Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 20 Number 6
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;
June 1985, Volume 20, Number 6. Written by Robert W. Gierman, Editor.
Submitted with written permission of current editor, Grayden D. Slowins:


I have a letter from Jeff Ellsworth of the Ionia Sentinel and from it is this quote: While a student at Central Michigan University from 1974 through 1977 I became close friends with a fellow student named John Vanbenschoten. John is the son of Harvey and Daisy Vanbenschoten of Saginaw, both attorneys and partners in the family law firm there. In addition Harvey owned interest in a Saginaw restaurant that burned in the late ‘70s.

At the time I knew John, he was studying pre-law with the intent of returning home to the family firm. I can recall many times when he described several generations of attorneys in his family. We lost touch shortly after I graduated from CMU in December 1977. I have since heard from a mutual friend that he believes John graduated from Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing. I have not confirmed this to be the truth, but I can tell you he graduated from Saginaw Arthur Hill High School in 1974 and was scheduled to graduate from CMU in 1978.

Based on the similarities of names and profession, I wonder if my old friend is a descendant of the early Sebewa pioneer. Some of my old college friends are planning a reunion this summer and John may attend. If so, I will show him your article and ask if he or his family could provide further information. Meanwhile accept my thanks for arousing my curiosity about an old friend. Jeff Ellsworth.


A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO John Lich, Sr. celebrated his 70th birthday with many, many friends at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Ken David. Now just before he returns to his home at Lake Como, Florida, John has made a move that sort of puts him back in our community.

From Donna Thorpe John has purchased the house where he lived many years ago where John Jr. was born. It is the first place west of the old Lich farm where Richard Tuitman now lives on Henderson Road. Mr. and Mrs. Lich plan to use the place as a summer home away from Florida’s heat. The small acreage there will keep John busy. He has already patched the barn roof and has plans for residing the building.

SURNAME: PHILO, ARMOUR, VandeCar, DENTON, METZGER, McCARTY, Welch, Sayer, Lovell, Welch,

OUR INTERVIEW WITH MAE ARMOUR by Grayden Slowins and Robert W. Gierman

I was born near Saranac and named Mae Philo. It was in Berlin Township just east of Peck Lake. My parents were farmers there. In earlier days my dad had been a brick layer but ended up as a farmer. He could do almost anything. The VandeCars were our neighbors. We used to live in one of the VandeCar’s houses. Their daughter married Arthur Denton. He was a nice guy.

Dad built a house a little west of Saranac and that is where we lived when I went to school. I think I was 12 years old when I came to Lake Odessa. I had worked for Hank Haskins in the hotel at Saranac and then I came here to Lake Odessa. I went to the Oak Grove School between Lowell and Saranac. When we lived at Peck Lake I was too young to go to school. I had to walk three miles to school. In the winter time it was a dilly. There were a lot of hills and the snow was deep. Sometimes the snow was so deep nobody could get through. It took Dad and other neighbors three days to get a road through to the river road and then we had to go two miles beyond that. But we had a lot of fun. That was a long time ago.

I had a great friend who lived in Saranac. We liked to get out and go places and not walk all the time. A guy in Saranac had a livery barn. He had nice horses, safe, too. We had heard so much about Lake Odessa that we got us a good safe horse and we came to Lake Odessa. We liked it so well that I wanted to stay here. When I was ten or eleven years old there was a lady in Saranac who was an invalid. She needed help and I had worked for her.

We got our rig. The man’s name was Lynn Metzger. He had beautiful horses. That is how I got over here and I’ve been here ever since. I found a job right away. It didn’t pay much but you could always get a job. At Saranac I had worked in the hotel for Haskins, so my first job here was at the Burke Hotel and I liked it, liked it so well that I stayed. After working at the hotel I started working in the stores. I worked at the five and dime and for a while I was manager of that store. I liked it.

At one time I worked for Anna Huntzinger in her millinery shop. She was a very nice person. I was never out of work. I married Fay Armour. He ran a dray line here. Morris came first, then Frank and Harry. He was a little devil. He was funny and smart, too. Yes, even tricky. He was a carpenter and a good fisherman. My older sister married a McCarty. Her name was Elizabeth. They used to live at Lowell but later the family lived in the north end of Lake Odessa. It was Charles McCarty. They lived in Lowell and they ran a big grocery store. I have a nephew who was in the Army a long time, then he retired and finally lived here in Lake Odessa.

