THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
AUGUST 1992, Volume 28, Number 1.
Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden Slowins:
SURNAMES: STEGENGA, FROST, SMITH, WINCHESTER, BARRUS, HAUETER, WEBBER, WELCH,
WEBBER, WILKINS, YOUNG, HIEHLER, O’BIERN, WYMA, HEYWEYER, DEKKER, KRUITOF,
JONKERS, WEIGHMINK, ELHART, REGNERUS, FISHER, LEADER, GIERMAN, HOLCOMB, MEYERS,
KLAGER, FRITZ, SANDBORN, HIGBEE, CASSEL, WISELOGLE, YAGER, LEAK, CASWELL, TEW,
BURDICK, SMITH, TREMAINE, MASON, KIMMEL, ALLEN, SLOWINSKI, BENNETT, HORNING,
BELCHER, BRIGGS, PROBASCO, DAY, OLRY, CHAPMAN, GREEN, KART, LASS, FATE,
KRELLWITZ, STEFFERS, WOODS, TWIST, GLOVER, MAKIN, JOHNSON, BOND, KATT, GIBBS,
ZAUKELIES, HILL, BULLING, SAXTON, BARKER, BRADEN, HORTENS, GEMUEND, KNOLL, AVES,
WORTLEY, JACKSON, GATTNER, SHERRARD, YAGER
HARRIET F. STEGENGA, 90, daughter of Charles Frost & Harriet W. Smith, daughter
of Hannah Gillette & Laban A. Smith Sr. She was widow of Conrad Stegenga, mother
of Ellen Winchester, Jean Barrus, Evelyn Haueter & Jack Stegenga.
CHARLOTTE E. WEBBER, 90, daughter of Dora Stone & Lorenzo Webber, son of Mary E.
Mason & John A. Webber, son of Jane A. Welch & Lorenzo Webber, son of Sophia
Wilkins & Andrew W. Webber. She was a teacher in Ann Arbor Public Schools.
MILDRED L. WEBBER, 88, of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, widow of John A. Webber Jr,
brother of Charlotte.
ALICE YOUNG, 99, daughter of Nellie Leece & Robert Young, sister of Mary Bell
Young & Wilbur Young, cousin to both Biehler & Young of the Biehler-Young
Hardware Company, Grand Rapids. She taught rural school, assisted Mamie O’Biern
in the baked goods department at Ionia Free Fair for many years, and was a
long-time local correspondent from South Boston for the Ionia County News,
Sentinel-Standard, Lake Odessa Wave & Clarksville Record. She was a member of
South Boston Grange, North Bell School Association, and Sebewa Center
RENA SMITH, 90, daughter of George & Mary Wyma, sister of Ben Wyma, Hattie
Heyweyer, Alice Dekker, Minnie Kruithof, Jennie Jonkers, John Wyma, Louise
Weighmink, Ruth Elhart & Ella Regnerus. She was widow of Gerrit Smith and mother
of Henry, John & Marvin Smith.
PAUL F. FISHER, 71, son of Velma Leader & Arthur P. Fisher, husband of Frieda,
father of Paul, John, Kenneth, Angela & William, brother of Wesley, Edward,
Arthur, Evelyn & Ruth. Son of a Lutheran minister, he was a mortician for 40
years, operated the Mapes-Fisher Funeral Home in Sunfield, and was a member of
many religious singing groups.
CHARLES FREDERICK GIERMAN, 54, son of Pauline Holcomb and Charles Albert Gierman,
son of Nellie E. Meyers & Robert E. Gierman, son of Christina Klager & Charles
Gierman, son of Frederick (Fritz) Gierman. He was an employee of Jacobson’s in
EIGHTY YEARS OF CHANGE, 1912-1992 by Frederick Y. Wiselogle in A Talk before
the Lake Odessa Area Historical Society; Thursday, January 09, 1992.
