Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 21 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 Association;
FEBRUARY 1986, Volume 21, Number 4. Robert W. Gierman, Editor.
Submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:


A NEWLY REGISTERED VOTER is George Carpenter, aged 90. He is old enough to have been eligible for entry in the genealogy book “Carpenter, the Rehoboth Family”. But with sixty listed with the name of Henry, I cannot match him in the list. If he were born in 1896, he would have been a year or two old when the book was published. His age seems to make him the oldest male resident of Sebewa Township. He is living with his grandson on Goddard Road a half mile south of Tupper Lake Rd.

MRS. MYRTIE WELCH being interviewed by Zack York was a video tape I made last summer. If you have a video tape deck and would like to borrow the nearly hour long cassette for a look, give me a call…..Since Christmas Mrs. Welch has gone to stay with her daughter, Mrs. Willson, who now lives at Auburn, near Bay City. Myrtie and Edna Sayer share the same birth date, July 5, 1890.


May 4, 1885. Sowed oats, 12 acres. Mr. Shace got 7 bushels of oats @ 35 cents $2.45.
May 5. Went to Portland. Drew $1,115 pension money. Paid $9.75 debt and hotel bill 75 cents. Got line straps, bull ring, door lock $1.00. Hog rings 25 cents. Paid $1.50 for Observer. Bought a ledger for the Post. Gave wife $10 to buy goods with.
May 6, 1885, Wednesday. Went to Vermontville. Paid $135.65. Paid Loomis $33.70. Paid Fleming $29.15. Paid H. P. Martin $29.65. $1.95 for a pair of shoes, $1 for horse medicine, 65 cents for dinner and horse in barn, 10 cents for beer.
May 7. Plowed all day. Dave Figg and wife were here. Went to Post meeting. Cow had a calf. Jo Childs helped me in afternoon with two teams. Was awful cold. Snowed some.
May 8. Plowed till 5 o’clock. Rained in afternoon. Tom VanBuren sowed oats. Jo Childs helped me till 3 o’clock with two teams. Paid my wife $131.30 on accounts and a note of $25.10 took up. Paid wife note $58.20. Total $189.50.
May 9. Snowed. Drawed in logs to Haddix mill. Got 1,220 feet sawed. Went to store. Paid Ed Stinchcomb $25 on account. Paid S. A. Wright $2 that belongs to her son-in-law. Paid on goods 65 cents. Am to pay wife $37.20 on Haddix account, to be applied to note. Clem Haddix mill burned down.

Sunday, May 10, 1885. Clapps folks were here, and Sybil Wright. Gave them 15 lbs. sugar. Was cold day.
May 11. Plowed all day. Was a warm day.
May 12. Plowed most of day. One of my horses was sick. Laid down in furrow.
May 13. Spaded in garden in forenoon. Plowed and dragged potato patch in afternoon.
May 14. Plowed some. Went to Post meeting. Paid Ed Stinchcomb $25.
May 15. Plowed and dragged all day. Sold 38 bushels of corn to Conchright @ 25 cents per bushel. $9.50.
May 16. Plowed. My wife went to Vermontville and got me a pair of boots. I paid a mowing machine note $45.65. Did some milliner trading. It was a warm day.

Sunday, May 17, 1885. Went to Ed Stinchcombs a visiting.
May 18. Plowed most of day. Sold 6 calves. Two pair old heifers for $15 to Al Griffin. Was a cold day. Al paid $10 on the cattle. Is to take them away in a few days.


