Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 24 Number 6
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;
JUNE 1989, Volume 24, Number 6. Submitted with written permission of current editor Grayden D. Slowins:


Pictured here (photo on first page of current issue) is the Sebewa Center Methodist Church where for 23 years past the Annual Meetings of the Sebewa Center Association have been held. Previous to that the annual school reunions since 1923. The picture here was taken by Clarence Sayer with his glass negative camera soon after the church was built in 1891. Located at the intersection of Bippley and Shilton roads we shall have our Annual Meeting there on May 29, 1989 with a potluck supper at 6:30 P.M., followed by a short business meeting and then the Amish program by G. VanderMark and wife of Belding. They have become well acquainted with the Amish community north of Greenville and give an interesting account of their religion and way of life. They show a collection of clothing, toys, books and such things. If you don’t like pot lucks, just come a bit later for the program. The VanderMarks have given their program in both Ionia and Lake Odessa and were very well received at both places. Everybody is welcome to attend. Bippley Road runs east and west four miles north of Sunfield and Shilton intersects both Clarksville Road and Musgrove Highway one mile west of the Sunfield Road…

DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD: Myrtie Welch, Don A. Benschoter, Glendull C. Klopfenstein and Mamie Williams Downing. So far as I could see it was Allen Cross and I who were the only ones attending Mamie’s funeral who had also been her pupils when she taught the Sebewa Center School the year of 1918-19. Glendull Klopfenstein was married to Bernice Shumway, our Sebewa Center teacher from 1934 to 1936. Wilma Hunt Coe is now the oldest surviving teacher of our school. She taught from 1920 to 1923. Wilma is now at the Ionia Manor.

THE WEST SEBEWA COUNTRY STORE is open and displays the welcome sign. At the time of her death, Mrs. Letha Patterson turned over the operation of the store to her son-in-law. He kept it running for a year or two when he went to a convalescent home in Coldwater. Soon the Robert Elliot family took it over and have been running it since. The WEST SEBEWA INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS was the builders of that building and they dedicated it December 6, 1910. The first floor of the building has always been used as a country store. From 1914 to 1917 the store was rented to W. R. Wells for $160 per year.

ALLEN CROSS spent one day at Pennock Hospital for a hernia operation, one day because that is the time allowed by Medicare for paying for that operation. He will go back soon for stitch removal. His neighbor, Mrs. Galen (Bernie) Phillips is in a Lansing hospital suffering from a leg aneurysm.

SERMON FOR FUNERAL FOR MAMIE DOWNING by John Piercefield (her grandson)

Psalm 46:1-11. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bows and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
We do not always see things the way God sees things---through our eyes Death is never a precious thing but to God who sees everything as it stands in eternal order, death is a passageway to life eternal. Let’s look through our eyes first.
The time was 1858, as Adolph and Barbara Schaupp, brother and sister, left Germany to come to America. They settled in Saginaw County where Barbara met Fred Sindlinger and moved to Sebewa Township. Theresa, born in 1874, was one of two girls born to Fred and Barbara. In 1898, Tracy married Lewis Williams in a double ring ceremony with Ralph Friend and Lucy Halladay. Mamie Lucille was born on February 22, 1900, the third generation in Sebewa.

Her life had begun at one of the most dynamic periods in American history, the beginning of the 20th Century. Medicine had recently discovered immunizations for typhoid, leprosy, tuberculosis, malayria, and the plague. Ten million bicycles were the rage; and the automobile and airplane were still dreams and drawings for the most part.

The Panama Canal was being purchased and built as America followed Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy through the Spanish-American War and on to China with the Open Door policy on trade and overseas expansion. While Mamie was growing up in Sebewa, America was growing up in the world.

Mamie’s father died when she was 11 months old and for seven years she learned to help her mother, milking the cows and learning to sew. She wasn’t so sure she was all that helpful but her mother was patient. It was these early years filled with love and trials that developed in Mamie her near endless patience and contentment. Her ability to remain unruffled yet caring, despite the circumstances, is a monument that will never be erected but will never be forgotten.