My entire professional career covering 36 years was spent in two major cities on
the Eastern Shore of the United States – along that corridor between Washington
and Boston where everyone feels a smug superiority over the remainder of the
country. But in 1972 when I elected to retire I was determined to return to the
small village in the Midwest where I had spent many a wonderful summer as a
young lad. You see, I was following in my parents’ footsteps; when my father
quite work back in 1940 he and my mother built a retirement home here on Jordan
I used to visit them once a year or so and I always found my return visits
relaxing and restful; the lake, and the village, seemed somehow exactly the same
as I had remembered them decades before. And it was nostalgia for the halcyon
past that made me determined to return to it and hold on to it as long as I
could enjoy life……
………My paternal grandparents were Fred and Emma Wiselogel living on a farm just
outside of Springport, some 50 miles southeast of here. Their son, named Andrew
but always called Andy, graduated from Springport High School and promptly went
to work for the telephone company installing new phones in farmers’ homes around
the village. Just imagine the excitement of having an opportunity for the first
time to talk to a neighbor a mile away from you!
………My maternal grandparents were Fred and Maggie Yager, a retired farmer living
on Sixth Avenue in Lake Odessa. Their eldest child was a daughter, Florence, or
Flo as she was commonly called. Flornece graduated in 1899 from Lake Odessa High
School. Thanks to Geraldine Klahn, I have a copy of the commencement program –
for the six in her class. Flo went on to college in Mt. Pleasant, earning a
teacher’s certificate; she returned to teach at Bippley School just north of
town; to my delight local people, such as the late Mildred Hall, have come up to
me and reminded me that my mother once taught them!
In 1906 Flo’s grandfather, Tom Leak, a prosperous Sebewa farmer took her on a
trip to England to renew acquaintances with relatives living in Grismby. Though
I can’t recall ever meeting Tom, I can remember a later recital by my mother of
(to be continued)
CASWELL & COMPANY by Grayden Slowins
DENARD O. CASWELL brings us the account book used by his
great-great-great-grandfather, THOMAS G. TEW, beginning on a farm at Coventry,
Chenango County, New York, on May 27, 1829, and continuing thru his son, George
Tew, and grandson, E. C. Tew, in Berlin, Orange & Odessa Townships, Ionia
County, in the 1880s.
THOMAS G. TEW entered partnership with one HARRY SMITH in the blacksmith and
wagon-making business at Coventry in 1832. He also operated a store in nearby
Brookfield, Madison County, where his son, George, was born in 1800 and married,
and where Thomas died aobut 1863. George & wife, Amy Burdick, came to the 240
acre farm at E3/4 N1/2 Sec. 12 Berlin Township in 1864, with their son & wife,
E. C. Tew & Hannah Maria Mason. E. C. Tew also ran a store across in Orange Sec.
18 at Tremaine’s Corners. In the late 1880s E. C. moved the store to Bonanza,
and about 1907 moved into a four-store block in Lake Odessa, with groceries,
men’s clothing, shoes & dry-goods, on the southeast corner of Second Street &
Fourth Avenue, where Linda & Gary Kimmel have recently remodeled.
To the original partnership Harry Smith contributed a stock of wagon gear &
parts, lumber, paint, harness, etc. Worth $111.74. Thomas G. Tew contributed a
lumber wagon, pine lumber, a shovel, a pitch fork, two cows worth $20 each, 12
hens worth 25 cents each, and a supply of bar iron & band iron, for a total of
$118.53. Tew also bought a half interest in Smith’s stock of unfinished wagon
bodies & wheel spokes for $31.77. Tew also purchased a 75 acre farm at Coventry,
with all buildings & improvements and 6 acres of rye in the ground for $1024.00,
which he operated in conjunction with the shop and interspersed the book-keeping
for both. Income & expense items were all entered in the same column, so this
also makes it difficult to follow the transactions.
Tew evidently brought blacksmith skills to the partnership and Smith was the
wood-worker. They made and repaired wagons, wheel rims & spokes, horse shoes,
plough points, clevises, whiffletrees, log chains, cant hooks, cart tongues,
cutters, bob sleighs, wheelbarrows, brush-hooks, pitchforks, bolts, nuts, and
square nails. They also began to buy & sell a few items of farm produce,
groceries, and other supplies for the community. Oats & rye were relatively
high-priced at 50 cents per bushel, when you consider a cutter sold for $12.00,
a man’s coat for $4.00, and man’s pay for a full day’s work (12 hours) was from
5 shillings (62 ¼ cents) to $1.00. Maple syrup was 5 shillings per gallon. Some
things were actually paid to the half-pence.
