THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
AUGUST 1997, Volume 33, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: TASKER, REED, SEDORE, SCHNABEL, SHOTWELL, HAUSERMAN, DEMARAY JOHNSON,
ALLEN, MILLER, MAJOR, CHAPIN MAJINSKA, KUBISH, SOVOKA, TORREY, POSSEHN, BURGESS,
BROOKS, TOWNER, HENRY, McDIARMID, BARNARD, SLOWINSKI, LANDIS, WHITE
MALCOLM A. TASKER, 81, husband of Iris REED TASKER, brother of the late Marshall
TASKER & Phyllis SEDORE, son of Roy & Rose SCHNABEL TASKER, daughter of Margaret
SHOTWELL & Peter SCHNABEL, son of Marina & Martin SCHNABEL, son of Regina &
Anton SCHNABEL. Malcolm was a pharmacist in Detroit, Lake Odessa, and Hastings.
REVA HAUSERMAN, 96, widow of John HAUSERMAN, mother of Rose Marie DEMARAY
JOHNSON & the late Betty DEMARAY, sister of Lamoin ALLEN, Vera MILLER and the
late Clarence MAJOR, daughter of Mabel CHAPIN & John MAJINSKA, son of George
MAJINSKA & Annette KUBISH, daughter of John KUBISH. George MAJINSKA was son of
Tony MAJINSKA & Anna SOVOKA.
Cecil F. TORREY, 80, widower of Maxine HAZZARD TORREY, father of Norman TORREY &
Marilyn POSSEHN, brother of Charles, Clare & Chalmer TORREY & Marie BURGESS, son
of Glenn & Katie BROOKS TORREY. He was the last of the “Gandy Dancers” – section
hands – for the old Pere Marquette Railroad. Others were Bert TOWNER, John HENRY
& Voight McDIARMID, plus Ray BARNARD in the early years. I personally have seen
these four men take four long-handled ratchet jacks and lift a fully loaded coal
car back onto the tracks. Uncle Bob SLOWINSKI was once their supervisor.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BEGINNING CEMETERY SEXTON by Grayden
The cemetery sexton’s job begins in early April. The first task is to remove all
the old faded flowers and wreaths, both real and artificial, as well as leaves &
branches from trees. This is also a good time to prune trees & shrubs if it was
not completed in the fall & winter. Burials from winter storage should be
completed by May 1, weather permitting, and all graves leveled and re-soded or
Mowing should begin the last week of April in the areas that grow the fastest………
State law requires United States flags on the graves of all known veterans for
Memorial Day. If the veterans, scouts, or cemetery society supply the flags or
labor, that’s find. Otherwise the township is responsible. Flag holders denoting
the specific war are a nice touch but not required.
When a funeral home calls for a grave, the first step is to alert the
grave-digger, usually a back-hoe operator. Be sure the family has selected a
grave-site, then measure and stake it out, remove and save the sod……..
The sexton is the last person to do a service for a human being on this earth.
Yet they are seldom thanked. The doctors, ambulance personnel, nurses,
ministers, undertakers & luncheon ladies are publicly thanked, but seldom the
sexton. Sometimes people say the cemetery looks nice all trimmed up, but they
never say thanks for a good job of burying our loved one. The reward is
satisfaction of a job well done, not from being appreciated! END
GERMANS FOLLOW ENGLISH TO IONIA by Grayden SLOWINS
Most of the settlers who came to Ionia with the DEXTER Colony in 1833, or during
the 20 years thereafter, were of English descent. Their families had lived in
the New England Colonies for several generations. Many of their ancestors had
arrived from England with at least a few gold coins in their pockets, and these
Yankees had prospered in the Colonies before heading west. In Ionia they founded
the First United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian
Church, and the Church of Christ (Disciples).
In the second 20 to 25 year period of settlement, approximately 1854-1879, a
different group of people made a massive influx to America and to Ionia. They
were largely German-speaking people from the Principalities of central Europe:
Alsace-Lorraine, Austria, Baden, Bavaria, Brandenberg, Brunswick, Hanover, Hesse,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mecklenberg, Palatinate, Pomerania, Prussia, East
Prussia, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Silesia, Switzerland, Westphalia, and
Wurttemberg.Their religions were Roman Catholic, German Lutheran, German
Baptist, German Brethren, and a few other Protestant sects. One thing they had
in common was their German language, although in different dialects. Another
thing they had in common was their poor financial condition and along with it a
fierce ambition to work hard and improve their lot in this land of opportunity.
During the 1860s Prime Minister Otto Van Bismarck led a series of wars against
Denmark, Austria and France, in order to unite all the German-speaking peoples
located in the areas between them. Bismarck came out of it as the Chancellor of
the United German Empire. But the average German did not fare so well, and
wanted a better life for their country in the military. Then at first
opportunity, they sold almost everything they had to pay for the $10 “steerage”
for the trip on a sailing ship to the New World. Often only the husband came
first, worked a year or two, and then sent for the wife and kids.
Immigrants were welcomed to settle the new lands opening up, but the story was
that every man needed a trade to guarantee that he would be a self-supporting
citizen. Among their few possessions, besides the clothes on their backs, they
usually carried a carpet bag with the tools of their trade as a carpenter,
bricklayer, stonemason, tailor, butcher, printer, or whatever. Most were really
farmers at heart, but then as now, a man needed a trade to grub-stake his
farming. Many worked a couple years in New York or New Jersey and then headed
In Ionia they were soon known for their industry and thrift. They worked on the
farms and in the construction trades. They worked in the Pere Marquette Car
Shops, the furniture factories, the shirt factories, and in the prisons. Soon
they saved enough to buy land or go into business for themselves.
It’s hard to believe that a man could work for 50 cents a day, support a growing
family, and save enough to make a sizeable down-payment on a 40-acre farm in
just two or three years. The reason, as with most all immigrant families, was
the extended family. With father, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts,
uncles, and cousins all working, they soon paid for a farm for one family, then
for another, and so forth. They never paid interest on borrowed money for very
In Ionia they formed the Arbeiter Bund (German workers Aid Society), and built
their Lodge Hall on the southwest corner of Dexter Street and Lincoln Avenue
(recently torn down to make way for a quick-oil-change shop). They built and
supported S.S. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church, and
the German Evangelical Church (now Zion United Methodist).
It is interesting to note that the uprisings in Poland at the end of the Cold
War started not in the shipyards of Gdansk, as is commonly reported, but 25
years earlier in the railroad car shops of Poznan, whence came many of Ionia’s
old settlers. A striker shown on TV from Poznan was a LEHMAN, and the LEHMANS of
Ionia originated in Posnan. My grandmother Wilhelmina SLOWINSKI was one of them.
The SCHNABEL family was one of the first to come from POZNAN to the Ionia area.
The oldest Schnabel child was Anna, shown on our cover with her husband, Daniel
SLOWINSKI Sr. (also shown - Christopher SLOWINSKI).
Their children were:
1. Christopher SLOWINSKI, 1838-1900; married Mary GREGIE
2. Louis SLOWINSKI, 1841-1918; married Henrietta
3. Michael SLOWINSKI, 1844-1917; married Josephine KLOSS
4. Theofil SLOWINSKI, 1847-1894; married Magdalena
5. Paulina SLOWINSKI, 1850-1931; married Frank BENHABEL
6. August SLOWINSKI, 1853-1912; married Amelia SHADDY
7. Minnie SLOWINSKI, 1855-1922; married George BIEHLER
8. Frank SLOWINSKI, 1861-1915; married Lena KRIEGER
9. Roman SLOWINSKI, 1864- ; married Mae OTTE.
Christopher SLOWINSKI, born in East Prussia, November 28, 1838, died in Berlin
Township, Ionia County, Michigan, December 5, 1900; was married to Mary GREGIE,
born in Prussia, September 1845, died in Berlin Township, May 23, 1895, daughter
of John & Catherine GREGIE. Catherine was born in Prussia, May 1808, died in
Berlin Township, January 8, 1899. Christopher, Mary and Catherine are buried
together at Mt. Olivet.
After serving three hitches in the German army, fighting against Denmark,
Austria, and France, Chris and his brother Mike took advantage of the Armistice
with France to sail out of Hamburg for America in 1870. They landed in New
Jersey and worked there two years. Then they had enough money to send for their
families and they all came to Martin Schnabel’s farm in Berlin Township in the
winter of 1872. (This farm was the Lyle & Peg FAULKNER home in recent years.)
They first lived in a log house on the Henry HAUSERMAN farm, next north of
Martin SCHNABEL. The men worked in a lumber camp near Stanton & Sheridan that
first winter, and the summer in a shingle mill at Sheridan. About 1874 or 1875
they bought land in Sec. 36 Berlin Township and began at once to clear and drain
Chris was a stonecutter/stonemason, and Mike was a carpenter/joiner. They built
their own barns with wide, solid, stone foundations, and then frame house. Chris
built his Michigan-T style farm house about 1895-1896. He was remembered by his
last surviving daughter, Mary, as a stubborn old man at 62, who had lots of guts
to come over to this New World and even learned to read and write English. Chris
and old Dan took out only their “first papers” and never became citizens, so
Roman and Theodore were never citizens either, which they could have been
automatically. Chris had learned the art of grafting, pruning, and raising apple
trees. He started orchards for all the family. In the old country they had
raised wheat, oats, and barley, and these were the favored crops here too. They
kept a few cows and hogs, but sheep and draft horses were their favorite
livestock. Chris & Mary’s children were:
1. Roman SLOWINSKI, 1868-1923; married Anna KRIEGER
2. Theodore (Pete) SLOWINSKI; 1869-1940, married Rose HAULIHAN
3. Anna SLOWINSKI, 1872-1929; married John LEHMAN
4. Daniel SLOWINSKI, 1874-1951; married Wilhelmina LEHMAN
5. Michael SLOWINSKI, 1876 -; married Myrtle
6. Martha SLOWINSKI, 1878-1940; married Joseph MAJINSKA
7. Minnie SLOWINSKI, 1880-died soon.
8. Mary SLOWINSKI, 1883-1969; married Guy Eicholtz
9. Emma SLOWINSKI, 1885-1904
Christopher SLOWINSKI’S Last Will & Testament is recorded as follows:
I, Christopher SLOWINSKI, of Berlin Township, Ionia County, State of Michigan,
being sixty years of age and being of sound mind and disposing memory, do make
this my last will and testament hereby revoking any and all former wills by me
After the payment of all legal claims or demands against me or my estate, I
give, devise, and bequeath my estate and property, Real and Personal, as follows
I will to my son Daniel SLOWINSKI the south half of the south half of the
northwest quarter of Section No. thirty-six, also the northwest quarter of the
southwest quarter of said section No. thirty six, both in Township No. six (6)
north of Range No. seven (7) west, 80 acres in the two descriptions, subject
however to the payment by said Daniel SLOWINSKI of six hundred dollars as
follows, to wit: Two hundred dollars to my daughter Anna SLOWINSKI, and two
hundred dollars to my son Michael SLOWINSKI, and two hundred dollars to my
daughter Martha SLOWINSKI, which said sums of two hundred dollars I will to my
three said children, and will that it be paid to them three years after my
I will to my son Roman SLOWINSKI the north half of the southeast quarter of
Section No. thirty five in Township No. six (6) north of Range No. seven (7)
west, eighty acres, subject however to the payment of six hundred dollars as
follows: Two hundred dollars to my daughter Mary SLOWINSKI, and two hundred
dollars to my daughter Emma SLOWINSKI, and two hundred dollars to my son
Theodore SLOWINSKI, which said sums of two hundred dollars I will to said
Theodore to be paid to them three years after my decrease, and two hundred
dollars to be paid to Emma when she reaches 21 years of age.
All the land hereinbefore described is in Ionia County in the State of Michigan.
I will all the rest and residue of my estate, real if any and all my personal
property to my two sons Daniel SLOWINSKI and Roman SLOWINSKI, to be divided
between them share and share alike. And after the division between them as
aforesaid, I will that said Daniel SLOWINSKI’S share of my personal estate shall
be subject to one good cow which he shall give to each of my three years after
my decease and Emma’s cow to be delivered when she becomes of the age of
I hereby appoint Henry DARNELL of Berlin Township, whose Post Office is Orange,
Mich., Executor of this my will. In witness whereof I have signed and sealed and
published and declared this instrument as my last will and testament at Ionia
City in Ionia County, State of Michigan, this fifth day of November A.D.
eighteen hundred and ninety eight. Signed Christopher SLOWINSKI. Montgomery
WEBSTER, Register of Probate. Wm. O. WEBSTER, Judge of Probate.
Be it Remembered, That I, Daniel SLOWINSKI of Township of Berlin in the County
of Ionia and State of Michigan, being of sound mind and memory, but knowing the
uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, execute, and declare this to be My
Last Will and Testament, in manner following:
FIRST, I will and direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid in
SECOND, I give, devise and bequeath unto my sons in manner as follows, to wit:
Donald Frederick SLOWINS, the sum of One Thousand Dollars, and my farm tools and
Herbert Clarence SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Eugene Adelbert SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Frank Hugh SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
John Bernard SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Clarence Henry SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Woodrow Wilson Daniel SLOWINSKI, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars, in full of his
legacy under my Will.
THIRD, All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, ral or personal or
mixed, wheresoever situated, whereof I may die seized or possessed, or to which
I may be in any manner entitled at the time of my death, I give, devise and
bequeath unto the following named children, to wit:
Frances Mary GAZALLA
Florence Genevieve SLOWINSKI
Marguerite Wilhelmina MARION
Louise Regina SARLOUIS
Clarence Henry SLOWINSKI
John Bernard SLOWINSKI
Frank Hugh SLOWINSKI
Eugene Adelbert SLOWINSKI
Herbert Clarence SLOWINSKI
Donald Frederick SLOWINS,
To be divided equally among them, share and share alike.I hereby appoint William
ALLEN and Thomas JOHNSON of Lake Odessa, Michigan, executors of this My Last
Will and Testament.
LASTLY, I do hereby revoke all former, any and every Will heretofore made by me.
In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this Twenty-seventh
day of January in the year One thousand nine hundred and forty eight
Signed: Daniel SLOWINSKI
Witnessed: Victor D. CLUM, Robert K. LAPWORTH.
OLD TOMB GETS A NEW LIFE:
Restoring a Nineteenth Century tomb in OAKHILL Cemetery has been a project for
several area residents for the past few months. It was said to be the grave of
an old time Presbyterian minister’s wife and child, but nobody knew for sure.
Rev. Robert NIXON, Pastor Emeritus of First Presbyterian Church in Ionia, and
his wife, Joan, began researching the 1850s tomb. With help fro the Ionian
County Historical Society, old local church minutes, and the National
Presbyterian Historical Society, it was determined that the wife of Rev. Dr.
Robert WHARTON LANDIS, Elizabeth WHITE LANDIS, and their child were buried at
Rev. R. W. LANDIS and his wife met and married in Philadelphia. They moved to
Ionia in 1856 and soon had a child. The child was always frail and died when 9
months old, just hours before the death of Elizabeth. Rev. LANDIS did not like
the idea of burying them in the ground and built a vault for them in the
hillside. He left Ionia in 1859 for Kentucky, where he later became president of
a college and died there January 24, 1883, at the age of 74.
Inside the tomb Rev. NIXON found a funny-shaped metal casket, probably
containing both mother and child, whose name is unknown. An anonymous donor
provided funds for the restoration, and Chris MECHANEY’S company, J. B.
Construction, did the work, with Tom HANLINE as bricklayer. The related bricks
have been sealed and a granite stone will tell who is inside.
UPDATES TO SHEPARD’S INSTRUCTIONS:
Hay managers need to have 7 ½-8” gaps for the sheep’s heads, with 5 ½-7 ½”
vertical dividers between. Viking Birdsfoot Trefoil is a good pasture legume,
gives small tender shoots for lambs & ewes, high protein, and high milk
production, and does not cause bloat. A mineral mixture containing calcium,
phosphorus, iodized sodium chloride, and other trace minerals, but not much
copper, should be available to the flock at all times.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
OCTOBER 1997, Volume 33, Number 2. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: SCHNABEL, STEINBERG, O’MARA, ENDRES, HICKEY,
HILL, CANNAM, FACE, DREGER, ALMY, GRENIC, SHOTWELL, YORK,
PIERCEFIELD, PATRICK, GREEN, CANTANT, VANDECAR, DENTON,
DUNSMORE, MORRIS, ZELNER, LEHMAN, WENGER, ZIMMERMAN, OLRY,
SLOWINSKI, BRAKE, McCAUL
MICHIGAN COURTHOUSES by Grayden SLOWINS: (With cover page photos
of OLD LAPEER COUNTY COURTHOUSE – LAPEER & MASON COUNTY COURTHOUSE – LUDINGTON –
We continue our tour of county courthouses in Michigan by beginning with the
ARENAC County courthouse in Standish. Two-story polished granite pillars with
modern tan brick and sandstone give it a business-like appearance.
GLADWIN County courthouse in Gladwin was built by WPA in 1939, during the oil
boom, and has the Art Deco style of that period, with pale yellow brick and gray
stone. The one redeeming quality is an attempt to depict agriculture and other
occupations of the sixteen townships by etchings in the gray stone. Gladwin
County was named after Henry GLADWIN, a British Army officer.
CLARE County courthouse at Harrison is flat, with the plain tan brick and gray
stone trim of the 1950s. Clare County is named after a county in Ireland.
OSCEOLA County courthouse at Reed City is the same, except it appears to be
built in front of an older part, now the annex, which was not much more than an
Italianate house. Osceola County has less than 20,000 people.
LAKE County courthouse at Baldwin, build in 1927 of red brick with white pillars
and trim, looks quite dignified with its portico bearing the Great Seal of
Michigan. Especially since Lake is an even poorer county, with fewer than 8000
The year 1893 saw the construction of a new courthouse for MASON County at
Ludington. When the county seat was moved to Ludington from Lincoln in 1873, a
small brick courthouse was erected. This courthouse was originally a one-story
building, and though a second floor was added in 1883, it soon became inadequate
for the county’s needs. On April 4, 1892, the voters chose to bond the county
for $50,000 to purchase property and build a new courthouse. The courthouse was
designed by Sidney J. OSGOOD of Grand Rapids, one of the leading architects of
West Michigan. Between 1887 and 1900 OSGOOD designed four Lower Peninsula
courthouses, of which Ludington and Centerville remain. His KENT County
courthouse in Grand Rapids, built in 1888-1890, and MUSKEGON County courthouse
in Muskegon, built in 1895, have both been demolished. OSGOOD also designed the
Muskegon Union Depot, which still exists as a tourist information center.
Charles T. GATKE of Ludington was the contractor at a bid of $39,150. The lot, a
full city block, cost the county $11,000. The building is 93 x 93 feet square
with three floors. The red Milwaukee pressed brick and red Jacobsville
sandstone, quarried near Houghton in the Upper Peninsula, are combined in the
Richardsonian Romanesque style. The sandstone is used for the basement,
beltcourse, window sills and lintels. The roof is both hip & gable, crowned by a
central pyramid-roofed bell & clock tower. The clock was installed in 1907.
There is also a cylindrical tower on the southwest corner enclosing a circular
staircase from the Clerk’s office to Circuit Court. The Clerk devoted the rest
of his afternoon to showing us nook & cranny.
At the time of construction the Ludington courthouse was piped for gas and wired
for electricity and combination fixtures were installed. The interior of the
building still has most of the original woodwork and many of the original
furnishings. There are decorative tin ceilings and the four main offices on the
first floor (Clerk, Treasurer, Probate & Register of Deeds) retain their wall
adornments and fireplaces with elaborate mantles and tile. Symmetrical wood
staircases with wood banisters and finials lead from either end of the first
floor to the second. The second floor courtroom has folding seats which were
patented in 1882, and wood swivel chairs for the jurors. Mason County was named
after the first Governor of the State of Michigan, Stevens T. MASON. Ludington
was named after its founder, James LUDINGTON.
After stopping to photo our hay being baled in large round bales for the first
time ever, we travel to Port Austin at the tip of the thumb and camp at Port
Crescent State Park, under the oak trees and near the roaring waves of Saginaw
HURON County courthouse at Bad Axe is an example of a neat,
modern, gray brick & stone flat-top building with some quiet dignity. It was
built in 1967.
The SANILAC County courthouse at Sandusky, with its red brick and white pillars
& trim, is contemporary to the 1927 LAKE County building in styling, but was
apparently built somewhat earlier in this century and has a World War I memorial
St. CLAIR County courthouse at Port Huron has been
vastly remodeled into a modern county building for a
bustling lake-port city that is an international trade
LAPEER County on the other hand, has preserved its majestic and historic white
wood courthouse as a museum, while doing county business in a modern flat-top
building that is separate and discreetly behind. With its huge pillared portico
and gold-domed tower, the styling of the old building is more representative of
the Greek Revival buildings in the Atlantic States than the simpler Midwest
style of the wooden courthouses at Cheboygan and Mio.
TUSCULA County courthouse was built on land donated by Peter DeWitt Bush, the
second permanent resident of the village of Caro. An old frame church was moved
onto the site to serve as the first courthouse in 1866. In 1873 a brick
courthouse was built that served until 1932. Then the present Art Deco style
structure was completed on the same site. It is faced with Indiana limestone and
cost $180,000. William H. KUNI of Detroit was the architect.
The BAY County courthouse in Bay City is an eleven-story gray building and quite
imposing, but it too reflects the 1930s Art Deco style that reveals its age.
MIDLAND County courthouse at Midland, built in 1924, is English Tudor in style
and strikingly different from any other in Michigan, except possibly the Swiss
Chalet in Gaylord. Exposed foundation bricks & stones near the basement
restrooms indicate the structure was built at least in part on the remains of
the previous courthouse.
SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY by Grayden SLOWINS:
Last issue we introduced the pioneer SCHNABEL family and covered the family of
the oldest daughter, Anna SCHNABEL SLOWINSKI. The complete roster of Anton &
Regina SCHNABEL’S children was:
1. Anna SCHNABEL born 1816, died 1893
2. Rosanna SCHNABEL born 1824, died 1895
3. Martin SCHNABEL born 1826, died 1917
4. Michael SCHNABEL born 1828, died 1896
5. Amelia (Minnie) SCHNABEL born 1833, died 1905
6. Lena SCHNABEL born 18__, died 19__
7. Anton SCHNABEL born 1851, died 1939
Today we continue by covering Rosanna’s family. Born in Posen, East Prussia in
1824, and died at Ionia, October 1, 1895, Rosanna married August STEINBERG, born
in Prussia, 18__, died at Ionia, MI, May 24, 1897. August had come to Posen as a
cattle buyer, and never revealed his family history. He married Rosanna (Rose)
and they became sharecroppers for a baron, with a small strip of ground for
their own food. They had a cottage near a small stream with Forget-me-nots on
its banks. Two of their nine children were killed in a house fire.
Rosanna and August came to Odessa Township, Ionia County, in 1880, with their
youngest daughter, Julia. Two of their other children, Paulina and Lawrence,
came over that same time and stopped off in Ionia. Mary, Frank, Roman and Sophia
had come earlier. August built a log cabin with thatched roof on a small chunk
of ground given them by Paulina’s new husband, John O’Mara, on the west end of
his farm on Clarksville Road. August worked as a handyman, doing remodeling and
repairing for others. They had a horse, cow, and chickens, and Rosanna made
butter and carried it to O’Mara’s in a gallon crock to sell in Ionia. Both are
buried at Mt. Olivet.
Their children were:
3. Paulina STEINBERG born 1852, died 1925
4. Mary STEINBERG born 1856, died 1936
5. Frank STEINBERG born 1858, died __
6. Roman STEINBERG born 18__, died 1947
7. Sophia STEINBERG born 1866, died 1944
8. Lawrence STEINBERG born 18__, 1881
9. Julia STEINBERG born 1868, died 1966.
PAULINE STEINBERG, born in Charnikov, East Prussia, March 1, 1852, died in
Odessa Township, October 7, 1925; was married to John O’MARA, born in Limerick,
Ireland, 1846, died in Odessa Township, April 19, 1926. John had come over with
his parents at age 2, to a farm south of Saranac, at the time of the Irish
potato famine. His father had seven brothers in Ireland and never knew if any
more came over. John’s only sibling, Tom, died as a young man. The LIMERICK
school was built on .75 acre of John’s first 40. John and Pauline are buried at
Their children were:
1. Infant daughter born 1885
2. Winifred O’MARA born 1886, died 1942
3. Thomas P. O’MARA born 1888, died 1977
4. Frank R. O’MARA born 1890, died 1967
5. Mary C. O’MARA born 1892, died 1980
6. Anna J. O’MARA born 1895, died 1981.
FRANK ROMAN O’MARA, born in Odessa Township, March 8, 1890, died in Odessa
Township December 10, 1967; was married August 18, 1919 to Emma Frances ENDRES,
born April 19, 1900 and died July 11, 1989. He attended the LIMERICK School on
the corner of his family’s farm and farmed all his life on the farm where he was
born and died, except for a brief stint in World War I. They were charter
members of St. Edward’s Catholic Church and are buried at Lakeside Cemetery.
Emma was active in the church organizations and veterans’ auxiliaries and was
loved by all who knew her. All of the O’MARAS of Ionia and Lake Odessa are
descended from this family.
FRANK AND EMMA’S children were:
1. Marie J. O’MARA born 1920
2. Thomas S. O’MARA born 1922
3. Lawrence J. O’MARA born 1824, died 1983
4. Pauline A. (Peggy) O’MARA born 1929
5. Eugene E. O’MARA born 1932
6. Rosemary F. O’MARA born 1934.
ROSEMARY F. O’MARA born in Odessa Township, February 22, 1934. She married
September 7, 1957, James Daniel HICKEY, born May 28, 1934. She attended LIMERICK
School and graduated from Lake Odessa High School. They lived on a portion of
the HICKEY farm in Campbell Township.
Their children were:
1. Perry J. HICKEY
2. Joseph W. HICKEY
3. Kathleen A. HICKEY
4. William J. HICKEY
5. Mary E. HICKEY
SOPHIA STEINBERG, born in Posen, East Prussia, 1866, died in Orleans Township,
1944, was married to George E. HILL, born in 1869, died in Orleans Township in
1931. She came to the United States with her Aunt Lena GARLICK at age 4, and
grew up working in the fields at her Aunt Minnie CANNOM’S. Sophia and George
lived in Orleans Township and he ran the potato storage at Orleans. Both are
buried at Orleans.
Their children were:
1. Goldie E. HILL born 1893, died 1961
2. Iva P. HILL born 1895, died 1980
3. George HILL
4. Julia HILL
GOLDIE E. HILL, born in Orleans Township, Ionia County, 1893, died in Belding,
1961; was married to Erme C. FACE, born in Orleans Township, 1890 and died in
Orleans Township, 1975. They had a large farm with a beautiful cobblestone house
on Belding Road – M-44.
Their children were:
1. Dorothy FACE born 1914
2. Alva G. FACE born 1918, died 1969
3. Earl FACE, born 1920
4. Barbara FACE, born 1924.
DOROTHY FACE, born in Orleans Township, June 9, 1914, was married to Gaylord
DREGER born July 14, 1911 and they lived at Belding.
Their children were:
1. Janice DREGER
2. Judy DREGER
3. Fred DREGER
4. Teri Ann DREGER
MARTIN SCHNABEL, third child of Anton & Regina SCHNABEL, was born in Posen, East
Prussic, August 5, 1826 and died in Berlin Township, Ionia County, March 25,
1917. He was married November 20, 1851, to Marina GRENIC, born in Prussia,
January 11, 1831. He died in Berlin Township April 21, 1914. They came to this
country in 1854 with 50 cents in their pocket and settled on their farm in 1857.
Not only did they raise six children of their own, but being the first of the
family in this country, they assisted many of their brothers, sisters, nieces,
and nephews to make the trip. They met every one of them at the depot and found
them a place to stay in the New World. Martin kept his sheep on “the woods
forty” south-east of the Chris & Dan SLOWINSKI home in the summertime, and
walked down their lane with a pail of salt over his arm. He had a full head of
snow-white hair. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary and are buried
at Mt. Olivet.
Their children were:
1. Peter SCHNABEL born 1854, died 1926
2. Levi SCHNABEL born 1857
3. Susan SCHNABEL born 1860, died 1945
4. Thomas SCHNABEL born 1865, died 1946
5. Amelia SCHNABEL born 1866, died 1948
6. Robert J. SCHNABEL born 1870, died 1954.
PETER SCHNABEL, born in Prussia May 18, 1854, died in Odessa Township July 27,
1926. He was married to Margaret SHOTWELL, born in Prussia May 7, 1864, died in
Odessa Township September 2, 1908. He came to the United States with his parents
in 1854 and settled with them on their farm in Berlin Township in 1857. He got
his own farm in Sec. 1 Odessa and Sec. 36 Berlin Townships. They are buried at
Their children were:
1. Infant boy born 1887
2. Infant boy born 1889
3. Helena SCHNABEL born 1890
4. Leo SCHNABEL born 1891, died 1953
5. Rose SCHNABEL born 1893, died 1974
6. Joseph SCHNABEL born 1895, died 1966
7. Genevieve SCHNABEL born 1897, died 1975
8. Infant girl born 1902
9. Infant girl born 1903
10. Infant boy born 1903
JOSEPH SCHNABEL, born in Odessa Township February 15, 1895, died in Sebewa
Township March 7, 1966; was married to Ethel May YORK born in Sebewa Township
February 7, 1890, died November 19, 1965. They farmed in Sebewa Township on
Clarksville Road all their married lives. He was a veteran of World War I, and
they are buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
Their children were:
1. Duncan T. SCHNABEL born 1920, died 1976
2. June SCHNABEL born 1928
JUNE SCHNABEL born in Sebewa Township June 15, 1928, was married March 15, 1947,
to Norman PIERCEFIELD, born November 6, 1926. They live on a portion of her
parents’ farm in Sebewa.
MICHAEL SCHNABEL, born in Posen, East Prussia, April 7, 1828, died in Berlin
Township, Ionia County, September 10, 1896; was married to Mary CANTANT, born in
Netherlands, August 5, 1831, died in Ionia Township October 19, 1921, daughter
of John CANANT. They had a farm on AINSWORTH Road in Berlin Township and
attended Zion Lutheran Church at Woodland. They are buried at Balcolm Cemetery.
Their children were:
1. Mary SCHNABEL born 1853
2. Hannah M. SCHNABEL born 1855, died 1918
3. William SCHNABEL born 1856, died 1946
4. Edward SCHNABEL born 1858, died 1946
5. Agnes A. SCHNABEL born 1859, died 1929
6. Sarah Jane SCHNABEL born 1862, died 1963
7. Franklin SCHNABEL born 1863, died 1838
8. Louis Horace SCHNABEL born 1868, died 1962
9. Emma J. SCHNABEL born 1870, died 1950
10. Lydia SCHNABEL born 1871
11. Delbert (Cova or Covey) SCHNABEL born 1875
AGNES A. SCHNABEL, born in Berlin Township, 1860, died in Berlin Township, 1929;
was married to George A. VANDECAR, born in Odessa Township in 1853, died in
Berlin Township 1943. They farmed in Odessa and then in Berlin Townships and are
buried in Saranac Cemetery.
Their children were:
1. Bertha VANDECAR born 1880, died 1934
2. Edward VANDECAR
3. Cora A. VANDECAR born 1888, died 1976
CORA DeALICE VANDECAR, born in Berlin Township, November 19, 1888, died in Ionia
Township November 4, 1976; was married June 22, 1910 to Arthur Elliot DENTON,
born in Lowell Township, Kent County, September 21, 1888. He died January 16,
1972. She graduated from Ionia County Normal and taught the DURKEE School and
Mud Street School. They were members of Berlin Center United Methodist Church
and are buried at Saranac Cemetery.
Their child was:
1. Ariel Agnes DENTON born 1911.
ARIEL AGNES DENTON, born in Berlin Township, October 12, 1911, was married first
to Richard (George) DUNSMORE, born February 19, 1908. He was killed in an auto
accident at Berlin Center. She had graduated from Ionia County Normal and taught
rural schools. After widowed, she opened a photography studio, first above a
store in Ionia and then in her home on 8 acres she bought on Arnold’s Hill in
South Ionia. After she married Lynn MORRIS, born July 16, 1912, of MORRIS & Sons
Construction Co., they added 21 acres next to it from her Uncle Horace SCHNABEL,
and later more from others. They developed Horizon Drive Subdivision and built a
new house up there for themselves. In later years she went back to teaching and
was the last teacher at Sebewa Center School.
Their children were:
1. Sharron DUNSMORE
2. Ardelis DUNSMORE
3. Alaina MORRIS
ANTON SCHNABEL, JR. born in Posen, East Prussia, 1851, died in Berlin Township,
Ionia County, April 2, 1939. He was married to Julia ZELNER, born in Prussia in
1850, died in Berlin Township, July 18, 1921. They settled in Berlin Township
before 1875. The house that Anton built on State Road – M-66 – south of Portland
Road in Berlin Township was considered a showplace for its day. It has been
restored in recent years by Clyde & Ruth KIRSCHENMAN. Anton and Julia were
members of SS. Peter Catholic Church and are buried at Mt. Olivet.
Their children were:
1. Mary SCHNABEL born 1876, died 1944
2. Susan SCHNABEL born 1877, died 1960
3. Peter SCHNABEL born 1879, died 1951
4. Roman SCHNABEL born 1881, died 1941
5. Frank SCHNABEL born 1882, died 1960
6. Michael SCHNABEL born 1884, died 1946
7. Anna E. SCHNABEL born 1888, died 1966
MARY SCHNABEL, born in Berlin Township January 24, 1876, died in Odessa Township
April 21, 1944. She married Lewis LEHMAN born in Odessa Township July 2, 1876
and died in Odessa Township March 11, 1960. They farmed in Odessa & Sebewa
Their children were:
1. Gertrude R. LEHMAN born 1899, died 1979
2. Thomas F. LEHMAN born 1901, died 1974
3. Lewis LEHMAN born 1907, died 1990
4. Julia LEHMAN born 1909, died 1988
5. Mary Rose LEHMAN born 1912, died 1963. She married Henry LEIK
6. Therese (Tressie) LEHMAN, born 1915.
If you want to know more about the SCHNABEL families, we have a book to sell
you, called THE SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY.
OUR FAMILY BARNS – by Grayden SLOWINS:
The oldest barn still in existence in our family is that of my Mennonite
relatives at Martindale, Lancaster County, PA. A stone barn built by Joseph &
Elizabeth ZiMMERMAN WENGER in 1797, it has been well maintained and added to,
and cows are still milked there every night & morning. Also teams of horses call
it home, along with a black buggy, a John DEERE tractor with steel lugs, and a
spring wagon painted John DEERE green & yellow. The “new” house, also of stone,
was built in 1800 to replace the old structure Joseph was born in, in 1769. They
were my great-great-great-great-grandparents. His sister Elizabeth ZIMMERMAN
WENGER harried his wife’s brother Christian ZIMMERMAN, and when Elizabeth
ZIMMERMAN WENGER was widowed, she sold he farm to Christian & Elizabeth WENGER
ZIMMERMAN, so the current owners are doubly cousins to us.
The second oldest barn, on the nearby farm at Groffdale, PA, of our five times
great-grandfather, Christian WENGER, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1727, was
replaced “new” in 1811. It is also largely built of stone. The foundations of
the old barn are nearby.
The third oldest barn is a little unpainted wood barn built for widow Elizabeth
ZIMMERMAN WENGER when she moved with her family from Martindale, PA, to Martin’s
Corners, Waterloo Township, Ontario, in 1825. The stone house and white wood
church are also still standing.
The fourth oldest barn is that of great-grandfather Christian G. WENGER on 76th
Street, Caledonia Township, Kent County, MI. It is a wooden barn in the
Mennonite style, built in or before 1870. The land is now a golf course.
The fifth oldest is our own barn here in Sebewa Township. It was built in 1870
for John C. OLRY, son of first settler John F. OLRY. The foundation stones for
John F. OLRY’S first barn, probably built of logs soon after 1849, are still out
back. The “new” barn is a 36x50 timber frame building meant to house horses, hay
& grain. Bill CASWELL was a nail carrier at the building of this barn at age
six. Square cut nails were so valuable that small boys were set to follow the
carpenters and save every nail dropped.
The newest OLRY barn was built in 1882 as a cowbarn. It has a plank frame rather
than timbers, and is more bowed than its proud older relative. These barns first
had a crude system of ropes and pulleys to get the hay up into the mows. Then a
hay track, car, and locking hayforks were installed in the early 1900s.
Conversion to baled hay and elevators came after World War II, and about five
years ago we installed conveyors suspended from the old hay track. We also put
the older barn on a new foundation in 1963. Great-grandpa Frank LEHMAN’S barn on
KNOLL Road in Odessa Township is next (in age) and was built in the early 1880s.
It is a gambrel roofed barn with a full stone basement and barn grade. Now owned
by the Tom WILSON family, it has been well maintained and was used for milk cows
until recent years and now young stock.
The next oldest barn is probably that of great-grandfather Christopher SLOWINSKI,
built in 1888. A timber-framed barn with thick cut-stone foundations, it has a
barn grade to double drive floors, and was built entirely by Chris, who was a
stonecutter, and his brothers. The basement measures 40x75 and has ample room
for horses, milk cows, young cattle, and especially sheep. The upstairs has a
nice granary and huge mows for loose hay, with a hay-track in the peak and a
hay-car with locking forks to raise the hay to the mows. This was also Grandpa
Dan SLOWINSKI’S barn. This barn is located on HARWOOD Road in Berlin Township,
Ionia County, and is owned by the Ed ELDRIDGE family, descendants of Chris’s
Great-grandfather Abraham BRAKE’S barn on CAMPBELL Road in Campbell Township has
been raised and put on a new basement, but was probably built in the 1880s,
because it was not new when he moved there just before 1900. Mother was the
first baby born in the new house. Long owned by the Roy TASKER family, then
Richard ROSENBERGER, it now belongs to David & Carol McCAUL.
Granddad John BRAKE’S barn on Thompson Road – M-50 in Campbell Township was
raised and set on a new stone basement in 1913, the year after he moved there.
It may have been built originally before some of those above. It is
timber-framed, with a nice granary and hay-mows upstairs and back then had
whitewashed stalls & box stalls below for Belgian draft horses, milk cows and
sheep. Today it houses lamas!
If you wish more information about old barns, contact Charles LEIK’S website,
THE BARN JOURNAL, on the internet at http://museum.cl.msu.edu/barn
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
DECEMBER 1997, Volume 33, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. SLOWINS, Editor:
GIERMAN, WILCOX, HEINTZELMAN, OATLEY, KLAGER, COOK, WATKINS, HUNT, WENGER,
VOLLWILER, GOOD, ZIMMERMAN, SHERK, GRABIEL, LICH, SAAD, WILHELM, BYWATER, EDWINS,
WORTLEY, CARPENTER, HINDS, NARIGAN, JONES, TERRILL, INGALLS, BROWN, HOGLE,
HALBERT, SHOWERMAN, MAXIM, MUNN, WELD, GODDARD, REEDER, CARPENTER, GRIFFIN,
BRIGGS, OLRY, ESTEP, GRINER, BRETZ, PROBASCO, ESTES, WADDELL, PINKINGTON, SMITH,
HOGLE, RALSTON, LOWE, CONKRITE
GEORGE E. GIERMAN, 51, husband of Adrienne WILCOX GIERMAN, father of Ryan g.
GIERMAN, Jacqueline HOLM & Kristen LYNCH, grandfather of Mitchell & Madison
HOLM, brother of Eric GIERMAN, Cheryl WARREN & Janet RUDD, son of Marcella
HEINTZELMAN & Wilbur GIERMAN, son of Mae OATLEY & George GIERMAN, son of
Christina KLAGER & Charles GIERMAN, son of Frederick (Fritz) GIERMAN. He was a
Methodist minister and juvenile counselor in Lakeland, FL, and is buried there.
REVA M. COOK, 101, widow of Grover COOK, mother of Charlotte SUMNEY, Dorothy
FREY, Marilyn NICHOLSON, and the late Robert, Richard, and Donald COOK, daughter
of John & Althea WATKINS. Farmed on GODDARD Road. Buried at Lakeside Cemetery.
MANARD W. HUNT, 81, husband of Kathryn STEIN HUNT, father of Mary Jane HAMP,
Theresa BOYCE, Barbara HUNT, Patricia TREMAN & Joyce JOHNSON, John, Michael &
Thomas HUNT, brother of the late Lillian WEIBELHAUSE & Adeline KIEL, son of
Floyd HUNT & Mary Jane WENGER, daughter of Mary Elisabeth VOLLWILER & Isaac G.
