Items of Genealogical Interest
Volume 23 Number 1
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,
August 1987, Volume 23, Number 1; Robert W. Gierman, Editor;
submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: WELCH, GIERMAN, OKEMOS, ANDREWS, NIELSEN, INGALLS, SLOWINS, OLRY,
LAKE ODESSA CENTENNIAL POSTMARK NOTING THE TOWN’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY.
The event was shared by people of all ages and especially the children, watching
the parade, catching something to remember for 2037. Woodland Township is next
for a whopper of a sesquicentennial celebrartion in August. On July 5th our twin
girls Myrtie Welch and Edna Gierman celebrated their 97th birthdays.
Edna is in the Masonic Home in Alma at 1200 Wright Avenue with a zip of 48801,
and has been pleased with birthday notes. Myrtie was able to get out to our
annual meeting and enjoyed the mental acrobatics of recall by Zack York.
The Daughters of the American Revolution, Stevens Thompson Mason Chapter of
Ionia carried out the impressive marking of the grave of Louden Andrews at the
Letts Cemetery in Berlin Township on June 20th. A video tape of the ceremony was
made by Fred Wiseogle. The tape is now in the keeping of the Ionia Historical
Society. Descendants of Mr. Andrews from Homer and Ann Arbor were present with
local relatives took part in the ceremony.
For those wishing to visit the grave of Chief Okemos, here again are the
directions. Find Okemos Road one mile west from Charlotte Highway at the first
road north of Centerline Bridge, then south beyond the settled area and stop
before making the curve to the right. Then take the trail to the east toward the
river. Shortly you will come upon the stone marker placed there by the Ionia D.
A. R. under the supervision of Hall J. Ingalls. The Chief died near DeWitt in
1858 and was hauled here by sled and was buried in the presence, among others,
Hall J. Ingalls. Shall we celebrate that 130 years next year?
From a letter from Viggo Nielsen: Some 25 years ago Viggo used to come out
from Ionia and do audits for local school districts as required by state law.
For the past several years, he has lived at the Clark Memorial Home in Grand
Rapids. “Yes, here I am, still getting around with a 4-legged walker that I can
push, as it has casters on the two front legs so it helps me to step off more
freely….I am thankful that so far I am able to get down to the dining room for
my meals….If I can hold on till the 30th of July, I
HALL INGALLS, RESIDENT OF COUNTY 89 YEARS AND WED 64 YEARS
Well Known Sebewa Township Farmer Became An Ionian When Three Months Old and Has
Always Made This County His Home; Was Playmate of Indians In Boyhood Days;
Speaks Their Language. He Lived In First House North of Mill Pond on Keefer
HALL JACKSON INGALLS, well known Sebewa township resident, has lived in Ionia
County since he was three months old and holds the distinction of having resided
in the county longer than any other living Ionian, settling here with his
parents in 1836. And, as a boy he played with the Indians and grew up with them
and today holds them in high respect. Mr. Ingalls, who was 89 years old last
March, (from an article printed in Ionia, Michigan, Thursday November 5, 1925)
celebrated his sixty-fourth wedding anniversary on October 6. His wife is not in
very good health but he enjoys the most remarkable health for his advanced years
and is active and spry as he does his daily chores on his 80-acre Sebewa farm.
He has a mania for talking and will chatter by the hour, relating experiences in
youth and Indian historical events. His memory is keen and retains all his
faculties, having excellent eyesight and hearing. He is smart as lightning and
quick to grasp a new situation. In his associations with the Red Man he learned
their language and can speak it fluently today. Therefore, let us listen to his
MRS. HELEN HALL INGALLS SPOKE: “I remember friends visited us one time and
wanted to visit the Indian camp across the road so I went with them. After we
had been in the camp for a time, Hall, my husband, came striding thru the woods,
grumbling to himself, slashing the bushes with a big stick and pretending to be
angry because I had run away.
