and
banking crisis, there was also an ongoing crisis in agriculture in the US that
was started after World War I.
Many Europeans were returning to their farms & the demand & prices for American
grains had fallen by some 30%. “American farmers had over-expanded acreage under
cultivation during the war years, bringing marginal land into production. So as
prices fell, farmers had to produce more to meet their expenses”. But hard work
and farming have gone hand in hand for years, since prices were depressed,
trading commodities (eggs, grain, vegetables, for sugar, coffee, fruits &
seeds), became the way of business in the rural communities.
The times were hard but the people were enduring. It was that enduring,
persistent quality of commitment to hard work that was so much of Ora’s life.
At the end of 1935, Verl was expecting the birth of their first child. She was
afraid that the child would freeze to death in their present home. Ora consoled
her and promised a house by fall. Their present house was started in July and
finished Oct. 1936 before Loren, their first son was born. They built their life
and farm together during some of the hardest economic times in our country’s
history. Verl and Ora, as many others, survived by being committed to each other
and to their common goals.
Their farm became their testimony to the community of commitment. From the care
of the animals to the flower beds around the house. How many people mow the
roadside bordering their land for nearly a mile, as Ora did? These structures
were built and maintained with discipline and pride. From the original grainary
to the house built in 1935 to the 100-year-old barn bought at 40 Acre Town,
where it was disassembled board by board then reconstructed on site. Building a
farm is no easy task. Those of us driving by can only see the results of their
labors, I want us today to appreciate and honor their labors and the quality of
work and character it took in building literally from the ground up.
There was no doubt that Ora considered himself the ruler of the household. He
had a definite mind set and when he set his mind to a task or idea, a team of
horses couldn’t change him. He was a determined man and gave 100% to the cause
at hand. A good friend and neighbor of Ora’s, Duane Pinkston, told me a story
about a farmer and a friend who one hot July day were sitting in an
air-conditioned restaurant. And as the conversation turned to the weather, the
one asked the other what his sons were doing. He replied that by now the one
would be putting up hay, and another would be cultivating, and the last one
fitting up another field.
When the friend said to the farmer “Don’t you realize that it’s going to be 90
degrees in the shade?” the farmer replied “That’s just what my boys said to me
this morning, but I told them not to worry, they wouldn’t be in the shade”.
That in itself illustrates how some view work and their family, but that was not
Ora Walkington. He was not one to make others work while he sat and watched. The
Walkington family worked together & Ora was the leader by example. He was not
opposed to discipline either for himself, his family, or others but he never
imposed harder requirements on them than he expected from himself. Sometimes
Ora’s authority was on challenged by another like the state milk inspector, or
an insurance salesman, but there was no doubt in their minds as they left whose
property they were on or where Ora stood on the issue.
Discipline and overriding authority were Ora’s way of expressing his concern and
affection in raising up a family that would know the meaning of hard work,
honesty, and determination. To the rest, it was his way of getting the job done
best. He may not have been long on diplomacy, but he was rich in commitment.
The true test of love is time, time spent and time in duration. Ora’s life was
focused on his family. He didn’t have the goal to be a public official and
travel the area for his own interests. Rather he served for years on the Board
of Education at Kilmartin School where all six of the Walkington kids went to
school. Education was important and Ora spent time encouraging and assisting the
children to do better. So important that one spring, rather than call off school
because the roads were filled with mud and impassable by automobile, Ora &
August Hoort hitched up the wagon to a team, threw a tarp over the wagon and
took the children to and from school.
And time was spent giving the kids an alternative to the high school pressures
to have drinking parties after the J hops, or driving the miles to Lansing or
Grand Rapids for prom night. Ora & Verl would open their home to the kids for
ice cream & cake or chicken dinner at their own expense. You may not have heard
the words “I love you” but you could see it in action everyday.
Another honorable trait of Ora’s was that of routines and loyalty. He didn’t
like change much; he was one who ate meals at the same time everyday. If you
came for lunch at 12:30 you missed out or if the preacher wasn’t done at 12
noon, he would get up and leave, and he and Verl were never late to anything.
Once, going to a relative’s wedding up _________________________________.
______________see Grandpa & Grandma Sage and maybe take in a matinee. This
routine was upset when the grocery store quit staying open late! This upset Ora
as everything was working well the way it was. He was loyal to his family,
friends and businesses in the community. Trading at the same hardware, car
dealership or elevator until a major problem in service or availability changed
his pattern. His loyalty went hand in hand with service as he traded with the
Portland Coop, and served on the Board of Directors for 23 years. With his
leadership and loyalty as well as the others on the board, the Coop prospered
With all his work and discipline and persistence, there was an overriding
optimism. No task was too big and time was better spent working rather than
complaining. There was always time to rest later, but now there was work to be
done. Ora’s labor was not selfish, if a neighbor had a need and required
assistance, he would be there and do anything for you. Private and frugal in
some respects, yet open and generous in others. But throughout his life, very
little was done without the family in mind, for their benefit and their training
and their future.
Later in years, the children grown and now with children of their own, Ora began
to mellow, not slow down but somehow the tough exterior was giving way and
changing in the expression of love and concern that had been there all along. He
and Verl enjoyed going to Florida where they could relax without the work at the
farm challenging them to get it done. They also enjoyed their grandchildren and
loved them dearly.
Ora’s testimony of love in later years could be exhibited in his whittling.
Taking a solid plank of board and whittling out a length of chain with an anchor
was no easy task, and the care that went into each stroke of the blade is
apparent. Wooden crosses were carved and donated to the church choir members.
Even as Verl was struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease in the Belding nursing
home, Ora would visit every Tues. and Thurs. for almost three years. He was
determined and faithful, standing by the wife who had loved and labored with him
for nearly six decades.
After Verl’s death, Ora accepted a challenge by Bill Weisgerber to match
donations for a new bulletin board outside the LeValley Methodist Church. Ora
helped install that sign.
Ora lived in a generation that I believe will never be duplicated, with the
amount of change scientifically, technologically, socially, or financially. But
few history books record the lives of individuals that make up the majority that
live through the changes, and no book will probably be written of anyone from
the West Sebewa Community, but if there were such a book written, Ora Walkington,
and the Walkington family would be prominent in its pages as a pillar in the
community attesting to all generations who follow of the importance of
determination, loyalty and ___.
As we opened we will close, Genesis 3:10.....”by the sweat of your brow you will
eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were formed, for
dust you are and to dust you will return”. We will all come to the end of our
lives by either death or the return of the Lord and the judgement follows, and
our spirits will pass into either eternal life with God or eternal separation
The choice and preparation is left to us. The offer is made by Jesus the Christ,
Himself sacrificed for our sins, allowing us access into God’s presence, grace &
goodness. Let us strive to say with the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8….”For I
am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now
there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which is the Lord, the
righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to
all who have longed for His appearing”.
What was said of Verl can also be said of Ora Walkington, let us learn from them
and remember the true meaning of commitment to others, backed by love and labor,
no matter what the cost.
Wilbur and Marcella Gierman belong to the SCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY OF GREATER
LANSING. That society is hosting the TVETA FOLKDANCES from Joh?k?oping, Sweden
on the day previous to our Memorial Day holiday meeting. Wesley and Lucille will
be hosting two of them and Wilbur and Marcella another pair and all will be
attending our meeting. The FOLKDANCES have been on a world tour and after
concerts in Singapore, Australia, Fuji Islands, California and Las Vegas they
are making a stop at the Lansing Society before leaving on June 1 for Epcot
Center, Disney World and back to Sweden. Here will be your chance to try out
your limited Swedish or their English. As you may guess, Grandma Hannah
Heintzleman was Swedish.
The year 1900 was a good one for producing long lived babies. First came Mrs.
Elfa Meyers Creighton and Theo Lenon, both born in May. Elfa has already
celebrated with a trip to the West Coast and Theo is having a big party at the
Sunfield Methodist Church in the afternoon of Sunday, May 27. Then along in
September Elmer Gierman will have his 90th birthday at the Masonic Home in Alma.
We wish the best to all of them.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Association –
AUGUST 1990, Volume 26, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of current
Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: HEINTZELMAN, LAKIN, ARNOLD, SLOWINS, CARR, SHAY, CREIGHTON, LENON,
GIERMAN, KENYON, CATT, McDONALD
EVERETT HEINTZELMAN did not survive his heart surgery shortly after he attended
our annual meeting. MRS. MARIAN LAKIN of Clark Home in Grand Rapids, is also 90
years old this year.
G. W. ARNOLD & SON by Grayden Slowins
The death of George Carr reminds me of a story from our family about the death
of George Arnold many years ago. George Wesley Arnold had founded the Arnold
Machine Shop when he arrived in South Ionia with the Dexter Colony in 1833 at
one year of age, with a little help from his father, Oliver Arnold. The business
eventually became G. W. Arnold & Son, and is today the oldest continuous
business in Ionia County and one of the oldest in the State of Michigan. I think
Sanford Yeomans Farms and Dexter Arnold Farms have equal claim, but in this case
I guess farms don’t count.
George Arnold had a blacksmith shop and foundry, and made plows, land rollers,
dinner bells, sledge hammers, knives, cultivators, folding stepladders, and the
green cast-iron frog doorstops many of us still own. They also repaired steam
engines and boilers. Later his son, Fred Arnold, made gas engines, at least one
automobile, and also sold Maxwell automobiles.
When George died in 1888, the family wanted to preserve their heritage and also
hold true to the thrifty ideals of their Schnabel relatives. So they went into
the foundry with hammers and chisels and changed all the molds from G. W. Arnold
& Son to G. W. Arnold’s Son, by changing the & to ‘S. Perhaps Geo. Carr’s Sons
will want to do the same.
Few of us will be as well respected when we pass on as George Carr. He was the
first neighbor to offer help when we moved from the Portland Township farm to
Sebewa Township. He baled our first hay until our own baler arrived. Someplace
in the Bible it says: “No greater deed doth any person than to feed my sheep”.
The first beans I ever saw him thresh, he poked thru a little old Allis-Chalmers
Model-40 combine. When he died he had one of the three largest farming
operations in Sebewa and a dozen satisfied landlords, because he always treated
everyone fair & square. His work on the Board of Review was exemplary. His is a
heritage worth preserving! End.
FOR OUR 1900 BIRTHS, the few left to enjoy their birthdays are Marie SHAY of
Portland, Elfa CREIGHTON of Lake Odessa, Theo LENON of Sunfield and Elmer
GIERMAN of Alma. Elfa celebrated with a trip to the West Coast. Theo had a big
celebration or two, one at the Sunfield Lions Club and the public one at the
Sunfield United Methodist Church with his son and daughter arranging. Elmer
awaits the 5th of September with his children, grandchildren and
great-grandchildren for his celebration at the Masonic Home in Alma. His address
is the Masonic Home, 1200 Wright Ave., Alma, MI 48801. A HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISH TO
We are looking forward to Edna Howland Kenyon reaching her hundredth birthday in
December. It should be mentioned here that Vertie CATT McDONALD still lives at a
nursing home in Hastings at well past 100 years. She was once a Sebewa resident.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Association –
OCTOBER 1990, Volume 26, Number 2. Submitted with written permission of current
Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: HEINTZLEMAN, CARR, CREIGHTON, HYNES, HARLE, BENSCHOTER, LEHMAN,
THE SEBEWA ASSOCIATION NEWS: With two balloon ascensions interfering, the
postponed annual meeting was held on July 21 and Raymond Heinzleman was elected
for a 3 year term and LaVern Carr was elected also for 3 years as to the Board
ELFA CREIGHTON is having the buildings, both house and barn, torn down so that
the former home of Jimmy Creighton and his baseball team of sons becomes a part
of the field. At the same time the Alton GUNN tenant house has been jacked up
and moved to Berlin Township on the Clarksville Road. LaVern CARR sold it or at
least disposed of it to the son-in-law of Lynwood HYNES. At its previous
location to the east on the north side of Bippley Road, it had been the BRITTEN
home. Pete always came back to the school reunions and delighted in telling of
old times. His sister, Mattie, married a Grand Ledge doctor and she, too, became
HOW SEBEWA FARED AT THE IONIA FREE FAIR IN 1990
Fifty years ago Henry Kenyon and his wife, Hilda, were married at the Fair. This
year they were featured in the parade and were honored by being congratulated by
Governor Blanchard and his wife. (The picture shown is by courtesy of The Ionia
HERE IS HOW NICELY EDNA HOWLAND KENYON WRITES in response to my request for
permission to “make something of her 100th birthday, which comes up on October
She left Portland a few years back to be within easy reach of her son, Norman
and her daughter who both live in Florida.
Edna lives in the Majestic Towers Retirement Community as pictured below. To
address your greeting cards, make it: Mrs. Edna Howland Kenyon, 1255 Pasadena
Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33707, Apt. 710.
She writes: “Dear Friend – I didn’t suppose that anything of note in my life
could be worthy of putting in the Recollector. However if you wish to include
something of my birthday of one hundred years I will feel honored. Birthdays of
that length are becoming so common now as to be hardly of interest. Some have
asked me to give them some advice how I have managed to live that length of
time. But I have no answers. Living a simple routine life with plent of work on
the same farm for over seventy years, might be a factor. After my husband
Raymond’s death sixteen years ago, I continued to stay there, until eight years
ago. The family decided I shouldn’t be living alone so I left the old homestead
and since have been living in retirement homes. What the future holds whether
short or longer time of ____ is the question. Thanking you for considering my
one hundredth birthday of enough interest to write about. Truly, Edna __ Kenyon.
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD:
JAMES HARLE, husband of Marjorie Thuma Harle. James had taught mathematics at
Davison for his entire career. Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a so far untreatable
genetic disease, is what took him.
WINNIE BENSCHOTER after a long and pleasant life, capped by two or three years’
illness and a long stay in a nursing home.
LEWIS A. LEHMAN, 83, of 10340 State Road, Lake Odessa. He lived just across the
road from Sebewa Township in Odessa.