WENGER, son of Elisabeth GOOD & Christian WENGER, son of Elisabeth ZIMMERMAN &
Joseph WENGER, son of Anna SHERK & Hans WENGER, son of Eve GRABIEL & Christian
WENGER, who emigrated from Eggwil & Wengen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland, to
Groffdale, Lancaster County, PA, in 1727. Manard was Postmaster in Clarksville
for 32 years. His parents were muck farmers in Sebewa and predecessors & mentors
of John LICH, Sr.MARILYN BYWATER SAAD, 71, wife of Fred SAAD, daughter of
Margery WILHELM & Carl BYWATER, son of Abel BYWATER. Mrs. Joseph WORTLEY was a
sister to Abel BYWATER, (t)o Mardi EDWINS, daughter of Walter WORTLEY, son of
Joseph WORTLEY, was a second cousin to Marilyn.
GERALD (JERRY) CARPENTER, 70, husband of Noreen HINDS CARPENTER, father of Sue
MOODIE, Christy WELLS, Mark & Scott CARPENTER, brother of Betty TORREY, Beth
TUBBS, Beverly BROWN, Lynda WARNER and the late Lois BROOKS FORMAN, son of Edna
NARIGAN & Hobart CARPENTER, descended from Cyril, Elkanah and Rev. Samuel
CARPENTER, pioneer Sebewa residents. He ran Jerry’s Tire & Battery dealership in
Lake Odessa. His father ran a farm machinery dealership in the middle of the
block on the east side of Fourth Aveneu, where part of the antique mall is
MICHIGAN COURTHOUSES CONTINUED by Grayden SLOWINS:(Photos on
front page of GRATIOT COUNTY COURTHOUSE – ITHACA – 1900 & SHIAWASSEE COUNTY
COUNTHOUSE – CORUNNA – 1903)
ISABELLA COUNTY courthouse is a modern white stone and black steel structure at
Mt. Pleasant. It has just closed for the day and we head out to Cold Water Lake
County Park near John ENGLER’S hometown, Beal City, to camp for the night. It’s
a nice park with a nice lake, and we rest in the picnic area while two young
women rangers rake seaweed from the beach and load it on an old Chevy pickup.
MECOSTA COUNTY courthouse in Big Rapids is another modern two-story flat-top of
pale tan brick & narrow gray stone & metal trim. It is far different from the
Victorian-Italianate structure we remember from our college days, and we can’t
recall what happened to the old one. Perhaps it was simply outgrown &
demolished. At least the Civil War monument remains.
NEWAGO COUNTY courthouse in White Cloud is a flat-roofed, one-story building of
multi-shaded brown bricks. It is one of the more attractive county buildings of
its style period.
OCEANA COUNTY courthouse in Hart comes close to duplicating the MISSAUKEE
building in Lake City, which we described as a small-town AT & T telephone
building. Except this one is just one story and a bit more sprawling. Here again
the Civil War soldier remains to tell us it is indeed a place with some history.
The MONTCALM COUNTY courthouse in Stanton, built in 1905, reminds us of the
buildings in Baldwin & Sandusky, except the bricks are light brown instead of
red. The sandstone basement and white pillars & trim give it dignity. It
replaced a three-story Victorian-Italianate edifice, built in 1879-1880, which
burned in February of 1905.
GRATIOT COUNTY courthouse at Ithaca, built in 1900, has many similarities to the
Ionia courthouse, inside and out. The historic four offices on the first floor
are very similar, right down to the faux marble fireplaces with their carbide
gas logs. It is no surprise to learn that the architect was Claire ALLEN, who
had been the contractor on the start of the Ionia courthouse in 1883. GRATIOT
County Clerk was a gracious tour guide.
CLINTON COUNTY courthouse at St. Johns, built in 1869 with David W. GIBBS as
architect, is also very familiar, except it has a mansard roof. GIBBS was the
architect for the Ionia & Eaton courthouses. Clinton County added two wings in
front, similar to those at Rogers City and to Ionia’s old “new” jail, but more
closely attached than Ionia’s. Now Clinton residents are debating whether to add
still more to the stately old matron, or go to their modern county complex near
the edge of town and start all over new. Clinton County was named after Governor
DeWitt CLINTON of New York, and DeWitt was the first county seat. When the seat
was moved to St. Johns, court met in a rented building called PLUMSTEAD Hall
SHIAWASEE COUNTY courthouse, built in 1903 at Corunna, is even closer to Ionia
and Gratiot courthouses in design, and to no one’s surprise Claire ALLEN was the
architect. It would appear that David W. GIBBS perfected the design and ALLEN
made just enough “improvements” to call it his own. This site was first
designated as the public square in 1839, with county offices occupying temporary
facilities here until 1851, when a brick courthouse was built. It was replaced
with the present structure for $75,000. All three of these others have a working
clock in their tower, while Ionia never has.
LIVINGSTON COUNTY courthouse at Howell, built in 1890, is a three-story red
brick & sandstone building showing the Richardsonian Romanesque or Romanesque
Revival style seen earlier, and was designed by Albert E. FRENCH. Many of the
original Victorian furnishings remain. The county was named after Edward
LIVINGSTON, Secretary of State in President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet. Although
many county officers are in the new county building nearby, the decision to
restore the courthouse was influenced in part by a deed restriction which says
the courthouse square will revert to heirs of original owners if no longer used
for a courthouse.
INGHAM COUNTY courthouse at Mason, built in 1904, is fairly close to the
GIBBS-ALLEN design, but no information on who was the architect is readily
available. This county was organized in 1838, and named after Samuel D. INGHAM,
Secretary of the Treasury in President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet.
MASON became the county seat in 1840. The first county offices were on the sides
of the square until 1858, when the first courthouse was built. The dark woodwork
in the rotunda area and stairways is especially striking in the present
courthouse. The most interesting item, however, was a map on the rotunda wall
showing Ingham & Livingston Counties in 1869. Ann’s great-great grandparents,
Hulda ELLIS MERRILL & John LAKIN had a farm in Putnam Township, Livingston
County, with 150 acres on the north side of BURGESS Road and 40 acres on the
south side. We located the section numbers and there they were!
After camping for the night at Sugarloaf Lake Campground in Waterloo State
Recreation Area, with a pleasant evening’s stroll among the campfires, we travel
to MONROE COUNTY. The county was established in July, 1817, as one of the first
steps in the organization of the MICHIGAN TERRITORY after the War of 1812. The
old settlement of Frenchtown, which centered on the same square, took the name
MONROE and became the county seat. Controversy over the county’s southern border
culminated in the bloodless Michigan-Ohio “Toledo War” in 1835-1836.
In settlement the United States Congress gave a strip of MONROE County that
became Toledo to Ohio. In return, Michigan was given the Upper Peninsula. The
present MONROE COUNTY courthouse was built in 1880 and shows strong Italianate
architecture. It is built of gray sandstone, with a tall white bell-clock tower
on one corner and shorter towers on the other three corners. Across the street
is the first Presbyterian Church in Michigan, where services were first
conducted in 1816 by Rev. John MONTEITH, who later became the first president of
the University of Michigan. He dedicated the present building in 1848. It was
here that General George Armstrong CUSTER married Elizabeth BACON.
HISTORY OF SEBEWA TOWNSHIP by GRAYDEN SLOWINS; with excerpts
from HISTORY OF IONIA COUNTY – 1881 – by John S. SCHENCK:
Sebewa, known in the United States survey as Town Five North, Range Six West,
lies on the southern line of Ionia County, having Orange Township on the north,
Easton County’s Sunfield Township on the south, Danby Township on the east, and
Odessa Township on the west.
In the central and northwestern portions of the town there are stretches of
swamp-lands of considerable extent. The soil is generally clay loam and famous
for its wheat-producing quality. The timber is mainly beech and maple, the
liberal presence of the latter making the yield of sugar no small item in the
town’s products. Three churches are among the architectural features, while more
than that number of religious organizations worship in the school-house. Sebewa
Creek, on the east, has sufficient power in Sebewa to drive three mills, and
that power is at present (1881) fully utilized. The only village is a small one
on the east town-line known as The Corners.
It is vaguely asserted that the first white settler bore the name of JONES,
first name unknown. It is known that he and his wife came to the town during
1836 and squatted on Sec. 1. They apparently did not recognize the force of the
undertaking upon which they had entered, for they soon sickened of the job and
packed up and left. It must have been pretty lonesome, hemmed in on all sides by
howling wolves and so poor they had to live on herbs and roots.
The first attempt at a permanent settlement, and the one from which the history
properly dates, concerns the coming in 1838, of John F. TERRILL, Charles W.
INGALLS, and John BROWN. TERRILL located on N ½ NE ¼ Sec. 25 and BROWN and
INGALLS on Sec. 36. (BROWN and INGALLS were really on Sec. 24 and 13 or soon
moved there.) Jonathan INGALLS, Soldier of the Revolution, also came with this
settlement. Charles W. was his son, and Polly (Mrs. John) TERRILL and Sarah
(Sally, Mrs. John) BROWN were his daughters. In all, he had thirteen children.
Born in 1762, Jonathan died here in 1843 and his monument is by the side of
KEEFER Hwy. near the land which belonged to his son-in-law, John TERRILL. The
INGALLS family was covered in Volume 30 – Number 1, August 1994.
William HOGLE came the first year and married one of John TERRILL’S daughters.
Anson W. HALBERT came in 1841 and married another daughter. HALBERT was the
first merchant in Sebewa, selling from a stock in his log house. In 1843,
TERRILL and HALBERT built the first mill, a saw-mill west of the Corners.
Jacob SHOWERMAN and Eleazer BROWN joined the Sebewa settlement with their
families in 1839. SHOWERMAN had come on a land-hunting expedition in 1836 and
found only JONES on Sec. 1. He picked 160 acres in SE ¼ Sec. 22 and after
recording at Ionia land-office, he had returned to New York. BROWN had 160
straddling the line at NW ¼ 26 and NE ¼ 27, where his widow still resides
(1881). The first birth was her daughter Luriette in 1841. The SHOWERMAN and
BROWN families have been covered in earlier issues. John MAXIM & Joseph MUNN
also came in 1839.
In 1843-1844 Benjamin D. WELD and Rufus GODDARD came to the southwest quarter of
the town. GODDARD’S fifteen-year-old son Daniel, who still lives on the land
(1881), provided the neighborhood mill service, that is to say he usually went
to mill for everybody. The condition of the roads was so horrible that it was as
much as he could do to haul ten bushels of wheat to NEWMAN’S mill at Portland
and back again in two days. Young GODDARD would usually set out early in the
morning with his ten-bushel load drawn by a pair of oxen, reaching the mill by
ten o’clock that night. While his grist was being ground, he would wrap himself
in a blanket in his wagon and by daybreak was off again for home. This land is
owned in 1997 by Daniel INGALL.
Other settlers in the 1843-1849 period were: Elkanah CARPENTER, William REEDER,
David GRIFFIN, Major BROWN and Weston BRIGGS in the southwest, John F. OLRY,
William ESTEP, John ESTEP, Peter GRINER, Isaac BRETZ, and Ephraim PROBASCO in
the center area, plus Andrew ESTES, John WADDELL, Thomas WADDELL, Stephen
PILKINGTON, John C. SMITH, and Moses HOGLE to the east.
The west-northwest area was settled in the 1850s by Pierce G. COOK, A. M.
RALSTON, Nathan STEWART, Frank BROWN, Solomon HESS, J. C. CLARK, George SNYDER,
John WARING, Orrin STEBBINS, and John JOHNSON.
The north-northeast area was settled in 1850s by Orrin MERCHANT in Sec. 1,
Edward SANDBORN, Peter MAPES, Thomas J. ALLEN, Jacob GREEN, Chauncey LOTT, and
A. GARLOCK. John, Elijah, David, Thomas, James, and Isaac LEAK came to the
west-southwest quarter in the 1860s, just before or just after the Civil War.
Rush, George & Isaac BALDWIN came after the war. John Joy PEACOCK and his wife,
Margaret Caroline DOWNING PEACOCK and their children also came in 1865.
There were just 40 families in the 1850 United States Census of Sebewa Township:
Orrin MERCHANT, Peter MAPES, George DICKINSON, Charles W. INGALLS, William HOGLE,
William PACKARD, John C. SMITH, Jacob GREEN, Jacob SHOWERMAN, Eleazer BROWN,
Albert THOMPSON, CHAUNCEY LOTT, Charles WHITE, Richard FLEETHAM, David GRIFFIN,
William DAVIS, Moses HOGLE, Samuel CARPENTER, William REEDER, Rufus GODDARD,
Stephen RIDER, Elkanah DRAKE, Benjamin WELD, Elkanah CARPENTER, Hiran TRIM, John
F. OLRY, John COOPER, John ESTEP, John WADDELL, Walter HARMON, Charles DERBY,
John MAXIM, Joseph MUNN, John EVANS, Daniel BENJAMIN, Pierce G. COOK, Jacob
VINTON, and George AUSTIN.
The LOWE family is more difficult to track. They were not here for the 1850 U.S.
Census shown above. Lot 10 – Block 1 in the oldest part of the East Cemetery
contains the graves of Ben LOWE, Mary Ann LOWE, Willam LOWE & Josphus LOWE. Only
Mary Ann has a date – she died in May, 1860. Lot 146 in the West Cemetery
contains the graves of Benjamin LOWE, born 1862, died May 12, 1947, and Francis
Hannah LOWE, born 1867, died March 15, 1931. Two different Ben LOWES. Lot 70 in
the newer part of the East Cemetery contains the graves of Date (Dayton) LOWE,
who died November 10, 1939, and Henrietta LOWE, who died April 9, 1934.
A search of the Death Records at Ionia County Clerk’s Office, which began in
1867, along with the Register of Deeds and Register of Probate reveals the
Egbert Y. LOWE owned and operated the LOWE & HALLADAY sawmill at Sebewa Corners
in 1875. His partner was Charles L. HALLADAY, Ionia County Clerk, whose farm lay
on the south and west sides of the mill-pond. LOWE’S house and log-yard were
located between the pond and the grade for the proposed Coldwater, Marshall &
Mackinaw Railroad. This house was owned by Theodore & Beatrice EVANS in recent
years. The sawmill itself was actually across on the north side of MUSGROVE Hwy.
With some refinements, this was the same mill started by John F. TERRILL and
Anson W. HALBERT in 1843. A flour mill was located above the east mill-race,
about where the Howard & Bertha KNAPP house has replaced the original structure.
This may have been operated by Egbert Y. LOWE’S brother Ezekiel. According to
death records, Egbert Y. & Clarissa LOWE’S sons were Egbert W. LOWE and Dayton
Egbert W. (Bert) LOWE, born 1852 – died 1934, succeeded his father in the mill,
operating under the name LOWE & REEDER in 1891. Later Bert lived near Sunfield.
Dayton requested the probate of Bert’s will in 1934, swearing to be his brother,
and Thomas JOHNSON, attorney at Lake Odessa, did it.
Fern CONKRITE, age 102 and now living in Portland, says Dayton (Date) LOWE, born
1856 – died 1939, lived in the little house just north of the old Methodist
Church in Sebewa Corners. It has fallen and/or been torn down and replaced by a
trailer. Date and Henrietta had a little acreage along Stoney Creek on PETRIE
Road, where John VISSER Sr. & John VISSER Jr. now live. In summer they milked
their cows in a little barn there each morning and night, and brought the milk
back home. That was mostly pasture land and they made hay behind the houses in
town and kept the cows in the barn by the house in winter. Date & Henrietta’s
children were Otho & Minnie.
Minnie LOWE, born in 1882 – died January 22, 1911, married Grant GARBAUGH, who
died February 12, 1950, and they are buried on Lot 66 in the newer part of East
Sebewa Cemetery. They ran the mill after Bert and had two daughters, perhaps
named Helen & Goldie.
Otho LOWE married Dawn McCrumb, born 1893 – died 1927, of Danby and farmed on
TUPPER Lake Road east of KEEFER Hwy. They had four sons and she died at the
birth of a fifth child. She and the infant are buried in Danby Cemetery. Otho
and the boys moved back with Date. One boy lived and died in Sunfield, two in
Lansing, one in the South. One was named Mike.
Ezekiel LOWE, born 1820 – died 1886, was a brother to Egbert Y. LOWE and also
owned land around the mills. Egbert deeded land to Ezekiel’s wife, Sarah, in
1880. When Ezekiel died in 1886, an Order for Determination of Heirs was filed
in Probate Court, listing the widow as Sarah, the sons as Charles and George,
listing the property as ten acres in the area of the mill-pond, and sworn to by
Dayton O. LOWE, nephew.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
JANUARY 1998, Volume 33, Number 4. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
CREIGHTON, SONDAY, WOLCOTT, GOODEMOOT, ELDRIDGE, KLENEN, HAMBLIN, WANDEL, ROHNER,
BORDEN, FARRELL, WALTERS, DEATSMAN, SLOWINSKI, SCHNABEL, LOWE, SOUTHWELL,
CARBAUGH, CAMPBELL, JACKSON, McCRUMB, LEIK, KEUSCH, MORIARTY, BAKER, KEEFER,
ESCH, HOPPES, HOLTON
KENNETH CARL CREIGHTON, 76, husband of Ruth, father of Linda SONDAY, Roger &
Arthur CREIGHTON, brother of Frederick & Rex CREIGHTON, son of Arthur CREIGHTON,
son of James CREIGHTON, son of Mary WOLCOTT CREIGHTON GOODEMOOT,
great-granddaughter of Oliver WOLCOTT Sr., Governor of Connecticut and signer of
the Declaration of Independence. Carl was a retired farmer in Sebewa and WW II
James (Jay, Jake) ELDRIDGE, 90, husband of Eunice KLEVEN HAMBLIN ELDRIDGE,
father of Judith WANDEL & Jayne ROHNER, brother of Hazel BORDEN and the late
Hattie FARRELL, Eddie ELDRIDGE, Mattie WALTERS, Alta DEATSMAN, Ernest ELDRIDGE &
Lewis ELDRIDGE, son of Rufus James (Jay) ELDRIDGE and Sophia SLOWINSKI, daughter
of Louis SLOWINSKI, son of Anna SCHNABEL & Daniel SLOWINSKI, son of Casmer
SLOWINSKI, whose family emigrated to Berlin Township, Ionia County, from Posen,
East Prussia, in 1870. Jake began his automotive career at GATES & HUNTZINGER
Ford Garage, Lake Odessa, and worked for Ford Motor Co., Packard Motor Car Co.,
Reo Motors, and Fisher Body, before retiring from General Motors with 33 years
MICHIGAN COURTHOUSES CONTINUED by Grayden SLOWINS: (with front
page photo of MONROE COUNTY COURTHOUSE – MONROE – 1880)
The original MONROE COUNTY courthouse was a two-story log structure on the
current site of the Presbyterian Church. It housed the court, jail and sheriff,
as well as being used for church services. A stone courthouse was built in 1839,
but it burned in 1879 and was replaced by the present structure on the same
LENAWEE COUNTY courthouse in Adrian is a Romanesque style edifice which was
completed in 1885 and features round arched entrances and an ornate tower. Its
red brick exterior is adorned with classic reliefs and terra-cotta trim. Lenawee
County was first settled in 1824 at Tecumseh, which the Territorial Legislation
made the county seat. In 1838 the first State Legislature moved the seat of
justice to Adrian. The first courthouse was built in 1837 in anticipation of the
move, but it burned in 1852. Immediately the county purchased the present site
and erected a temporary courthouse until they were ready to build this beautiful
building. Today it is undergoing sandblasting, re-pointing and extensive
external rejuvenating on the south, east & west fronts, and replacing the north
entrance with an elevator.
HILLSDALE COUNTY courthouse at Hillsdale is a tan sandstone & marble structure
in the style of those at Ionia, Gratiot, Clinton, Shiawassee, Eaton & Van Buren
Counties, but neither David W. GIBBS nor Clair ALLN is given any visible credit
for the design.
BRANCH COUNTY has a new, modern, gray structure at Coldwater, thanks to an
arsonist in 1972. Named after Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of the Navy, John
BRANCH, the county was one of thirteen established by the Territorial
Legislature in 1829. The village of BRANCH, three miles southwest of Coldwater,
was the original county seat, but in 1842 the Supervisors moved it to Coldwater
and erected the first courthouse on the site. In 1884 local architect M. H.
PARKER designed the second courthouse, a High Victorian building. The stately
corner tower housed a 3500 pound bell and a clock. Only the clock & bell were
salvaged after the fire and a new free-standing tower was constructed for them,
including the original finial atop the cupola. The clock mechanism can now be
viewed at ground level, with the faces high in the air.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY courthouse in Centreville, built in 1899, is a red brick and
sandstone structure in the Romanesque Revival style, designed by Sydney J.
OSGOOD, whose work we discussed at Ludington. Established by the Territorial
Legislature in 1829, Centreville was proclaimed by the Territorial Governor
George B. PARKER in 1831. The first courthouse was a Greek Revival structure
with four large columns on its east portico, built in 1842. That building was
removed to make way for the present structure, built for $33,000.
CASS COUNTY courthouse at Cassopolis, built in 1899, was designed by architects
RUSH, BOWMAN, & RUSH. It is also Romanesque Revival in style, but is a wood
frame building with limestone veneer. Set off by the Territorial government in
1829 and named after Governor Lewis CASS, the first courthouse was built in
1835, but the county’s rapid growth necessitated the erection of a second
courthouse in 1841. It was replaced by the present building on the same square.
VAN BUREN COUNTY courthouse in Paw Paw, built in 1901-1903, is another Classical
Revival building designed by Claire ALLEN. It is built of tan stone and has a
clock in the tower. The original Van Buren County courthouse, built in 1845, is
still in use as Paw Paw City Hall. This is one of the thirteen counties set off
by the Territorial Legislature in 1829, and one of seven named for President
Andrew Jackson’s cabinet members, in this case Secretary of State and then Vice
President, and later President, Martin VAN BUREN.
CALHOUN County courthouse in Marshall is a modern gray stone structure with lots
of window glass. Ann was able to trace her great-great-great-grandfather Daniel
MERRILL, who was elected Clerk of Newton Township, Calhoun County, at its first
organizational meeting in 1838, held at his house. He was clerk 1838-1842, and
also Postmaster. The county was named after Andrew JACKSON’S other Vice
President, John C. CALHOUN.
EATON COUNTY courthouse in Charlotte, built in 1883, was designed by David W.
GIBBS, who also designed the Ionia and Clinton County courthouses and the
Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne. This red brick and white stone structure is
the second of three courthouses built in Charlotte, all still in existence. The
county was named for President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War, John H. EATON.
Bellevue was the first county seat, but it was moved to Charlotte in 1840 and in
1845 a modest white wooden Greek Revival courthouse was erected on the
courthouse square. That building was moved off and the brick & stone Classic
Revival structure build in 1883-1885. A modern county complex was built north of
the city in 1976. EATON is the only county in Michigan with three extant county
courthouses. It is also unique in having had four residents; Frank FITZGERALD,
Austin BLAIR, Luren DICKENSON, and John SWAINSON, who served as Governor. The
interior of this courthouse features the GIBBS trademark marbleized slate
fireplaces and native butternut & walnut trim. A cast zinc statue of Justice
crowns the building above the dome and clock. The building was mostly destroyed
by fire in 1894 and rebuilt almost exactly to the original plans.
BARRY COUNTY courthouse in Hastings, built in 1892 of red brick and tan stone in
the Romanesque Revival style, is similar to several we have seen. The county was
named after Andrew Jackson’s Postmaster General William BARRY. A courthouse was
built here in 1842, but it burned in 1846. A second was built in 1849, and it
was replaced by the present structure in 1892-1893. The bell & clock were
provided for the tower of the new courthouse by voluntary contributions of the
citizens. After a period of silence, the clock & bell were restored by Vern
DeMOTT in 1995 and now chime the time again.
ALLEGAN COUNTY courthouse is an ultra-modern structure of glass & stone. Set off
in 1831, the county was organized in 1835. Only the Civil War Soldier’s Monument
stands for the past.
OTTAWA COUNTY courthouse at Grand Haven is also a new and modern flat-top, tan &
glass structure. A statue of seagulls and fish out front is more interesting.
LOWE UPDATE: Minnie LOWE, born 1822, died January 22, 1931,
daughter of Dayton & Henrietta LOWE, was first married to Henry SOUTHWELL,
descendant of William H. SOUTHWELL, a Civil War veteran buried on Lot 8 Block 14
in East Sebewa Cemetery. Minnie & Henry had two daughters, Goldie and Helen.
Then Minnie married Grant CARGAUGH of Orange Township and she had a son who died
as a baby. They ran the LOWE Mill and Minnie carried mail from Sebewa Post
Office to Sunfield. Grant died in 1950 and they are buried on Lot 66 in East
Goldie SOUTHWELL married Frank JACKSON and had seven children:
1. Helen JACKSON married HAGER and now is deceased
2. Hilda JACKSON married PORTER and now decreased
3. Hugh JACKSON lives in West Branch, MI
4. Hertha JACKSON married FRANKS of Mulliken
5. Hazel JACKSON married COLE and lives south of Sunfield
6. Harold JACKSON, now deceased, has a baby boy on SOUTHWELL lot.
7. Hope JACKSON married Fred HART and lives here in Sebewa.
Helen SOUTHWELL was first married to Charles CAMPBELL of Sunfield, and then to
Burton GILBERT of Sebewa. They had no children and are buried on Lot 151 in East
Otho LOWE, son of Dayton & Henrietta LOWE, was married to Dawn McCRUMB of Danby
Township, born 1893, died 1927, and they had four sons, including the infant
buried with her in Danby Cemetery. Otho is buried there too, but there was no
marker when our records were last updated. After her death, Otho left their farm
on Tupper Lake Road in Danby and moved back with Date in Sebewa.
Their children were:
1. Mike LOWE, who lived in Guernsey, Wyoming, and is deceased
2. Richard LOWE, whose widow Mary is still living in Lansing, MI
3. Lynn LOWE, who is still living in Lansing.
4. Infant son.
THE BUILDING OF THE BARN by George LEIK. This story first
appeared as an article in MICHIGAN HISTORY MAGAZINE (Jan/Feb 1995).
“The first talk I remember of building a barn was in the summer of 1910 when I
was five years old. Dad and Mother discussed the barn plans for years and
finally one Sunday in 1915 Dad had Julius KEUSCH, a carpenter from Portland come
to the farm and give his advice.
Our existing barn was 80 feet long and 30 feet wide and had been made by joining
two old 30 x 40 barns, dating from before the Civil War, together end to end. A
lean-to was built onto one end to serve as a horse barn and the cow stable was
on the opposite end. Dad’s idea was to again separate the two barns and move the
two sections together side by side to form a 40 x 60 barn with a basement
underneath and put a new gambrel roof over the combined building. A new gambrel
roof would allow more room for hay storage in the mow than the existing shed
My oldest brother, Jerry, was 16 years old in 1915 and was excited about a new
barn. Uncle Jim MORIARTY was over one Sunday and strongly advised Dad to take
the old barn down and build a completely new one. After this there was no more
talk of using the old structure and plans progressed rapidly towards completing
a barn by haying time in 1916.
One Sunday Dad and Mother drove five miles to Sebewa Corners to engage Omer
BAKER. Omer was a heavy set man of about 55 years who had come originally from
Ohio. He had built many barns in the area over the years and they were noted for
their well designed proportions, particularly the gambrel roofs. Some builders
got the relationship between the two pitches wrong and the result was an
unattractive barn. A barn in a rural community was more than a building, it was
a personal statement by the farmer about himself and his position in the
It was arranged that Jerry would take care of the endless round of winter chores
so that Dad could spend his time in the woods felling the timber and hauling the
logs to the sawmill site. Winter chores included milking by hand morning and
night, hauling water and chopping ice out of the water tank, mucking out the
stables and feeding all the cattle, horses, hogs and sheep their various diets.
The first work in the woods started during winter school vacation, probably the
week before Christmas. I was 10 years old and Henry 12. Jerry was helping Grant
and Sherman KEEFER to husk corn on the neighboring KNOX farm. My other brother
Henry and I went to see the steam powered husker work and while walking up the
road heard the first tree fall with a deafening crash in the woods half a mile
It was a large beech in the extreme northeast corner of the woods. I can still
identify the heavy floor timbers in the barn that were sawn from it. They are
the 10” x 12” joists 16’ long just as you enter the south basement door of the
barn. Now 75 years later you can still detect the beech bark where the timber
didn’t square up.
Dad and Ben ESCH did all the felling with crosscut saws and used axes and saws
to limb the trees. Our woodlot had to be stripped of all trees of reasonable
size to furnish the timbers for the new barn. After the trees were felled my
eldest sister Helen called Mr. BAKER to tell him to come and mark the sizes he
wanted them cut into. It was a big event and we were all quiet as mice while
Helen rang the operator and told her with an air of importance that it was to be
“long distance” and gave Mr. BAKER’S name and town. Soon the operator rang back
advising the connection was made.
BAKER came in a few days and marked on the end of each log how it was to be
sawn. The next job was to “skid” the logs. That is the process of hauling the
logs into a pile near where the mill was to be located. The front end of the log
was placed on two runners held together by a strong cross timber. It was called
a tote. Our horses Rob and Doll strained to drag the logs over the uneven
terrain and around the trees and stumps of the woods. There was one huge elm log
that was moved only with great difficulty. Its size and weight can be imagined
when you learn it was sawed into 55 2” x 5” rafters, each 14’ long.
After the timber was sawn, the gravel hauling started. A great deal of gravel
was required for the barn’s foundation. Dad drove Rob and Doll the two miles to
town and dug gravel from the face of a 50’ sheer cliff near the Grand River.
There was danger of undercutting the cliff since the frozen gravel above the
excavation didn’t slide down, and he worried that the frozen mass above could
suddenly fall. He was relieved when after a thawing February day, the face
collapsed and the danger was temporarily past.
The winter of 1915-16 was a hard winter with deep snow and Dad was able to use
the bobsled for gravel hauling. It carried an estimated 1 ¼ yards that weighed
3750 pounds. The sled was easily pulled on level ground, but hills were hard on
the team. The toughest part was going up DILLY Hill from the river to the bluffs
above with a load. The horses were only shod on the front as Dad believed rear
shod horses were too dangerous if the powerful Belgians kicked. Shod only in
front the team really had to strain to pull the load up the hill. Mother would
see him returning in the late morning and prepare hot soup. Dad would hand the
team off to Jerry who by this time had finished morning chores, and go directly
to thaw out in the house. Jerry could dump the load by pulling out the movable
floor boards and letting gravel fall to the ground. In this cold weather the
load had to be dumped immediately before it froze. This trip was repeated daily
and the pile slowly grew.
One stormy winter day Ben ESCH drove his two cylinder Buffalo-Pitts steam engine
through the drifts to the woods. A large flat belt from the flywheel would turn
the circular saw on the portable sawmill just as it powered a threshing machine
during harvest. The boiler had to be drained every night after a day of work so
as to avoid damage from freezing. Ben would then walk several miles across the
snow covered fields to town.
Dad dug a hole near where the engine was to sit and mistakenly thought enough
water would seep and drain into it to supply the engine. It proved to be
inadequate so the water had to be hauled with a tank wagon that had a pump
mounted on top. The man assigned to this job was called the water monkey. We
used Ben ESCH’S water tank. Jerry had to fill the ten barrel tank full with a
hand pump every day and draw the load to the woods.
Nick HOPPES brought his portable saw mill from his farm in Clinton County in
several sled loads. The dismantled mill was heavy and this was hard work. Nick
and his son Ralph were the sawyers and their pay for the entire operation that
lasted through February and March was only $100. The sawyers went home every
night, a distance of at least 8 miles in a buggy or cutter depending on the
As the days lengthened and winter changed to early spring, the daily process was
for Ben to arrive early and start a fire in the Buffalo-Pitts so that steam was
up when the sawyers arrived. Even though the waste wood was green it could be
used as fuel after the steam engine’s fire was started with dry materials.
Nick & Ralph would roll the heavy green logs onto the traveling saw carriage and
secure them with dogs. Then the sawyer standing on the carriage would pass in
front of the whirling 60’ circular saw and cut off a 2” blank. The engine would
huff and the saw scream and wet sawdust fly everywhere in the moments the saw
engaged the log. Then the sawyer would advance the log 2” more into the saw and
repeat the process. Each night there would be a pile of wet planks dripping sap,
a heap of slab wood and a pile of sawdust.
Dad and Jerry did the excavating for the foundation as soon as the frost was out
of the ground at the end of March. Then everything was ready for the actual
construction to begin.
Omer BAKER and his crew of four carpenters arrived about April 1. The first job
was to build forms and hand mix all the concrete with long handled hoes in a
mortarbox. The west basement wall was 22” thick at the base and the practice was
to throw as many field stone as possible into the form with the concrete. This
reduced the mortar mixing, saved concrete and eliminated the piles of stones we
had collected from fields. The foundation work took about a month and only then
could the carpenters start to install the post and beams that would carry the
first floor. While the green concrete was drying, most of the old barn was
dismantled for roof boards and the subfloor of the new barn. One shed though was
left standing for the horses and another lean-to as temporary shelter for the
I got my first bank savings book on my 11th birthday which was April 30, 1916.
Mother deposited $20 in my account for agreeing to go without a bicycle until my
12th birthday. This is how I remember the day the carpenters started laying the
floor of the barn.
Although most of the carpenters were from near Sebewa only five miles distant,
this was considered a prohibitive commute. It was apparently the responsibility
of the client to board the carpenters, but Mother wasn’t in the best of health
and couldn’t handle them in addition to our family of seven.
Mr. BAKER agreed to board them for, I think $150. He pitched a tent under a big
apple tree near the road in front of the old barn. He put down a board floor and
bought a three burner kerosene stove. The only heat in the tent was this stove
that also did the cooking. Every morning BAKER was up early and had breakfast
ready so the men could be on the job at 7:00 a.m. About 10:00 a.m. he would
leave the barn site and start dinner. After dinner when the dishes were washed
he returned to superintend until four or five in the afternoon. Then he left and
After supper the men smoked their pipes or just gossiped until bed time. Then
they climbed the ladder to the loft above the old toolshed. The beds were only
springs and mattresses set on saw horses. The unheated loft with large cracks in
the siding made for chilly sleeping quarters in early April.
Mr. BAKER, on account of his age and status spent evenings visiting with the
family around the Round Oak wood stove in the living room. He was also furnished
a bed in the house.
Once a week all the men walked two miles to town to see a silent movie. Tickets
were five cents for under 12 and a dime for adults. The men had never lived so
close to a moviehouse before and wanted to take advantage of the short distance.
Their menu was simple, but substantial. I recall Omer bringing several large
smoked hams wrapped in paper flour sacks and burying them in the oat bin till
ready for use. We also used to store pumpkins and squash there because the grain
kept the food from freezing and the granary was as free from rodents as anyplace
on the farm.
I remember that everyone was agreeable even though the men worked and lived
together away from their families for six days a week. I don’t recall of any
dispute or arguments during the months they were with us.
Every Saturday after a full day of work a double buggy (the roads were free of
snow by April) would come from Sebewa and return early Monday morning. The
experienced carpenters made $2-2.50 daily and the two beginners, $1-1.50 daily
plus the Spartan room and board described here.
During May and June the work proceeded rapidly and by the middle of June the
huge 34’ x 80’ x 43 barn was far enough along that new hay could be stored
there. The materials that came from the lumber yard such as siding, shingles,
and 100 pound kegs of spikes and hardware cost $800, and Mr. BAKER received $800
for his crew’s labor. This price included concrete floors in the cow and horse
stables and installing stalls and mangers throughout.
Jack HOLTON painted the barn one coat when it was finished and second coat in
the autumn. He was a small lithe man that had no fear of climbing. Dad bought a
50 gallon wood barrel of paint from the paint factory in Grand Ledge fifteen
miles distant. It came the entire distance by a horse and light wagon. The cost
was $.75 a gallon. That barrel gave the barn two coats, did the new hoghouse the
next year and the granary, and it lasted for gates, etc. for several years.
In 1917 Dad noticed that the barn was moving when there was a strong wind from
the west. In spite of the attractive design, Omer BAKER had neglected some
necessary bracing. A 36’ x 80’ barn 43’ tall does catch a lot of wind.
Additional bracing was added and the barn today stands plumb and straight in
spite of 75 years of winds.
Jerry lived out his life on that farm, spending a good deal of it in the barn he
helped build as a teenager. I have passed from a ten year old to one almost 87,
and I continue to ride bicycles that Mother persuaded me to avoid until 12 years
The barn is kept in excellent condition by Jerry’s son Dan and his boys, who
will doubtlessly carry on the family’s farming tradition.
Today I marvel at the construction job that my father and Jerry undertook in
1915-1916, and at the backbreaking work that went into that project by everyone
involved. These and millions like them were unsung heroes who built the United
States.This barn story was provided by George’s son, Charles LEIK, 9526 Locust
Hill Dr., Great Falls, VA 22066. It and other stories about barns, including our
story from the October Recollector, can be accessed on the Internet Webiste at
THE BARN JOURNAL on-line, http://museum.cl.msu.edu/barn>
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
APRIL 1998, Volume 33, Number 5. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: CASWELL, MARTZ, MORIARTY, LEAK, BRIGGS, LOWE, VISSER, BROWN, SPITZLEY,
RECENT DEATH: Jack A. CASWELL, 71, husband of Hazel MARTZ
CASWELL, father of Norma JOHNSON, Jacklyn TEDLOCK and the late Bob CASWELL,
brother of Helen BRACEY, son of Genevieve MORIARTY and Chalmer CASWELL, son of
Elizabeth LEAK & William CASWELL, son of Emaline BRIGGS & Henry CASWELL, Sebewa
BIRTHDAY GREETINGS: Happy 103rd Birthday to Fern CONKRITE, as
sharp a lady as ever came out of Sebewa!
IONIA – CLASSICAL QUEEN OF MICHIGAN COURTHOUSES by Grayden
COVER PHOTOS: The top photo shows some of the 700 sections of scaffolding and
thousands of feet of planking used in restoring the courthouse dome in 1994, at
a cost of $140,000. The bottom photo shows the finished product in all her
On March 5, 1833, what few white men were here – Indian traders mostly –
petitioned Territorial Governor George B. PORTER to appoint a commission to
locate the county seat for Ionia County, with the idea of having it located
where the village of Lyons now stands – then called GENEREAUXVILLE and formerly
ARTHURSBURG. The petition was signed by William HUNT, Elisha BELCHER, Louis
GENEREAUX, Samuel LASLEY, Mathew McGULPIN, Joseph PYATT, Isadore NANTAIS,
Frances FRARO, Matar PARCE, Francis BAILEY and Louis GENEREAUX Jr.
On May 28, 1833, before the above petition had been acted upon, the DEXTER
Colony of 63 permanent settlers arrived at Ionia, naming their settlement “IONIA
County Seat”. A second petition, dated July 12, 1833, and signed by Erastus
YEOMANS, Edward GUILD, Oliver ARNOLD, Sanford A. YEOMANS, Silas D. ARNOLD,
Abraham DECKER, Warner DEXTER, John DEXTER, Zenas G. WINSOR, W. B. LINCOLN,
Samuel DEXTER, Darius WINSOR, Alfred CORNELL, Thomas CORNELL and Lorenzo DEXTER
was delivered by messenger to Governor PORTER. On September 5, 1833, Governor
PORTER appointed James KINGSLEY, Stephen V. R. TROWBRIDGE, and Charles J. LANMAN
as commissioners to locate the county seats of Kent, Ionia, and Clinton
Counties. They took the oath of office from Justice of the Peace E. W. MORGAN in
the village of Ann Arbor, October 8, 1833, and proceeded by horseback to perform
their duties, first in Clinton, then Ionia, and lastly in Kent on November 8.
After due deliberation, the commissioners made choice of land owned by Samuel
DEXTER, situated upon the north half of section 19, township 7 north, range 6
west, Ionia. Mr. DEXTER paid one hundred seventy-one dollars to the
commissioners on December 12, 1833, compensating them for their time and
expenses in locating the county seat of Ionia County, as prescribed by law.
Upon hearing the news of their proceedings and determination regarding the Ionia
County Seat, a series of letters written by Charles D. FRIEND in behalf of the
residents in the east part of the county were dispatched. They argued that the
main population would be in the southeastern quarter of the county, between the
Grand River, the mouth of the Maple River, the Territorial Road (Grand River
Trail at Portland) and SHIMNECON. They also argued that the land on the north
side of the river was mostly swamps and wet prairies interspersed with oak
openings of poor quality, extending to the north county line, where Indian
Governor PORTER died July 6, 1834, without confirming or rejecting the work of
the county-seat commissioners. Stevens T. MASON, twenty-two year old Secretary
of the Territory, succeeded as Acting Governor, then Ex-officio Governor, and
finally as first Governor of the State of Michigan in 1835. The residents of
Ionia County Seat sent a petition letter to Governor MASON in rebuttal to the
letter by Charles FRIEND, and explaining how they were overcoming the marshy
conditions on the north side of the river. But Gov. MASON was too busy with
preparations for the “Toledo War” to reply at that time.
