BUILDING THE SUNFIELD ROAD by Howard Cross –
In 1924 contracts were let for building the Sunfield road in three sections. The part from Eaton Highway to Bippley Road went to Dohney and Johnson. Homer and Carl Pierce and John and Charlie Campbell took the low ground section from Bippley Road to the Clarksville Road and the stretch from Clarksville Road to Portland Road went to Homer Pierce.
I worked as a truck driver on a cabless Model T Ford dump truck with a Warfore transmission for Dohney & Johnson. Also on our crew were Casey Barber, Charlie Kenyon, Harold Meyers, Charlie Weaver, Stub Fees, Hubert Ritenburg, Bill Knapp and a man by the name of Forester who lived a little west of me on Henderson Road. Of this group I think I am the only one still living.
The grading for the road was done by teams pulling plows, buck scrapers, dump scrapers and a four-wheel road grader. All of these were used variously to make a road grade of shoulders on either side of an eight-foot section of six inches of gravel. The gravel came from Hall Ingalls pit at the bend of the creek north of the bridge on Rippley Road. The gravel was dug from the pit by a dragline, a scoop attached to a looped cable and powered by a stationary engine. The gravel was screened and piled in a machine operation and from there it could be loaded by gravity feed to the dump trucks. We were able to make a good many trips in a day. Toward the end of the project we used some White trucks. We had about ten trucks in use. Bill Knapp was in charge of spreading the gravel on the road bed.
The next spring I followed my employer to Farmington where I hauled milk to the condensery. This man was married to a niece of Henry Ford. Henry would drive out to Farmington two or three times a week for a visit. Many a time he would ask me to get into the old swing with him for a chat. He would carry on a conversation of the commonest things as would any neighbor. End.
NOW THE COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION DOES IT –
Following the July 10 two-to-one approval by the Sebewa Township voters to raise a tax of two mils for three years for road improvement, some construction has been done on township roads.
For most of the distance from Bippley to Musgrove on Shilton Road, ditches have been cut and shoulders graded and made ready for gravel. Almost in a twinkling of an eye, it seemed, for the grader and scrapers came in the morning and were finished before the day was over. What a contrast to 1924 or the early 50’s when Bippley Road was graded and graveled!
Road Commission officials have made it known they will not tolerate the plowing-in of the ditches. Any complaints of that offense will be prosecuted under the law protecting the highway as constructed.
HISTORY OF THE HALLADAY SCHOOL AND SEBEWA TOWNSHIP –
The Halladay school reunion was held at the schoolhouse Friday (year not recorded) with 95 present. A dinner was served and a fine program given in charge of the president, Mrs. Lee Culver. Mrs. Herbert Avery was the secretary. The dinner, program and visiting were enjoyed by all. At the business session, Percy Ball was elected president and Ida Reahm, secretary.
A very complete history of the Halladay school district and of Sebewa Township was compiled by Mrs. Zoe Brooks and read by Miss Lillian Bidwell. Mrs. Brooks spent a great deal of time in gathering material and writing the history and it certainly was very interesting and Mrs. Brooks’ work was greatly appreciated by all. The following is part of the history as written by Mrs. Brooks:
The first white settler resident in Sebewa Township was a Mr. Jones, who, with his wife, came in 1836 carrying their belongings on their backs. They were poor but thought they might earn a living in the woods. Living in a tent, they soon sickened of starving on roots and herbs and, being surrounded by the howling wolves, moved on. The same year Jacob Showerman came on a land hunting expedition. He waited two weeks at Ionia’s land office for his turn in selecting 160 acres on section 22, then went back east.
In 1838 John Terrill became a permanent resident on section 25; Charles Ingalls and John Brown on section 36. All three were from Vermont. The forest wild gave way before the sturdy blows of their ringing axes. In 1839 Wm. Hodge, Jahn Maxim, Joseph Munn, Jacob Showerman and Eleazer Brown came. Showerman and Brown arranged with Terrill to house their families until they could arrange to lodge them. For four weeks twenty persons lodged and lived in Terrill’s little log cabin of one room. Brown settled on section 26 and his daughter, Luriette, was the first white child born in Sebewa in 1841. (Editor’s note: In volume one, number one of the Sebewa Recollector is cited the birth of Martin VanBuren Terrill November 13, 1838.)
In 1843 Terrill developed water power on Sebewa Creek with Anson Halbert (his son-in-law who came in 1841) and built a sawmill west of the Corners. Halbert built a log house at the Corners and opened a store in part of it.
In 1843 came Benjamin Weld; in 1844 Rufus Goddard, whose 15-year-old son, Daniel went to mill for every one in the neighborhood. The roads were in horrible condition and it would take him two days to go to Portland with 10 bushels of wheat. He would start early in the morning with a pair of oxen and wagon and reach there about 10 o’clock at night and would bunk in the wagon wrapped in a blanket while his grist was being ground.
