Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 20 Number 4
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;
February 1985, Volume 20, Number 4. Robert W. Gierman, Editor.
(Submitted with written permission of editor, Grayden D. Slowins)

Black and white, wet and dry, warm and cold---here is the account of another life from the beginning of Portland to balance that of William Bogue whose story we gave you last issue. From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER of March 1, 1899 is the story:

WM. MILNE DIED AT COUNTY HOUSE (In Ronald Township then).

Along in the early history of Portland Mr. Milne was a leading business man of the Village and for several years owned and operated the sawmill now owned by C. J. Warren and operated in connection with the Portland Mfg. Co. At that time there was a large amount of timber sawed for the large number of buildings which were being erected in both the village and the county and the mill did a big business and Milne became well known in this section of the country.

Afterward he engaged in the grocery business in the store now owned by John Raner. He did a good business at first but he soon went wrong; and after getting a good start on the toboggan, there were plenty of people and many ways to help him down the slide and it wasn’t long before his business was gone.

He went away from Michigan and what little money he had was soon gone and he worked at what he could get until about six years ago, when he returned to the county where he had lived so long.

Wm. Milne was one of the very first residents of what is now the town of Portland, he having come here with his mother from England in 1834, the father having come here the year previous, the family settling on Grand River below where the village now is and but for mistakes, which wrecked his own prospects and ostracized from his family and relatives, he might have continued to be a good citizen, alive and enjoying the confidence of his fellow men.

The remains were brought to Portland Cemetery on Wednesday, last.


This is Maurice Gierman. I’ve lived here in Brandenton (FL) during the winter time for the last four or five winters, starting in 1979. In winter we played quite a lot of golf. That is how I ran onto Lester Lake---on the golf course. He told me he graduated from Lake Odessa High School. That got us to thinking who the kids were in school, who the teachers were. I found out that he graduated three years before I was born and that would have been in 1914.

I am with Lester today at his home in El Rancho Village and I’d like to ask him some questions about the time he spent in Lake Odessa and after Lake Odessa and how he got here in Bradenton.

He says: I was born in Hastings, MI. My grandfather on my father’s side used to drive the bus or whatever it was at that time to Clarksville. My mother came from Grand Rapids. We left Hastings and went to Grand Rapids and I went to schools there. The Detroit Free Press was delivered in that area and I had to go a whole mile to the station where the papers came in and then take the papers and throw them over that big street hill and that was another mile. This was all done before breakfast.

On the way home to the station there was a boy with a horse delivering from the grocery store on Leonard Street. He asked me if I wanted a ride and he took me on down to the station and then he asked me if I would like to work in the grocery. So, I gave up the paper route and worked in the grocery store. I got Junior High School in Grand Rapids. I didn’t get into athletics because I was a kind of a small fellow compared to the rest of them.

My father was an expert wood turner. He had a call to come to Lake Odessa in a factory that was where the canning factory now is located, where they made furniture. That is how we came into Lake Odessa. At the furniture factory my father could turn legs and decorations and that kind of stuff. Later the factory moved back to Grand Rapids. That was about my first year of High School when I left Grand Rapids. At Grand Rapids they had a show called “35 minutes in Broadway”. I didn’t get into that myself, except that I went to the Y. M. C. A. and played basket ball.

At Lake Odessa they didn’t play basket ball and they didn’t play football. All they had was a baseball team. I talked them into starting basket ball and foot ball. We used the fairgrounds for our foot ball field. We did our laundry at home. There was no gymnasium at the high school. We played basket ball down at the lake at the old pavilion.

Some of my Lake Odessa classmates were Grace and Alice McCartney. I was a little late at school one morning and I didn’t have my coat on---we were wearing our coats to school. Miss Avis was quite precise and wanted things just her way and she had sent the boys home to get their coats. When I came in without my coat, she said “Where is your coat?” I said it was home. She replied “You go home and get your coat”. I started down through town and stopped in at the clothing store and Leon Gilson offered me a work jacket. I slipped it on and went back to school. Miss Avis nailed me and made me go home and get my dress coat. I came back through town and Gilson, said “How about this coat, a swallow-tailed one? So I had that on and went back to school. The superintendent of schools was at the head of the stairs at the time. He said “Now, Lester, Miss Avis has asked you boys to do that. So, don’t come back again until you have your own coat on”. He had his hand over his mouth because he wanted to laugh.

We didn’t have a coach for either basketball or football, we just went out and played. Some things we did right and some things we did wrong. I remember about Main Street with the Carpenter grocery store; Miner had a grocery as well as McCartney. There was another one, too. Alton Mye had a drug store.

