THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR of the Sebewa Center Association,
February 1980, Volume 15, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins : The editor of THE SUNFIELD SENTINEL at the time of this article was probably C. J. Strang. “In the fall of 1896 Strang sold the Sentinel to Jefferson T. Masil. In 1900 Mansil sold to J. H. Cramer, who, in turn sold it to Frank M. Merritt in 1905.
THE BUSINESS SIDE OF SUNFIELD, Thursday, August 6, 1896: A description of the manufacturing and commercial interests of the village.
When, in stentorian tones, the brakeman has called out, “SUNFIELD” and the string of palacial coaches has come to a dead halt in front of the commodious station building, the commercial traveler alights and silently remarks upon the thrifty appearance of the village during this summer, noted for commercial dullness.
Shaking hands with agent Miller, who has been here to greet him on his periodical visits for the past eighteen months, attending faithfully to the company’s business in all its departments, he proceeds to the most conspicuous building on Main Street, which bears in prominent characters the inscription “HOTEL WALSH”.
Here he leaves his name on the new register in John Hancock style and proceeds to make himself at home. This hotel is bound to be popular with the traveling public. Though a plain building on the outside, its red-brick walls with white-brick and artificial stone trimming, give it a very tasty appearance. The inside finish of the office is superb for its purpose, the wood is hard oil showing carefully selected, quarter-sawed grain; the paper a brown imitation fresco; the open stairway ascending directly from the west entrance (the main entrance being from the corner which is cut away for the purpose), all combine to make the room very attractive. Our man is delighted with the sample room next toward the rear from the office, it being both spacious and light. In case of a jam, this sample room becomes an annex to the dining room, which is next toward the rear. This, with the kitchen adjoining, is furnished new with the best there is for the purpose, and Mrs. Welsh knows how to direct the spreading of an inviting repast. The second story contains the public parlor, (a very cozy room over the office), the family room and fourteen sleeping rooms for guests, all large, well lighted, and beautifully furnished throughout.
The east hall of the ground floor is done off for a store and is undoubtedly the neatest one ever built in Sunfield. It is now nearly ready for occupancy.
Adjoining on the east is a similar store walled and roofed over at one story high on purpose to give light all round to the second story of the hotel proper. This store will be pushed to completion soon after the first one is finished and the prospect of its occupancy seems favorable.
The large white brick next east is the ODD-FELLOWS’ HALL. It is now ready for the roof, and will be shoved along to a finish soon. It will contain two fine stores on the ground floor and above them as fine a society suite as can be found in any part of the country in any village of its size.
From the hotel a glance to the east shows where some of the products of this vicinity go out and the cash for them comes in. The first in line is the STAVE FACTORY. This is idle now, but in the past has employed a dozen or more hands working up timber that another score or more found winter work in furnishing. It had a good trade, is surrounded by the kind of timber it needs, and when trade revives so that shipping packages will be in demand, it can resume operations on short notice.
THE SUNFIELD MANUFACTURING COMPANY IS NEXT IN THE ROW. This institution is not only one of the has-beens, in the days when manufacturing flourished, but is mighty lively now for these dead times. The secretary, J. W. Ramsey, is business manager, and by push and close figuring got the biggest chunk of the timer furnishing for the dam at Portland, the whole aggregating nearly 125,000 feet. This job has kept a lot of men at work this summer. The plant is capable of turning out a great variety of work, but is mainly devoted to producing lumber and preparing it for buildings. The company handles soft wood lumber of all kinds and grades, and does a general contracting and building business, never failing to fulfill its contracts to the letter.
The accompanying cut shows the plant as first constructed. Being ruined by fire in 1893, it was rebuilt on a modified plan, but it is equally as efficient as before.
THE SUNFIELD ELEVATOR is another money-bringer. Here is where the farmers bring their grain produced or a field seed demanded that cannot be procured or disposed of, as the case may be, at the Sunfield Elevator. J. H. Palmer, the manager in charge, has had large experience and is a good judge of grain, and has every facility for keeping posted as to markets, and adopts the motto, “Better to handle a great deal on a small per cent of profit than to handle only a little on a large per cent of profit”. It is safe to say that this institution brings more cash into the channels of trade than any other institution in town. Of course, the farmers would sell their grain if there were no elevator in Sunfield, but they would also leave a lot of their money where they found their market.
Another service rendered by the Elevator is found in its stock of drain tile, salt, lime, hair, cement, stucco, etc., always carried.
