Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 20 Number 1
Transcribed by LaVonne I. Bennett

     LaVonne has received permission from Grayden Slowins to edit and submit Sebewa Recollector items of genealogical interest, from the beginning year of 1965 through current editions.

THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center Association;
August 1984, Volume 20, Number 1: Robert W. Gierman, Editor
(Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. Slowins):


Last January, with a push from Bill Davis, I joined the group at Portland to study the proper operation of a TV camera and equipment for the production of TV cassettes to be aired on the community access channel at Portland. It has proved to be a lot of work with some interesting little payoffs for the work. The course consisted of eight meetings of three hours each. Finally we were granted certificates of Community Television Producer by Eric Allen Faunce, Community Access Coordinator.

What this all boils down to is that the holders of the certificate are allowed to borrow for short periods the rather expensive TV camera and equipment for use in producing cassettes of local interest. These must be offered for production on the local access channel. After the cassette has been shown locally, the recording then is mine, provided I bought the blank to start with.

For my first cassette I started with Harold Lakin and Marge Smith doing the program that he had earlier given at the Portland Area Historical Society and at the Sunfield Historical Society. It was a program he called “The Horse in Local History”. It lasted for more than an hour, which meant that it covered more material than he had given at either the Portland or Sunfield meetings.

Since then I have taped and shown on the Portland Access Channel a program of Justin Davis interviewing Justin Balderson, Marge Smith’s showing her China slides, John Piercefield with the sermon for Homer Downing, Zack and Eleanor York with their Mark Train skit on Adam and Eve, Eleanor Anesi doing the account of Danby pioneer life as recollected from the account books of Willard Brooks and some pictures of World War II as shown by Ed Morey of Charlotte.

There are a few more of these I plan to do, although it is a trunk load of equipment I must carry when doing the job. The first of the series has been taken to Lake Odessa to be shown on their access channel. If you have a good story to tell, maybe you will be the next to be on local TV. Robert W. Gierman.”


In the summer of 1980, my husband and I attended an Elderhostel at Cranbrook Institute. We had hardly shut the door of our room behind us when there was a loud knocking and I opened it on an excited woman waving a sheet that listed all the persons attending the Elderhostel and their home addresses. “Do you really live in Portland, Michigan?” she demanded. When we confirmed that fact, she asked us to meet her before dinner, because we had a lot to talk about. This is the story:

My parents grew up in Greenville, Michigan, and shortly after their marriage moved to Portland. After three or four years, during which my father worked in a furniture factory, they moved to Texas. A friend had persuaded them that they could use their savings to buy farmland, which was going cheap. It was cheap, all right, and never amounted to anything. All of us children were born there, on that miserable, dusty old place. On hot summer evenings we’d sit on the splintery front porch and someone would nag our parents to tell us about Portland, Michigan.

“Well”, they’d say, “that town has TWO rivers. And they have water in them all year round. And in the winter, the water freezes and everyone goes ice skating. We lived on a street along the river, and we kept an old flat bottomed boat and every Sunday, we’d go up the river and float back down. We’d stop and fish here and there, and then have a picnic on the bank or on an island. We hardly bought groceries except in the winter, because we had a big garden and everything grew like crazy. But about the best thing was on Saturday night. Then we’d dress up in our best clothes, take a dime apiece, and walk across the bridge to the main street. We’d walk up and down the street and talk to everybody, and then go to a candy and ice-cream store owned by an Italian man called Fonzie. He had a big black mustache.

“When you opened the screen door of the store you smelled the vanilla he used in his ice-cream, and then you smelled the chocolate syrup. The place was cool, and the big fans overhead made a little breeze. We sat at little tables and every week got the same thing---a chocolate soda. There were lots of other things to be had, but we always would come up with a chocolate soda. Fonzie made his own candy, too.

“Well, we kids would sit there and listen, and we knew the streets of Portland, Michigan as well as we knew our own dirt road. We heard about sleigh rides in the winter, about skating parties on the millpond, about how the trees met over the streets so you could walk all over town in the cool shade. Papa would wind up with “Some day we’ll take all you kids and go back to Portland, Michigan, won’t we, Ma?”.

“He never made it, because he got something wrong with his lungs and was sick a long time and the doctors told him that it would kill him to go back to a damp, cold climate. After he died we all went to New Orleans and got war plant jobs, and I married a man from Pennsylvania and have lived there ever since. One time I said to my sister that I’d like to go to Portland, Michigan and she said “Oh, for goodness sake, Helen, you don’t really think there is such a place, do you? Don’t you know that was just a place and a thing that Papa and Mama made up to keep amused and to make us feel better when we were all so miserable? Kind of like Heaven”. I believed her, because I always believed what my big sister told me. Now I’ve got to know how much of it was true.”

