Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 21 Number 2
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;
October 1985, Volume 21, Number 2. Robert W. Gierman, Editor.
Submitted with written permission of current editor, Grayden D. Slowins


Plans for fencing and placing a suitable marker at the Shepard Ionia County Infirmary Cemetery make the doing seem imminent, so it seems a proper time for this article from THE LAKE ODESSA WAVE on September 12, 1901 to be republished. The editor had just been with other dignitaries at the COUNTY FARM.

THE COUNTY POOR. Over the Hill To The Poorhouse. Where Unfortunates Go As A Last Resort.

One of the institutions of Ionia County of which the people knew as little about as any public institution in the County is, perhaps the county poorhouse. It is situated four miles north and two miles east of the city of Ionia in one of the fertile districts of the county and contains one hundred acres of land on both sides of the highway running north and south (Cooper Road).

The county building proper is a brick structure three stories high. It consists of a main building about eighty by forty feet with a south extension of less dimensions. The building stands on the east side of the roadway, surrounded by a well kept lawn with a flower garden in front extending to the roadway with plenty of shade trees to temper the summer heat. The surroundings are pleasant as the land slopes gently to the west, north and east, thus giving a fine view of the surrounding county. The barns and sheds to the north give evidence of being well kept. The fields are well tiled and the crops we saw were looking fine.

The WAVE in company with three members constituting the board of superintendents of the poor, J. D. Woodbury of Portland; D. Gates of Saranac; O. C. Wright of Ionia and by their invitation also in company with representatives of THE PORTLAND REVIEW, SARANAC LOCAL AND ADVERTISER, IONIA SENTINEL, EXPRESS AND STANDARD and MUIR TRIBUNE made a trip last Friday to the home of the poor unfortunate.

It was a warm afternoon and the trip from Ionia was made in a carry-all drawn by the Fire Department horses of the city. The journey for the first half of the distance was mostly uphill and was suggestive of Carleton’s poem, Over The Hill To The Poorhouse.

The roadside was lined with oak and hickory trees, heavily loaded with nuts and there were many other things of interest to be noted on the journey.

It was our first visit to the County House and to one who has never made such a visit, it is a revelation, both sad and awful. The party was introduced to W. H. Shaffer, who has charge of the inmates and who piloted the party through the various apartments occupied by the charges of the County. Everything looked neat and tidy but there was a barrenness on the inside that contrasted strangely with the beauties of nature on the outside. There were no carpets on the floor, no pictures on the walls, no books to beguile the weary waste of time and no pastimes to divert the wretched beings from their hopeless condition.

Perhaps these beings who have been unfortunate enough to become County charges ought to be satisfied with enough to eat, a place to sleep and clothing to keep them warm. Perhaps, under present conditions, it is the best that can be done. There is one condition that exists in the County House that can and ought to be remedied by the Board of Supervisors of all things. It is the erection of a building where the sick, the idiots and the insane can be kept apart from the other inmates. The present building is arranged so the men and women have different sitting rooms and it is in these two rooms that all the inmates have to huddle in cold weather for warmth and social enjoyment.

At the present time there are eight people in the poorhouse who are idiots or hopelessly insane and who require the constant watching of the keeper, one of the latter, a woman, is constantly singing in a shrill singsong tone of voice that can be heard in every part of the building. Another was roaming about the yard, grabbing at imaginary objects. One woman is so bad they have to keep her shut in a grated room all the time or when out of doors, in a boarded enclosure. It is certainly humiliating for the respectable poor to live on the charity of the public; but to be constantly associated with imbeciles and the insane is enough to make life unbearable.

Some of the inmates make themselves useful both indoors and out and thus are self supporting. This is an exception rather than the rule. The hospital room for the men contains three beds with not much room to spare. One patient was nursing an inflamed knee and another walking about with a dislocated shoulder tearfully bemoaning his fate. A young lady was in the woman’s ward, suffering from an inward tumor. Turned out of doors by her mother, she came here as a last resort to find a place where the troubles and pains of life were soothed by the big hand of public charity.