Another industry that shows up well on Main street is THE SUNFIELD MILLING CO. This was started and brought to its present degree of perfection by Hulett Brothers, who have a full roller process outfit. Few people understand this process fully. By it, the wheat is first fanned and screened of its coarser impurities; then the grains pass through a set of rolls placed wide apart so as to split the kernel open along its middle suture, after which it passes to the brush machine and all the dust of the crevice is brushed out, and fuzz at the end of the kernel is removed. Then it passes through to rollers set closer together which powder the starchy portion of the grain but only flattens the gluten or nitrogenous part of the grain. The starchy portion of the grain yields the lightest and whitest flour for bread, and this goes by the name of Patent Flour, but the highest food properties are in the gluten, which is necessary for a pastry flour or a really nutritious bread. A full roller mill is capable of separating these two kinds of flour; but they may be allowed to run together at the finish, which produces what is known as a “straight flour”. This is the kind made a specialty of at the Sunfield Mills. Upon it Hulett Bros. have built themselves an enviable reputation. Their mill is running at full capacity most of the time and orders come in from all the adjacent cities and villages, and some many miles distant. They have a wonderful success pleasing farmers, who come from long distances to exchange wheat for flour. This mill brings a great deal of circulating medium into the channels of trade here. Their capacity has been increased this summer by an addition on the east of the mill carried to the full height.
Another firm that has been turning a lot of money over to the farmers of this vicinity is Lemmon and Peck, which has just now dissolved and will be succeeded by PECK & NICOL. The old firm has shipped hundreds of carloads of stock during the past year, sometimes as high as 10 carloads a week. Mr. Peck has had long and valuable experience in marketing stock and is able to pay a little better prices than those who are more at the mercy of commission men, and this advantage is shared with the farmers of the surrounding country who give him their stock to handle. Just now the new firm is pushing the sheep trade, and are paying way up for fat lambs. They run a first class meat market and hold their share of trade both in the village and from the wagon, which is constantly on the road.
Speaking of meats we want to mention that MURPHY AND SACKETT put in a splendid refrigerator last spring and have been making a specialty of nice young beef and everything else pertaining to a first class meat market. They keep a wagon on the road and are doing a good business in all lines of meat trade. Another specialty their facilities enable them to make is nice cool butter and all kinds of fruits in season.
The poultry trade is going to BASCOM & TEAL who are now buying and shipping in large quantities. Here we meet the drummer whom we left at the hotel. He has just sold this firm a bill of goods and their departments are complete. Staple and fancy groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes in profusion. These are modest men and are seeking no man’s praise, but do square business, and on business principles, and so have built up for themselves an enviable trade. They are good advertisers of FACTS. Unless a firm is noted for lying in its ads, it is a safe rule in a town of this size to patronize those firms that patronize the printer. If a business firm’s name does not appear in the columns of the local paper it is a pretty good sign that it has no bargains to offer or is too wanting in public spirit to patronize the public press, which is the people’s friend. But a firm with no bargains to offer, or a firm that would reap the benefits of a paper in the community without contributing to its support will skin its patrons when it gets a chance. Our advice is, keep an eye on Bascom & Teal for bargains.
But we haven’t got through with these institutions which bring money to the farmer. There’s THE SUNFIELD CREAMERY pays out a lot of money to farmers; and it is really a fine institution of its kind, equipped with the latest improved cream testers, the finest separators and butter-workers etc; the whole operated by a fine eight-horse engine, in charge of H. H. Preston, who has had a wide experience with butter making machinery. The product last year aggregated 7,500 pounds; this year it will probably reach 10,000 pounds. Marshall Peabody is president and J. H. Bera secretary.
Then is a glorious apple crop coming on this year which must be disposed of. It is not yet known who will handle the choice fruit, but it is certain that Sunfield will compete with neighboring towns in the apple trade. When it comes to the “seconds”, and cider apples, it is well known how they will be converted into cash. Sunfield has A FINE EVAPORATOR Cider Mill and vinegar factory, capable of taking care of all that come. The machinery is first class; and in past years the institution has been a paying one.
It will commence operations early this year, perhaps next week under the management of Geo. B. Wright.
Passing the door we observe a lady in a carriage driving leisurely by with a cute little white curly lap-dog on the seat with her. She has been a sufferer for several years and is started for DR. B. F. WILLEY’S and this reminds us that he is the oldest physician in the place having established himself on the east line of the township in the early sixties. He was a Buckeye by birth, took a course of study at Oberlin College and began the study of his profession with a physician in his native state, continuing at the University of Michigan and finishing at Philadelphia. He has been regarded as a successful practitioner and is in demand in many complicated and chronic cases.
