THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center
DECEMBER, 1989, Volume 25, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of
current editor Grayden D. Slowins.
SURNAMES: SMITH, OAKS, WALKINGTON, CARR, PLANT, HOWLAND, KENYON, PROBASCO,
DEATHS FOR THE PERIOD. Gordon Oaks, Ora Walkington and George Carr were the
In dealing with the (winter) weather, here is another approach to it. It is told
by Henry Smith.
“On October 9, 1969, I had the misfortune of breaking my left tibia bone. I was
in a cast for almost a year. About six months after the beginning of my lay up,
my daughter, Marilyn, was crocheting an afghan. I said to her “Do you think you
could teach Dad how to do that? I’ve got to have something to do”.
It was difficult, for I seemed to have two left hands. It took me four or five
months to complete the job. She got started on different types of afghans and I
have followed through by making about 135.
While I was recuperating from the broken leg, I worked for the Kilpatrick
Missionary Society piecing quilt tops. I have mad several of them. For the past
five years I have worked for Social Services of Charlotte through the Senior
Citizens organization of Sunfield. It was my idea to help the under privileged.
Five years ago we had seven pairs of mittens that we gave away in Sunfield. Each
year we have increased the number.
It worked up to going to nutrition dinners around Eaton County to get volunteers
to work at the program. Last year the group of people who worked with me donated
418 items at Christmas time. This included people from an area of some 7 or 8
square miles in the northwest corner of Eaton County. This year we plan to fill
a quota of more than 500 items and we are getting close to that fulfillment. We
make stocking caps, mittens, scarves, blankets, anything to make youngsters
comfortable. Social Services furnish the yarn. The Church of the Brethren makes
the quilts. Lucy Wright of Sunfield has made several. It is remarkable what
Senior Citizens can and will do.
My neighbors, Wayne and Blanche Jackson are making stocking caps. As of last
week they had about 135 completed. I can do two or three pairs of mittens a day.
I have received several awards for volunteerism from our Governor and his
THE PORTLAND AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY has made application for a State Historical
Marker recognizing Eda PLANT as the first woman in Michigan to vote for elected
officials. Portland in December of 1918 had its first village election after
previously operating as part of the township government. The constitutional
amendment giving women the right to vote was adopted August 26, 1920 but
Michigan had recognized that right in December of 1918. It will be April 1990
before the application is recognized.
MRS. RAYMOND (EDNA HOWLAND) KENYON recently celebrated her 99th birthday at her
home in St. Petersburg, Florida. She writes in a good hand “I am comfortably
situated here in a building 21 stories high and I am on the 7th floor. My only
exertion is to prepare my breakfast. Everything else is provided. Some times I
long for the good old days but realize, of course, they are no more. I am fairly
active yet but use a cane now for walking is rather difficult. I will keep in
touch with you. Sincerely, Edna Kenyon”.
Should she make it another year she will be Sebewa’s third to make 100 after Ida
Evans and Florence Cassel.
STORIES TOLD BY MR. & MRS. BEN PROBASCO, SR.
These stories were told to my mother when she was yet Miss Nellie Meyers early
in the 1900s. She carefully copied them and they have been kept since. Here are
the stories. – Robert W. Gierman.
When Mr. Probasco was only sixteen years old he, although he was not a Mexican
War soldier, bought a Mexican War soldier’s warrant, signed by Zachery Taylor
and took up 160 acres of land in Sebewa. It was some years after that he came
here from Ohio accompanied by Emory Gunn, Theodore Gunn’s brother, hunting his
They went to Eleazer Brown to get him to act as guide, which he was accustomed
to do, but, being sick, he was unable to go. He directed them to John Estep, who
lived on the place now owned by Mrs. Greiner. Besides directing them to his land
he offered Mr. Probasco a tame deer. But as Mr. Probasco had no way to take care
of it, he was obliged to refuse the gift. His 160 acres proved to be where Fred
Gunn now owns. He cleared sixty acres here, building a log house and the barn,
which are still standing although remodeled.
Mr. Probasco can tell stories of Johnston and Jackson, the Indian interpreter
who preached to the Whites and Indians at an old log schoolhouse between Eugene
Probasco and Hugh Showerman’s houses. Mr. and Mrs. Probasco can tell of the
meetings of the Shimneconing Indians. They had singing books with the hymns in
English on one side and in Indian on the other side. Whites and Indians sang
together in their own language. The Indians seemed to be good Christians and
their prayer meeting and preaching services were good.