On March 4, 1908, Tracy married George Snyder, a widower with two boys, Clifton and Max. To Tracy and George were born three boys and one girl: Don, Dale, Dorothy and Leon.

The time was 1910. A women’s rights movement was in its infancy, Teddy Roosevelt was out and William Taft was in. The 16th Amendment was passed authorizing the levy and collection of taxes on income. To show how times have changed, people were standing in lines for the opportunity to pay their taxes – cheerfully. The Federal Farm Loan Act authorized funds and accepted agricultural land as loan collateral which helped farms grow but put them in debt.

It was at this time, at the early age of 10 that Mamie’s house burned, and they escaped with very little but the clothes on their backs. Out of necessity, Mamie was learning to work hard, save money and stay out of debt. These principles of productivity, thrift, and living within your means would become the trademarks of her life.

The heroes in those days were local and real. Neighbors would get together and play Flinch, many books were read, and a vacation was when another family would come over and spend the night because the travel was so far. Mamie’s earliest memories begin at this time of horsepower, hard work, and happiness. She was learning one of the most difficult lessons in life, being content with the simple pleasures of life. She developed character with callouses, patience with contentment, and grace through giving her all to the task at hand.

It was 1917, Mamie had met Homer Downing and graduated from Sunfield High School. She went to work cleaning at Petrie’s for $3/week. She went on to Central Michigan College, receiving her teaching certification and began teaching at Sebewa Center School. Homer asked her out soon after.

They were married on June 7, 1919, in Ionia and returned home the next day to do chores. World War I had ended, women had won the right to vote, and radio broadcasting grew from a single station in 1920 to 500 by 1924. Americans everywhere were now able to listen almost immediately to events far away. The world was becoming smaller in many ways.

Automobiles were replacing horses on the streets and tractors in the fields. The heroes were Babe Ruth, Charles Lindburgh and Henry Ford. Homer and Mamie were to spend the next 64 years together before his death on February 14, 1984. They had three children, one who died at birth and a son and daughter. Bruce and Cleo became the fourth generation in Sebewa. Community picnics and plays were their social life. Their life was touched with the Great Depression, the aftermath of two World Wars and many economic recessions, but through it all their bond one to another not only stood the test of time but flourished.
The time was 1965, I was 10 years old; the threat of Soviet Nuclear missiles in the Western Hemisphere became evident in the Cuban Missile Crisis as the Cold War went into a deepfreeze. Michigan was solidly entrenched as the car capital of the world, as car manufacturing was on a roll. Many left the farms beginning work for the car companies and its associated industries.

 Television, that invention that would not last, was sweeping the country as we tuned into the Ed Sullivan Show, Bonanza and I Love Lucy for relaxation and entertainment. Our heroes were John Wayne, Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy and G I Joe, all bigger than life and the music on the radio air waves was not hymns or polkas. It was called rock & roll. Leading the British invasion of music were the Beatles, the Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones. The Civil Rights Movement was underway after years of struggle and discontent was evidenced in the cities on the campus and the workplace. Drugs such as marijuana, LSD, and speed were sold to the youth as a mark of rebellion and independence.

It was in this dynamic time in history that my earliest memories begin. We would learn at Travis School and from the media all the happenings in the world but when we left school and walked home to Grandma’s house her world became our world. We evidenced the patience, the caring and the tremendous energy she expended on her husband, her house, and her grandchildren. My life was not filled with discontent but with a living understanding of peaceful contentment. Life became a dichotomy with the viewing of discord in America on tv but the living of harmony in Sebewa.

We seldom discussed world or national problems but we always discussed the details of our day, sharing wisdom lived out in their years. I remember learning to eat shredded wheat, drinking Vernors ginger ale and cleaning my plate at dinner with a slice of bread. All these things learned respect and consideration realizing that as a youth I did not have all the answers to life, but with my grandparents I knew where to get many of them.