Another man, 102 years of age, Nathan Draper, sat in his room with his hat pulled down over his eyes, telling his life’s troubles to everyone who will listen. There are so many pitiable sights to be seen here we will draw the curtain and leave the rest to the imagination. Mr. Hafner has a large melon patch containing several varieties of the musk and watermelon. After sampling the same to our heart’s content, we bade goodbye to our host and his hospitality and left for more congenial scenes. The best way to realize these things is to make a personal visit over the hills to the poorhouse.

October 24, 1901. The report of the Superintendents of the Poor showed that the expenditures for the County House Farm included $650 for the keeper’s salary, $405.15 for labor, $615 for stock and other items in general.

The report showed that 57 inmates were cared for and that there were 43 at the farm October 1, 1901. Yearly average $41.65 at a cost of a trifle over 10 cents per day each.



Transcribed by Helen Kreamer Esler, May 1885

Few there are who can remember when Post 283 of the Grand Army of the Republic built their hall in Sunfield in 1899. Though frequently the hall is opened to the public, its interior is unfamiliar to most of us. At the time of the Sunfield Farmers Picnic this year I was pleased for another look inside and to see some restitution and improved lighting.

There on the fronts of the chair backs are lettered the names of the Civil War Veterans who were members of Post 283. This time I was attracted immediately to the name of Anthony Kreamer, who died in 1923. His granddaughter, Mrs. Helen K. Esler of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, had written of her efforts in getting information about Mr. Kreamer. She got his 1885 diary and sent me a copy of it. It is from this diary of 100 years ago that we get the flavor of Sunfield before the railroad.

The 1880 federal census for Sunfield Township shows:

Anthony Kreamer, age 43, born in Ohio, with parents from Pennsylvania
Katherine Kreamer, 30, born in Ohio, with parents from PA and VA
Orville, 18, born in Indiana
Dayton, 16, born in Indiana
Carrie, 14, born in Michigan
Emma, 7, born in MI
John C., 4, born in MI
Rosa Smith, 11, a step daughter
George Smith, 8, a step son

Anthony’s first wife, Charity Wright, had died and he had remarried Katherine Smith.

Mrs. Esler’s father was John Calvin Kreamer.

Mr. Kreamer’s first dwelling was the log cabin 1 ½ miles west of Sunfield on the north side of M 43. Shortly he built the Italianate style house about 1 ¼ miles west of Sunfield on the same farm. That house appears neglected, far from its charm when the family posed at its front. This photo appeared in the SUNFIELD SENTINEL this year. Later Mr. Kreamer moved to Sunfield on First Street where he died in 1923.

Mrs. Esler lived at Sunfield for two years and was acquainted with the Mapes girls and others of the time. Perhaps some in Sunfield and thereabouts remember the Kreamer family.

Now we continue with the 1885 Anthony Kreamer diary.

Thursday, January 1, 1885. Chopped poles for wood. Snowed part of day. Was cold and squally weather..
Jan. 2. Was cold, West wind. Cloudy. Cut some wood.
Jan. 3. Cold in forenoon and high wind. Mild in afternoon. Cut wood and brush. Went to Post meeting in evening. Girls went to Stinchcombs. Ed Gray was here all night.

Sunday, January 4. Ed Gray, one meal. Nice morning. Sun shone bright. Was very nice sunshiny day. Will Parks, Sidney Creps (possibly Krebs) Ed. Stinchcomb took dinner here. Date started to Marshall. Five meals. (Dayton was AK’s 2nd son, born in 1863.)
Jan. 5. Was a very nice warm day. South wind. Rained in night. Earny was sick all night. I chopped some poles for wood in wife’s wood. Cut brush (Earny, Ernest, was AK’s son by his 2nd wife; born about 1882.)
Jan 6. Rained in morning and was showery all day. Cloudy. Drawed wood. T. V. VanBuren helped me.
Jan. 7. Was a very nice warm day. Sun shone all day. Cut down straw stack and repaired hog pen. Went after Dr. Snyder in evening for Ernest. Got medicine for him. Date came home from Marshall.
Jan. 8. 1 meal – W. E. Bowen. Was very nice sunshiny day. Chored around the house. Did not do anything. Was installed as QM at G.A.R. Post.
Jan. 9. Went to store. Sold 9 dozen eggs at 15 sets. Got broom, 25 cents, raisins 25 cents, thread 15 cents, balance in sugar and coffee. Mary Shields went home (Hired girl employed by AK at times.)
Jan. 10. Cut a little wood. Showed Hugh Shaver some rail timber on Cattell’s place. Went to Jones to see about sawing wood. Ming Bishop stayed all night. Was very nice day. Warm.