GRETA A. FIRSTER, 84, of 138 West First St., Vermontville, passed away Monday,
August 6, 1990, at Springbrook Manor, Grand Rapids. Because so many varied
people have taken bus trips with her we include her obit here: “Mrs. Firster was
born on February 10, 1906 in Castleton Township, the daughter of Gillman and
Anna Harvey Linsea. She was a lifelong resident of the Vermontville area and
attended local country schools, received her teaching degree from Western
Michigan University, Kalamazoo.
She was married to George Firster. He preceded her in death in 1983. She taught
school for 48 years, retiring from Maple Valley High where she taught World
History and Government. After retiring she sponsored and organized Firster Tours
for Senior Citizens, who traveled all over North America. She was also a nurse
at Pennock Hospital and the Bliss Company years ago. She received many
educational awards and hosted many foreign exchange students in her home. She
was always helping people. She was a member of the Vermontville Congregational
Church and the National Education Association.
Mrs. Firster is survived by her sister-in-law, Maxine Linsea of Grand Rapids;
nephews, Michael Linsea and David Linsea of Middleville; niece Suzanne Smith of
Grand Rapids; also several cousins.
She was also preceded in death by a brother, Vincent Linsea, in 1965.
Funeral services were held Thursday, August 9, at the Vermontville
Congregational Church with Reverend Sally Nolan officiating. Burial was in the
Woodlawn Cemetery, Vermontville.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Maple Valley Scholarship Fund or
Arrangements were made by Maple Valley Chapel-Genther Funeral Home, Nashville.”
I, VIRGINIA INGRAM, would like to dedicate this memorable experience (ALASKA
BOUND – OUR 3,650 MILE BUS TRIP TO ALASKA) to several people:
First of all my dear husband, “Bill” who encouraged me to go “and enjoy
yourself” and I did. My daughter Marilyn without whom I would not have been able
Last, but not least, the “Indian Chief” and his four little Indian bus drivers,
in line as they drove:
BUS #8, Gerrit Douma, Charlotte, our fearless leader, Head Honcho, Wonderful
Guide and Pace Setter, who at bus driver meetings, or at our evening meal, would
say “now here is the good news and the bad news” or “We’ll get there before
dark” as we advanced to different time zones.
Bus #4, Kathy Adams, Charlotte---our “Sweetheart” who turned every young man’s
head with her bubbly personality. Her many calls home because of her concern for
her young family---must have given the phone company a big boost.
Bus #17, Beverly Zuantrell, Charlotte---a “Sweetie” always concerned about
everyone, keeping an eye on both front and back buses to see that we were okay.
She never used the rest room but got some great camera views of those who did.
Bus #36, “THE BUS” Marilyn Disch, Charlotte, our darling who provided everyone
with laughter during our stops, and looked after her mother (me) with non-stop
devotion as luggage handler, tornado buffer, hair dresser, etc.
Bus #1, Gladys Mitchell, Nashville, Our Faithful Guard, who brought up the rear
and watched over all of us. With her CB, kept Gerrit informed of any of the
needs of the group. “A good job done, Gladys”.
Virginia Ingram, mother of Marilyn, passenger in her bus, and enjoying myself to
the n’th degree. My only regret was that Bill wasn’t along to share it with me.
All of these people made my trip an enjoyable one. Gladys told everyone we met,
“This lady is 70 years old and making this trip”. I didn’t think it unusual
except that I was allowed to go. If health permits, I will enjoy traveling until
I’m 85 or 90---if I am permitted to live that long. I might add it is always
wonderful to get back home. Gerrit stopped at many points of interest along the
way (sort of like seeing things through his eyes) so we could enjoy the beauty
of both the USA and Canada. In Canada the horizon was endless. The beautiful as
well as ominous sky was a wonder to behold. Marilyn and I saw many pictures in
the billowy clouds. The people of Canada are very courteous and gracious, more
laid back than we, more relaves and not hurried.
I will travel any day with any of you little Indians.
An added thanks goes to my granddaughter, Pam Disch, for her contribution in
typing and compiling this account.
My best to all of you, Virginia Ingram
Mr. and Mrs. William Ingram live at the site of the closed Goodwin bridge in
ALASKA BOUND; OUR 3,650 MILE BUS TRIP TO ALASKA:
The object of our trip was to deliver five buses to the Fairbanks school system
in Fairbanks, Alaska. The trip was contracted by Gerrit Douma of Charlotte, who
arranged for the participation of four excellent bus drivers from the Charlotte
and Nashville school systems. We left Charlotte on Sunday, June 24, 1990 at 1:03
p.m. Gerrit drove his car and his son, Tom, a pickup and a trailer to transport
us all to the point of departure. Tom then returned, using the trailer to haul
the car back to Charlotte.
We went through Indiana and reached our point of departure at Aurora, Illinois,
about 5:30 p.m. Three rooms were reserved for us at the Comfort Motel. Marilyn,
Kathy and I roomed together with Gladys and Bev sharing another. Gerrit roomed
by himself---for obvious reasons. We arose at 5:00 a.m. on Monday, June 25 and
enjoyed a continental breakfast before being transported to the terminal at
Plainfield by bus. There are three such delivery terminals around the Chicago
area. I watched the luggage while the others checked out their year-old buses
for the trip. While sitting there a gentleman who had transported buses from
Arkansas to the terminal, came and visited with me. The ones he delivered were
built in Arkansas. Our buses were Ward body and GMC.
I was the only passenger, going with my daughter, Marilyn. The seat backs were
high so I had to sit on my sleeping bag and a blanket that Marilyn had brought
along, to see over the top. We left the terminal. Along the way we stopped for
fuel and had breakfast at Denny’s. Denny has a policy where if your breakfast is
not served within ten minutes, it is free. We were served twenty minutes after
ordering. Marilyn suggested to Gerrit that we tell the waitress. He did. She
took their bill (Mine was always separate due to just being a passenger—all the
group had their expenses paid). The waitress came back and they had deducted
$10.00 from the $17.00 bill. At l0:00 a.m. we were on the road for a most
memorable trip. We were in Wisconsin at 12:30 and stopped at a large food store
at Beloit for fruit, munchies and ice. Each of the buses had a cooler.
Every couple of hours were given the opportunity to stretch our legs and get
some relief. At these times the buses were fueled and checked over. Gerrit,
having been over this route many times before, knew all the points of interest,
which made it very enjoyable. I will try to hit the highlights of this trip then
each person can add their own thoughts.
We passed by the Wisconsin Dells. At 7:30 p.m., we stopped for dinner in
Wisconsin and reached Minnesota at 8:30. Our “fearless leader” asked the girls
(at a drivers’ meeting) if they would like to drive on to St. Cloud, Minnesota.
They said “okay”, not realizing how far St. Cloud was. They drove until 11:00
p.m. Though the extra mileage was exhausting on a very hot day, it gave us an
opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset as we approached St. Cloud. It was well
worth it. By the time we had finished the first day, we had traveled 501 miles.
Once in the motel, which was very nice, we were ready to collapse. It was a very
long day and aside from being tired, I felt good.
Tuesday morning’s wake-up call came at 6:30 (Tuesday, June 26). Throughout the
trip Kathy did her usual ironing, hair styling, etc. each morning. Marilyn also
spent the morning showering, fixing her hair, applying her make-up and packing.
When time permitted she did my hair as well. Quite often after a long day of
driving, showers were enjoyed in the evening as well as the morning.
This particular morning presented itself with a bit of trouble. Marilyn’s bus
would not start. After much discussion, and 20 minutes of working on the
problem, the other drivers persuaded Geritt that the choke lever should be
pulled out. Once this was done, the bus started right away. Before leaving we
enjoyed a cup of coffee from the motel. Breakfast and a bus drivers’ meeting
came after a couple of hours on the road. Everyone along the way was interested
in what we were doing. We had many interesting topics of conversation. Before
leaving we purchased more ice and groceries.
Two good meals were consumed each day with our noon meal consisting of munchies.
Marilyn kept me busy getting her ice to suck on or a piece of fruit to munch.
The other drivers kept their ice chests next to their seats for easy access.
Mealtime was never boring, with good conversation from all. Gerrit always
started the day with a silent prayer at breakfast. It was a happy up-beat group.
Everyone enjoyed the trip and all the happenings that surrounded it.
I had planned to write on the bus and keep my diary up to date. This quickly
became an impossible task due to the jarring. Some of my notes are illegible.
We crossed into North Dakota at 2:00 p.m……I called Bill at Red and Jean’s and
found out Loina passed away today. We arrived in Minot, North Dakota at 8:00
p.m. The buses were fueled for the next morning and we checked into the Select
Total. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner at the “Rollin’ Pin”. At one of our stops
during the hot day we treated ourselves to a “Tastee Freeze”.
Wednesday, June 27, 1990 we started early once again and were on the road at
7:00 a.m. We stopped and took pictures of the beautiful rolling hills of North
Dakota. The scenery was breathtaking with cattle grazing everywhere and hay all
put up along the roadside ditches. The temperature this morning was 63 degrees.
We fueled up just before the point of entry into Canada. Our departure from U.
S. was not a pleasant experience. Not only was it raining, but we had an
unforgettable breakfast. Gerrit had prepared us for a fancy restaurant at
Portal, USA. The waitress was a real winner. Of course we all had to use the
rest room, which might have upset her. Anyway, she was quite rude.
We arrived at Canadian customs at 9:00 a.m. (gained one hour). Bev and Kathy
were called into Customs since they had never been in Canada. We took pictures
in the entrance building and picked up some interesting material and signed the
register. The lady there was very nice and helpful. As we entered Saskatchewan
we saw coal strip mining. We stopped at historical Weyburn Museum for a few
minutes where we picked up some cards, etc. A lot of road construction and
pumping oil wells were encountered along the way.
As we traveled north on Highway 2 toward Prince Albert, Kathy picked up a
tornado warning coming our way just a short distance from Saskatoon. We could
see it billowing in the sky. After a brief drivers’ meeting we decided to try to
run it out. The storm was moving in a southeasterly direction as we traveled
northwesterly. As we got back into the buses the wind came up and hail and rain
were coming down. We drove a short distance and the weather became increasingly
Marilyn would not drive any farther. We could see the tornado coming toward us.
The other drivers continued on, Gladys stopped a minute, then went on ahead with
the others. Marilyn stopped the bus and we got into the ditch down from the bus.
She threw her rain coat over me and crawled under the rain coat with her body
over us. We remained in the ditch for several minutes. Once the rain, hail and
wind subsided, Marilyn looked over the top of the ditch. The tornado was not
moving very fast at that point. We got back in the bus and took off like a big
We caught up with the others not too far down the road. Everyone was frightened
in his own way, not really knowing what to do. I’m sure the tornado passed right
over where we had been. When we got to a gas station in Saskatoon, the stores
had been evacuated.
There had been quite a bit of destruction in and around the city for about six
miles but no bodily injuries. Two of our drivers, Kathy and Gladys, took
pictures of the tornado. We all saw a tail separate from the larger mass, but it
disappeared as fast as it came. When Marilyn and I got off the bus, we looked
like drowned rats. We had a laugh over that at dinner that night---about Marilyn
throwing her mother in the ditch. I think they were all equally frightened and
much relieved when it had passed. We had the distinction of being called “ditch
inspectors”. This was around 3:00 p.m.
We stayed overnight at Imperial Motel in Lloydminster. We had an enjoyable time
swimming and relaxing in the hot tub. Gerrit, Kathy and Marilyn went down the
water slide several times. Gladys and Bev went shopping. Marilyn called Rosie.
Kathie called her family.
June 28, 1990 found us on the road at 6:30 a.m. We entered Alberta, Canada at
6:55. Yesterday we drove 580 miles, about half the way through our trip. There
are huge farms, many with their own drying bins and silos. Oil wells are pumping
and many ponds along the road as well as beautiful lakes---but no fishing. I
inquired about the reason for not seeing any boats or activity on the lakes.
They are shallow and freeze to the bottom in the winter. Therefore no fish can
live. Many two lane highways, much road building. Trees are used for field
boundries, very few fences. They use women as we do for flag persons for road
We stopped for breakfast in Vegerville, “Smitty’s Pancake House”. I liked these
restaurants as they had senior citizen menus just right for me. Regular meals
were far more than I could eat. Gladys shopped for some items, Bev bought a
camera since Gerrit had left his jacket home, he bought one as it had started
getting cool. There are more riding horses in Alberta than we have seen
We stopped at 10:20 so Gerrit could fix Glady’s CB. At Whitecourt we filled up
with fuel, got a few munchies and checked the gift items. While there Gerrit
stuck his head in Marilyn’s bus and said “what’s that?”. I said “garbage”
(thinking he was referring to a small bag we had setting there to throw into a
He said “No, that” referring to Marilyn’s rock collection. I don’t think he
could believe his eyes. I said “yes, she collects rocks”. He just shook his
head. Whitecourt is the snowmobile capital of Alberta. We also saw a field of
buffalo and deer.
At 7:10 p.m. we entered British Columbia and took pictures of the Canadian
Rockies. The Canadian Rockies are breathtaking. You would think there was
nothing more beautiful; then, around the bend there was one to surpass the
previous one. The horizon was endless.
We took pictures of signs about 12 miles down the road. After fueling the buses
we called it a day and stayed at Fort St. John. It is 10:00 p.m. (1:00 a.m. our
time)---now three hours difference. Our Fearless Leader---at drivers’ meetings
always told them we’d get there before dark. About the second day the girls
caught on to that one. Since daylight lasted longer each day, we made good time.
Our lodging was at Coachman Inn.
We were up at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, June 28 and took off at 5:35. Breakfast was
enjoyed at Fort Saint John where we left at 6:55. Gerrit treated me to a roll
and coffee along with the whole crew at Pink Mountain at the foot of the
Canadian Rockies---a nice long rest stop.