From the RECOLLECTOR of October 1972 is this paragraph citing the story of Ionia County’s first automobile as told by Mrs. Helen Eddy Hollen, a former teacher in the Portland Public Schools. Her father, N. J. Eddy, the Portland jeweler and watch repairman of 1898, learned of an auto that was for sale. Some “rich man” of Detroit, Chicago or maybe of Grand Rapids had a son who owned an automobile. The son died and the auto was put up for sale. Mr. Eddy made the purchase and had the car shipped to Portland by flatcar. It was a Locomobile Steamer, built in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Locomobile Company had bought out the rights to the car from the Stanley Bros. and began producing it under the Locomobile name. Like the early Stanleys, it had a boiler under the seat, heated by a gasoline flame underneath. The cylinders were vertical and the rods could be seen working up and down. One lever controlled the flow of steam to the cylinders and another lower did the steering. The single cylinders and another lower did the steering. The single seat accommodated Mr. and Mrs. Eddy and the daughter, Helen. It was driven around town rather than any country road. When a real excursion was wanted they went all of the way to Eagle and back. Several times, Mr. Eddy stopped the car to get out and lead somebody’s frightened horses around it. In a year or so after selling out to Locomobile, the Stanley Bros. decided to go back to automobiles and started building another steam car, which was too much competition for Locomobile and led to its demise. Later, Mr. Eddy traded his Locomobile for a Stanley Steamer. As far as Miss Eddy was concerned, it did not compare to the Locomobile. “You’d get out in the country and the boiler would pop off and you would have to wait for it to build up a head of steam before you could travel”.

For a list of Automobile companies of 1915 we refer you to the October 1973 issue of RECOLLECTOR. Also, the February 1971 issue of the RECOLLECTOR describes the 1909 one cylinder Reo, owned by several people successively.

Following are quotes from THE PORTLAND OBSERVER as researched by Lucille Esch:
June 15, 1904. Two more automobile touring cars have been added the past week to the list already here. There are now seven owned in Portland. The two new ones are owned by O. N. Jenkins and E. D. Woodbury, the former having bought a Ford and the latter a Rambler. The other owners are Robert Ramsey, F. H. Knox, W. W. Terriff, Thomas Frost, while N. J. Eddy has a Locomobile or steam machine. Portland probably has more of these machines than any other place of its size in Michigan.

1904. Dick Merrifield of Sebewa has bought an auto and he will, with E. C. Derby, make a run to St. Louis with it to visit the World’s Fair.
March 1, 1905. E. C. Herolz has received the Rambler touring car, which he purchased some time ago. It has a canopy top and other adjuncts not possessed by other cars of this make owned in Portland.
April 12, 1905. Frank Jenkins and Herb Emery were in Detroit to drive home the Oldsmobile touring car recently purchased by Dr. Alton. The machine is a very pretty one and the Doctor already has begun to call upon his patients in the country by the new conveyance. He says it works like a compound cathartic pill.
November 12, 1905. John McClelland received his Rambler touring car last Thursday, 1905 model, his side doors and other up-to-date improvements and is painted green.
1906. There was no reference to individual cars but a notice that in October, Governor Warner was to visit Portland in an auto party, which was visiting the entire county. (Special feature in Portland was to view the Commonwealth ___.) Called off because of a very heavy rain storm.
September 7, 1907. Herb Emery was shot at while driving his car. He had pulled over to the side of the road so a buggy could go by and the revolver was fired from the back of the buggy.
November 9, 1908. E. D. Woodbury has a 7 passenger Olds. W. W. Terriff a 2 passenger Olds, Tom Frost a 6 cylinder Olds, Dr. Horning has purchased the Franklin car that Mr. Woodbury has run for the past season.
December 7, 1909. James Webster will retire from the shoe business and will open a garage after the first of the year. He has the option on several good autos and will take the agency for one or two of them and operate a salesroom in connection with an up-to-date repair department. He is trying to get a location on the main block on Kent Street. George Bandfield will open a salesroom for autos. He has bought the Goodwin Marble Shop and will show the Hupmobile there. This racy little car is attracting much attention and Mr. Bandfield already has a number of prospects.
February 1, 1910. James Webester bought a Regal touring car at the Detroit Auto Show and acquired the agency for this vicinity. He bought a six cylinder R. A. C. made at South Bend, Indiana.