The Indians saw him coming and began chuckling. One of the old Indians motioned
to me quickly to run over to him and crouch down on the ground. I did, and quick
as a wink, he covered me with a huge basket near at hand and then sat down on
Mr. Ingalls pretended not to see, but went on searching for me. He strode around
the circle of wigwams, turned back the flaps and peered inside the wigwam for
me, muttering and slashing with his stick all the time.
Finally he made a quick dash for the basket, pushed the Indian sprawling to the
ground and lifted the basket, exposing me doubled up beneath it. All of the
Indians sitting about, jumped up and down and whooped with laughter.
We hear many say that Indians were sober and stolid but I never found them
so……..They laughed and enjoyed a good joke the same as anyone else.
INDIAN SUGAR CAMP
Once when my husband was a little boy, still in dresses, his father took him on
an Indian pony to visit an Indian sugar camp not far from here. There were no
roads then, even to Portland, just Indian trails.
When they reached the camp they found the Indians busy gathering the sap and
boiling down syrup. They had no pails so they caught the sap in short hollow
logs which served as buckets. The trough at this camp was nearly filled with
clear sap. From this the sap was poured into a large kettle and boiled into
While Hall was standing beside his father watching the Indians, one of the
Indian young men suddenly grabbed Hall and popped him into the trough of
sap---dresses and all---right into the sap they were going to eat afterward. My
husband was terribly frightened but up he came spluttering and gasping as the
Indian with a deft stroke wiped the sap from his face. The Indians, of course,
thought it a great joke and began laughing loudly.
AN INDIAN DEATH
I remember one of the Indian squaws---in the camp across the road died in
childbirth. Her husband, Chippeway came across the road to our house and made me
understand he wished me to prepare his wife for burial. By signs he told me he
wanted a white shroud for his wife---and by pointing to his feet and stroking
his legs I knew he wanted me to get some stockings for her like the white women
wore. Somewhere he had seen someone laid out in a white shroud and so he wanted
the same for his squaw.
Then he led his Indian pony to me and made gestures for me to ride to Portland
and get the white shroud and stockings. I had quite a time making the shroud
look the way I wanted, for Indians had no underwear and the brown skin of
Chippewa’s squaw showed through the muslin and it didn’t look right.
Finally, I went home and got one of my white nightdresses and cut it up the back
and placed this on first, then the muslin over it but when that was done
Chippeway brought out a heavy shawl which he wished wrapped around the body,
There wasn’t room for it in the coffin---so he made signs for me to tear it in
two, which I did, and it slipped in nicely. He was very much relieved and proud
when it was all finished. The Indians seemed almost happy over it.
I remember we all went with them to the burial at Shimnecon. (Mr. Ingalls also
buried old chief Okemos at Shimnecon.)
I recall in 1841, when a small-pox epidemic broke out among the tribes and all
except 150 in this locality died. Stirring scenes were witnessed in those days.
Indians, raving with delirium, would run to the river and jump in, most of them
drowning. It was a remarkable thing, however, that of those who got out of the
river, the greater percent lived.
“Following this terrible epidemic, the Indians had no chiefs. Dearmack and his
brother were then duly elected as the heads of this new tribe. In 1845, Dearmack
and his brother purchased 110 acres of land on the bend of the river, and called
it the territory of Meshimmenconing. The tribes all moved onto this land and it
was plotted into five-acre lots and each tribe had to clear the land and were
expected to raise crops. Forty-nine log houses were constructed.
If I remember correctly, Rev. Mondoga and his wife came to the village in 1851
and built a log house for a parsonage. Rev. Mondoga and his uncle, John Compton,
tried to convert the tribes and taught the Indian children. In 1853, Manassa
Hickey, the first missionary, came and in 1855 the first church was constructed.
A year later a school house was built.
An exclusive cemetery for Christian Indians was established near Grand River and
fifteen were buried there, I believe. A rod south of this burying ground was the
plat of land for the so-called heathen Indians and 13 were interred there,
including Chief Okemos, who had been chief of his tribe at a town east of
Lansing which still bears his name.
