Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 24 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 1988, Volume 24, Number 2.
Editor Robert W. Gierman. Submitted with written permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:


Front page: Photo of a barn raising. “This picture is from the Sayer collection of photos and seems to be that of the erection of the barn on the E. A. Demaray farm near the corner of Kimmel and Musgrove in the SW corner of Section 21. You can see why the barn still stands straight despite its shabby outward appearance. This is how they used to do it.

1816—THE YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER by Alice R. Young

Speaking of unusual weather, meteorological observers generally agree that the spring of 1816 was the toughest ever. Vermont was probably the hardest hit. On June 8 of that year snow fell in all parts of the state and on the highlands and mountains attained a depth of five or six inches.

Icicles a foot long were seen and many vegetables were killed on the ground. Frost and snow were said to have occurred during every month of that year in Vermont. Respectfully submitted, Alice (R.) Young, 10555 W. Portland, Clarksville, MI 48815
Earlier Miss Young had told me that her genealogy reached back to John Alden and Priscilla. She spends her summers at her farm home but in the winter she goes to Cumberland Home near Lowell to be easily comfortable. When I visited her early this summer we talked of the Sessions School. Alonzo Sessions owned the land that became school property. He had become prosperous and at the time of his death he had made a will with the various heirs duly designated. Also as a last item in the will he instructed that no settlement be made until after he was buried on his farm land. So, the will was carried out and he was buried on a little rise in his farm land. With the property distribution made, the heirs then had him disinterred and removed to the Highland Park Cemetery.

In the August Recollector, you will find the name of Miss Young’s sister, Belle Young, as teacher in the High School at Sebewa Corners school in 1913. The above “Year Without a Summer” was from a clipping pasted in an old scrapbook. RWG

DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD: Tina Rischow, Stella Carter Smith, Harold Peabody, Lettie Dutcher and Alta Randall. All were members of The Sebewa Center Association. Donald Kyser is also on this list.


Many of you knew I was taking a vacation trip to the British Isles in late August and early September for two weeks. Here are some of the highlights. We were a party of 32 with only two couples not retirees. Some 21 people with only two others from Michigan boarded a British Airlines 747 at Chicago for the direct flight of seven hours to London. We left Chicago at 8 P.M., E.D.T, and arrived in London just a while after daylight. London clocks are five ahead of ours. Only three of us were from Michigan.

It was a considerable ride from Heathrow Airport to our downtown hotel in London. My first impression was of the many, many four or five story buildings with the dozens of chimneys protruding from the roofs. Coal was banned as a fuel for heating in the 1950s and that pretty well cleared the city of its notorious fogs. At the same time it was mandated that the chimneys be kept. Housing many, many buildings is in condominium type flats. Rentals are mostly unavailable. Start walking and you do not come to the end of it.

The city is full of statues and monuments—even one for Abraham Lincoln. So many relics from the Roman occupation late in the first century to 400 A. D. and on to the present that I kept my pictures and story of the 141 year old Sessions School rather quietly packed.

The Thames River has many bridges, occupied house boats and historic buildings along its banks. Time restricted us from visiting many places of interest. Many streets were lined with Sycamore trees. We missed seeing very many Sycamore trees on leaving London. We did visit Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London where many tour groups watched. Windsor Castle was an important tour with many large halls with exhibits of arms and weaponery, great dining and entertainment rooms, costumery and famous paintings and murals. London has many parks, even a square mile in size.

My encyclopedia gives London’s area as 620 square miles (compare that with Ionia County’s 576). A green belt has been established around the city where development is prohibited and farms prevail.

Fairly recently a motorway (freeway to us) a double three lane road was built around London. As soon as it was built, traffic became so heavy that it was decided a double five lane road was necessary and the extra lanes are now being built. No billboards are allowed along the highways of Britain. I started looking for unpaved rural roads but none showed up in all our trip. There were no muddy cars. Even the trails to off road farms were paved. The roads were well marked with signs directing traffic to every cluster of houses that had earned a name.

As you travel roads here you expect to find houses hidden by trees and shrubs. Not so in Britain. Many houses are obvious duplex arrangements with a chimney at each end decorated with a strapped-on TV antenna of small size. You see whole villages and towns with the houses well exposed and only an occasional tree of any size near them.