Fay had brothers Barrett and Ford and sisters Mary and Mabel. Mabel married Howard Poff. He was a nice guy. It was too bad he could not have lived longer. Mary married a man named Norton, a man from around Grand Rapids. She just passed away about three weeks ago. She was a school teacher and a good one. Mabel married Clayton Burleigh after Howard’s death. She lives in Ionia now.

I remember when Frank Paige stayed at the Burke Hotel. A nicer guy never lived. I used to take care of his apartment. Nobody else could do that. He was a nice guy. I had to take care of his room. He didn’t want any of the rest of the help poking around. I was with that hotel for several years. Frank Paige never forgot you. Back, even then, we did get tips. I think the largest one I ever got was $5. Some girls had to work a week to get that much. But it was all fun.

I worked for Hansbarger in the drug store. I didn’t work for Smelker---I don’t think he liked me. He liked all the other girls but I don’t think he liked me. Once something happened that I was out of a job and I went to Smelkers to see if he had an opening, but, no, he didn’t have an opening, so I didn’t get a job at Smelkers. Somebody told me I was just as well off because I wouldn’t like him.

At the hotel we worked long hours. Sometimes the trains would stop rather late in the evening and we would have to get around and make up a bed to accommodate the late arrivals. Old Lady Burke saw to it that we kept busy. Sitting here now I sometimes run onto something I get a kick out of and I sit here and laugh like a nut. I haven’t had such a bad time.

I used to fish every time I got a chance. The last time on Jordan Lake I was alone---I was always alone. Everything got so black. I was clear at the south end of Jordan Lake and it was a nice day and I was getting some fish. I heard the thunder in a distance and the old black clouds began rolling right at me. There were a lot of folks out and the fish were biting. I was all alone and I started picking up my fishing gear. I was all alone and I had a special boat that belonged to a guy who lived away somewhere. It was just special people he let take it.

He had warned me but I didn’t think a storm would come up. I was clear up to the south end of the Lake. There was a bunch of willows at the shoreline where you could fasten your boat if a storm did come. I was getting along pretty good. The fish had just nicely started biting. It was getting kind of dark in the east, and was it? People were coming off the lake then---they were getting scared. I thought “I’m not going to leave---they’re biting
“. I’d get in a little closer to the willows and I’d have something to fasten the boat to if it got bad. It was a wonderful boat and I didn’t want to spoil it.

It came. It hit. I got wet. There were two men leaving the lake. They came over to offer me help. I did get some rope they had but I didn’t want to leave. I said “I’m going to stay right here”. I got both ends of the boat anchored to some big willows and I stayed. By the time the storm was gone it was time to go home, but I had a lot of experience.

I shall be 95 years old on the sixth of June. The Armours once lived in Sebewa before I knew them. The 1906 County Atlas shows the 40 acres across the road to the west from the Johnson School as belonging to Armour. By the time I knew them, they lived on 5th Ave. in Lake Odessa. What I remember about Fay’s dad was that he chewed tobacco, spit and bragged about something. He didn’t do any more than he had to. Fay’s mother was a honey. She was the nicest person. So ends our interview with Mae Armour.

I find it very interesting to visit these three 95 years old ladies. Mae Armour at 924 3rd Ave. in Lake Odessa has her 95th birthday on the sixth day of June. Myrtie Welch at 103 Jackson St. in Sunfield 48890 and Edna Sayer on Kimmel Road in Sebewa with a Lake Odessa 48849 ZIP will be 95 on July 5. Surely a card or a note from you will brighten their birthdays, days that most of us will never reach. So, please remember June 6 and July 5. Robert W. Gierman

MYRTIE’S MEMORIES by Myrtlie Candace Lovell Welch 1984

L. D. Lovell – Born 1850 – McComb, Ohio
Sarah Ann (Cory) Lovell – Born 1857 – McComb, Ohio

Nancy Mae – Born October 10, 1877 – Married F. Clay
Arby Ray – Born December 5, 1879 – Married Minnie Campbell
Sylvia Estella – Born March 18, 1884 – Married John W. Welch
Vanloa Grace – Born January 25, 1887 – Married Charles Collier
Myrtie Candace – Born July 5, 1890 – Married Perry Ray Welch
Andella Pearl – Born December 18, 1892 – Married Earl VanBuren

No chance in Ohio. Worked as hired help on farm, no work in winter. Relatives in Lansing. Man with team could always find work. Moved to Lansing when Arby was a baby. Not sure of date, 1879 if came in fall. House, Larch Street, North Lansing. Drew logs from Old Maid’s Swamp near Dimondale. Moved to Woodland a mile west of the first house on west side, turning south from M43. Next farm where Sylvia and Grace were born, then to the big brick house at the south end of Wellman Road. I was born there on July 5, 1890. Rented that farm. Moved the fall of 1890 to Eaton County, Sunfield Township, 70 acres. John Rawson story. Farm paid for by 1900. Bought 80 acres on west of Rawson’s corners. Pa died May 26, 1901, Ma’s birthday.