‘Okemos’ guns, belts and other belongings were buried with him and in later
years because the grave was desecrated it was covered with stone. I know many
efforts were made by the missionary to convert him, but his heart was hardened
and he would say “kay”, when asked to become a Christian, which means “no”.
I remember one occasion of a squaw being buried who had been visiting the
settlement. The remains were being carried in a rough casket by the young Indian
boys and a woodchuck clumsily waddled its way across the path. The youths
dropped the casket and ran after the woodchuck and after catching him took up
their burden once more and this time got it under the ground.
After the government gave the Indians the land at Mt. Pleasant, in 1860,
Dearmack and Menawquet sold Meshimmemconning and in 1861, departed with their
tribes for Paw Paw, but most of the others moved to Mt. Pleasant.
For 35 years Mr. Ingalls served his township as justice of the peace and for a
number of years he was health officer. Today, he is happy and contented and
rejoices in being able to relate thrilling and hair-raising experiences with the
SOME WORDS ON A TRUST WELL HONORED – The Olry Homestead
Whether you’re coming east from Lake Odessa or west from Sebewa Corners, the
majestic ivory house set back from Musgrove Highway catching the light like a
bed of iris, commands your attention and respect. It crowns the open landscape
like a dowager-queen, all soft hued bricks and long windows veiled with organdy
within and Virginia creeper without.
The barns behind it, their tin roofs glinting, are classic structures boasting
or rural Michigan history through all the seasons they’ve survived, one by
variable one. The oldest is a bit swaybacked like a fine old horse let out to
pasture after carrying generations of children about, but the sheep that find
shelter inside its solid walls don’t care and those of us who admire the subtle
gentility of age can only rejoice. This barn’s warm wooded profile relieves and
brightens eyes weary of proliferating pole barns. This is a barn with heavy
beams and wide planked floors that smells of hay and husbandry and not aluminum.
A veneration for what was and still should be pervades this farm, now duly
placqued and entering on an official list of Michigan historical sites. The
Slowins, Anne and Grayden, who raise sheep in the close cropped fields around
the house and barns, have kept the faith. They have preserved the spare elegance
of the house while living with their own productive lives within it. Anne the
artist has hung her pictures, most of which are views of the farm, in almost
every room adding the peace and charm of the outside to the rich collage of old
family portraits, Grayden’s photographs, collections of rare old books and
magazines, prize ribbons from various fairs, and a wild and woolly assortment of
artifacts and lore related to sheep.
On Memorial Day weekend, the Slowins graciously opened their home so we curious
folk who’ve been driving by for years admiring the house from afar, could at
last explore it from the beamed attic with its well-stocked canning cupboard. We
marveled at the high ceilings, the polished woodwork, the big comfortable rooms,
the well used music room hinting of winter evenings spent with Hayden and
Mozart, and all the other titillating treats and surprises scattered throughout.
Children ran up and down stairs and in and out doors while older visitors basked
in nostalgia and sweet memories.
In the yard outside, a valiant young gingko, a gift to the Slowins from Bob
Gierman (who is himself a gift), has recovered from an earlier skirmish with the
family cats and begins to assert itself amidst the protective and aromatic
mounds of honeysuckle, mock orange and lilac draped like antimacassars around
the shoulders of the old house. Through the windows of the newest barn, one can
see the pumpkin colored snouts of three vintage Allis Chalmers tractors
cherished not only for the jobs they continue to perform but for the aesthetic
response they engender.
Everywhere on this farm, one finds the new and the old, beautifully nurtured and
respected, existing together not as museum pieces but as vital components of an
energetic world. Even the ancient rocks scattered along the fencerow and beside
the barns resemble the muted profiles of the sheep who stroll around them.
Good work, Slowins! The Olrys must surely be as gratified from wherever they
look on as those of us who were fortunate enough to experience the grace and
history of your lovely home in person. Thank you.