But we were on our way to C. L. HAMPTON’S. He is the druggist who succeeded Dr. Vansudee in the trade at the west end of the town; and he succeeded to a good trade, too. He has been here since June of last year, and has held the business up to a high notch, dealing largely in the drug and medicine line, but also carrying a fine line of tobaccos and smokers’ goods, candies, toilet articles and stationery. Employing John Warner, a registered pharmacist, he is prepared for prescription work, and gives great care to this department.
THE BAKERY is also at the west end of the town and fills its little niche well, doing a restaurant business in addition to baking.
On the opposite side of the street is the shop of M. S. HODGKINS, the blacksmith, who has a commodious shop and does a general repairing business in wood, iron and steel, horse shoeing and wagon repairing being specialties. Adjoining Hodgkins will be seen E. C. DERBY’S Butchers’ Derrick. Turning in here one learns that Mr. Derby is the patentee as well as manufacturer of these derricks. This derrick is a most efficient machine and the trade is being awakened to its merits as a marketable article. Mr. Derby also builds a boiler-iron land roller, vastly superior for durability to any cast machine. Then he runs a planer and has appliances for sharpening a variety of tools including plow points. He is selling agent for a large line of agricultural implements including the celebrated Buckeye mowers and binders, the Kraus cultivators, and the best wagons and buggies, plows and many smaller implements and accessories.
L. SPERRY is the proprietor of Sunfield’s harness shop. He has been here several years and has built up a good trade by doing work upon honor. He handles the best goods, not only strictly in the harness line, but also whips, robes, and blankets; and does all sorts of leather repairing, including shoe mending, in which business he uses up many sides of leather in a year.
DR. E. M. SNYDER is building a new residence just across from the harness shop and when it is finished his office will be in the same yard in a small building erected this spring for the purpose. He is comparatively young in the profession; but what the young physician lacks in experience he makes up in being fresh from the centers of instruction, where the latest methods, discoveries and appliances are put into practice. He graduated from Detroit College of Medicine in 1880, and began practicing here, having built up his splendid reputation in that short time. He is also a pharmacist and was with the Stinchcombs in the drug business, but the demands of his profession soon crowded out all else. Dr. Snyder’s father and two uncles were physicians before him, so he is, as it were, “to the manor born”.
Perhaps it is due to climate, perhaps to her physicians, and perhaps partly upon the principal of “laugh and grow fat” or “BE HONEST AND KEEP YOUNG” or some reason accountable or unaccountable, it is a fact that people seldom die in Sunfield. With the exception of the present week there hasn’t been a death of a resident here to announce in the Sentinel since it started, and as near as we can learn for several months before, and the village has no cemetery. Nevertheless, some contagious disease occasionally enters, or a citizen visits some neighboring city away from the mascot of his own town, and meets with calamity as did Mr. Leggie last year, and the surrounding country is subject to the law of life which terminates in death, so an undertaking establishment is necessary. This business is conducted by J. H. BERA, whose portrait is shown on the first page. But, not withstanding, he conducts the business well, he never could make a living from it in this community. But Mr. Bera has adjusted his business to these facts, and carries a full line of furniture for the living and for the days of festivities, as well as the outfits required for the hour of grief. All kinds of household furniture can be purchased of him, and all kinds of insurance will be written up by him. He is a popular man to do business with, and this accounts for his being repeatedly selected to represent the township in the Board of Supervisors.
STINCHCOMB BROTHERS corner Main and Second streets, are the oldest druggists in the village, and they have a splendid store, a splendid line of goods, and a splendid trade. They keep not only a full line of strictly pure drugs for prescription purposes, but the purest wines and liquors for medicinal purposes, all the proprietary medicines in general demand, cigars, the only soda fountain in the village. They do a large business in staple and fancy groceries and canned goods.
L. JOHNSON located in the Stinchcomb block, is doing a general mercantile business. He is one of the latest accessions to the list of businessmen here, having started in about the first of January this year. He brought with him from Clarksville a part of stock of goods and immediately stocked up with carefully selected dry goods, including not only the more common sorts but making a specialty of ladies’ fine dress goods and dress trimmings; also a magnificent display of ladies’ and gents’ footwear, and as complete a stock of groceries as can be found in any village store. Mr. Johnson has paid the top of the market for butter and eggs, and he has shipped immense quantities of these products this spring. When he was shipping eggs twice a week it was not unusual to see twenty-five or more bushel baskets of them standing in front of his counter. Many times has his store required replenishing since he opened business here. Just last week he made a trip to Detroit for new goods, and this week his store is in prime condition for trade.
