Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 22 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 1987, Volume 22, Number 4; Robert W. Gierman, Editor;
submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:


DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD were Pearl Huzenga (Jenison), LeRoy Darling, Theo Bulling and Viverne Pierce.

August in 1986 Sherm and Muriel Pranger attended the Pranger Reunion in Platte, South Dakota where more than 300 of his great grandfather’s family were in attendance. In 1892 the Prangers left the Netherlands where it seemed there was little chance of land ownership, for America and Platte, SD. Sherm’s grandfather, Sjoerd (Sherman in Dutch) first came to Fruitport, Michigan where his wife had relatives and a year later joined the family group in Platte. There, there were five Pranger families, each blessed with seven to ten children.

Sherm was born in 1917 and attended school in Platte. At the age of 20 in 1937 at a time of dust storms and troublesome locusts with economic depression, he hitch-hiked to Michigan, visited relatives in Grand Rapids before coming to visit his father’s sister, who was married to John Ruiter. They lived on Bippley Road in Odessa, a ¼ mile west of M 66. It was from there he started working for William Balduf on a threshing crew. He remembers driving his team and wagon close to a pear tree and picking and eating the fruit. There were no fruit trees where he had lived in South Dakota.

Six months later his parents followed him to Michigan. Most of us knew him as a carpenter and as the manager of the lumber yard sales office of Theo Lenon and Smith Bros. at Sunfield.

From the original five immigrants including Grandfather Sjoerd, there are more than 1,200 descendants, 183 in Platte Community and the rest scattered from Alaska to Florida and Maine to California.

Sherm and Muriel enjoyed their visit to the reunion and Platte and went on to visit the Black Hills and the Bad Lands.

The Pranger name came about in 1811 when Napolean decreed that all the conquered Dutch people have family names. The name is of German origin meaning “one who displays” or “the place of display”.

Reminiscences of Early Days, by J. C. Pratt in Saranac Local, researched by R. C. Gregory.
In 1842 there was plying on Grand River, between Lyons and Grand Rapids, a scow (1) covered with canvas in case of rain. We do not recollect the name of the craft. It was the property of Daniel Ball (1) of Grand Rapids.
In 1843-44 the boat “South Bend”, similar to a canal boat in every respect, except there was a pass-way on each side of the boat for the men to travel from stem to stern, and vice versa. The boat was propelled (as were all boats before the introduction of steam) by setting poles. As business of moving grain increased and more and more merchandise was required, another boat, the “Jesse” was put on the river in 1845-46, and was run in connection with the “South Bend”. At times when the river was high, the water was too deep for using the setting poles and the current strong, they were compelled to send a rope from point to point in a row boat, fastening one end to a tree, and then altogether, a long pull, a strong pull, etc. They would pull to a point where they had tied, then re peat the performance. This locomotive was of necessity very slow, frequently taking from six to eight days to get from Grand Rapids to Ionia, making freights very high.
Later, in 1846 the boat “Fred Hall” was put on the line by Irish and Van Allen of Lyons. The same year the “Jonah”, another pole boat was put on by Wm. Beach & Co., of Rochester, N.Y., who were buying wheat here to supply their mill at that place.
The next year, 1847, the steamer “Humming Bird” commenced plying on the line, commanded by Captain Robert S. Parks, formerly an old resident of the county. It carried passengers and freight, and did some towing of boats up the river. This was a great convenience to people, as the boat would run up to a bank anywhere and take on passengers and freight or discharge the same. This boat made the trip from Ionia to Grand Rapids in one day and back the next, thus giving the inhabitants some communication with the outside world.
We forgot to mention another pole boat, or rather canoe, which was called the “Marasuck Canoe”. It was some sixty feet in length, made by the Indians out of a very large whitewood tree, and capable of carrying twenty-five barrels of lime. Chas. L. Hecox, then a resident of this village (Saranac), took the contract of furnishing the lime for the county buildings or offices, which were built in 1844, and occupied until a year or two ago. He transported the lime in above mentioned boat from Grand Rapids.
Later the steamer “J. F. Porter” was put on. This boat had two locomotive engines, and was capable of running ten miles an hour against a stiff current. This boat was a credit to the company who put it on the line, and our river banks were always lined to greet the traveling public, as she was almost invariably loaded with passengers both ways.
The succeeding year, or in 1849, Robert S. Parks drew off the “Humming Bird” and had constructed a stern-wheel steamer called the “Naubeck”, named after a noted Indian chief. She was a staunch and good boat, but did not make as rapid a traveler as the “Porter”. It was well fitted up for freight, and had good accommodations for passengers. It was on this new steamer that our friend and fellow townsman, Chas. L. Wilson, earned his first money, which he never got. Perhaps if Charlie had possessed a little of the cheek he has since acquired, he might not have been so badly left by the doughty captain.
In 1850 a stock company from Grand Rapids built and put on this line the steamer “Forest Queen”. She was a magnificent boat, but was too large for the river above the Rapids. She was not completed so as to start very early in the spring and, as the water was getting too low for her to run on the intended route, she was drawn off and run between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven. She was a failure as an up-river boat on account of her size, and made only two or three trips, not getting above Saranac. The freight rates those early days were comparatively cheap; being only 44 cents per hundred from Chicago without classification. The rate was for goods laid on the bank, including cartage around the Grand Rapids to Saranac.
Capt. R. Simmons, a former old settler of Saranac and Boston, was for a time pilot on the “Humming Bird”, “Porter” and “Naubeck”, and master of one or two of the boats spoken of, Vine Welch, of Keene, since deceased, was an old river pilot when the first steamer came in the river. The railroad caused the river transportation to be slow and the boats were drawn off.