There was an Indian village on the bank of the river just east of Sebewa Corners
known as Meshimneconning or “Little Apple Orchard”. Here there was a mission and
school for the Indians.
Charles Ingalls, Hall Ingall’s father, who then owned the Greiner place, finally
bought out the Indians at Shimnecon. In payment for their land he built them a
saw mill somewhere north of here. The Indians didn’t understand running it, some
of them were killed and they abandoned the mill.
Mr. Probasco told how they tried to get the schoolhouse at the Center instead of
a mile east. One year they fitted up his cooper shop for a schoolhouse, Lurette
Brown, afterwards Probasco, teaching there. One day the teacher and scholars
became frightened at a huge black snake and set for Mr. Probasco to come and
kill it. He shot it and for quite a while and at some distance away they could
hear it lash the ground with its tail. It measured over six feet.
This brought out another story. It seems he measured the snake by a tin horn six
feet long. He brought the horn with him from Ohio and when on his way from
Charlotte to Sebewa astonished the natives by playing a tune at every
settlement. He could play pretty and the horn could be heard a distance of three
miles. Every man, woman and child within hearing ran out to see what was coming.
All of which proves that the old time settler had a taste for fun even in a
wilderness. They used the horn to call the men to dinner and the horn could be
heard a distance of three miles. When someone got lost going after cows, to help
them find their way home, the horn was a help. It was also found to be
invaluable at chivarees.
They tell how the door was left open and the woman of the house was busy, when
she looked up might find an Indian standing, wrapped in his blanket. He would
always ask for something to eat and, being supplied, if anything was left would
be put in his wamus or hunting jacket. The Indians used to make a good deal of
sugar. They didn’t put much of it into cakes but stirred it off mostly. To hold
the sap they used troughs made of logs hollowed out or bark. Once a Shimnecon
visitor saw a papoose in one of the troughs taking a bath in the sap. A buyer of
one of the cakes of sugar found a coon’s foot in it. Probably put in as we put
in butter to keep the sirup from boiling over. Nevertheless their sugar looked
and tasted nice.
The animal stories are interesting also. Mrs. Probasco tells how she used to go
after cows alone when a young girl. Having no fences, all the cattle in the
country ran loose in the woods—the only way to distinguish them was by the sound
of the bells. She would catch the sound of their bell and start out, soon losing
herself in the woods---the only way to distinguish them was by the sound of the
bells. Always pursuing the bell until she found her cows, she would follow the
Sometimes the cattle would take a circular route and she would come home in the
opposite direction than for which she started. Once when after cattle she found
a bear’s nest in a hollow tree. Another time she found a fawn in the road,
picked it up and carried it home. Her father would not allow her to keep it, so
she gave it to a neighbor girl. Deer were very plentiful and could be shot from
the windows. Mr. Probasco tells how he used to kill deer easily after he moved
on the place where he lives now. There was a high rail fence along the road by
Mrs. Greiner’s place and the deer didn’t care to jump. So he would chase the
deer down that way and they would be an easy catch.
His bear stories are equally interesting. When he lived where Fred Gunn now
does, he had a yard partly fenced off on the north side of the road. One day he
heard a drove of hogs barking and making a terrible noise as if frightened. His
wife told him he had better go see what was after the hogs. When he went he
discovered a big bear. It would stand up on its hind legs and then drop down on
all fours a little closer to the pigs, trying to get the pigs to make a grand
rush so he could grab one. Mr. Probasco but having a revolver, only scared it
Benjamin Probasco, Sr., was born in 1831. RWG
MEET MY GRANDFATHER, ALBERT W. MEYERS by Robert W. Gierman
I have but the faintest memory of Grandfather, Albert W. Meyers, as I was less
than four years old when he died. But the stories I heard from time to time
pictured an interesting man. He was the eldest of seven children whose mother
died at an early age. His father and one of his two children of that marriage
were younger than my mother.