Sunday, Jan. 11. Was warm in morning. Rained in afternoon and at night. Went to hear a lecture at schoolhouse. Burns, speaker.
Jan. 12. Snowed some. Was very cold. Cut some poles for wood and chored some. Took the girls to a magic lantern show. Cost 50 cents at G.A.R. Hall.
Jan. 13. Got my horses shod in forenoon. Cost 1.12 ½. Charged. Got 25 cents worth of letter paper. Was cold day.
Jan. 14. Ditched all day. Was cold day. Dave NcNab helped me.
Jan. 15. Ditched. T. V. Van Buren and Dave McNab helped. Went to Post meeting in evening. Got a pair of mittens 30 cents.
Jan. 16. Drawed wood and chopped some. T. V. VanBuren helped me ½ day, 50 cents.
Jan. 17. Chored around. Was an awful stormy and cold day.

Sunday, January 18. Laid around some. Was very cold day. 10 deg. Below zero.
Jan. 19. Chored some. Was cold day. Went to store in evening. Got some yarn. 15 cents. Was cold day.
Jan. 20. Helped wash in forenoon. Was cold and clear. Chored some. Jones came with his sawing machine.
Jan. 21. 2 meals. Sawed wood part of day. J. S. VanBuren helped me. Broke the machine.
Jan. 22. Sawed wood ½ an hour. Broke down. Went to Portland. Got barrel of sald (salt?). 1.15. Sold 6 bu. Of oats at 25 cents. Got pt alcohol and cappergum 50 cents. Jones took supper here.
Jan. 23. 2 meals. F. Wool. Drawed some wood. 10 cords. Dave McNab got ¾ ton of hay at $8 per ton. Was cold day.
Jan. 24. 2 meals. Drawed wood. Father and Mother Stinchcomb stayed all night. Got letter from Clapp and Renalds of Battle Creek.

Sunday, January 25. Stayed in house most of the day. 4 meals.
Jan. 26. Helped wash. Chored some. Was cold day.
Jan. 27. Cut some wood. Was very cold. 13 degrees below zero.
Jan. 28. Tom helped cut logs in afternoon.
Jan. 29. Cut logs. Tom helped me. Boys skidded logs.
Jan. 30. Skidded a few logs. Dave Figg and wife were here. Went to church at night.
Jan. 31. Drawed 13 logs to Clem Haddix mill. Was very nice day.

Sunday, February 1. 2 meals. Went to I. F. Wools. Orve and Lewis were here. Came home in an hour. Went to church at night. Was a cold day. (Orville was AK’s oldest son, born 1861.)
Feb. 2. Jones sawed wood for me. J. S. VanBuren helped me ¾ of day.
Feb. 3. Sawed up wood in forenoon. Went to Stinchcombs in afternoon. Wilda had the Dr. Was sick. VanBuren got 2 bu. Of corn. Court got it. Done some trading at E. Stinchcombs.
Feb. 4. Drawed wood. Was cold day. Court VanBuren got 2 bu of corn to grind.
Feb. 5. Finished sawing wood, in all 42 cords. Drawed wood in afternoon. VanBuren helped ½ day.
Feb. 6. Drawed wood. Was cold day. Went to a lecture at night. Paid out 75 cents for lecture and chart.
Feb. 7. Sold Hugh Shaver 500 pounds of hay at 1.20 cents. Skidded 4 logs on Cattell’s place. Had Peabody’s cattle. Snowed awful hard.