When we reached Dawson Creek we were at the beginning of the 1523 mile Alcan
Highway. We parked the buses and Gerrit took us to the middle of town to the
monument of the Alaskan Highway. At the middle of the thoroughfare traffic
stopped all four ways to let us take pictures. One of the girls remarked that
that had been Charlotte, the motorists would have gotten us all. A short
distance beyond Dawson Creek we ran into road construction---again. We stopped
and took pictures of one of the highest points on the Alcan Highway. Farther
down the road we took pictures of a beautiful gorge and saw Rocky Mountain Stone
Sheep. Shortly after, Gerrit pulled off at a gas station (set somewhat back from
Kathy didn’t see him (winding roads along the whole route, and could not always
see the lead bus) and barreled right on by. The other buses noticed him and
stopped for fuel. Bev filled up and went on ahead, finally catching up with her.
Kathy had stopped, waiting for those behind her. We always traveled in the same
order---Gerrit, Kathy, Bev, Marilyn and Gladys. Marilyn asked the gas station
attendant if he would call the police and have Kathy stop. He said they do their
own policing. The remaining buses left and before long we found our runaway girl
and Bev waiting for us at a turn off enjoying the beautiful scenery. TO BE
CONCLUDED NEXT ISSUE.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of The Sebewa Association;
DECEMBER 1990, Volume 26, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of current
Editor, Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: JACKSON, COE, FOLTZ, GOOD, PATRICK, HAYNOR, FLEETHAM, LENON, SLOWINS,
BENSCHOTER, PROBASCO, SNYDER, SANDBORN, GIERMAN, INGRAM, DISCH, ADAMS, MITCHELL,
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD: Wayne Jackson, long time member of TSCA.
Wilma Coe, 87, my 8th grade school teacher.
Blanche Foltz, 84, long a Sunfield resident.
Eunice Good Patrick, 84. Her obituary credits her as having been a Sebewa Center
The SUNFIELD SENTINEL has a new life. The old hot lead linotype maching press. A
small personal computer-type of press has taken over. A new grade of white paper
improves its appearance.
From the SENTINEL, we learn that our member, Kerry Haynor, has received an ACE
award in recognition of five Angel Plane missions he flew to transport patients
to treatment centers in other states.
His Angel Plane missions have taken him to Rochester, MN; Phoenix, AZ, and
Chicago, IL. He began flying in 1971.
This month marks the retirement of Edgar Fleetham from the Eaton County
Commissioners. He had served also on the Eaton County Board of Supervisors
making a total of 68 years.
Theo Lenon continues to live at River Inn in Sunfield some six months after his
THOUGHTS FROM THE CEMETERY by Grayden Slowins
Recently I buried Winnie Belle Benschoter, age 95, widow of Don A. Benschoter. I
buried him a year and a half ago at age 93. Winnie was the granddaughter of
Benjamin Probasco the elder, by his third wife, Dora, and of Dr. George W.
Snyder and wife Mary. Winnie’s parents were Henry P. and Eva M. Snyder. Don was
the great-grandson of Cornelius and Diana VanBenschoten. He was the grandson of
Oliver P. and Mary M. Benschoter and of John M. and Mary A. Bradley. Don’s
parents were John M. and Bertella Benschoter.
Don & Winnie and his sister & brother-in-law, Annis & Riley Sandborn, were among
my most frequent and welcome visitors at the cemetery. Don & Winnie usually
brought two flats of petunias before Memorial Day. That was 120-144 plants and
any less would mean omitting some of the shirttail relatives. They honored six
generations of Benschoters from Diana to Delores and loved to tell me their
history. They also paid tribute to all the Snyders, Probascos, Bradleys,
Sindlingers, Williams, Downings, Phoebe Shay, Theodore Shay, Alexander Morgan,
Benjamin Smith, Henrietta Collingham, Nancy Hollenback, Elizabeth Smith, William
Resevere, etc., etc.
Don had founght in the World War (There was only one back then). His grandfather
Bradley and Winnie’s grandfather Snyder were in the Civil War. Neighbors Ernest
& Elmer Showerman and Carl McClelland were in the Spanish American War. So Don
always identified with us ex-servicemen and women.
Don had been a fairly large farmer for his day, some 320 acres, and raised a
sizable family. But he was about 50 when I first knew him & his horses around
Portland, and he always had time to lean back and visit. His grandfather Bradley
ran the general store at Sebewa. His father John, grandfather Oliver, and
great-grandmother Diana all farmed where Don did, and his son Jim is retired
The west half of the cemetery was a logyard for Jacob Collingham’s vertical
sawmill when Don was a boy walking to Sebewa “High” School. The school was named
for Jacob High, from whose land the schoolground and all the cemetery came
originally (It was never a High School). When I recently smoothed the dirt on
the grave of Greta Stambaugh, age 91, I found an Indian arrowhead, the first I
have found in probably 40 years.
WILFRED’S PLANE TOOK OFF FOR FLORIDA this morning, Monday, December 3, 1990, in
a howling snowstorm, the first of the season. We fully expect him to continue to
contribute to the Recollector in a meaningful way, although perhaps not quite
like in the past, because he has dozens of unfinished stories lying around in
his home and in his head. As I wrote on the occasion of his 80th birthday,
no-one can succeed Robert Wilfred Gierman as “The” Recollector, but we will
continue to provide history, biography, and genealogy.
TAKING LEAVE (by Wilfred Gierman)
There seems to be a few things indicating I should get out of the field a bit
and let someone else do the sweating for a while. On Saturday, November 23, been
ill with a stomach disorder and after not feeling well all day, I had Wilbur
come over and we decided that to see a doctor then I would have to go to Ionia
They took me in for an inspection. A little earlier I’d had a fall from low
blood pressure after arising and walking. They put on the blood pressure cuff
and for several minutes the cuff inflated and the readings were recorded.
Meantime another case was prepared and sent to Blodgett Hospital by aero med by
I was taken for x-ray, three of them and finally to a hospital bed for the
night. Nurses again did the checking for blood pressure, pulse and temperature
and I went off to sleep as my room mate began barking then and at about every
half hour, only to report next morning he’d had a wonderful night’s rest. Soon
they were back checking and I thought I’d soon be discharged. But, NO. They had
to see if I could walk. I proved I could and a discharge was given with the
proviso I would be in next morning for an Upper GI x-ray. I came in for that and
reported next day to my doctor.
He checked me and gave some pills and prescribed more as well as a four point
cane which I tried to get at Meijer pharmacy counter. I spent a half hour and
got only a few more pills.
Then came Thanksgiving and Zack York dropped in and brought a Thanksgiving tray
of food. Next day I finished it. Next day he came again. I heard him at the door
and got up from the davenport to meet him. I got as far as the kitchen door when
my legs collapsed and I fell. He got me back to the davenport and I never
realized quite what had happened.
He did not like that kind of procedure and called my sister, Pauline. Soon it
was off to Blodgett Hospital Emergency with all the checking, x-rays and C A T
Scan and a few others before putting me to bed---a matter of some three hours. I
was told not to get out of bed unless a nurse was present.
By late Monday my blood pressure had increased enough so I could walk properly
without a cane and on Tuesday I was released and Pauline and Bob brought me
home. There was a bedside telephone and I could use it when I got all the
numbers straight. Sometimes I got places I knew not where but they were charged
to my home phone and when I get the bill I’ll find out where I had wrongly
Now I have an airplane ticket for Bradenton, Florida, where I shall be with my
brother, Maurice and Vera, his wife at 603 Park Circle 34207, leaving Lansing on
a 7:00 a.m. flight. Grayden Slowins will have at least one page for this
slightly late Recollector. I am sure he will do well with it and the February
and April Issues also. I am sure he will have good volunteer help in putting
these pages together, stapling, punching, stamping and mailing.
In a weird way I know I shall miss the frosty mornings, blustery days and will
contrast them with the summery days of Florida.
SEBEWA’S EAST BIPPLEY ROAD CEMETERY
Located as it is on the east side of the Sebewa Creek, it never seemed right for
anyone to place a dwelling near it. The Board of Supervisors established it as a
Township Cemetery in the early 1850’s. From time to time it grew up to tall
grass, weeds and brush. Occasionally someone would make a stir and the township
would get it cleaned and fenced. Fences have a way of not being servicible over
a long period so occasionally the process was repeated.
Because of its remoteness, it became a natural target of vandals, not once but
several times. Vandals seem to like to hear the crack of the vertical slabs that
once were popular as markers on burial sites. In various ways these have been
repaired so that we do not have a pile of broken markers as can be seen in some
For the second time this year a group of juveniles arranged a beer party at this
inviting place. Care had been taken so that the new fence along the road had a
locked gate for vehicles at darkness. A small pedestrian gate is not locked.
Earlier this year the new fence had been attacked by a stolen car. When the car
was disabled, a second one made a try at it. The fence held although badly
damaged. Insurance covered the damage, and repairs were made.
In early October when the beer party occurred, entrance was through the
pedestrian gate. Evidently it was a good night for sound to travel. Mrs.
VanHouten, living some three quarters of a mile distant, heard the racket and
got into her car to explore. She found cars parked at the roadside of the
cemetery. She quickly jotted down the license number of one of them.
She returned home and made a call to the Michigan State Police giving them a
license number she had seen on that car. When they came to investigate there was
a trail of broken bottles, tipped granite markers and again the broken remains
of the old vertical markers numbering to just over fifty.
The State Police were able to trace the license number to the car’s owner and
soon to the driver. Further intense questioning brought out the names of the
people involved and who had done the destructive work. All were juveniles and
justice protects their names. Not even this much has had an airing in local
papers or the media.
Parents of the parties involved have agreed to pay for the damages.
The Township hired Steve Yenchar and helper of The Lowell Granite Company to
reset the tipped stones and to repair the broken ones and that job has been done
and the insurance company absolved from their loss.
Once again present a neat appearance.
SEBEWA TOWNSHIP SETTLED IN 1838, ORGANIZED IN 1845 by Grayden D. Slowins, Sebewa
INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS DAMAGED IN EAST SEBEWA CEMETERY:
William Rosevere, Jerry Hummel, Adelbert Northrop, Thomas Gibbs, Hans Arnesen,
Frank Cassel, Roger Davenport – plus 2 large urns, Irving Brown, Jacob Sayer,
Elmer Showerman, James Cassel, Clarabell Smith, Ralph Cross – no stone 1 large
urn, LaVern Erdman, Leonard Cross, Temperance Travis, William Heintzelman,
Elijah Braley, Oscar Dravenstatt, George Edgar Halladay, Elihu Halladay, Abel C.
Halladay, Apollos Halladay, John Friend, Ben Probasco, Sr., Alonzo Evans,
Mortimer Trim, Henry Halladay, James Porter, Francis Weld, Albert Weld, Emma
Weld, James Reeder, William O. Reeder, Lorence Lumbert, Caroline Gunn, Elias
Stambaugh, John Franks, Allinda Reeder, Lilleous White, Nathaniel Buell, Charles
Deatsman, Elizabeth Smith, J. Clark Haskins, Jacob Luscher, Walter Luscher,
PHOTO of the following people: “Here is the bus driver crew of ALASKA BOUND
Author Virginia Ingram, mother of Marilyn Disch, Kathy Adams, Gladys Mitchell,
Beverly Quantrell and Gerrit Douma, the leader.”
ALASKA BOUND Conclusion by Virginia Ingram:
We arrived at Liard River Lodge, Mile 498 Alcan Highway. We went to our rooms,
ate dinner (had a nice meal). Marilyn, Kathy and Gerrit went swimming at the hot
spring Chalet. Gladys rode along. They drove the bus to get there and had to
walk about a quarter of a mile. It was raining very hard. Bev and I were very
tired so we stayed behind to get ready for morning. I caught up on my diary and
rested my swollen feet from the long ride. At this lodge, there was no
electricity and the phones were on party lines. Generators were used for lights,
etc. On the way back from the springs Kathy stopped to get a roll of film. I
understand she had a proposal of marriage while there. How about that!!!
Saturday, June 30, 1990 – We were up at 4:30, had breakfast on the road at 6:30
a.m. Figure we will be in Fairbanks around noon on Monday. This morning we
traveled mostly gravel roads. At one point we had to stop for 29 minutes while
they worked on the road, huge road equipment everywhere. We talked to some
people in the restaurant who said we’d have a muddy road to travel. Lo and
behold the roads were great – neither muddy nor dusty. The rain has soaked into
the ground. While we were waiting to move on we all got out and visited with
people in line. Marilyn and I talked to a young man who had been in the
restaurant that morning. He was on his way to a job for the State of Alaska as a
helicopter pilot. He had been in two enlistments for the Vietnam war. He had all
of his belongings with him, including a pair of cockatoos he had gotten in
Louisiana. We were finally escorted through the roughest part of the road. A
stone hit Marilyn’s windshield.
We entered the Yukon at 10:15 a.m. and saw three colored fox, a “cross fox”. Our
road signs are not in miles, not kilometers. We had a good lunch at Junction
Service Café. Kathy used the men’s restroom by mistake.
We stopped at Gearge’s Gorge. Marilyn had a chance to do some rock hunting.
Kathy found a beautiful white stone for her. Even Gerrit found some. However
they weren’t as large as the others.
There is one thing I would like to mention. The two-lane highways, where
possible had an added lane on the right hand side to allow the slow moving
traffic to move over and let the faster moving traffic pass by – much like our
hill passing zones. I must say the buses held up very little traffic – unless we
were stuck behind RVs.
At Teslin Gas Fill I treated most of the group to ice cream. Because Bev’s
stomach was upset, she had a sandwich. Lake Teslin is very beautiful. It runs
along the highway for 30 miles. We finally found the field of deep yellow grain
– Canola – a non-cholesteral grain grown in Canada, which is used for a
We arrived at Whitehorse at 8:30 p.m. We went to our motel and found the cost
about $20.00 more for each room than we expected. Marilyn and Gerrit tried to
get it reduced; but to no avail. The rooms were not the best, no fans, no
screens and no air conditioning. However, they were very neat and clean. We ate
at a very nice restaurant, a super waitress/hostess. Most of us had their
We noticed the sketched placemats and were discussing them while we waited for
our meal. After dinner the hostess came over and said she wanted us to meet
someone – the fellow who sketched the placemats and pictures on the wall. He was
a very interesting person and he autographed a placemat for each of us. We had
thought of going to the “Follies” after eating but it was too late. We walked
around Whitehorse and enjoyed the museum (outside) artifacts including a steam
train, train tracks and depot used during gold rush days. Whitehorse sets in a
Sunday, July 1, 1990 – We had our usual coffee and left Whitehorse at 7:15 a.m.