Wm. Eckstrom has released some records of the West Sebewa School District. Mrs. Richard Goodemoot has perused the record to find the names of those attending school there from 1927 to 1963. Three years of records were missing. The list follows concluding with the list of teachers:

Cheney, Josephine Cheney, Alma Cheney, Daisy
Cheney, Clara Creighton, K. Carl Goodemoot, Ruth
Goodemoot, Ruby Green, John Green, Orlo
Green, Gordon Hunt, Walter Leak, Lorraine
Lesher, John Lesher, Madalund Litchfield, Durwood
Litchfield, Atheline Litchfield, Maxine Litchfield, Alvin
Martin, Lloyd McNeil, Charles Nickolson, G. Robert
Peacock, Wayne Peacock, Catherine Thorp, Marshall
Wallace, Roger Brown, Florian Brown, Nyol
Brandt, Robert Barclay, Bertha VanHouten, Clifford
Friendly, Lloyd Kenyon, Willard Kenyon, Loraine
Goodemoot, Earl Leak, Anna Bella Kenyon, Madonna
Sargeant, Mavis Sargeant, John Jr. Goodemoot, Merle
Leyrer, Paul Layrer, Willa Layrer, Gloria
Smith, Kenneth Vance, Richard Creighton, Frederick
Goodemoot, Richard Zwilp, Mary Hatt, Herbert
Layrer, Martin Kill, Albert Kill, Frank
Smith, Carlton Sharlow, Arlene McCaul, Anna Mae
Brandt, Hazle Brant, Max Brandt, Ray
Brandt, Ruth Van Putten, Gerald Van Putten, Katherine
Lakin, Glenna Mae Lakin, Teddy Sharlow, Elizabeth
Shetterly, Philip Smith, Beverly Vance, Marilyn
Janes, Betty Janes, Carl Tompkins, Amy
Tompkins, Denver Tompkins, Gorden Tompkins, Leota
Johnson, Ethlyn Barkley, Marian Schnabel, June
Tomlinson, Richard Commee, Edmund Sargeant, George
Commee, Durwood Johnson, Gordon Johnson, Marlene
Becker, Marian Blackmer, Jacquiline Commee, Clarence
Coe, Joyce Shetterly, Shirley Smith, Roger
Becker, Louise Brandt, Betty Brandt, Evelyn
Blackmer, Donna Shetterly, Joy Downing, Cleo
Commee, Loren Creighton, Rex Smith, Calvin Jr.
Hissong, Max Simmons, Claude Jr. Morley, Sherdyne
Raymond, Kenneth Raymond, Donald Raymond, Nancy
Raymond, Shirley Coe, Larry Brandt, Roy
Eldridge, Joanne Smith, Della Galvan, Sarah
Galvan, Rachel Galvan, Tabita Galvan, Raquel
Galva, Esther Esparza, Consuela Esparza, Elizabeth
Esparza, Pauline Baily, Jr. Baily, Polly