Sunday, February 8. Wrote 6 letters. One to Broughten, J. S. Wright, I. A. Gralle, B. F. Witte, Inianaapolis, O. B. Heath at Decatur, and James Shidler. Went to church at Meyers Church. Was stormy night.
Feb. 9. Snowed all day. Blowed and drifted snow fearful.
Feb. 10. Was very cold. Sold Clem Haddix half stack of hay for $12. Is to pay it in 60 days. Court VanBuren got 1 bu. Corn.
Feb. 11. 20 degrees below zero. Sat around the house. Was a stormy day.
Feb. 12. Went to Sign’s to mill. Could not grind. Was a cold day. Court VanBuren got 1 ½ bu. Of corn.
Feb. 13. Helped John Wool to get up wood in forenoon. Hauled ice in afternoon.
Feb. 14. Hauled ice in forenoon. Went to office. Got 2 lbs coffee, ½ lb. tea, 50 cents worth of sugar, bar of soap. Sold 6 doz. Eggs – 90 cents. W. Krebs got 4 bu. Corn.

Sunday, February 15. Clapps folks were here and Sybil and Olive. Snowed hard. Took them home in evening.
Feb. 16. Blowed and snowed awful hard. Was very cold. Date has got the mumps.
Feb. 17. Was cold but sun shone bright. Mrs. Childs and Mrs. Walker were here. Drawed some hay. Court VanBuren got 1 bu. Corn.
Feb. 18. Was cold day. Went after Dr. Snyder for Date and baby Elsie. F. M. Stinchcomb and Father and Mother Stinchcomb were here, Rae and Wilda. Got can oysters 22 cents, soap 10 cents and crackers 25 cents altogether 57 cents.
Feb. 19. Drawed 12 cwt of hay to Hugh Shaver at 40 cents cwt, 4.80. Sold Wilson 15 bu of corn of Wrights to apply on acct 3.75. E. Stinchcomb 200 lbs hay at 40 cts per cwt and to apply on acct 90 cents.
Feb. 20. Went to Portland with grist. 10 bu of wheat. Took 2 bu corn for VanBuren and forgot to get the meal. F. M. Stinchcomb went down with me. Horse in barn 25 cents, crackers 10 cents, 6 of my family got the mumps. Got 4 bu buckwheat of Stinchcomb at 50 cents per bu.
Feb. 21. Boys had mumps. Chored. Was cold.

Sunday, February 22. 2 meals. Was cold. Went to Dr. Snyders after medicine for Date. Ed Stinchcomb and wife were here. TO BE CONTINUED.


THIRD INSTALLMENT – Myrtie’s Memories – by Mertie Candace Lovell Welch

Occasionally, a neighbor family would drop in to share the evening. That was fun. I can remember one time especially. We children always sat at the big, long table to play games. One night we were sitting there eating pop corn. Baker’s were the company that night. Mr. Baker told Pearl and I he would give us a dime if we could find two kernels of corn that were shaped alike. We spent the whole evening lining our corn up on the table. We searched and searched but we earned no dime.

In the summer, our evenings were usually spent in the front yard. Most people’s yards were filled with weeds and tall grass. No lawn mowers were around then. My Dad always kept ours mowed with a scythe. We had a lawn swing and were we ever proud of that? My Dad loved to sing as we all did and we’d spend the evening singing, mostly hymns. My Dad used to go to “Singing School” as it was called in his day. He also sang in the church choir. One night, I didn’t know the words to one particular song, so I just hummed the tune. After the song was over, my Dad informed me never to do that again. Either learn the words or keep still. That sort of spoiled that evening for me, but I learned the words to all the songs after that. Mawson’s who lived on the corner south of us used to tell us they could hear our singing up there. I guess it’s time to wind up the evenings and go to bed. I’m hoarse but so happy. It was so much fun!

OHIO TRIP. In the late summer of 1900, my Dad decided to go visit the folks in Ohio. His parents as well as my Mother’s were still alive. Hitching two horses onto our double buggy (a buggy with two seats and no top) Pearl and I in the back seat, we started for Ohio. Getting as far as Hillsdale the first day, we stayed over night at the home of Asa Kelley, one of Ma’s cousins.

In those days there were no motels or any place to stop over night, so it was the custom to drive into some stranger’s place and ask if they would keep you over night.

