THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR,
October 1978, Volume 14, Number 2; submitted with written permission from
current editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SEBEWA’S FIRST CENTENARIAN – October 30, 1978 will be the 100th anniversary of
Miss Clara Evans. Nowhere in our folklore, old newspapers or cemetery records do
we find any account of a Sebewa resident reaching the 100-year mark. For many
years Miss Clara Evans lived with her brothers, Henry and Charles, and her
sister, Ida, on the Evans farm a quarter mile east of Sunfield Highway on Tupper
Lake Road. For a number of years she lived with Mrs. Hanna Heinzleman and then
went to the Barry County Medical
Care Facility at Hastings. It is there that she bids fair to celebrate her 100th
birthday anniversary. I am suggesting that our readers give her a good shower of
congratulations and birthday messages. The address is: Miss Clara Evans, Barry
County Medical Care Facility, 2700 Nashville Road, Hastings, MI 49058. Sent
SIX GENERATIONS IN SEBEWA By Mamie Downing
– My Grandmother, Barbara Schaupp was born in Baden, Germany November 27, 1838.
As a girl she worked for a baroness of the then ruling family, the
Hohenzollerns. At this time Germany had a conscriptive military service. This
was not a career or experience desired by a number of the young men about to
emerge into the draft age.
Her brother, Adolph Schaupp was one of those young men coming of military age.
Previously, two of his older brothers had “skipped country” to avoid the
experience and Adolph decided to do the same. This was not an overnight
decision; it was the climax of many months’ planning.
Adolph and Barbara had saved and scrimped to get enough for passage to America
as she had decided to accompany her brother to the “land of the free”. They
waited as long as they could to get more money and that was nearly too long as
she related in later years. The German police came to their house after Adolph
and while they were at the front door he jumped out the back window into
darkness and was never found by the police.
Adolph and Barbara got together soon and started their trek to America in 1858.
They chose to come to Michigan because the two older brothers had settled in
Saginaw County when they came. It was there that Barbara later met Fred
Sindlinger and married him. (Note: the 1880 census lists Barbara’s husband as
Jacob, age 59 and born in Wurtemburg, Germany. Christian’s age is given as 52.)
After their marriage they decided to come to Sebewa Township, Ionia County. He
had a brother, Christopher, who had a farm on sections 15 and 16 on Kimmel Road
at the time.
Two girls were born to them. First was Esther in 1871 and then my mother Theresa
(Tracy) in 1874. When my mother was seven her father was killed in a team
runaway. He was moving a tank wagon of a threshing rig to the next farm when the
team started and his death was the result.
Barbara kept the farm and rented out the fields. She had her own cows and
chickens and a garden. Shortly after Grandfather’s death, her brother, Adolph,
came from Saginaw County and purchased a farm a short distance east, the one now
owned by Howard Knapp. Adolph worked Grandma’s fields for her. He stayed several
years but then moved back to St. Charles (near Saginaw) where he had formerly
lived. After that the place was worked by a series of Tom, Dick and Harrys, some
good, some not so, some honest and some not so much so.
When the girls were grown Esther married
Willis DuBois of Oneida Center, Oneida Township, Eaton County where they both
lived to a ripe old age on the same farm.
In 1898 my mother, Tracy, married Lewis Williams, a young man brought up by a
Doctor Kiblinger of Sebewa Corners. They were married in a double ceremony with
Ralph Friend and Lucy Halladay, another Sebewa couple, as the other half of the
I was born to Tracy and Lewis February 22, 1900.
When I was yet very young my father got up in the night to fix the fire in the
wood stove so that I might stay comfortable and he “took cold”. He could not
seem to shake the illness. Of course antibiotics had never been heard of then
and the prescriptions for such illness at that time was quinine and other
staples of old time medicine. His cold grew steadily worse and finally developed
into tuberculosis. As a last resort he went to Utah where the air was drier. The
change in climate apparently helped him but he became so homesick that he
decided to visit his family in Michigan. Here he became worse and went back to
Utah but it was too late. He died there shortly afterward. One of the Sebewa
Erdmans who had moved to Utah to be with the Mormans was with him when the end
came. He died in January 1901 when I was eleven months old.