Again I was surprised to see so much wheat and barley as yet not combined. Nearly every field had a pattern of tracks where spray rigs had treated the crop to limit the growth of the straw. Big round bales of straw followed the combining. Often these were stored, wrapped in shiny black plastic. More another time. RWG


Tri-country Electric Cooperative got its start at Eaton Rapids where Miller Bros. Ice Cream Company had some hydropower at their plant on Grand River. In the depression years of the 1930s, President Roosevelt created by executive order the Rural Electric Administration May 1, 1935. A year later Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act. At that time, only one out of ten farms in Michigan had electric service and there was no push from the utilities to better the ratio.

At Eaton Rapids, William V. Clegg and others under the leadership of Lynn Walkling of East Lansing began thinking of getting a start with lines from Miller Bros. to tap their supply of power. On March 26, 1937 they formed a cooperative named after Eaton, Ingham and Jackson counties with the name of Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The first meeting of the Board of Directors was held in Lansing on March 27, 1937. They applied for funds from the Rural Electric Administration to build service to their farms. A first loan of $400,000 was granted them by John M. Carmody, R. E. Al administrator. Construction soon started. Meantime Lynn Walkling, Manager, promoted membership applications across the county line into Ionia County, stirring interest in the townships of Campbell, Odessa, Sebewa, Danby, Portland, Lyons and Ionia. Farmers were ready to receive the service. Miller Bros. were able to install some diesel generators to take care of what they could see as an expanding load. Lines were energized and the first group of farmers had their service.

Mr. Walkling resigned as manager in July of 1937 and Dolph Wolf was named to succeed him. Areas in Barry, Ionia, Clinton and Gratiot counties were planning to get electricity from Tri-county Electric Cooperative.

More generating capacity was added by a diesel operated plant at Vestaburg in 1939. In February of 1941 another diesel generating plant was built with offices for the cooperative’s headquarters in Portland.

With the load every expanding and lines extending into Clare, Clinton, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Osceola and Saginaw counties, the Board of Directors along with the cooperative organizations such as Ottawa and Allegan, Cherryland (along Lake Michigan below Traverse City), Presque Isle, Top of Michigan and Western Michigan at Scottville, pooled their generating capacity and transmission lines to form Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative in 1982.

Wolverine has 1,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 100 substations. It has contract sources of power from Detroit Edison and its own steam plant on Lake Charlevoix and several other sources including the Consumers Power J. H. Campbell plant near Grand Haven.

In April of 1988 Tri-county Electric Cooperative had 17, 221 customers, 13,689 of them residential with average bills of $55.83 per month. It has 2589 miles of distribution lines with a total of 13,383,990 KWH sold for that month.
Robert W. Matheny of Portland is Tri-county Electric Cooperative’s manager.

FLOYD EVANS - GRAYDEN SLOWINS interview with FLOYD EVANS, continued:

In the meantime my mother died, so Dad and I lived here. In 1932 was when we got married and Dad lived with us. We started farming. He was getting to the point where he wanted to quit farming & do something else. Sid Brown was getting going in the trucking business and Dad was going with Sid quite a lot on the truck. He liked that pretty well and it gave him something to do. So we started farming, and in 1935 he died and we inherited the 80 acres. I was an only child.

In the gravel pit I had been paid 45 cents an hour. I started out at 40 cents working in the pit down there, running the screener and stone crusher and loading the trucks. They had a bunch of old Model-T Ford trucks. They didn’t have any cab on them. All they had was a dump box on the back and a seat. Some didn’t even have a windshield, you set right out there. They held about a yard and a quarter a load. The gravel, after it went over the screener and thru the stone crusher, went up into a bin. They backed in under the bin and I pulled the lever and that would load the truck. They dug it out of the bank with a drag line and up into a hopper. A conveyor moved it up on top of the screener. The big stones went on down thru the stone crusher and then into another conveyor to the screener and kept going and into the bin. Mainly I had to keep the crusher and screener going and keep them greased. I’d get in an hour or so before the trucks got started in the morning and an hour or so after the truckers would stop at night. I was tightening the belts and greasing the equipment around there.

I always wanted to drive truck. Really what I aimed for when I went there, I though I’d get to drive truck, on those old Model-Ts. I could drive our old Model-T, that’s what I learned to drive on, to drive a car. I asked the boss one day, after I’d been there a while. There was an extra truck or two sitting there. The drivers, I don’t know what happened to them, but anyway they were idle. I asked him if I couldn’t drive truck. He said “Why do you want to drive truck?”