We enjoyed the beautiful snow capped mountains for miles and ice-filled ranges.
Some lakes along the road were muddy looking. I understand that’s glacial water.
Other lakes and streams were clear as crystal. We saw some dry river beds along
the route, having dried up after spring water rush from melting snow from the
We had breakfast at Hines Junction at “Mother’s Cozy Kitchen”. A waitress there
told us about the rough road ahead that she and a friend had traveled a couple
of weeks before. Of course it was being worked on. While at Haines Junction we
visited their museum which had seismographs measuring earthquake tremors. They
also had a miniature scale model of the area.
Gerrit then stopped at Kulane National Park at Sheep Mountain. The park has 8500
square miles. Dall sheep, grizzly bears and mountain-goats are protected, as
well as the flora – beautiful plants and flowers. I met some very nice people –
three park attendants, a young lady and man and an older lady. This being the
first of July they were celebrating their Independence Day and were serving
cakes to visitors. I had the honor of being served the first piece and also
having them sing their national anthem to me. I enjoyed that very much.
This was their 133 birthday. The young man set the telescope for me so I could
look at what seemed to be a dall sheep, at this time of year they are usually on
the other side, staying out of the heat and looking for greener pastures. The
rest of the group, except for Bev and me, had gone up the mountain. I was unable
to climb, so enjoyed myself talking to people and watching the others climb.
Gerrit and Gladys reached the top. Marilyn had not gone that far. Kathy was
about 25 minutes into the climb and looked down and saw a fresh bear track (she
snapped a picture and left the scene and yelled at Marilyn to wait for her). The
25 minute climb became a five minute return trop. No one saw the bear; but Kathy
got a beautiful paw picture. This was one of the most enjoyable and beautiful
stops. Gladys snapped a post card picture from the mountain top of the lake and
mountain across from the park.
We entered Alaska at 4:30 – in the USA once again. My hat off to Canada – a
beautiful country and some of the most courteous people I’ve ever met.
Today we went through hail, rain and snow. No problems at customs, just laughed
when I said I was along for the ride. Arrived at “Tok” at 6:30, our projected
destination. Our lodgings were at “Fast Freddie’s Motel”. We also ate at Fast
Freddie’s. We shopped at a little gift shop there. I packed some of my clothes
in my sleeping bag for our trip home.
Monday, July 2, 1990 – We had breakfast, fueled and I paid Gerrit for my
lodging. Only 205 miles to Fairbanks – last leg of our trip. At 9:00 a.m. we
arrived at Delta Junction, the end of the Alcan Highway. We took pictures and
shopped for gifts at a nice little center. We drove a short way and stopped at
the pipeline at Tanana River. At that point we were under surveillance. A man
attending a roadside gift stand I am sure was a government employee, his wife
was on surveillance. He was very interesting – had a big Husky dog. The pipeline
crosses 800 miles and 800 bridges. The Tanana River Bridge is the longest in
Approximately half of the pipeline is above ground, built to withstand
earthquakes and high winds. It cost a billion dollars to build and runs from
Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.
Our next stop was the world famous “Santa Claus House” North Pole Alaska. A very
nice place to shop if you have MEGA BUCKS. A large statue of Santa greets you as
you enter the building. Here is where children’s letters are received from all
over the world. The street you leave the building on is called Badger Lane!
Marilyn’s road name back in Michigan back of our farm.
We arrived in Fairbanks at 2:40 – found our bus terminal – Gerrit got his
paperwork done at the office. He arranged to keep one bus so we would have
transportation until we boarded the train the next day. The girls parked their
buses and transferred all baggage to one bus. Of course the last pictures of the
girls and their buses were taken. We drove to the Captain Bartlett Inn where our
reservations for the night were – our most expensive of the trip at $105.00 each
in the huge place – three floors. Bev and I got turned around and were lost for
a few minutes. The rest had gone on to the bus. Finally we found the right exit,
of course everyone was waiting for us.
Gerrit took us to a salmon bake for dinner – outdoor, serve yourself, all you
can eat. Salmon, halibut and beef ribs plus all kinds of salads, rolls,
beverages and dessert. Very good. The rest of the group toured the park and gift
shops. I was tired, so returned to the bus. Gerrit brought me a dish of ice
cream. After everyone returned to the bus, we drove to the Information Center, a
nice park. The Information Center, of course, was closed. The park had a
beautiful waterfall and a huge statue of an Eskimo family, in bronze. All around
the sides were plaques of the history of Fairbanks.
Since Russian missionaries had been sent there to convert the native people to
Christianity, many priests were named. A very few non-Catholic churches were
listed. I did find a Star Chapter. I did not see a Masonic Lodge listed but know
there must have been one somewhere or there would not have been a Star Chapter.
There were many first settlers and organizations. There were far too many
plaques for me to read them all. There were nice benches where you could sit and
enjoy the peace and quiet of the waterfall. We returned to the Inn and got a
fair night’s sleep as that would be our last until we arrived home.
Tuesday, July 3, 1990 – We arose at 5:00 a.m. and went through our usual morning
routine – sitting on suitcases to get them closed. We got a baggage cart for our
luggage. We all went down the elevator together. Bev and I stuck close since we
had a train to catch – our last ride before the train. We ate breakfast at
Denny’s and then on to the train station. It took a large 8x8x4 cart to get all
our luggage in. Gerrit got the girls’ tickets. I got my own, used my visa card.
Gerrit then left us and went to take care of his business and deliver his last
bus. He flew down to Anchorage and met us at the airport.
We girls, using the term loosely, since I’m 70 and the others are 33-55. Oh
well, it describes us quite well since “we girls” have set a great pace the last
few days with our fearless leader at the helm. We left Fairbanks at 8:30 a.m.
and for the next 12 hours had a most relaxing train ride. Our tour guide was a
very interesting young lady, Kem Hane.
The Engineer saw a moose and called so our guide, Kem, could point it out to us.
At that point she told us that the first person spotting a moose would get a pin
from the train. Guess who got the pin? “Marilyn”. She watched very intently for
about an hour and a half and saw a mother moose and her baby. We all saw them.
So the pin was her’s. I think all of the girls enjoyed the young lady, as she
spent a lot of time talking with us of interesting topics. She pointed out on
one short stop (we may have been picking up passengers) a square white building
– one of the first hotels where President Warren G. and Mrs. Harding stayed in
1923 for a few days.
Anyway, the story goes, that he died three days after returning home. You may
take your pick of three stories. His wife may have poisoned him for womanizing.
He may have gotten food poisoning or died a natural death.
We went through tunnels, over breathtaking gorges and saw small air strips along
the way. While we were eating lunch in the dining car, we watched raters on the
river – three boat loads – many small towns and villages near the tracks or we
went through them. Off in the distance we could see Mount McKinley, the highest
mountain peak in North America. Beaver dams dotted the landscape. They say
salmon come out of the mucky glacial rivers and go up the clear blue water to
After six hours into the trip we came to a train coming up from Anchorage. Both
trains stopped at the siding. Our young lady guide changed here and went back to
Fairbanks and a young man from Anchorage, Todd Schaeffer, would be our
entertaining guide for the next six hours. I might add he was very good also. He
pointed out several interesting sights along the way. We were still in the
beautiful Rockies. In Alaska at this time of year there is only about ¾ hour of
darkness. However, daylight didn’t interrupt our sleep the night before. On the
21st of June there is about ½ hour of darkness, occurring around 3:00 a.m. At
Hurricane Gulch we crossed a 918 foot bridge. At one point Kathy made a remark
and Gladys said she was having one of her “dumb attacks”.
Much of the conversation centered around Kathy and Todd. The question of age
came up. Todd is a senior this fall and 17 years old. He said he had to study
three hours a day for 10 weeks to prepare himself and qualify for being a guide
on the train. Kathy remarked about her 15 year old twins. That was difficult for
him to believe---33 years old. It really blew his bubble. He thought she was in
her early twenties. If I remember right, he suggested she might grow up. She
sure kept things up beat. (We all love her.) The train stopped for a few minutes
at Wacilla, the largest growing city in Alaska. With shopping malls, it is a
bustling little city. Alaska’s main industries are oil, tourism and fishing.
About six miles north of Anchorage we passed the largest air force base in North
America – Elmendorf. Top defense between Alaska and Russia in the second World
War. It was the Civil Air Patrol. We also passed the Army’s Fort Richardson.
Anchorage now has about half the state’s population – 400,000. At the beginning
of the building of the Alaska Railroad a tent city was set up for about 2,000
workers. It was first named Woodrow, Ship-Creek, Ship-Creek Landing and
Anchorage. Anchorage has the largest port in Alaska.
We arrived on schedule. Gerrit had given Gladys money to transport us to the
airport. So while she hailed a cab the rest of the girls carried our luggage to
the curb. Todd had given us some advice before we left the train. She finally
was able to flag a taxi down. In the meantime our thoughtful guide had appeared
on the scene to see that we got off okay. (People are great wherever you go).
You couldn’t believe our taxi driver. He had a big old car. We didn’t believe he
could possibly get all of the luggage and us in it; but he did. The trunk was
bulging, had to tie it down with straps. We kept saying we don’t think you can
do it. He kept saying “I’ve done it before”. Well, he did! With about a three
foot gap. I could see it all flying out in the street somewhere along the route.
He then stuffed us all in the vehicle for a ten mile ride to the airport. He
only charged $12.00 so Gladys tipped him. A porter “white”, very nice man came
out and got our luggage and piled it in front of the Morris Airline counter. I
gave him a $5.00 tip. As we were going into the terminal, we could see our
friend and Fearless Leader there waiting for us. It was good to see him once
again. He was “our security blanket” so to speak. He gave each of us our
tickets, including me. I reimbursed him upon returning home. We got to the
airport somewhere around 8:30 and didn’t leave until 1:30 a.m. on the 4th of
July. No one came to the ticket counter until around 10:30 so in the meantime I
went to the cafeteria. Kathy and I had dinner with Bev joining us. I went to the
ladies’ lounge and tried to catch a wink or two. I figured I had about three
hours to rest my feet and legs. The others took turns watching the luggage and
shopping or eating until the ticket taker came.
They checked on me occasionally. I ask you, did you ever try to sleep between
1500 flushes, dressing or changing clothes and putting makeup on? I did talk to
a very interesting lady from Australia who had traveled extensively.
I asked her which country she liked the best. Without hesitation she replied –
“My own”. A good answer. I think most of us feel that way. A couple of the young
ladies did stop and asked if I was okay. Of course, I told them I was just
resting. It is nice to know there are concerned persons wherever you go.
Finally we were on the plane (Morris Airlines) to Seattle – to catch US
Airlines. When we arrived there, Bev and I went to the rest room and once again
were separated from the others. We found the US Air ticket counter and sat down
to wait. None of our group was there. We thought “oh, well, they would have to
show sometime” and decided to stay put. We must have sat there at least half an
hour when I was paged. I went to the airline counter and they told me to pick up
the phone in the lobby. I did. No one was there. Anyway, I was getting a little
upset and glanced up to see Marilyn frantically looking for us. They had gone to
the boarding ramp section in another area of the terminal. For the second time
in the last two days Bev and I were with our group.
The girls had called ahead and had a wheelchair waiting for me at the Pittsburgh
terminal. I was really grateful for their concern and appreciated their
thoughtfulness. I don’t think I could have made another trek through a huge
terminal. A car came along and picked up Marilyn and I and four others and drove
us to our departure station. It was a four hour trip from Seattle to Pittsburgh.
I don’t remember how long we had to wait at either city, but we passed over
Charlotte on our way to Pittsburgh.
From Pittsburgh to Dayton was only 45 minutes. From Dayton to Lansing was only
35 minutes. I had told the girls “Please don’t get a wheelchair for me at
Lansing”. It would scare Bill to death. Of course at our little airport I didn’t
really need one.
HOME---There stood Bill, John Sr., Kathy’s Tom and baby Matt. I don’t remember
who was waiting for the others. However, I saw Bev walking with her family and
Gerrit shaking our hands at the luggage carrier. Believe it or not, all our
luggage arrived safe and sound.
I think I was a little rocky. Not having slept from 5 a.m. July 3 to 10:30 p.m.
July 4th. It sure was good to see Bill and relate to him the wonderful
experience I just had. I had unwound and, exhausted, slept until afternoon on
July 5th. Yes, I would do it again!
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
FEBRUARY 1991, Volume 26, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of Editor,
Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: HATHAWAY, WELCH, SHOTWELL, THRASHER, FARRELL, HAMPTON, ELDRIDGE,
FROST, KARRAR, STAMBAUGH, INGALL, GREENMAN, PATRICK, BLOSSER, GOOD, WENGER,
PATRICK, STUART, GRABIEL, WINGER, ENGLISH, WHITE, TALLANT, WILLIAMS, FREEMAN,
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD:
Marian S. Hathaway, 93, daughter of Freeman & Sara Welch Shotwell, widow of
Alfred Hathaway, mother of Mary Thrasher, historian.
Ray D. Farrell, 101, son of Dennis & Amy Hampton Farrell, husband of Hattie
Eldridge, father of Alta Mae Frost, raised in Sec. 6, logger at Seney, U.P.,
farmed in Sec. 34 Sebewa, later in Sec. 30 Odessa, his mother Amy & sister Nina
Mae are buried in West Cemetery.
Marjorie A. Karrar, 54, daughter of Leon & O. Virginia Stambaugh Karrar,
granddaughter of John F. & Greta B. Ingall Stambaugh, great-granddaughter of
John H. & Sarah Jemina Greenman Stambaugh and William Ingall,
great-great-granddaughter of Sheldon Greenman.