Myrtie Candace Lovell Welch

I was born in Barry County, Michigan on July 5, 1890. It was called the Wellman farm, the owner’s name being Wellman. My parents rented the farm. The house, still standing and looking in quite good repair for its age, is a pretty, old-fashioned brick house located on Wellman Road, just south of the Coats Grove Road, on south is a road called Bayne, beginning there and going east. Wellman Road is a north and south road, the first corners west of Woodland on M 43. The house is unusual and so differently constructed from other houses around it. It must have been quite a show place at the time I was born. Grandson Gary took me for a drive over there yesterday afternoon. We were headed west on Coats Grove and we could see it just before turning south on to Wellman Road.

My parents, LeGrande De Forrest Lovell and Sarah Ann Cory were natives of McComb, Hancock County, Ohio. My Grandparents were Joseph Lovell, born in Tonawanda County, New York and Nancy Grobb, born in Ohio. Joseph Lovell was a carpenter by trade, also used to operate a big sawmill near Findlay, Ohio.

My father had no special trade and just worked for farmers in the vicinity. After my parents were married they decided there was no future for them in Ohio just working for other people. My mother had cousins in Lansing who kept writing to them, telling of the employment a man with a team of horses could find here in Michigan. So they packed up their belongings in a covered wagon hitching a cow on behind so they would have milk for their two babies, Nancy Mae, two years old, and Arby Ray, three months old. They started for Michigan against the wishes of both the Lovell’s and the Croy’s. Everyone told them they would starve to death or else be killed. My mother said her people and really all the people they knew, thought of Michigan as a place that no one, after living in Ohio, could possibly endure. A brother-in-law told them they couldn’t even grow decent corn in Michigan, made fun of my Dad and said it was nothing but popcorn compared to Ohio corn. Well, I guess he was right about the corn but not right about my Dad never having a home of his own. My uncle had his home given to him. In spite of everything and everybody, they left Ohio and settled at first in the then village of Lansing on North Larch Street.

It was in the spring of 1880. I know that date is right because Arby was born December 5, 1879 and they left for Michigan the next year. Frances (Grace and Charles Collier’s daughter) was here to see me yesterday and told me a story that I had forgotten, which proves that the time was spring. It seems my mother had a hen that wanted to set and Ma put the eggs underneath her. They then put eggs and the hen’s nest in a crate and added it to their load on top of the covered wagon. Before they reached Lansing the eggs hatched into little chickens. It takes three weeks for eggs to hatch (no incubators in that age). So you see there was a flock of poultry to add to their livestock to begin farming. Already had their team of horses, of course, to pull their covered wagon and a cow tied on behind to furnish them with milk on the trip.

It must have been a sight to behold! Today it would be hilarious and people would certainly wonder if those folks had all their marbles. At that time it was not unusual, you see many others were doing the same thing. Migrating to Michigan where there was work to be found while now people are leaving Michigan for the lack of employment here.

I don’t know how long they lived in Lansing, but my father found plenty of work. I remember this one job he had drawing logs from the Old Maid’s Swamp down by Dimondale. They were cleaning out the timber on the land around there. That territory is still called the Old Maid’s Swamp. I read an article in the Journal just recently about it.

Another story told us: My mother was working in her home on Larch Street one morning and she noticed that people passing by were stopping and laughing a minute or two, then going on. Ma thought she would find out what was so funny about her house. Well, in the middle of the front yard was a pump with a tub underneath where Pa watered his horse. In the tub was Mae. She had removed her clothes and decided to take a bath. After all that was what tubs were used for back in those days.

That trip to Lansing: What an ordeal it must have been to leave their parents, brothers, sisters and friends and strike out on their own to try and make a better life for themselves in the “Wilds of Michigan”. Everything they owned in the world was on that wagon. My father had $300.00 in cash and A LOT OF WILL POWER.