I said “Well, I always wanted to be a truck driver, and they’re getting 45 cents an hour and I’m getting 40 cents.
He said “Well, there’s no problem there. You can just as well get 45 cents and stay where you are”.

So that took care of that and I stayed right with the crusher the rest of the time. There was no limit to the hours, from daylight until dark or a little after. It was along the last of August when we went to work there, and they did all that graveling from then until the first part of December. When we finished up, I remember that it was pretty cold and there were a few days when we were hauling gravel when we had a little problem with freezing on the conveyors and so on.

Then at the last end when they got finished, they sent everybody out, the truck drivers and including me. We took the shovels and went out and trimmed up the shoulders of the road. What shovel work there had to be done, we did that for a couple days, and that ended it. I think, if I remember right, it was about the 12th of December when we closed up altogether down there. Then the next Spring, of course, was when I went to work in the Hardware.

My mother’s dad was Norm Gibbs; his stone is up there in the cemetery. There were actually three Normans in the family. Norm Sr. was my granddad, his was Lillian, Lil. They lived up on Knoll Road where DeBruyn’s property is. Or not DeBruyn’s, but the junkyard there- Piercefield’s. Tom was their boy, my mother’s brother, and he lived where DeBruyn’s are. I don’t know what year, but anyhow when he got married, he married Walker Downing’s daughter from up west further there and that’s where they lived all their lives.

The other Norm Gibbs, Mother’s brother, lived where Linda Sandborn does now, or Linda Russman. He’s buried up here too. He went from there over on US-16 and sold out the Knoll Road place to Art Elvert. He was getting to the point where he wanted to quit farming. So they went over there, that was a smaller place, and they sold produce, garden produce, there on US-16 for a few years and that’s where he died. His wife was Emma Luscher, a sister to Edna McNeil Wenger.
Mother’s sister, Nellie, married Hans Arnesen, a Norwegian and they lived on Petrie Road there, where Ron does. Mother’s older sister, Martha, was Del Northrop’s wife and lived on Knox Road. They didn’t have any kids, but Arnesen’s had one boy and his name was Norm.

I’ve got one boy. He’s a school teacher. He’s lived all over the country here. He started out by going to Church School up at Cedar Lake and graduated there. From there he went down to Berrien Springs to college and graduated from there. That’s where he started teaching public schools, down there. He taught in various country schools around there for 3 or 4 years, I guess. Then he went to Benton Harbor and was there about 2 years, I think. He didn’t like that very well, it was pretty rough in Benton Harbor Schools, a pretty rough situation at that time. He didn’t care for that, so then he got into their church school. He went over to Adrian and was there, I don’t know how many years, several years. Then he went up to Cedar Lake & taught up there where he went to school and had graduated from High School. That’s the Advent Church and School. Then he went from there to Battle Creek and taught in the Advent School down there, too. He went from there over to Gobles and last year he moved from Gobles—was only at Gobles a couple years. Now he’s at Holly, Mich. His name is Gordon.

He has just one boy, Scott. Scott followed him around and always went to school with his dad. He graduated from Battle Creek High School and never thought much of going to college. He started college once in Berrien Springs, but for some reason or other he didn’t like school that well and he gave up. He wanted to work, so he did. He worked at various things around Battle Creek for a few years there. He worked for contractors and his last job was in an oil station outside Battle Creek, east on I-94. He worked there quite a little while. He got it in his head, when he quit Berrien Springs College, to go with another kid hitch-hiking all over the country. I don’t know where all they did go, but they went west and down into Texas and back. For some reason, after working in the oil station and not liking it very well, just a job, he decided to go out west again to Utah. So he and another guy went to Utah and went to work there. He seemed to know people everywhere, from his hitch-hiking travels, I guess. Anyhow, he’s been out to Utah ever since, about 5 years now. He’s a pipe-fitter. He worked on dams and other construction work when he first went there. He went to Salt Lake City first and then went out from there to where-ever the jobs were. He actually camped on the job, and here about two years ago he got in a pretty big outfit and they wanted him to learn the pipefitter’s trade. So they got him to take a correspondence course and he got licensed to be a pipefitter.