Baily, Alice Baily, Marguarette Baily, Morgorie
Smith, Donna Sedore, Shirley Thomas, Robert
Brofford, Thelma Wybenga, Katheryn Davis, Larry
Piercefield, Jerry Thorp, Donna Piercefield, Janet
Piercefield, Wayne Piercefield, June Piercefield, Wanda
Smith, Tommy Shetterly, Linda Brandt, Leon
Carey, Nancy Carey, Norma Carey, Noretta
Lich, John Thomas, Robert Bursley, Robert
Beaver, Barbara Bursley, Lawrence Bush, Arleen
Graul, Jerry Graul, Melvin Smith, Mary Lou
Ingrahm, Betty Avery, Dorne Avery, Robert
Creighton, Rodger Piercefield, Patricia Thomas, Aaron Lee
Bailey, Joe Piercefield, Bonnie Landeros, Mary Lou
Landeros, Ruth Cavazos, Lupe Cavazos, Janie
Pinkston, Karen Goodemoot, Kenneth Pinkston, Brian
Thorp, Richard Cavazos, Joe Cavazos, Pete
Champlin, Donald Harris, Norman Harris, Doris
Harris, Betty Harris, Larry Harris, Ernest
Beaver, Arlene Harris, Robert Lich, Evelyn
Piercefield, Wilma Dexter, Walter Dexter, David
Dexter, Lynden Avery, Jimmy Brandt, Melvin
Bush, Ronald Hale, Donald Hale, Sharlene
Brown, Jimmy Orta, Esther McNutt, Vonnie
Creighton, Ronnie Creighton, Penny Sandborn, Julie
Smith, Elaine Garcia, Reymundo Garcia, Ramiria
Montalvo, Roman Montalvo, Rafael Garcia, Richard
Thorp, Dianne Garcia, Victor Oviedo, Lupe
Oviedo, Tony Lich, Linda Montalvo, Pancho
Thorp, Bonnie Sandborn, Marcia Pinkston, Craig
Thorp, Donald Possehn, Carole Montalvo, Richard
McNeil, Clay Taylor, Ronald Haverstick, Kenneth
Taylor, Ruth Ann Haverstick, Jimmy Taylor, Roger
Haverstick, Sharlotte Taylor, Rhoda Lich, Larry
Piercefield, James Ludwick, Roselie Piercefield, Wayne
Binns, Paige Piercefield, Dorothy McNeil, Corinne
Possehn, Christine Possehn, Robert Smith, Victoria
Thorp, Connie Sandborn, Suzan Smith, David
Haskins, Arthur Haskins, Carolyn Haskins, Willis
Conley, Joe Downing, Vicki Goodemoot, Keith
Haskins, Henry Thorp, Larry Risner, Richard
Risner, Theodore Conley, Maston Downing, Diane
Possehn, Donna Baker, Sue Ellen Baker, Bonita
Conley, Gene Goodemoot, Jane Sandborn, Kay
Risne(e?)r, Debra Risner, Steven Ritenburg, Kathy
Conley, David Ritenburg, Vicky