I graduated in 1914 and Ruth Sweitzer graduated in 1915. She was my girl. I went with her six years after I graduated. After I had graduated I went to Detroit. My brother was there and had a shoe store out in the town called Royal Oak. I went down and worked for him and that was when the War came on. I told him I was going to join the army. He said “I’m closing up shop and going too, them”. So the two of us enlisted……

Note: Lester still lives alone in Bradenton, Florida, takes care of his mobile home and his yard, does his own cooking and he will be ninety years old in March.



Back in our Recollector of August 1973, Volume 9, Number 1, we had the article about Aunt Sylvia Lumbert. It was taken from a 1922 Ionia Sentinel Standard and reprinted in the Lake Odessa Wave shortly afterward. In 1983 the story was reworked a little by a family member and used in one of the Ionia Sentinel Standard’s WHISTLE STOP series dated August 17 and 18, 1983. A picture of Aunt Sylvia, furnished by Lois Lumbert was printed with the article. Now we have some additions to it from Dorothy Bippley Warner, widow of Walter Warner, now living in Lake Odessa. Mrs. Warner, as a little girl, used to visit Aunt Sylvia, who lived a half mile west of the Bippley residence. The Bippley family was located a mile west of M 66 on Bippley Road. Here is Mrs. Warner’s story:

I had no idea how big the log house was, but it was all just one big room. As you came in the back door there were two windows to the south and the stove sitting right in the middle of the room that would cook and heat both. She had a bed over in the northwest corner of the room. There was a stairway, just like an open stairway, just like steps on a porch. She had two beds up there with two beds under the slant roof---just like an attic really.

She lived there and her husband’s name was George, I’m pretty sure. Her name was Sylvia Lumbert. They had one son, Fred and then she had a stepson---she had been married before---her name was Lemon in the first place.

To start back, she had an unhappy childhood. There was a big family of them living south somewhere in Ohio or Indiana and her mother died. At that time in such a case they would let the youngsters out or sell them out for so much and they were just like slaves to the new family until they got away. She stayed with the new family until she was old enough to get out on her own and do her own work. She said she never saw a one of her brothers or sisters again in her life. She never had any connection with them or knew anything about her family.

Aunt Sylvia was a kind hearted old soul. We kids would go there and climb around in the apple trees there. We would sit out in the shade of the apple trees and she would tell us stories about the Indians who lived over there in the woods in the summer time. When it got cold weather they would go down to Shimnecon, the headquarters for the Indians then. I think she had a 20-acre farm. They had two horses and 3 or 4 cows and a big garden. They lived on what they grew besides her husband hunted and fished a lot. That was the way he went over big with the Indians because they lived similarly. She would tell about the Indians coming over and sitting there talking, telling of the different troubles they had. We kids sat there spellbound.

Aunt Sylvia would do things for us. I remember she had a whole bunch of walnuts. With a bunch of kids around, she would sit there and crack the walnuts. She said “I want you to have all you want, I want to be sure you have all you want”. She was always so friendly. Her husband died long, long before she did. The son and his family lived in the same yard in another house. She stayed by herself and did her own cooking. They always had that mammoth big garden and he farmed that little bit and they got by on it. I can’t really tell the stories she used to tell but we sat there spellbound and listening to her tell her stories. When she talked about Indians, that meant a lot to us…………(a line of print is missing)……when my older sister was born but she did not talk much about that to us youngsters. She would help anybody. It was in her heart to help everybody. She could always tell you something that would draw your interest and we would sit there all ears.

I don’t think she ever went much of anyplace. She used to come down to our house once in a while but I don’t remember of her going much of any place. She was always at home, it seems like. She had quite a little company. She was an older person and lots of people knew her for she had been there so long. She lived there until I was grown up. I think part of the time a grandchild stayed with her some.

She must have been married to Lemon before she married Lumbert. She knew how to doctor herself and knew just what to do for everything that happened. I don’t think anything ever took her much by surprise.

One time I went down there to see her. She felt so sorry when her daughter-in-law and her son were in the hospital in Ann Arbor. When I was there, she cried. The grandchildren were home alone but they were grown up and they could get by on their own all right but she just felt sorry that she couldn’t do anything to help.

The Indians living in the woods to the north must have had some kind of shacks there where they lived in the summertime but Shimnecon was always the winter retreat for them. The Indians left Shimnecon in 1858 for the reservation at Mt. Pleasant.