~ Connie Peakes
CHERRY PICKING by Myrtie Candace Lovell Welch
Beautiful morning. Beautiful tree loaded with red cherries, glistening in the
sunshine. I’m so happy, I hop, skip and jump along like a frisky young colt
alongside sedate Mae, who has asked me to help her pick chrries. At last someone
has realized I’m beginning to grow up like the rest. I’ll show them today! I’m
really quite dependable!
Quite a large, tall tree, so Mae has brought a ladder down with her, which she
now sits up in the tree. Before mounting the ladder, she hands me a little pail,
saying “You can reach enough cherries to fill this, standing on the ground” and
up the ladder she goes to have all the fun. Grown-ups! This tiny little pail for
a big girl like me! Stand on the ground, not me, I soon tire of that. Looking
up, I see lots of cherries I could pick by climbing into the tree.
Up I go, Mae not telling me I couldn’t. Cherries all around me now. I start
picking them. They look so delicious, guess I’ll eat one or two, so tasty, one
or two calls for more, besides it’s fun to spit the seeds. Wonder how far I can
spit them, bet I can spit a cherry seed farther than anyone in the family,
wonder how far Mae could spit a cherry pit, guess I’ll ask her. No I better not
she would just tell me it was very un-lady-like to spit anything. On and on my
thoughts keep rambling until they are interrupted by a call from Ma; “Girls,
dinner is ready”. By this time I have really worked myself up into the top of
the tree. Thinking I would climb to the ladder and get down that way. About that
time Mae is on the ground and so is the ladder. I yell at her “Don’t take away
the ladder, I need it. I can’t get down from here, I’m hungry.” This was her
answer to that; “you climbed up there, now climb down the same way. You can’t
possibly be hungry, you’ve done nothing all morning except eat cherries and spit
seeds”. With that she left me “up a tree”. I got down, I had too done something
and I could prove it. The bottom of my little pail being almost covered with
Now the usual thing has happened, I simply can’t remember any more of this day,
so my story ends. One thing I am quite certain didn’t happen. Mae didn’t tell of
my “shenanigans” the minute she stepped in the house. If she had, I would have
been laughed at, someone would probably nickname me the great cherry picker. Mae
really didn’t care for the way the other ones picked on Pearl and I.
Think I’ll write next about my grown-up sister.
MY SISTER MAE
Nancy Mae Lovell, born Oct. 10, 1877, in McComb, Ohio. Nancy was our Grandmother
Lovell’s name. Mae, thirteen years older than I, twenty-four when our father
died, had black hair and eyes to match. About my height, maybe five foot five or
six inches, never very heavy, don’t believe she ever weighed more than 130 or
135 pounds. Rather a quiet, reserved sort of person but fun-loving like the rest
of us. Such a dependable sort of person and always a willing helper of our
mother. Took so much responsibility in caring for the younger ones, especially
Pearl and I. She was our second Mother.
Mae did most of the sewing for the family. One time, I remember, she was making
a dress for me. All finished except turning up the hem, she called me in from MY
VERY important play, telling me to remove my play togs and get into my new
dress. Ordinarily, I would have been pleased about the whole thing; but today MY
playtime had been disrupted. I didn’t want to but did as I was told.
Mae sat on the floor, a saucer of pins in her lap, and began turning up the
front of my skirt. Such a terribly hot, humid summer day. Top of her blouse was
wet through with perspiration. Her face was dripping like she’d been out in the
rain, hands so sticky, she could scarcely pick up the pins; but she began on the
back of my skirt. I had my back turned towards her and I informed her I wanted
to play and for her to hurry the thing up.
No response came for a minute, then she reached up, taking hold of me by the
waist, turned me around, looking me right in the face, said “I believe if I’m
willing to work on this dress for you on this hot day, you should at least be
willing to just stand still while I do it.” She never really scolded me, but
always with a few well put words, Mae could make me feel like a worm. This hot
day, I was so ashamed I think I felt like two worms, one wooly and the other
Mae was married in October of 1901. Same year our father died in May. Fred Clay
was her husband’s name. Not a local man, Mae met him when she taught the Gunnel
School out by Parma. I believe Mae boarded at Fred’s parents’ home. You see I
was just eleven years old when she was married and I’m going to skip details
because I just don’t remember.