I was born right here and lived here all my life. My wife is Angela Adams Evans. Her mother was Calla Skinner, and her grandmother Skinner was a Hay. The Skinner family lived down in Shimnecon. Angela’s mother married Oral Adams. They lived in Shimnecon too, when they were first married, and Angela was born there. Also she had a sister Margaret, 14 months younger, and then her folks separated and he went into the Navy. Soon after Angela was born, some Indians came by and blessed her, and she’s pretty proud of that. Mrs. Skinner was widowed and married Casper Schaeffer, who lived there with Margaret and her. They went to the Knox School and lived there with the grandmother and Cap Schaeffer. He was a pretty big farmer there for a few years. He finally sold out and went down into Indiana.

My wife and her sister lived with them a little while down there and they got grown up, but neither of them graduated from High School. Then her mother married an architectural engineer and of course he was shipped all over the country. That’s how they lived here and there for a few years. Then Margaret married a man down in Indiana and stayed there. She had stayed with the grandmother and never did move around with her mother and step-father quite as much as my wife. But Angela got tired of it, too. So she contacted Nora Wheeler over here, who is Cap Schaeffer’s daughter, and came to live with them. That was when the old shirt factory was starting in town, when I was working in the Hardware. She came over there to live and she got a job in the shirt factory, and that’s how I met her. She wanted a ride back and forth to the shirt factory to work every day. So that’s how I met her. Her sister has been married to three different guys, lived all over the country. She lives in Georgia now.

We started farming when we got married in 1932. Dad was away with Sid. Then when he died in 1935, we really got into the farming in 1936. To start with we had cattle, we milked cows for a few years. I never was a good milker and never liked milking very well. Dad always had a few cows, 4-5-6-7, and after he died I thought there ought to be a better way to make a living than milking cows. So I got rid of the cows and increased the cattle business and the hogs. We had a lot of hogs for a few years and feeder cattle. Used to buy quite a lot of feeder cattle from Ed Townsend over there on Kelsey Road. He sort of took us in under his wing. We sold hogs to him and bought cattle of him and sold cattle to him.

Then the sheep business, I don’t know just how we did get started in that. When Dad was alive, he always had sheep, too. There were a few yers I got rid of the sheep. I don’t know why, but I did. Then got back into them again. When I really got into them was thru Ed Townsend. He came over one day and said he had a carload of old Western ewes coming. I had rented the old Wakely place down east there across the road, starting in 1936 or 37. I used it for pasture. It was hilly and stony and everything else undesirable for farming. So he knew I had that place and he wondered if he could pasture those 300 ewes on it. I didn’t have anything on it right then, so we made a deal. I can’t remember for sure just how it worked out. But he brought the 300 ewes, those old wrinkly Ramboulettes, and left them there for a while. Then one day he came over and said “Well, I’ve got a deal on. I’ll give you half of those ewes, so that will make you 150 for pasturing them, and take the other 150. I’ve got a place for them. Make up your mind, what you don’t want of the 150 or can’t house them during the winter, I’ll find a place for them too”. It hadn’t been only 2 or 3 months they’d been there on pasture, so it was a pretty good deal.

He found a home for a few more, and I mixed the rest in with my other ewes and bred them to a good Suffolk buck and we got some pretty good lambs. Finally the old ewes got pretty aged and they went to market. What really put us out of the ewe business was dogs. That went on for one summer at least. We had had pretty good luck, for as much as we pastured back around the river there. That one year tho, they started right out when I turned the sheep and lambs to pasture in the Spring. They hadn’t been out there over a week. I went down there one morning and there was a lamb on the wrong side of the fence, on the Huizenga side, and dead ones scattered around here & there all over the place. So I hunted dogs all that summer. I’d bring them home for a while, but didn’t have room, so I’d take them back for a while. Then the dogs would get after them and I’d lay over there nights. But I never could get the dogs. Finally, along in September I sheared the sheep and got rid of what lambs we had managed to raise. Along in November we got kind of a wet snow and I went over to see if they were all right. They had a little growth of wool, were huddled down in a hollow, and seemed all right. But while I was over there, here came a couple of dogs over the hill. I got a shot, had a shotgun along, but they were too far away. The dogs took off and went east, but there was hardly enough snow to track them. I came home and ate dinner and got to thinking maybe I could find them down the road to the east here. So I got in my pickup with my rifle and an old German Mauzer belonging to Sam Fryover. So I had three guns with me. I drove clear down to Portland-Danby bridge and back, but didn’t see a dog. The sheep were 40 rods from the road, because I had a fence across and a gate, where you see that green lane between the fields. I had alfalfa in that front field and 5 dogs were going across that field over toward the sheep. I drove up and stopped and rushed over with a gun. They had a ewe down just out from the gate a little ways.