Now a column called A Notes: Louis Gibbs bought a Regal from J. Webster and sold his Reo to Dr. Lathrop. Arthur Nunnely bought a Brush runabout. George Bandfield sold a new Hupp to Dr. Weston of Muir. Mr. and Mrs. Wood are in Detroit to bring home a Ford. Dr. Alton FINALLY drives his own car. E. C. Herolz has bought a new Rambler—went to Wisconsin to get it.
May 7, 1910. O. C. Allen has agency of the State of Washington for the Regal automobile. A carload has already been shipped.
May 17, 1910. Ramsay-Alton is to make auto bodies. The H. J. Hayes Mfg. Co. of Detroit, which has two factories employing 1,000 men takes stock to the extent of $10,000 and promises concern for all the business it can care for. Steel frames will be shipped here for the wood work. Since there is no indication that the automobile business will slacken up for at least 10 years, the officers consider this a wise move.
The auto business has affected every other line---jewelry has been hit because men are buying autos instead of diamonds and have been denying themselves many things in order to enjoy a wise motoring.
Will Russel and Fred Pilkington enventually go to Detroit to learn the auto trade.
February 1, 1910. In company with John Webster and Oscar and Carl Derby, he drove the machine across the snow from Detroit to Portland without mishap. Although the Regal is practically unknown in Portland, Mr. Webster picked it from a big line of low priced cars. Herb Emery, R. W. Alton, F. S. Lockwood, W. D. Crane, Ted Wilson, A. S. Nunnely and O. C. Allen also attended the Auto Show.
February 8, 1910. George Bandfield has made the first auto sales of the season in Portland. Two Hupmobiles to Dr. Alton and Herb Emery, February 15, 1910. He sold two more Hupps to Ed. Dwight and W. H. Coe of Ionia.
March 8, 1910. Portland auto owners met in the office of Fred Mauren and formed an automobile club with a charter membership of seventeen. E. D. Woodbury was elected president, Fred Mauren, Secretary and Dr. F. W. Martin, Treasurer. Another meeting will be held in W. F. Selleck’s office when the by-laws will be adopted and new members taken in. It is the expectation that every auto owner in and around the Village will join the club. During the summer, sign boards will be placed on all the roads around Portland. The matter of good roads will be taken up later.
March 22, 1910. Ted Wilson has been infected with the auto microbe and the insistent little cuss will not let him alone. A. Nunneley is also suffering from the same malady and rumor has it that both will be driving their own cars in a few weeks. C. A. Estep expects to bring his home, weather permitting and G. W. Allen goes to Chicago to get his. He bought a six cylinder R. A. C. made at South Bend, Indiana.
1911. Hack Services---anywhere in the Village, 25 cents. Horse & Auto Livery, Cornwell & Son, successor to Alf Allen, then to Welch, then Alton bought it back just before he died. Bryon Welch took over after Alf Allen. Reed & Trumpower at the old Rink Building.
Blacksmiths; Archie Valentine, 1912, Fred Berkshire in old Wm. Smith stand on Kent St., 1912. Will Davis on Maple Street, E. A. Sweet – Horseshoes in old Fred Berkshire stand, 1915.
Wagon Maker: L. L. Williams with A. Ruessman on Water Street

Garages: John Leslie, B. W. Jackson and B. B. Bowes
Studebaker Wheel (bicycle) sold by Lung & Packard, 1912
1914: Clarence Sayer of Sebewa purchased from Oscar Derby, The Portland Garage, Clarence Sayer, Proprietor – Local Agency for Buick – General Auto Repairing – Full line of Goodyear and Firestone tires. He advertised in the December 23, 1915 Portland Observer the price list of these 1916 models:
Heavy Six touring car $1,485; Heavy Six Roadster $1,450; Light Six touring car $985; Light six Roadster $950.
Citizens Phone 10; Bell Phone 155
December 23, 1915: W. S. Kenkins & Son advertised – Auto Repairing. All accessories for Fords. Call Citizens 66; Bell 197
Garages – John Leslie, B. W. Jackson, B. B. Bowes

Around 1916 Francis Burger and Arthur Balderson bought Clarence Sayer. Burger entered World War I and Balderson kept the garage going. When Burger came home, he and his wife Flossie bought out Balderson and they were a team.
September 30, 1915. One thousand machines are expected in a big parade of Paved Way Boosters. Reo and M. A. C. bands to accompany them. Purpose of the tour of inspection over the two proposed routes. Wolverine Pavedway and the Board of Directors, with the party, will make their choice from the impression they receive along the routes, natural advantages and enthusiasm
And desire of people along the way. Henry Ford and Governor Ferris will be along to study the advantages the road will bring.