Eunice N. Patrick, 84, daughter of Aaron W. & Salome Blosser Good, granddaughter
of Martin & Susanna Wenger Good, husband of James Patrick, great-aunt to Dr. Lee
Stuart, and cousin to thousands of us who are descended from Christian & Eve
Grabiel Wenger (Winger), who emigrated from Wengen & Eggiwil; Canton of Bern,
Switzerland, in 1727. Teacher West Sebewa.
EARLY HISTORY OF BOSTON TOWNSHIP, Compiled by Grayden Slowins from HISTORY OF
IONIA COUNTY by J. S. Schenck
The first permanent settlement in the township was that portion known as South
Boston, and, as the first settler was named English, the neighborhood was first
called English Settlement. In the Spring of 1836 Worcester English, Timothy
White, James M. Tallant, and Jesse Williams came west from Tunbridge, Vermont,
and stopped at Kalamazoo with their families. They looked around, and deciding
to settle in the township now known as Boston, they made entry in the summer of
1836 at the Land Office in White Pigeon. They rolled up a log cabin in SW ¼ Sec.
21, where English had made his land entry, and in January, 1837, he and his
family became the first settlers. This farm is now owned by the Robert & William
Next came the Timothy White family, in March, 1837, to E ½ SW ¼ & W ½ SE ¼ Sec.
20. This farm is still in the same family, 155 years after entry, and is owned
by the J. Fred Cahoon family. The frame house is sometimes called the James K.
Cahoon house, because during its construction in 1844-1845, Timothy White or a
helper climbed to the ridge-row and shouted “Three Cheers for James K. Polk”
when word of the election of this Democrat several weeks before finally reached
the wilderness settlement. For a time Timothy White maintained a place where
wayfarers could be fed and lodged overnight, and it was called White’s Tavern.
The James Tallant & Jesse Williams families came in May, 1837. Tallant had W ¾
NW ¼ Sec. 29, and Williams had the next 60 east. The Williams farm became the
John Freeman farm and is now owned by Harvey Metternick. James Tallant, Jesse
Williams, and Worcester English were married to sisters of Timothy White, so
property lines got shifted somewhat as succeeding generations inherited and
divided them. The buildings and east 60 acres of the Tallant farm passed to
Clarisa Mae & George Walker, and reached Centennial status in the hands of the
Walker daughters, Susie Raymond & sister. It is part of the Metternick farm,
too, now. The west 60 acres of the Tallant farm passed to the Eva & Guy Perry
family and eventually became part of the Perry & Frank Freeman farm located in
NE ¼ Sec. 30, under the ownership of Clare Alderink. Recently this became the
Robert Roth farm and is out of the family too.
I was born on the Frank Freeman farm and lived the next two years on the Mae
Walker farm. Recently I built a bookcase from a walnut board cut in the woods on
the Eva Perry 60 acres of the James M. Tallant farm the winter of my birth in
GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
In the G. A. R. story in this issue, many of the members of the Sunfield Post
were Sebewa residents. Some people believe they organized first in Sebewa, at
the I. O. O. F. Hall (Independent Order of Oddfellows) on Lots 1 & 2, Block 1,
John Friend’s Addition to the Plat of Sebewa. But research has not uncovered any
written proof of a Post at Sebewa.
Perhaps they began at Sebewa and moved or merged with Sunfield after the
railroad came thru in 1886-1887. Or maybe only the IDEA of a Post originated in
But at any rate, Commander Thomas Leak, Charles O. Hiar, Lyman Peck, Dr. George
W. Snyder, Lt. George W. Lusk, John Bradley, Conrad Peabody, and others
mentioned were Sebewa soldiers and most are buried here.
In fact we have 41 graves of Civil War Vets in the East & West Sebewa
Cemeteries, and they would have made a formidable Company in war or peace.
Their names are as follows:
Heman S. Brown 1838-1923
Lucian J. Heaton 1808-1893
Jacob W. Evans 1844-1919
Irving A. Brown 1847-1916
Oren W. Daniels 1838-1921
Rollin Derby 1844-1918
Henry Rodegeb 1839-1908
Willam Pettingill 1837-1912
Josias C. Clark 1826-1918
Jacob Showerman 1804-1875
David W. Goddard 1831-
Jonah Carpenter 1817-1911
Hanson Evans 1833-1904
George W. Snyder, MD 1845-1927
Stephen York 1852-1917
Samuel Bigham No Headstone
Hosea Bates 1833-1901
Charles O. Hiar 1850-1905
Nathaniel N. Tidd 1843-1928
John S. Marshall Peabody 1841-19?5
John R. Petrie No Headstone
John S. Henry 1844-1888
Charles Deatsman 1830-1903
Stephen Everest 1835-1900
Charles A. Nichols 1848-1903
George Baldwin 1834-1894
George E. Friend 1846-1923
Stephen V. Ryder 1829-1880
John P. Franks 1843-1871
Alonzo N. Evans 1844-1931
J. H. McClelland 1832-1902
John Cross 1841-1898
Orlando V. Showerman 1838-1919
Allan B. Lippencott 1841-1898
John M. Bradley 1849-1934
William H. Southworth 66th Ill. Inf.
A. J. Olmstead 185th NY. Inf.
George W. Lusk 66th Ill. Inf.
WITH PHOTO TAKEN IN G. A. R. HALL: Jim Park, son of Douglas Park, incoming
commander of the Curtenius Post, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, stands
next to one of the members’ chairs inside the hall. This chair belonged to
Charles Hiar, a veteran of Company E, 6th Michigan Cavalry Regiment, who died in
1905. The 6th Michigan Cavalry was commanded by General James H. Kidd, former
editor-publisher of THE IONIA SENTINEL.
CHARLES O. HIAR (HIER), 1850-1905, lived near Sebewa Creek in NW w/r SW ¼ Sec.
30 Danby, on the farm later owned by Gerritt VanPolen and now owned by John
Sandborn. He was married twice, to Mary E. and Annas M., and raised six
children; Ralph, Will, Clyde, Harold, George, and Opal. The children attended
Halladay School. Charles, Mary, Annas, Harold, and others are buried in East
THE SUNFIELD G. A. R. HALL by R. C. Gregory, Editor, Ionia Sentinel-Standard
SUNFIELD – This campaign is against time and the elements, not the Rebs.
The Sunfield G. A. R. Hall, the only Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Michigan
still in use, has stood on Main Street since it was built in 1899. The Union
veterans who built the hall have long since faded away, but the hall is
decorated and furnished with memorabilia they bequeathed to their successors.
Those successors, members of Curtenius Guard Camp No. 17, Michigan Department,
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, are struggling to restore and preserve
the hall. The Sons’ problem is money. They’ve discovered in restoring the hall
that one thing leads to another – and each thing costs money.
But the hall itself, its story, what both represent, and their own interest keep
the Sons slogging along their campaign trail.
SAMUEL W. GRINNELL Post No. 283, G. A. R., was chartered Oct. 6, 1884, and local
receipt of the charter and formal installation took place on Oct. 30. Grinnell,
for whom the post was named, was a Sunfield Union veteran who had been a
prisoner of war at Libby Prison, in Richmond, Virginia, who, nearly starved and
ill, walked to Washington, D. C., after his release. His health was impaired
thereafter and he died shortly before the post was formed. His fellow
ex-veterans gave his name to the post when it was chartered.
For the first few years of Grinnell Post’s existence, the then middle-aged
veterans meet at the houses of members or in the hall “above the blacksmith
shop”. But they wanted their own building.
In December, 1898, a post member, Ransler Peling, provided $25 for the purchase
of Lots Nos. 7 and 8, in Block 7, of the Sunfield plat. Post Commander Thomas
Leak announced plans for construction of a post home and D. W. Litchfield,
Conrad Peabody and Lyman Peck were named a building committee to oversee
Some evidence suggests that at that time Lots 7 and 8 and land to the west along
Sunfield’s Main Street was still heavily wooded. The land provided timber for
The minute books indicate that the Women’s Relief Corps (WRC), the auxiliary of
the G. A. R., started serving meals – at 20 cents each – and holding ice cream
socials to add funds to the building and furnishing fund.
With some lumber cut from the post’s own lots and additional lumber donated by
Clark Richards – he served on the federal gunboat Manhattan – the post began
construction in the spring of 1899. They worked through the summer and completed
the hall in time to dedicate it on October 30, 1899, always observed as the post
In the meantime, WRC members continued to raise money. The corps provided the
hall with a set of dishes. WRC members also wove the carpet for the new hall.
The post had its own home. It cost $836 and was valued at $1,660.
The building is a plain 20 feet by 40 feet frame gable structure, not unlike
hundreds of school houses and churches. It has a 14-feet high ceiling. The front
entrance opens on a short hall, with the kitchen on the left (east). At the
southeast corner, there is a rear door, and across the remainder of the south
end of the building, a raised platform, a feature also found in many school
houses and churches.
The false front of the building – with the year and the initials G. A. R. –
conceals the simplicity of the hall itself, and no doubt was installed to help
the building harmonize with other buildings along the street. The false front
made the building “look like downtown”. Now it remains one of the best preserved
“store buildings” of its era in this area of Michigan, and would deserve
restoration for that reason along. That it is a G. A. R. adds another reason for
Restoration has been slow and painstaking. As one member said “We’ve done a lot
of work, spent most of our money, and it’s all been on things that don’t show”.
Working mostly on weekends, post members, led by James Pahl, post commander this
year, James Lyons, former post commander, and Douglas Park, incoming post
commander, phase one involved work on the floor.
Some floor joists were known to be in bad condition. In all, working in the
crawl space, 14 floor joists were replaced. The north ten feet of the main
central beam required bracing with wood supports. After that, flooring in the
hall and kitchen were replaced.
Then came the false front. “The cap of the false front”, Lyons said “is pressed
metal. We found that the top of the deck of the original cap had rusted away. It
was leaking badly.”
“So we had to remove the pediment and the flange attaching it, and make repairs.
We now have two-inch angle iron securing the deck. When we opened up the deck,
we found there wasn’t much inside. The cantilever system had rotted away. So we
built a new deck and replaced the cap, or cover, with one piece of heavy
aluminum and secured it with angle iron.
Then we replaced the top of clapboard siding on the front.
In everything we’ve done, we took meticulous measurements, and we matched
everything we put back on just as meticulously. It’s very hard to tell we did
what we did.”
Additional summer work included replacing clapboard siding on the south end of
the building. Lyons noted “The original clapboard wasn’t all the same width and
it would have been easier to replace it with uniform clapboard. But we didn’t.
We took very careful measurements and put back a perfect match for what had to
And then the building had not been painted in 10 years or more. We had money
enough to do that—and made extensive preparations before we painted. I can’t
tell you how much scraping and cleaning we did before painting, but it was a
I even managed to free up some of the windows that, over the years, had been
Basically, what we’ve don up to this point is make the building weather-tight
and improve its appearance.”
The Sons have plans for the next major job – which is restoring the interior –
and no money. “I think right now we have about $16” Parks said.
On the interior, several layers of wallpaper have begun to peel. Lyons, Parks
and Pahl would like to remove it to the plaster. “We’d like to repair the
plaster – it clearly needs it in some places – and then repaper in what was
first used, or as near to it as we can find”, Lyons said.
“We could take a short cut and just paint it after we repair the plaster but
that wouldn’t be as nearly correct. We want to match the vintage wall-paper.
Work has to be done on the floors, woodwork, windows, and kitchen. The whole
inside, really”, he said.
He, Parks and Pahl estimate the work they want to do will cost between $1,500
and $2,000. While they would like to begin the interior work next spring, they
have to raise the money first.
Meanwhile, the Helen M. Edwins Tent No. 30, Daughters of Union Veterans of the
Civil War, are the senior group interested in the hall’s preservation. They, as
the Sons quickly acknowledge, are the group that has kept the building intact,
have maintained it, and have begun cataloguing the records and memorabilia.
“The Daughters have been very important” Parks said, “because until the last few
years when the Sons came on the scene, they had been responsible for hall.
They’ve held bake sales and many other fund raisers to keep the hall intact.
And after we started working on the building, they provided cool meals in hot
weather and vice versa. Let there be no mistake about their role. We can’t thank
Ruth Forshey and her daughter, Sheila Van Vleck, enough.”
Visitors who drive to see the building may find enough to pause for a few
minutes and look around.
A large honor roll, listing Sunfield area residents who served in World War I,
World War II, Korea and Vietnam stands in front of the building, as does a State
The state marker was granted and dedicated on Decoration Day 1987.
It’s inscription says:
G. A. R. Hall – The Samuel W. Grinnell Post No. 283 was granted its charter by
the Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.) on October 6, 1884. The post operated
until 1934, at which time it was disbanded. Members built this hall in 1898-99.
Dedicated in October 1899, it contains flags, medals, photographs and other
momentos of the Civil War and of the Sunfield veterans of that war. Furniture,
ritual equipment and records of this G. A. R. post are also kept here. In 1899
members planted and dedicated the three maple trees at the front of the
property, dedicating them to the memory of Generals Grant, Sheridan and Sherman.
The two cannon on either side of the hall were brought to Sunfield by the G. A.
R. in 1900.
Now the Sons want to have the hall listed on the National Register of Historic
The cannon are Spanish in origin. “The minute books say the cannon were supposed
to be here when the hall was dedicated in 1899” Lyons said. “They were available
in California and the federal government offered them to the post, if the post
would pay the freight”.
One cannon weighs 8,465 pounds and fired a 42-pound shot. The other cannon
weighs 7,200 pounds and fired a 32-pound shot. The government also agreed to
send nine cannon balls with the cannon but only six were received. The freight
proved to be a considerable amount of money.
THE PORTLAND OBSERVER wrote, as quoted in THE IONIA SENTINEL of Oct. 25, 1899:
“The Grand Army Post at Sunfield thought it would be nice to have a couple of
cannon which Dewey captured at Manila in their village. As they could have them
by paying freight from San Francisco, to which point the government delivered
them, they ordered them sent on. They received notice the other day that they
were at Lansing – and they were glad. But when they knew the amount of freight
charges they were sad – the figure was $303. The guns weigh 17,000 pounds.”