Again they wrote: “Petitions have been forwarded to you praying that measures
may be taken to alter the site which was established by commissioners duly
appointed for the seat of justice for the county of IONIA. We boldly and frankly
declare that a petition above alluded to, which was drawn by Charles D. FRIEND
and signed by himself and some others in the east part of this county, was
filled with falsehoods and willful misrepresentations respecting the present
location and the lands contiguous. We crave your indulgence whilst we shall
refute these statements and exhibit some important facts in relation to the
county seat and the quality of lands in different directions from the same.
“The spot selected for the court house by the Commissioners was not suddenly or
inadvertently fixed upon. They carefully examined the county for six days, and
determined the site upon the lands of Samuel DEXTER, a few rods east of the
centre of the county seat and west, and about two miles north of the centre
north and south. For beauty and healthiness it is believed that this location is
not surpassed by any in Michigan. A large spring of excellent water issues near
the county seat, which affords a sufficient quantity for one hundred thousand
inhabitants, and, with trifling expense, might be conducted to every man’s door.
Near this spot are mill-seats and excellent hydraulic privileges. A grist mill
is already under contract to be built immediately, one-fourth of a mile from the
county seat. South of the River, which has been grossly misrepresented as a
swamp, not susceptible of being drained. A part of this prairie is wet, but
there being a descent of at least twenty feet to the river, a chance is afforded
for laying it dry by a drain or ditch, which for the most part is already
accomplished by Mr. DEXTER, and can be finished in the ensuing season.
“Almost the whole of the southwest quarter of the county appears to be
first-rate timbered land. A large portion of the timber is superior fencing
timber, and an abundance of sugar-maple is found. We have commenced cutting a
road from Ionia centre south upon the centre section-line of the county, to
continue through EATON County to Marshall, the shire of CALHOUN County. We have
progressed eight miles with the road without meeting with any obstacles that
would require a deviation from the section-line. It passes through beautiful
country, which is believed will be settled at no remote period by a dense
“In view of these facts, can it be reasonable, just, or proper that the county
seat, after having been located near the centre of the county by three competent
and judicious men, be removed five or six miles east, to the great inconvenience
of all who will hereafter settle in the county west of the centre? Therefore we
earnestly request that you exercise the authority vested in you by issuing your
proclamation confirming the location of the county seat for this county
according to the determination of the commissioners.
This last petition seems to have settled the matter, for the Governor issued his
proclamation and the seat of justice of Ionia County remains where it was first
located in 1833.
Ionia ultimately prevailed, but Lyons and their supporters in Portland avenged
their supposed wrongs by steadfastly opposing and voting against all
appropriations for the next fifty years for the construction of a proper
courthouse on the beautiful grounds which were set apart for such purpose in
1833 by Judge Samuel DEXTER. Actually Judge DEXTER donated the west half of the
public square at the time of making his original plat of the village of “Ionia
County Seat”. On June 3, 1850, the east half of the square was granted to the
county by James M. KIDD and Edwin C. HART in consideration of the sum of ten
dollars. Thus the plat known as the “Public Square” embraces an area sixteen
A proposition to build the first structure for county offices was submitted to
the people in April, 1842, and by a vote of one hundred and fifty-two for – to
one hundred seventeen against, it was decided to erect the building. The returns
from Lyons Township were thrown out however, by reason of not having been signed
or certified by the township inspectors of election. This one-story, probably
wooden, building was completed at the back of the square in 1843, and in 1874
eleven hundred dollars were expended for repairs and an addition.
Circuit Court was never held in this building, however. During the earliest
years, sessions of court and of the Board of Supervisors were held in the
schoolhouse, and soon after in a building occupied by Daniel BALL (John BALL’S
brother) as a store. As early as 1845, Abel AVERY furnished rooms for the use of
courts and supervisors, and continued to do so until 1850. Then Smith’s Hall was
rented and occupied until 1868. Dr. BAYARD’S Hall then became the place for
holding court, etc., and continued to be so used until May, 1879, when Armory
Hall was leased on the site now occupied by the Post Office.
By October of 1882, the County Board of Supervisors agreed that new
accommodations had to be provided for county business and court proceedings. A
motion was passed to submit to county voters, at the April 2, 1883, election, a
proposition to build a new courthouse at a cost not to exceed $45,000. Tax
levies would be made over a three-year period to liquidate the debt. In the
April election, Danby, Portland, Orleans and Keene voted NO; surprisingly Lyons
did not. Even more surprising is the fact that only one NO vote was recorded in
Now-a-days it stands to reason that a county that votes to build a court house
needs an architect. That was less true in 1883 than today; architects were not
then required by regulation and statute. Ionia County Board of Supervisors had
appointed a building committee, with Chauncey WATERBURY as chairman. WATERBURY
was an Ionia builder and supervisor of the Third Ward. He could have asked his
younger relative, Ora WATERBURY, who was to have a long and distinguished career
as designer and builder, to plan the building. Ora had designed and built First
Baptist Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church and many other Ionia buildings, as
well as some in Belding and Greenville. But a courthouse to cost not more than
$45,000 was a larger building than either WATERBURY had ever undertaken. Little
did they know that a couple years hence they would have a pick up after a
defunct contractor and complete the job.
News of the successful courthouse vote traveled rapidly. An architect presented
himself within the month. He was David W. GIBBS of Toledo, Ohio. He wrote from
Toledo on April 21, 1883, to WATERBURY: “We have just learned through a friend
that you are Chairman of the building committee for your contemplated Court
House and write to say that our GIBBS will be in Charlotte next Tuesday to stake
out Court House for EATON County, and would be pleased to call on you day
following – Wednesday. In event of your not being able to meet him in Ionia on
that day, be kind enough to write D. W. GIBBS care SHERWOOD House, Charlotte,
Michigan and oblige. Very Resp’y D. W. GIBBS”
GIBBS was engaged to provide the plans for the court house. On April 25, 1883,
The IONIA SENTINEL reported: “D. W. GIBBS, an architect of Toledo, was in town
this morning and in company with Chauncey WATERBURY, of the building committee,
looked at the site for the court house, and obtained information as to the kind
of building desired, with a view of submitting a plan. His firm makes a
specialty of plans for buildings of this kind and are architects of the new
EATON County Court House”. He had also done the CLINTON County Courthouse at St.
Johns in 1869, so was known to the area.
After meeting with WATERBURY, GIBBS returned to Toledo and sent a copy of the
EATON County Courthouse plans to WATERBURY. On June 9, 1883, he wrote to
WATERBURY saying, in part: “The tower covering would have to be of galvanized
iron – on account of economy – and would be really no detriment to the
building”. Work proceeded on the plans in Toledo, with several exchanges of
letters between GIBBS and WATERBURY. On August 23, 1883, GIBBS & Co. wrote to
WATERBURY to say all drawings were complete: “We enclose to you this morning by
express all scale drawings and copy for your proposed Court House as also
In that same letter, on a separate sheet, GIBBS asked WATERBURY for his fee for
the plans. GIBBS said, in part: “The Institute of Architects, of which I am a
member, meets at Providence, R.I., (August) 29, 30 & 31. I have just concluded
to go, provided I can accomplish certain results. And one of them is the $600 in
question. You must not think we are always so hard up. The $12,000 house we are
now building is what’s the matter, besides the money we have put into your
drawings”. This is the only indication of how much the plans for the court house
cost the county, and it appears WATERBURY sent GIBBS the $600, since no other
letters touch on the matter.
On January 14, 1884, WATERBURY wrote GIBBS complaining about some drawings which
stone cutters could not understand. The complaints, as GIBBS quickly made clear,
arose from the fact he had been contracted to draw plans only, and not to act as
supervising architect – and he did not feel responsible for what stone cutters
could not understand.
After this, the correspondence dwindled – a letter February 7, 1885, asked about
progress. The final letter is dated February 25, 1886, with GIBBS writing: “How
are you getting on with your Court House and when do you expect to dedicate? I
would like very much to see it when fully finished. Will you have it
photographed? If so, will you send me one? I had expected great things from your
Court Room & Rotunda, and if you make no mistake in fresco they certainly will
Narrative description of the plans in part: “The style is Classical or
Renaissance (Now properly called Classic Revival or Renaissance Revival, due to
Mid-west American adaption). The court house will be 117 feet, 2 inches east and
west; 83 feet, 8 inches north and south, exclusive of projections. Height of the
building from grade line to eaves is 48 feet. The basement is 3 feet below grade
(the foundation 3 feet below that) and 10 feet in the clear, bringing the
basement 7 feet above grade.
“First and second floors above the basement are 14 feet each; third floor 10
feet in the clear; court room, 24 feet to the ceiling; tower 62 feet; from grade
line to top of tower, 120 feet. Exterior finish: Basement, Ohio blue stone,
beveled, rock-face finish, up to and including the window sills of the first
story. First story, Ionia sandstone, rock-face finish. Above that, Ionia
sandstone smooth finish. (Construction is double-row ivory brick, with the
above-named stones as facing.)
All steps and piers, Ohio blue stone. Front portico 36 feet wide, projecting 7
feet, 8 inches, on which, supporting the balcony, are to be four piers, 3 feet
square, of stone, with heavy carved capitals. The projecting roof above is to be
supported by four iron columns. The approach to the portico will be ornamented
with the Michigan Coat of Arms; on top of the gable, an eagle will be supported
by a pedestal. The tower will be topped with a figure of Justice.”
The architect, David W. GIBBS, was born about 1834-1835, being age 82 when he
died October 20, 1917, in Toledo, Ohio. He came to Toledo about 1869-1870, after
serving in the Civil War, and built a home there in 1883 for $12,000, a palatial
sum at that time. He designed the Wyoming Territorial Capitol in Cheyenne, and
many other important buildings. Besides the CLINTON, EATON and IONIA Courthouses
in Michigan, there were courthouses at Norwalk, Newark, Napoleon, Marion,
Hamilton, and other places in Ohio; jails at Tiffin, Marion, Delaware, Urbana,
and Sandusky in Ohio; churches at Columbus Grove and Urbana, Ohio, and at Auburn
and Goshen, Indiana. Also infirmaries, children’s homes, schools, opera houses,
and lodge halls. In Toledo there were the Masonic Temple, Soldiers’ Memorial
Hall, First & Second German Methodist Churches. Also Hotel Marion in Marion,
Ohio, and the High School in Eaton, Ohio.
On October 1, 1883, bids were opened for construction of the courthouse. Four
contractors bid on the project, three from Ionia and one from Detroit. The
Detroit bidder, COLLINS & JAMES, bid only on specifications using Ohio blue
stone entirely – at $65,000. The three IONIA bidders all bid on the
specifications required a mix of Ionia sandstone and Ohio blue stone: Chauncey
WATERBURY - $44,500; G. W. BADGER - $44,350; Claire ALLEN - $42,380. ALLEN was
awarded the contract. After the contract was let, Ohio stone and other materials
were ordered. Stone began arriving by rail freight on October 25, 1883. Stone
and other materials continued to arrive into February. At the same time,
temporary quarters for some county offices were being constructed, and all
county officers were moved to temporary quarters by the first week in April,
The cornerstone was laid in May, 1884, and thereafter work moved fairly rapidly,
considering the absence of power tools or power equipment of any kind. On August
27, 1884, THE IONIA SENTINEL reported: “The first story of the court house is
nearly completed, that is the walls are up.” All stone work was completed by
November, 1884, and the frame of the tower was in place by December 17, when
work was suspended for the winter. The SENTINEL did not describe the scaffolding
or means of lifting loads. But scaffolding must have been extensive and raising
of stone and timbers must have been slow and dangerous. Some block and tackle
device must have been used – with teams of horses for power, since no mention of
a steam hoist is made. It is likely a steam hoist would have been mentioned if
it was used.
Sometime during the summer of 1884, Claire ALLEN, the builder, declared
bankruptcy. Amazingly, he went on in succeeding years to declare himself an
architect as well as a builder. He made a few “improvements” to David W. GIBBS’
courthouse plans and used them at ITHACA, GRATIOT County, in 1900; at Paw Paw,
VAN BUREN County, 1901, and Corunna, SHIAWASSEE County, in 1903. The Hillsdale
Courthouse, HILLSDALE, late 1880s, is almost identical to IONIA’S and the INGHAM
County Courthouse build at Mason in 1904 is very similar, but no credit is given
to either GIBBS or ALLEN for those two. He undoubtedly used the plans elsewhere
around the Midwest from his offices in Jackson.
But construction at Ionia resumed in the spring of 1885, with Chauncey WATERBURY
in charge. He lost his bid for re-election to the Board of Supervisors, but they
hired him at $2 a day to supervise the construction. He let a contract for a
steam heating system in late April. Decorative items began arriving, including
the Michigan coat of arms which was installed in the gable of the front portico
April 8. On April 25, 1885, exactly two years after David W. GIBBS first laid
scales on the site, the stature of Justice, without blindfold, bearing scales in
her left hand and a sword in the right, was placed on her pedestal atop the
On May 20, The IONIA SENTINEL observed “The design of the court house
contemplates a clock in the tower. Either the Supervisors or some public
spirited individuals should provide the funds and place one there”. No clock was
ever installed. The Supervisors, aware of exceeding the voted amount, probably
didn’t dare. All seven of the other courthouses designed by these same two
architects and built in the same time period have clocks, and most if not all
are still working. IONIA County Courthouse never had a clock in its tower.
Interior finish work – stairs, banisters, shutters, bookcases, faux marble
fireplaces for decorative gas burners, plastering, desks, doors and fresco –
continued through the summer of 1885. D. W. GIBBS’ plans called for an eagle to
perch on the front portico, over the Michigan coat of arms in the gable. The
eagle arrived October 28, 1885. THE SENTINEL reported: “The new eagle for the
court house has arrived, and is said to be a screamer. He measures 12 feet from
tip to tip, and when safely anchored above the entrance, may well put to shame
the loftiest flights of Fourth of July oratory that will, in the years to come,
resound beneath the lofty dome”.
Shortly after the first of the year, county officials began to move into the
building. The Supervisors held their January quarterly meeting in what is now
the Probate Courtroom on the second floor, and announced themselves pleased with
the steam heat. Circuit Court met in its new courtroom for the first time on
February 24, 1886, with short special ceremonies. Workmen had been busy all
night putting in the seats and getting the room ready. It was a very handsome
and convenient courtroom and the judge, jury, attorneys and spectators were all
in a smiling mood. Gas jets in a circle, 32 in number in each of the two
burners, reflected down on the crowd.
Frescoing had to be completed. Dry fresco was used, a technique of painting
walls with oil pigments in lieu of wallpaper or other decoration. The extent of
frescoing is not recorded. Some offices appear simply to have been plain
painted, with only stencil borders. Other areas were extensively decorated and
one such scene remains on the landing between the rotunda and second floor.
Carefully uncovered, it was restored several years ago. The rotunda walls, the
courtroom walls, and other areas appear to have been extensively decorated.
On January 10, 1886, a resolution was introduced by Supervisor E. D. LAMBERTSON
of Orleans to prohibit smoking and spitting within the Courthouse. After being
tabled until later in the afternoon, it was amended to prohibit only smoking.
Then the report of the Furnishings Committee was approved, which included 126
brass cuspidors to accommodate the chewing & spitting. At 71 cents each, they
were a good investment, if only they had been preserved for today’s antique
All county officers were established in their new offices by the first of May,
and the dedication was planned for July 3, 1886. The parade was lead by its
Grand Marshall, General James H. KIDD, who had served under George Armstrong
CUSTER in the Civil War and was now Inspector General of the Michigan State
Troops as well as Editor of the IONIA SENTINEL, on his old warhorse, Billy.
Meeting in special session on June 21, 1886, the Board of Supervisors had read
an itemized report of costs of the new courthouse to date at $63,018.42. Other
bills straggled in later, some almost ten years later, bringing the total to
somewhere between $66,000 and $70,000, depending on where you cut off “original”
and begin counting “restoration”. To be fair tho, the original estimate of
$45,000 had not given much thought to furnishings that were not part of the
The first telephone came in 1888, the first electricity in 1920. During the
1970s the interior woodwork and walls were restored, as well as installation of
heat-conserving windows. This was continued into the 1980s with restoration of
the third floor offices for the Prosecutor and County Commissioners. The 1990s
have brought exterior renovation from base to tip of Lady Justice on the dome.
The eagle cannot be rebuilt and must be replaced. The former glory of the
courtroom can be restored by uncovering the coved ceiling, installing fans, and
buying chandeliers that approximate what once was.
The first rebuttal letter from the residents of Ionia County Seat to Governor
Stevens T. MASON was signed by these pioneer residents:
Erastus YEOMANS William B. LINCOLN
Samuel DEXTER Asa SPENCER
Charles DOTY William DOTY
Thomas CORNELL Alfred CORNELL Jr.
Sanford A. YEOMANS Lorenzo DEXTER
John C. DEXTER Joseph HADSALL
Gilbert CASWELL William DUMPER
Alfred CORNELL Silas D. ARNOLD
Oliver ARNOLD John E. MORRISON
Darius WINSOR Jacob W. WINSOR
Zenas G. WINSOR Charles THAYER
N. G. BROWN Hezekiah FRANCIS
Daniel A. CORNELL Benjamin G. BARBER
George CASE Horace CASE
The second and convincing letter to Governor MASON was signed by:
Erastus YEOMANS Nelson BECKWITH
Jared CONNER Thomas CORNELL
Eli YEOMANS Daniel CORNELL
Zenas G. WINSOR Alfred CORNELL Jr.
Samuel DEXTER Gilbert CASWELL
William B. LINCOLN Benjamin G. BARBER
William DUMPER George W. CASE
Lorenzo DEXTER William DOTY
John C. DEXTER Eleazer MURRAY
Dexter ARNOLD James CROFFORD
Asa SPENCER Thomas H. CONNER
Lyman WEBSTER Elisha DOTY
Sanford A. YEOMANS Charles DOTY
Oliver ARNOLD Silas D. ARNOLD
Nathaniel J. BROWN Joseph HADSELL
Alfred ARNOLD Charles THAYER
Patrick M. FOX John E. MORRISON
Can you find an ancestor on one or both of these lists? A couple families who
came with the DEXTER Colony family went on within a year to found a suburb of
Ionia County Seat to be called Grand Rapids. More about that offshoot next
issue. We are indebted to John S. SCHENCK and his History of IONIA and MONTCALM
Counties – 1881 and to Russel C. GREGORY and his somewhat more recent research,
for materials used in this story.
LOWE UPDATE: Dayton & Henrietta LOWE’S cow pasture was on the
north side of Stoney Creek, across the creek from the John VISSER residence.
They owned 22 acres there, and it is now part of the Sid BROWN – Gladys SPITZLEY
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
JUNE 1998, Volume 33, Number 6. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: CAMPAU, GUILD, DEXTER, YEOMANS, ARNOLD, LINCOLN, FOX, DECKER, WINSOR,
(Photo on front page of JOEL GUILD, Ionia and Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS – SUBURB OF IONIA COUNTY SEAT by Grayden SLOWINS:
Louis Campau, the fur trader, is frequently thought of as the founder of Grand
Rapids. In November of 1826 he built a temporary shelter among the Indians
camped at the site of the future city. The following year he constructed a log
cabin and trading post and soon brought his wife, Sophia, from Detroit. Indian
trails led to and from this spot on the banks near the rapids in the river the
Indians called OWASHTONONG, or the-far-away-waters, so named because it was the
longest river in the territory. On the west shore opposite CAMPAU’S post was
Rev. Isaac McCOY’S Baptist mission, established in 1823 to try to “civilize” and
convert the Ottawa Indians to Christianity. Eighteenth century conflicts between
the Indians and the whites had already considerably reduced the number of
Indians in the area; with the further encroachment of new settlers the remaining
Indians were quietly shoved westward or northward. Almost all the Indians were
gone by 1837 and the Baptist mission closed.
Meanwhile, Louis CAMPAU had staked his claim and on September 20, 1831,
purchased seventy-two acres of land bounded today by Michigan St. on the north,
Fulton St. on the south, Division Ave. on the east, and the Grand River on the
west. His receipt from the Land Office at White Pigeon describes it as the
North-East Fraction of Section 25 in Township 7 North of Range 12 West,
containing seventy-two acres, at the rate of $1.25 per acre, for a sum of
$90.00. This lay in the Township, now mostly City, of Walker, because Division
Ave. is the Town Line. CAMPAU later added a blacksmith shop to his trading post.
Lucius LYON, who had surveyed the area, recorded a claim on September 25, 1832,
on the land between Division Ave. and the river north of Pearl St. They platted
separately and this accounts for the jog in Monroe and other north-south
After a survey in 1833, Louis CAMPAU sold the first two lots on the south-east
side of the jog in what was to become Monroe Avenue at CAMPAU Square to Joel
GUILD for $45.00. GUILD built the first frame house in this area and thus is
credited with being the first permanent settler of Grand Rapids. Later it became
a meat market and today the McKAY Tower stands on the old GUILD House site. But
GUILD had more claim to the title of first permanent settler, as we shall soon
On October 13, 1832, at the same time he recorded his claim for a
quarter-section at IONIA COUNTY SEAT, Samuel DEXTER also entered a claim to four
80-acre lots lying on the east side of the range line (Division St.) – a tract
two miles long by eighty rods wide, next to the west line of Sections 19 and 30,
Township 7 North of Range 11 West, Grand Rapids Township. This land is bounded
today by Wealthy St., on the south, Leonard St. on the north, and Cass Ave. on
Joel GUILD recorded on July 6, 1833, a claim to 40 acres at the south-east
quarter of north-west quarter Sec. 30, the area now occupied by Central High
School and Davenport College. Obviously there was a contest as to which location
would become the most important city in West Michigan, and Samuel DEXTER hedged
his bets by staking a claim in both Ionia and Kent Counties.
In the fall of 1832 Samuel Dexter went back to Herkimer County, New York, and
set about organizing a colony of emigrants. In the spring of 1833 they started.
The company numbered sixty-three persons. They were: Samuel DEXTER, Erastus
YEOMANS, Oliver ARNOLD, Joel GUILD, Edward GUILD, and Darius WINSOR, with their
wives and children; and Dr. William B. LINCOLN, Patrick M. FOX, Winsor DEXTER,
Warner DEXTER, and Abram DECKER, single men. Among the papers of Mr. YEOMANS,
after his death, was found, written with ink and very much faded, the following:
“Memorandum of Journey to Michigan – Left German Flats April 25, 1833. Buffalo,
May 7. Landed at Detroit May 10. Left Detroit May 12. Pontiac May 14. Fuller’s
in Oakland County May 15. Gage’s May 16. In the woods May 17. Saline May 18 and
19. Camped out from May 20 until arrival May 28. (Editor’s note: This would seem
not to be the present city of Saline in southern Washtenaw County, which would
be way off track of the DEXTER Trail from Pontiac to Ionia through Oakland,
Livingston, Genesee, Shiawassee and Clinton Counties.)
That was a long and tedious expedition; but those who were on it soon forgot its
few hardships and through life remembered and loved to recount its many exciting
incidents and pleasures. Cutting their way through the previously untrodden
wilderness, and camping at night in the woods, wherever darkness stopped them,
was no frolic in the ordinary sense; but they were vigorous and healthy and
companionable, and the adventure was novel and exhilarating. There was brush to
be cut through, swamps and jungles to pass around, streams to be crossed, and
many a hard lift for the men of the party; while the women aided with as much
good will in preparing their frugal lunches and their resting places, and the
children were in the spirit of play. Only one seriously sad incident occurred,
the death of little Riley DEXTER from scarlet fever. But the entire narrative
may perhaps best be told by one of the pioneer party. Mrs. Harriet BURTON, a
daughter of Joel GUILD, who was one of that colony and was still alive in July
1889 at the age of 76 years, and familiarly called “Aunt Hattie”, relates the
following story of that journey and its incidents:
“We (Joel and Edward GUILD and their families), started from Paris, Oneida
County, N.Y., taking goods and teams. At the Erie Canal we went aboard a boat
purchased by Samuel DEXTER for the party. In all there were sixty-three of the
company. We had our horses to draw the boat, and the boys to drive. At Buffalo
the boat was sold, and we shipped our goods and took passage on the steamer
Superior for Detroit, where we selected only such goods as we could carry
overland, and left the rest to be sent around to the mouth of the Grand River.
We stopped in Detroit two or three days, buying oxen and cows, and laying in
Every family had a wagon. From there we went to Pontiac, where we staid two
nights in a tavern. The third day we went about ten miles and camped near a
tavern, where the women and children found shelter, and the rest slept in tents.
The next day we left the roads and went into the wilderness, with no guide
except a compass and a knowledge of the general direction to be taken. That
night, I think, we reached the cabin of a Mr. Gage, twenty miles from any other
white man’s habitation. As many as the small house would accommodate slept in
it; the others camped. All were quite weary.
“Mr. WINSOR, who was lame, Mrs. WINSOR, with her sick girl, Rosalind, and the
small children, rode. The rest of us walked, and it was hard walking. After
leaving there, all had to camp out. Each family had a tent, the six tents were
pitched together as one long tent, and every night twenty-three beds were made
upon the ground. At Pontiac, Mrs. DEXTER’S youngest child, a boy, became sick
with scarlet fever, and seemed to grow worse every day. But we could not stop,
for our progress was slow and our supplies running short, so we traveled on to
the Shiawassee River, where we procured a guide.
“It was raining when we reached the Looking glass River, and that night the
little boy was so sick that his mother and Mrs. YEOMANS, whose own babe was but
four weeks old when we started, and myself, sat up all night, holding umbrellas
over the two little ones and nursing them. It was late when we started the next
day, and we went only about four miles before reaching timbered land. Thus far
we had been traveling thru burr oak openings. That night the boy grew worse, and
his mother and I sat up nearly all night with him. Our provisions were nearly
gone, and we could not stop, but about noon Mrs. DEXTER called a halt, noticing
a change in the boy. Dr. LINCOLN gave him some medicine, but in a few minutes
the little sufferer was dead. We could not tarry, but went sadly on carrying his
body, and camped early; when my mother furnished a small trunk that had been
used for carrying food and dishes, which served for a coffin, and by Muskrat
Creek, as the sun was going down, the little one was buried. A large elm by the
grave was marked, and logs were put over the mound and fastened there, to
protect it from wolves that were plenty in that vicinity. The mother seemed
broken-hearted and we all were grieved, but could not tarry there.
“We had reached the point where we had to eat the meal that father had bought at
Pontiac for the horses, letting the latter pick their living as best they could
from grass and twigs along the way. Each family had cows – in all fifteen or
twenty. We made a log-heap fire, filled a large brass kettle with water, placed
it over the fire, stirred in meal and made hasty-pudding, which, with milk from
the cows, was our only food. After reaching the timber land, we girls had to
rise early and get breakfast for the young men, who would then start ahead to
cut out the road, and only came in when it was time to camp at night. At the end
of sixteen days out of Detroit, we reached the Grand River at Lyons, where
father and our family made a brief stop, while the rest proceeded at once to
“In a few days father and Mr. DEXTER started from Ionia on horseback, by way of
the Rapids of Grand River, for the Land Office at White Pigeon. On reaching the
Rapids, they met Uncle Louis CAMPAU, who wanted them to settle here. He had
taken some land and was platting it into lots; he did not “talk Yankee” very
well, he said, and he wanted a settlement of Yankees here. So father went and
took up a the forty that is now the “KENDALL Addition”, and also some pine land
a little southeast of here. When he came back from the Land Office, he bought,
for $25, a village lot of Mr. CAMPAU.
“Uncle Louis and some of his French help went to Ionia for us with bateaux (a
flat-bottomed boat with tapering ends). All of our family came down. At the
mouth of the Flat River, now LOWELL, we went ashore. Dan MARSAC was there in a
log shanty. There was no clearing. Many Indians were about. We next landed at
Rix ROBINSON’S trading post, now ADA. Found Indians there also. Soon after, some
Indians met us on the river and Uncle Louis talked with them in their own
language. He said they informed him that a Catholic Priest, Mr. BARAGA, had
arrived. We reached the Rapids and landed that evening on the east side by the
foot of Huron St., near where the BUTTERWORTH and LOWE Iron Works are now. Two
log houses and a shop were there. All about were woods, mostly. We were received
with a warm welcome by that good woman, Mrs. Louis CAMPAU, who did her utmost to
make us comfortable. This was Sunday, June 23, 1833, the day that I was twenty
years old. We staid there a few days; then removed to Mr. CAMPAU’S fur-packing
house and store, where we lived till about the first of September, when we
removed into the new house that my father built.”
The family of Joel GUILD then consisted of himself and his wife, six daughters,
the eldest 20 and the youngest three years of age, and a son, Consider GUILD,
then 18 years old. Harriet was the eldest daughter. They came from West
Winfield, Herkimer County, N.Y., to Paris, Oneida County, and then here. The lot
which Mr. GUILD purchased was on the east side of Monroe at its juncture with
Pearl Street, and at the base of Prospect Hill (really lots 1 & 2 of the
original plat combined). There he immediately set about building a house, which
he so far completed as to be able to move into it in ten weeks. It was the first
frame house built at Grand Rapids, and the lumber for it was procured at the
Indian sawmill which had been built for the Mission. That pioneer dwelling was
an unpretentious story-and-a-half structure, about 16 by 26 feet on the ground;
had two windows in the lower and one in the upper (or gable) west end, and two
windows with a door between, on each side, north and south. The east end was
close in to the hill.
At the river’s edge, about 150 feet directly west, was a fine spring, over which
Mr. CAMPAU had a milk-house, and further south was the storehouse for furs and
Indian goods belonging to his trading station, of which Mrs. BURTON speaks, and
in which the family lived while building their new dwelling. Midway between
their lodging house and the spring just mentioned was where the cooking and
other domestic work was done, by an outdoor fire. An oak log was used for a
backing to this primitive, wide-open and roomy fireplace, with its wooden crane
and pothooks and hangers, and a large tin baker (oven). Many barrels of flour,
with meats and other accompaniments in proportion, were prepared there for the
table. A few loose boards and some green boughs constituted the roof of this
Meantime there were numerous comers and goers, for the fame of Grand Rapids and
this valley was beginning to be noised abroad, bringing hither not a few land
seekers and explorers. And thus it happened that very quickly, notwithstanding
the meager accommodations, the GUILD House became a sort of boarding house or
tavern, even before the structure was completed.
In a letter written just six months after the day of arrival of their family,
Joel GUILD and wife described to her brother, Jesse VAUGHN, and wife, living in
New York State, the experience of their first half-year in Grand Rapids. The
letter is still in existence, a large sheet of foolscap written full, yellow
with age, without envelope, and bearing the 25 cent postmark of those days. It
reads as follows:
“Grand Rapids, December the 23d, 1833.
“Most Respected Brother and Sister: We embrace this opportunity to indite a few
lines for your perusal, hoping these few lines may find you and yours enjoying
the blessings of health, peace, and prosperity. After saying to you that we have
no reasonable excuse for not writing before now, and promising to do better for
the future, we shall commence by giving you a short account of our journey to
After we left Buffalo we had a comfortable passage to Detroit, at which place we
landed in safety in three days. We staid at Detroit two days to refresh
ourselves, also to purchase teams and wagons and cows. After we had supplied
ourselves with such necessaries as we thought proper, we started for Grand
River, a distance of 180 miles. We were sixty-three in number, men, women and
children, all in good health and in good spirits. We had a good road thirty-five
miles. We then left the road, hired a pilot, and proceeded on an Indian trail;
winding our way through a wilderness of about 150 miles inhabited only by wild
beasts and Indians. Our progress was slow, as we passed through many forests of
as heavily timbered land as I ever saw.
Our women and children underwent considerable fatigue, as they traveled most of
the way on foot, and sleeping on the ground at night, and almost suffering in
some instances for water, as it was very scarce some part of the way. But we all
enjoyed good health, and kept up good spirits. I heard no-one of the number
complain of being homesick. We had the misfortune to have the canker rash
amongst the children when we were in the wilderness, and to add to our sorrow,
we buried one of Mr. DEXTER’S little ones, about two years old, in the
wilderness about forty miles from inhabitants. By the help of a skillful
physician that was with us, the rest of our children were soon restored to
health. We had provisions a plenty, and a good pilot, and in sixteen days from
Detroit we landed on Grand River. The land here in this country generally
appears to be of first quality. Our water is good as I ever saw in any country,
and a plenty of it. People are flocking in from all parts. The country is
settling very fast with respectable inhabitants.
You will naturally expect me to say something of the situation of my self and
family; therefore I shall commence by saying that myself and family are all
enjoying good health, and have enjoyed as good health since I saw you as we ever
did for the same length of time.
As to my situation, I am alone as it respects the inhabitants who came to this
country with me – we are separated. They all settled in one neighborhood, near
the junction of the Maple River with the Grand River. We stopped there about two
weeks, and we all lived in Indian wigwams. After looking for a home, I thought
it best to move about fifty miles down Grand River to a place called Grand River
Falls. I landed here on the thirteenth day of June 1833. No-one here then that
could speak English excepting a French trader by the name of CAMPAU. I bought
120 acres of first rate land near this place, and since I bought I have had the
satisfaction of going with the Commissioners and sticking the stake for the
Court House in our county within twenty-five rods of my land.
There is now a village laid out here and recorded, and the lots are selling
fast, from twenty-five to two hundred dollars each. I own two village lots. I
bought the first lots that were sold, and have built a framed house, the first
that was ever built within one hundred miles of this place, and I am under the
necessity of keeping tavern, as my house was built first. I moved into it the
last day of August, and from that time to this my house has been full by day and
by night. Some of the time we have had twenty in the family. Our women have
plenty to do and are able and willing to work. Abby says must write to you that
she baked nine barrels of flour by the side of a white oak log after we came
here before we moved into our house. Our girls have as much sewing as they can
do. We are all perfectly contented, and I think we are doing tolerably well.
Our river is eighty-five rods wide at this place, and the greatest water
privilege there is in the Territory; here is twenty-five feet fall in one mile
of the river at this place. We expect mills built here another season. I have a
full set of mill irons stored in my cellar for that purpose. We have plenty of
provisions here, although they come as yet by water from Detroit. Here is plenty
of fish and plenty of game, and the greatest country for honey that I ever saw.
Direct your letters to Grand Rapids, County of Kent, Michigan. We have a post
office here by that name.”
The fact that they were the first of the pioneers of permanent settlement of
Grand Rapids by the white people, entitles the GUILD family to some prominence
in a history of this place. Louis and Toussaint CAMPAU were here before, as
traders with the Indians, and then determined to remain here, and were joined by
The SLATERS and McCOYS were on the mission ground on the west side of the river,
in what was then Indian territory, but soon moved away. The coming of the GUILD
family, therefore, marks the date of the beginning of permanent settlement. Of
Joel GUILD’S family there were nine – himself and wife, plus Harriet, Consider,
Emily O., Mary L., Olive, Elvira E., and Lucy E., in the order here named. Of
these children only the oldest, Mrs Harriet BURTON, remained living in 1889.
Joel GUILD’S brother, Edward, came down from Ionia in the spring of 1834, and
soon after came another brother, Daniel GUILD, as did Darius WINSOR. The three
GUILDS, with their relatives by kinship and marriage, constituted a circle of
three or four score persons; no inconsiderable share of the little settlement in
Joel GUILD was then a man in the full vigor of life, not large, but compact and
muscular in build, and of extraordinary exuberance of spirits. He met with an
accident – fracture or dislocation of the hip, which caused a limp in his gait;
but nothing could dampen his jovial good nature, nor his disposition to keep all
who were about him in good humor. For more than a quarter of a century it was
the custom of that family to meet several times a year at the home of some one
of their number, and have, as they were wont to say, a jolly good visit. Joel
GUILD had little faculty to accumulate property, or he might have grown rich. He
was a stirring, bustling, busy man, but always seems more to enjoy the spending
of money for the entertainment of his family and friends, rather than hoarding
it. He was inquisitive and better than any almanac for consultation as to the
names and whereabouts of the people of this valley, for many years. Joel GUILD
was chosen Assessor at the first Township election here, and was the first
Supervisor of Paris Township, where he lived many years, and finally moved back
into the city, which was his home when he died, May 26, 1856, aged 68 years.
Abby, his first wife, died in 1844”……END.
THE OTHER SAMUEL DEXTER – We wrote about Judge Samuel William
DEXTER, founder of Dexter, MI, in the August 1993, Volume 29 Number 1 issue of
the Recollector. Samuel William DEXTER was the son of a lawyer, also named
Samuel, who was Secretary of State under John ADAMS, served in the Massachusetts
State Senate and the United States Senate. Samuel William moved from Boston, MA,
to Detroit, MI, in 1824, and founded the town of Byron in the southeast corner
of Shiawassee County. He expected Byron to become the county seat, but when
Corunna got it, and his wife died at the birth of their second child, he sold
Byron to his wife’s brother and traveled back to Ohio to find a second wife.
With his new wife he founded DEXTER, in Washtenaw County, and built a large
house which still stands. It has great white pillars, twenty-two rooms, 9
fireplaces, 55 windows with inside shutters, a beautiful walnut banister, and is
called Gordon HALL, after his mother’s maiden name, Catherine GORDON. He owned a
629 acre farm which straddled the corners of Dexter, Webster, and Scio
Townships. He saw this as the perfect junction for a barge canal to connect the
Huron River at Ann Arbor with the Grand River at Jackson, by way of the Portage
River through the swamps of what is now the Waterloo State Recreation Area. This
scheme did not pan out either, but he farmed and practiced law and was Circuit
Court Judge for Washtenaw County when he died in 1863.
Judge DEXTER’S second wife lived there until her death in 1899, then it was sold
and used for a rental property. His last surviving descendant, granddaughter
Katherine DEXTER McCORMICK, repurchased and restored it in 1938 and lived there
until 1950, when she gave it to the University for faculty housing. The
following clipping from the University Historical Record tells more about Samuel
W. DEXTER. His first settlement at Byron, Shiawassee County, was very close to
our Samuel’s DEXTER Trail as it cut across on his trip from Herkimer, NY. Also
our Samuel had two brothers, Steven and George Washington DEXTER, who settled at
Whitmore Lake, Washtenaw County, before coming on to Ionia County Seat.
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION: Monday, May 25,
Memorial Day, pot luck supper at 6:00PM. Bring table service and a dish to pass,
beverages provided. A very important business meeting concerning the future of
the organization will follow at 7:00PM. New Officers must be elected. Janet
GIERMAN RUDD’S term as President and LaVern CARR’S term as Trustee expire. Other
officers are Wes MEYERS, Jr. – Vice President, Sharon HUNT KYSER –
Secretary/Treasurer, and Duane MEYERS – Trustee.
NOTE CARDS: Sharon KYSER will have available for sale at the
Annual Meeting, note cards and envelopes designed by Deanne GIERMAN PUMPLIN with
a drawing of Robert Wilfred GIERMAN at SUNSHINE on the front. The price is $1.50
for a package of 4, $2.25 for a package of 6, $3.00 for a package of 8.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Association,
AUGUST 1998, Volume 34, Number 1. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: YAGER, LINHART, RISCHOW, SCHANTZ, HEINTZELMAN, REAHM, FLETCHER,
STRACHAN, FLETCHER, BRYANS, SOUTHWELL, LANE, HOUGH, COOK, SMITH, COLLINGHAM,
BROCK, MORRISON, CALHOON, WATT, WHITE, TALLANT, ENGLISH, WILLIAMS BALDWIN,
FRIEND, BROWN, LOWE
THEO YAGER, 88, widower of Elaine LINHART YAGER, father of Duane, Cameron &
Wendell, brother of Bernice TRASK and the late Beatrice DANIELS and Margarette
LOVELL, son of Ed & Emma SCHELL YAGER, retired farmer and long-time member of
Sunfield-Sebewa-Danby Fire Board. Also President of Ionia County Farm Bureau at
the time of their building project.
MAX DEAN RISCHOW, 60, father of Pamela UNDERWOOD & Michael RISCHOW, son of Tena
& Carl RISCHOW, retired GR employee and amateur pilot.
AUSTIN SCHANTZ, 100, widower of Berniece HEINTZELMAN, father of Victor & Arden,
brother of Marion VanDELLEN & Clarence SCHANTZ, son of Lillian & Daniel SCHANTZ,
retired farmer and long-time Maple Grove Township Supervisor and member of Barry
County Board of Supervisors and Board of Commissioners.