THE HARDWARE TRADE goes almost entirely to J. A. Childs, who has been in business about five years. Mr. Childs has had ample training in handling hardware from his youth up. He keeps everything---every variety of stove for heating and cooking; tools and builders’ goods, fence wire, barbed, smooth and galvanized, bar iron and steel, and horse shoes and nails for blacksmiths; wire netting and screen for all purposes; rope, paints and varnishes, brushes and gasoline---in fact, everything found in a first-class hardware store. He has a tin shop in connection, which does a fine business in eave troughs and repairing, besides an extensive trade in tin goods; also repairs bicycles and keeps bicycle sundries, or, being agent, can sell you as good a wheel as there is made. Just now he is making a run on the Bement cook stoves, an illustration of which is seen following.
WARNER B. BERA is located in the business center next to J. A. Childs. He succeeds Bera & Hammond and they succeeded Bera Brothers. Mr. Bera has been handling general merchandise since 1889 when the new town was opened up. He has the ins and outs of the business well learned---knows what the trade demands and supplies it well. Besides a complete stock of family groceries and provisions, he makes a specialty of boots and shoes, and a special specialty of crockery. With the exception of a few articles kept as bazaar goods, he has the only stock of crockery in town. Just last week he opened a large crate of English ware. These goods are cheap and people contemplating house-keeping by trading with Bera you will probably form a habit that will enslave you for life.
TURNER AND COLLIER are in the implement business and are located in front of Hotel Walsh. They handle a full line of farming tools, build wells, etc. They are agents for the McCormick mowers and harvesters and are just now making a run on the celebrated McCormick corn harvester, illustrated in this issue.
Another firm of general merchants is H. KNAPP & SON. They have been here since the town was opened the greatest variety of goods in town. They have dry goods, clothing and gents’ furnishings goods, groceries, boots and shoes, drugs, medicines, shelf hardware, wall paper, paints, oils and farmers’ sundries. Mr. Knapp is a notary, a conveyancer, and keeps a livery and runs a dray. He seems to be A MULTNIN IN PARVO all around business man.
THE BAZAAR is kept by F. H. Bacon. No man can describe a complete line of bazaar goods in a few words, but they are goods that catch the eye. The toys and nice attractive correspondence stationery are specialties. Mrs. Bacon has a millinery store in connection where the ladies enjoy calling in the millinery season.
Mrs. H. U. Meyers also has a MILLINERY STORE. She has made the business a study and a profession, so to speak. Her stands and counters are replete with the latest designs and she is an expert trimmer. Eggs are accepted at her counter as currency at the highest price.
THE JEWELRY STORE of H. U. Meyers is where the vision loves to linger. Gold and silver watches and fine eight-day clocks, splendid rings, pins, broaches, hair ornaments, a limited line of stringed musical instruments and accessories are kept. Mr. Meyers is a great student of optics and is always up in his profession. He makes a specialty of fitting glasses to weak and defective eyes, and repairing watches. Silver plate he does not carry in stock, but sells by sample, giving better bargains than those can who have to keep so much money tied up in articles of such limited sale.
It is making extremes meet to go from jewelry to WAGON REPAIRING & HORSE SHOEING but Richard Bros. are the people who do this work. They have a splendid shop. Horse hoof anatomy is a profession with them, and anvil practice agrecreation.. There isn’t a thing in steel, iron or wood repairing they won’t tackle with avidity, and they don’t have to tell the customers to come again.
Charlie Dorman is our BARBER and whether it be with a razor, the clippers, the shears, the curling iron or with the shampoo outfit, he understands his business and conducts it well. He runs a newsstand in connection.
When Charlie is done with you, you step over to THE PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY operated by John Nicol, and get your picture taken. He was at home minding his own business when Sebewa was in trouble, and you will find him here when you want your picture, and he will take a good one, too.
MISCELLANEOUS: L. O. Wilson is proprietor of Wilson’s Hall. D. W. and J. B. Bostian are both paper hangers and painters, and do excellent work. Calls for J. B.’s service can be left at the Sentinel office. Will Knapp or Ira Hartwell will paint you a sign, and Jacob Stemler will bore out your pump log.
The editor of The Sunfield Sentinel at the time of this article was probably C. J. Strang. “In the fall of 1896, Strang sold the Sentinel to Jefferson T. Mansil. In 1900 Masil sold to J. H. Cramer, who, in turn sold to Frank M. Merritt in 1905.
Last update November 16, 2013