Mamie was a woman of grace with that ability to live and experience the dynamic changing times and yet remain unassuming, somehow untouched by the turmoil that may be around her. She was never discouraged or downhearted. She was not a seeker or a dreamer of some better world but she was always seeking to please living her dreams. She was always prepared for whatever came, ready ½ hour early, listening rather than talking, watching rather than sleeping. Her love for fishing and bowling probably illustrates it best. She would rise early with her cane pole and straw hat and fish till nightfall if necessary. If they caught fish they would eat them for supper, if not, something else was fixed and they would go again tomorrow, never giving up. And her bowling continued until she was 88, consistent regular practice and enjoying every minute of it.

She never ran for public office or held powerful positions in society, but her grace and patience and duty was the real strength of America. Among all of America’s military, geographic, political and economic achievements none will stand out in my mind greater that her life and the principles she lived by. There is always the sorrow we feel at the death of a loved one but with Mamie even her death is a victory. She had sins and to walk in the newness of life knowing she had through obedience to God gained the greatest victory of all – LIFE OVER DEATH –Even in her death she was prepared to meet with God not as Judge but as Lord and Savior. It is to this entrance into eternal life that we now bid our farewell. Your lessons of life will never be forgotten……

John 14:1-2. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”


This is Edwin Nash. I was born May 16, 1907, son of Ernest Nash & Lynn Weston Nash. Mother was originally from Grand Rapids. Dad was born on this farm, at NW ¼ Sec. 10 Campbell, and so was I, but I wasn’t born in this house. This house burned, the old house burned, the winter before I was born. I was born in that house right over there next north. That house was built quickly and cheaply and I was born there. They must have put it up early in 1907, because I was born in May. Later it became a tenant house for the farm help.

The old house burned right in the middle of the winter, in January. They lived for a time, I think, over Charlie Marvin’s Hardware Store. A lot of things they didn’t get out of the house. They didn’t get their clothing out. They got some dining room furniture out – that china cabinet was one thing, and the dishes in it. I guess they got all that out, and even the living room things. But they lost all their clothing except what they had on. Evidently they couldn’t get into the bedroom.

At that time the Benedicts worked the farm. There was another house right back here to the south-west behind this one, where they lived. Mother got the canary out and took it to their house. It was right in the dead of winter and deep snow and colder than the dickens, I guess. That’s why it burned. Everything was fueled with wood stoves and one got overheated. It was a big house, on this same foundation, just that extension to the north on the living room is extra and the bathroom. So, practically the same size. Most of the old wall was re-used. You can see it in the basement.

This is a photo of the old house. Same shape, only the bay window was moved from the front room to the dining room. The old house was about the same shape, but it had a different roof – gable type now instead of the old hip roof. You can stand up in the attic of the front part now. It was big. I don’t know when that old one was built. It must have been here quite a while before it burned. These trees are here yet from the old house.

My grandfather, Edwin Nash Sr., and grandmother, and my father’s sister, Aunt Emma, are in that photo of the old house. Also Emma Headworth is there, the woman your mother (Crystal Brake) roomed with when she came to High School. She and her sister, Mable, drove a Shetland pony (Lady) on a basket-type cart to High School from the country in good weather and tied it in our barn. There used to be a horse barn here in front where that workshop is now. That’s how all the country kids got to High School, and on bad nights they stayed over. Your mother may also have stayed with a doctor’s widow (Gaylord Laughlin’s mother, I think).

Headworths lived on Ferney Street here in town, where Esta Slater Stuart Kole lives now. Emma was a good friend of our family. Her father was Georgie Richardson and he had worked this farm at one time. He lived across the section in SW ¼ Sec. 11. He was quite a character, an old Scotsman. Used to dress up in his kilts for special occasions.

