THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Association;
AUGUST 1991, Volume 27, Number 1.
Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
SURNAMES: PETRIE, ACKERSON, SHILTON, HALLADAY, SANDBORN, FRIEND, BENEDICT,
McCORMACK, LIPPENCOTT, MERRILL, GARDNER, VANDERHEYDEN, HOWLAND, RATHBURN,
STRONG, DAVIS, REED, SHILTON
PHOTO OF SEBEWA “HIGH” SCHOOL – 1903 on front of this issue:
BACK ROW LEFT: MARRIED:
Ortho Lowe Dawn McCrumb
Edna Showerman George Burkle
Eva Smith Robert Cook
Flossie Henry Harry Kelley
Mable Morgan Robert Howland
Agnes Erdman, Teacher
Jane Smith Evert Towner
Elsa Brown Robert Warner
Ralph Felton Helen Sprague
Ben Smith Mable Baird Hale
Walter Brown Mary Snyder
Reva Weipert Bishop
Floyd Erdman Cecil Goodemoot
Ruth Showerman Emo Gerlinger
Bernice Halladay Jake Sandborn
Fred Brown Bessie Ralston
Bert Brown Minnie Sayer
Mary Weipert Vern Collier
Don Benschoter Winnie Snyder
May 15, 1991, Dale Petrie buried the remains of the William Petrie barn in NE
¼ Sec. 26 Sebewa. This was a pegged, timber framed, banked basement barn, with
white pine siding. So few of these were left, we mourn the loss. Pole barns are
handier for modern machinery, but a bank barn is the place to be born on a cold,
windy, winter night. And if the timbers have been protected, the building will
stand true and weather any storm like a sailing ship. In fact it is sometimes
called ship’s-timber framing.
RECENT DEATH: Margaret E. Ackerson, 66, daughter of Matilda Mae & Iril
Shilton, son of Andrew & Hattie Shilton. Margaret was wife of Allyn Jay
Ackerson, mother of Larry, John, Ron, Pattie, Norma, and Vicki, and sister of
Carl, Howard, Kenneth, Royal, Edith, Bertha, and Pauline.
HALLADAY GENEALOGY by Grayden Slowins:
This seems like an appropriate place to attempt a genealogy of the Halladay
family of Sebewa. Even with the help from several sources, we may have errors.
Corrections are welcome. Three Halladay brothers came to Sebewa in 1852 or
before. They were ELIHU (1797-1858) & Amanda (1818-1899), DAVID (1799-1858) &
Nancy (1799-1880), and APOLLOS (1801-1882) & Annis (1804-1875).
Elihu & Amanda lived on S ½ NE ¼ Sec. 25 Sebewa, where Larry Brown is now. They
were followed by a son, Charles, who married Mandy Sears. Charles had Arthur,
who married Martha Jane Deatsman and lived across in N ½ NE ¼ Sec. 30 Danby.
Arthur was followed by a son, Russell and wife Mildred, who added next 80 east.
Russell’s son is Paul. Arthur’s daughter, Bernice, married Jake Sandborn and had
Max, another son, and Kathleen (Mrs. Don Rogers).
Charles’ daughter, Lucy, married Ralph Friend and had Lawrence, Evelyn
(Courser), Mildred (Merrill), Lucile (Todd), George, and Bernice (Curtis).
Evelyn Courser was mother of Marge Benedict, of Ionia, mother of Dale Benedict.
Charles also had Mildred and Ernest, both of whom lived and married in Alabama.
David & Nancy lived in NE ¼ Sec. 36 Sebewa. Their son, Abel C. Halladay
(1829-1905) & wife Rosabelle (1833-1908), lived on SE 10 Ac S ½ NE ¼ Sec 25
Sebewa, where Gary Merrill lives now. Abel’s son, (George) Edgar Halladay & wife
Ethelynd (Lynn) Lena McCormack got David’s land in Sec. 36 and added more. They
were followed by their son A. C. (Abel C.?) (Midge) Halladay and wife Etta.
Edgar’s daughter, Blanch, married John Lippencott. Abel’s daughter, Lillian,
married Ross Merrill, and their son, Royce, married his third cousin, Mildred
Friend, daughter of Lucy Halladay Friend, listed above.