I’m awfully glad I had the privilege of living while Aunt Sylvia was still alive. Later, my husband, Walter Warner, and I bought the Lumbert place. I almost believe we took the old log house down. That log house had sunk into the ground so far that the bottoms of the windows were even with the ground. It always amused me when I would come up in the front and see the windows right even with the ground. There was a dirt floor inside the house. I used to think “How in heck does she keep it clean?”


My father was Frank Bippley and my mother was the daughter of Asa Arnold. In the Baptist Cemetery is a broken stone that was for my mother’s twin brother. He died when he was two. A relative from Ohio furnished me with this copy from the ALBUM OF IONIA & MONTCALM by Chapman Bros. about the Bippley family:

John Bippley is one of the owners of the well regulated estate in Ionia County and derives from his property a very satisfactory income. He is located on section 13 in Odessa Township and has there 180 acres of cleared land and sixty acres that are still covered with timber. A large and conveniently arranged farmhouse presents a homelike appearance and attractions to a passerby. There are two barns, one of which is the largest in the township, together with other necessary buildings. The grain and tool barn is 26 feet square with 12 foot posts and the other is 56 by 80 feet with a height of 18 feet. The latter has a basement under the whole extent. Mr. Bippley keeps good stock and raises his crops equal to any harvested in this section of the state. Jacob and Julie (Fole) were natives of Germany whence they emigrated to America in 1832. Mr. Bippley had been a farmer in Wurttemberg, Germany. Crossing the Atlantic, he continued his oldest occupation. He located in Medina County, Ohio (just west of Akron) and made that his home until his death. He passed away while on a visit to Kentucky in the year of 1850. His faithful companion lived until December 6, 1884.

Their children were eight in number and six are now living: John, George, Gotleib, Catherine, Mary and Christina. The deceased are Fred, who died in Andersonville prison and Christina, who died in 1863. The parents were members of the Lutheran Church. John Bippley was born in Medina County, Ohio, February 15, 1838. He received a limited education in the district school and remained at home until he was 14 years old when he worked out by the month and gave his evenings to the service of his widowed mother. In 1855 he came to this State and worked by the month in Berlin Township, Ionia County. He came and bought 40 acres of land in section 10, Odessa Township, which he cleared at odd times when not engaged in chopping, logging and getting wood for others. He kept on working for wages and giving his spare time to the development of his own property until he sold the tract in 1878. Prior to that time he had bought 80 acres where he is now living and to this he moved. On his new place there was a clearing of 14 acres. Here he built a frame house and then began to place the rest of the tract in condition for planting. Each year saw the district property better improved and in the course of this it was improved to the present extent.

This was not accomplished without passing through trials and hardships but they were lessened by the sympathy of a good life and shortened by her counsel and aid.

The worthy couple can look back upon many happy days even while working hours were devoted to toil and while they lived in the rude log cabin that was their earliest home. The furniture in that dwelling was rudely made and included only the most necessary articles such as a chair, bedstead and a table that was really a chest. Times were so hard that for two months they had no money with which to mail a letter.

In March 12, 1861 Mr. Bippley and Miss Klelunknecht were united in marriage. They had three children, sons, named Frank (my dad), George and William. Mrs. Bippley is the daughter of George and Margaret Klelunknecht, natives of Wurttemburg, Germany. They emigrated to America in 1833 and settled in Medina County, Ohio where Mr. Winningham carried on a farm as he had done in his native land. His death occurred December 23, 1870. His wife had preceeded him to the tomb, dying in August of 1862. They had seven children but two only are now living---Christian and Hannah. (Hannah was my grandmother). The former making his home in Berlin Township. Of the brothers of Mrs. Bippley, John died in Liverpool, Ohio in September of 1887. George died in New Orleans of cholera in 1848 at the close of the Mexican war in which he was a soldier; and Phillip died in Dayton Ohio in 1866 from the effects of wounds and exposure during the Rebellion.

Mr. Bippley was formerly a Republican but is now connected with the Democratic party. He is a member of the Patrons of Industry. He has taken part in the official work of Odessa Township, having been Highway Commissioner four, Drainage Commissioner one, District Overseer eight and School Officer seven years. End of Album Quote.

A mile east of the Bippley’s there were some pine trees on the corner of M 66. Bill Johnson used to run that tavern and the drivers on the horse drawn stage route from Woodbury to Ionia frequently stayed there overnight.

Chapman Bros. Album of Ionia and Montcalm was published in 1891.



Last update November 15, 2013