Grandfather was born in Schenectedy, New York, and later the family moved to Lapeer, Michigan. We still have relatives there, but I never went to visit them. He didn’t farm for long, I don’t think. He found out there was more money in lending money! Grandfather was fortunate. He came in here and was farming during the Civil War and made some money then. After the War he opened the Bank when the town started. Of course he cleared the land, he and his father and brothers. Great-grandfather was Amasa Nash and he lived right here and had four grown sons when he came here.

Campbell was part of Boston Township until 1849, a good 10 years after Sebewa and some of the other Townships were organized on their own, even tho the Campbell family came in 1840. Amasa Nash and his sons: Calvin, Marcus, Edwin, and Charles, came here in 1847. Also William Mercer, who became the first Supervisor and was grandfather to Thaddeus Mercer, who in turn was grandfather to Margaret (Mrs. Ron) Story. Thad Mercer lived just over the townline into Boston Township on Darby Road – some of what Larry Behrenwald owns now, on the west end of Morrison Lake at SW ½ Sec. 35 Boston. But the original buildings were out on Darby Road.

Amasa Nash was the first Township Treasurer. The Township was named after the first family, the Campbells, who later moved to California in the gold rush and have no descendants left here. But the village was named after Clark L. Howard, who built a General Store and Post Office in 1875, just in time for the railroad. Then Grandfather and the McCormacks and Ferneys platted the corners of their farm to start the village. Trowbridge was in on it, too. He was a stonemason and builder, I think. Alva McCormack was the pioneer of that family. He had two sons, Chauncey and Fay, and a daughter, Carolyn, who married Otis Ackerson, and that’s how it comes down to Maynard Ackerson and family. Margaret Ackerson Rush, who was in your mother’s class, was Otis’ daughter.

Charles Nash was the father of Alien (Allie) Nash. He lived right south of here on N ½ Sec. 10 and Allie did too. So Allie and my dad, Ernest, were first cousins. June (Mrs. Gardner) Compton is Allie’s daughter and second cousin to me. Charles Nash Jr. was a brother to Allie and father of Warner Nash, another second cousin to me.

Calvin Nash was the father of Orvin and grandfather of my second cousins, Calvin Nash Jr. and Fay Nash. Calvin and Orvin lived on the land that surrounds the cemetery. The buildings are east on the side road. It’s N ½ NE ¼ Sec. 15 and later was owned by Charles Nash Jr.

Marcus Nash lived just east of town on Darby Road, at W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 11. There’s no-one left of that family. One of them went up by Lapeer, I think. An old bum called Peg-leg Nash, I think his name was Frank, lived on that Marcus Nash place when I was a boy. Must have been his son, and a first cousin to my dad. The old house was still there then.

I started school in an old building behind the present building. Here’s a school picture when I was in Kindergarten, wearing an Indian costume out in front of the old building. I remember when this one was built. It was built about 1916. My dad worked hard to promote building it and I think they had to borrow $20,000. It’s on a lot platted out of our land. Before that they had only 10 grades. I think the first class graduated in 1902, but only from 10th grade. Mable Brake may have been in the first class of 12 grades, about 1918. There was also a private school called Transue Academy. My mother went to that. They sent my dad to Detroit to High School. I think that’s why he worked so hard to get one here. It wasn’t very popular and that $20,000 bond issue was a lot of money. It was only one district, District #2, the size of a country school district. Just the farms and this little village. Batchelors were on the Schoville farm north of town and fought the bond issue. But they wanted the big drain cleaned out and the two issues kind of get tied together.

I graduated from High School in 1925. Your mother was 3 or 4 years older, graduated in 1921, I think. Her brother, John Brake, Jr., was in my class and their cousin, Burdette Livingston, was too. Burdette’s second wife, Alice Preston Jackson, was a year behind us and Don Braendle was a year ahead.

Grandfather had these rooms on the north front of the house that are the living room and music room now. The fireplace was his heating stove. They had heated the old house with stoves and he didn’t like the new furnace. He died in 1909. Dad was married twice – his first wife had sugar diabetes and no kids. My mother was younger than him, but he wasn’t an old man when he died in 1923. To Be Continued



Last update November 15, 2013