Susie Classic
Wilma Hunt
Bertha Kneale
Ruth Peacock
Lula Wallace
Lena Crane
Mabel Blackmer
Beatrice Kauffman
Violet Myers
Constance Hiller
Lucile Sindlinger
Ruby Adams
C. Earl Champlin
Bessie Alberta
Rachael Binns
Theda Pallas
Joyce Steele
Linda Hershberger


     Back in the “hey-day” of my life, we raised chickens, as did every farmer. Our henhouse was built along one side of the wall inside with a row of nests for the hens to lay their eggs in on the opposite wall.
     Can just hear you younger readers say “Now what crazy thing is she talking about? What are roost and hens’ nests?” My more antiquated children know but for the others I’ll try to explain. Roosts first. Ours were started with 3 two-by-fours about 4 feet long. One end mailed at right angles to the wall, half way between top and bottom, then a board slanting from the roof to the edge of this first board. Three of these were used to hold the roosting poles, one at each end and the third in the center so the weight of the chickens couldn’t make the poles sag. The poles, small enough for a chicken to cling to with their feet, were then placed length-wise between the supports. Fastened to the slanting board, one pole above the other (not directly above, of course), it now looks like a stairway with no steps hanging to the wall. Just the poles.
     Sometimes you might be a little late with your chores, darkness came before you had taken water and grain to the chickens. Always had that out for them ready for the next morning. With a lighted lantern hanging from one arm, a pail of water on the other, you’d enter the henhouse. What a sight greeted your eyes. All those chickens clinging to the poles, all facing the same way, backs to the walls, eyes closed, they were asleep. Maybe one or two would open a sleepy eye, give you the once over, and just go back to sleep. BUT, if you made the least bit of noise then pandemonium would start. They were very much awake, roosters squawking, hens cackling, all flying down off their poles, you didn’t tarry. You just gathered your lantern and fled out the door. As soon as you left with the light they would quiet right down.
     Chickens made a good burglar alarm. If people heard them making a fuss in the night, someone always investigated immediately. Most men would carry their shotgun out with them. Maybe you wouldn’t see anything, could have been a rat, weasel, skunk, or some other wild animal wanting a chicken dinner or it could have been a man. Plenty of chicken thieves around in those days.
     Guess it’s about time I began on those nests. This was just a simple board mounted like a shelf on the opposite side from the roosts. A board along the front to keep the eggs from rolling out, small boards about four inches high, spaced cross wise about twelve inches apart the full length of the shelf, made a box like nest just large enough for one hen. These were covered on the bottom with straw to keep the eggs from breaking when laid. Now in the early spring, some of these older hens would decide a family of little chickens would be a nice thing to have. So she would quit laying eggs, climb into one of those cozy little nests and there you would find her when you went to gather the eggs. You couldn’t scare her off, had to pick her up and throw her out, being very careful to reach under her from the back to get hold on her legs. She would fight back, picking your hands with her sharp bill, if you didn’t take care. You’d give her a toss but if she really wanted to sit in that nest for the next three weeks, (time it takes for eggs to hatch), she’d fly right back in and set there.
     Reporting to Ma, she’d tell me to keep that up for three or four days until we knew for certain she was going to set, then we’d put the eggs underneath her. You didn’t put fourteen perfectly good eggs under a hen then have her decide after a few days that she didn’t really want a family that bad and have her leave the nest. The eggs would be spoiled and have to be thrown away.
Well, this old hen persisted, we put nice fresh straw in the next, marked fourteen eggs with blue carpenter’s chalk, and let the old hen crawl in. She’d take her beak and her feet to push the straw around, making a little hollow in the center, she arranged the eggs in it. Dropping gently down on them, they would still not suit, so she’d poke her head around underneath herself, first on one side, then the other until they felt exactly right. Then spreading each wing out a little way from her body, she’d settle down for a long three weeks ahead of her. She would leave her nest just long enough to eat and drink and maybe go outside the hen house long enough to scratch around in the ground a bit. Always get back on the nest before the eggs would get cold. If they were allowed to get cold, they wouldn’t hatch.
     When the little chickens began to appear, Ma (not me) would take them out of the next, put them in a pasteboard box, tuck a cloth lightly over them, take them in the house until all the eggs were hatched. If she had left them in the nest, after the appearance of one or two chicks, old mother hen would be so proud and anxious to show them to the world, she might just leave her nest with them. Then the rest of the eggs would get cold and no more little ones.
     Pa had made several box structures to house the hen and her tiny chicks. These looked like tiny houses, had a slanting roof over the top, the back and sides and floor were built solidly, but the front had slats across so the chicks could go in and out. Ma (not me, again) would carry the old hen out and place her inside the little house then returning the baby chickens to her, she’d start clucking and the little chicks would run to her crawling underneath her feathers to keep warm. When the chickens were two or three days old, we let the hen out of her house part time. After getting the hen and her babies settled in their cozy little house, Ma told me to go clean out that nest, dispose of the eggs that didn’t hatch and now were rotten, then put clean straw in. I didn’t like this nasty job but went about it anyway. Soon finished everything but disposing of the rotten eggs. Three of them. Ma had said, toss them way back into the orchard and don’t make a mess around the hen house. Gingerly, I pick up an egg, going just outside the door, closing my eyes, I gave that egg the hardest underhand toss I could. The thing landed in the apple tree right over my head, down it came PLOP, right at my feet. You’ll have to imagine what happened next, for really I remember no more of the incident. I’ll bet someone else finished my job.
     Guess I forgot to explain why Ma put the mark of blue chalk on her eggs under that old hen. Sometimes, another hen would decide they wanted to lay their eggs in that nest. So every night, when you gathered in the eggs, you had to lift that old settin hen up to check. If there was an egg with no blue mark on it, you knew that one was freshly laid, so you’d take it out of the next.
Modern incubators have been in use for a good many years, taking the place of my old “Settin Hen”.