They told about his Grandmother Lovell riding horseback to their house that morning to say “Goodbye”. She always rode her horse any place she wanted to go. I guess she was quite an independent lady, herself. She couldn’t be bothered with a buggy.

She came cross lots through a woods to see my folks. Also, that morning, Ma said her mother, my Grandma Cory, came to the road as they were driving by and handed her up a plate with two pieces of pie for their lunch. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and neither one of them could say a word. I presume Grandma thought she never would see them again. My mother kept the plate. It was a bread and butter plate with a blue border and a peacock picture in the center. Ma still had it when she lived down here on M 43. Several times antique collectors had stopped there to see if she had anything to sell. (They always wanted to buy her plate but she always said “No”). Later on the plate disappeared and we girls decided she must have sold it for she never had much to say when we would be trying to figure out the mystery. I believe she finally sold it and I think I know the reason. There was Mae, Grace, Pearl and I left and she knew it would be hard to decide who should have the plate, so she sold it. That way there would be no problems. We probably would have given it to Mae. After all, she came to Michigan with the plate but I know that any one of us would have really prized it and kept it in the family. It was beautiful.

I think of so many questions I should have asked and written the answers to so long ago when I was told about their trip up here. I wonder how Ma cooked their meals, how she kept their clothes clean, did she run out of food, were there many towns on the road, any stores, did they ever get lost? Think of coming that far with the horses walking all the way. They couldn’t trot them with the cow behind and the old hen might have gotten scared, moving along so fast and jumped around, breaking her eggs or letting them get cold. Eggs wouldn’t hatch if they were allowed to get cold. Ma used to tell me if my foresight was as good as my hindsight, I’d be quite a woman and this proves she was right, as usual. I was always apt to do something, then later I’d know what I really should have done.

I guess I have rambled on long enough and now better get my folks out of Lansing. They moved from Lansing to Woodland. The first place south of M 43 on the west side of the road. It was called the Curtis place and Darrel says it is still spoken of as the Curtis place and it, too, is on Wellman Road. Their next move was a mile south, turning east on Barnum Road. Sylvia and Grace were born there. Also during this time, before Sylvia and Grace, a little girl, Jennie Fay, was born April 2, 1881. She died April 23, 1881. Another baby boy was born in 1882, living only a few minutes. Sylvia was born in 1884, then Grace in 1887. Next another boy was born in 1889. He lived just a few minutes also. My mother said the two little boys choked to death. At that time they knew nothing about turning a newborn baby to lie on its stomach as they do now, so they won’t choke. They were never laid that way because people were afraid they’d smother.

The next move the folks made was two miles on south, still on Wellman Road. Crossing Coat’s Grove Road to a big brick house on the east side of the road, where I was born July 5, 1890. I think they rented these farms, at least I know the Wellman place was rented.

I was six months old when they bought their home on Ionia Road, so that was December 1890, or ten years since they left Ohio in 1880. Now their dreams were becoming real---their own home at last.

In December of 1892, Pearl was born. In 1893 Pa built a big barn. Our next door neighbor in the first house south, was such a pompous, overbearing guy who said “That Dan Lovell, with his big family has bit off more than he can chew”.

My Dad must have chewed pretty well, for when he died in May 1901, he was out of debt on that farm and had purchased eighty acres on the town line, just west of the corners south side just before you reach Irish Road, which goes north and south. If you ever happen to drive by this place, take a good look at that high bank barn. Arby was repairing the rook, lost his footing and slid off, landing on his feet on the ground. He wasn’t hurt much, just a good shaking up---cat’s nine lives, I guess.

May 26, 1901, a day never to be forgotten. My father died this morning. It was Sunday. Pearl and I were still asleep when Mae came up after us. I can even remember what she said. “Wake up, little girls, and come say goodbye to your father. You won’t have one much longer”. Mae helped us dress and we went downstairs, not really knowing what was happening. The doctor was there, had been with Pa all night long with some neighbors, too. I have often wondered how they got word to the doctor. His name was McIntyre. He located in Woodland the same year my folks did and he and my Dad were pals. Medicine wasn’t so far advanced in those days as now. Pa had been sick only a week. The doctor called it pneumonia and said to my mother after Pa died “I just don’t know how to take care of this disease in warm weather. If it was winter, I would know”. Ma said if she could have just kept Pa in bed, as the doctor ordered, he would have recovered.

(There is much more to Myrtie’s story as she goes through her 95 years of recollections. If you want more of it, I must hear from you. –Robert W. Gierman)




Last update November 15, 2013