These items of early auto history in and about Portland come from a search of news items of the Portland OBSERVER by Lucille Esch and her interviews with Flossie Burger, still alert in her nineties.

When Francis Burger came home from the war, his wife, Flossie Burger, bought out Arthur Balderson and they ran the garage as Burger and Burger, doing jitney business also. He drove for all the funerals and they drove for several of the doctors. She drove more in summer and he in winter.

She did bookwork for the garage and drove to Lansing to pick up parts as well and probably was the only woman in these parts so employed at that time.

They built the cement block building where the J. & J. store is now. The Portland Garage had been only on Maple Street but they ran it through from Maple Street to Kent Street with rooms above. In later years they sold it to Guidi, who then sold it to Joe Mekoff.

Mrs. Sayer, now at 95, remembers that when Clarence was operating the garage it was a time of local option. Ionia County was “dry” and Kent County was not. Frequently the local imbibers would ask him to make a Saturday night trip to Lowell to celebrate the good times available in Kent County. She remembers the distressed calls of wives and mothers, trying to find out when their loved ones might return.

Clarence recalled when an exhibitionist circus performer, to add interest to the upcoming tent show, asked him to drive a heavy car over his chest. Two small piles of planks were laid down, the man laid on his back with inflated chest between the piles and Clarence drove over with no apparent harm to the performer.

Some will remember the R. C. H., the Velie and other early cars that Clarence owned.

Lucille Esch remembers that in winter time the children used their sleds to slide down hill and across Grand River Avenue—later U. S. 16. At that time nobody worried about auto traffic there. In winter it was proper to put the care in the garage, jack up each of the four wheels and let it rest until the good weather of summer.

Now, with the freeway taking the through traffic, who would carelessly risk his neck with a casual walk across Grand River Avenue?


Another time, Ma, Grace, Pearl and I were headed for Sylvia and Johnnie’s to spend the day. Grace was driving as usual when, down the road, coming toward us was a thresher’s outfit. Big steam engine, puffing along, huge separator, team of horses pulling the water wagon. It was quite a parade headed our way. Of course Ma was frightened, the road very narrow and a ditch on our right. It was just common courtesy for the engineer to stop his big engine, get off to ask if we would like him to lead our horse past. (They always did that if they met a woman driver. Women were not supposed to know enough to handle a horse). So, the gentleman asked and Grace said “No, I can handle it, our horse is not afraid”.

But my mother said “yes, please”. So, the gentleman took hold of the horse’s bridle and led us past. The horse? It never gave a second glance to the big noisy thing with its string of scary looking tools following along. But Grace? Her pride was showing and she was really upset with her mother. Ma? She heaved a big sigh of relief and thanked the man kindly. Pearl and I? We were just the two little guys who weren’t expected to have an opinion for or against. You might have had one but you didn’t express it to your elders. Those were the days when children were seen but not heard.

Have patience, just this one more horse story and I’ll unhitch them and call it a day. Where we lived in Vermontville on East Main Street, there was no barn, so we couldn’t keep a horse. There was a livery stable where you could rent them so when we wanted to go anywhere, that’s what Ma did. Mr. Kelley had lots of nice horses and then one old one that nobody but my mother would ever rent unless all others were out. That horse was the one for her! It had an ailment called the string-halts. He would be moving right along, when all of a sudden his right hind leg would begin to jerk and up it would come, sometimes almost hitting his stomach. It was funny and like somebody had a string on his hoof and would jerk his leg up and underneath its body. I suppose that was why it was called the string-halts. (It was a good deal like the seizures I had, after falling down the back porch). It never stopped the horse whether he was walking or trotting. He just kept doing his thing. I was always glad the kick went toward his body and not back at the buggy.

Uncle John was ashamed of us when we would drive into his yard. He told Aunt Sylvia he was always glad to see us but he wished Ma would rent another horse. Johnnie always drove such nice ones.