MERWOOD FREDERICK REAHM, 85, husband of Marian, father of Marlene THOMAS,
Barbara SCHWARTZ & Charlene SCHRAUBEN, brother of Pauline HOUGH, Ida PETRIE, and
the late Duane, Carl & Kendall REAHM, son of Fred J. REAHM.
IONE FLETCHER, 78, widow of Max STRACHAN & Russell FLETCHER, mother of Tom
STRACHAN, Mary YEOMANS & Martha ANDERSON, sister of Mary HERBERT, Grace WALTON &
the late Winnie SHETTERLY, John BRYANS and Linda BRYANS, daughter of Frank &
STEVEN SOUTHWELL, 44, husband of Roberta, brother of Sharlene BANKS GOODEMOOT,
son of Letha CURTIS & Howard SOUTHWELL, relationship to Sebewa’s Civil War
Veteran, William H. SOUTHWELL is unknown.
VERA LANE, 91, widow of Edward LANE, mother of Marie HITT, Robert & LaVern LANE,
daughter of Henrietta HOUGH & Carlton COOK.
ALZEO (MIKE) SMITH, brother of Oliver Jr. & Irwin, son of Mable BAIRD HALE & Ben
SMITH, son of Elizabeth COLLINGHAM & Oliver SMITH, Sr.
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES BRING TO LIGHT MISSING PLAT OF SARANAC; WAS
MAPPED BEFORE 1836 HAD VISION OF BIG CITY – By Mrs. L. P. BROCK – IONIA COUNTY
NEWS of May 21, 1931:
Many readers will probably recall that there was published recently in this
paper a copy of an article written by J. C. HOLMES of Detroit and read by him
before the Detroit Pioneer Society about 1890, describing a pourney made by him
the fall of 1835 to Grand Rapids and back in the company with a Mr. HUTCHINSON,
in an effort to reach Saranac.
The opening paragraph of Mr. HOLMES’ article explained the reason for this trip
on horseback along trails through the wilderness of Michigan. He stated: “In the
autumn of 1835, Mr. Hutchinson called on me and said his firm had purchased the
plat of the village of Saranac, located on Grand River a short distance above
the Rapids, and destined to become a large city. Before offering the lots for
sale, he wished to visit the place and see what it was, so that in selling he
might act with understanding as to location, prices and relative values of lots.
He invited me to go with him”. Then followed the description of the trip
recently published during which they reached Grand Rapids, but failed to reach
In a write-up of Jefferson MORRISON in GOSS’ “HISTORY OF GRAND RAPIDS”, is found
“He was born at Milton, Saratoga Co., July 15, 1805: came to Detroit in 1834 and
then in 1836 married Caroline GILL, whom he brought to his Grand Rapids home,
making part of the journey in canoes from Middleville down the Thornapple River.
He had entered the land and platted the village of SARANAC in Ionia County and
CASCADE in Kent County. He had also platted ARTHURSBURG on a hill just west of
where MUIR was located in 1856 and lots from this plat were sold as far east as
Connecticut but the town never materialized. In 1836 he was elected the first
probate Judge in Kent County.”
MAPPED NEARLY 100 YEARS AGO:
From Mr. Holmes’ article, stating that in the fall of 1835 Mr. HUTCHINSON told
him “their firm had purchased the plat of SARANAC”, also that in 1836 Mr.
MORRISON had settled at the “Rapids”, it would seem that Saranac was mapped
earlier than 1836. Mr. MORRISON probably purchased the land by the summer of
1835, made a plan of the town which he named SARANAC, and then interested Dwight
and Hutchinson of Detroit, who joined with him in a mapped plat.
Schenck”s History states this plat was not recorded and Mr. MORRISON then
disappears from association with SARANAC, as history states that “late in 1836
or early in 1837 the proprietors proceeded to hold a public sale in Detroit and
at that and other sales disposed of many SARANAC lots. In 1837 Dwight and
Hutchinson, failing to see any signs of village growth, (for none of the lot
purchasers seemed disposed to make improvements) induced Cyrpian S. HOOKER of
Oakland County, by the donation of some land, to come out to SARANAC and build a
sawmill. This was begun in 1837 on the site later occupied by Saranac Mills. The
construction dragged along until 1841 when the mill first did active duty.
MORRISON PLANNED IT.
This data quite clearly shows that it was Jefferson MORRISON, in 1836 elected
first probate judge of Kent County, who first made a plan of a town which he
A valuable and interesting sequence followed the publishing in the SARANAC
ADVERTISER and the Ionia COUNTY NEWS of the article, written by J. C. HOLMES of
Detroit, which he read before the meeting of the Detroit PIONEER Society in
Soon Mrs. Maurice CAHOON, whose home is west of South Boston GRANGE HALL, placed
with Mr. Hiram JOHNSON, editor of Saranac ADVERTISER, some valuable historical
papers connected with the early days of SARANAC, her interest being aroused upon
the reading of Mr. HOLMES’ article. Mr. JOHNSON, in time sent these to me and
one of these papers doubtless is the unrecorded first plat of the village of
SARANAC, which evolved from Mr. MORRISON’S idea and plan, the mapped plat being
later entered into also by Dwight and Hutchinson of Detroit, who, by the article
of Mr. HOLMES, had by the fall of 1835 purchased “Mr. MORRISON’S plat of
SARANAC”, which was never recorded.
The plat is titled “Map of the Village of SARANAC. Situated at the mouth of Lake
Creek and Grand River in the County of Ionia and Territory of Michigan. Surveyed
by E. SHEPARD.”
Lot No. 1 in Block No. 44 reserved for Episcopal church.
Lot No. 8 in Block No. 21 reserved for public school.
Lot No. 6 in Block No. 63 reserved for Presbyterian church.
Lot No. 10 in Block No. 62 and 74 reserved for Baptist and Methodist churches.
The street running north and southwest, east of Lake Creek, was named Canal
Street. Next east is Center Street. Those next east in order are Skutang, Wegwos,
State, Ocomoss, and Cheemon, while streets running east and west are Bridge,
which is the most southerly and crosses Canal where the southern end of the mill
race joined Lake Creek. Next north of this is MORRISON Street, by which Mr.
MORRISON’S name would be perpetuated; then Main. Eight and one half blocks were
mapped north to Grand River with streets named LORETTE, McKINSTRY, GREEN,
WACOUSTA, MASKEGON, LABERCROSH, EAST RIVER STREET, while north of Main Street is
East Public Square, triangular in shape, formed by course of Grand River bounded
on its northwest side by QUIOUIGOSHCUM street.
On the west side of Lake Creek, Main, MORRISON and Bridge streets are continued
west from the east side. On Lake Creek, Main Street is widened for a triangular
piece of land called West Public Square, and squares of lots on this west side
are platted on the map way to Grand River. The streets running east and west,
north of Main Street being BISFORD, DWIGHT (doubtless after the Detroit partner
in the proposed town), next north being West River street. The streets
intersecting, running north and south on the west side of Lake Creek, are first,
Lake Street, WASHCASS, WABESASH and MOQUA. Seemingly Indians and French people
were living at the location and streets were named for them.
DIFFERENT NAMES NOW:
I carried the map to Mr. J. Clyde WATT, a former citizen of Saranac, to ask if
any of the many Indian names of the streets in this plat of SARANAC were in use
today; but while the present plat uses some names today, the plat in use is
The old plat presents a very handsome “layout” for a town, and no wonder many
lots were sold at the public sale held in Detroit in 1836 or 1837. One cannot
help but wonder if “OCOMOSS” street was not named for “KEMOS, the famous Indian
chief buried at the deserted location of the Indian village of
MISH-SHIM-ME-NE-CON-ING five miles south of Portland, as this chief often
traveled in state through the valley to the “Rapids”. Mr. WATT called attention
that the map stated it was situated in the Territory of Michigan.
To the year 1857 the village was called SARANAC, but in that year, it was
rechristened “BOSTON” and for the first time formally platted. The plat was
surveyed in May 1851 by Alexander F. BELL of Ionia, the village proprietor being
Louis S. LOVELL, later of Ionia. He was for many years Circuit Court Judge.
Mrs. CAHOON also showed three old letters, sent to Timothy WHITE, concerning
their ownership of land, principally in SARANAC. These letters were sent before
envelopes were in use, one being from John BULLARD, Detroit, written July 12,
1840. Another is from the more well known Rix ROBINSON, who in 1822 purchased
the trading post of Madame La FRAMBOISE on Grand River, just west of where
LOWELL was later located. Rix ROBINSON later established a post at ADA. His
letter was written on July 10, 1840. A third one from “Your most obe’t serv’t,
Timothy EASTMAN”, was written on July 11th 1840 and addressed to Timothy WHITE,
Esq., Boston, Ionia County, Michigan. These letters, especially the two by Mr.
ROBINSON and Mr. EASTMAN, were beautifully written, script-like in appearance.
Concerning Timothy EASTMAN, the spring number of the Michigan Historical
magazine, published at Lansing by Dr. Geo. N. FULLER, executive secretary of the
Michigan Historical Society, tells of him in giving a reading on tablets placed
at historic points in Michigan counties. Among those placed in Ottawa County was
found the following: “Boulder with bronze tablet at the four corners of the
village of EASTMANVILLE”. Inscription on the tablet: “The old swimming rock.
Placed here by Frederic EASTMAN in 1921 and dedicated to the memory of his
grandfather, Dr. Timothy EASTMAN, 1798-1868. The first white settler in 1835,
who organized this town of POLKTON in 1845 and of his father, Mason EASTMAN,
1829-1860, who in 1855 platted this village of EASTMANVILLE.”
CAME FROM VERMONT:
Ionia county history states that the spring of 1836 Timothy WHITE, James B.
TALLANT, Worcester ENGLISH and Jesse WILLIAMS came west from Vermont with their
families, and stopped at Kalamazoo for a time while they looked about them for a
desirable location to settle, and decided to settle in BOSTON township, Ionia
County. Worcester ENGLISH setting out with his family for a new home in January
1837. The next after ENGLISH as a settler was Timothy WHITE in March, 1837. One
of Mr. WHITE’S five sisters married Harvey HATCH, also an early settler in
Mrs. Maurice CAHOON wrote me saying she became much interested in the story of
Mr. J. C. HOLMES about the attempt to find SARANAC in 1835, and thought the
early plat of SARANAC and letters in her possession might add to the historical
data in Historical Rooms at the Hall-Fowler Library. She states she is a
great-grand-daughter of Timothy WHITE, also of Harvey HATCH and her husband and
herself reside on the farm that Timothy WHITE settled on in the spring of 1837.
Mrs. MORTON, daughter of Mr. WHITE, lived on the farm until her death many years
ago, and had many old records and letters which she prized highly, but Mrs.
CAHOON does not know how she came to have the first plat of SARANAC “as that was
made before they came here”.
After Mrs. MORTON’S death, some of the old papers were given to Mrs. CAHOON. She
writes she has a map of Michigan made in 1829; a bill to the House of
Representatives, to provide for a wagon road from Jackson to SARANAC in 1845;
also the first proceedings of a town meeting held in BOSTON Township in 1837.
These historical papers will be considered as additional data for the rooms. Mr.
and Mrs. CAHOON reside on U.S. 16, the fourth house west of South BOSTON Grange
(Note: This Editor was born across the road from Mrs. Jessie CAHOON. See Vol.
26, No. 4)
THE BALDWINS OF SEBEWA: (with front page photo of RUSH P.
BALDWIN, SEBEWA PIONEER & CIVIL WAR VETERAN)
Three BALDWIN brothers settled in Sebewa Township right after serving in various
Ohio Infantry & Cavalry units in the Civil War. Rush homesteaded on the 80 acres
at W ½ SE ¼ Sec. 20, which later became the east half of Fred BULLING’S and
later Theo BULLING’S farm, now owned by Charles & Edward LEIK. Forty years ago,
before all the fences were removed, the foundation stones of Rush’s house were
still visible directly across from the John SHAY – Tom DRURY driveway.
Rush P. BALDWIN was born in Republic, OH, August 6, 1841, died in Portland
Township, Ionia County, MI, July 22, 1921, was married March 4, 1866, to Phoebe
Maria FRIEND, born near Beria, OH, December 30, 1847, died in Sebewa Township,
June 2, 1903. All of their children were born & raised in Sebewa. He was married
April 9, 1910, to Emma BROWN and they owned the west 120 acres of what is now
the Ron LENNEMAN farm on Grand River Ave., W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 32 and E ¼ NE /4 Sec.
31 Portland Township. Rush and Phoebe are buried in Portland Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Addie E. BALDWIN born July 22, 1868, died December 17, 1940
2. Clarence E. BALDWIN born Dec. 13, 1871, died Feb. 20, 1889
3. Estella E. BALDWIN, born Dec. 15, 1876, died Feb. 16, 1909
4. Lee E. BALDWIN, born October 13, 1883, died December 6, 1940
Addie E. BALDWIN married Albert B. CULVER II of Ionia Dec. 27, 1893, and they
lived in Mexico and Pasadena, CA, and are buried in Portland, MI.
THEIR CHILD WAS:
1. Albert B. CULVER III, born Nov. 4, 1914; grandson is Albert IV.
LEE E. BALDWIN was married November 15, 1903, to Bertha Ellen TAFT, born in
Ionia April 21, 1885, and lived in Breckenridge, MI.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. John R. BALDWIN born September 27, 1904, died 1968, married Aug. 22, 1926 to
Ada Lee POINDEXTER, b. Dec. 9, 1908.
2. Bertha Lee BALDWIN born July 14, 1930, married Frank TUCK.
ESTELLA E. BALDWIN was married November 20, 1895 to Frank WILSON PRYER, born
August 1, 1862, died July 3. 1921, and lived in Danby Township. They are buried
in Portland Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Marian Addie PRYER born March 17, 1900, still living.
2. Margaret Morna PRYER born November 2, 1902, died 1974, was married to Dan
MORIARTY, William COREY, Hugh JACQUES.
MARIAN ADDIE PRYER was married March 27, 1923, to Elon Dwight LAKIN born August
5, 1900, died October 20, 1978, lived in Ionia and then in Danby Township.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Ann Lois LAKIN
2. Phyllis Marian LAKIN
GEORGE H. BALDWIN settled on the E ½ SE ¼ Sec. 20 Sebewa Township, where William
NURENBERG, Phil SPITZLEY and the CARR brothers own now. George was born in Ohio
in 1834 and died in Sebewa Township in 1894. He married Esther, who was born in
1842 and died in 1924, having married a man named HUTCHINS after George died.
They are buried in West Sebewa Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Charles BALDWIN, who married Christi SAYER, sister to Jacob, and owned the
north 40 acres of George’s 80, later selling it to Jacob & Clarence SAYER and
moving up by Six Lakes, MI. THEIR SON WAS: George BALDWIN, Jr. whose son was
Steve who lives in Baltimore, MD.
2. Edison BALDWIN born April 19, 1875, in Sebewa Township and died December 5,
1966, lived in Ionia.
3. Mary BALDWIN born May 9, 1864, died in Lake Odessa, April 27, 1949, was
married to Oscar SAXTON and Edwin LEAK.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Claire SAXTON
2. Maude SAXTON, who lived in Hesperia
3. Vern SAXTON, who lived in Lansing
4. Mabel SAXTON, who married Archie VALENTINE and had Bufford, Balfour, James &
Bernard VALENTINE, Mary PATTERSON & Margaret BUCHE
5. Zella SAXTON HAZZARD BECHOLD, who married Ben HAZZARD and had Marguerite
SHORT, Betty McMILLEN, Maxine TORREY & Maxwell HAZZARD.
4. Jesse BALDWIN born May 4, 1879 in Sebewa Township, died June 15, 1952, was
married to Florian KENYON, son of Marvin or Edgar KENYON 1848-1898, grandson of
Philelia 1808-5/20/1879 & Christopher KENYON 1802-12/6/1881. They lived at W ½
NW ¼ Sec. 10 Sebewa Township, where Ron THELEN lives now.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Esther KENYON who married Herman GRIMES of Lansing
2. Margaret KENYON who married Leonard DENNIS and ran a beauty shop in Lansing.
3. Loyd M. KENYON born 1905, died December 8, 1905.
4. Loren L. KENYON, a Chiropractic Doctor in Lansing & Colorado, whose son Jeff
stopped in to see us from Wisconsin and hopefully will add to this story.
ISAAC BALDWIN had the SW ¼ Sec. 10 Sebewa Township, now owned by Bruce & Terry
WALKINGTON & Henry HOORT and long known as the Ed & Herbert DEMARAY farm. Rush,
George & Isaac were the sons of Nathaniel BALDWIN & Matilda SHAW, daughter of
Sarah KELLER & Robert SHAW, son of Mary McDOWELL & Richard SHAW, Soldier of the
Revolution and everyone’s ticket to the D.A.R. Isaac took his mother and moved
back to Ohio. Nathaniel may have been dead before they moved here. Isaac’s farm
passed to William E. BALDWIN, who may have been Isaac’s son. If you have
information to add to the BALDWIN story, please sent it along. END
LOWE FAMILY UPDATE: Charles Rose, 6302 Purple Hills Drive, San
Jose, CA 95119, who asked us to research the LOWE families of Sebewa Township,
says William LOWE in our East Cemetery was his great, great-grandfather and Ben
LOWE was his great, great-uncle.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
OCTOBER 1998, Volume 34, Number 2. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: SLOWINS, SHAY, PROBASCO, CARR, GUNN, HENDERSON, ROE, MERRILL.
RIDING BEHIND EPHRAIM SHAY’S LOCOMOTIVE by Grayden SLOWINS:
On our trip to Denver we rode behind the SHAY Locomotive. But I am getting way
ahead of my story. We left home in early morning on Wednesday, June 24, 1998,
after township board meeting the night before.
Thursday, June 25, our 44th wedding anniversary, we traveled across Missouri &
Saturday, July 4, was the Supreme Day, when we traveled to Silver PLUME
(Colorado?) and rode the Georgetown Loop Railway to Georgetown and back. The
engines #8, #9, #12 & #14 used on this tourist line – once called the
Georgetown, Breckenridge & Leadville Railroad – are Shay locomotives, invented
by EPHRAIM SHAY of Sebewa Center, Shaytown, Haring & Harbor Springs, MI.
EPHRAIM SHAY was born in Ohio in 1839, and died in Harbor Springs, MI, in 1916.
His mother, Phoebe PROBASCO SHAY’S farm was the 40 acres surrounding the Sebewa
Center School, and his grandmother, Mary PROBASCO, and uncles Ephraim PROBASCO &
Benjamin PROBASCO Sr., came to Sebewa in 1855. His father, James SHAY, was
buried at Muir, near an uncle Henry PROBASCO. Mary, Phoebe, Benjamin and others
of the family are buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Phoebe (1818-1873) & James
(1814-1861) SHAY’S children were:
1. Loretta SHAY born 1837, died 1853
2. Ephraim SHAY born 1839, died 1916, buried at Harbor Springs
3. Uzel SHAY born 1841, died 1849
4. Priscilla SHAY born 1843
5. Theodore SHAY born 1845, died 1883, buried in Sebewa
6. Victoria SHAY born 1847, died 1847
7. Chauncy SHAY born 1848, died 1853
8. Susanne SHAY born 1852, died 1856
9. Mary Ann Velma SHAY born 1856, died 1889, married George SHIPMAN
10. Arthur SHAY born 1858, died 1925, buried in Louisiana
11. Florence SHAY born 1861, died 1861.
EPHRAIM went back to Ohio and joined a Civil War Army unit with his buddies from
there, as a Medic. He came home from the war and worked in GUNN Bros. Sawmill in
Sebewa Township, owned what is now Ilene CARR’S 80 acres at NW ¼ NW ¼ Sec. 21 &
SW ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 16, and was Township Clerk in 1867. He then went out on his own
with a sawmill, general store and farm at the town he founded south of Sunfield
and named SHAYTOWN. In the 1880 census, some 35 families got their mail at his
Then he moved his sawmill to just north of Cadillac and founded another town
called HARING, in Haring Township. He again was postmaster and also served one
term as Wexford County Treasurer. He built several on his locomotives for use on
logging lines in Northern Michigan, then leased his patents to LIMA Locomotive
Corporation of Lima, OH, who built thousands of them for use in logging & mining
operations all over the world.
His patent was based on a direct drive-shaft from the crank-shaft of the three
steam-powered, side-mounted, cylinders. Beveled or helical gears were used to
transfer the power to the drive-wheels, without the jolting motion of the
eccentric pitman drive used on standard engines. All wheels were drive-wheels,
even under the tender. This gave less speed, but terrific pulling power for the
size of the little engines and allowed them to run on uneven temporary trackage,
sometimes even built with wood rails. Ephraim used wood-fired steam, while later
models used oil-fired steam, like the RUMELY Oil-Pull farm tractors. He used 3
ft narrow-gauge track, instead of the standard 4 ft 8 ½ inch spacing of the
rails. One of his engines is in a logging display in a park at Cadillac.
Then he moved his logging & lumber business to Harbor Springs. He built a
six-sided steel home & office. The office on the top floor had a commanding view
of his enterprise. His logging and his engine patents made him a millionaire. As
logging played out, he did repair work in his machine shop for lake freighters
that stopped in the harbor, and he began to give tourist rides on his 30-mile
narrow-gage railroad. He continued to invent and to make toys for the
neighborhood kids. He is buried in the cemetery nearby with his wife, Jane
HENDERSON, and his son Lette & wife, Katherine ROE, and Lette & Katherine’s
daughter & husband, Katherine & Donald MORRILL.
We rode behind the $14 SHAY locomotive and saw the other three engines. The ride
is called the GEORGETOWN Loop, because the track has to loop over itself on
ever-higher bridges to achieve the 600 ft. change in elevation over a distance
of 4 ½ miles, although the two towns are only 2 miles apart as the crow flies.
The highest bridge is 100 ft. high and was an engineering marvel for its day. It
cost $250,000 to build in 1884, was sold for scrap for $450 in 1939, and rebuilt
in 1984 for $1,000,000. Cut stone retainer walls that had been laid up without
mortar more than 100 years ago to hold the embankments thru cuts, still serve
well with very little maintenance.
After riding the GEORGETOWN Loop Railroad, we watched the Fourth of July parade
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
DECEMBER 1998, Volume 34, Number 3. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: SMITH, BAIRD, HALE COLLINGHAM, BOYINGTON, DANIELS, WOLVERTON, FIRST,
TRYON, WILLETS, FRANKS, REYNOLDS, CASSEL, HOFFMAN, BRETZ, WHORLEY, TURNER,
OATLEY, LOWE, BECKER, BEERS, GIERMAN, WENGER
ALZEO (MIKE) SMITH (Update), widower of Clara Louise JESSUP SMITH, father of
Charles L. SMITH, Mary L. KLEINFELT, Margaret A. TROYER, Richard Ben SMITH &
Alice E. BERENS, brother of Velda HALE, Bernice DARLING, Beatrice HOLLENBACH,
Ruth, Helen & Maxine SMITH, Sarah SHAFER, Irvin & Oliver D. Smith, son of Mabel
BAIRD HALE & Benjamin F. SMITH, son of Oliver D. SMITH & Elizabeth COLLINGHAM,
daughter of Jacob & Lucy BOYINGTON COLLINGHAM.
LARRY A. DANIELS, 60, husband of Judy GREEN DANIELS, father of David DANIELS,
Diane PETERSON & Julie JOHNSON, brother of Margene SMILEY, Dallas & Gary
DANIELS, son of Beulah & Oren DANIELS, son of Anna U. & Andrus W. DANIELS, son
of Sarah D. & Orren W. DANIELS, son of Eunice & Andrus W. DANIELS. He was an
excavating contractor and former member of Lakewood School Board.
RANDY WOLVERTON, 54, husband of Linda Gayle FREDERICKS WOLVERTON, father of Lisa
PETERSON, Diane SPRAGUE & Robert WOLVERTON, brother of late Kathryn WOLVERTON,
Joan SLAGER & Kerrie IDEMA, son of Pauline B. FIRST & Richard E. WOLVERTON, son
of Lester WOLVERTON.
TRYON AND WILLETS FAMILY UPDATES:
Jim WILLETS recently brought us from the Floyd EVANS estate sale several
booklets of Official Proceedings of the Ionia County Board of Supervisors for
years 1911-1912 thru 1966-1967 and one for Board of Commissioners 1971-1972. We
don’t know what happened during the reorganizing years 1968-69-70. Jim was a
brother to Charles, George, Viola, Virginia and an infant Leland Rue WILLETS.
They were the children of Ray WILLETS, who had sisters Hattie & Bertha and lived
in Lansing. They were the children of Ray WILLETS, Sr., who is buried in East
Sebewa Cemetery. He was the son of Leland RUE WILLETS Sr., who lived on the 50
acres at NW ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 7 Danby, east side of KEEFER HWY., where Joe & Karen
TOWNER live now. Leland RUE WILLETS was the son of Stephen WILLETS and both are
buried in Spaulding Cemetery on DEXTER Trail near SPAULDING Road Sec. 25 Lyons.
Ray WILLETS Sr. was married to Marcia TRYON, sister of George TRYON & another
brother. They were the children of Otis TRYON & Catherine POOLE, whose mother
was a BARNUM from Sunfield. Otis was the son of Noah & Marcia A. TRYON, who are
buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Otis is buried east of Greenville, but his
second wife – Gracie LUMBERT TRYON MARTIN is buried with her last man, Ray
SMITH, in East Sebewa Cemetery. Storyteller Welcome (WECK) LUMBERT was a
half-brother to Otis Tryon thru their mother’s marriage into a different line of
LUMBERTS, who were numerous in the early days of Sebewa & Odessa Townships. Some
are now called LAMBERT. One very old woman called Aunt Sylvia LUMBERT, written
about in The RECOLLECTOR Vo. 9 No. 1 & Vol. 20 No. 4, was a LUMBERT both before
& after marriage.
Otis & Gracie TRYON had one daughter, Clarabelle TRYON ROACH SHARP, and husband
John SHARP, who are also buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Jim WILLETS’ niece met
and married Darrius HART, son of Fred & Hope JACKSON HART of Sebewa, while both
were working at the Saturn plant. Fred grew up on the Charles E. HART farm at S
½ SE ¼ Sec. 13 Sebewa, on the west side of KEEFER Hwy., not far from the old
Leland RUE WILLETS farm.
FRANK FAMILY UPDATE:
Some months ago Judy FRANKS REYNOLDS of Parma, MI, contacted us about the FRANKS
families of Sebewa, from whom she is descended. We sent all FRANKS information
we had from East Sebewa Cemetery and put her in touch with Julia CASSEL WHORLEY.
Now she writes for information on the OATLEY family. Our reply is included here.
We do not, however, find James Henry OATLEY, who married Mary A. (Evaline?)
FRANKS, but is not listed as being buried with her in East Sebewa Cemetery. Can
“SEBEWA TOWNSHIP, settled in 1838; organized in 1845.
November 16, 1998:
Judy FRANKS REYNOLDS,
9275 County Farm Rd., Parma, MI 49269
Dear Ms. REYNOLDS;
Here is the information I found on your questions, plus a printout my wife
happened to be working on that has a REYNOLDS family who once lived in the
Putnam Township area near Pinckney.
Elta CASSEL & George HOFFMAN are probably buried in Portland Cemetery.
The BEERS family would also be in Portland Cemetery.
In the East Sebewa Cemetery we have:
Isaac BRETZ – born 3/12/1826 – died 12/9/1883
Eliza BRETZ – born 1829 – wife of Isaac
They are on Block 10, Lot 19, Graves 1 & 2.
Mary A. OATLEY – born 5/14/58 – died 3/14/1884; wife of J.
H. OATLEY. She is on Block 8, Lot 5, Grave 1
William TURNER – 1848-1919
Melintha TURNER – 1854-1935
James D. TURNER – born 4/11/56 – died 8/30/1880
Jeannett TURNER – wife of ?
They are on Block 3, Lot 9, Graves 1,2,3,4.
In the West Sebewa Cemetery we have:
Simeon OATLEY – 1826-1901 – Father
Sally OATLEY – 1829-1873 – Mother
They are on Lot 65, Graves 2 & 4.
Barney OATLEY – 1863-1947
Anna M. OATLEY – 1869-1912
They are on Lot 109, Graves 2 & 3.
Another son of Simeon & Sally OATLEY, and brother of
Chester & Barney, was buried at Mesick, MI:
Gravener B. OATLEY
Sarah GUNN OATLEY”
OUTDOOR IMAGES – Tom HUGGLER – Writer/Photographer
Phone 517-566-8155 – Fax: 517-566-7076. E-mail:
October 4, 1998
Janet RUDD, President, Sebewa Center Assoc.,
1426 W. Grand River, Ionia, MI 48846
Duane MEYERS and I recently looked over the Robert GIERMAN historical collection
which is being housed, temporarily, in the Archives Dept. of the Michigan
Historical Library on Allegan Street in Lansing.
A total of 21 boxes of notes, photos, records and other historical data are in
the collection. According to archivists Dave Johnson and Helen Taylor, these
materials do not fit into current collection themes. In short, the Library would
like someone to take all the materials off their hands. If we don’t, they will
Samples of information that Duane and I uncovered:
Box #1: 1967 Ionia Cty. Soil Survey, Sebewa Center Assoc. Bylaws and
Constitution, 1965, Warranty Deed for the Sunshine Property to Sebewa Twp.
Box #2: Grand Valley Rock & Mineral Society News, 1963-1971. Copies of SEBEWA
Box #3: Lakewood Schools Enrollment & Annual meetings from 1895. Same for Sebewa
Twp. schools from 1917. Various
accts. and ledgers for individuals and townships.
Box #4: Teachers’ contracts, government documents, census information.
Box #5: Photos
Box #6: Bob GIERMAN’S copies of THE RECOLLECTOR
Box #7: Local historical society scrapbooks.
Box #8: Personal diaries, information about Ella Jean PETOSKEY
Box #9: Ionia County materials and records
Box #10: Scrapbooks, IOOF West Sebewa from 1910, various records
The rest of the boxes contain similar materials, including school records from
1865. Duane and I thought the Association might be interested in getting these
materials back, then setting up several tables in the old schoolhouse. Members
could sort the information according to subject and put everything out onto the
tables. The next step would be to inform the public through local newspapers, as
well as our newsletter. We could set apart a few hours one day when people could
take whatever momentos they wish.
What do you think of this idea? Regardless of what we do, we need to call Dave
Johnson (517)373-1452 within the next month or so, or he will likely authorize
destruction of the collection.
In reference to a grant for repairing the old schoolhouse, I called the Michigan
History Division of the Secretary of State’s office and was told to contact
either the Historical Society of Michigan in Ann Arbor or the Michigan Council
for the Arts. I have not had the time to do either. Perhaps you or someone else
would like to look into it?
I’m sending a copy of this letter to Graydon in the event he wishes to print it
in the RECOLLECTOR.
Sincerely, Tom HUGGLER, cc: Grayden SLOWINS, Duane MEERS
COVER PHOTOS: Colorado State Capitol is one of the most
beautiful Capitol buildings in our nation. Sitting on a high knoll, it can be
seen & photographed from many directions, especially from its beautifully
landscaped Civic Center Mall. The dome is covered with solid gold leaf, donated
by a local mining company so copper would not be bought from elsewhere. At the
opposite end of the Mall is the City/County Court House.
LOWE FAMILY UPDATE: (From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER) February 7,
Egbert Yandall LOWE was born March 23, 1819, in Ulster County, N.Y. He came to
Michigan in 1836, locating in Monroe and following his occupation of milling.
After four years he went back to his old home and voted for President William
HARRISON. After milling at different parts of Michigan, he came to Sebewa in
1868 and bought the FRIEND Mill property, which he has operated ever since. He
was a resident of this place for the last 32 years, except for 4 years spent
He was married to Clarissa WARD on October 24, 1844, at Hudson, MI. She died at
Sebewa December 10, 1891. Of this union six children were born, four of whom
preceded their parents in death. Two sons survive them, Egbert W. (Bert) and
Dayton Otho (Date), both residents of Sebewa.E. Y. LOWE, (as he was called), was
a man of sterling integrity, a kind husband and father, and a good neighbor. He
was always ready to assist in times of need. He was a staunch Republican in
politics. He will be missed very much in the community in which he lived so
long. The immediate cause of his death was a severe cold, developing slight
pneumonia from which he was apparently recovering until the morning of the 28th
(January), when sudden change took place. The action of the heart became weak
and he sank slowly and died at 9 o’clock that evening. The funeral was held at
the house at two o’clock Tuesday by Rev. Skentleberry, pastor of the
Congregational Church at Lake Odessa. The remains were taken to Chelsea, MI, and
buried beside those of his wife.
August 29, 1900: It will be three weeks before Bert LOWE does any grinding
unless he uses steam. Besides putting in a new foundation, he will put in a new
flume for the water wheel.
October 10, 1900: Bert LOWE is having more of a job repairing his mill than he
expected. He not only extended the foundation walls, but also put new timbers
under it. The job will take two more weeks. Fred BROWN is helping him.
October 31, 1900: Bert LOWE will soon have his mill in running condition. Making
the necessary repairs has been a long & tedious job, taking a good deal longer
than he expected, the foundation being in such decay that he was obliged to put
under stone walls and abutments. He is now putting in a new flume.
December 19, 1900: Bert LOWE will go to Detroit in a few days to get a new
purifier for his mill.
March 6, 1901: Bert LOWE’S new feed grinder is a success. It grinds very much
faster than the mill stones and does not take near the water (power).
March 17, 1901: Bert LOWE’S new feed grinder seems to be a success. He can grind
three times as fast and with less power than with the mill stones.
May 8, 1901: Bert LOWE has sold his mill and will soon move to Lake Odessa.
July 17, 1901: We have new residents in our burg this week, as Bert LOWE has
sold his mill property to a gentleman from Holland and he is to take possession
immediately. Mr. LOWE is undecided yet as to what he will do.
August 7, 1901: The new miller has arrived and will soon be ready for business.
September 28, 1901: Mr. DECKER, the new miller who has been ill for some time,
is slowly recovering.
March 12, 1902: C. P. BECKER died at his home March 7. His remains were taken to
Holland, Michigan, for burial.
March 26, 1902: Mrs. BECKER and Chris returned to their home last week.
April 16, 1902: Date LOWE is running the grist mill while Chris BECKER is laid
up with a sore foot.
June 4, 1902: Mrs. BECKER went to Grand Rapids last week to visit relatives.
July 2, 1902: Mrs. BECKER and family expect to move to Holland in the near
September 21, 1904: Elias BECKER, who has purchased the LOWE Mill west of town,
will overhaul the present machinery, installing new when required and put the
mill on a paying basis as soon as possible. This property has been a forlorn
hope for some years past. C. P. BECKER, the present owner’s father, bought the
mill three years ago and undertook to improve the property, but death took him
before his plans could be put into operation. Since then the mill has been
practically inoperative, D. O. LOWE occupying the mill residence and doing what
little feed grinding as came in at irregular intervals. The mill is a good
property and with good machinery and an experienced miller as the present
incumbent at the head, will soon reclaim its place at the front rank.
Mr. BECKER is a man of pleasing personality, making friends of all who met him
during his father’s illness several years ago and he assures us he has come to
stay and will give his patrons the best there is. If he cannot make flour to
supply the demand, he will open an exchange. The feed mill will be put in repair
at once and he invites the patronage of the surrounding community, assuring them
if earnest endeavor and honest dealing will gain their good will, they will have
no occasion to deal elsewhere.
MARGE SMITH, special friend of the late Robert Wilfred GIERMAN, and former Ionia
County Commissioner, Lumber & Hardware Dealer, School Teacher, and Historical
Society Activist, is now living at Fountain View Retirement Village, 3962
Whispering Way Dr., SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546. She would love to hear about
activities she once participated in, in Ionia County.
FARMING NOTE: Our cousin, Chris WENGER, reminds us that in the
bottom of the Great Depression, hogs sold for 3 cents/# and one pound of pork
would buy a postage stamp. Recently hogs have been selling for 18-25 cents/# and
32 cent tamps are going up to 33 cents. It can be argued that with Mega-farm
automation, one extended farm family can produce many more hogs today. But are
they really better off after expenses are paid, or is it just more cheap food
for the consumer?
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
FEBRUARY 1999, Volume 34, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. Slowins, Editor:
SURNAMES: LEAK, SHERRARD, OSMAN, HYLAND, YORK, MIDDAUGH, MEYERS, LAPO, WILLIAMS,
GOODEMOOT, COOK, WOLCOTT, WICKHAM, McLEOD, ELDRIDGE, SLOWINSKI, SCHNABEL, OATLEY,
FRANKS, GUNN, HANSON, McNEIL, PROBASCO, COLWELL, WEBSTER, RICKEY, CORNELL,
McCARTNEY, VanderHEYDEN, WOOD, CLARK, MOON, SAMPSON, BRAKE, SLOWINS, COSENS,
BRAKE, BETZNER, BREAK, BRECH
DORIS R. LEAK, 84, widow of Zeno LEAK, mother of Edwin LEAK, Nancy DOWKER, and
the late James LEAK, sister of the late Ruth BECKER & Reah RADEMACHER, daughter
of John SHERRARD & Blanche OSMAN, daughter of Sidney OSMAN, whose wife was a
HYLAND, daughter of Sarah E. HYLAND, whose family settled in NE ¼ NE ¼ Sec. 35
Orange Township before 1891. Doris farmed in Sebewa for many years. To be buried
in West Sebewa Cemetery.
JOHN RODNEY YORK, 55, husband of Luann MIDDAUGH YORK, father of John YORK III &
James YORK, brother of Bernard & Ronald YORK & Geneva SPEAS, son of Wilma MEYERS
& John S. YORK, son of Ruth A. & Harry L. YORK, son of Christina & Stephen L.
YORK, son of Josiah YORK, son of Zachariah YORK. Buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
GEORGE GAYLORD LAPO, 86, father of Stephanie CORLEW & the late Michael Gaylord
LAPO, son of Earl J. LAPO, son of George H. LAPO, son of Jacob or Reuben LAPO,
who settled on MUSGROVE Hwy. in Sebewa Township about the time of the Civil War,
on what are known in modern times as the Aubrey DAVID & John SHAY farms. Gaylord
was retired from Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Buried at
Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Cascade Township, (Kent County, MI).
DALE WILLIAMS, 56, son of Ruby GOODEMOOT & Gerald WILLIAMS, son of Leon WILLIAMS
& Mable COOK, daughter of Emily & Charles P. COOK, son of Ursula & Pierce G.
COOK, who settled in Sebewa in 1853 on today’s Henry SMITH farm, ran a store in
Sebewa Corners during the Civil War, and was Justice of the Peace in Portland in
retirement. Ruby was the daughter of Allyn GOODEMOOT, son of George GOODEMOOT,
son of John & Mary J. GOODEMOOT, who was the great-granddaughter of Oliver
WOLCOTT, Sr., signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of
MARIE WICKHAM, 73, widow of Gerald WICKHAM, mother of Gary, Donald, James,
Phillip & David WICKHAM and Debra KENNEDY, sister of LaVern & Lawrence ELDRIDGE,
Madeline BUEHLER, Margaret GENDER, and the late Madonna HILLEY, daughter of
Pearl McLeod & Eddie ELDRIDGE, son of Rufus Jay ELDRIDGE & Sophia SLOWINSKI,
daughter of Louis SLOWINSKI, son of Anna SCHNABEL & Daniel SLOWINSKI, son of
OATLEY & FRANKS FAMILY UPDATE:
Wilbur GIERMAN has access to a book on the OATLEY family, written by Gravener B.
OATLEY II, a cousin of Wilbur’s mother still living at 3219 N. Seventeenth Road,
Mesick, MI, 49668, phone 616-885-1838, and wintering in Florida. Simeon &
Chester OATLEY were pioneer settlers in Sebewa Township. Their father is buried
at Gresham Cemetery in Eaton County.
Simeon & Sally OATLEY are buried in West Sebewa Cemetery. He was born 1826, died
1901. She was born 1829, died 1873. They farmed at W ½ SE ¼ Sec. 10 Sebewa, on
south side of YORK Rd., now owned by Audrey CASSEL.
SIMEON & SALLY’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. James Henry OATLEY – apparently first married to Mary A., who was born
5/14/58 & died 3/14/1884 and is buried on his lot in East Sebewa Cemetery. Then
he married Eva FRANKS.
2. Gravener OATLEY – married Sarah GUNN and farmed first at W ½ NE ¼ Sec. 12
Sebewa, on south side of Clarksville Road, now owned by Betty ELDRIDGE, and then
farmed near Mesick, MI. They are buried in Antioch Cemetery, Wexford County.
THEIR CHILDREN INCLUDED:
1. Mae OATLEY – married George GIERMAN, mother of Wilbur, Reba
2. Another daughter who married a man named Clarence
3. Simeon OATLEY II – father of Ralph OATLEY, who stayed with Forrest STIFFLER,
and was a cousin to Forrest on their mother’s side.