Abel’s other daughter, Alice, married Charles Gardner. Henry Halladay
(1819-1881) is thought to be another son of David & Nancy. He and wife Catherine
lived in W ½ NE ¼ Sec. 31 Danby, where Walter Brown is now, and ran a hotel in
their home. Some of their land across in SW ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 30 Danby went to Elmer
Blanchard, whose wife may have been their daughter. This family may also have
produced Reverend Will Halladay, a United Brethren preacher.
Apollos & Annis lived on SE 1/3 Sec. 25 Sebewa with their son Daniel W.
(1829-1890) & wife Malvina N. (1836-1913). This family gave the land for the
Halladay School and Halladay United Brethren Church. Daniel’s son, George D.,
married Mary Dravenstatt and lived across on NW 10Ac of the Charles O. Hiar farm
at NW ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 30 Danby. George’s daughter, Clara, married Carl Bidwell and
got Daniel & Malvina’s farm. Daniel’s daughter, Anna, married Oscar Dravenstatt,
brother to Mary. George’s second wife, Lillian Bidwell, was stepmother to Carl.
Another son of the old settlers was Dr. A. H. Halladay, who married Dora E.
VanderHeyden of Ionia and settled in Long Beach, California. Oil was discovered
on their land and they became very wealthy. Since they had no children, when he
died about 1917-1918, some of the Sebewa relatives came into a lot of money.
HOWLAND-RATHBUN-STRONG by Grayden Slowins:
Recent letters are from Frank H. Rathbun, Jr., of Fairfax, VA, and Elmond L.
Strong of Mesa, AZ, plus a visit in the cemetery with Julian (Jack) & Florence
Howland of Portland. The coincidence is significant because these three men were
thrown together by fate long ago.
Frank and Elmond were transplanted from Grand Rapids to Bippley Road in Sebewa
as youths, when their fathers remarried to Sebewa women. Frank Rathbun, Sr.,
married Jesse Strong Howland, the widowed second wife of William Howland. Frank
& Jessie had been classmates. Ernest Strong was a cousin of Jessie, came to
visit, and ended up marrying Katherine Howland, daughter of William by his first
William Howland’s children were: Robert, who married Mable Morgan, fathered
Julian, and lived on the Alexander & Addie Morgan farm; Amy, who never married;
Edna, who married Raymond Kenyon, had a daughter Katherine (Hobner, Kaumeyer,
Velcheck), and a son Norman; and Katherine. Katherine & Ernest Strong bought the
old Morgan farm from her brother Robert.
This was in 1925. Elmond Strong graduated from Portland High School in 1927,
worked 2 years for R. W. Dawdy Clothing and 2 years for Steketee’s Shoe Dept. in
Grand Rapids. In 1931 Ernest died and Elmond came home to operate the farm with
his brother Earl and Stepmother Kate.
He married Agnes Mattson, a Portland teacher from Ironwood, raised children
Ernest, Richard, & Betsey, and continued to operate the farm until 1946, when
they sold out to Herb & Harriet Evans. They moved to Wayland, where he ran an
oil business and she taught school.
Elmond remembers riding with Wesley & Gerald Joynt in the family Reo touring car
and having a slight accident on the corner north of Weck Lumbert’s. Later he
bought a 22-inch grain separator from John Joynt at the time he sold his farm to
Ross & Gladys Tran. The neighbors who threshed together were Elmond Strong, Roy
Sears, Frank Bickle, Don Benschoter, Bert Evans, Willliam Roseveare. In a few
years combines came in and Elmond bought a used eight-foot collapsible-table
combine with Don Benschoter. Don’s dad, John Benschoter, had had a grain
separator powered by a steam engine.
FRANK RATHBUN writes to confirm the connection to Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, an Army
truck driver who was wounded in action and captured by the Iraqis during the
Persian Gulf War, and became the first American servicewoman to become an enemy
prisoner in recent times. Melissa Rathbun was born in Grand Rapids, MI, March 9,
1970, the only child of Joan & Leo Rathbun. She was graduated in June, 1988,
from Creston High School. She had been in ROTC her senior year, and soon joined
the Army. She was briefly married to a fellow soldier, Anthony Nealy, in 1989,
hence her hyphenated last name.