In 1850 Pierce Cook, Nathan Steward, Frank Brown and Solomon Hess settled on the northwestern corner of the township. A. M. Ralston came in 1852 and settled on sections 8 and 17. Later J. C. Clark, George Snyder, John Waring and John Johnson came.
About 1844 John Olry, Elkanah Carpenter, Andrew Estes, Wm. Reeder, Major Brown, John and Thomas Waddell, Stephen Pilkington, Moses Hogle and John C. Smith came.
In 1852 there was a road on the line between Odessa and Sebewa townships known as the State Road. Then came Peter Mapes, David Griffin, Edward Sandborn, Orin Merchant, Wm. Estep, Chancey Lott, Jacob Green, I. Bretz, E. Probasco, T. J. ___, A. Garlock, P. Greiner.
There were 16 taxpayers in 1845. Taxes were not high in those days but money was scarce. Carl Bidwell holds a receipt given by Charles G. Brooks, treasurer of Danby Township dated 1845 to Lorenzo Sears for $5.37 tax on 200 acres.
First township election was held in 1845 at the home of Jacob Showerman at which 19 men voted. In 1853 42 persons voted and among these were Apollos E., Elihu ___ and Daniel Halladay, Charles Derby, Jacob Collingham, Lucius Showerman, Jacob ___, J. A. Whelpley and John Cooper. A number of these served as supervisors.
In honor of Charles Ingalls it was proposed to call the township Charlestown, __ Rufus Goddard suggested the Indian name of Sebewa, meaning “little river” for the creek winding there.
The first post office was established January 24, 1847 with Benjamin Weld postmaster; in 1853 Hiram Trim was postmaster; in 1854 Lucius Showerman was appointed postmaster and the office was moved to his home; in 1857 it was moved back to the Corners to the home of John Friend, postmaster; in 1854 Mr. Friend built a new house and opened a store in part of it and he ran this store until 1879.
In 1876 he (Mr. Friend) gave the Methodist people, who were holding meetings ___ a nearby blacksmith shop ___ acre of land and $500 to help build the present M. Church. Before the church was completed, Mrs. Friend died and her funeral was in the grove known as the U. B. camp grounds.
In 1849 Chauncey Lott and Jacob Green started a grist mill on Sebewa Creek, west __ the corners.
In 1851 Mr. Hulse came to the Corners and sold a trunk full of goods to Aretus Howland, who opened a store. In 1854 Mr. Barber erected a tavern next door south of Friend’s house and later landlords were P. G. Cook and Hiram Trim. Some time later a tavern was built where Mrs. Duffy’s home is and this was operated by H__ Halladay and still stood there in 1890 when Charles Brooks, as a child, moved ___ with his parents from across Grand River in Danby.
The first information regarding schools was dated January 12, 1846 and was called fractional school district No. 6 of Sebewa and Sunfield. District No. 1 was organized February 11, 1846. District No. 6 was formed April 13, 1852.
Julia Wyman taught in the first school which was on the site now a part of Carl Bidwell’s farm and Mrs. Lorenzo Sears, nee Miss Samantha King, taught school in her log cabin home which stood on the site of Mrs. Clara Conkrite’s farm, there being at this time no roads, just paths through the woods and no schoolhouses.
An Ionia county history book states the present Halladay schoolhouse was built before 1863. It is said this was painted blue and at one time was called the “Blue School”.
Richard Fleetham, great grandfather to Will and John Fleetham, owned land on the corner and donated this school land. It is presumed it is called Halladay School because so many by that name owned land here. There were 16 taxpayers in 1845.
Sebewa Township had one village within its limits known as Cornell and was laid by Pierce G. Cook, an agent of Elizabeth Cornell of New Jersey. It was platted April 11, 1867 and contained 96 lots and was also platted in Danby in 1880 and was renamed Sebewa.
The first school reunion was held in June 1915 at the schoolhouse. In June 1917 it was held at the U. B. Camp Grounds and on June 13, 1918 at the annual reunion Rev. H. W. Ellinger gave the address of welcome and in behalf of the organization a service flag was presented to the school bearing stars for the following boys: Forrest Dinsmore, Richard Miller, Coyn Castle, Don Benschooter, Walter Brown, ___ Erdman, Corporal Otho Lowe, Thomas Richie, Dale Halladay, Archie Tryon, Lynn T. Anderson, Lawrence Friend and Captain Earle Spencer.
The annual school reunions are held each year the second Friday in June at the schoolhouse. Three and four generations have attended this school.
The clipping for this report is from the late Ella Gunn’s scrapbook.
Last update September 13, 2014