3. John OATLEY – married Clara FRANKS
4. Chester OATLEY II – father of Gravener II, is supposedly buried in Antioch
Cemetery in Wexford County.
5. Barney OATLEY – married Anna HANSON, farmed at W ½ SE ¼ Sec. 10 Sebewa after
Simeon, and they are buried in West Sebewa Cemetery. He was born 1863 & died
1947. She was born 1869 & died 1912.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Fern OATLEY – first wife of Theron McNEIL & mother of Alhol
2. Maude May OATLEY – married Benjamin PROBASCO & mother of Harold and Uzel.
CHESTER OATLEY SR., brother of Simeon, married Frances Louise and first farmed
at W ½ NE ¼ Sec. 12 on Clarksville Road, now owned by Betty ELDRIDGE, which he
bought from Gravener. Frances is buried with their daughter Nina & husband in
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Nina OATLEY BAUMAN, who married Nelson B. BAUMAN and succeeded her parents on
2. Edna OATLEY GEE.
There is a Chester OATLEY in West Sebewa Cemetery, born 1851, died 1899, and
Mary OATLEY, born 1847, died 1881. Which Chester OATLEY is this?
LAKE ODESSA BUSINESS DIRECTORY From BONANZA BUGLE, from LAKE
ODESSA WAVE, November 18, 1926:
Hotel BURKE – Mary A. BURKE, Prop.
WAITE Inn – M/M Charles WAITE, Prop.
Wenonah Resort – Lealie RICE
Coffee Kitchen – Mrs. Mina PERKINS
Robert VEITCH – Harness Shop
W. C. HAMMOND – Novelty Shop
Thomas JOHNSON – Lawyer
J. E. PEACOCK – Grocery
Mae BADGER – Millinery
George A. WEED – Furniture & Undertaking
W. H. McCARTNEY – General Merchandise
James SCHEIDT – Hardware
Glenn MEYERS – Pool Room
Dr. M. J. HENDERSON – Dentist
Diamond Theater – H. H. CHASE, Mgr.
Frank FALSETTA – Fruit Store
Byron GOODSELL – Hardware
Charles ERNSBERGER – Lawyer
Pliny RUSSELL – Second Hand Dealer
Michigan Sugar Beet – Orson LOVELL
Charles DAILEY – Blacksmith
Lake Odessa WAVE-TIMES – Mrs. DANN-GOODEMOOT, Editor & Publisher
Frank ULRICH – Barber
Dan SKELLINGER – Oil Station
International Harvester – (ZERFAS?)
Ermal GARLINGER – Produce
W. A. BURLING – Flour Mill
A. M. SMITH Co. – Poultry Buyers – Alvah TINGLEY, Mgr.
Theo. FOSTER – Jeweler
T. A. HEALEY – Gas Engines, etc.
HADDIX Market – C. J. YAGER, Mgr.
LaDUE & SNYDER – Hardware
R. S. BRADEN – Barber
M. E. EVERETT – Jeweler
CAMPBELL & GILSON – Men’s Furnishings
Clare SEXTON – Oakland Sales
D and C Stores – Mrs. R. AUSTIN, Mgr.
Dr. P. F. HINES – Dentist
Dr. J. W. ROBINSON – Physician
Olive HUNTZINGER – Millinery
Ray FENDER – Garage
Charles LAPO – Implements
Leon NICHOLSON – Barber Shop
D. R. TROWBRIDGE – News Agency & Photographer
Lewis TERRY – Barber Shop
Consumers Power – F. E. BRANCH, Mgr.
F. W. SMELKER – Drugs
O. B. GARLINGER – Meats & Groceries
Ed SHELLHORN – Gents’ Furnishings
Bell Telephone – Janet MALONEY, Chief Operator
Fred SMITH – Groceries
City Bakery – Wm. TIETS, Prop.
Andy DIRR – Meats & Groceries
SMITH Brothers – Grain Elevator
P. M. Railroad – F. M. THOMAS, Agent
Howard D. POFF – Tire Service
Standard Oil – Service Station
GATES & HUNTZINGER – Ford Garage
George KART – Flouring Mill
Nestles Food Co. – F. A. PAGE, Mgr.
City Laundry – H. BUXTON, Mgr.
Ada SHUPP – Restaurant
J. D. PARMENTER – Shoe Repair
Fred URTEL – Groceries, Dry Goods
Harry JAMES – Garage
Fred PUGH – Blacksmith
George REISER – Lumber 7 Coal
Otis MINER – General Merchandise
Vern MONASMITH – Barber
C. C. Petty – Veterinarian
Cloyd KART – Shoe Repair
Al RIBLET – Pool Room
A. L. NYE – Drugs
Claude Carpenter – Autos & implements
A. & P. Store – William GARDNER, Mgr.
Guy W. HART – Bill Poster & News Agency
E. C. TEW & Sons – General Store
Dr. C. H. PEABODY – Physician
Loraine ERNSBERGER – Beauty Parlor
Orr CASWELL – Nash Sales
Christian KLEPFER – Second Hand Dealer
What makes the above list so good is the fact I remember most of these people,
or their widows, in the 1930-1960s, and many were original almost from the 1887
founding of Lake Odessa. If it had Mrs. COLWELL as the owner of the wooden
buildings at the middle of the 1000 block on west side of Fourth Ave., it would
be complete – SEE NEXT PAGE.
ALICE M. COLWELL – From BONANZA BUGLE 1992:
One of the earliest residents of the Village of Lake Odessa was Alice M.
COLWELL, housewife, school teacher, business woman, and school board member. She
was born November 6, 1843, in Carlisle, Ohio, to Oren & Maticia WEBSTER RICKEY.
She had two brothers, Edwin & Edgar RICKEY, both of whom served in the same
company of the 178th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, and one
sister, Eva J. RICKEY.
In 1848 her father bought farm land from the government in Orleans Township,
Ionia County, built a log house, and moved his family to Michigan. Alice
attended country school in Orleans. At 15 she received her teaching certificate
from Lorain County, Ohio, and taught in country schools. In 1862 she entered
Oberlin College in Ohio, which was the first college in the United States to
admit women students. She moved back to Michigan and taught school, including
the school in Orleans where she had been a student. In 1867 she married Alanson
CORNELL in Ionia. They had one child, May E. CORNELL. In 1872 her husband died,
and while the elder CORNELLS cared for the little girl, Alice worked in the
office of the Ionia County Register of Deeds copying legal documents.
A year after her husband’s death she married Eugene F. COLWELL, a cousin of her
first husband, and a widower with two small sons. They lived for some time in
Detroit, where Mr. COLWELL had a drug store. The COLWELL family moved to Lake
Odessa in 1888, where they built several store buildings on the west side of the
1000 block and had a drug store in one of them. After her husband’s death in
1898 she still owned and managed the rental of the buildings now occupied by
Katie’s Stitch & Stuff, Lake Pump Tavern, and the Funn House Restaurant.
Over the years they were occupied by barber shops, Trowbridge’s photography
studio, a bakery, etc. She attended the Congregational Church, was a member of
the Lake Odessa Women’s Club, helped organize the first Library association, and
was the first woman to become a member of the Lake Odessa School Board. She had
a vivid recollection of a great-grandfather named MASON who fought in the
Revolutionary War, and later worked as a stone-mason to build the walls around
West Point Military Academy. On his 100th birthday he was granted a pension by
the United States Government.
The lat twenty years of her life, she lived with her daughter, May, and
son-in-law William H. McCARTNEY, and their two daughters, Alice and Grace
McCARTNEY. She died at the McCARTNEY home December 6, 1939, at age 96. Her own
home was built in the middle of a wheat field in the new village at what is now
835 Fifth Avenue. It was the first house in Lake Odessa to have a bathtub. The
tub frame was built into the house and lined with sheets of zinc. There was no
village water system, so water was pumped from the cistern, heated on the
kitchen stove, and carried to the tub. It did have a drain to empty it. The
house also had the first telephone, which ran between it and the drug store. The
house was heated with stoves: a beautiful hard coal or anthracite burner in the
living or sitting room, a wood stove in one bedroom upstairs. The square grand
piano is now at BLANCHARD House.
Built onto the back of the house was a woodshed, part of which was floored. In
this woodshed was a hand-powered washing machine and a kerosene stove used for
summer cooking. At the back of the lot was a barn and the usual outhouse. The
stable part of the barn, as well as the outhouse, vanished long ago, but the
part housing the buggy and the cutter is still standing and used for a garage.
The home was continuously occupied by Mrs. COLWELL or a member of her family
through the occupancy of her grandson, William C. McCARTNEY, and his wife, Vera,
and their children. It is now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Dennis COOK of COOK’S
Apothecary Shop. Descendents still living in Lake Odessa are great-grandson, C.
Hale McCARTNEY and great-great-grandson Michael R. McCARTNEY. END
THE VANDERHEYDENS OF IONIA by Grayden SLOWINS:
The VanderHEYDEN house has been on the Ionia Homes Tour at least three times, in
December or May of 1975, 1982 and 1985, under three different owners, and we
wrote about it each time. We summarize the history of the family and the house
here, as an introduction to the NEW INFORMATION which follows. While perhaps not
quite as elegant as the BLANCHARD house, it has half-again as much floor space,
bright sunlit rooms, and a hillside setting best appreciated by a shepherd.
The house is located at 926 W. Main Street, Ionia, and was built in 1879, a year
before the BLANCHARD house, a year after our own house and contemporary with
many other Victorian-Italianate houses in Ionia City and County. A main point to
remember is that this house was designed and built symmetrically for two
separate-but-related families right from the start. So it was not cut up later
and ruined like so many old houses. In fact, it was later combined into one
household, which only improved it. There were two of everything on each floor
except the central halls and the front & rear stairs; two parlors, two
living-dining-family-rooms, two kitchens, two summer-kitchen-woodsheds. There
are four large bedrooms upstairs and two full baths, plus bright pleasant
quarters for servants in the upstairs rear.
The house was built for William H. and Frederick H. VANDERHEYDEN, father and
son, although Fred was still a boy when it was designed. They were the only
owners until Fred’s widow died in 1963 and the Bruce YOUNGS family purchased the
place almost intact. Most of the original furnishings survived until the YOUNGS
family had a sale in 1975. Originally William VANDERHEYDEN lived in the east
half and Fred lived in the west half. After William’s death, Fred used the east
half for daily living and the west became a library, office, small bedroom and
Originally there were two wood-coal furnaces, later stoker-fired. YOUNGS put in
two gas furnaces. The original lights were carbide gas, as were both fireplace
grates. The basement had brick floors and eight-foot ceilings. Upper floors have
twelve-foot ceilings. The low attic originally led to a thirty-foot widow’s
walk, which has had the railing removed and sealed over to prevent leaking. The
house was built well, using the best materials available. The inside shutters
were the best idea of their day for cutting winter drafts and summer sun.
The VANDERHEYDEN bricks are ivory in color, although some folks called them
white or yellow brick. They also were made in red and were imprinted with WHV or
FHV, not FVH as some have reported. The lintels, sills, foundations & steps are
variegated sandstone from the Ionia Sandstone Quarry off East Riverside Drive.
About 1975 the Bruce YOUNGS family sold the house to Dick or Joe BROWN of BROWN
Corporation, and about 1985 they sold it to the Arnold WARNERS, who own a
similar factory at Belding. WARNERS also purchased and restored the previous
VANDERHEYDEN brick home, located just to the east and higher up on the bank. It
had been subdivided and badly mutilated, but does retain some of its character.
William H. VanderHEYDEN was born in Herkimer County, New York, in 1836 and died
in Ionia, August 16, 1910. He married Emily E. WOOD, born in Detroit, 1840; died
in Ionia, 1918, daughter of John WOOD, also a brick manufacturer. William
learned the brick-making trade in New York State, started his own yard in Ionia,
and then bought the CORNELL brickyard about 1866. He also had a branch in Big
Rapids for several years, turned out bricks at a rate of three to five million
per year and shipped by rail to such projects as the Veteran’s Home in Grand
Rapids. He sold the entire business to his son, Fred, in 1892.
William and Emily are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, which adjoins the brickyard
on the north. Their children were:
William H. II, who died young; Ella M., who married H. B. WEBBER, an Ionia
banker and hardware merchant; Dora E., who married Dr. A. H. HALLADAY of Sebewa
and lived in Long Beach, California; and Frederick H.
Frederick H. VanderHEYDEN was born in Ionia in 1869, died in Ionia, September
13, 1952. He was married January 25, 1895, to Eleanor M. CLARK, born in Muskegon
February 28, 1874, and died in Ionia March 27, 1963. They had no children and
are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. The new information we have today is Eleanor’s
Will, which follows.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of Eleanor M. VanderHEYDEN:
I, Eleanor M. VanderHEYDEN, of the City of Ionia, in Ionia County, and State of
Michigan, being of sound mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this to
be My Last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills and Codicils
thereto, if any, by me at any time heretofore made.
FIRST: I direct the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses as soon as
possible after my decease.
SECOND: I give, devise and bequeath to my beloved sister, Mrs. Jessie C. MOON,
and to my beloved niece, Margaret MOON, both at present residing at 351 South
Fuller Avenue, Apartment L1, Los Angeles 36, California, my house and lot,
situated at 926 W. Main Street, Ionia, Michigan, together with all of my
household furniture, fixtures, equipment and appliances, including linens, china
and all wearing apparel which may be in my home at the time of my demise, except
such articles of personal property as may be here-in-after specifically
bequeathed, to them, their heirs and assigns, absolutely and forever, share and
share alike. All of the above mentioned personal property located in said home
belongs to me except five (5) antique pieces of furniture, which are plainly
marked and belong to Mrs. Emily Webber, of 377 W. Third Street, Los Angeles,
California, which will be picked up by her when she is notified by my executor.
THIRD: I give and bequeath to my beloved sister, Mrs. Jessie C. MOON, heretofore
mentioned in paragraph two above, my diamond and turquoise ring.
FOURTH: I give and bequeath to my beloved niece, Janet SAMPSON, my mink coat and
to my beloved niece, Margaret SAMPSON, my mink stole, and I also give to both of
them, my two largest diamond rings as they shall select, both reside at 1012
Summit Street, Muskegon Heights, Michigan. Said furs are stored with the Alaska
Fur Company, 53 Monroe Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan, when not in use.
SIXTH: I give and bequeath to my beloved friend, Mrs. Frances COBB, residing at
North Jefferson Street, Ionia, Michigan, my black fur coat which is stored at my
SEVENTH: I give and bequeath to my beloved friend and companion, Mrs. Elizabeth
PURDY, of West Main Street, Ionia, Michigan, who has been a faithful companion
for years, my Zenith television set located in my home and the sum of Five
Thousand and no/100 ($5,000.00) Dollars.
EIGHTH: I give and bequeath the following:
(a) To my friend Mrs. Bernice WORTMAN, at present residing on West Main Street,
Ionia, Michigan, the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty ($250.00) Dollars.
(c) To the First Methodist Church of Ionia, Michigan, the sum of One Thousand
(d) To the St. Johns Protestant Episcopal Church, corner of Washington and Kidd
Streets, Ionia, Michigan, the sum of Five Hundred ($500.00) Dollars.
(e) To the First Presbyterian Church of Ionia, Michigan, the sum of Five Hundred
(f) To the Boy Scouts of America of Ionia, Michigan, the sum of Two Hundred and
Fifty ($250.00) Dollars.
(g) To the Girl Scouts of America of Ionia, Michigan, the sum of Two Hundred and
Fifty ($250.00) Dollars.
NINTH: All the rest, residue and remainder of my property of whatsoever kind,
name or nature, and wheresoever situated, real or personal or mixed, I give
devise and bequeath to my beloved sister, Mrs. Jessie C. MOON, and my beloved
niece, Margaret MOON, and to Archer M. SAMPSON, the husband of my deceased
niece, Dora SAMPSON, and also to his daughters, Janet SAMPSON and Margaret
SAMPSON, to them, their heirs and assigns, absolutely and forever, to be equally
divided between the five of them, share and share alike.
I Hereby appoint Clifford L. MORSE, of 474 Lafayette Street, Ionia, Michigan,
Executor of this my Last Will and Testament.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal on this 16th day of
November, A.D. 1954.
Eleanor M. VanderHEYDEN
WITNESSED BY: Phyllis BROWN, Kathleen MALONEY, Geer H. SMITH.
A couple of codicils were made in 1956 to correct the deletions shown above and
were witnessed by Elizabeth BIEHLER & Julia BIEHLER.
GILPIN COUNTY COURTHOUSE, CENTRAL CITY, COLORADO (with front
The entire population of Gilpin County, Colorado, was only a little over 2500
people – mostly miners and their suppliers – before the casinos came. Now
Central City and its twin – Blake Hawk – are teeming with bus-loads of people
from Denver. Old brick & stone stores, hotels & livery stables have been
expanded into gambling houses. Only the Opera House and Court House remain
untainted. Little old wooden miners’ cottages are being moved off valuable lots,
but saved to help with the housing shortage, as well as for their historical
OUR FAMILY ORIGINS by Grayden SLOWINS:
In 1934 my mother, Crystal BRAKE SLOWINS, of South Boston, Saranac, Michigan,
sent a newspaper clipping to the Lake Odessa WAVE. It was from a paper her
grandmother, Caroline COSENS BRAKE, had used to line a trunk for the trip on the
Grand Trunk Railroad from Waterloo, Ontario, to Caledonia, Michigan, in 1866.
Grandma Caroline in turn probably got it from her mother-in-law, Widow Catherine
BETZNER BREAK, and she from her mother-in-law, Widow Christina Magdalena SHERK
BRECH, who had used it to line the trunk when she brought her four kids with a
four-horse team on a Conestoga wagon 500 miles from Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania, to Waterloo, Ontario, in 1807, in Charleston, South Carolina,
where a branch of the BRECH-BREAK-BRAKE family had settled.
This paper – now 190 years old – offered many different articles for sale: 9
hogsheads (barrels) of sugar, 4 pipes of gin, corn #94 cents per bushel, bundles
of fruit trees, straw bonnets, silver watches, diapers, tablecloths, lace hose,
40 barrels of brown sugar, satin bordered shawls, and garden seeds.
FOR SALE – Cargo of 81 Gold Coast slaves. Just received another cargo of 24 Gold
Coast slaves. A shipment of 400 prime Angola slaves, 380 Congo slaves. Wanted –
a negro wench to do washing and ironing, also one to do good sewing. Wanted –
four or five negro carpenters.
Our family name, SLOWINS, comes from SLOWINSKI, which is from SLOVINSKI, which
is from SLAVINSKI, meaning Son-of-Slaves, as translated from the Polish-German.
The Slavic tribes of Eastern Europe were one of the first ethnic groups captured
as slaves by the ancient Roman Empire. So we were once slaves, too. But as a
Black journalist named Jack E. White recently wrote in TIME Magazine “Get over
it people, and move on!”
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
APRIL 1999, Volume 34, Number 5. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D.
SURNAMES: LENON, KRISTEN, NEWTON, TIDD, BULLEN, HAYNES, DUNSMORE, HURD, MORRIS,
PROBASCO, SHAY, SPIRE, BROWN, CASWELL, SHOWERMAN, BOYER, CONKRITE
MICHELE LENON KRISTEN (no relation to Theo), 40-something wife of Jeff,
great-great-granddaughter of Nathaniel NEWTON TIDD, East Sebewa Cemetery, once
pastor of HALLADAY UB Church & buried from there, whom she wrote about in our
Volume 26, No.4 in February 1991. Employed for several years by Michigan
Township Association, she loved to come help with our lambing and loved horses.
She died January 24, 1999, and will be buried in May near her grandparents at
Gulliver, UP, MI.
CLARK H. BULLEN, 83, widower of Bettie & Vern, father of Roger, Craig & Barry
BULLEN, Laurie JARRAH, Kathie SHOWERMAN & John CHIDESTER, brother of Robert &
James, son of Jessie HAYNES & Herman BULLEN. He taught Agriculture and coached
FFA for 31 years, mostly in Portland, and helped many of us. He specialized in
getting kids started with bees. In retirement he ushered at Detroit Tigers
winter home in Florida. Kathie & Ralph SHOWERMAN once owned & lived in the
ancestral SHOWERMAN home (Dennis PETRIE’S place) in Sebewa
HERBERT J. DUNSMORE, 88, widower of Vera HURD DUNSMORE, father of Roger & David,
brother of George DUNSMORE, Ruth BROOKS & Alice WARDEN. He graduated from
University of Michigan as civil engineer and became one of the first
environmental engineers when the term was invented. He worked for Pittsburgh
Health Department, then U. S. Steel, and is credited with cleaning up “The
Smokey City”. He also cleaned up the steel industries of Yugoslavia and
Venezuela, whose dictators would not listen to their own engineers, but they
listened to Herb! In retirement he came back to his birthplace and spearheaded
the restoration of Ionia’s stores & homes and got them on the National Historic
Register. Longtime activist in Ionia County Historical Society and Sebewa Center
Association, he collected antique carpentry tools and photographed old barns. He
was brother-in-law to Sebewa Center’s last teacher, Ariel MORRIS.
THE PROBASCO FAMILY OF SEBEWA – by Grayden SLOWINS. (Front page
photo of Jacob O. PROBASCO):
The PROBASCOS are one of the oldest families in Sebewa Township and Ionia
County. According to the family Bible, Jacob PROBASCO & Mary SHAY were joined in
the holy bonds of matrimony on the 19th day of January in the year of our Lord
1813. Jacob PROBASCO was born on the 12th day of October A.D. 1793, and died
July 30, 1840. Mary SHAY was born on the 27th day of June A.D. 1795, died May
30, 1878, and is buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Jacob apparently never came to
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. John PROBASCO born February 6, 1814
2. Priscilla PROBASCO born November 30, 1815
3. Phoeba PROBASCO born February 24, 1818, died May 6, 1873
4. Henry R. PROBASCO born January 9, 1820, died November 12, 1862
5. Sara Ann PROBASCO born February 22, 1823
6. Uzel PROBASCO born December 19, 1824
7. George PROBASCO born March 3, 1827
8. Ephraim PROBASCO born February 18, 1829
9. Benjamin PROBASCO born April 8, 1831, died September 16, 1912
10. Mary Jane PROBASCO born July 22, 1833
11. Melissa Cordielye PROBASCO born November 27, 1835
PHOEBA PROBASCO married James SHAY (cousins?) in Ohio and several of their
children were born there, before they came to Michigan about 1855. They
apparently lived both in Muir and Sebewa, because James, born 1814, died in Muir
in 1861 and is buried there. Phoeba then took up their forty-acre farm at SE ¼
SE ¼ Sec. 16 Sebewa Township, which surrounds the Sebewa Center School, near her
brothers Ephraim & Benjamin, and lived out her life there until she died in
1873. We have written about her son, Ephraim SHAY, in past issues, including our
October, 1998, story about his invention of the SHAY Steam Locomotive and other
PHOEBA & James SHAY’S children were:
1. Loretta SHAY born 1837, died 1853
2. Ephraim SHAY born 1839, died 1916, buried at Harbor Springs
3. Uzel SHAY born 1841, died 1849
4. Priscilla SHAY born 1843
5. Theodore SHAY born 1845, died 1883, buried in East Sebewa
6. Victoria SHAY born 1847, died in 1847
7. Chauncey SHAY born 1848, died 1853
8. Susanne SHAY born 1852, died 1856
9. Mary Ann Velma SHAY born 1856, died 1889; married George Shipman
10. Arthur SHAY born 1858, died 1925; logged & buried Louisiana
11. Florence SHAY born 1861, died 1861
HENRY R. PROBASCO was born in New Jersey in 1820 and moved with the family to
Ohio when still a small boy. He grew up in Huron County, Ohio, and married Mary
C. RAYMOND, born in New York City, daughter of Alanson RAYMOND, an extensive
manufacturer of hats, who had stores in several cities. Alanson RAYMOND, in
company with the father of Gen. William TECUMSEH SHERMAN, went from New York to
Ohio and formed a colony in Huron County called SHERMAN Township.
Henry R. PROBASCO became well-to-do in Ohio as a meat packer, but during the
panic of the early 1850s he lost practically all he had. He then determined to
start over again in a new country and in 1856 drove a team & wagon, with his
family, to Sebewa Township where his brothers had located, and later moved to
Muir in Lyons Township. The family trade was cooperage, and they seem to have
had a corner on the market for flour barrels, wash tubs & water buckets in
Sebewa & Lyons Townships and perhaps all of Ionia County. About 1859 Henry R.
opened a meat market at Muir and continued in that business until his untimely
death at age 42, due to a steam-engine blow-up at a sawmill. He left seven
children, of whom Jacob O. PROBASCO was next to the oldest son, just 18 years,
and recently enlisted when his father died on November 12, 1862. Mary C.
PROBASCO survived until August, 1874.
JACOB O. PROBASCO was born in Sherman Township, Huron County, Ohio, on August
20, 1844, and came to Sebewa and Muir with his family at 12 years of age. He
enlisted as a private in the Union Army in June, 1862, at age 17, following the
bombardment of Ft. Sumpter. His regiment trained at Grand Rapids for three
months. Then he re-enlisted on September 8, 1862, as a sergeant in Company #,
Sixth Michigan Cavalry. He stopped off as the troop train passed thru Muir to
attend his father on his death bed, then rejoined his unit at Washington, DC. On
November 12, 1863, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant, the youngest
commissioned officer in the regiment at age 19.
On May 19, 1864, he was advanced to First Lieutenant, and on December 10, 1864,
was promoted to Captain at age 20. Many others from the Sebewa & Ionia County
area were with this unit, including Irving A. BROWN, William EDWINS, and others,
and were commanded by James H. KIDD, who himself attained the rank of Brigadier
General at age 25. The Sixth Michigan was afterward consolidated with the First
For the greater part of Jacob’s service the Sixth & First Michigan were attached
to the Army of the Potomac under General SHERIDAN, and participated in all the
great battles from Gettysburg to Appomattox, including the engagements at Yellow
Tavern, Meadow Ridge, Winchester, Sandy Ridge, Five Forks, Shepherdstown,
Travillion Station, Fort Republic, Mt. Crawford, Woodstock, Leetown, Baltimore
Crossroads, Cold Harbor and the twenty-one day raid from Winchester on the James
River Canal. His regiment was second in point of casualties sustained of any
cavalry regiment in the Union Army. The two weeks of the war it was CUSTER’S
relentless spearhead pressure on General Robert E. LEE that helped hasten the
surrender at Appomattox.
After LEE’S surrender and their participation in the Grand Review at Washington,
D.C., “Where wave after wave of bayonet-crested blue swept by the reviewing
stand” the regiment was ordered to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and thence to Utah,
Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. He was mustered out once in October, 1865, but
persuaded by General STAGGS from the Army of the Potomac to re-enlist for six
months in the First Michigan Veterans Cavalry. Fortunately, PROBASCO was again
mustered out in March, 1866, after some fierce Indian fighting in Utah, but well
before the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. He was twelve hundred miles from
home and traveled eighteen days and nights by stage to reach a railroad terminus
for the remaining ride home.
Upon his return from his frontier service in 1866, Captain Jacob O. PROBASCO
engaged in the hardware business at Muir, establishing the first hardware store
opened in that then promising village. He took a leading part in the commercial
life of the growing town and continued in business for forty years, until his
retirement in 1906, in which year he sold his store and lived quietly retired at
his old home built by his father in Muir. He was a Republican and held numerous
village and township offices, as well as delegate to county and state Republican
Conventions. He was an active Member of the Grand Army of The Republic and Loyal
Legion Veterans’ organizations.
On July 21, 1869, Capt. Jacob O. PROBASCO was united in marriage to Mary O.
SPIRE, born in Brewertown, New York, daughter of Daniel & Eveann DOMINICK SPIRE.
The SPIRES had a farm at the edge of Muir, then retired to the village, where he
died in 1908 at age 92 and she survived him by several years. Jacob, Mary and
daughter were members of the Church of Christ, Disciples at Muir. Jacob O.
PROBASCO died at Blodgett Hospital, in Grand Rapids, August 1, 1919.
JACOB O. & MARY O. PROBASCO’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Delia O. PROBASCO who married Arthur A. STODDARD of Muir
2. Henry O. PROBASCO who graduated from University of Michigan Law School and
was a prominent attorney for Michigan Trust Company at Grand Rapids. Henry O.
married Claudine VOSBURG.
BENJAMIN PROBASCO, youngest boy in the pioneer PROBASCO family was born in
Sherman Township, Huron County, Ohio, August 8, 1831, and came to Sebewa
Township in 1852 or soon after. He first set up his cooper shop and farm at the
northwest corner of Sec. 22 Sebewa, but later sold that land to Sam & Joshua
GUNN and bought 80 acres at the northeast corner of Sec. 22. His first wife was
Deborah J. SHOWERMAN, born 1833, died March 3, 1861.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Levant PROBASCO born 1858, died April 23, 1886; married Lenore BADGER
2. Eugene PROBASCO born 1860, died September 9, 1922
BENJAMIN PROBASCO next married Luryette A. BROWN, born 1844, died January 20,
1866, daughter of Eleazer & Melissa SHOWERMAN BROWN, and sister of Heman S. &
Irving A. BROWN. She died soon and he married Dora BOYER QUACKENBOSS.
BENJAMIN & DORA’S CHILD WAS:
3. Eva M. PROBASCO born 1871, died March 21, 1944; married Henry P. SNYDER and
they were parents of Winnie (Mrs. Don) BENSCHOTER and others.
EUGENE PROBASCO, born in 1860 in Sebewa Township, married Emma CASWELL, born
1867, died 1902, daughter of Henry & Emaline BRIGGS CASWELL, who lived across
the road. Eugene and Emma had a house on the same farm with Ben, although their
son was born in the Frank SHOWERMAN house down on the south corner.
EUGENE & EMMAS’ CHILD(REN) WAS (WERE):
1. Benjamin PROBASCO born May 21, 1885, died September 6, 1981
2. Fern PROBASCO born 1890, died Dec. 17, 1949; married Theron McNEIL
Benjamin PROBASCO born 1885, died 1981; married Maude May Anna HANSON OATLEY,
and they farmed all their lives on the old home farm.
BEN & MAUDE’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Uzel PROBASCO born 1910, died 1925
2. Harold PROBASCO born 1911, died 1929
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Fern CONKRITE was 104 on March 3 and has moved
to Heartland Health Center, 814 E. Lincoln Avenue, Ionia, MI 48846
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION: Monday, May 31,
Memorial Day, pot luck supper at 6:30 PM. Bring table service and dish to pass;
beverages provided. Business meeting at 7:30 PM with short program to follow.
Janet GIERMAN RUDD’S term as President and LaVern CARR’S term as Trustee expire.
Wes MEYERS Jr. is V.P. until 2000, Sharon HUNT KYSER is Sec/Treas. until 2001,
one Trustee seat is vacant. The furnace has been serviced and works fine, now
pump has problem.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
JUNE 1999, Volume 34, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D.
SURNAMES: APSEY, SHELLENBARGER, WHILMORE, COOK, SHETTERLY, FERRIS, CRANDALL,
LANG, GALLOWAY, McGRAW, SCHEIDT, GATTNER, BULLING, LEAK, DAY, WOODS, HADDIX,
GREGG, EDWARDS, LEIFHEIT, AUMOCK, BOWERS, MERITHEW, DODGE, PETRIE, BROWNFIELD,
SEDORE, TASKER, SCHNABEL, SHOTWELL, GRENIC, WILSON, PEACOCK, DOWNING, COX, JOY,
WHITMAN, CHADWICK, BANHAGEL, SLOWINSKI, OATLEY, GIERMAN, HANSON, AUSTIN, RITTER,
FRIEND, SHAY, PROBASCO, KOCH, ROE, RATLIFF, MORRILL
FRED APSEY, 92, widower of Addie Velma SHELLENBARGER APSEY, father of Margaret
WILLETT, Vivian LEIK & Beatrice MOSHER, and the late Donald, David, Fredrick &
Helen APSEY, brother of Alice SWITZER, son of Emery & Abbie WHILMORE APSEY. Fred
& Velma were longtime dairy farmers in Sec. 29 Sebewa, Tupper Lake Road. Buried
in Lakeside Cemetery.
GEORGE COOK, 77, father of Georgia CATT, Kay CROSBY, John & Pamela COOK, brother
of Rose AUGST DRAGHI, and the late Gaylord & Merlin COOK and Ilene HOLLAND, son
of Gladys SHETTERLY & Clifton COOK, son of Emily & Charles P. COOK, son of
Pierce G. & Emily COOK, pioneer farmers in Sebewa Township, Sec. 19, on MUSGROVE
Hwy., where Henry SMITH lives. George had been a dairy farmer on the Reuben LAPO
– John SHAY farm and later in Sec. 28 & 29 Berlin Township on Portland Road.
THEORDORE F. (Tag) FERRIS, 86, husband of Eleanor CRANDALL FERRIS, father of
Frank, Ronald & Keith FERRIS, brother of Genevieve HALL and eleven deceased
brothers & sisters, son of Elmer & Laura LANG Ferris. Tag & Eleanor were dairy
farmers, first on the John DICKINSON farm in Sebewa Sec. 17 on GODDARD Road and
then in Orange Township, Sec. 8-9-16-17-28. Tag was one of the great story &
joke tellers of his time and a strong advocate of the American free-enterprise
system with minimal government interference. Buried in North Plains Cemetery.
BERNICE GALLOWAY, 93, widow of Gayle (Pat) GALLOWAY, mother of Garold & Gordon
GALLOWAY, sister of the late Gretchen, Glendon, Bernard & Doris Scheidt,
daughter of James & Dora McGRAW SCHEIDT, pioneer Hardware & General Store
merchants in the newborn village of Lake Odessa some 110 years ago. Bernice &
Pat were good shepherds. Buried in Balcom Cemetery.
NAOMI GATTNER, 94, widow of Dolph Marcus GATTNER, mother of Anna Marie REYNOLDS
& Eveline Joyce IACOVONI, sister of the late Mildred AVES and Maynard, Maurice,
Zeno & Thelma LEAK, daughter of Hermena BULLING & Edwin LEAK, son of Mary Ann
DAY & David LEAK, son of Mary WOODS & Christopher LEAK. Lived at Traverse City.
Ethel HADDIX, 96, widow of Howard HADDIX, mother of Virgilene HILLER, Adeline
ECKMAN, Richard HADDIX, Lorna SHERMAN, Janet THOMAS, Patricia LENZ, Judy WARNER
of Sebewa, and the late Geraldine ENO and Sandra McCLOUD, daughter of James &
Alice GREGG EDWARDS. Ethel did the bookkeeping for the family sawmill & lumber
company. Buried at Lakeside Cemetery.
Leila Ruth LEIFHEIT, 90, widow of Harlan LEIFHEIT, mother of Jim SHULL and the
late Keith HOFFMAN, daughter of Frank & Ella Mae AUMOCK BOWERS. They farmed on
MUSGROVE Hwy., Sec. 28 & later Sec. 21, Sebewa Township. Buried in TUTTLE
SHIRLEY MERITHEW, 47, mother of Maxim MERITHEW, sister of Ranee DeMOTT, Marcia
ALTOFT, John O. PETRIE and the late Michael PETRIE, daughter of Joyce DODGE &
George PETRIE, son of Cora BROWNFIELD & George PETRIE, son of Mary E. & Clayton
C. PETRIE, son of Elsie & John R. PETRIE. Shirley was a beautician in
Zephyrhills, Florida. Her ashes are buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
ELROY SEDORE, 55, husband of Joyce REUBENTHALEN SEDORE, father of Reahelle PAGE
and Stacey Peck, brother of Frank SEDORE & Linda GREGORY, son of Neil & Phyllis
TASKER SEDORE, daughter of Roy & Rose SCHNABEL TASKER, daughter of Margaret
SHOTTWELL & Peter Schnabel, son of Marina GRENIC & Martin SCHNABEL, son of Anton
& Regina SCHNABEL.
KEITH V. WILSON, 78, husband of Wilma USBORNE WILSON, father of Janet KUDIRKA,
Jane MAZEI, Anita BARCROFT, and Elma, Mary Anne, Tom & Victor WILSON, brother of
Rose AINSWORTH, Joyce LUSCHER, Carol CASSER & Royal WILSON, son of Victor & Ella
PEACOCK WILSON, daughter of Catherine DOWNING & Benjamin C. PEACOCK, son of
Benjamin PEACOCK, son of Ruth COX & John Joy PEACOCK, son of Anna JOY & Abraham
PEACOCK. Keith, Wilma & family were life-long dairy farmers, first in Sec. 11 &
17 Sebewa Township on YORK Road, then in Sec. 10, 1 & 12 Odessa Township on
RUTH WHITMAN, 76, widow of John E. WHITMAN, mother of James & John WHITMAN and
Jean THORN, sister of Agnes PARIS, Dorothy ONWELLER, Maxine SHINFORF, Doris
SCHULER, and baby brothers Richard & Robert BENHAGEL, daughter of Fern CHADWICK
& Benjamin BENHAGEL, son of Paulina SLOWINSKI & Frank BANHAGEL, of BANHAGEL
Bros. Construction Co., building contractors in brick & stone, who laid the
streets and built the homes and public buildings of Ionia City & Ionia County
from 1870 to 1970, including the older prisons, churches, Armory, City Hall,
Ypsilanti Reed, VanderHEYDEN house, BLANCHARD house, fairgrounds buildings, etc.
Buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
OATLEY FAMILY UPDATE: Wilbur GIERMAN gives us an update on
Barney OATLEY. Barney first married Anna HANSON and she was the mother of his
children. After her death he married Alice AUSTIN, mother of Dan AUSTIN. Anna
was born in 1869, died in 1912, Barney was born in 1863, died in 1947, and they
are buried in West Sebewa Cemetery.
BARNEY & ANNA OATLEY’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Clarence OATLEY – married Jessie WARING, had orchards at Kewadin, MI; one
2. Maude Mae OATLEY – married Ben PROBASCO, Jr., farmed in Sebewa; sons Uzel &
3. Lula Belle OATLEY – married a KENYON, lived in Lansing, mother of Ethelyn
ELLIOTT, Donald, 3 others
4. Carl OATLEY – was married, lived at Traverse City, worked for Michigan Bell
“Dear Ms. Jessop……..I located Samuel Ritter’s farm in the 1891 Plat of Ionia
County as you mentioned. He had 120 acres at E ¾ S ½ N ½ Sec. 16 Orange
Township. You mentioned that he lived there 1865-1891 and that his tombstone in
TUTTLE Cemetery reads 1819-1891. My Sebewa Township Death Records do not go back
I did manage to gather the following information from neighbors who remember the
RITTERS in Sebewa. Floyd (Skinny) RITTER farmed on 100 acres at E ½ SW ½ Sec. 14
Sebewa in 1937 and until his death about 1970. His brother Harold owned 80 acres
at Sec. 21 & 28 Odessa, although he worked for 30-40 years at the Cadillac
Fleetwood Plant in Detroit. I would guess them to be grandsons of Samuel. Their
father’s name was Anthony (Tony) RITTER, and he drove for Standard Oil out of
Lake Odessa, first with horses and then a truck.
FLOYD & PEARL GIBBONS RITTER’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Jane RITTER – married Ray REYNOLDS, was a volunteer at Pennock Hospital in
Hastings, MI. Has one son, Rex, at home
2. Jean RITTER – married a HARRIS; lives in Chicago
3. Max RITTER – bulldozer operator, deceased
4. Paul RITTER
5. Maynard RITTER
6. ROYAL RITTER
If other readers of THE RECOLLECTOR have information on the descendants of
Samuel RITTER of Orange Township, or the record of his & his wife’s death, we
will pass it along.
Sincerely, Grayden D. Slowins, Editor”
LAWRENCE FRIEND – “LE PETIT SOLDAT” by Roger BROWN of LOWELL
The French girls called him “Le Petit Soldat” (The Little Soldier). That was
when the five foot, four inch Lawrence FRIEND was serving with the U.S. forces
in France. No, he wasn’t a G.I. in WWII. He was a Doughboy in WWI. The Great
War. The War To End All Wars. That was over 80 years ago. FRIEND turned 100
years old in August 1998.