The bill to repair a wagon:
New waggon box - $3.00, New waggon tongue - .75, Painting wagon – 2.00,
Re-setting 2 tyres – 1.75, Made irons & nails – 1.25, Tongue irons - .25. TOTAL
Two-thousand shingles cost $3.38. A small cherry coffin $1.50!
In 1853 there was a change in handwriting in the account book and Thomas G. Tew
purchased several flocks of sheep from various people: 14 for $23.50, 24 for
$71.00 and 32 for $96.00. Also he purchased a new team of oxen and several head
of cattle. This suggests that Thomas retired back to the farm at Coventry and
George took over management of the store. They also engaged in banking
transactions for their neighbors after this time. Thomas Tew died about 1863,
was buried at Brookfield, and in 1864 George and Amy came to Ionia County with
their son, Elmer Charles (E.C.) Tew and wife, Hannah Marie (Mari).
Besides acquiring and operating a large farm of 240 acres, they again operated a
blacksmith shop on the farm and purchased a general store & Orange Post Office
at nearby Tremaine’s Corners. George died in 1880 and was buried in Balcolm
Centery. E. C. Tew and sons, Charles Edward & Edgar Allen, soon moved the store
to Bonanza, and after the railroad came thru, set up a four-storefront operation
in the new town of Lake Odessa. Someone of the family always operated the farm.
Dan Slowinski worked on the farm as hired man before 1900.
The farm was divided in half. Edgar Allen Tew & wife, Ida Bennett, got the south
half, and since they had no children, this passed to the Bennett family. Charles
Edward Tew & wife, Ada B. Horning, got the north half with the buildings. When
he died in 1933, that half was divided between his son, Charles Jr., who sold
the west half to Belchers, and his daughter, Mary Pearl, widow of Orr Caswell.
Charles Edward Tew is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
The Caswell family were early settlers in Sebewa. Henry Caswell had come from
Rochester, N.Y., and married Emaline Briggs, who came with her parents, Weston &
Emaline Briggs. Henry & Emaline are buried in Danby. Their daughter, Emma, born
1867, died 1902, married Eugene Probasco and became mother of Benjamin Probasco
Jr. Henry & Emaline’s son, William, married Elizabeth Leak, daughter of David
Leak Sr. & Mary Ann Day.
William was age 6 when he helped build our barn here on the John Olry farm by
handing up square nails the carpenters dropped. He was age 14 and working here
as hired man when this house was built in 1878-1879. He was a horseman in Sebewa
Corners, then spent the rest of his life caring for horses at Lake Odessa,
including the teams he drove on Weed & Wortley’s funeral hearses, and race
horses at the fairgrounds. He died at age 99 years, 11 months and 23 days, on
May 20, 1965, and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
BILL & LIZZIE CASWELL had two sons, Orr & Chalmer. Chalmer (Chuck) had sons
Jack, Bill, Richard, and another son & daughter. Some of them lived around
Sheridan. Chalmer chauffered for Fred Chapman & Governor Fred Green and was
around the family garage all his life. Orr started working for Sam Kart in the
Ford agency in Lake Odessa, then had his own agency selling Dodge cars where
Carl Senters and Con Lass and Fates later were. He was Odessa Township Treasurer
in 1924 and saved some tax receipts tucked in the old account book, all four
being 20-acre farms valued at $1800 each. He spent his last 3 or 4 years raising
Jerseys on the Tew farm. He died in 1929 and is buried at Lakeside Cemetery.
DENARD ORR CASWELL, son of Mary P. Tew & Orr Caswell, was born March 19, 1908,
on the kitchen table in Lake Odessa. He was graduated from Lake Odessa High
School and his Grandmother Tew had left a letter that he was to have $1000 for
college. But in the Depression years there was not enough liquidity in the Tew
store to fund it.
So he lived one year on the family farm, but left when his bride of one year
died there. She was Deputy County Register of Deeds, was diagnosed with
Tuberculosis post mortem. Denard opened a gas station, sold Goodyear tires, and
prospered during World War II. He married Mathilda (Matt) Krellwitz, SS. Peter &
Paul class of 1929, and they had two sons, James Craig & Joh Frederick. After
the war he took on Packard sales, then Nash, and finally Mercury & Ford. He was
an ardent downhill skier until past 80, and still swimming at 84. They lived at
1724 Horizon Drive, Ionia, and had a cottage at Long Lake. Jon followed in the
business, married Elaine Steffers, had Christopher, Lisa & Steven.