Mae taught out there two or maybe three years. Fred used to come and see here
during vacations, always having to stay the week-end, too far to drive a horse
in one day. That way, we became well acquainted long before they married.
Everyone liked him, especially the little girls, Pearl and I.
Mae taught her last year at the Patterson School just a mile south of us. She
left Gunnel so she could spend her last year at home. I often think how happy
she must have been over that decision. We were all home together the last year
of our Father’s life. Wonderful memories of a happy family.
On November 18, 1902, Mae and Fred’s first baby was born. A boy whom they named
Morrison LeGrand, choosing the name of a favorite Uncle, Eli Morrison, married
to Pa’s youngest sister, Emma, and the LeGrand was Pa’s name. What an event that
was! Nothing so thrilling to the Lovell sisters had ever happened before. We
wanted the whole world to know, could hardly wait to get to school the next day,
to brag and “strut our stuff”. No one in the whole Bismark School had a married
brother or sister. Just us! Most important people on earth! We had a nephew! We
were now Aunt Grace, Aunt Myrtie and Aunt Pearl.
Yes, Aunt Grace, who was always telling Pearl and I how much older and wiser she
was than we, came right down to our level and bragged just as much as we “Little
Fred and Mae were living with his parents at that time and I believe Ma went out
to help Mrs. Clay. We nearly lost our big sister and it was several weeks before
she was able to come home. Too far for her to ride in a buggy. Dr. said she
could come by train to Vermontville just four and ¼ miles from our house. Sylvia
met her there and brought her on home. Now, I wonder, who saw Morrison first? Of
course, no other but me. I saw them coming up the hill, darting out of the
house, I met them just as they were turning into the driveway.
Before Sylvia could even stop the horse, I had jumped up on the buggy step,
right between the moving wheels and almost into Mae’s lap. I remember she said
“Well, couldn’t you at least wait until I got out!” Trying to sound a little
disgusted with me, but with a half smile on her face, I knew she was as anxious
to show Morrison off as I was to see him.
Fred came later in the day driving their horse on the buggy. Mae came home so Ma
and Sylvia could help her with her baby but Fred came with the idea of renting a
farm nearby home.
Luck was with him. A nice farm, with a tenant house, just south to Rawson’s
corners, then east first house on the north side was available. They rented it
and soon were living just around the corner from us.
Everyone was so happy. Almost like having Mae home again. Close by so we could
help her if she needed us and visit her probably when she didn’t.
The only thing I really remember about that house was the big window in the
front. I thought that was wonderful, all our windows were small. Mae loved
flowers and plants and could always make them grow most any place even in this.
Fred made her a window box just right to sit in front of that big south window.
They filled it with soil and Mae sowed (of all things) Climbing Nasturtium seed!
Ma told her they wouldn’t amount to anything, they were never meant to grow
inside a house. Ma was wrong, that was the most beautiful sight all that winter.
They vined, Mae strung cords up to the top of the window. Soon they reached the
top, next started blossoming. Mae had bouquets to give away to everyone who
Ilene, the second thrill in my life was born Jan. 20, 1905, on the old home
place. Leta, Mae’s third child was born on our farm, too. Later Fred and Mae
moved up to Charlotte, lived on a rented place for awhile, then bought the
pretty place with the brick house, just south of the fair grounds in Charlotte.
That was Mae’s home until her death, June 28, 1959. Fred lived there until his
death in April 15, 1960.
After his parents died, Morrison and his wife Sara Ledyard, purchased the family
home. Sara was killed in an automobile accident, dying on November 3, 1969.
Morrison then lived there alone until his death October 14, 1977.
Not many left in Mae and Fred’s family. Just Ilene, who married Ted Lee, now
deceased and Leta, married James Pasco, now deceased.
Morrison’s daughter Shirley and her two sons and Judy (Ilene’s daughter) with
her four children are the only ones left besides Ilene and Leta. All so very
precious to me.
November 15, 2013