The French government is now honoring the remaining handful of Doughboys who
served on French soil with their highest military and civilian award, the
“Legion d’Honneur”. The esteemed Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon
Bonaparte in 1802. To date about 300 men qualifying for the award have been
located. It is estimated that perhaps 3,000 are still living. No awards are to
ge given posthumously and each man is decorated personally by a member of the
FRIEND received his medal on March 19, when Deputy Consul Didier SAMSON of the
French Consulate in Miami made the trip to Friend’s home in Big Pine Key,
Florida. The former soldier stood at erect attention as the deputy consul pinned
the medal to his chest, shook his hand and bussed him on both cheeks in the
Lawrence FRIEND lives with his daughter, Marilyn POWELL. POWELL heard of the
award effort and notified the French Embassy about her dad. She was on hand for
the ceremony, as well as her daughter, Chris POSTHUMA of Ada (known to many
Lowellites as a former employee of Pfaller’s Clothing), her son, Pat POWELL of
Grand Haven; another daughter, Terese BROWN of Summerland Key, Florida, and her
husband Roger of Lowell and Summerland Key. Another of Powell’s daughters, Geri
SMIT of Lowell, was unable to attend. Following the award ceremony, the family
treated Lawrence to his favorite lunch of fried oysters at a local seafood
Lawrence FRIEND was born in Sebewa Township, Ionia County, in August, 1898. The
family farmed, and he grew up as an accomplished horseman in a time before the
automobile had evolved. He remembers going on a cattle drive as a very young
man. He and “some other fellas” drove about a hundred head from Sebewa up to
Greenville. The 30-or-40 mile trip took them over a week and they camped along
the way. He was still riding his granddaughters’ horses well into his ‘80s’.
When FRIEND first tried to “join up” he was told that at 5’4” and 130 pounds, he
was “too damned small”. He persisted, and ended up with a unit formed mostly of
boys from Texas and Oklahoma. They received their training in Florida and
boarded ships for France. In what was undoubtedly a stroke of luck, the
diminutive soldier ended up as a truck driver in a commissary unit.
Though he was not in the front line trenches, his duties often brought him under
the veil of German artillery fire. Besides transporting supplies, FRIEND’S unit
was responsible for guarding those commodities. At one point he was left to
guard a quantity of supplies for three days. Thirty days later he was still on
guard, out of food and swapping marmalade from the supply cache for fresh eggs
offered by the local French women who had taken him under their collective wing.
There is an unmistakable twinkle in the old soldier’s eye when he relates that
particular story. He still hates marmalade, but one suspects a lingering
fondness for French women.
Having never been a health zealot, FRIEND’S zest for life probably best explains
his longevity. He smoked until age 62, just recently had to give up alcohol
because it interferes with a medication he is taking, and still never turns down
a slice of pie when it is offered. He drove his own car and lived in a two-story
home on Jones Street in Ionia until five years ago. He gave neighbors and family
several thrills when he frequently climbed his ladder to clean second story
windows well into his nineties.
He lived most of his life in Ionia, where he worked as a superintendent at a
furniture factory, “The Reed” he calls it. He was working at the Lyons Chrysler
Trim Plant when he retired. Gertrude, his wife of 72 years, died in 1990 at age
92. Another daughter, June Seiler, resides in Ionia. With her four children, he
has descendants totaling eight grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 15
After retiring, the FRIENDS split their time between Ionia, summers at a trailer
on a lake in Northern Michigan, and another trailer in Florida during the
winters. More than anything, he loved taking a grandkid fishing. Aided by a
heart pacemaker implanted two years ago, FRIEND enjoys reasonable health for a
man of his years. He walks with the aid of a cane, and his hearing is moderate
with his hearing aids in place. His eyesight is diminished, but he still enjoys
wrestling on TV. END.
THE LIFE OF EPHRAIM SHAY by Grayden SLOWINS, (With photo of Mr.
SHAY on front cover):
Our cover story is about Sebewa’s own Ephraim SHAY, whom we have written about
in April & October and other times in the past. We summarize here as background
for reviewing a great book, now out of print, by Michael KOCH called “THE SHAY
LOCOMOTIVE, TITAN OF THE TIMBER”.
Ephraim SHAY was born July 17, 1839, in Sherman Township, Huron County, Ohio,
the son of James & Phoeba PROBASCO SHAY. He came to Michigan with his family
about 1855, and they settled first at Muir, near his mother’s brother, Henry
PROBASCO, who ran a cooper shop and later a meat market. James SHAY died and was
buried in Muir Cemetery in 1861. Phoeba SHAY brought her family of fice living
children, out of an original eleven, to a forty-acre farm in Sebewa Township.
Her farm surrounded the Sebewa Center School and was diagonally across the road
from her brother, Benjamin PROBASCO, and just down the road from another
brother, EHPRAIM PROBASCO. Her house stood on the green patch just west of the
present-day GIERMAN-HADEWAY-CARR barn. Her mother, Mary PROBASCO, came with her
from Ohio & Muir, and is buried with her in East Sebewa Cemetery, but is
memorialized in a stained-glass window in Muir’s First Christian Church.
Ephraim SHAY was the oldest son at age 22, when his father died, and the family
moved to Sebewa. He may have been off to war before his dad died. At any rate,
we know he never attended Sebewa Center School, and in fact was teaching way
back in Ohio, after finishing the 8th Grade. He went back to Ohio and joined a
unit there with his buddies as a Medic in late 1861. After the war, at age 26,
he came back to Sebewa, bought 80 acres near his mother, later the Lancey MEYERS
place, and got married to Jane HENDERSON. Besides farming, he worked in GUNN
Bros. Sawmill and held the office of Sebewa Township Clerk in 1867 & 1868 at age
Soon he went out on his own with a sawmill and founded SHAYTOWN, now a ghost
town, southeast of Sunfield. He had a General Store and a U.S. Post Office where
35 families got their mail in 1880. Then he moved his sawmill to Haring
Township, just north of Cadillac, and again had a General Store and Post Office.
He also moved up to being Wexford County Treasurer. All this time he was
thinking about and tinkering with steam engines. Sawmills had started out with
waterpower and advanced to steam engines. But the steam engines were stationary
or mounted on a wagon and pulled around by horses. Ephraim wanted to make them
movable, motive, so they could pull things – log cars & ore cars - so he
invented the steam locomotive in 1877.
Ephraim SHAY did not have the only locomotive and probably not the first
locomotive, but his was different from any other locomotive and he was able to
patent it. Instead of transferring power from cylinders and crankshaft to the
drivewheels by means of eccentric & pitman (which had a jolting effect), he used
beveled (helical) gears & sliding shafts (jackshafts) with his patented
universal joints, to transfer power directly from the two or three
steam-powered, side-mounted cylinders & crankshaft to the drivewheels. This gave
less speed, but terrific pulling power for a small engine, and allowed them to
run on temporary trackage, sometimes even using wooden rails in the woods &
mines. He used wood-fired steam and later models used oil-fired steam, similar
to RUMELY Oil-Pull farm tractors.
He used 36-inch rail spacing instead of the standard 4 foot 8 ½ inch spacing,
and could take sharp turns & steep grades. After making several for use in the
north woods, he leased the patents to Lima Locomotive Corporation of Lima, Ohio.
They built and sold thousands of them for use all over the world in the logging
& mining industry. They were used in Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile,
Austria, Hungary & Japan, as well as in the States of California, Carolinas,
Colorado, Montana, etc. One last passed thru Ionia in May, 1968, enroute from
its home in a park in Cadillac to make a movie in Chicago.
Ephraim became a millionaire from royalties on his locomotives – back when a
million dollars was a lot of money. But he moved his sawmill twice more, first
to Boyne City and then to Harbor Springs. After logging ran out, he gave rides
to tourists on his train and repaired Great Lakes freighters in his machine
shop. He died in 1916 in Harbor Springs and is buried there with his wife, son
Lette & wife Katherine & granddaughter Kate.
SHAY LOCOMOTIVE – From the internet:SHAY
Ephraim SHAY (1839-1916) was a logger himself, and like those who try to build a
better mousetrap, he decided to build a better logging locomotive. In 1880, he
constructed a successful prototype, basically a flatcar with a steam boiler
mounted amidships, fuel and water on opposite ends. What set this locomotive
apart was the unusual cylinder arrangement. Two vertical cylinders drove a
crankshaft, which in turn drove a pair of geared trucks through a system of
universal joints and sliding shafts (jackshafts). On most SHAYS, the boiler is
offset to the left of center to balance the cylinders on the right.
In 1882, Ephraim assigned the rights of the locomotive that would bear his name
to a company that would eventually become Lima Locomotive Works (Lima, OH,
pronounced LIE-mah). They refined and enlarged the design. SHAYS could burn
coal, oil or wood, and varied from tiny two cylinder, two truck models to three
cylinder, four truck monsters weighing over 400,000 pounds.
SHAY produced a distinctive sound, due to the rapid firing of the cylinders it
seemed they were going about 60 mph, whereas they were actually chuffing along
at 12 mph! This slow speed, high tractive effort locomotive could climb grades
as great as 14 percent. One other advantage the SHAY had was the exposed
cylinders and running gear. This made repairs relatively easy, as everything was
When the SHAY patents expired in the earl 1920s, the WILLAMETTE Iron & Steel
Works (Portland, OR) constructed locomotives that closely resembled a SHAY.
These “WILLIAMETTES” never reached the popularity of the SHAY (only about 33
SHAY production lasted until 1945. There were 2,771 SHAYS built, of which
approximately 84 still exist. It’s a testimony to the SHAY design and
construction quality that many of these remain in active service – usually in
tourist railroads – for many decades after they were constructed.
In the center of Cadillac, MI, you can see a city park display honoring Ephraim
SHAY, with a two-track SHAY on display. You can also visit the location where
the first SHAYS were built, to see modern replicas run by the current landowners
– George ICE.
SECOND ANNUAL SHAY DAYS – HARBOR SPRINGS AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
Come Celebrate the Life and Genius of EPHRAIM SHAY July 16-18, 1999 – In Ephraim
SHAY’S House “THE HEXAGON” – East Main Street, Harbor Springs, Michigan
Slide Show on Ephraim SHAY
Slide Show on Emmet County Railroading
Railroad Photo Display – SHAY Model Trains – Train VideoAvailable for Sale:
Railroad Prints & Photos – Historical Postcards – Souvenires – Refreshments –
Cost: $3 Button (available at door)
THE SHAY LOCOMOTIVE, TITAN OF THE TIMBER – By Michael KOCH, is a 485 page book
giving the live of EPHRAIM SHAY, the story of the Lima Machine Works, later
called the Lima Locomotive Corporation, and a detailed photographic history of
many models of the engine, including specifications. Ephraim’s life story is
pretty much as we gave it, except to add that he had one son, Lette, who married
Katherine ROE, and had three daughters. One daughter married a RATLIFF, and her
son, W. B. RATLIFF, contributed a brief biography of his grandfather. Another
daughter, Katherine, married Donald MORRILL and they are buried with her parents
& grandparents at Harbor Springs.
The name PROBASCO is believed to be of Polish origin, and was spelled PROBATSKI
and PROBATSOY before evolving in American to PROBASCO.
Ephraim SHAY is buried in Lake View Cemetery at Harbor Springs. The large black
stone is reputed to be a meteorite found on the SHAY property. A smaller,
flag-decorated tombstone is the standard grave marker supplied by the government
for identifying graves of Civil War Veterans. It shows he served in Company D of
the Missouri Infantry – but his first name is incorrectly spelled “Ephriam”.
Often it was misspelled Ephriam, and these problems with the spelling and
pronunciation of his name were probably one reason why the inventor so often
signed in “E. SHAY”.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
AUGUST 1999, Volume 35, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. Slowins, Editor:
SURNAMES: McNEIL, SMITH, BOWERS, DOAN, COOK, PROBASCO, HALLADAY, COTTON, HAMLIN,
DROSTE, HEATON, LUSCHER, ERDMAN, EARTHMAN, FAES, HUNZIKER, HUNTZINGER, THORPE,
SANDBORN, GIBBS, JOHNSON, TUSSING, YORK, DEATSMAN, BENSCHOTER, MILES, KRAUSZ,
SUMMERS, ROGERS, SQUIRES, THOMPSON, YEOMANS, DEXTER
ATHEL McNEIL SMITH BOWERS DOAN, 88, widow of H. DeVere SMITH, BOWERS & Leo DOAN,
mother of Barbara DAGGETT, Norman SMITH & Donna COOK, daughter of Fern PROBASCO
& Theron McNEIL. She retired from Auto-Owners Insurance, buried in East Sebewa
MILDRED M. HAMLIN HALLADAY, 93, widow of Russell HALLADAY, mother of Paul
HALLADAY, sister of Russell & Richard HAMLIN, daughter of Oscar & Maud COTTON
HAMLIN. She was a teacher for many years, including Sebewa Center School, and is
buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
NORMAN CARL DROSTE, 43, son of Marvin & Cilinda HEATON DROSTE, buried in East
THE LUSCHER FAMILY OF SEBEWA by Grayden SLOWINS, with front page
photo of JACOB LUSCHER, JR. FARM & FAMILY, SEBEWA CENTER):
Jacob LUSCHER Sr., born in Remach, Aargau, Switzerland, April 23, 1807, died in
Sebewa Township February 5, 1883, son of Hans Jakob LUESCHER & Anna FAES, was
married in 1838 in Schoeftland, Aargau, Switzerland, to Anna HUNZIKER (HUNTZINGER),
born January 3 or 14, 1816, in Ober Kulm, Aargau, Switzerland, daughter of
Johannes HUNZIKER, died in Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan, February 5,
They farmed at W ½ SE ¼ Sec. 16 Sebewa, north side of BIPPLEY Road just west of
Phoebe SHAY, on land now owned by HADEWAYS and farmed by CARRS. They are buried
in East Sebewa Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Maria Elizabeth (Lizzie) LUSCHER born July 1837, Schoeftland, Switzerland,
died 1922; married Frederick C. ALBERTS & Elias STEINBAUGH (STAMBAUGH)
2. Rudolph LUSCHER born December 1839, Switzerland, served in American Civil War
3. Jacob LUSCHER, JR. born October 17, 1844, in Switzerland, died October 19,
1925, Sebewa; married to Minnie ERDMAN & Emma SHILTON
4. Died in infancy
5. Maria (Mary) LUSCHER, born July 16, 1848, Switzerland, died June 14, 1902;
married Phide McCLURE & a GUNN, divorced both.
6. Verena Frances LUSCHER, born 1852, Switzerland, and died 1854
7. Margaret LEUSCHER born 1854, Cleveland, Ohio, died 1881, Sebewa; married
8. William LUSCHER, born July 25, 1857, Cleveland, OH, died September 6, 1938,
Sebewa; married Nettie (Rose) THORPE, January 18, 1885, and Louise SIEG
September 12, 1900
JACOB LUSHCER, JR., born October 17, 1844, Switzerland, died October 19, 1925,
Sebewa; was married June 12, 1873, to Minnie C. ERDMAN (EARTHMAN), born June 8,
1854, Ralston Township, Niagara County, New York, died in Sebewa June 20, 1889.
They farmed on his parents’ homestead in Sebewa increased to 120 acres, and
their stately house & barn set back from the road amid pine trees survived them
until just a few years ago. After her death, Jacob married Emma SHILTON, who
finished raising the children and died March 10, 1932. All are buried at East
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Elma Winifred LUSCHER born August 13, 1874, died January 8, 1928; married
Lawrence (Lon) SANDBORN
2. Emma M. LUSCHER born May 29, 1876, died January 20, 1961; married Norman E.
3. Ada LUSCHER born March 27, 1878, died June 9, 1971 in Utah; married John D.
JOHNSON and went with the Mormons. Their descendant, John J. JOHNSON, 80 N.
First East St., Brigham City, Utah, provided much of this information
4. Norah Belle LUSCHER born April 22, 1881, died April 28, 1935; married Harry
5. Walter LUSCHER born October 28, 1883, died September 28, 1885
6. Homer LUSCHER born July 21, 1885, died September 18, 1906
7. Edna LUSCHER born May 4, 1887, died October 16, 1981; married Bert McNEIL, J.
Peter LICH & Robert WENGER
8. John LUSCHER born June 20, 1889, died April 16, 1918
WILLIAM LUSCHER, born July 25, 1857, in Cleveland, OH, died September 6, 1938 in
Sebewa; married January 18, 1885 to Nettie (Rose) THORPE, born 1870. They farmed
120 acres at NW ¾ SE ¼ Sec. 2 Sebewa Township on north side of Clarksville Road.
His sister Mary owned 20 acres directly across on the south side, which he also
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. George A. LUSHER born December 21, 1885; engineer on Pere Marquette Railroad
in Grand Rapids.
2. Carrie LUSCHER, died young
3. Warren C. LUSCHER born August 16, 1889, died 1959; married Gertrude YORK,
born August 19, 1894, farmed home place.
4. Kittie LUSCHER, married Hector McINTOSH
After Nettie (Rose) died, William married Louise SIEG on September 12, 1900.
THEIR CHILD WAS:
1. Harry W. LUSCHER
ELMA WINIFRED LUSCHER, born August 13, 1874, died January 8, 1928; was married
April 10, 1892 to Lawrence WATSON (Lon) SANDBORN, born May 25, 1869, died May 4,
1932, son of Columbus & Sarah Jane GIBBS SANDBORN. They farmed first at N ½ SE ¼
Sec. 4 Sebewa Township, part which was his parents’ land, and ended at S ¼ NW ¼
Sec. 19 Danby Township, part of where Melborn, Luke & family are now.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Herbert Orlando SANDBORN, born May 22, 1893, died June 6, 1951 in Detroit;
married Ruth SQUIRES born June 17, 1898, and died June 15, 1973; buried in
Danby, had 3 daughters.
2. Columbus Lincoln SANDBORN born February 12, 1896, died January 18, 1920 in
Boise, IDAHO, of Tuberculosis. Buried Portland.
3. Jacob Watson SANDBORN born February 19, 1898, died February 13, 1974; married
March 28, 1917 to Bernice Esther HALLADAY born March 5, 1894, died August 3,
1968, daughter of Arthur & Jane DEATSMAN HALLADAY, had 3 children
4. Riley Howard SANDBORN born August 22, 1900, died May 30, 1983; married
February 28, 1920 Anis Berthelda BENSCHOTER, born October 20, 1901, died January
24, 1990; daughter of John & Bertella BRADLEY BENSCHOTER, had 13 children.
5. Lawrence Chester SANDBORN born April 4, 1904, died October 8, 1985; married
May 15, 1930 to Margaret Elaine THOMPSON, born March 9, 1908, died November 28,
1994, had 1 son
6. Allen Roy SANDBORN born August 8, 1906, died August 6, 1976, married June 15,
1929 Meredith Aileen MILES, born April 30, 1911, daughter of Charles & Myrtle
BANDFIELD MILES, had 5 children
7. Vera Ilene SANDBORN born March 23, 1909, died August 9, 1934; married
September 20, 1930, to Richard KRAUSZ who died November 6, 1934; had 2 sons
8. Raymond Blair SANDBORN born October 25, 1911, died March 4, 1974; married
July 2, 1940 to Florence Evelyn SUMMERS, born September 20, 1916 to Arthur &
Helen SHAY SUMMERS. 5 children
9. MELBORN Ellsworth SANDBORN born October 25, 1913; married April 8, 1936
Fannie Margaret ROGERS born May 1, 1918, daughter of Roy & Gertrude COON ROGERS,
had 4 children.
EMMA M. LUSCHER born May 29, 1876, died January 20, 1961, was married to Norman
E. GIBBS, Jr. born 1874, died December 28, 1949, son of Norman & Mary E. AMES
GIBBS. They farmed at S ½ NE ¼ Sec. 3 Sebewa on KNOLL Road, where Lynda SANDBORN
RUSSMAN lives now. Later they moved to E ¼ W ½ NE ¼ Sec. 31 Portland Township,
on Grand River Avenue across from George BOWER and later Henry LEIK, where they
raised and sold garden produce.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Nelson E. GIBBS born 1894, died April 12, 1895
2. Minnie GIBBS died February 17, 1958; married Al GILMORE
3. Ruby GIBBS married Charles WILSON, had Gerald & Betty.
ADA LUSCHER born March 27, 1878, died June 9, 1971, was married to John D.
JOHNSON, went to Utah with the Mormons and their son or grandson, John J.
JOHNSON, entered all the family in the Morman Archives.
NORAH BELLE LUSCHER born April 22, 1881, died April 28, 1935, was married to
Harry B. TUSSING, born 1878, died August 13, 1957. They farmed, and after her
death he had a truck garden in a muck hollow near his home on Donna Drive,
SCHNABEL’S Landing, south side of Jordan Lake.
EDNA LUSCHER born May 4, 1887, died October 16, 1981; was married March 25, 1906
to Bert McNEIL, born March 31, 1886, died December 19, 1950. They farmed at N ½
SW ¼ Sec. 8 Sebewa, where Edna was a good shepherd. After his death she married
J. Peter LICH, father of John M. LICH, Sr., in November 1956, and he died in
January 1957. In August 1960 she married Robert WENGER, born in Switzerland,
died May 5, 1987.
EDNA & BERT’S CHILD WAS:
1. Charles J. McNEIL, born March 27, 1918, died July, 1977; married Patricia M.
THORPE, born June 10, 1926, had Clay & Corrine, was Supervisor of Sebewa
Township for 25 years.
WARREN C. LUSCHER born August 16, 1889, died 1959; married Gertrude YORK, born
August 19, 1889, farmed the home farm.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Walter W. LUSCHER born December 14, 1912, died October 5, 1961; married to
Joyce E. WILSON born May 30, 1922, added 40 acres at SE ¼ SE ¼ Sec. 2 to the
family farm, had Judith, William and Laurel
2. Gerald LUSCHER born July 2, 1914, died April 8, 1990; married Arlene (SPEED)
HOPPES born May 25, 1929, lived on corner of the family farm.
JACOB WATSON SANDBORN born February 19, 1898, died February 13, 1974; married
March 28, 1917 Bernice Esther HALLADAY born March 5, 1894, died August 3, 1968,
daughter of Arthur & Jane DEATSMAN HALLADAY, farmed first where his father &
brother Melborn later farmed on the Danby side of the road, later in South
Boston Township on KEEFER Hwy. Buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Kathyleen Alaire SANDBORN born July 3, 1918; married September 30, 1939
Donald ROGERS born April 20, 1918, farmed Orange (Twp.). Kathyleen’s children
were Larry, Joan, Mary Jean & Douglas
2. Max Vance SANDBORN born February 22, 1921; married July 6, 1946 to Delores
LUZ, born November 8, 1926, operated an earth-moving business and retired to the
home farm. Their children were Craig, Randy, Diane, Ryan, Lynn & Jill.
3. Dwaine Arthur SANDBORN born October 24, 1922; married Lois EASON born
November 7, 1927. He was a pilot. Their children were Carol Ann & Steven Eric.
RILEY HOWARD SANDBORN, born August 22, 1900, died May 30, 1983; married February
28, 1920 Anis Berthelda BENSCHOTER, born October 20, 1901, died January 24,
1990, daughter of John & Bertella BRADLEY BENSCHOTER. They farmed at NW ¼ Sec.
26 W ½ SW ¼ Sec. 27, W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 34 & Center ½ E ½ E ½ Sec. 33, all in Orange
1. Howard Alden SANDBORN, born July 1, 1920, was married August 19, 1941 to Mary
Mae GOODRICH, born February 25, 1926. Their children were: William Howard,
Robert Alden & Edwin Gene.
2. Opal Maxine SANDBORN born November 2, 1921; married June 22, 1946 to Paul
Albert VOLK born October 7, 1919, died June 30, 1990. Their children were:
Donald Eugene & Barbara Anne.
3. June Elaine SANDBORN born June 15, 1923; married November 22, 1946 Robert
Vern HIGBEE born November 13, 1918, died October 9, 1962. Their children were:
Kathleen Anne, Mark Robert, Jane Louise & John Phillip.
4. Riley LaVerne SANDBORN born January 20, 1925; married May 28, 1945, Maxine
Claire ALLEN. He farmed and retired from TRW. Their children were: Julie Anne,
Marcia Sue, Vicky Jo, Suzan Kay, Katherine June, LaVerne Thomas & Thomas Wayne.
5. Louis Eugene SANDBORN, married June 7, 1947 Mary Ann Wohlscheid. Their
children were David Lynn, Joy Marlene, Michael Riley, Sandra Ann, Rick Wayne,
Steve Louis, Georgia Lee, Gwendolyn May, Lawrence Eugene & Timothy Scott.
6. Joyce Jean SANDBORN was married March 11, 1950, to Donald Edward LYON. She
was a teacher in Sunfield. Their children were Gerald Edward & Diane Carole.
7. Richard Cloyce SANDBORN was married June 10, 1949 to Marcia HUVER. He retired
from GR to his carefully kept farm. Their children were: Terrance Richard, Dan
Robert, Deborah Kay & Colleen Sue.
8. Janet Marilyn SANDBORN was married March 4, 1950 to Gerald Wesley GILBERT.
They farmed at W ¾ S ½ Sec. 28 Sebewa and he retired from GM. Their children
were Karen Joyce, Nancy Ann, Peggy Jo & Marilyn Sue.
9. Kendall B. SANDBORN married Barbara Anne COON. They farmed with Riley and
continued his sheep flock. Their children were: Carol Jean, Christopher Kendall,
Denise Lynn, Joel Robert, Scott Anthony & Heidi Marie.
10. Bonnie Jo SANDBORN was married February 8, 1958 to Marvin LeRoy JAMESON.
Their children were Thomas Lee and Jacki Lyn.
11. Gary Lynn SANDBORN who married Carolyn Lois McKENNA and they were divorced.
Their children were: Kimberly Jo, Bethany Lynne & Michael Gary.
12. Judith Carole SANDBORN was married to Alvin George McCRUMB. Their children
were: Rebecca Sue, Todd Alvin & Steven Paul.
13. Elizabeth Ann SANDBORN was married November 12, 1966 to Thomas J. RUSSELL.
Their children were: Lisa Anne, Peggy Sue, Joseph Thomas, Jonathan Paul & Amy
ALLEN ROY SANDBORN born August 8, 1906, died August 6, 1976; married June 15,
1929 to Meredith Aileen MILES born April 30, 1911, daughter of Charles & Myrtle
BANDFIELD MILES. They farmed in Danby & Sebewa Townships and he retired from
Michigan Reformatory. She was Easton Township Clerk for many years.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Allen Royce SANDBORN married Dorothy JOLLEY. Their children were: Vivian
Aileen & Lawrence Henry.
2. Patricia Joanne SANDBORN died September 7, 1988, was married March 27, 1954,
to Ernie FOX. Their children were: Peggy Ann, Pamela Kay & Brenda Lee
3. Bruce Gordon SANDBORN born December 21, 1933, died October 11, 1994, was
married August 23, 1950 to Mary Lee BAILIFF. Their children were: Bruce Gordon,
Cherilee Sue & Marlene Kay.
4. Robert Charles SANDBORN born December 9, 1942, was married June 15, 1963, to
Linda BLEVINS. Their children were: Teresa Renee, Kristine Marie, Robert
Charles, Lynn Allen, Kimberly Kay, Renee Maree & William Lynn.
5. James Paul SANDBORN married April 16, 1965, Bobbie Jean ROUSE. Their children
were: Melissa Ann & James Paul, Jr.
VERA ILEENE SANDBORN, born March 23, 1909, died August 9, 1934; married
September 20, 1930, to Richard KRAUSZ who died November 6, 1934, son of Eben
KRAUSZ. They farmed on David Highway in Orange Township. She died in a kitchen
fire; he in an auto accident.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Lawrence Eben KRAUSZ died October 18, 1981; was married April 7, 1956, to
Joan Margaret SIMMONS. Their children were: Debora Joan, Diane Marie, David
Lawrence, Douglas Eben and Daniel Michael.
2. Gerald Richard KRAUSZ born February 5, 1934 was married January 4, 1958 to
Sylvia ROBERTSON. Their children were: Thomas Eben & Richard Gerald.
RAYMOND BLAIR SANDBORN, born October 25, 1911, died March 4, 1974, was married
July 2, 1940 to Florence Evelyn SUMMERS born September 20, 1916, daughter of
Arthur & Helen SHAY SUMMERS. They farmed on Clarksville Road, Sec. 6 & 7 Danby
Township & he delivered milk.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Constance Joan SANDBORN who married Robert STIFFLER and their children were
Michael Robert & Michelle Renee
2. Jeffery Blair SANDBORN who married Sharon MERRIFIELD and their children were
Jeffery Blair, Rhonda Marie, Rebecca Ann & Kristine Lynn
3. Lynda Mae SANDBORN who married James Lyle RUSSMAN and they had 3 children
4. Jack Edward SANDBORN married Mary MILLER and they had 5 children.
5. Daniel Rayond SANDBORN married Barbara Lynn JENKINS and had three children
MELBORN ELLSWORTH SANDBORN, born October 25, 1913 was married April 8, 1936 to
Fannie Margaret ROGERS, daughter of Roy & Gertrude COON ROGERS. They farmed at S
¾ W ½ Sec. 19 Danby Township and ran the International Harvester dealership in
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. John Franchot SANDBORN who married Shirley Ann SHACKLEFORD. He was in the
implement business with his father and brother. John & Shirley had 2 children
2. Sharon Kay SANDBORN married George ZARKA and they had 4 children
3. Cynthia Ellen SANDBORN married Dale Earle HEFTY and they had 4 children
4. Luke William SANDBORN had 2 children
HERBERT ORLANDO SANDBORN, born May 22, 1893, died June 6, 1951; married June 17,
1918 to Ruth SQUIRES born June 17, 1898, died June 15, 1973, daughter of Warren
& Cora MARROW SQUIRES. They lived in Minnesota & Detroit, and are buried in
Danby Township Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Robyn Ruth SANDBORN born December 16, 1921, was married February 16, 1942, to
Henry Wesley RICKARD born July 24, 1917, and they were divorced. She then was
married November 4, 1973 to William C. WAKEFIELD born February 5, 1919. Her
children were: Randall Wesley, Ryan Henry and Rodney S.
2. Coralyn Elma SANDBORN born April 5, 1926, died February 2, 1964, was married
about 1946 to Chet RALPH; June 1, 1955 to Clyde Spencer LARSON, lived in
3. Sondra Squire SANDBORN born in Minnesota.
LAWRENCE CHESTER SANDBORN born April 4, 1904, died October 8, 1985; was married
May 15, 1930 to Margaret Elaine THOMPSON, born March 9, 1908, died November 28,
THEIR CHILD WAS:
1. Lawrence Watson SANDBORN, born May 15, 1932, married March 7, 1951 Shirley
ASPERHEIM. Their children were: Greg, Debra Leigh & Laura Ann.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For history of the ERDMAN family, ancestors of Minnie ERDMAN, who
married Jacob LUSCHER, Jr., see Vol. 29 No. 4 February 1994 Sebewa RECOLLECTOR.
UPDATE TO A SISTER PUBLICATION: A recent issue of the IONIA
SENTINEL STANDARD states that 10-year-old Dan YEOMANS is the 7th generation to
be born on their family farm in Easton Township. Not quite true! Erastus YEOMANS,
Sr. and Fife Major in the War of 1812, and son of Daniel & Esther YEOMANS of
Connecticut, came to Ionia with his wife, Phoebe ARNOLD, in the DEXTER Colony of
1833. He was the first Village Clerk, Postmaster & Judge. YEOMANS Street was
their farm lane from their house still standing on West Main to the farm
buildings on HAYNOR Road.
Their son, Sanford A. YEOMANS, was 16 years old at the time. He soon became
Township Clerk, then Supervisor, then Superintendent of the Poor. He was father
of Edwin S. YEOMANS, father of Edwin R. YEOMANS, father of Sanford YEOMANS,
father of Greg YEOMANS, father of Daniel YEOMANS again. So in 166 years we have
five generations born in Easton Township, or in Dan’s case, probably in Ionia
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
OCTOBER 1999, Volume 35, Number 2. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. Slowins, Editor:
SURNAMES: Conkrite, Wainright, Fishell, Luscher, Daniels, Yeiter, Decker, Davis,
Bishop, Lapo, Bartlett, Sach, Cross, Staples, Majinska, Trumpower, Rathburn,
Herbert, Slowinski, Coon, Augst, Morris, Denton, Vandecar, Schnabel, Cantant,
Puffer, Carbaugh, Chase, Thuma, Shay
FERN CONKRITE, 104, born March 3, 1895, died July 23, 1999, only child of
Charles CONKRITE & Emma WAINWRIGHT. She never married, had no children, and lost
her business partner, Gertrude (Gertie) FISHELL in 1984. Her parents had lived
on MUSGROVE Highway in the Sebewa side of town prior to her birth, and ran a
store in the FRIEND Block double building. But they moved to their farm in Danby
on the south side of MORRIS Road, just west of Okemos Road at Meshimeneconning,
in time for her birth.
The Indians were gone, but she was a good friend of the Charles INGALLS family
who grew up with the Indians and bought their land. Her grandparents CONRITE had
homesteaded in the same Sec. 21, but around on the Charlotte Highway side of the
Grand River, before Centerline Bridge was built.
Her parents moved back to Sebewa Village on the Danby side (Cornell), when she
was two years old and lived there always after that. After graduating from
eighth grade at Sebewa High at age 15 in 1910, Fern worked for ten years as a
baby nurse, caring for newborn babies and their mothers and helping with the
housework. Some of those babies and are now approaching age ninety themselves!
During this time Fern was pianist at Sebewa Corners Methodist Church and
continued this service at Portland Church of the Nazarene. We heard her play at
her 100th birthday party! She and Gertie ran a wallpaper & paint store in
Portland and also hung wallpaper & painted. Later they farmed on the south edge
of Portland at Okemos Road, and when the I-96 Freeway took most of their land &
buildings, they built a retirement home on Riverside Drive. Then in 1978 they
made one last move to the Senior Citizen Housing on Lillian Boulevard in
Fern was a walking history book of Portland-Sebewa-Danby. We published some of
her memories in 1991, but she made us stop until her death to protect those
still living who might be offended. It is safe to print them now, and anyway we
suspect the members of those families will get a chuckle when we do!
Some years ago Robert Wilfred GIERMAN & I compiled a list of about 12 people
born before 1900 who might get to live in three centuries. Only Iva DUNLAP,
daughter of D. C. INGALL & Ada DANIEL, remains and she is not as sharp as Fern
GALEN D. DANIELS, 70, husband of Wilma YEITER DANIELS, father of
Debra Lynn CRYDERMAN, Bradley L., David F. & the late Duane D. DANIELS, brother
of Arnold DANIELS & the late Kathleen WATERS & Maxine DIPP, son of Edna DECKER &
Lewis DANIELS, descended from Eunice & Andrus W. DANIELS, Sr., who settled in
Sebewa Township in 1869.
HILDRED A. DAVIS, 98, widow of Aubrey T. DAVIS, sister of Opal Dodge & the late
Veda BLICKENSTAFF & Claire LAPO, daughter of Nettie BISHOP & Charles LAPO,
descended from Jacob H. LAPO, who settled in Sebewa Township about the time of
the Civil War.
ROSALIE CROSS BARTLETT, 56, mother of Jerri & Jerry BARTLETT & Amy FIDDLER,
sister of Betty KENYON, Jeneva STRIMBACK, Leonard, Raymond, Robert & Duane &
baby Ralph CROSS, daughter of Velma SACH & Ralph CROSS, son of Della STAPLES &
Leonard CROSS, son of Emma & John CROSS, son of Eli Cross. She was a waitress at
the family’s North Inn Restaurant in Lake Odessa. Buried in East Sebewa
MAUDALINE MAJINSKA, 81, widow of Joseph, mother of Richard, Joseph & George
MAJINSAK, Martha STURM, Mary BERGERON & Jane GASPER, sister of Maxine McLeod,
Maurice & Maxwell RATHBUN, daughter of Susie TRUMPOWER & George RATHBUN. She &
Joe farmed the MAJINSKA homestead in Odessa Township.
MARY HERBERT, 89, widow of Bernard HERBERT, mother of Marilyn HANEY & Kendall
HERBERT, sister of Winnie SHETTERLY, Ione STRACHAN FLETCHER, John & Lyndon
BYRANS. She was a cook at Lakewood School for many years.
Julia CASSEL WHORLEY writes to tell us that Gertrude & Warren LUSCHER had a
daughter, Nellie, younger than Walter & Gerald, living in Alma, MI.
REFLECTIONS ON THE RECOLLECTOR AT AGE 35 by Grayden SLOWINS:
We have had many positive comments about the content of the RECOLLECTOR. Some
people favor the stories of our travels. Others like the genealogy on the
Ephraim SHAY family, the PROBASCO family, and last issue on the LUSCHER family.
For some it is the history and how we manage to connect almost everyone to
Sebewa in some way. Because, it really is a small world after all. If you have a
story to tell, write it down, type it, or word-process it. We can correct
spelling and punctuation if necessary. If it is ready for the duplicator
machine, that is even better.
On August 8, 1999, one of the three remaining country schools in Ionia County,
COON School, had a reunion, and asked for anecdotes. My grandfather, Daniel
SLOWINSKI, Jr., attended COON School about 1880-1883, when he was 6-9 years of
age. With only three years of schooling he became one of the most prominent
farmers, orchardists & local government officials of his day.
He served for 25 years as Treasurer of the DURKEE School. As Berlin Township
Highway Commissioner, he tackled the seemingly impossible task of cutting State
Road down over the big hill into Ionia with a team of horses and a slip scraper.
He was elected to the first Ionia County Agricultural Stabilization Committee on
September 6, 1933.
During his first year at COON School, the teacher quit over the weekend to get
married. On Monday morning the School Board came to school and said to Bernice
LOWREY, who was in the 8th grade, “You are the teacher now”. That girl was later
Mrs. Jack AUNGST, grandmother of Beulah DANIELS. She taught him well. Grandpa
could read & write, do addition, subtraction, multiplication & long division. He
read the old Grand Rapids Herald front to back every evening of his adult life.
His only regret was that in only three years schooling, he never got to study
WE RECENTLY LEARNED THAT ARIEL MORRIS, last teacher at Sebewa
Center School, has made a gift of $5000.00 to HALL-FOWLER Library in Ionia. It
is to be used for adult books-on-tape and for the children’s library. More of us
could make such gifts in our lifetime or as a bequest. Ariel is the daughter of
Arthur DENTON & Cora VANDECAR, daughter of George VANDECAR & Agnes SCHNABEL,
daughter of Mary CANTANT & Michael SCHNABEL, son of Anton & Regina SCHNABEL. She
is a remarkably talented painter & photographer, as well as teacher, world
traveler, and historic preservationist. She & her husband, Lynn, plus George &
Caroline VANCE, put up the $50,000.00 front money that saved the BLANCHARD House
from the wreckers’ ball so it could become our museum.
THE HUGGLER writes to ask about history of the PUFFER family
whose farm included his land on MUSGROVE Highway in E ½ SW ¼ Sec. 24 Sebewa
Township. All we know about the PUFFERS came from our good friend, Fern CONKRITE.
Nancy CARBAUGH CHASE PUFFER was born March 27, 1855, died February 21, 1940, the
daughter of Esther CARBAUGH, who lived at S ½ SE ¼ Sec. 1 Sebewa on part of what
is now the Joe & Doris PUNG farm.
Nancy married George W. CHASE, born August 7, 1858, died December 4, 1904, and
they farmed in Sec. 24 until his death. Later she married a man named PUFFER and
lived in the village of CORNELL on the east side of KEEFER Highway, where Jim
BEDELL lived after her death and Susan FYAN KRUGER has replaced the house with a
Nancy & George are buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. It is unclear how the farm
came to be the Clare MURPHY farm in our lifetime. I don’t know that the MURPHY
family ever lived there. The last resident tenant farmer was Kenneth LANCASTER
and then Clarence (Mick) BAILEY worked it from the KNAPP farm. The stone fences
give indication of the problems in farming there.
OUR TRIPS THIS SUMMER by Grayden SLOWINS:
………We strolled the new Mackinac Crossings Mall, which incorporates as a
restaurant the old railroad depot built by Sam THUMA, father of Sebewa’s Ray
THUMA, over 100 years ago. Ray was born in Mackinaw City in 1885 and his
lifelong friend, George COFFMAN was born in Pewamo about the same time. Both
started school in Mackinaw in a two-story wooden schoolhouse also built by Sam
but demolished in recent years. Ray’s family eventually returned to their
agricultural roots near Pewamo and George ran a drugstore, funeral parlor &
railroad-watch repair shop in Mackinaw…..
…….Mid-July we drove the Motorhome to Harbor Springs for their “Ephraim SHAY
Days”. We have written quite a bit about this Sebewa boy in recent issues. We
toured his steel-sided octagon house and saw movies & slides of his locomotives
with their helical-geared drive wheels and the railroads he used them on. After
chatting with the local SHAY buffs, we tracked Ephraim’s logging & tourist
railroad bed thru the woods & countryside.
The roadbed has almost been obliterated by the current boom in housing
construction. We wouldn’t have found it without a guide sketch. We saw a couple
of red-brick two-room country schools in the area of Harbor Springs & Cross
Village that appeared to still hold school. We wonder about that. By the way,
that morning coastal drive thru Good Hart to Cross Village was breath-taking,
especially with a few local fast-drivers on those curves & cliffs!