The freight bill was more than one-third the cost of the hall itself. And the
cannon may have languished in a freight yard for some months. But the post
wanted the cannon and raised $173, although how quickly is not indicated.
Perhaps the railroad would wait only so long for its money. At any rate, Clark
Richards, instrumental in building the hall, lent the post $130 for the rest of
freight charges and took a note. Bases for the cannon cost another $80.
With the freight costs and installation costs, the cannon were not installed and
dedicated until Oct. 30, 1900 – a full year after the dedication of the hall.
Regrettably, how the cannon were moved into place is not recorded.
A claim against the railroad was entered for the three missing cannon balls –
but the post minute book indicates the cannon balls were never located and the
claim was never settled. Perhaps railroad officials were heartily tired of
Sunfield’s cannons. In due time, the Post paid the note and burned it.
Not less interesting are “Grant”, “Sherman” and “Sheridan”. Those are the three
hard maple trees in front of the hall, between the sidewalk and the building.
The trees were planted as whips when the post was dedicated and each has its own
marker, flush with the ground. The trees keep green the names of three great
Inside the walls are crowded with pictures, medals, charters, and other
memorabilia. Perhaps the most touching items, though, are the chairs. Each of
the charter members of Grinnel Post had a straight chair and subsequent members
acquired chairs as they joined, although the chairs are not all alike.
And according to minute books, each veteran painted his name on the back of his
chair. Three chairs bear the names of men who served in the Sixth Michigan
One chair says: Chas. Hier, Co. E, 6.Mich.Cav. Died, July 6, 1905.
In August of 1862, a 22-year-old Ionian, James Harvey Kidd, recruited 102 men,
mostly from in and around Ionia County. They were sworn into federal service
Sept. 13, 1862, as Company E, Sixth Michigan Cavalry, with James H. Kidd as
their captain commanding.
The 6th Michigan Cavalry, along with the 1st, 5th and 7th Michigan Cavalry
Regiments, make up the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General
George Armstrong Custer. In time, Captain Kidd became Major Kidd and then
Colonel Kidd – and when Custer received a second star and a division to command,
Col. Kidd, later General Kidd, commanded the brigade.
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was officially designated by the G. A.
R. as its successor organization. The first camp was organized in Sunfield on
May 22, 1918. But that camp was disbanded in 1934.
Meanwhile, in 1926, the Helen M. Edwards camp of the Daughters of Union Veterans
of the Civil War was chartered in 1926 and continued the use of the hall.
On June 11, 1983, the current camp, SUVCW was chartered and named for Albert
Curtenius of Kalamazoo. A veteran of the Mexican War, he served in Co. B of the
7th Michigan Infantry and later was adjutant general of Michigan. Curtenius’s
father had been a brigadier general during the War of 1812 and his grandfather
served during the Revolutionary War.
The Curtenius Camp, with members from Sunfield area and east to Lansing meets
the last Tuesday of January, March, July, September and November; in May it
meets on May 30, the date of Memorial Day. Membership is open to male
descendants, in either direct or collateral lines, of soldiers and sailors who
served between 1861 and 1865.
Founded in 1881, SUVCW was charged by the G. A. R. with maintaining its memory
and monuments. Curtenius camp is one of eight camps in the Michigan Department.
In addition to work on the Sunfield G. A. R. Hall, members are actively engaged
in identifying, locating and making accessible G. A. R. records, in conducting a
state survey of all Union veterans’ graves in Michigan.
Lyons, long active in Curtenius camp, has been state commander and currently is
serving as national secretary.
“In 1966 we will hold the national encampment in Indianapolis” he said. The G.
A. R. was founded April 6, 1866, so this will be the 125th anniversary of the
founding of our parent organization. Indianapolis was also the site of the last
G. A. R. encampment in 1949, when 12 surviving Civil War veterans were able to
meet” he said.
But the immediate battles for the Sons in their campaign are continuing
restoration of the hall, of cataloguing and protecting records and archives. And
of encouraging new members to help fight the campaign.
“Some people say to us that we’re not veterans of the Civil War, which is true.
But we are the successors of the veterans of the Civil War – and not only is
that still the bloodiest war this country has fought, most historians agree it
was the Civil War that made us the nation we became, the people we are.
The Civil War is important historically – and that comes right down to the
Sunfield G. A. R. Hall. That’s why we’re going to keep plugging away, fighting
our campaign, even if, to paraphrase General Grant, it takes us several summers”
Parks said. “We are in this for the duration.”
For information about Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, call or write
Douglas Parks, 404 Kenway Drive, Lansing, Mich. 48917, (517) 321-6768; or James
T. Lyons, 411 Bartlett Street, Lansing, Mich. 48915, (517) 482-9360; or James B.
Pahl, P. O. Box 214, Sunfield, Mich. 48890, (517) 566-8037.
For information about Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, call or
write Sheila Van Vleck, 8227 Grand Ledge Highway, Sunfield, Mich. 48890, (517)
566-8730, or Ruth Forshey, 67 Grand Ledge Highway, Sunfield, Mich. 48890, (517)
____December 1990, IONIA SENTINEL STANDARD, 114 North Depot Street, Ionia,
Michigan 48846 (616)527-2100.
NATHANIEL NEWTON TIDD: Part I by Michele L. Kristin
“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under
the heavens.//A time to be born, and time to die; a time to plant, and a time to
uproot the plant.// A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and
a time to build,//A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a
time to dance.//A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to
embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.//A time to seek, and a time to
lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.//A time to rend, and a time to
sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak.//A time to love and a time to
hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3, 1-8”
I decided to start my story with this passage as a tribute to my maternal
great-great grandfather Nathaniel Newton Tidd because I would like to think that
since he was a circuit preacher he would have appreciated an opening that is
concerned with the purpose and value of human life.
Before I began my research for this article, my information about this family
ancestor was a mix of fragmented family folklore and few documented sources.
Although my search is still far from over, I thought the readers might like to
know the story of this man because many facets of his life embody the essence of
what it was like to live in Michigan during the later half of the nineteenth
century. Also, perhaps, one of the readers might be able to direct me to other
descendents of this man.
Also, time is an appropriate theme because my search for this man covers a span
of 148 years from his birth in Roundhead Township, Hardin County, Ohio in 1843
to the present. He is buried in SEBEWA TOWNSHIP, IONIA COUNTY, MICHIGAN next to
his second wife Nancy Elizabeth Smith Tidd, and a son by his first wife,
Margaret A. Peoples Tidd. I am a descendent of Nathaniel and his first wife
through their eldest son (my great-grandfather), Elmer Eli Tidd.
Fragments of family oral history, faded microfilms, incomplete or missing
records form an image of man that are like an old sepia toned photograph. He was
a student, a bible teacher, a civil war soldier, the first of my direct maternal
family to settle in Michigan, a father, a farmer, a circuit preacher, and a
But who was he really? His commitment to his calling as a minister perhaps is
the reason why he moved several times in Michigan—to Mecosta County, and to
Eagle and Riley Townships in Clinton County. And now, for a reason as yet
undiscovered, he is buried in Ionia County. As we travel through Michigan in my
story, perhaps, the pieces of Nathaniel’s eventful life will fall into place.
This is the first part of Nathaniel’s story because although I am not related to
his second wife, Nancy, she plays an important role in my family history. She
was loved by my great grandfather and grandfather. This first article covers the
span to Nathaniel’s first marriage and the birth of my great grandfather.
In 1850, when he was seven years old, Nathaniel was living on the family farm in
Roundhead Township, Hardin County, Ohio with his parents Hugh and Mary Givens,
Tidd, five brothers and a sister. Nathaniel, listed as Newton on the 1850
census, is the fifth child and fifth son in the family. The Tidd family traces
its origins to a John Tidd who came from England and was living in the Boston,
Massachusetts area in 1637.
The Tidds saw their share of territorial conflicts with Native Americans and two
major wars as they moved westward to New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Nathaniel’s grandfather Samuel Tidd was a War of 1812 veteran, and Samuel’s
father Martin was a Revolutionary War veteran.
By 1860, the Ohio census shows that Nathaniel was 17 and his parents had another
son. So, there was a total of eight children in the family. The children are as
follows: 1)William; 2)Jacob; 3)Alexander; 4)Samuel Perry; 5)Nathaniel Newton;
6)Rebecca; 7)Zachariah; 8)Albert.
Nathaniel is listed as a bible teacher. When the 1860 census was taken in June,
increasing strife brought rumors of impending conflict between the states. This
would be the last summer Nathaniel would live at home.
By the summer of 1861, the conflict between the states had started. Sometime in
that year Nathaniel was living in or around Rochester, New York. Perhaps, he was
visiting distant relatives, or attending one of the city’s many divinity
schools. Maybe he was looking for a job, or maybe he was just swept with the
tide of enlistees to that place because he had heard that the Thirteenth
Volunteer Regiment of Infantry, also known as the Rifle Regiment or Rochester
Regiment, was forming a new Company G.
My great-great step uncle, Ned Tidd, had told my mother that Nathaniel had been
a drummer in the Civil War. That has been part of our family folklore for many
years. It seems highly unlikely that Nathaniel at age eighteen had been a
drummer, although many men and boys of all ages served an important role and
drummed orders during the din of battle. I’m still waiting for the confirmation
from the National Archives, but if, indeed, Nathaniel was a drummer and had a
position towards the rear of the ranks, then that would explain why he seems to
have escaped a three year term of service relatively unscathed.
If my information is confirmed, Nathaniel would have seen almost every major
battle of the Civil War. Nathaniel enlisted on December 19, 1861. When he
arrived it seems his company had an eight month lull that ended abruptly with
the second battle of Bull Run. From that moment on, until Company G was
transferred to the 140th New York Volunteers on June 23, 1863, the 13th Regiment
fought at Antietam, MD; Sheperdstown, VA; Hartwood Church, VA; Richard’s Ford,
VA; and finally, Chancellorville, VA.
Most of the 13th regiment had enlisted for two years. But, Company G, having
been formed late, had an enlistment time of three years. On April 27th, 1863 all
the three years’ men were transferred to Companies H and K, and June 23, 1863,
these companies were transferred to the 140th New York volunteers.
That was just in time for the battle of Gettysburg in July 1-3. The following is
only a partial list of the engagements of the 140th Regiment, during the period
of Nathaniel’s enlistment until December 19, 1864; Gettysburg; Rappahannock, VA;
Wilderness, VA; Spotsylvania, VA; Cold Harbor, VA; Seige of Petersburg, VA;
Weldon Railroad, VA; Hicksford Raid, VA.
After Nathaniel mustered out of his Company, he returned home to the family farm
in Ohio. He was 22 years old. Sometime in 1865 in Ohio, he married Margaret A.
Peoples, a young woman born in 1845 or 46 in Ireland. Shortly, thereafter, the
young couple moved to Grant Township, Mecosta County, Michigan. My great
grandfather Elmer Eli and his twin Ellsworth Elias were born there on December
Sunfield – Sebewa – Danby Fire Department – NOTICE---NOTICE-
TO CITIZENS LIVING WITHIN THE SUNFIELD—SEBEWA—DANBY FIRE DISTRICT.
911 EMERGENCY SERVICE IS COMING – IN STAGES!
BEGINNING JANUARY 15, 1991
#1 CITIZENS LIVING IN SEBEWA TOWNSHIP WITHIN THE SUNFIELD CENTURY TELEPHONE
EXCHANGE WILL DIAL 911 FOR FIRE EMERGENCIES.
#2 CITIZENS LIVING IN SEBEWA TOWNSHIP WITHIN THE LAKE ODESSA BELL TELEPHONE
EXCHANGE WILL CONTINUE, FOR NOW, TO DIAL 1-517-566-8211 FOR FIRE EMERGENCIES.
#3 CITIZENS LIVING IN SEBEWA TOWNSHIP WITHIN THE PORTLAND BELL TELEPHONE
EXCHANGE WILL CONTINUE, FOR NOW, TO DIAL 1-566-8211 FOR FIRE EMERGENCIES.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
APRIL 1991, Volume 26, Number 5. Submitted with written permission of Editor,
Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: McNEIL, WALKER, THORPE, MEYERS, WARD, BAILIFF, SHIPMAN, GILBERT,
HILTON, MERCER, PECK, PAGE, HOAG, TOW, MOFFET, STUTZ, WENGER, BRAKE, FOX,
CONKRITE, WAINWRIGHT, CATT, McDONALD, HERRON, FENDER, RICHARDSON, YORK, TRAN,
DAVID, PEACOCK, SCHNABEL, REDFERN, HASKINS, BOWERMAN, LOWE, RALSTON
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD:
Patricia M. McNeil, 64, daughter of Charles & Gladys Walker Thorpe, widow of
Charles McNeil, mother of Clay McNeil and Corinne McNeil Spencer, former Nursing
Aide at Ionia County Memorial Hospital, Farm Bureau & 4-H leader.
Patricia K. Meyers, 39, daughter of Howard & Leona Ward Meyers, granddaughter of
Harry & Mattie Bailiff Meyers, great-granddaughter of Albert & Lydia Shipman
Meyers, Nursing Aide at Ingham County Medical Facility.
Wendell Gilbert, 58, son of Owen & Vernie Gilbert, grandson of Frank, nephew of
Burton, brother of Gerald, Korean Vet., died Michigan Veterans’ Facility, Grand
Rapids, buried at Fort Custer Cemetery.
William T. Haskins, husband of Marie Bowerman Haskins, son of Henry & Jessie
Redfern Haskins, farmer, plumber, excavator, attended Sebewa Center School while
staying with grandparents on Ben Lowe or Walter Ralston farm. Parents are in
MORE EARLY HISTORY OF BOSTON TOWNSHIP by Grayden Slowins
The Clinton Trail passed thru the English settlement in South Boston at Sec. 20
& 29, and the Grand River Trail, or Grand River Turnpike, as it was
imaginatively called then, passed thru Waterville in Sec. 24. The two trails
converged near the Indian trading post east of Ada. Waterville is worthy of some
note, more because of what might have been than for what was. Robert Hilton, of
Grand Rapids, made large land-purchases in the Grand River valley in 1836, and
in his possessions was included a mill-site in Sec. 24, on Lake Creek, in the
present township of Boston. The mill-site was on the line of the highway known
as the Grand River Turnpike, at that time nothing more than a path thru Boston.