Arby’s bout with the bees, comes to mind right now, so I think I may as well start with that. Pa was not at home. Time – summer. Place – supper table. All six children seated in their proper places, Ma came to sit down, carrying a large plate covered with fresh hot biscuits. Conversation started in this order, (I think).
Ma: Wish your pa was home, we would have honey for these biscuits.
Arby: I can get it for us.
Ma: I don’t want you to try it. You’ll get stung.
Arby: No, I won’t, I’ve watched Pa get it, and I really know how.
Ma: Well, go ahead, if you think you can, but get Pa’s hat with the veil. That will protect your head and face at least.
Arby: I don’t need that! Pa never uses it! He just reaches inside the hive and pulls out a block of honey. The bees never pay any attention to him, so why would they bother me.
Off he goes with Ma and we five girls right behind him. Cocky Arby leads the parade. Now, the bee hives were at the edge of the garden, probably twenty five or thirty feet from the south side of our house.
Bold as brass, Arby squats down and reaches inside the hive and removed the honey. Before he could even straighten up, those bees came out by the hundreds, swarming all over his face, neck any place they could see a bare spot to light.
Arby started screaming at the top of his lungs, running as fast as his old long legs could carry him. Past the house, past the granary, on down the hill he ran to the horse tank, probably sixty or eighty yards from the hive. Tank was full of water, so Arby quickly ducked his head in to rinse the bees off.
Now, I know this is no way to end a story. I’m sorry but I can remember no more. I would like to know as well as you, how Arby was affected, whether anyone had any supper, if they did, could they eat the honey, etc., etc. What do you expect of me, this happened before my Dad died, so it had to be at least eighty four years ago.
Just thought of something! Suppose that was why Arby was bald at such an early age. Wish I could remember what Pa said and if the bees drowned. Whole thing is hilarious now but at the time a tragedy.