My mother and I continued to live with Granny on the farm. Tracy got a job in a
millinery store at Sebewa Corners in the Cornell Department Store. Later she
worked for John Bradley, who had a general store and was also postmaster of
Sebewa. She worked in both parts of the store and received the magnificent
amount of $3 for 5 days work. The store was not open Sunday. Tracy also did
sewing for others to make a little extra money.
This continued until March 4, 1908 when she married George Snyder, the youngest
son of Dr. George Snyder. They lived in Granny’s house until fall when she sold
the farm to Joe and Alice Bliss. We then moved to his farm on Keefer Highway,
still in Sebewa Township. George was a widower with two boys, Clifton and Max.
Of course I was with them, making six in the family as Granny lived with my
folks until she died in 1920.
To Tracy and George Snyder were born three boys and a girl making the family up
to ten. Don now lives in Owosso; Dale in Battle Creek; Dorothy (Reames) and Leon
both live in Lansing.
I started to school at the “High” school on Keefer Highway but when we moved to
the other farm I went to the Halladay School. After finishing the 8th grade in
1913 I started high school in Sunfield where Homer Downing and I got acquainted.
He and I were in the same class. We graduated June 7, 1917 from Sunfield and I
went on to Central State Normal College at Mt. Pleasant and got my third grade
teacher’s certificate. I taught one year at the Sebewa Center School. That year
I boarded with Louise Gunn (Buchner). Christine Gierman and Zack York were in my
beginners class and Howard Cross, Frances Sears and Burton Smith were the eighth
graders. On Fridays after classes Homer would come with horse and buggy to take
On June 7, 1919 I married Homer and we worked his dad’s farm on Musgrove Highway
in Sebewa Township. In 1921 my folks sold their farm in Sebewa and bought one at
Eagle. Later they moved to Grand Ledge where he died in 1929. Tracy came to live
with us in 1949. She died in 1972 at the age of 97 ½ years.
Our two children were born on the Ezekiel Downing farm on Musgrove Highway.
Bruce was born in 1923 and Cleo was born in 1928.
In 1940 we bought the John Lehman farm at West Sebewa and moved there April 20
of that year. Our children attended the West Sebewa School until they entered
High School at Lake Odessa where they both graduated.
Bruce farmed with his father until he was married in 1953. His wife is the
former Myrtle Thomspson, a registered nurse at Sparrow Hospital, Lansing. They
now own a farm on Knoll Road where they had four children, two boys and two
girls. Vicki Bowerman, the oldest has two girls and lives on Grand River Trail
in Orange Township. Their oldest girl, Jodi, was born in Sebewa. Diane Black has
one girl and lives in Nashville, Michigan. The boys, Jim and Tom are still at
Cleo decided to be a commercial teacher and went to Western State Teachers’
College at Kalamazoo. She graduated June 18, 1949 and was married the same day
to Gordon Piercefield also of Sebewa Township. Cleo is still teaching at present
in Portland. They also live on Knoll Road in Sebewa Township. Their children are
Lori, born in 1953 and John, born in 1955. Lori attended Travis School and
Portland High School. To finish her education she attended Lansing Community
College and Michigan State University, becoming a commercial teacher like her
mother. She married Wm. Fox, Jr. They own a home on Knoll Road. Lori and Wm.
have two children, James born in 1973 and Lisa born in 1975.
John, likewise, attended Travis School and Portland High School. He is now
enrolled at the University of Tennessee. John married Cindi McNeil of Kalispel,
Montana in 1977. They live in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Now there is the story of six generations in Sebewa, four of them never having
lived any other place, all born in Sebewa and still there. We have always lived
in Sebewa since we were married, having moved only twice in 59 years and we can
think of no better place to live, so we will probably continue here.
Tracy’s name was Maria Theresa but every one called her Tracy. Likewise my given
name is Mamie. Although our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren call
Homer Grandpa, they always refer to me as Mamie.”