Hilton was convinced that the turnpike must become a highway of popular travel,
and he proceeded to lay out a town at his mill-site and christened it
Waterville. Having laid out his town, he must of course give it some sort of
start. In pursuit of that project he donated the mill-site and some adjoining
farmland to J. J. Hoag of Oakland County, conditional upon Hoag’s erecting a
saw-mill at that point. Like Hilton, Hoag thought the Grand River Turnpike would
be a great affair and promised for Waterville an important place in the history
of events. So he gladly availed himself of Hilton’s offer, and in 1837 put up
the mill which he set in motion the following year. In 1838 he followed up his
mill enterprise with the opening of a store, and confidently awaited the surging
tide of travel over the pike. William Mercer, one of the founders of Campbell
Township, spent a year in 1842-1843 at Waterville working for James J. Hoag,
before going to Campbell.
Fate was, however, against Waterville; for although the surging tide did flow to
some extent over the turnpike, it did not get as far as Waterville. Hoag
remained there all of his days and eked out an existence with his mill and farm,
until 1851, when he was killed by the fall of a tree. Thomas Barber had set up a
blacksmith shop a half mile west in 1847, and another sawmill was put in a mile
north in Sec. 14 in 1854, by Peck & Page. In 1864, the Page property passed into
the possession of A. J. Moffett, who carried on the mill business in connection
with a planing mill and a small machine-shop.
Someone along the way put in a stone-ground grist mill at the mill-site in Sec.
14, also called part of Waterville, and its waterwheel was still turning in 1937
when we had our feed ground there. A man named I. S. Tow had begun to
manufacture a protein-vitamin-mineral concentrate for chickens there, and to
peddle it around the countryside in 100 lb bags on the fenders of his old coupe.
But he was not the owner-operator of this Waterville Mill. That person was
Charles Stutz. His ancient mill and Currie & Ives style barn and house have been
the stuff of many paintings fit for calendars or Christmas cards. After his long
life, the mill and buildings have mostly returned to nature, but his heirs are
still around and a grandson-in-law, Les Fox, is still involved in the feed
business in central Michigan.
MORE TOWNSHIP BOARD SYNOPSIS by Grayden Slowins
In November the Board agreed to share the cost of rebuilding Keefer Rd. bridge
over Sebewa Creek with Ionia County Road Commission and Danby Township. Our
share will be $13,000 - $16,500. If only we could convince them to blacktop that
remaining two miles! Perhaps this will be a co-operative step in that direction.
Much of the cost of the bridge comes from the State & Federal Critical Bridge
Also in November the Board authorized cleanout and repair of the Gunn & Ramsey,
Gunn & Luscher, and A. M. Ralston Drains. Branch #1 of Gunn & Ramsey had been
authorized in October. After hoping to keep the cost under $1 per foot, the
final bid average of 38 cents per foot or about $6.25 per rod was very
gratifying. The bidders gambled on good winter weather, little breakage of
equipment, a turn-around in fuel prices, and completion in a timely manner. All
of these came together and a beautiful job was done. Only some final cleanup of
spoils in the Spring remains to be done. Drain Commissioner John Bush will see
that it is done right.
Projects for cleaning, widening, deepening, straightening, extending, repairing
or replacing tile, and repairing along the roads, are in the works for Wilson &
Pumphrey, Sweet & Samine, and Collier & Mud Creek Drains. There are some hurdles
to be overcome, some in structure, some legal, but the drains will be
maintained. Sebewa’s main business is agriculture, and without drains we would
once again be Big Rattlesnake Swamp.
Sebewa residents on Century Telephone thru Sunfield Exchange can now dial 9-1-1-
for Police, Fire, and Ambulance emergencies. The rest of Ionia County will have
it by late 1992. Our ambulance service is provided by Lake Odessa Ambulance
Service. There is no interruption in this service, even tho negotiations are
underway on how to administer the service.
We have made our last payment to the Sunfield-Sebewa-Danby Fire District
Building Authority for the new firebarn. Our share of the cost was approximately
$75,000, spread over the last three years.
Our cost to subsidize the ambulance, as well as many other items of income &
outgo, is based on the United States Decennial Census. Sebewa’s new headcount is
1160 – up from 1108 in 1980. Not a significant increase, but about in keeping
with the rest of Ionia County and the State of Michigan as a whole.
Our on-going studies into our Mennonite Wenger & Brake ancestors recently
revealed an interesting bit of American History. It seems that from September
11, 1777, when the British defeated George Washington’s army at Brandywine,
until June 18, 1778, when the city of Philadelphia was evacuated by the British,
the seat of our government, the Continental Congress, was in Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, in the heart of Mennonite Country.
This seems a timely spot for a word about the current Re-monumentation Project
in Michigan. That portion of the Northwest Territory which was set off as
Michigan Territory, and then the State of Michigan, was surveyed in the years
1815-1855. It was divided into townships as the basic unit, each 6 miles square
except where bordering on the Great Lakes or other natural barriers. These
townships were subdivided into 36 sections, each 1 mile square, more or less.
The townships were grouped into counties, intended to be 24 miles square and
containing 16 townships. Many counties and townships were combined into larger
groups at first, and for political, economic & geographical reasons were not
always re-divided as intended.
At the corners of township sections and quarter-sections, government surveyors
placed “monuments”, 4-foot pine posts usually, to mark their measurements. These
“government corners”, at half-mile intervals along section lines, have served
ever since as reference points for locating and describing every parcel of land,
both public and private in every Michigan county. In addition they establish the
rights-of-way for roads, utility lines, access easements, etc.
Historically, each county has been responsible for perpetuating the locations of
its government corners, usually thru the office of the County Surveyor. Various
objects, including stones, concrete, pipes, rods, clay drain tile, plowshares,
even gun barrels, have been used to replace them. In other cases, the markers
have been damaged, obliterated, or removed, sometimes intentionally, sometimes
not. But the monumentation has never been coordinated statewide.
Ionia County and much of the surrounding area was surveyed by Lucius Lyon,
founder of Lyons and co-founder of Grand Rapids. His work needs to be updated
and permanently re-marked with the new standard markers of long-lasting
materials. The new State Statute requires each county to appoint or elect a
County Surveyor and completely re-survey and re-mark the entire county within 20
years, and check all section corners at least once every 20 years thereafter.
Four dollars added to the cost of each Deed registered will build a fund to pay
the cost. In the long run the price will be more than worth it in the cost of
private property surveys, to say nothing of peace of mind.
Another marker which has not fared so well is the bronze plaque mounted on a
large stone at the County Farm Cemetery in Ionia State Park. Vandals have pried
it loose and carried it off. Monument-man Steve Yenchar has inquired and found
the original mold is still available to make another. Application is being made
to the State of Michigan for financial assistance, but local help may also be
LATEST BULLETIN: The lost has been found – by a jogger.
All monuments at East Sebewa Cemetery have been restored after the October
vandalism, except for that of patriarch Elihu Halladay and wife Amanda. Their
large white marble edifice is badly shattered and will require the use of a
large tripod to lower it into place while the pieces are re-built around it and
secured with a special adhesive. Rus Gregory plans to photo this event when
Steve Yenchar and Dave Fountain undertake it in the Spring. Elihu was Sebewa
INTERVIEW OF FERN CONKRITE by Grayden Slowins
My name is Fern Conkrite. I was born March 3, 1895, daughter of Charles Conkrite
and Emma Wainwright. My parents owned a farm on the south side of Morris Road,
just west of Shimnecon off Okemos Road. It was the W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 21 Danby. My
grandparents Wainwright were right around the corner on Okemos Road and my
grandparents Conkrite had originally settled in the same Section 21, but around
on the Charlotte Hwy. side of the river, just south of the Centerline Bridge on
the west side of the road. But they soon moved to the SW ¼ Sec. 28, where Keith
Merryfield is now. Granddad died young and left a widow with a large family. He
must have owned that farm between the 1875 Plat and 1891 Plat, because he
doesn’t show on either book. My parents moved to the town of Sebewa when I was
two years old and always lived there after that. It’s that house still standing
there on lot 51 Jackson St. on the Cornell side of town. Dad ran a general store
for a short time in the west half of that double building on the south side of
Mill St. (Musgrove) on the Sebewa side of town. That was just an experiment, I
Otherwise he did mostly what you’d call day labor. They had set up housekeeping
when they first married in the Sam Bigham house, which stood in the same spot
where the Lippencott-Fyan house is now. Then they moved to the farm in Danby and
I was born there. We moved back when I was two, and yesterday I had a big party
for my 96th Birthday!
That’s why I can’t remember the G. A. R. Hall. I told you they hadn’t met in the
last 95 years, and that’s true. Your Recollector shows they formed the Henry
Rice Post #151 G. A. R. at Sebewa Corners on May 15, 1883, and last met on
December 14, 1895. So I just missed it, although I was born then, but not living
in town yet. Let’s take a look at that list of G. A. R. members from the
February 1984 Recollector. I remember quite a few of them:
J.S.M Peabody – that’s John S. Marshall Peabody.
Z.B. Slater – he lived over on Petrie Rd. (Sec. 13).
G. W. Snyder – that would have been Dr. George Snyder.
A. N. Evans – Alonzo, Lon – farmed at Bruce Walkington’s old place, then lived
on Lot 30 east of Nancy Puffer-Jim Bedell house.
Thos. Waddell – lived in town of Cornell Lot 2.
S. DeCamp – lived in Cornell, last house east on Musgrove, north side.
G. E. Friend – George lived in the old homestead on the southwest corner.
F. N. Friend – his brother, lived in Portland, I guess.
L. W. Overley – lived in Sebewa, couldn’t trust them, oh my.
A. B. Lippencott – Allen lived where John did later.
M. Middaugh – lived over on Tupper Lake Rd. (Sec. 33).
J. M. Bradley – John had a store & house north of I. O. O. F. hall.
D. D. Krebs – lived west of Sunfield.
F. Linhart – that’s from Sunfield too.
L. B. Waring – always lived with the Lippencotts.
O. W. Daniels – Old Oren from over on 66.
J. C. Clark – from West Sebewa.
J. A. Britton – also from West Sebewa.
Elkanah Carpenter – lived near you. (Gilbert’s Sec. 28).
Jonah Carpenter – also near you. (Ronald Stambaugh Sec. 27).
Sam Bigham – Fyan house, but Harry Gibson farm before that.
James H. McClelland – Fred Hart’s place, twin sons Willis & Wilton.
CONTINUATION OF FERN CONKRITE INTERVIEW: Other G. A. R. members listed were:
Alford A. Garlock, J. W. Reeder, Asa Pike, L. N. King, Elisha Braley, V. B.
Polmanteer, L. J. Heaton, Mansil Pike, L. Braley, B. F. Dean, J. L. Shaver, D.
W. Litchfield, J. F. Hyde, William Wadsworth, E. A. Truxton, John Arnold, Robert
Force, Perry Arnold, Wm. Miner, Burt Judson, C. J. Yeager, Lt. G. W. Lusk, and
of course Manley Conkrite, brother of Charles.
CELEBRATING 107 YEARS – VERTIE CATT McDONALD
Vertie Catt McDonald was born in Odessa Township, Ionia County, February 13,
1884, daughter of George Catt and Nancy Jane Herron. That was during the
Presidency of Chester Allen Arthur, and a year before the first of two
non-consecutive terms of Grover Cleveland, thought by some Sebewa residents to
have been the last great Democrat President. Her parents farmed in SE ¼ Sec. 18
Odessa Township, where her father had re-located from Rochester, New York, after
coming on a sailing ship from England in 1852.
Celebrating her 107th birthday doesn’t seem so strange. Her brother Orvin Catt,
lived to be 97, and her half-sister, Ida Catt, lived to the age of 90. And
several other Sebewa women have lived past age 100 in recent years. The most
recent being Florence Cassel at 102, who, by-the-way, was
great-great-grandmother to little Adam Meyers and his sister Sarah, and Vertie
is their great-great-aunt in a different lineage. Those kids have a
life-expectancy well toward the end of the 21st century. Adam is namesake of
Adam Fender, Sebewa Supervisor 1897-1917.
Vertie and her late husband, Frank, farmed in Sebewa for over 50 years. Vertie
also made the rounds with a horse and buggy to teach piano lessons at area
homes. She now resides at Thornapple Manor, near Hastings. She never had any
children, but she has lots of nieces and nephews, including Hazel Richardson of
Hazel Richardson is in the process of selling her farm house, reportedly to Mike
Kennedy, and will move to Galveston, Indiana, to be near daughter Kay and
Zack and Eleanor York have sold their farm to Mike Cook, son of Gerry Cook on
Keefer Hwy. Zack and Eleanor have also sold their home in Kalamazoo, and will
move to a retirement home.
The Sadie & Elem Tran house has been sold once again, this time to Eric Howard
of Portland. He is a Corrections Officer at Ionia, and is undertaking extensive
remodeling, inside and out. Most of the plumbing and interior finish is being
replaced, as well as the mis-applied stone facia on the outside, etc. He will
add a two-car garage wing, a skylight, and other enlargements.
SEBEWA TOWNSHIP BOARD OF MINUTES for the recent months tells us that Evelyn
David resigned as Assessor on June 30, 1990. She had fulfilled this position
very capably since July, 1977, when Charles McNeil died. Her husband, Ken, had
succeeded her as Supervisor in November, 1988, but he also resigned, as of
September 30, 1990. Jim Stank was appointed by majority vote of the Board to
complete the un-expired term as Supervisor, and automatically became Assessor.