I’ve told you earlier in this history, every farmer raised chickens back then. This was a yearly custom in my family, at least. Don’t know whether or not other people followed it, but we did.
Two or three weeks before Easter Sunday, whoever did the nightly chore of gathering the eggs, would start snitching a few out each night and hiding them somewhere. Keeping the place a deeply guarded secret. On Easter morning, they would take a pail and get them, bringing them in for Ma to cook for our breakfast. When I say “they”, I’m always referring to Mae, Arby, Sylvia, and Grace. I’ve told you before, Pearl and I were the LITTLE girls. THEY wouldn’t think of trusting us with such an important thing as hiding place of the Easter eggs.
This year Sylvia insisted on gathering the eggs and wouldn’t even tell the rest of the THEY’S where the hiding place was.
Of course, every year my mother would pretend she didn’t know what was going on but kept saying to my dad, she couldn’t understand why the hens were not laying as many eggs as usual. They had been laying so well, but were dropping off so suddenly. He’d go along with her and make believe he didn’t know either. Usually, one or the other of them would know where the eggs were being hidden, but this year, Sylvia kept her secret well.
Now, last fall before winter set in, my dad had made a frame about twelve or fourteen inches wide around the horse tank, filling the space with straw. This would keep the water in the tank from freezing. Sylvia decided in this straw, she would have a splendid place to hide her Easter eggs.
Wonderful! No one would ever guess this one, they didn’t either. But one day, the thing backfired on her. A few days before Easter, my father and Arby decided to remove that banking from around the horse tank. Said the weather was getting so mild, probably the water wouldn’t freeze very hard, just maybe a thin scum, so they sat to work clearing the straw away.
Sylvia, who was watching out the north windows, suddenly began crying, so hard my mother said she was actually sobbing. She finally stopped enough to tell my mother, the Easter eggs were in there. Later, my dad told her if he had known he would have left the straw in place until Easter morning. Ma sent Sylvia down with a pail to bring her eggs up to the house. Remember Ma telling, Sylvia had stashed away over one hundred eggs. No wonder she was heart broken and no wonder Ma thought the hens were dropping off. Sylvia always thought so much of tradition. Every little thing meant so much to her. Sylvia, very special to each of us!

When you finish this article, I know you will all agree that Moron is a very fitting name for me and for once I would not argue. I can visualize this happening as though it were yesterday. Winter time, the family all at the table except me. I had been dancing all over the place, telling everyone how I could hardly wait, I was so hungry. Ma’s supper looked so good but as I was about to sit down Ma said “No one filled the water pitcher, Myrtie take it outside and bring some fresh water in for supper”.
Filling the pitcher, I started to carry it inside, when suddenly I thought “Here is my chance, no one will be coming out if I hurry. I’m going to see if this is true”.
Someone had told me if you stuck your tongue on a piece of iron in the winter time you couldn’t pull it loose. The whole top of your tongue would stick fast to the iron. Deed and double, (as my Grandma Croy (Cory?) used to say), I knew better than that, it just wasn’t true. Now, the pump handle was a nice clean bit of iron so I quickly put my tongue down on that. Jerking back up, looking at the pump handle, top of my tongue on it, I found it to be true.
Casually walking back into the house with my pitcher of water, I took my place at the table. Refusing everything that came. My, the questions soon began to fly and remarks like “I thought you were so hungry”, “this is so good, try it”, etc. My mother saying “you just must eat something” when all I wanted to do was get away from the whole bunch and cry. I could have screamed, it hurt so.
Soon after supper, Sylvia asked me to go down the garden path to the little house. I said I’d go, she picked up the lantern to light our way and putting it down by our feet while we sat, it also threw off a little heat to keep us warm. Settling in for the duration, Sylvia said “Now, Myrtie, you tell me what happened out at the pump to make you lose your appetite. “Promise me, Sylvia, if I tell you, you won’t tell the others”. She promised and she never told until we were back in the house, then she told the whole story. I can hear the laughter yet. After Ma got through laughing, she fixed me some warm milk. I did manage that. Now, I know it is true, but I had to prove it, didn’t I? Still like to get to the bottom of everything.



Last update November 15, 2013