Johnnie Welch. At this time everyone, even his own people, called him Johnnie. John Welch was his Grandpa. It was a long time after Grandpa John died before people began calling him John. The Lovell family never did. My Mother and all of us certainly approved of Sylvia’s new friend, a favorite of everyone all his life.

John William Welch, Jr., was born to Perry John Welch and Lucy Bishop Welch on March 18, 1886. He had one brother, Perry Ray, 1889, five sisters, Myrtle, 1893; Hazel, 1896; Ethel, 1897; Helen, 1898; Lucy, 1902. Also Perry and Lucy’s first baby, Cora Mae was born on April 30, 1863 and died June 25, 1865. Her death was an accident. Sitting near the table in her high-chair, she pushed against the table, tipping the chair over backwards, breaking her neck. She died immediately. Her Father took the high-chair into the woodshed and completely demolished it. The high-chair was not to blame but her poor Mother raised all seven of those other children without the help of a high-chair. Cora Mae’s Father never allowed another in the house.

At the age of twelve, Johnnie went to live with his Grandparents, John and Rachel on the old Welch homestead located the first farm south of the Welch cemetery. His parents, Perry (more often called P. J. or Fred) and Lucy owned the eighty acres, the first farm north of the cemetery, living there at the time.

Johnnie worked his Grandmother’s farm from 1898 to 1918. He and Sylvia were married in 1905. Juanita was born to them in 1907 and Lucille in 1909. During this time the old, old Welch house burned and the now standing one was built in 1909. Johnnie owned eighty acres on Dow Road, the first house south of the Dow Church, and lived there while the house was being built. He sold that place, he bought a farm on M-43 down near Grand Ledge. Later he traded that farm for the one just north of the Dow Church and lived there for the rest of his life. Johnnie died of a heart attack September 19, 1945.

In 1903 when Sylvia started “keepin’ company” with Johnnie, we lived on East Main Street in Vermontville. Now Johnnie, being a farmer, had chores to do, so he came to see Sylvia on Sundays in the afternoon, arriving in time for dinner but always leaving early enough to take care of his stock and do the milking. This was back in the horse and buggy days with no car to whiz over to Vermontville and then whiz back. It took a little time in those days.

Although Johnnie was only a little past seventeen at this time, he had worked Grandma Rachel’s farm since he was twelve and had some money, more than a lot of other boys had at twenty-one. He even owned a small farm out on the Smock Hills east of Sunfield near Gates Road. He used it mostly for grazing his young cattle. There were too many hills for plowing the soil.
Johnnie was a very neat dresser, had a rubber tired buggy and had a pretty, fat bay mare he called Molly. The Lovells were always proud when Johnnie came into our driveway. Sylvia’s beau, no other girl in town could match this one.

At the east end of Main Street, you come to a fork in the roads, the right hand going to Charlotte, the left going north was the road Johnnie came into Vermontville over. I used to walk out to this fork in the roads to meet him, just so I could ride in that rubber tired buggy behind his pretty little Molly horse, hoping all the neighbors would see me.

Time moved swiftly, soon Sylvia was planning her wedding. I felt lonely already, first Mae, then Arby and now our fun-loving Sylvia, too. She loved her old home so much that she wanted to have her wedding there. Mae and Fred were living on the farm, so, of course, Sylvia was welcome to come home to be married.

Sylvia and Johnnie set up housekeeping at Grandma Rachel’s in the same two rooms that Grandma and Grandpa John built for Johnnie’s parents so long ago. Grandpa John was still alive. He liked Sylvia so much, I presume Grandma Rachel did too, but she never would say she cared for anyone.

Grandpa called Sylvia, Susie. He died the night before Juanita was born. Sylvia sat by his bed all that night. His mind went way back to his boyhood days in Vermont. He talked most of the night. Sylvia said he’d say “Listen Susie, can’t you hear that brook splashing over the stones? It’s right behind our cabin, you know.”

When in later years Ray and I went east, we were in Vermont several days. We looked for an overnight cabin until we found one with Grandpa’s babbling brook behind it.

Living in just two small rooms took a bit of doing. Sylvia soon had them looking so cozy and neat; they didn’t mind. They were happy and starting down the road of life together made this a real home. To be continued.



Last update November 15, 2013