Grandfather Meyers sort of took over the family for a while and my Great
Grandfather pursued his career with his new family and his profession as a
United Brethren Minister. In 1878 my Grandfather married Lydia Shipman, who,
after finishing the rural school of the time, went on and taught the Baldwin
School at the intersection of Kimmel and Musgrove Highway. My mother, Miss
Nellie, was born in 1879. Another eleven years went by before Archie was born,
followed by Harold (Harry) two years later.
I had heard the stories of Grandfather’s threshing rig, with the dusty straw
carrier instead of a blower. It was common then for farmers to stack their grain
bundles so that they would keep dry until the thresher might reach them.
Threshing season ran from early August until well after frost as the machine
covered a large area. Grandfather had a crew that went with him and often slept
in the barns where the machine was operating. As I recall it, at least one
steamer that he had was hauled about by a team of horses. He had a reputation of
never wasting the daylight hours of summer.
Grandfather, with his yen for machinery, had a portable sawmill. He located it
near the road where the drainage ditch crosses Bippley Road a bit east of
Sunfield Road. There he sawed pickets for the fences that were popular at that
time. Also he and his crew followed about Sebewa and neighboring territories
sawing lumber for barns and houses about to be built.
Recently Howard Meyers showed me the account book Grandfather had kept covering
some of his activities. I had seen news items in the locals of the old Portland
Observer and some other papers that told where the sawmill was working and where
it would move next but somehow I had missed seeing the account book.
Here from that book is a list of the people Grandfather dealt with and the
products he had made for them. Maybe you will find the names of some of your
relatives and neighbors of that time.
In the year of 1900, December 15 to 21 was James Morariety for sawing, Will
Barnes December 20 & 23, Dec. 21, A. M. Barnes, Dec. 21, George Bower Dec. 22,
and G. Wilkins Dec. 24. Skipping on to Dec. 29 and January 5, 1901 was Fred
Yager. George Davis Jan. 3 and 25 as well as Geo. Alleman on the 8th of Jan.
There follows David Figg, John Hammond, David Leak, Frank Torpy and Rufus
Goddard, all on the 10. These are followed by Charles Ralston, John Olry on the
25th. On February 2 was O. V. Showerman, Gid Stinchcomb, Ancil Green, Will
McClelland, Alfres(d?) Cassel, Jack Brown and Harvey Sleight. Skipping to March
9 was Geo. Thorp, I. A. Brown, Leon Williams, Frank Guy, Ike Baughman, J.
Lippincott, Clayton Petrie, Jacob Sayer, Ed Townsend, Guy Lapo, George Gunn, Wm.
Heintzelman, Chas. Estep, Chas. Kauffman, all in February.
In March it was Elem Tran, Chas. Cook, Archie Beaver, Frank Harper, Ed Leak, J.
Luscher, J. D. Johnson, James Cassel, Ed Demaray, E. S. Deatsman, Leonard Cross,
Frank Kimble, Chas. Kelly, Henry Pettingill, C. Roust, Prine Barclay, Fred Gunn,
Wm. Priestman, M. Brown, Byron Estep, Alfred Coe, Chas. VanHouten, John
Brownfield, John Leak, Sam Gunn, Ben Lowe, Charles Gierman and Jess Van Sicklen.
For April it was Merrit Allen, Frank Way, Clark Haskins, J. Roseveare. For May
it was John Benschoter, James Pierce, S. C. McClelland, C. L. Halladay, E.
Duffy, Arthur Halladay, Jacob Stemler, Allen Culver, George Wheeler, Manley
Conkrite, Lambert Cramer, Wm. Rogers, C. O. Hiar, Emmet Marcy, George Chase,
Peter Knapp, Herb Brown, James Brown, Elmer Marcy, Fred Brown, Sherry Hubbard,
W. W. Merrifield, H. Townsend, V. Franks, T. H. Gunn, James Johnson, Wm. Smith,
L. A. Olry, Ike Baughman, Joseph Gragg, Eugene Halladay and Alva Deatsman.
Just imagine all that trek to the Bippley Road sawmill in the mud and the slop
it must have been.
Grandfather suffered a dehabilitating injury by a sawmill-tossed piece of lumber
and later was severely kicked by a horse in Lake Odessa. It all contributed to
his death in late December of 1912 at the age of sixty.
(Followed by a photo of Albert Wesley Meyers and Lydia Shipman Meyers.)