……Then we cut over to US-131 and stopped at Haring Township, just north of
Cadillac. This is where Ephraim SHAY went when he left Sebewa & SHAYtown, and
where he first developed the locomotive he had been dreaming about. The current
owners of his farmland, George & Mark ICE, father and son, told us at Harbor
Springs about having built a replica of his locomotive and now re-building his
trackage, so we had to stop and see it. In a year or two they will be giving
tourists rides, by appointment only, since they have other business. They also
plan to take their prototype SHAY Locomotive to Harbor Springs for “Ephraim SHAY
Days” next year.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
DECEMBER 1999, Volume 35, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. Slowins, Editor:
SURNAMES: Conkrite, Meyers, Creighton, Luscher, Peacock, Vaarberg, Wilson,
Cornell, Bradley, Alberts, Evans, Friend, Burkle, Hull, Wooden, Wainwright,
Youngs, Derby, Snyder, Smith, Hale, High, Skinner, Showerman, Buchner, Lindsley,
Cassel, Fender, Reed, Halladay, Deatsman, Erdman, Lowe, Brown, McCormack, Hiar,
Benschoter, Ingalls, Sindlinger, Kenyon, Sears, Greenhoe
ELFA IRENE MEYERS CREIGHTON, 99, widow of Arthur CREIGHTON, sister of the late
Wilma YORK, Lancey, William Jr. and August Valentine MEYERS and another brother,
daughter of William & Mary PICKENS MEYERS. Buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
LUSCHER FAMILY UPDATE:
We misspelled the name of Warren & Gertrude’s daughter last issue. She is Nettie,
not Nellie. Her last name is MORTON and she lives in Englewood, FL. Gerald was
first married to Cecil WARD and had Larry, James & Kenneth. He was married
second to Arlene (SPEED) HOPPES and has Geraldine who married TUMY & MURPHY.
SHERIFF DWAIN DENNIS wrote a nice article for THE SENTINEL
WEEKENDER about previous sheriffs. Sherry PEACOCK VAARBERG grew up in the jail
from about one year of age, when her grandparents, the Gary NEWTONS, were
Sheriff & Matron/Cook. She rode her tricycle up & down the upstairs cell-block.
She always felt safe and found out the reason years later. The word on the
inside was that if anyone laid a hand on her curly blonde head, they would pull
back a bloody stump, if not by the deputies, then by the other prisoners, for
whom she was the only contact with the real world! Riley N. WILSON, who lived in
the last house north on the west side in Sebewa Corners, was a long-time local
Deputy and was Ionia County Sheriff about the time of the Civil War.
INTERVIEW WITH FERN CONKRITE by Grayden SLOWINS (continued from
April, June & August, 1990)
The CORNELLS had a store in Sebewa Corners. (Frank N. Cornell 1860-1927, and
Jessie CORNELL 1866-1900, are buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.) John BRADLEY had
a store and house north of the Oddfellow Hall. ALBERTS (Marjorie GILDEN’S
parents) had the first store & house west of the Oddfellow Hall, and a
blacksmith shop. CORNELL’S store and house were next west of that on MUSGROVE
Hwy. The AUSTIN boy has all those lots facing MUSGROVE now, but only the
Oddfellow building remains. Ward MERRIFIELD moved the CORNELL house over on
BIPPLEY Rd., where a house had burned, and then that house burned, too. This was
west of the Herb EVANS farm and Don BENSCHOTER owned the land later, then Howard
MEYERS. The barn sort of fell down and all that’s left now is a silo.
On the southwest corner was the John FRIEND house; he platted the Sebewa side of
town on part of his farm. The next house south was the hotel. The HOLMES family
lived in the third house, now known as the DARLING house. The John FRIEND double
store building was next west of his house, and that’s where my dad had a general
store, in the west half, before I was born. The next house west of the double
building was the Gracie MARTIN house. My folks’ first home was just west of
that, later was moved away, and now has been replaced by FYANS with the
The farm buildings west of these buildings were the John FRIEND farm, later
known as the KNAPP farm. Peter, Lawrence and Howard KNAPP had quite an orchard
and lots of chickens, as well as cattle and sheep. But back then it belonged to
the FRIEND family. I don’t remember John, and his son George had moved from the
farmhouse up to the corner house by my time. I think maybe George’s son Ralph
was in the farmhouse when I can first remember.
Emma FRIEND married Alonzo (Lon) EVANS and they farmed where Bruce & Vivian
WALKINGTON later started. In later years he got a Civil War pension and moved to
that house behind Jim BEDELL at the corner of Jefferson & Madison, in the Danby
(CORNELL) side of town.
Jim BEDELL had the Nancy CHASE PUFFER house at Madison & KEEFER. The CHASE farm
was just west of the United Brethren Campgrounds (now Bible Missionary Camp).
Nancy CARBAUGH was born on what is now the Joe & Doris PUNG farm. That place is
all one now, but at one time there were two CARBAUGH families and two sets of
buildings up there. She married MURPHY first and had a son, who got the farm, so
that’s why they call it the MURPHY farm now. But the husband she had the longest
was George CHASE. They farmed there by the campground and are buried up in the
East Cemetery. But he died, too, and she married PUFFER and they lived on EMERY
Road amongst the KENYONS for a while. I hadn’t thought about that for a long
time; you know, you get to talking about these things and a lot of things come
back that you hadn’t thought of in years. Later they moved to that house in town
and when he got in poor health, she sent him to Texas to be with his boys by a
previous marriage. But supposedly, when he died, his sons buried him back up
here someplace, maybe with his first wife. That first Lon EVANS house burned and
they moved next south, in a HOLLENBACH house.
George FRIEND’S children were as follows:
Ralph was the oldest, and he married Lucy HALLADAY from just south of the
Methodist Church. That farm south of the church was the old Charlie HALLADAY
farm (once Clerk of Ionia County). After the HALLADAY family, the KARTUSKI
(CARR) family lived there. They didn’t have much when they came here from the
old country and their first children were being born. The youngest FRIEND boy
was Jesse, and he married Bessie somebody. They’re both up in the cemetery, but
only she has a stone. They didn’t have any children. That’s what caused her
death, childbirth. She wasn’t very old (25). There were several FRIEND boys
in-between; Fred lived in Portland and is buried north of Ralph, without a
stone. There is a stone for Herbert, age 3, and Archibald, about 16 or 17.
My cousin, Ethelyn BURKLE (pronounced “BURKLEY”), was hired girl at Lon EVANS’S
at the time of Bessie FRIEND’S death. Ethelyn was the daughter of George
DOOLITTLE & Minnie HORNER, daughter of Hosiah HORNER & Marie CONKRITE, my dad’s
They all lived on TUPPER Lake Road just over into Danby Township, and just east
of my Uncle Manley CONKRITE. Marie & Hosiah had three daughters, Minnie, Clara
and, er, uh, well, that bird flew out the window too (Annette). When Clara was
three months old, her mother died. In less than a year, Hosiah married his
wife’s sister, Fidelia CONKRITE, who was only 16 years old, and they had three
boys, Ben, Arthur & Tom. Ethelyn was hot for the recently widowed Jesse FRIEND,
but nothing came of it. Jesse eventually died at his parents’ home in Portland,
where they retired to the house between Doc BENEDICT and Ed GOODWIN’S Monument
building that was torn down to build the theater.
My grandparents, William CONKRITE & Calphernia HULL, lived on the first place
south of Centerline Bridge on the west side of the road. Later they moved to
TUPPER Lake Road, where Keith MERRYFIELD is now. That’s where most of the kids
were born, I guess. Milton was the oldest child and he was four months old when
they brought him from New York State to this little hut up there on Charlotte
Hwy. Then there were Charlie, Manley & George.
The girls were Marie, Fidelia, Mary – (Jerusha); and Luella, who married Ransom
TAYLOR. Oh, and Nancy, who married John COULTER. That makes ten. Then Grandpa
died young and left her with a big family to raise. George never married; he was
a brakeman on the railroad and got hurt. When I was born, they chopped off both
ends of Calphernia and named me Fern.
The children of Mary CONKRITE & Truman WOODEN were: Margaret, wife of Fred
MAUREN, Sr., of the Portland Review, Etha, wife of Ionia banker Willard HAWLEY,
and Robert, who married Lottie McCRUMB. Lottie’s mother was an AZELTINE. Mrs.
Tom FROST, Sr., was her sister, and when that FROST family ran out, the WOODENS
ended up getting the land at FROST Corners. Robert WOODEN’S children were
Robert, Jr., and Richard. Richard WOODEN’S children were Margaret, Richard, Jr.,
Catherine & John.
My Grandmother WAINWRIGHT was also a WOODEN. Floyd WAINWRIGHT’S father, Joe, was
a brother to my mother, Emma. Joe married Mae HUDSON. Uncle Joe used to be the
street-sweeper in Portland; had a big bushy mustache. He had one of those
barrel-like carts with two big wheels and all the brooms & shovels standing in
it. He had a pointed shovel, and a square shovel, and a push broom and a hand
broom. He and road-apples passed away at about the same time. James WAINWRIGHT,
brother to Joe & Emma, married Edith YOUNGS, from the Henry YOUNGS family, on
what is now the Victor WILSON farm. They also had a sister, Jane, who was only
16 when she died of scarlet fever complicated by meningitis. Mrs. William PRYER,
Sr., was a WOODEN, too, but I think theirs was spelled WOODIN.
When I was growing up in Sebewa, I became pianist at the Sebewa Corners
Methodist Church. Well, after I came down here to Portland, I went to the
Methodist Church, Gertie and I did, for a while. And, I don’t know, we got very
well acquainted with Mrs. NELLER (Minister at the Church of the Nazarene). I
hadn’t been going, neither of us had been going to church. I don’t know, there
was something, one of the preachers or something, and we just drifted away. One
day, Mrs. NELLER and I were talking and she said “Fern, I don’t like to see you
waste all your talents, and we need a pianist just awful bad. Mrs. FENNER had
been praying for a couple of years for somebody to come and take her place.
Won’t you come and do it?
And I said “Well, I guess I could”. So I just started going to the Nazarene
Church, and I played there for many years. I even played up here, after they
built the new church a few years ago. That old church down in the valley was
built by the Presbyterians. The Congos (Congregationalists) had a little
disturbance years ago and there was a bunch of them broke off. They built that
church down there and called themselves Presbyterians. Well, then, they got back
together again, and they sold that building to the Pilgrim Holiness people, that
have that Bible College in Owosso. Then the United Brethren got hold of it, and
then the Nazarenes.
F. C. (Clancey, Clanty) DERBY and his wife Millie lived north of Sebewa Creek on
the Danby side. There were two daughters by his first wife: Rose, who married
Dr. Ed SNYDER, son of Dr. George SNYDER, and lived in Sunfield and then Lake
Odessa; and Nellie, who married John MORRISSEY, a blacksmith in Sunfield. After
Clanty died, the second wife, Millie, sold the farm to Dr. George MORSE of Lake
Odessa and moved uptown. She lived in that house back in the northeast corner of
town. Later she took care of Lon EVANS and got his last house at the southwest
corner of Washington & Jackson. After Lon EVANS quit farming, he lived up there
west of you, you know, (WALKINGTONS’); I never knew him to do anything when he
moved to town except live on his pension, his Civil War pension. Didn’t take
much to live, those days.
When Ben SMITH & Mabel HALE got married, they moved away from town for a while
and lived on the Frank LINEBAUGH place up on EMERY Road. Then they lived in that
house across from the Methodist Church and famed there when the boys were born.
I remember him coming to the door one awful night, the snow was a-blowing and it
was cold. He said “If a baby is going to be born in Michigan, it will be
Ben was right, a SMITH baby was born that night. Ben took the horse & sleigh and
went to Sunfield and got Dr. CRAWFORD. Then he got Louise (Mrs. Oren) REEDER,
who lived on the north edge of town on the Danby side, where Gorma BAILEY lived
later, and brought her to assist. I never delivered any babies, nor even
assisted, when I was babying.
George & Mahala HIGH lived next north of the Clanty DERBY farm. She was a sister
to Sadie (Sarah) COOPER, who lived where Sunshine is now. They were HOLLENBACH
girls, daughters of George HOLLENBACH. His wife was a COLLINGHAM, sister to
Elizabeth, second wife of Oliver SMITH, Sr., daughters of Jacob COLLINGHAM that
had the first sawmill. George HIGH and his brother John both lived there on the
Danby side, where Vaughn & Janet CARTER live now. I think Vaughn tore the house
down. (He says there was just a shed and open well.) George & Mahala’s daughter
was Nellie, who married Dr. Fred MORSE, and their son was Dr. George MORSE, who
came back out from Lake Odessa and bought the DERBY farm for his cottage retreat
on Sebewa Creek.
You know that CARBAUGH farm north of STONE’S corners we talked about, where
Nancy CARBAUGH MURPHY CHASE PUFFER grew up? Well, after the CARBAUGHS were gone,
a widower named Caspar SCHAEFFER lived there. Angela EVAN’S grandmother, Callie
SKINNER, kept house for him and I think maybe married him. Bessie & Adrian
ALBERTA farmed for a long time on another CARBAUGH farm on Sunfield Road, up in
Grant CARBAUGH came from up there someplace, the one that married Minnie LOWE
SOUTHWELL. He ran the LOWE Mill for a while and she drove Star Route mail
between Sebewa and Sunfield. Her daughters were Goldie JACKSON and Helen
CAMPBELL GILBERT. Helen was only 14 when she got married to Charlie CAMPBELL.
Goldie was 16 and already married, so Helen sent her with Charlie to get the
marriage license. SOUTHWELLS lived on the east side of town, on CASS Street,
where Kenny ACKERSON lives now.
Ernest SHOWERMAN lived in a little yellow house west of Robert & Clarice, and he
was followed by Edward. Elmer (Jay) SHOWERMAN lived in the big house and he
married Lydia HENRY, and had Robert. His cousin Frank SHOWERMAN married her
sister, Cora HENRY, and had Louise, who married Melvin BUCHNER. Orlando V.
SHOWERMAN was the father of Ernest & Elmer Jay, and had all their land. He and
Lucius, Frank’s dad, were early settlers. James H. McCLELLAND had the Fred HART
place across the road on the north side of MUSGROVE, and had twin sons, Wilton &
Willis. Chase McCLELLAND had the Herb EVANS land on the north side of BIPPLEY
Rollin DERBY was a brother to Clanty. He and his wife, Bernice, lived on the
west side of Jefferson Street, just north of MUSGROVE. He had a Star Route to
Sunfield before Minnie CARBAUGH and also hauled to Portland, but went straight
through without delivering along the way there. Carl & Lola LINDSLEY owned the
old HIGH farm on the west side of KEEFER Hwy. north of town. One daughter died
in the Flu Epidemic and then he died. The other daughter married and her mother
moved back up north with them. Carl’s brother Luther & wife, Grace PEAKE, ran
the Farmers Gas Station in Portland, and they asked me to have the grave dug
when Carl’s wife died. Their brother Perry married Grace’s sister, Nora PEAKE.
Melvin & Jennie CASSEL FENDER were in the tenant house on your place, the OLRY
farm. When Glenn was born, I washed & dressed him. I don’t remember about Dick.
Oh, that Dick was a little peeler.
I was going to tell you about Elizabeth CORNELL. She was the daughter of Frank &
Jessie CORNELL. She was the teacher when I graduated from the eighth grade, in
1910. Elizabeth DORIN was in my class and we had quite a splash. They had just
finished the Oddfellow Hall there on the northwest corner; it wasn’t quite done;
I remember they had to get the floor put down in order for us to have exercises
there. The actual lodge hall was upstairs. Downstairs was just a big auditorium;
they used it for a dining room. Dances, or anything they wanted to use it for.
Elizabeth CORNELL came to teach when I was in the eighth grade. I think she
taught there for four years, then she went west. She never married. Both of her
brothers were out there and they both died there. Agnes ERDMAN was my first
teacher and a Miss WILTON came in between.
There were two of the REED families in our neighborhood. Ernie & Minnie BRADEN
REED lived on BIPPLEY just west of COLLINGHAMS. Their kids were Vern and Bertha,
who married Howard KNAPP. Earl & Blanche TOWNSEND REED lived on the ERDMAN farm
east of town in Danby, at the corner of ERDMAN & MUSGROVE. They had Lloyd,
Bernice & Iris. Earl & Ernest were sons of Thomas HOSEA REED over on the west
townline (State Road). Blanche was the daughter of Henry TOWNSEND, who lived
where Hazel FENDER did later, on CASSEL Road.Talking about the LAKIN children;
Etta WHITMAN took George, and I think one of the girls, when their mother died.
One of the other boys, he kind of drifted around and he got ---, he married one
of the MEADE girls.
We mentioned Charlie HALLADAY earlier, that was Ionia County Clerk at one time.
His wife was Mildred (Mandy) SEARS. I think maybe they went to Alabama later in
life, where their son Ernest lived, because they aren’t buried here nor in
Danby. Another one of the older HALLADAYS made quite a fortune in California. I
don’t know, I think he had gold and oil. About 1917 or 1918, he died, and when
the property was all settled up, it made some of the HALLADAY family quite
well-to-do. Not all the HALLADAYS benefited, but Edgar did, and Lillian MERRILL,
and Anna DRAVENSTATT, and George HALLADAY.
Arthur HALLADAY had the farm on the southeast corner of town. He was a son of
Charlie HALLADAY. His wife was Martha Jane DEATSMAN and their daughter Bernice
married Jake SANDBORN. Martha Jane’s parents were Charles & Elizabeth DEATSMAN.
They lived down there on the northeast corner of MUSGROVE and Sunfield Hwys.,
and are buried in the east cemetery. He was a Civil War Vet. They also had
Farrel, who married Grace ERDMAN, and Alva. One of them was father of Forrest
DEATSMAN, who lived in Lake Odessa and had Carlon, LaVon, and another boy, and
Mrs. Dallas BRADEN & Mrs. Bob COOK.
I have been talking mostly about the Sebewa Corners I knew about 1900-1934.
There were about 35 houses and some 90 people, more or less. John BRADLEY was
the Postmaster and he had a grocery store. Frank CORNELL had a general store.
Will ALBERTS had a hardware store and blacksmith shop. Sometimes we had a meat
market. Some of the clerks in the BRADLEY store were Harley ROGERS, Tracey
WILLIAMS, Rhoda DEATSMAN and Reva SNYDER. Lillian ALLEMAN was bookkeeper in the
CORNELL store and Leighton DeGRAW, Alva DEATSMAN and Orson DRAKE were a few of
There were two churches – Sebewa Corners Methodist and HALLADAY United Brethren.
John FRIEND gave (for $100!) a corner lot from his farm for the Methodist Church
in 1876. Daniel HALLADAY gave land from his farm at the south end of the mile
for the U.B. Church in 1892. The United Brethren people also had a campground
just west of town that drew from quite a large district for Camp-Meetings in
Sebewa HIGH School was named for the Jacob HIGH family, from whose farm the land
came, and was located just north of the Corners on the west side. The HALLADAY
School was located south of town near the HALLADAY Church. When I first went to
school, we carried water from across the road. Later we got a well and pump. We
used to keep warm with a Round Oak stove in the middle of the room. One teacher
had as many as 30-40 pupils, but they had good control – discipline. I thought
of more of my teachers: Agnes ERDMAN, Bruce GIBBS, Emerson RAY, Grace KENYON,
Dorothy SAMAINE, Maude SAMINE LOCKWOOD, Emma WILTON and Elizabeth CORNELL.
In the early 1900s we had mail once a day to and from the train at Sunfield.
Later the delivery was extended to and from Portland for a time. The first
mailman I remember was Rollin (Rollo) DERBY, who carried to both Sunfield and
Portland. Others were Lida PUFFER, Minnie SOUTHWELL and Jessie FRIEND, all of
whom carried only to Sunfield. After the Sebewa office closed and R.F.D. came
in, Lawrence KNAPP was our mail carrier for a long time, like 25 years or more.
(Sanford LYON took the southwest part of Sebewa Township, out of Lake Odesssa,
at that time – 1914 – and carried it for 44 years!)
Lawrence carried by horse & buggy in summer and team & sleighs in winter. He
drove one horse to Sunfield in the morning, changed horses and delivered till
noon and was back at the farm for dinner. He changed horses again and finished
the route, then another change to the first one of the morning at Sunfield and
came home at night. That was the summer schedule. Winter time called for two
horses on the sleighs, as it was often harder going, but then only two teams, so
each made about 20 miles. Later a Model-T did the trick, at least in summer,
then a Model-A, and as time went on, a car to fit the times.
We had two grist mills in 1900. John FRIEND had built one in 1894 on the creek
at the west edge of town, west of his buildings and near the sawmill built by
John F. TERRILL & Anson W. HALBERT. His mill became the LOWE Brothers Mill and
passed to Minnie LOWE & Grant CARBAUGH. The WEIPERT family had built a grist
mill in 1876 north of town, just below Jacob COLLINGHAM’S sawmill. Various
owners followed them, including BENEDICTS and Harry GIBSON.
We had flourishing I. O. O. F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) and Rebekah
Lodges – about 100 members in each. I went through the chairs to Past Noble
Grand and President of the County Noble Grands. I always played for the degree
We sent several boys to World War I: Walter BROWN (Sr.), Otho LOWE, Floyd
ERDMAN, Ivan McCORMACK, Clyde HIAR and Don Benschoter. Don was the last
survivor. He and Winnie sent two boys, Junior and Norton, to World War II, and
Jim went in the Army of Occupation. And one girl, Myrtle Desire SHOWERMAN, R. N.
served in WWI.
Our doctors were: Dr. Orville ALBRO, who moved to Portland and has a street
named for him; Dr. George SNYDER was next and was with us for a long time, later
moving to Mulliken. Dr. Fred MORSE came next and went on to Lake Odessa. Dr.
CRAWFORD was the last and he went to Sunfield. By that time, automobiles were in
use, so house calls could be made much easier than with horse and buggy.
We did have a little crime. Twice I remember the Post Office being robbed. Not
much was taken. The safe was blown open. The last time it was robbed, a horse &
buggy were taken. The next morning it was found tied to the fence on the
town-line road (KEEFER Hwy.) and all the residents were home in time for
breakfast – in other words local talent. In another incident, John BRADLEY had
taken several cords of wood on store debts. The wood pile began to get smaller.
So a pinch of gunpowder was placed in several blocks of wood. In a few days a
guy’s stove blew the door off. No more wood was taken!
On September 18, 1921 the D.A.R. Society of Ionia County erected a boulder along
the road about one-half mile south of the corners, in memory of Jonathan INGALLS,
our veteran of the Revolutionary War, who died in 1843. Two of his
grandchildren, Hall J. INGALLS and Frances INGALLS SPAULDING, were present at
the dedication ceremony. They were born in SHIMNECON, children of Charles
INGALLS, Sr. Hall played with the Indian children, knew Chief OKEMOS and was
present at his burial. HALL & wife Nellie lived some 60 years of married life a
mile north of town, just north of the WEIPERT mill.
Some of early Methodist pastors were: T. J. SPENCER, Burch (who drove a horse &
cart and wore a linen duster), WINN, ELLINGER, SWEM, Stanley THAYER (who came
from England), CARTER & THOMPSON.
My school days ended with the 8th grade at Sebewa High. I went to work caring
for new babies and their mothers. Babies were all born at home then. My first
baby was Lucille SINDLINGER, later Mildred SINDLINGER, Kathryn KENYON, Arlene
SEARS, two GREENHOE boys who were about three-times-great-grandsons of Jonathan
INGALLS, Don BENSCHOTER, Jr., Norton BENSCHOTER and Glenn FENDER, to name a few.
In 1927, I came to Portland when Gertrude FISCHELL and I went into the interior
decorating business. One year we hung 1000 rolls of wallpaper and spread several
hundred gallons of paint. Gracie MARTIN had a crew of boys from Sebewa that
painted barns and houses with her. She also did some interior work. Only a few
houses are left in Sebewa Corners now and I am the oldest living native! END
NOW FOR THE FINAL REVELATION: About 85 years ago, Fern CONKRITE had a beau! We
think his name was Charles KENYON, but can’t be sure, because this was one of
several times when she made us shut off the tape recorder.
THE PICTURE on the previous page is Sebewa Corners in 1880,
looking west on MUSGROVE Hwy. The Oddfellow Hall was built on the vacant corner
lot about 30 years later and still stands.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Center Association, Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
FEBRUARY 2000, Volume 35, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. SLOWINS:
Petrie, Walkington, Sage, Livingston, Brake, Cosens, Betzner, Sherk, Break,
Brech, Thomas, Daniels, Mulholland, Slater, Burleigh, Hooper, Heintzelman,
Wilson, Haney, Ritter, Willits, Harper, Mathews, Layman, Ogle, Terry, Van Sicle,
Totten, Meyers, Creighten, Reahm, Pavlova
IDAH E. PETRIE, 80, wife of Dennis, mother of Nancy HAYNOR & Mary Ellen Van
STEMPVOORT, sister of Pauline HOUGH & the late Merwood REAHM, daughter of Fred &
Essie REAHM. They farmed in Sebewa and she taught at Mulliken and Lake Odessa,
lived in Lake Odessa for a few years with his accounting business, retired to
Florida, then Georgia, buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. She was born in Sebewa
and her parents’ farm on TUPPER Lake Road later became the Wayne THRAMS farm.
She and Dennis had the SHOWERMAN farm on MUSGROVE Hwy., homesteaded by Orlando
V., then Elmer Jay SHOWERMAN, then Robert & Clarice SHOWERMAN.
BRUCE WALKINGTON, 62, husband of Thelma, widower of Vivian, father of Cynthia
ACKERSON, Carolyn SMITH, Terry WALKINGTON, Renae WALKINGTON, Ida Mae MORROW,
Mark WALKINGTON & the late Lewis WALKINGTON, brother of Gordon & Ronald
WALKINGTON, Bonnie LEAK, Rosalyn JOHNSON, and the late Loren WALKINGTON, son of
Ora & Verl SAGE WALKINGTON. Born in Orange Township and a dairy farmer for 44
years, Bruce was known and loved by everyone and truly outstanding in his field.
He had been president of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association, Ionia County
Farm Bureau, member of Michigan State Holstein Association and 4-H Dairy
Superintendent at Ionia Free Fair. First Christian Church in Ionia had not seen
such a crowd overflowing the balcony since President James A. Garfield preached
there 125 years ago. This time the minister was Rev. Jeanne Wisenbaugh, and she
paid perfect tribute to Bruce, as he set out in his fifth-wheel for that great
campground in the Beyond.
KARL LIVINGSTON, 87, husband of Iris, father of Sandra DURKEE, James & Dennis
LIVINGSTON, Ronda MUNN & Judy KERNEY, brother of the late Gordon, Frank, Forrest
& Burdette, son of Walter LIVINGSTON & Ida Caroline BRAKE, daughter of Caroline
COSENS & Abraham BRAKE, son of Catherine BETZNER & John BREAK, son of Christina
Magdalena SHERK & John BREAK, son of Hannes BRECH, immigrant from Switzerland.
UCEBA DANIELS THOMAS, 97, widow of Bernard THOMAS, mother of Bernadine CARR,
Lowell, Douglas & Bruce THOMAS, sister of Oren DANIELS and the late Bernice GUNN
& Myrtle EARLE, daughter of Anna LINDLEY & Andrus DANIELS, son of Sarah & Oren
W. DANIELS, son of Eunice & Andrus W. DANIELS, who settled in Sebewa Township in
1865. She & Bernard were both teachers and long lived in the Martha Jane BRAKE &
Frank TASKER house behind the George REISER Lumber Yard in Lake Odessa.
SIXTY DESCENDANTS OF PETER & CLARA MULHOLLAND SLATER recently
held a reunion in Lake Odessa. Peter SLATER emigrated from Holstein, Germany
with his mother in 1854 at age 13. In 1867, he married Clara, and in 1872 they
homesteaded a wilderness farm on what is now THOMPSON Road in Campbell Township.
This farm was later known for many years as the John F. BRAKE farm and is now
the Dale ZOOK Llama Farm.
SLATERS had 8 children, of which 5 grew up: Minnie BURLEIGH, Nora HOOPER, and
Garfield, Edgar & Berton SLATER. Garfield’s children were Esta STUART KOLE,
Marian HOWLETTE, and Elwin & Ivan Kenneth SLATER, who married Olive HEINTZELMAN
of Sebewa. Edgar’s children were Merton & Glenn. Berton’s children were Mabel
McCAUL, Phebe GEIGER, Mary McCAUL, and Carl, Roy, Keith, Forrest & Richard
SLATER. Phebe SLATER GEIGER is the oldest still living, at age 97.
EATON COUNTY GHOST POST OFFICES. “REST IN PEACE”
This list was compiled by Jeremy C. NAGEL from a book called Michigan Place
Names, by Walter ROMIG, 1976, who in turn used the U. S. Post Office archives
for much of his research. Several were very close to Sebewa’s borders. How many
can you remember or know their location?
Allen’s Corners 1870-187l
Brookfield 1858-65, 1867-1904
Chester 1842-1873; 1874-1913
Clinton Junction 1871-1874
Delta Mills 1842-1910
East Walton 1866-1870
Kingsland 1882-96, 1898-1903
Mud Creek 1850-1870
Oneida Center 1839-52, 54-66
SHAYtown 1880-94, 1898-1901
South Sunfield 1858-1865
Spicerville 1854-7, 1857-9
Tyler (So. Eaton) 1839-45
Walton(E. Bellevue) 1838-49
West Benton 1855-60
W. Windsor (Sevastopol)
Jeremy NAGEL writes: “The small Post Office is the grain of sand around which
thousands of small pearly communities have formed. Whether it’s just a counter
top in a general store (or Edwin LEAK, Sr’s. bedstead for Sebewa’s Rosina P. O.
or a watered-down Art-Deco edifice, the Post Office has traditionally been a
focal point of small communities. Along with schools, churches, and the most
basic commercial necessities, the local Post Office is one of those fundamental
institutions that define the smaller community.
“They foster traffic to the downtown area, where people can also have a cup of
coffee, eat breakfast, pick up a newspaper, or have their prescription filled.
Indeed, the Post Office is one of those little necessities that can turn over
the engine of commerce. Many a trip downtown begins with the phrase, ‘I have to
go to the Post Office….’ Mailing things is a necessity, shopping is an optional,
but likely, side effect.
“The Federal Post Office Department began abandoning rural and small town
offices in the late 1800s with the advent of Rural Free Delivery. By 1920 the
government had closed down most of its lowest tier of offices, those that had
served hamlets and the smallest villages. No fewer than 29 of the 30 rural
offices in Eaton County shown above were closed by 1913; funny how most of these
places are now ‘ghost towns’.
“But we are not out of the woods yet. According to the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, the United States Postal Service closed about 150 Post
Offices every year in the 1980s; almost 600 have been shut down since 1995.”
COVER PHOTO: CATHERINE PEACOCK HANEY, SEBEWA DESCENDANT HAS BATS
IN HER BELFRY – Cathy Haney, secretary at First Presbyterian Church, cautiously
removes a dead bat from the bell tower of the church.
THE RITTER FAMILY OF ORANGE, SEBEWA & ODESSAS by Grayden SLOWINS:
We wrote briefly about the RITTER family in June 1999, Volume 34, Number 6, and
asked our readers for help with this family’s story. A reply was received from
Jim WILLITS, whose family we wrote about in December 1998, Volume 34, Number 3.
Jim and his siblings, Charles, George, Viola, Virginia & infant Leland RUE
WILLITS, are children of Vernon WILLITS, who is buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
Ray was the son of Leland RUE WILLITS, who lived on the 50 acres on the Danby
side of KEEFER HWY. now owned by Joe & Karen TOWNER. Leland Rue WILLITS was the
son of Stephen WILLITS and both are buried in SPAULDING Cemetery on DEXTER Trail
near SPAULDING Road, Sec. 25 Lyons Township. Leland Rue WILLITS married Jennie
Etta RITTER, daughter of Samuel RITTER, Sr., thereby leading us into the RITTER
Samuel RITTER, born 1820 in Maryland or Pennsylvania, died 1891 in Orange
Township, Ionia County, buried in TUTTLE Cemetery, was married July 29, 1845, in
Creston, Canaan Township, Wayne County, Ohio, to Elizabeth Ann HARPER, born 1929
in Virginia, died February 27, 1861, Ashland County, Ohio, buried in Ashland
1850 Census of Mifflin Township, Ashland County, Ohio: 1)RITTER, Samuel, age 30,
born Maryland; 2)Elizabeth, 21, Virginia; 3)John, 3, Ohio; 4)Isaac, 2, Ohio;
5)Elizabeth A., 9 mo., Ohio.
1860 Census of Montgomery Township, Wayne County, Ohio:1)RITTER, Samuel, born
Maryland; 2)Elizabeth, wife, 32, Virginia; 3)John, son, 14, Ohio; 4)Isaac, son,
12, Ohio; 5)Elizabeth, daughter, 8, Ohio; 6)Rachel, daughter, 8, Ohio; 7)Samuel,
son, 5, Ohio; 8)Anthony, son, 4, Ohio; 9) Mary A., daughter, 2, Ohio.
1870 Census of Orange Township, Ionia County, Michigan: RITTER, Samuel, 50,
farmer, Real Estate Value $3,000, Personal Estate $630.00; 2)Isaac, 22, son,
Ohio; 3)Elizabeth, 20, daughter, Ohio; 4)Rachel, 18, daughter, Ohio; 5)Samuel
J., 17, son, Ohio; 6)Anthony, 16, son, Ohio; 7)Mary A., 12, daughter, Ohio;
8)Will, 8, son, Ohio; 9)Jennie Etta, 6, daughter, Ohio.
ELIZABETH ANN RITTER, daughter, born 1850, is still listed as part of the family
in 1860 & 1870 censuses, however she is listed in Ashland City Cemetery records
as having died January 2, 1857. Elizabeth Ann HARPER RITTER, wife, died in Ohio,
February 27, 1861. Samuel then married Mary MATHEWS on October 13, 1864, in
Ashland, Ohio. She is believed to be the mother of Jennie Etta and possibly
Will, although he more likely was born just before the death of first wife
SAMUEL RITTER, 51, was married November 10, 1871, in Orange Township, Ionia
County, to Rebecca LAYMAN, age 48, resident of Orange, born in Pennsylvania.
Married by D. L. RITENBURGH, Justice of the Peace, witnessed by Wesley
RITENBURGH. Rebecca died August 8, 1880, and is buried with Samuel in TUTTLE
SAMUEL RITTER, age 60, was married for a fourth time on October 19, 1880, to
Margaret OGLE, age 27, also a resident of Orange, but born in Dresden, Ohio.
Married by G. H. THOMAS, minister of Methodist Episcopal Church, and witnessed
by Lucy J. VEASY and David OGLE.
RACHEL RITTER, age 21, was married September 1, 1872, in Orange, to Edward C.
TERRY, age 22, born in Pennsylvania, both residents of Orange Township, by J. C.
FERRIS, minister, witness Emma Van SEVEN.
SAMUEL J. RITTER, age 23, born February 1, 1853, in Ashland, Ohio, died March 8,
1930, in Lansing, Michigan, and was buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Lake Odessa,
was married November 12, 1876, while a resident of Orange Township, to Mary Ann
VanSICLE, age 19, of Odessa Township, born in Coldwater, Michigan, died May 24,
1888, Groton, South Dakota, and buried there. Married by Myron TUPPER, minister,
witnessed by David Bretz & Sara VanSICLE. Samuel’s occupation was farmer.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Fred Henry RITTER born April 16, 1878, Lake Odessa, died October 1, 1894,
Groton, South Dakota, and buried there
2. Frank Alvin RITTER born April 13, 1879, Lake Odessa, believed to have died in
Manitoba in 1940s
3. John Ernest RITTER born January 14, 1881, Lake Odessa, dies April 3, 1943,
Pueblo, Colorado, and buried there
4. Cora May RITTER born May 21, 1883, Groton, South Dakota, died September 4,
1963, Lansing, Michigan, buried Lakeside Cemetery.
SAMUEL J. RITTER, age 37, was married February 22, 1890, in Groton, South
Dakota, to Rosella TOTTEN, age 17, born in Ionia County, Michigan, daughter of
Daniel TOTTEN & Claressa WHEELER.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
5. Myrta Ethel RITTER born May 1, 1891, Groton, South Dakota, died 1983, in
Lansing, Michigan, buried in Lansing Chapel Hill
6. Elmer Vincent RITTER, born April 29, 1893, Groton, SD, died June 7, 1961,
Lansing, MI, buried Lansing Mt. Hope
7. Edna Evelyn RITTER born November 26, 1897, Lake Odessa, MI; died June 7,
1961, Traverse City, MI, buried Lansing Mt. Hope
8. Carl Daniel RITTER, born May 25, 1904, Lansing, Michigan, died August 9,
1977, Oxnard, CA; buried in Ventura, CA, Ivy Lawn.
ANTHONY RITTER, age 24, born April 19, 1854, died November 14, 1932, was married
March 30, 1879 to Sarah Jane STANTON, age 18, born September 17, 1860 in Orange
Township, died January 2, 1930, married in Orange Township, by Rev. Arthur J.
WHEELER, witnessed by Willie RITTER & Millie STANTON. Anthony’s occupation was
THEIR CHILDREN, ALL BORN IN IONIA COUNTY, WERE:
1. Sarah Eliza RITTER born November 5, 1880, died Oct. 13, 1936
2. Mary Maude RITTER born March 8, 1882, died October 28, 1924
3. Alfred D. (Bruce) RITTER, born Jan. 14, 1884, died Sept. 10, 1950
4. Samuel RITTER born April 24, 1885, died May 30, 1885
5. Grace Ann RITTER, born May 10, 1886, died October 18, 1958
6. Mabel Agnes RITTER born March 23, 1888
7. Floyd Maxwell RITTER born Jan. 17, 1890, died June 2, 1966
8. Harold Everard (Abe) RITTER born May 30, 1892, died Dec. 9, 1970
9. Forest Ezra (Jack) RITTER born July 9, 1895, died Nov. 15, 1936
10. Guy Earl RITTER born April 14, 1898, died May 20, 1898
11. Roy LaVerne RITTER born January 16, 1900, died June 15, 1950
Sarah E. RITTER and George E. HEDGES, January 21, 1904
Mary Maude RITTER and Wesley VOSBURGH, October 29, 1910
Alfred D. RITTER and Mary WALTERS, November 30, 1904
Grace Ann RITTER and Fred L. PATTERSON, January 11, 1906
Mabel Agnes RITTER and Claude TEACHOUT, March 30, 1911
Floyd Maxwell RITTER and Pearl GIBBONS, October 29, 1910
Harold Everard RITTER and Florence CARBAUGH, February 26, 1925
Roy LaVern RITTER and Bertha SWEET, December 21, 1920
MARY ANN RITTER, age 18, was married April 7, 1875, to Charles Milo REED, also
resident of Orange Township, but born in Kent County, Michigan, occupation
farmer. Married by G. A. PHILLIPS, of Methodist Episcopal Church, witnessed by
JENNIE RITTER, age 16, was married March 24, 1880, to Leland RUE WILLITS, age
24, born in Michigan, both residents of Orange Township, married in Orange
Township by Abraham ROOT, Minister, witnessed by Ellen HITCHCOCK & Emma TREECE.
Leland RUE WILLITS was a farmer.
FLOYD MAXWELL (Skinny) RITTER & Pearl GIBBONS farmed on 100 acres at east side
of SW ¼ Sec. 14 Sebewa, beginning soon after their marriage in 1910 and ending
with his death in 1966. Pearl died November 24, 1970, in Oak Park, Illinois, age
84, and is buried with him at Lake Odessa Lakeside Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Jane RITTER, married Ray REYNOLDS, lives at Hastings
2. Jean RITTER, married Harris, lives in Chicago
3. Maxwell RITTER, bulldozer operator, deceased
4. Paul RITTER, collects information on RITTER family
5. Maynard RITTER ?
6. Royal RITTER ?
We found some conflicting information, such as birth and death dates sometimes
in the same source. Take your pick!
SAMUEL RITTER, SR’S farm in Orange Township was located at the East ¾ of South ½
of North ½ of Section 16. He lived on this 120 acres from about 1865 until his
death in 1891. It is now land-locked, but can be reached by turning south into a
farm lane located a quarter mile east of the eastern-most jog in Forty-Acre-Town
Road, where it becomes GOODWIN Road. The lane was formerly called BOWERS Road,
and we wonder if it was named for Ruth BOWERS LEIFHEIT’S family, who lived in
that neighborhood. The JANES family, who were also related to Ruth, owned land
on BOWERS Road and acquired the BOWERS land, too. END
MEYERS UPDATE: Elfa MEYERS CREIGHTON, whose obituary we included
last issue, had a fourth brother, Chester MEYERS, who lived in Battle Creek and
worked for OLIVER Machine Works.