Now, I’ll unhitch my horse from the buggy, turn him loose, he will trot to the water tank for a drink, then I’ll follow him into his stall, remove the harness, hand it on the wall back of him, put on the halter, fasten the rope to the manger, go upstairs in the barn and put hay down the chute to his manger, give him a pan of grain, clean the stall out, placing new, fresh straw in for his bed and give him a big pat for a thank you and let him rest. Or I might just remove his harness and turn him outside the barn and watch him trot out to the pasture to graze. Maybe he’ll frolic around a little or lie down and roll over to shake the feel of the harness from his body and scratch his back on the grass.

OUR WOOD HOUSE. This was no shed with a slanting roof, but a rectangular building with gable ends just like a house, making it much roomier inside than a shed.

Situated about twenty-five feet from the back door, parallel with the house, it was used for many things besides just a place to store wood. When Old Man Winter came roaring in, baring his teeth and shaking white stuff all over the ground, he didn’t frighten us any. My Dad had plenty of good dry wood, cut in our own woods, to keep us warm all winter. Chunks for the heating stove, slabs all split to fit the cook stove, piled neatly in huge ranks across one end. Chunks in one place, split wood in another, ready and waiting to be carried inside to keep us warm and to cook our food.

Come on Old Man, using our iron pokers to stir the fires and keep them blazing, we’d fight you ‘til spring. No one really wins. Mother Nature just sends winter away to some other part of the world, only to send him back to us another year.

We are ready for him again, though. My Dad and Arby always cut our wood for the following year in the current winter, piled it in the woods to dry out and be ready for use. That really kept the woods in a nice clean condition. Sawing up the fallen trees, burning the brush after the good wood was cut out, sometimes sawing down a tree that looked like a storm might blow it over, kept the woods clean and made it easy to drive around in at sugar making time.

Now, I’m NOT getting into the sugar making business. If you want to know all about that, just go to Merle Martin’s, Gearhart’s, Zemke’s or someplace and get your information there. Really I should tell you the primitive way of making sugar. You can’t feature from the old way of doing it. Such a wonderful change and so much easier.

Wood was not the only think Pa and Arby cut in the winter. They also cut ice. Wood and ice were two items I forget to add to the list of things when I wrote about our living. When the water in the lakes froze into ice at least twelve inches or more, the men folk hitched a team to the sleighs, driving out towards the center of the lake, cut uniform blocks of ice. Bringing it home, they would stack it up, with plenty of sawdust between and around the blocks for insulation. They would put it in the north end of our wood house for summer use. Ice cream, iced tea, lemonade, and, oh, so many things to use ice for.

Home made ice cream was such a treat on a hot Sunday afternoon. Arby would take the ice tongs and remove a block of ice from the top of the pile, being very careful not to take up the sawdust away from the next block. If you let air get in through the sawdust, the ice would melt. Tamping the sawdust back in place, the next stop was placing the ice in a gunny sack, pounding it with the broad side of an axe, getting the pieces small enough to pack around the container.

While Arby was getting things going outside, Mae, Sylvia, and Grace were busy in the kitchen, stirring up the ingredients for the cream itself. The freezer was a little like a pail, only it was made of wooden slats fastened together like the staves in a barrel. The bottom had a depression in the center, in which the ice cream can fitted.

Next the metal can was filled with the cream mixture, just ¾ full (had to allow for expansion) then the dasher was carefully inserted. This had paddles on the sides that whipped the cream, while they turned around and around, scraping the sides.

The cover was then put on. It fitted down tightly over the outside like a cap. The dasher had a slight extension, which came through the cover, then fitted into gears in the center of the hook-like think that hooked down over the can and onto the sides of the pail. In the center of this contraption were gears to turn the can. After this was done you screwed on the handle, packed the space between can and pail with ice and salt, added to make a brine. Ice alone would not freeze, so you added salt. Then you started turning. As soon as you could feel it getting a bit thick, you’d always take the cover off, just to have a taste to see if it was O.K. You also checked to see if you needed to add more flavoring. Be very careful, now, because even a drop of brine off the cover into the cream and the stuff would not freeze. You turned and you cranked until you couldn’t make the dasher move. It was ready. Opening the cover, you removed the dasher. A lot of cream came out with the paddles and everyone got a lick at that with a spoon. Yummie, yummie!! Lots of work, but what fun!