Melissa was one of some 30,000 women among the 500,000 American troops in Desert
Storm. Coming under enemy fire, her truck was disabled in the driveshaft and
Melissa was wounded in the arm and captured. Released after 33 days at the end
of the fighting, she received a hug from General Norman Schwarzkopf. After
receiving Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, and others, and a furlough, she
returned to her unit in Fort Bliss, TX, and was married March 28, to fellow
soldier, Michael Coleman.
DANDELION DAYS by Bill Davis:
Driving past what was left of one of our county’s one-room schools last week, it
occurred to me that it was forty years ago on a similar Spring “Dandelion Day”
that I was riding in the back of a pickup to a softball game. My country school
was Greene School in Orleans Township. Every Spring Friday afternoon, we’d play
another little school---Chittle, Tasker, Brink, or our arch-rival Dorr School,
taught by the mother of three of our girls. A couple of times each Spring we’d
play one of the big city schools, the much-feared teams from Orleans or Palo.
What made those teams tougher was that they had both more boys and bigger boys
on their teams. Generally a country school for its best team of nine would field
3 big boys (7th or 8th grade), 3 big girls, and 3 little boys. Orleans and Palo
fielded teams sometimes with no girls and no little boys. Big boys from one end
of the lineup to the other. We knew every time we played them we might get
In my 6th grade year in 1949, there was only one other person in my grade. He
was a boy, but he didn’t play softball. In the 7th grade we had 5 girls, and 3
of them were big—real big. Not only that, these three, each weighing well over
150 pounds, not only could hit the long ball, but they also hit for pretty good
averages. In the eighth grade, due to another statistical fortuity in this
Golden Year, we had four boys. One boy was built slightly and not too good, but
presentable. Two of these four were big and slow, but capable of poling a long
one on the rare afternoon. Ah, the last of the big boy 8th graders, what a
splendid ball player!
He ran like a deer, and hit like a dream. Leslie Doty at least once a game
launched that softball right out and over the playing field onto Johnson Road or
sometimes all the way across the road into the dark spruces of the cemetery. His
dad was a dairy farmer and Leslie worked long hours milking, haying, and “doing
the chores”. Leslie was a worker, and Leslie was in shape, and Leslie could rap
that old apple. Wow!
That Golden Year Greene School went undefeated, crushing all the schools our
size (25-30 pupils), and sliding past both the feared Palo and Orleans. The most
memorable game was with Brink School, well south of us. Brink boasted a big,
tough, boy-man who hit the ball hard, and ran the bases like a wild horse. Late
in the game he hit a vicious line drive up the gap in right field, and Elaine
ran over, grabbed it to fire the ball to her sister, our second baseman
The hitter had raced around first base, and set sail for second. He never
figured we’d field his drive, and given his personality, even if we did, he
figured he’d blast his way through any tag at second base. Nearing second,
Martin dropped into a spectacular hook slide, just as the ball arrived up high
in Marilyn’s glove. Dust flew everywhere, and when it cleared, Martin lay
sprawled flat in the sand. Marilyn, our heftiest Amazon, was sitting on top of
him with the ball in her glove. All of them were ten feet short of second base.
Marilyn reached down, and tagged Martin with the ball. Out! We all laughed and
cheered. Marilyn the hero. We win!
If that year was Greene School’s Golden Year, the year of 1950 was our Silver
Year. All the 8th grade boys had graduated, and gone on to Belding High School.
Our Greene School ball team was left with 5 big girls, 1 big boy (me), and 3
little boys (one 6th grader and two 5th graders). We did pretty well, but it
wasn’t a Golden Year.
The game that stands out was our season finale against Dorr School. Our right
fielder, Elaine, was a very beautiful young woman. She had blue eyes, blonde
hair, and perfect teeth. All the boys were in love with her. She knew it, and
didn’t care. She thought we boys were fools. She had an older boyfriend in Ionia
named Duke. She also had a mean mouth.