My people had never refused to take anyone in. In fact, no one else in our neighborhood ever did, but they’d direct the strangers to our house. “Tell them to go on to Lovell’s, they will take care of you.” Pa would help the man to water, feed, and bed the horses down for the night. He would get them their supper, make places for them to sleep. In the evening, we’d all sit around and visit, just like old friends. In the morning, it would be breakfast and feed for the horses again. When they’d ask how much they owed Pa for his trouble, he would say “No trouble, we enjoyed having you” and never charge them a cent. He’d also say “Maybe I might want someone to help me out sometime”.

Well, the time had come, and first place he asked, they were people like us, who were in the habit of keeping travelers over night. We were asked in at once. I remember, after supper, we were all in their big living room, grown-ups visiting. They had a Melodean and I had my eye on that. It looked a little like a small organ but I knew it wasn’t that. I finally got up courage enough to ask about it. The lady said it played just like an organ and asked if any of us played. Well, my Dad told them I did and I was scared. I didn’t know what in the world I played, LITTLE BLACK MUSTACHE, probably. That was about all I knew then. Next we were asked if any of us sang and Pa told them Pearl and I could, so we sang. I asked Pearl the other day if she remembered and she said “Yes, I can even remember the song”. I had forgotten but remembered as soon as Pearl wrote it down. Here it is:

Life is like a mountain railway, With an engineer that’s brave.
We must make the run successful From the cradle to the grave.
Watch the hills, the curves, the tunnels Never falter, never quail.

Keep your hand upon the throttle And your eye upon the rail.
Blessed Saviour, wilt thou guide us Til we reach that blissful shore
And the angels come to join us In thy home forever more.

Next morning, after breakfast with these nice people we started on our journey. When we crossed the state line into Ohio, my Dad and Mother were so happy.

In the afternoon, Pearl and I were so tired of riding that my Dad told us, at the foot of a big hill, we could get out and walk up the hill. He said he would have to walk the horses anyway and it would rest us from riding. We really enjoyed that until we nearly reached the top where my Dad gave a big war-whoop and cracked the whip. He scared the horses, they started running and soon the whole rig disappeared. Pearl and I started running too and yelling bloody murder. Reaching the top of the hill, there about half way down the other side, they were waiting for us. We thought they were leaving us forever. Later in the day, we crossed the Maumee River on a wooden bridge. I can remember the sound of the horses hooves as they clip-clopped across. Pa sat up so straight and was so excited. I remember him saying “Look, Sade, we’re crossing the old Maumee again”. They were going home!

We drove into McComb. It was after dark. Main Street and the stores were all lit up. Saturday night and the streets were filled with people, out for their weekly shopping. One of my Dad’s cousins, Ell Lovell had a grocery store and when we passed his store, we could see him standing behind the counter, right up front, weighing something up. My Dad was like a little kid. He said “Look, Sade, there’s old Ell, laughing and talking as always”. Grandpa and Grandma Lovell lived right on Main Street in McComb. We went there to spend the first night.

It’s the strangest thing, but I remember no more of this trip. We must have visited so many places. My Grandpa and Grandma Cory were alive then. Also my mother had two brothers and four sisters. My father also had two sisters and three brothers, all living around McComb. I can’t recall seeing any of them, nor how long we stayed and nothing at all about the ride home. McComb is such a pretty town, about the size of Charlotte. That Saturday night driving the whole length of Main Street, seeing all the bright lights shining, to me it was the most beautiful spot in all the world. Never had I seen a town lit up like that. Of course, I had never seen many towns at the time. Even though I don’t remember the trip home, we made it, because, here I am ninety-four years later and I’m in Michigan.

OUR ORGAN. Ours was a unique organ, being the size of a piano with a keyboard the same length. The organs at that time had a single keyboard, some five and some six octaves long. There were no double keyboards as we have today and piano music could be played on this organ. It was made by George Bentley. My Dad bought it from a Mr. Waldorf in Hastings. A few years ago, driving down Main Street, I saw the name Waldorf on a store window. I don’t know if they sold musical instruments or not. Just looking at the organ you would call it a piano, but it didn’t play unless you pumped the petals. In fact it was called a “Piano-Cased Organ”. It was the only one I ever saw. My Dad didn’t care for piano music but loved the melodious sounds of the organ.