I worked in a restaurant in Vermontville one summer. I think I was fourteen that year. Mr. Downing, the proprietor made his own ice cream. When he’d remove the dashers he’d call to me. “Frisky, come lick the greaser”. He never had to call twice. Frisky was Mr. Downing’s nickname for me. There was a lot of licking to do all alone. We served a lot of ice cream. It was just delicious. He made several kinds, but he would never give anyone his recipe.

That was an interesting summer for me and they were interesting people, in their sixties. They told me much about their past lives. They were brother and sister---and twins at that. John and Jennie were their names. Mr. Downing was married but his wife never worked in the restaurant. They lived just a couple of doors west of us on East Main Street. One or the other would always walk on home with me when we came home late. Miss Jennie (as everyone called her) had never been married. She was engaged when she was young to a boy who was killed in the Civil War. She still wore his ring on the first finger of her left hand as was the custom in the days of her youth. Often, she’d want to bring me a special book, or some music and she’d always move her ring to her third finger, saying then, she would remember because it felt peculiar there.

Goodness sake, I was telling you about the many uses of our wood house and now I’m fourteen years old, working for my nice friends in Vermontville. (Received $2.00 per week). Not only have I gone clear around Robin Hood’s Barn but everyone’s in the neighborhood and it’s four and a quarter miles to Vermontville. Anyway it popped into my mind, and now it’s on paper. I’ll get back home again, because my mother might want an armful of wood.

STILL IN THE WOOD HOUSE. Back in Ohio, nearly everyone had a small house in their back yard. It was called a summer house, used for cooking your meals outside to avoid building a fire inside and heating your house up in hot weather. My Dad laid a floor in the center of our wood house, installed a cook stove and my mother had her summer house. Ma would cook our meals, carry the prepared food across the strip of lawn, up four steps, across the back porch, then to the big living room and to the front porch. No problem! She had a nice cool place for her men folks who were hot and tired from their work in the fields, to relax and rest. Of course the older girls helped her.

The porch was the type recessed into the house with just one side open. Ours was about 21 feet long, really just a continuation of the living room, probably 10 feet wide, a door (west side) right in the center, out of the living room. A door at the south opened into the parlor, one opening into a bedroom on the north end. The east side was the one exposed to the outdoors, door in center and entrance steps outside. This opening was covered with screen. Being closed in on three sides, we used it from early spring until late fall. The table was at the north end and the south half was furnished with a small stand for your oil lamp at night, a rocker or two. Just a nice cozy little corner in my world. Such a lovely place to eat, too. Always proud to have company. There were not many people who had a dining room like ours.

Here’s one meal I’ll never forget. Back in those days it was customary for your school teachers to visit the parents of their pupils. An unmarried one would quite often come for supper and spend the night, thus staying for breakfast too. Married ones came bringing their wives and children. We never knew ahead of time when they were going to appear. This time our teacher, Harry Bedford, his wife and their son appeared at our house just as we were sitting down for our noon meal. Pushing our chairs closer together, Ma made room for three more people, hoping she had enough food for all. Well, she did, with the exception of one dish---Kentucky Wonder green beans. At their best, I think, when old enough for the beans to pop out of the pods and the pods are still tender enough to eat.

Ma always cooks them with a piece of meat, my favorite dish. Also it turned out to be a favorite with young Merle Bedford, probably five or six years old at the time. His father was a strict school teacher but he had no control over his own kid, who liked MY FAVORITE DISH so well he wouldn’t eat another thing his mother put on his plate. All at once the beans were gone and my mother had no more in the kitchen either. Merle was so mad he threw a tantrum, looked up at Ma and said “You didn’t cook enough, you better get up and cook me some more”. Well, I hadn’t had enough either, but I would have had if Bedfords hadn’t appeared on the scene.



Last update November 15, 2013