Dorr School’s catcher was an earnest and stalwart young fellow. He was the star
of their team. He, of course, was also in love with Elaine. Being the catcher,
when his team was in the field, he spent that half of the inning about three
feet from Elaine’s mean mouth. She began razzing him about his hair, and she
commented unpleasantly on his pimples. He started crying softly in the third
inning. Dorr School’s teacher called time out, and took him aside, and tried to
cheer him up.
It didn’t do much good. He cried a little more. Our big girls all muttered about
him being “a baby”, but I knew how he felt. I went to school with her. She
delighted in calling me “little Billy boy”. I knew how he felt. The sight of
their star player cruying unnerved the Dorr team, and after he returned shakily
to the game, we beat them easily.
My last vivid memory is Joyce, our first baseman (baseperson), and me in a
practice game. I hit a grounder to third, and the throw pulled Joyce off the bag
and down the baseline. We collided and fell, she falling on her back with me on
top of her. All the farm kids went wild with laughter. I jumped right up,
embarrassed, but not knowing what was so funny.
I went over to Elaine, and in a puzzled way asked “What’s so funny?” She stopped
laughing long enough to see that I was serious, that I didn’t even know what was
so funny, and then she really went wild. She fell on the ground laughing, she
rolled around screaming and hooting. All the other big girls were crying they
were laughing so hard, all except Joyce, who was crimson with embarrassment. END
Thank You to our fellow columnist, EDGAR FLEETHAM, for his praise and
recognition of Cemetery Sextons and their Township Boards on the care and repair
of cemeteries after the vandalism. We Sextons (Cemetery Superintendents is the
proper term, since sexton really denotes a church custodian), sometimes feel
unappreciated. We perform the last human service, after the Doctors & Nurses,
after the Mortician, after the Preacher. We cover you with dirt, sod, and
flowers, and settle it well. Often this goes un-acknowledged.
LAKE ODESSA 1919 UNDEFEATED FOOTBALL TEAM (PHOTO)
Back row l to r – Cloise Tasker, Gerald Bretz, Lloyd Reed, Ambrose Slosson,
Noble Nagler, Sherm Lepard, Burton Groff, Alton Klahn, Boyd Stockford, Dick
Front row l to r – Donald Braden, Jim Henderson, Owen Barkdull, Ervie Howard –
Coach, Allie Trowbridge, Spencer Braden.
INTERVIEW WITH LLOYD REED CONTINUES by R. W. Gierman
My granddad Reed had lived north of Woodbury on what is now M-66 and my dad
first lived about a half mile south of him. (The Hosea Reed farm later became
the Wm. Balduf farm.) We lived across the road from Jay Daniels.
Their farm was once owned by people named Steele. The Steeles were Seventh Day
Adventists. I was occasionally in the Steele home. They had one wall of a room
made into a chalk board and had religious gatherings there. They had four girls
and one boy named Levi. He lived out west of Lake Odessa until he died. We moved
from that place in 1910, and they left before that. The road was almost all sand
and I used to go out there to play. Cars were very, very scarce.
I remember the Model-T Fords with the front fenders running straight out over
the wheels, before 1910. John Henderson lived north of Jay Daniels. A fellow
came along in a Model-T, John’s dog ran out after the car, and the man lost
control. The left front wheel ran between the fence and the barbed wire and he
got stopped there.
I remember how they grunted and got that car out of the fence. The fender was
bent and it was made of such heavy metal they couldn’t straighten it.
On the northeast corner of Musgrove Hwy. and M-66 lived Frank Mills. Frank’s
father worked for some dredging concern. After the father died they moved from
the next house north (Frank McDonald’s) to the corner place. Edwin Leak now has
a blueberry planting on the muck there.
We moved to Lake Odessa in 1919 (on what is now the Henry Beland farm and at the
corner of Tupper Lake St. and Joudan Lake Ave.). My dad and his brother Walter,
six men from Grand Rapids, and three from New York, established Lake Odessa
Canning Company in 1919. Dad was field manager for the company as long as he
lived. After Walter died, the boys sold the canning factory and it has been sold
a couple times since. It now has a huge freezer capacity. I helped build the
warehouse when the plant was first started.