I LEARN TO FLY. My Father’s oldest brother, Dell came to Michigan around this time, making his home with us. He was a carpenter and built a number of houses in our community. He also played the violin and taught me how to read music, how to count, and with his help I was soon able to play the hymns in our church hymnal. He also showed me different chords and later on, I was able to accompany him on his violin.

This accomplishment certainly helped me in later years when Ray and I were married. Ray could also play the violin, but unlike Uncle Dell, he played entirely by ear. His dad (Grandpa Ped) was also a violinist, as was his brother John, but both of them had taken lessons to learn. Grandpa Ped was also a thresher. He had a steam engine with a separator that was used at that time to take care of farmers’ grain. There were no combines then. He would take his outfit into a certain community and would stay at the farmers’ homes over night. Usually he would be gone from home a weak at a time. Before he left, the violin was locked in his secretary for safe keeping. Ray’s mother used to let Ray get it out and he learned to play songs by listening to her singing. The dance music, jigs etc., he heard from his dad and brother John. So that’s the way he learned to play. I always said I thought that was real talent. His mother used to say that his dad didn’t really lock the violin up from Ray. It was to safeguard the instrument from the five younger girls. (Enough said about that!)

Anyway, Ray and I spent a good many happy hours playing together. I liked to play chords to his dance music better than when I played the songs. Tunes like TURKEY IN THE STRAW, THE DEVIL’S DREAMS, etc. such as you never heard and probably are happy to think you didn’t have to listen to, but we liked them.

At that time, every ten cent store (like Woolworth’s etc.) had a section for music, with a piano and a clerk to play the music for you. Ray used to like to go in, choose a new
song, have it played for him and if he liked it, buy it. Then, bringing it home to me, he’d say “Play it.” Well, I really was no Liberace. Sometimes I could and other times I had to practice a few times, but he could pick up his violin and play it for me.

We both liked popular music and he would follow my tunes, never making a mistake, excepting one, I can’t remember the name of the song, but there was one place you had to hold a certain note and I tried to explain his mistake but, lo and behold, he said it was my mistake, not his, so I had to play it his way. I tried to avoid that sone when we were playing for company. He informed me he guessed he knew how it sounded and I did it wrong. So, from that time on, I continued to do it wrong. Really, you must keep your man happy.

John took his lessons from Roy Freemire, who was quite a musician. He ran a steam engine with a threshing crew and could play tunes with the steam whistle. When he arrived at the scene of his job, he would play LISTEN TO THE MOCKING BIRD as he drove the rig, powerful engine in your yard.

Roy’s sister, Nettie, played the Banjo and one winter the two of them, John Welch with his violin and Ray playing chords on the piano, sometimes provided the music for dancing at the hall in Shaytown (that old building is still there). I remember, once Ray wanted to dance, so he asked me to take his place. Did I every have fun and was sorry when he came back and I had to quite. I’ve been to so many dances and community get-togethers in that old building with such nice times.

OUR HORSES. Dumb animals, people sometimes say, but to me they certainly are not dumb. To us, horses were a part of the family, doing their work in the fields, taking us wherever we needed or wanted to go, then feeding, watering, currying and brushing, fixing their stalls with nice, clean straw to sleep on was like putting your children to bed at night.

We had a pretty dappled gray horse named Bess. My father sold her. I was heart broken and cried so hard when they tied her behind the man’s buggy and he drove down the road, taking her home. The man had been our closest neighbor, living across the road from us when we lived on the Wellman farm where I was born. Mr. Black was his name. He would be great grandfather to the Blacks over by Saubee Lake. A little over a year after he bought Bess, Mr. and Mrs. Black came visiting one Sunday, driving Bess. I remember when they unhitched her from the buggy my dad said “Let’s turn her loose and see what she does. Her stall is empty”. Bess turned and trotted down the hill to the barn, going through the door and right down to her old place. After being gone over a year, she remembered her old home.


Last update November 15, 2013