He received a six-month temporary certification from the State, and after
successfully completing the classes and exam, has received his permanent
certificate. Brian Pinkston was appointed at the October meeting to fill the
Trustee position vacated by Jim Stank. Jim is descended from John & Christena
Sayer and lives on the John Friend farm. We think Brian is descended from John
J. Peacock, he lives on Joe Schnabel farm.
That school picture (on front page of this issue of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR) is
the Frost School (Danby Township Dist. No. 3).
Front row on the left is Marian Pryer Lakin, Gertrude Fishell, Pauline Smith,
Della Peake, Dorothy Burgess, unknown, Margaret Pryer, Robert Wooden, Archie
Youngs, unknown, unknown, Howard Youngs.
Back row on the left is Ethel Hudson, Clarissa Lyon, Donna Bugbee, Sarah
Barrington, Edna Chase – Teacher, Irene Burgess, Leo Davenport, Louis Hunt, Bill
Atwell, Ted Atwell, George Hudson.
Edna Chase, the teacher, married Harry Brown and started all that Brown family.
She’s the mother of Burton and grandmother of his 13 kids.
(Fern Conkrite Interview will continue next issue)
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
JUNE 1991, Volume 26, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of Editor,
Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: REED, TOWNSEND, ELDRIDGE, FAULKNER, NOTT, SLOWINSKI, McLEOD, SCHNABEL,
GOODEMOOT, WOLCOTT, SPENCER, LIPPENCOTT, McCORMACK, HALLADAY, SNYDER, HITCHCOCK,
ZANTO, CONKRITE, DERBY, CLANTY, HOLLENBACH, DASE, SANDBORN
PHOTO ON FRONT OF THIS ISSUE: SEBEWA “HIGH” SCHOOL, 1912-1913
Back Row, L to R: Harold Cornell, Russell Halladay, Kenneth Sayer, Margaret
Vandepool, Layton Cornell, Helen Southwell, Olive Reeder, Goda Southwell, Gladha
Sayer, Zora Ward, Dorothy Kenyon, Fred Huizenga, Kenneth Dorin, Teacher
Elizabeth J. Cornell.
Third Row: Ted Brown, Tom Huizenga, Jerry Stairs, Anis Benschoter, Vera Wolfert,
Bernice Reed, Gladys Stairs, Nellie Reeder, Lawrence Friend.
2nd Row (Kneeling): Opal High, Alice Webster, Bertha Reed, Ruth Brown, Beatrice
Friend, Dora Vandepool, Lucile Howland, Mildred Evans, Lucille Friend, Ida
Baker, Elizabeth Dorin, Vern Reed.
Front Row (Sitting: Lloyd Reed, Leslie Wolfert, Cornelius Huizenga, Zene Ward,
Wesley Dorin, Donald Ward, Herbert Evans, Ted Webster.
LLOYD REED is now 89 years of age. My interview with him at his Florida home
MY INTERVIEW WITH LLOYD REED:
I was born 89 years ago in Sebewa on the little farm just south of the farm on
the corner of M 66 and Henderson Road, then belonging to my grandfather, Thomas
Hosea Reed. People called him Hosea. He had a number of sons: Earl, my father,
Walter, Ernest, James and a daughter.
Essie Figg was my first school teacher at the Johnson School. I was there two
years before my Dad, Earl, bought a place from Anse Green about a mile east of
Sebewa Corners. I then transferred to the “High” school of that place and I am
pictured as the first in the front row of that photo of the 1912-1913 school
pupils. We lived in a log house for a year before my Dad built a new house,
which still stands.
We lived there until I had graduated from the grade and went to high school at
Lake Odessa. I wanted to be able to go on to College after High School. My
grandfather had moved to Lake Odessa and I could stay with him during the week
and return home for the week ends. Dad took my grandparents pork, potatoes,
beans and other garden stuff for my keep. On a Sunday night I would take the
train at Sunfield after walking the five miles to the depot for Lake Odessa and
on Friday night I would take the train for Sunfield with the walk back to our
My mother was Blanche Townsend. She lived a half mile east of Sebewa Center and
a half mile north on the west side of the Road. She was quite a character. I was
surprised when I got a Recollector and in it I saw that my mother had sung a
song on the school graduation program. When I check back I find she was 13 years
old then. I find so many names of those I read in the Recollector are the names
I had heard my mother talk about. I know that she had worked for “Grandma” Olry.
Once in awhile, we’d go by there and she would say “There is where I spent some
of my days when I was young, working for Grandma Olry”. It was Chuck Little who
lived in the tenant house then.
Henry Townsend was my grandfather. He bought and sold livestock. We used to go
to Portland summer times to be with our grandparents. I remember one night we
had a thunderstorm and I awakened and Grandma Townsend and my Uncle Stewart were
in the window, looking toward town. I jumped up and the sky was all lighted.
Stewart, who was four years older than I was, and I was about ten or eleven
years old, went out in our bare feet. We could see it was the Methodist Church
burning. It burned down. She died in February of 1990. I had two sisters. One
was Malcolm Tasker’s wife, now living in Lake Odessa. They had a drug store
there for years.
My sister Bernice, married Ervie Howard, the coach, had a very interesting thing
happen. At the end of the football season an announcer on TV was talking about
some football team out on the west side of Detroit that had not been beaten all
season. A very few teams could boast a record like that. Just for fun, she
called him on the phone and their record in 1919. He asked her a lot of
questions and seemed to be writing it down. The next night he came on with his
sports program and apologized all over the place. (To be continued next issue.)
A RECENT ROSTER OF IONIA COUNTY WOMEN & MEN WHO SERVED IN IRAQ & KUWAIT during
Operation Desert Shield/Storm includes L. Cpl. James Eldridge. He is son of
Terri Faulkner & Ed Eldridge, son of Geraldine Nott & LaVern Eldridge, son of
Pearl McLeod & Eddie Eldridge, son of Jay Eldridge & Sophie Slowinski, daughter
of Louis Slowinski, son of Daniel Slowinski Sr. & Anna Schnabel. Being also son
of Terri Faulkner, Jamie is grandson of Peg Faulkner, daughter of Donald
Goodemoot, son of Russell Goodemoot, son of Mary Goodemoot (West Cemetery), and
as such is a great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Oliver Wolcott Sr.,
Governor of Connecticut and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
NORMA LIPPENCOTT SPENCER:
Yesterday Ann & I buried Norma Spencer, age 78, in the East Cemetery. She was
daughter of John R. Lippencott, son of Allen B. Lippencott, another of our Civil
War veterans. Norma’s mother was Blanch Effie Halladay, daughter of Ethelynd
(Lynn) McCormack & Edgar Halladay, and on back to David, Apollos, or Elihu
Halladay. Norma’s husband is James T. Spencer. Her son James Jr. and her two
daughters also survive. Norma Spencer & Martha VanBuren were “Real
Granddaughters of Civil War Veterans”.
We have a new neighbor on an historic farm. Back in 1988 we wrote a series of
interviews with Floyd Evans. We talked about the Ray Hitchcock family, who
occupy the E. C. (Clanty) Derby farm. Floyd & I visited their beautiful homesite
on the Grand River and the site of the old Sebewa Brick Yards. Floyd mentioned
that the Hitchcocks have a daughter who was an attorney in Florida. Well, she is
back in Sebewa (Danby actually)! We met her when she prosecuted the vandals who
desecrated our East Cemetery. She has recently been promoted to Chief Assistant
Proscecuting Attorney for Ionia County. She expected her husband and their
horses to arrive soon from Florida, and her dad has built a nice horse-barn for
them. So if you see her riding her bike or her horse around Sec. 24 Sebewa,
please welcome her and thank her for getting us restitution for the cemetery
damage. Her married name is still Gail Hitchcock.
ZANTO HOME ONCE OWNED BY WILLIAM SNYDER:
Did you know that the large colonial-saltbox house on South State Road, downwind
from Herbruck’s henhouse and long associated with the Mary Zanto family, was
once a hotel? Owned by William Snyder, the upstairs had a central hall and
cubicle rooms about 8’ x 9’. Each had space enough for a bed, chair, and
washstand. It was a stage-coach stop for settlers and others coming north on the
Bellvue-Ionia Road from Ohio. Later there was a gas station closer to the
Portland Road corner that served many of the same needs; food & water & rest for
team, driver, and passengers. Schenck says this was the first hotel to operate
in Orange Township and also the last, although Israel Wolverton and Ira LeValley
each operated at their homesteads for a time also. It was called, appropriately,
the Orange Hotel.
The stage coach may not always have been just what you picture from Grade B
Western Movies. Often it was nothing more than a covered, or even open, wagon
with extra seats. My mother was the last person (actually the only person) I
ever knew who had ridden a stage. She went to visit Uncle Elwood Brake in 1921,
when he was School Superintendent at Hubbardston and Cousin Barbara was a baby.
She took the train from Elmdale to Lowell and changed lines to Pewamo. She spent
the night at a flea-bag hotel above the Bank and took the “Morning Stage” to
Hubbardston. The “Stage” was an extended open touring car with side curtains. It
almost got stuck in the mud on Hubbardston Road, which we are just now making
Class A, All Season, for the sawmill truckers.
INTERVIEW CONTINUES WITH FERN CONKRITE by Grayden Slowins:
G: First thing I want to ask you about today is this Dec. 31, 1990 issue of the
PORTLAND REVIEW, 75 Years Ago column, where the old Universalist Church was
converted to a two-family apartment. The organ went to the Eagle Universalist
Church and the black walnut pulpit went to the Lansing society. Do you remember
that church and which building it is now, if any?
F: I think it was torn down and replaced by the bungalow built by Dr. Bradfield,
then lived in by Bob Lear, and now Joe Rich. It’s on the opposite end of the
block from the Congregational Church, corner of Warren and James Sts.
G: Now, when you lived out in Sebewa, you went to the Methodist Church and were
organist there; how did you happen to get switched over to the Nazarene?
F: Well, after I came down here, I went to the Methodist Church, Gertie and I
did, for awhile, and I don’t know, we just drifted away. There was something
about some of the preachers or something. Then we got acquainted with Mrs.
Neller and one day she said to me “Fern, I don’t like to see you waste all your
talent and we need a pianist awful bad. Mrs. Fenner has been praying for someone
to take her place. Wouldn’t you like to come and do it?”
“And I said “Well, guess I could”. And so I just started going to the Nazarene
Church, and I played there for years. And I played up here on Cutler Road, after
they built the new church.
G: Do you remember what kind of church that was, down in the valley, before it
F: Well, it was built by the Presbyterians. The Congos (Congregationalists),
they had a little disturbance, and there was a bunch of them broke off; and they
built that church down there and they called themselves Presbyterians. Well,
then, they got back together with the Congos again, and they sold that building
to the Pilgrim Holiness people that have the Bible College in Owosso. When the
United Brethren got hold of it, and then the Nazarenes.
G: What do you know about E. C. (Clanty) Derby and his wife Millie?
F: They had two girls, Rose, who married Dr. Ed Snyder, son of Civil War veteran
Dr. George Snyder, and they lived in Sunfield and then Lake Odessa; and Nellie,
who married John Morrissey, a blacksmith in Sunfield. They were his daughters by
his first wife. The second wife was married to him when he died. She sold the
farm to Dr. George Morse and moved up town and lived in that house back in the
northeast corner of Cornell. Then she moved from there; she took care of Lon
Evans and she got that house. Lon Evans and his wife Emma, daughter of John
Friend, had farmed up west of you where Bruce Walkington lived with his first
wife Vivian. I never knew Lon to do anything after he moved to town. Lived on
his Civil War pension. Didn’t take much to live, those days. After his first
house burned, he moved into that corner house at SW corner Washington & Jackson
Streets in Cornell – lot 45. That was a Hollenbach house. Millie Derby took care
of him in his last years and she got that house.
G: What about George Hollenbach and his wife, a daughter of Jacob Collingham?
Who were their children?
F: Mahala married George High and had a daughter, Nellie, who married Dr.
Frederick Morse and they later moved to Lake Odessa. Their son was Dr. George
Morse. Sarah (Sadie) married Charles Cooper and had no children. Wallace never
married. The other son (George Jr.?) was the father of all these Hollenbachs
The other Collingham girl, Elizabeth, married Oliver Smith. Their children were:
Eva, who married a man named Cook and lived in Montana; Jane, who married a
Towner and had Leighton Smith, Bert Towner, Evert Towner, and a daughter; and
Ben, who married Mable Baird Hale and had Alzeo (Mike), Oliver Jr., Irvin, and
several girl babies who died.
Mable had been married before, and one of her girls, Beatrice, married Wallace
Hollenbach, Jr. (son of George Jr.?) and had Georgiana, Robert, Carrie Lee,
Richard, Daryl, Roberta, Carol, and Jamie. Mable’s other daughter, Bernice,
married LeRoy Darling and had Irene Carr, Wellman Darling, LeRoy, Jr., and
Oliver Smith’s first wife was Phoebe A. Gunn, daughter of Samuel and Caroline
Gunn. By that marriage there was a daughter Carrie, who was married to Henry
Whorley late in life after her first husband, Fred McNeil, died by suicide. (Whorleys
lived where Linda Banker is remodeling now.)
Fred McNeil died with the same rope that killed Ellis Dorin, the constable who
investigated. Supposedly a third man used it also. McNeil’s problem was a
(Fern will continue in next issue.)
Peggy Dase, granddaughter of Meredith Sandborn, writes that Meredith has been at
Ionia Manor for almost 3 years and would appreciate hearing from old friends.
The address is 814 E. Lincoln Avenue, Ionia, 48846.
The 1991-1992 meeting dates for SEBEWA TOWNSHIP BOARD are:
April 30, May 28, June 25, July 23, August 27, September 24, at Town Hall.
October 29 – Jim Stank home, November 26 – Brian Pinkston home, December 17 –
LaVern Carr home, January 28 – Phil Shetterly home, February 25 – Jim Stank
home, March 17 – Grayden Slowins home.
All regular meetings at 8:00 PM on Tuesdays.
Annual meeting – Saturday, March 28, 1992: 1:00 PM at Town Hall.