Granddad Reed and I swept that whole factory area. The plant had been a
furniture factory. It was sold to the Reeds for one dollar. Granddad and I swept
the entire three floors before it was opened as a canning factory.
I worked there during vacations from school. I worked there one vacation as
cook. That doesn’t mean I did much cooking. They had big retorts. They would put
the cans in cages and we would put them in the retorts and lock them down and
turn on the steam and keep track of the time. Then we would place them in a
cooling tank and the cans would then move very slowly to the warehouse.
I very much remember picking up those tile blocks that were used to build the
warehouse. I’d pick up a block, carry it some 15 or 20 yards and then up to the
second floor, go back the length of the warehouse and set it down for the
masons. That was for thirty cents an hour, three dollars a day, fifteen dollars
a week, and no overtime. When I was cooking I used to be at work at seven
o’clock AM and sometimes it would be two or three o’clock the next morning
before we got the last of them out.
I left Lake Odessa in 1920 to go to the University of Michigan. I was back only
weekends. I started out in Detroit after I graduated from the University, but I
ended up in West Michigan. There I worked for the Holland Furnace Company. I was
in the credit department. There were four of us on the road. My territory was
from New Orleans to the Canadian border and from the Mississippi River to the
Pacific Ocean. I made three or four trips out through there for the company by
Then in 1932 they took us all off the road and gave us an office in Holland and
we worked by correspondence. I had worked for them for five years when they had
a big shake-up. All the officers were kicked out and the man with whom I
started, Chris Becker, Grand Rapids Branch Manager, was appointed manager of the
Home Furnace Company of Holland. He gave me a job as credit manager there, and I
covered five states. I was there for nine or ten years.
Then I started out for myself during World War II. I went to Allegan in an
International Harvester dealership. I was there three years when a man came in
one day and wanted to buy me out. So I sold it to him. Then I went to Muskegon
and bought a neighborhood hardware store. I was there about eleven or twelve
years when they put that new road through. That nearly broke me. They were not
quite close enough to touch my property, but people just would not cross that
expressway to shop. My sales volume went down and I finally sold my stock and
fixtures to a man who was starting a new hardware store over in Spring Lake,
near Grand Haven.
Then I started a Shopper’s Guide, with encouragement from my friends in Allegan,
who had one there. But Muskegon was too large a territory for me and part of it
wouldn’t support a Shopper. So I looked at towns of 5,000 or more and after
three months of search, selected Marine City, south of Port Huron. It was there
I started a new Shopper’s Guide. I had two people picking up copy for me. But we
printed it in Muskegon. We would have it folded by Tuesday and I would drive it
225 miles across the state to be delivered. Then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
we would work on the next issue.
ANDREW SHILTON by Grayden Slowins
Andrew Shilton moved his wife and sons Ernest & Iril from SE ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 5
Orange to SE ¼ NE ¼ & NE ¼ SE ¼ Sec. 9 Sebewa in 1896. They bought the north 40
first, from a relative, Samuel Shilton. Since the frontage was low and swampy,
their first dwelling was on a knoll in the woods about 40 rods west from the
west end of York Road.
They lived the first winter in a tent. It was square and had a stove in it that
kept them warm--sometimes too warm. There was a shield for the stovepipe to keep
it fro setting fire to the tent. An Indian camped in a tepee nearby gave them
skins to keep the floor cozy.
The next spring Andrew Shilton had Jimmie Creighton saw out lumber from the
woods to build a house. It was a rough lumber, 15’ x 20’ house of a story and a
half. The boys slept in the loft and reached it by a ladder. Iril was just ready
to start school and Ernest a little older. They found they were in the Travis
District, which had a lot of big boys who enjoyed making life tough for the
little fellows. Andrew decided enough was enough and he had a solution. The new
house was built on a foundation of wood blocks. By fitting a pair of skids under
the house and using three teams of horses, he moved the house a short distance
to the south 40 and began living in the Sebewa Center School District. Later, by
skidding the same house still further south between stumps and stones, it became
part of the large square farmhouse still there today. END