REAHM UPDATE: Idah REAHM PETRIE, whose obituary appears in this
issue, had three more brothers: the late Duane, Carl & Kendall REAHM.
LAKE ODESSA TIMES for April 21, 1899 lists names of farmers in
the vicinity of Lake Odessa who had recently purchased McCORMICK-DEERING
Grain-drills, Grain-binders, Hay-mowers & Hay-rakes. We note the creative
spellings, especially for our relatives – SLOWINSKI & MAJINSKA:
A. CRAMER, W. GARLINGER, W. M. EDWINS, A. DELI (DILLEY), M. REISER, GEO. SMITH,
D. SMITH, J. MOYER, A. ECKARDT, A. BROADBECK (BRODBECK), F. ECKARDT, H.
HORLINGER (GERLINGER), J. SMITH, M. SMITH, A. SMOKE, J. FUNK, A. BALDINGER (BAITINGER),
C. BERKLEY (BERKLE), P. FENDER, S. DAVIS, J. VELTE, W. JORDAN, J. GRIEBLE, L.
METZGAR, J. PICKENS, J. DAVIS, C. GRIEBLE, J. PARMERTON (PARMENTER), D. LANDIS,
J. SCHIVLEY (SCHAIBLEY), H. B. MILLER, L. CHRISTIE, F. DURKEY (DURKEE), F. DEAN,
G. HUMMEL, C. McROBERTS, T. AINSWORTH, J. SYLWINSKEY (SLOWINSKI), W. MAGINSKY (MAJINSKA),
N. VanHOUTEN, D. BISHOP, U. BISHOP, R. BOSWORTH, L. WONDERLICH, U. BRIMINGSTALL
(BRININGSTAUL), C. BISHOP, A. BISHOP, F. WILCOX, F. SPRAGUE, D. GORHAM, W.
HUNTER, J. NEED (NEEB), JOHN NEED (NEEB), N. PERKINS, G. BAKER, W. MYERS
(MEYERS), A. REAHM, H. HORN, B. SHELLHORN, S. KUSSMAUL, A. KIMMEL, C. HASKINGS
(HASKINS), S. FIGG, E. GRIFFEN (GRIFFIN), J. PEABODY, W. HALL, A. E. ELLLIOT, S.
GUNN, J. SAYERS (SAYER), J. DEAL, G. LAPO, C. ESTEP, J. BROOMFIELD, C. COOK, M.
FOGHT, W. LAPHAM, F. HARPER, J. ERVY, J. SMITH, J. STALTERS (STALTER), J. O.
MORROW, O. BACHELOR (BACHELDER), T. LEMON (LENON), F. LOVELL, J. KOUTZ, G.
COOLEY, J. BRENDTS (BRETZ), C. HOLLER (HALLER), W. BEAVER, K. HOSSERMAN (HAUSSERMAN),
B. MAURER, L. MAURER, D. TRAVES (TRAVIS), J. HAHN, GOE. MILLER, W. M. RICHARDSON
Some of the above were fairly new Polish-German immigrants whose
families had not been here more than 20-30-40 years, and they had worked hard
and prospered in this Land of Opportunity. We take this opportunity to
congratulate a newly-naturalized American citizen. She is Emma PALOVA, 39, a
resident of Lowell and reporter at IONIA SENTINEL-STANDARD. She was born in
Czechoslovakia, but her family left there in 1966. Her father, a calculus
professor, taught three years at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, Africa. By
then the Russians had invaded her homeland to quell efforts at liberty, and they
were found guilty of having left the country illegally.
The family did not return, but went to Saskatchewan, Canada, for one year, and
then to Hawkins, Texas, in 1970. They were granted amnesty in 1973 and returned
for a while, but her father could not find a job because he was considered a bad
influence on the students. The family had to live in one room of her
Emma was a bit of a celebrity among her teenage peers, because she could now
speak English and they called her “Americhanka”, which translates as “American
girl”. In 1976, her father illegally crossed into Austria by swimming across the
Danube River. With the help of friends, he made it to a job at Ferris State
University. Emma’s mother and brother were able to join him in 1980, but Emma
was now married and legally no longer part of that family. Finally in 1989,
after applying every year for nine years, she got an exit visa and joined her
husband, Ludek PALA, in Montreal, because he could only get a visa to live in
Canada. In 1993, PALOVA, her husband, and two children moved to Michigan.
She didn’t have to face one of the biggest obstacles to many new immigrants,
because she spoke English. But even with a bachelor’s degree in civil
engineering, Emma found getting a job difficult. She worked as a women’s
department clerk at Meijer four years, before getting a writing job in Allegan
and then Ionia. She feels she can exercise her freedom as a writer and also is
excited about being able to vote. Her 20-year-old daughter was naturalized the
same day and Emma can apply in her 12-year-old son’s behalf. The family speaks
Czech at home and eats Czech food. However, her son is a typical American boy.
He likes Nintendo and TV, and prefers burgers and pop.
FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF THE SHERIFFS OF IONIA COUNTY FROM THE
1837 Elhanan W. CURTIS 1893-1896 Alexander T.MONTGOMERY
1839-1840 John P. PLACE 1897-1898 Henry JORDAN
1841-1842 Alonzo SESSIONS 1899-1902 Frank MOON
1843 William CRAMER 1903-1906 Elmer FALES
1844 Cyprian S. HOOKER 1907-1910 Elmer CILLEY
1845-1846 Hiram BROWN 1911-1914 William TAYLOR
1847-1848 Volney EATON 1915-1918 Ed LOWREY
1849-1850 Peter COON 1919-1922 Mark HOPPOUGH
1851-1852 ASAPH C. SMITH 1923-1926 Henry COOK
1853-1854 Ami CHIPMAN 1927-1932 William FRANCH
1855-1858 Charles A. HOLMES 1933-1938 Herbert ROSS
1859-1862 Abraham ALDERMAN 1939-1944 Leslie MURPHY
1863-1866 James L. JENNINGS 1945-1948 Richard DODES
1867-1870 Abraham ALDERMAN 1949-1954 Ben NEVE
1871-1874 Edson P. GIFFORD 1955-1964 Peter VanVLECK
1875-1876 William REYNOLDS 1965-1976 O. Gary NEWTON
1877-1880 William H. MATTISON 1977-1984 William BENSINGER
1881-1884 William TOAN 1985-1998 Terrance JUNGLE
1885-1888 Hiram LEE 1998-2000 Dwain DENNIS
1889-1892 Hamilton WELKER
The above list is everyone ever elected Sheriff of Ionia County, and alas, Riley
N. WILSON is not listed. His descendants have always believed he served as
Sheriff. He was listed in numerous articles in the PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER
and SUNFIELD SENTINEL as Deputy Sheriff in Sebewa. When he moved to Ionia and
owned a store on the north side of Main St., west of CORNELL Alley, they started
referring to him as Sheriff WILSON. Unless he was appointed to complete
someone’s elected term, he must have always been a deputy, or perhaps
Elaine GARLOCK sends a clipping in which Woodland Cemetery
Sexton Jim WICKHAM is actually included along with the Doctors, Nurses,
Preachers, Soloist & Organist in a Card of Thanks after a funeral!
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Center Association, Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
APRIL 2000, Volume 35, Number 5. Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: Caswell, Tew, Leak, Briggs, Spitzley, Miller, Buxton, Reed, Harwood,
Merrill, Halladay, Gates, Carpenter, Ingalls, Brown, Showerman, Ritter, Schwab,
Gibbs, Coon, Ames, Whitford, Washburn, Brown
DENARD O. CASWELL, 91, husband of Mathilda KRELLWITZ CASWELL, father of James &
Jon, only child of Mary Pearl TEW & Orr CASWELL, son of Elizabeth LEAK & William
CASWELL, son of Emaline BRIGGS & Henry CASWELL, who settled in Sebewa Township
on Sunfield Road about the time of the Civil War. Henry & Emaline lived on the
40 acres across from Eugene PROBASCO and their daughter Emma became his wife and
mother of young Benjamin PROBASCO.
William CASWELL was age 6, in 1870, when he worked as a mail carrier at the
building of our barn here on the John OLRY farm, by handing up square nails the
carpenters dropped. He was age 14 and working here as a hired-man when this
house was built in 1878-1879. He was a horseman in Sebewa Corners, then spent
the rest of his life caring for horses at Lake Odessa. He ran the Livery Stable
behind the Burke Hotel, drove the black teams on the Weed & Wortley hearse, and
retired to the race-horse barns at the Lake Odessa Fairgrounds. He died at age
99 years, 11 months, and 23 days, on May 20, 1964, and is buried in Lakeside
Cemetery.Bill & Lizzie CASWELL had two sons, Orr & Chalmer. Chalmer had a
daughter, Helen BRACEY, and sons Bill, Richard & Jack, whose death we reported
in April 1998. These boys lived in the Sheridan-Greenville area, but Chalmer
always worked around the family livery and auto garages and chauffeured for
Orr CASWELL started working for Sam KART in the Ford Agency in Lake Odessa, as
soon as he was old enough to leave the livery stable. Then he had his own agency
selling DODGE cars where the Carl SENTERS & Conrad LASS auto dealerships and
FATE’S Market were later located in Lake Odessa. In 1926 he advertised NASH
Automobiles in the Lake Odessa WAVE. He was also Odessa Township Treasurer in
1924. He spent his last years raising Jerseys on the family farm, due to poor
health. He died in 1929 and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
Denard ORR CASWELL was delivered March 19, 1908, on the family’s kitchen table
in Lake Odessa. He graduated from Lake Odessa High School and his Grandmother
Hannah Marie (Mari) TEW had left a letter that he was to have $1000 for college.
But in the Great Depression years there was not enough liquidity in the TEW
family store to fund it. So he lived on the family farm where MONTGOMERY
Excavating is located on M-66. But his bride of one year died there of
Tuberculosis. She had been Deputy Ionia County Register of Deeds.
Denard bore his grief by opening a small gas station on the present site in
1936. He stayed open 24 hours a day and slept at his desk in the wee hours until
the bell rang for service. He obtained the PACKARD franchise in 1946, the NASH
franchise in 1949, the MERCURY franchise in 1956, the FORD franchise in 1958. He
added RV sales in 1969 and had the GULF Oil bulk gas dealership all those years.
He snow-skied until age 75, swam and came to work every day until age 80. Rev.
Father Michael DANNER, an Ionia native, officiated at his funeral. (See Volume
28 Number 1, August 1992, for more on Denard’s TEW, CASWELL, and LEAK ancestry.)
OTHER RECENT DEATHS:
ANNA MARY SPITZLEY MILLER, 105, widow of George M. MILLER, mother of Leon,
Helen, Jo, Paul, Florence, George, Lawrence and the late Francis, Aileen & John,
sister of Theresa, Anthony, Arnold, Louis, Henry, Isadore & Pauline SPITZLEY,
Catherine WILLEMS, Ida FOX, Amelia TANGHE, Rosella HUHN, Genevieve CLARK and
Laurina – Sister Mary ANTONIO. She was a farmer, gardener, painter, and
world-traveler. (See Volume 27 Number 4, February 1992, SPITZLEYS)
LOZIA REED BUXTON, 75, wife of Harold, mother of Ferol BALL, Jeanette WEST &
James BUXTON, sister of Doris REUSSER & the late Lois FRY, daughter of Beulah &
James REED, son of Clara HARWOOD and Thomas Hosea REED, who settled in Sebewa
Township on what is now the Linda WOLVERTON farm before 1891. She was an active
member and past president of the Ionia Business & Professional Women.
LEAH P. MERRILL, 96, widow of Monroe MERRILL, mother of Joyce WISNER & the late
Barbara Lenore MERRILL, sister of Janet FAULKNER. Altho this family lived in
Lowell for many years, Monroe was born & raised in Sebewa, son of Roscoe MERRILL
& Grace Lillian HALLADAY, daughter of Rosabella GATES & Abel C. HALLADAY, son of
Nancy CARPENTER & David HALLADAY, who settled in Sebewa Township in the 1850s.
Rosebella GATES was a daughter of Ezra GATES & Elizabeth INGALLS, daughter of
Jonathan INGALLS, Sebewa’s Soldier of the Revolution, who is buried beside the
road, near the old MERRILL homestead.
Front page photo of large trucks: “SYDNEY J. BROWN - MICHIGAN
LIVESTOCK TRUCKER – 1901-1992
THE GIBBS FAMILY OF SEBEWA & ORANGE TOWNSHIPS by Byron GIBBS
In 1855 Robert and Mariam GIBBS homesteaded 40 acres in Isabella County, MI,
described as the SE ¼ of the SE ¼ Section 29 Chippewa Township. This is at what
is now the corner of Shepherd Road and Deerfield Road. The deed shows
Certificate #12773 dated 10 March 1857 and is recorded in Isabella County Book 1
of Deeds page 144.
In the first winter their shelter was open on one side to the weather. A fire
was kept constantly going on that side to keep away the wild animals at night. I
think the wolves worried them the most and Mariam kept a musket by her side at
night to protect them the most and Miriam kept a musket by her side at night to
protect her family.
At that time there were seven children. Their ages in the winter of 1855 were:
Albert, 14; George Riley, 13; Sarah Jane, 11; Eliza Ann, 9; Norman, 7; Byron, 5,
and Mary Alice, 1.
BYRON was my grandfather. The shape of the shelter I do not know, except that my
father said he was told it was open to the weather on one side. It was possibly
a lean-to but not a complete cabin. I am not sure what household goods they had
or how they transported what they did have to the homestead. Robert had to go to
the nearest Land Office in Ionia to pay the government for the land.
ALBERT GIBBS, born June 6, 1840, in Coshocton County, Ohio, enlisted in Co. D.,
21st Michigan Infantry, and died January 28, 1863, was buried in Nashville
GEORGE RILEY GIBBS, born August 26, 1842, in Holmes County, Ohio, enlisted in
Co. D, 9th Michigan Infantry Regiment, married Mary Ann HOWLAND.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: Frank, Mable, Marian and George, Jr.
SARAH JANE GIBBS, born January 4, 1844, in Knox County, Ohio, married Columbus
SANDBORN, who enlisted in Co. K, 21st Michigan Infantry.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: Chester, Helen, Albert Riley, Lawrence, May, Arlie and
ELIZA AN GIBBS, born July 24, 1846, in Knox County, Ohio, married Fred BURHANS.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: Mentie, George, Nellie and Levi. The two girls died early.
NORMAN GIBBS, born May 1, 1848, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, married Mary
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: Marthea, Norman, Jr., Anna E., Nellie J., and Thomas C.
BYRON GIBBS, born May 1, 1848, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, married Nellie MAPES.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: (Albert) Bruce (my father), and Fannie, who married George
ROBERT HARIUM GIBBS born January 2, 1853, in Seneca County, Ohio, died September
MARY ALICE GIBBS born August 11, 1854, in Wood County, Ohio, married Simeon
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: Albert and Orren.
I have been unable to find out what happened to Mary Alice COON. There is no
death record in Ionia County, or in the index of deaths in Michigan, no
separation record, no probate court information. I found a Mary COON in Kent
County death records, but her parents were not GIBBS.
The 1880 Census shows Simeon COON as married, not widowed, not divorced. The
only clue I have is as a small boy I remember my father, Bruce GIBBS, saying
some woman in the GIBBS family had been seduced by a traveling salesman and then
abandoned. I can fully account for all the other GIBBS women. My
great-grandmother Mariam GIBBS was keeping house in 1880 for her son-in-law
Simeon COON and her two grandsons, Albert COON & Orren COON. She had a Bible and
in the front her address is shown as Sebewa and also as Omaha. I find no record
of her travel to Omaha and I often wonder if she went there to help her daughter
Mary Alice, who may have died there. If someone could find clues in the old
Portland newspapers as to what happened to Mary Alice COON between 1873 – 1882,
I am willing to pay for this research.
ROBERT GIBBS & Mariam AMES were married January 1, 1840, in Holmes County, Ohio,
by Robert McFarlund, Justice of the Peace. They moved around frequently, as can
be seen by the birthplaces of their children. The occupation shown on the 1850
census for Robert was clerk. The same census showed Mariam did not read or
write. In 1858 they sold the property in Isabella County and moved to Sebewa
Township, Ionia County. When the 1860 census in Sebewa Township was taken,
Mariam was shown as head of the family and Robert was living alone at a
In a separation agreement dated May 1, 1860, Robert says he will not be
responsible for support of his family and leaves the responsibilities to Mariam
and his oldest son, Albert. They were to receive 2 cows, 10 sheep, 6 hogs, 1
hive of bees and all household goods except 1 clock, 1 bed and bedding, and half
the potatoes in the garden. Robert kept the 40 acres of land in Section 11
Sebewa, where they were living. His name alone was on the deed.
The information on the divorce decree is as follows: The decree of divorce was
granted in Ionia Circuit Court on January 9, 1863. The decree was signed by
Louis B. LOVELL, Judge, but was not countersigned by the Register of Said Court
and is not recorded in the Journal of Said Court, and not filed by the Register
of Said Court. It seems strange that normal procedure was not followed.
MARIAM GIBBS, in the “Mother’s Declaration for Pension” dated April 7, 1863,
based on the death of her oldest son, Albert GIBBS on January 28, 1863, during
the Civil War, states the names of her children under sixteen years of age as
follows: Norman GIBBS aged fourteen in May last, Byron GIBBS aged twelve in
November last, and Mary Alice GIBBS aged eight in August last, all residing in
Sebewa, Ionia County, Michigan. Mariam did receive a pension of eight dollars a
month as a result of Albert’s death.
Because Mary Alice GIBBS was shown in the 1863 Mother’s Declaration for Pension,
I again reviewed the Sebewa 1860 Census. The head of the house is shown as
Marium GIBBS, age 37 (actually 39!), Albert age 19 (20), George age 17, Sarah
Jane age 16, Eliza age 13, Norman age 12, and Byron age 9. Several houses away
Mary A. GIBBS, age 5, was shown at the residence of John EILIFE, where there was
another youngster about her age. The census taker was there on Tuesday, June 26,
1860. The census taker took Wednesday off and started again on Thursday, June
28, 1860, where he had left off. He had recorded Eliza GIBBS at her home on June
26, then recorded her again on June 28 at the residence of John ABLES. The
census then as now had over-counts and under-counts!
ROBERT GIBBS married his second wife, Mary WHITFORD, on March 8, 1863, in the
Township of Washington, Gratiot County, Michigan. The 1870 Census of Allegan
County, Salem Township, shows Robert GIBBS age 52, occupation Eclectic
Physician, his wife Mary age 26, and a son Elmer age 6, who was born in Indiana.
The 1880 Census of Ottawa County, Chester Township, shows Robert GIBBS age 62,
occupation Doctor. The record shows his father, John GIBBS, born in England. His
mother, Ann HAMMOND GIBBS, born in Pennsylvania. His wife Mary is age 35 and son
Elmer is age 16, and a daughter Lilly D. is age 7. Byron GIBB’S family record
book mentions the names of two other children, Eunice A. and Jay. Since they
appear on no census records, I assume they died very young.
When Lilly D. GIBBS married Alvin R. HATHAWAY on November 3, 1892, her residence
was shown as Portland, Michigan, and his as Pompeii, Washington Township,
Gratiot County, Michigan.
ELMER E. GIBBS, the son of Robert GIBBS and Mary WHITFORD GIBBS, died September
22, 1882, age of 18 years, 5 months, 14 days, of typhoid pneumonia, in Chester
Township, Ottawa County, Michigan.
Mary Alice GIBBS was married to Simeon COON on July 4, 1869, at Portland,
Michigan. The marriage record shows the same. Ten years later the 1880 Census of
Sebewa shows Simeon COON age 36 years. His mother-in-law, Mariam GIBBS is
keeping house and taking care of her grandsons Albert COON age 9 and Orren COON
age 7. In 1882 Simeon COON remarried. The 1900 Census of Portland Township shows
Simeon COON age 56 and wife Etta COON age 37 years. Simeon COON age 63 died in
Portland November 5, 1907, the result of a train accident. Son Albert COON age
64 died in Portland August 7, 1935. Son Orren COON age 23 is shown on the 1900
Census of Gratiot County, Pine River Township. His wife Edna was age 19.
ROBERT GIBBS died August 5, 1889, at the home of his son Norman in Sebewa
Township, Ionia County, and is buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. (Perhapss Lilly
was living there with her father when she married.) Robert GIBBS was age 71
according to his tombstone.
MARIAM AMES GIBBS, born April 12, 1821, died January 25, 1896, is also buried in
East Sebewa Cemetery, but on a different lot.
CHILDREN OF NORMAN GIBBS & MARY WASHBURN married as follows: MARTHA (MARTHEA)
GIBBS married Adelbert (Del) NORTHROP and had no children.
NORMAN E. GIBBS married Emma LUSCHER and had Nelson, Minnie, and Ruby (Mrs.
Charles WILSON). (See Volume 35 Number 1, August 1999, for LUSCHER family
ANNA E. GIBBS married George EVANS and was the mother of Floyd EVANS. (See
Volume 24 Number 1, August 1989, for EVANS family history.)
NELLIE J. GIBBS married Hans ARNESEN and had Norman ARNESEN, Ron’s dad.
THOMAS C. GIBBS married Elizabeth M. DOWNING and had Kathleen (Mrs. Sam FRYOVER).
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION: Monday, May 29,
2000 Memorial Day, pot luck supper 6:30 PM. Bring table service and dish to
pass, beverages provided. Business meeting at 7:30 PM, Wes MEYERS, Jr’s. term as
Trustee expires, and the other Trustee seat is also available.
After the business meeting, a program on Ephraim SHAY and his Locomotive will be
presented by Bruce G. GATHMAN of Harbor Springs, MI. There will be much about
the man and his family, as well as his engine. Bruce has many slides and a
video, showing the area where Ephraim SHAY operated his logging railroad around
Harbor Springs, and all his inventions.
We attended SHAY DAYS in Harbor Springs on July 16-18, 1999, and enjoyed their
program very much. We also shared our information about Ephraim SHAY when he was
Sebewa Township Clerk, founder of SHAYTOWN, founder of HARING, near Cadillac,
and a very interesting and inventive Sebewa native.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
Association, Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
JUNE 2000, Volume 35, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: Hitchcock, Larkin, Zemer, Fineis, Rowe, Hayes, Olmsted, Warren,
Ritter, McWhorter, Gibbs, Sandborn, Darling, Morrison, Cotter, Kubish, Lehman,
Gregie, Slowinski, Meacham, Friend, Baldwin, Phillips, Pryer, Haskins, Green,
Clark, Lakin, Merrill, Badger, Clark, Watson, Green
FRONT PAGE PHOTO of HOME OF WILLIAM D. & ELIZABETH HITCHCOCK
LAKIN, CHARLOTTE HIGHWAY AT LILLIAN BOULEVARD, PORTLAND, MICHIGAN
MAXINE HAYES ZEMER, 90, widow of Norm Zemer, sister of the late Nevene FINEIS,
aunt of Nancy McNAMARA, Hayes FINEIS & John FINEIS, daughter of Frachon ROWE &
Austin C. HAYES, son of Mary OLMSTED & Nathan BRADFORD HAYES, son of Lucinda
WARREN & Hector HAYES, who settled in North Plains Township in 1836. (See Volume
27 Number 6, June 1992, for Nathan B. HAYES family and HAYES-Ionia Auto-Body
RITTER UPDATE: Mrs. Max McWHORTER calls with information on
Maynard & Virginia RITTER. Maynard stood up with the McWhorters at their
wedding. He & Virginia live at 527 Fairlane Drive, Alma, MI 48801, in summer and
in Florida in winter.
GIBBS UPDATE: Byron GIBBS writes that his father, Bruce GIBBS,
first taught the HALLADAY School, south of Sebewa Corners, in 1897-1898 at the
age of 18, when he had completed his Junior year at Portland High School. He
went back and completed his Senior year in 1898-1899. He taught the HALLADAY
School again in 1899-1900. Then he taught the High School, north of Sebewa
Corners, in 1900-1901 and 1901-1902. The last year his contract was for $275 for
the nine-month school year.
The GIBBS families in Orange Township were no known relation to those in Sebewa.
However, the descendants of Sarah Jane GIBBS & Columbus SANDBORN did and still
do live in Orange, Portland, Danby & Sebewa Townships in large numbers, as do
those of Norman GIBBS & Mary WASHBURN, although in much less numbers than the
DARLING UPDATE: Merrilee MORRISON COTTER continues to pursue the
connection between the various DARLING families of Orange, Sebewa, Lake Odessa
and Ionia. She is descended from Theo RICE DARLING and Mary Clarissa HOLLY, who
settled in Orange Township on what was later the Harold WHITLOCK farm just east
of Riley SANDBORN, in 1844.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE: Benjamin Franklin, Ephraim, Orlando, Myron, Ira & Charles
DARLING, and Maria DARLING MARTIN. We have known several Charles DARLINGS in our
lifetime. Pierce G. COOK, Justice of the Peace in Sebewa Township long before
me, performed the wedding of William DARLIN & Mary LIBOLDT right after the Civil
FIRST FAMILIES OF IONIA COUNTY SOCIETY: We have recently
received word from the Ionia County Genealogical Society that our applications
have been approved as members of the First Families of Ionia County Society. We
were able to prove that our ancestors settled in Ionia County prior to the end
of 1880. The names on my certificate are: Frank & Regina (KUBISH) LEHMAN and
their daughter Wilhelmina, my grandmothers: and Christopher and Mary (GREGIE)
SLOWINSKI, and their son Daniel, my grandfather.
The names on Ann’s certificate are: John & Polly Ann (MEACHAM) FRIEND and their
daughter Phoebe Maria FRIEND BALDWIN & her husband Rush P. BALDWIN and their
daughter Estella E. BALDWIN, Ann’s grandmother; and Thomas & Cornelia Ann
(PHILLIPS) PRYER and their son, Frank W. PRYER, Ann’s grandfather. If you think
you may be eligible to join, you should contact the following: Pamela K. SWILER
or James R. MOSES, First Families of Ionia County Society, 13051 AINSWORTH Road,
Lake Odessa, MI 48849.
THE HASKINS-GREEN-CLARK-LAKIN FAMILIES OF PORTLAND TOWNSHIP by
Grayden & Ann SLOWINS:
Ann Lois LAKIN SLOWINS’ parents were Marian Addie PRYER & Elon Dwight LAKIN,
both born in 1900, Elon on August 5, and Marian had her 100th birthday on March
17, 2000. We have written about PRYERS in Volume 28 Number 6, June 1993, FRIENDS
in Volume 30 Number 2, October 1994, BALDWINS in Volume 34 Number 1, August
1998. All three families on Marian’s side located early in Danby, Sebewa &
Today we cover the HASKINS, GREEN & CLARK families, settlers beginning in 1836
in Portland Township, and bring them to joining with the LAKINS, who came from
Putnam Township, Livingston County, near Pinckney, MI, to Portland Township in
1887. William Dwight LAKIN & Elizabeth HITCHCOCK had one son, Claude Dwight
LAKIN, 1876-1954, who married Nora Elizabeth CLARK, 1877-1917, in Portland on
November 26, 1896. Nora was the daughter of John & Harriet GREEN CLARK. As shown
on the accompanying chart, Claud & Nora were ninth cousins once removed in the
line of descent from Prudence BIRD MERRILL, born 1548 in Suffolk, England.
The William LAKIN farm house & barn on Charlotte Hwy. at Lillian Boulevard still
stand and were long occupied by the BEARD Mower Repair Shop. The LAKIN &
NUNNELEY Eggs-Butter-Poultry warehouse stood on Water Street, just north of the
Fred RUSSMAN Blacksmith Shop, both of which were north of the Ed GOODWIN
Monument Works now replaced by Tastee Freeze. Arthur NUNNELEY was a partner in
the business. They had teams & wagons gathering produce around the country daily
for shipment to Lansing, Detroit & points east by railroad.
CLAUD & NORA’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Marjorie LAKIN, 1899-1937k married Hope DURKEE, Melvin BENTLEY and Evert
2. Elon Dwight LAKIN, 1900-1987, married Marian Addie PRYER, 1900
3. John (Jack) LAKIN, 1903-1987, married Nan, 1903-1979.
4. Harold D. LAKIN, 1904-1987, married Mabel MEADE, 1908-1998
5. Theodore F. LAKIN, 1906-1977, married Alta NICHOLSON, Cleo, Altha FOX
6. Lucille Mable LAKIN, 1908- , married Edward LOEPKE, 1906-1983
7. Eleanor LAKIN, 1909-1975, married Loren HAZEN, 1901-1968, and John ONDRUS
8. Claud LAKIN (Jack ZEMKE), 1913-1976, married Madeline MUCK
9. Arlene LAKIN (GALLERY), 1915-1988, married Allan BLACK
10. George A. LAKIN, 1917-1983, married Geraldine Ann SMITH
Our sincere thanks to Ionia Hall-Fowler Library for Internet access to
FamilySearch.com and Ancestry.com for our research.
Ode to GOODWIN Bridge by J. K. SWIPES, husband of Lucy GREENE:
This bridge was built by Burton DRAKE,
And ice may jam, old earth may quake,
Cyclones may come and floods may rush,
Tails of comets, too, may brush;
The sun and moon may change their course,
And lightning may exhaust its force,
Yet the bridge will stand, a monument,
To labor, skill, and good cement.
FROM A BIRD NAMED PRUDENCE:
Prudence BIRD MERRILL b. 1548 Suffolk, Eng. Mother of Nathaniel MERRILL b. 1571,
Suffolk, Eng., whose son John MERRILL was born 1599 in Suffolk, Eng, along with
Nathaniel MERRILL born 1601 in Suffolk, Eng.
John had daughter Hannah MERRILL SWEET or SWIFT, born 1622 Mass. Who had Hannah
SWEET BADGER born 1661, Mass.
Hannah had Nathaniel BADGER born 1674 Mass.
Nathaniel begat Mehitable BADGER HASKINS 1700 Mass; who had Elkanah HASKINS born
1732 in Conn., had Abraham HASKINS born 1755 or -6 Conn. Abraham begat Jesse
HASKINS 1795 in N.Y.; Jesse had Melinda HASKINS GREEN 1814, N.Y.
Melinda had Harriet GREEN CLARK, born 1843, Mich. Who had Norah CLARK LAKIN and
Norah had Elon Dwight LAKIN 1900 Mich.
Nathaniel MERRILL born 1571 also had son Nathaniel MERRILL born 1601 Suffolk,
Eng. Who had a son, John MERRILL born 1635 or 36 in Mass. John begat John
MERRILL born 1669 Conn. Who had son John MERRILL born 1695 Conn. Who begat Gad
MERRIELS born 1733 Conn.
Gad had son Daniel MERRILL born 1758, Conn. who had son Daniel born 1790 Mass
who begat Hulda ELLIS MERRILL LAKIN born 1822 N.Y.
Hulda had William Dwight LAKIN born 1852 in Mich. who begat Claud Dwight Lakin
Norah CLARK LAKIN born 1877, was a 9th cousin of Claud Dwight Lakin born 1876,
John and Nathaniel MERRILL, brothers, came from England to America in 1633 and
landed at Ispwich, Mass. In 1635 they were among the original proprietors of
Newbury, Mass., where they resided until their death. John died 7-14-1682,
leaving one child, Hannah, who married Stephen SWIFT. Nathaniel is the
progenitor of perhaps all of the early MERRILLS of New England.
NATHANIEL born 1601, Wherstead, Suffolk, England, moved to Newbury, Mass., 1634
or 1835; died there 3-16-1655. He married Susannah WALTERTON, probably in
England, and they came to America together. She died 1-5-1672.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. John MERRILL, b. 1635, d. 7-18-1712; married 9-23-1662 or 63, Sarah WATSON b.
c. 1637, Hartford, CT. They moved to Hebron Township, Tolland County, CT
2. Abraham MERRILL, b. 1637, d. 11-28-1772
3. Nathaniel MERRILL b 1638, married Joanna KINNEY
4. Daniel MERRILL b 8-20-1642, died 6-27-1717, Salsbury; married
5-14-1667 Sarah CLOUGH, d. 3-18-1705 or 06; married 5-29-1708 Sarah MORRILL
5. Abel MERRILL b 2-20-1645
6. Thomas MERRILL b. 1648
JOHN MERRILL b 1635, d 7-18-1712; married Sarah WATSON b. ca. 1637
1. Sarah MERRILL b 9-19-1664; m Samuel KELLOGG
2. Nathaniel MERRILL b 1-15-1665 or 66
3. John MERRILL b 4-7-1669; m Sarah MARSH
4. Abraham MERRILL b 12-21-1670; m Prudence KELLOGG
5. Daniel MERRILL b 6-15-1673; m Susannah PRATT, Mindwell KING
6. Wolterton MERRILL b 1675; m Elizabeth COLLIER, Ruth PRATT, Hannah WATERS
7. Susannah MERRILL b 5-20-1677; m John TURNER
8. Abel MERRILL b 1-25-1678 or 70; m Mehitable Mabel EASTON
9. Isaac MERRILL b 3-11-1680 or 81; m Sarah COOK
10. Jacob MERRILL b 3-27-1686; m Abigail WEBSTER
JOHN MERRILL b 4-7-1669 Hartford, Hartford County, CT d W. Hartford, Hartford,
CT; m 9-29-1694 Hartford, Hartford, CT Sarah MARSH b c. 1673 Hartford, Hartford,
JOHN MERRILL b 9-29-1695 Hartford, Hartford, CT, d 1762; m Hannah PARMALEE
1. Elizabeth MERRILL b 3-3- or 31-1732
2. Asher MERRIL b 2-26-1734 or -5, d 1807, Herkimer Co, NY; m 1-13-1759 Delight
SAWYER b 3-26-1739
1. Ezekiel MERRILL b 7-1-1757; Hebron, Tolland, CT
2. Daniel MERRILL b 8-9-1758 Hebron, Tolland, CT, d 8-23-1808 Pittsfield, MA;
Pvt. Revolutionary War
3. Mary MERRILL b 10-30-1759 Hebron, Tolland, CT
4. Hosea MERRILL b 6-19-1761 Hebron, Tolland, CT, d 3-2-1853; Capt.
Revolutionary War. Married Sarah (Sally) PHILLIPS and had children:
1. Justus MERRILL b 1792, Pittsfield, Berkshire County, MA; 2. Phillips MERRILL
b c 1793, Pittsfield, Berkshire County, MA; also a grandson John E. MERRILL b
1820, d 6-14-1896, Pittsfield, Berkshire Co, MA
5. Lydea MERRILL b 2-7-1763 Hebron, Tolland, CT
6. Easter MERRILL b 6-15-1764 Hebron, Tolland, CT
7. Gad MERRILL b 6-6-1768 Hebron, Tolland, CT
8. Anne MERRILL b 4-10-1771 Hebron, Tolland, CT
DANIEL MERRILL b 8-9-1758 Hebron Township, Tolland County, CT, d 8-23-1808
Pittsfield Township, Berkshire Co, MA; m Jan. 1788 Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA, to
Hulda ELLIS b 10-18-1761 Hebron, Tolland, CT, d 5-2-1812 Pittsfield, Berkshire,
MA or Onondaga, Onondaga, NY
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Mary MERRILL b 4-8-1798 Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA
2. Daniel MERRILL b 1790 or 91 or 95, Pittsfield, Berkshire, MA, d 1845 Calhoun
County, MI; bur. Newton Cemetery, Calhoun Co, MI. Daniel MERRILL (b. c. 1790)
bought 60 acres in W. Pulteney (now Riga) NY, 3-14-1818. Had been Ensign in a
company of riflemen in the 177th Regiment of Infantry, NY, 1819. According to
the N.Y. 1820 & 1830 census, was living at Avon, Livingston County, N.Y. He came
to Michigan in 1835. Settlers arriving in Newton Township, Calhoun County, MI,
in 1836 included Daniel MERRILL. At the first meeting of Newton Township (at his
home) was elected Township Clerk April 1838. Was Clerk 1838 to 1842. Was Schools
Clerk. Was a Deacon of the religious group which included Presb., Meth., and a
few Baptists. Was a Deacon of the Congregational Society organized in May 1840.
Was appointed Postmaster of Newton 1841.
Married (first wife) who died about 1835, m 5-20-1840 in Calhoun Co, MI Mariah
MORTON b 1802 or -3; Of Fredonia Township, Calhoun County, MI
Daniel’s children were:
1. Huldah Ellis MERRILL b 5-31-1822 Riga, Genesee or Monroe County, NY, d
5-23-1891 Putnam Township, Livingston Co, MI; bur. Gilkes cemetery; m 11-16-1848
John LAKIN b 5-21-1819 Grainthorpe, Lincolnshire, Eng. D 1-30-1889 Putnam,
Livingston, MI; bur. Gilkes cem. Their children were: 1.Harriett LAKIN b 1-12-c
1850, m Geo. REYNOLDS; 2.Sarah LAKIN b 2-22-1854, m Henry LOVE;
3.William LAKIN b 1852, m Elizabeth HITCHCOCK; 4.Maria LAKIN b 1857, m Valentine
DINKEL; 5.Henry LAKIN b 1862, d 1863
2. Araminta S. MERRILL b 1826 or 07; m 1-15-1846 Asahel RUST Jr. of Marion,
Livingston, MI, b 1824 or 05.
3. Louisa MERRILL b 1820 or 21, d 11-15-1845 bur. Newton Twp Cem., MI; m
3-16-1841 Rev. Wm. Eastman b 1795 or 96, d. 2-16-1853, bur. Newton Cem, Calhoun
4. Nancy Maria MERRILL b 1818 or 19, d 8-19-1844; m 7-6-1841 Jonas DAVIS of
Vermontville b 1812 or 13. Daughter Hannah DAVIS b 1842.
MELINDA HASKINS GREEN’S father was Jesse HASKINS b 9-30-1795, d 12-21-1875,
Spencer Township, Kent County, MI. His second wife was Lucy PATTERSON, born 1788
or 1799, MA, death info unknown; third wife was Henrietta.
The Ionia County Tract Book shows Jesse to be a resident of Ionia County and
buying 160 acres in section 22, Portland Township in Sept. 1836.
MELINDA HASKINS AND SAMUEL GREEN married in 1833 in NY; came to MI, arriving in
Portland July 4, 1837, and living on section 22, Portland Township.
On 3-2-1839, Jesse & Lucy (Lucy’s mark x) sold to Melinda GREEN for $100 N ½ of
NE ¼ of NW ¼ of sec. 22 (20 acres); and to Samuel GREEN for $100 the S ½ of the
same (20 acres); one of the witnesses was Daniel HASKINS, Melinda’s brother.
According to Schenck, the list of jurors for 1840 included Jesse HASKINS.
By 1842 Jesse had sold all of his land in Portland Township. His son, Daniel,
bought land in Plainfield Township, Kent County, in 1848. He was the first
township treasurer of Celsus (later renamed Spencer) Township when it was
organized in 1861. Later he moved to Hastings, MI.
In 1852 Jesse was buying and selling land in Oakfield Township, Kent County. He
also owned land in Spencer Township. At the time of the 1860 census, his
grandson, Daniel’s son Arthur E., was living with Jesse. At the time of the 1870
census, he was living in Spencer Township and was a grocer. His wife at that
time was Henrietta, born in Vermont.
We drove around thru Oakfield and Spencer townships and found the land he had
owned; much of it is near small lakes and appears swampy-good land for trapping
Jesse was the son of Abraham and Lois WATTS HASKINS who lived in NY state.
Samuel GREEN was also a trapper and hunter, and would be gone several days at a
time. Indians would come to Melinda’s home asking for food.
SAMUEL & MILINDA GREENE’S CHILDREN:
1. Lorenzo Wayne GREENE b Jan. 1, 1835; married Cornelia Augusta FINCH
2. Lucy Ann GREENE b Aug. 21, 1837; m Charles Eugene GOODWIN “J. K. SWIPES”
3. Mary Ann GREENE b June 17, 1838; m Warren HOPKINS
4. Samuel GREENE b 1840; m Bertha SUTTON
5. Harriet GREENE b 1843; m John CLARK
6. Caroline GREENE b 1844; m George MADISON
7. Cordelia GREENE b 1847; m W. D. SPRAGUE
8. Burton A. GREENE b 1848; m Libbie CLARK
9. Elvira GREENE b 1849; m Joe C. SUTTON
10. Norton GREENE b 1855; m Louise F. RANDALL
11. Alfred E. GREENE b Dec. 9, 1857; m Lina M. YOUNG
12. Clara A. GREENE b March 17, 1860; m Henry J. RANDALL