We talked for a long time, and found it amazing how much she had remembered of what her parents told her. They were accurate on every detail, which must have been repeated many times. At the end of the conversation, she said “This has meant so much to me. Thank you for giving me back part of my childhood.”


J. K. Swipes was a pen name for CHARLES GOODWIN, who lived at Christian Bend three miles north of Portland and a mile or so west. This was the spot at the River where many baptisms took place. This poem as well as practically all he has ever had printed is to be found in “Christian Bend Ballads” on sale by the Review at 50 cents per copy, postpaid. (Note: This is from a browned clipping---no date.)

Listen, while I sing to you, about a modern theme,
You’ve never used it in a book, nor dreamed it in a dream.
Although it is a common thing in this enlightened age,
And when you know the mystery, you may get in a rage.
But if you’re anxious for to know what it is all about
All I’ve got to say to you is: “Root the old man out.”


Root the old man out, boys, root the old man out.
A trying for to serve his mite against a rainy day.
But sometimes when you’d disobey, he had to use the beech
And then you mother’d interfere and for you would beseech;
But now you’ve got to be young men and do not take the sprout
You’re working all the ways you can to root the old man out.

You’ll promise to take care of him, if he’ll give you the farm,
And though it looks a little thin, sometimes he b’lieves the yarn.
And gives up everything he’s worth, unto his loving boy,
A thinking while he stays on earth, he can his life enjoy.
But if the old man should be sick, or cross, the lazy lout,
They’ll find you planning, mighty quick, to root the old man out.

You’re anxious for to get the wealth that he has got in store.
And what you can you’ll get by stealth, and coax to get the more.
No matter whether rich or poor, in joy or in distress,
What there is, you want it sure, be it more or less.
For he is old and feeble now, while you are young and stout.
His stately form begins to bend, so root the old man out.

And now a word of good advice to every married man,
Just keep what little you have got, and get what more you can.
But though your wife an angel is, your children cherubim,
Don’t you consent to deed your farm to any her or him.
For if you do you’ll soon repent like others round about,
For when your back with age is bent, they’ll root the old man out.


Lawrence Knapp, veteran rural mail carrier from Sunfield will retire January 1 on an order received from the United States Postal Department affecting all 30-year men.

His first trip was made January 1, 1904, from Sebewa Corners Post Office, Ionia County, as No. 35, with John M. Bradley as postmaster. The carriers then had only three holidays during a year and these were granted by the Postmaster General as he chose. Mr. Knapp carried from that office for seven years, the mail being brought there by a star route from Sunfield to Portland and later from Sunfield only.

On March 1, 1911, he was transferred to the Sunfield office as carrier for Route No. 3, this including carrying the pouch to Sebewa until that office was discontinued February 1. Route No. 3 at Sunfield was discontinued and he was given No. 1 with the necessary changes and added mileage from time to time until at present he has 30.45 miles; making approximately 240,000 traveled during his 30 years of service.

The trip the first 12 years was made with horses as were winter months for the next five years. His first automobile was a Ford purchased in September, 1916 at a cost of $360 from Ray Welsh, then Ford dealer here, and now a hardware merchant of Sunfield. Mr. Knapp thinks this Ford was the last make with brass radiator. He has had seven Fords, two Whippets and one Chevrolet, all new.

February 21, 1916, a wet heavy snow fell in the morning and turned to a hard gale in the afternoon with temperature below zero. He made all of his trip with two horses on a buggy with runners until within five miles of home at 4:30 in the afternoon, unable to go farther, he was compelled to stay for the night and was until 4 p.m. the following day making the five miles, and that day was a holiday.

He has served under four postmasters, J. M. Bradley of Sebewa Corners, Henry Bera, Paul Palmer and R. S. Wiggins of Sunfield.

Under the new plan effective January 1, 10 miles of Route No. 2 will be given to carrier Leo McIntyre of Mulliken and carrier Wayne Hoke of Route No. 2 will be given No. 1 with 52 miles.

Mr. Knapp will receive an annuity from the retirement fund built up by all civil service men, and all who have not reached the retirement age but have 30 years of service will still pay their per cent until retirement age is reached.

Of the well-known Knapp poultry farms of Sebewa, Mr. Knapp is the senior partner and will devote his time in aiding his son, Howard, in this enterprise. End

Over 300 were at the Methodist church parlors at Sebewa Corners Tuesday honoring Lawrence Knapp, rural mail carrier from Sunfield Post Office, who retired January 1. Mr. Knapp carried mail from Sebewa post office for eight years and then was transferred to the Sunfield route. A program was given with the Sunfield High School orchestra furnishing the music, and William Roseveare, in behalf of the company presented Mr. Knapp with a chair. A Bohemian supper was served by the ladies.



Last update November 15, 2013