The Leak side of the family begins with Christopher & Mary Woods Leak, of
Donington, Lincolnshire, England. Mary was born in 1795 and came to Sebewa with
her adult children as a widow, died May 24, 1889, and is buried in West Sebewa
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. John Leak, born 1825, died 1880, married Eliza Twist, born 1840, died 1923,
buried in West Sebewa.
2. Elijah Leak, born 1829, died 1901, married Sarah Ann Glover, born 1833, died
1912, buried in West Sebewa.
3. David Leak, born 1831, died 1920, married Mary Ann Day, born 1835, died 1917,
buried in West Sebewa.
4. Thomas Leak, born 183?, died 1914, married Elizabeth Makin, buried in
5. James Leak, born 1836, married Elizabeth Johnson, buried in South Dakota.
6. Rebecca Leak, married Harry Bond.
7. Isaac Leak, married Rebecca Katt.
8. Mary Leak, married Robert Gibbs.
ELIJAH LEAK owned the 20 acres out of Thomas Leak’s 160 which later belonged to
various Leaks and finally became part of the John Zaukelies farm.
DAVID LEAK owned 80 acres at S1/2 NW 1/4, Sec. 29, where Janice lives today,
plus N 30Ac E1/2 SE1/4 Sec. 30, where Ed lives today.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Geraldo Leak, born 1856, died 1860.
2. Esther Leak, born 1862, died 1865.
3. Lillian Leak, born 1864, died 1920, married Charles William Hill, buried at
4. Edwin Leak, born 1866, died 1940, married Hermine Bulling & Mary Baldwin
Saxton, buried in West Sebewa.
5. Esther Leak, born 1867, died 1938, married William Barker, was mother of Alta
Braden, and grandmother of Dallas Braden, buried in West Sebewa.
6. Elizabeth Leak, born 1869, died 1946, married William Caswell, was mother of
Orr & Chalmer Caswell, buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
7. Emma Leak, born 1872, died 1946, married Charles Day, buried at Six Lakes.
8. David Leak Jr., born 1875, died 1938, married Sarah Hortens Warner, parents
of Dorothy Costello, grandparents of Linda Gemuend, buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
9. Samuel Tilden Leak, born 1877, died 1933, married Jenny Knowll who drowned &
daughter Glada, buried Lakeside.
10. Millie Leak, died at birth.
11. May Leak, died at birth.
EDWIN LEAK & HERMINE BULLING farmed the 80 acres at N1/2 NW1/4 Sec. 29, where
Deborah milks cows today, and after Hermine died he married Mary Baldwin Saxton,
whose family had owned the Demaray farm, and lived on Tupper Lake Street in Lake
ED & HERMINE’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Mildred Leak, born 1897, died 1988, married Arlo Aves.
2. Maynard Leak, born 1899, married Madge Wortley.
3. Maurice Leak, born 1901, died 1988, married Bertha Jackson.
4. Naomi Leak, born 1904, married Marcus Gattner.
5. Zeno Leak, born 1908, died 1981, married Doris Sherrard.
6. Thelma Leak, born 1908, died 1908.
THOMAS LEAK owned 140 acres of NE1/4 Sec. 30, now known as the Maurice Gierman
farm, plus 80 acres at E1/2 NW1/4 Sec. 30, and retired to Lake Odessa fairly
young, served on the village council.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Christopher Leak, who married Ida and farmed on the Zaukelies portion of
Thomas’ old farm. She later lived in Woodbury and kept house for their son,
Leon, after his wife, Leona, died giving birth to Donald.
2. Margaret Leak, who married Fred Yager and had Florence, Thomas, Ed, Clarence
& Chester yager. Florence Yager married Andrew Wiselogle and became mother of
Fred Wiselogle whose story begins in this issue. END
UPDATE ON THE SANDBORN FAMILY:
Edward & Betsey were the founders of the Sandborn clan in the Sebewa-Portland-Danby
area. Columbus & Morrison were their sons. Columbus’ son Alonzo & Morrison’s son
Ernest were first cousins. Alonzo’s son Riley & Ernest’s son George were second
cousins. Riley’s daughter June & George’s son Charles were third cousins.
Riley’s daughter June & George’s son Charles were third cousins. June’s
daughter, Kathleen Higbee, married Charles Sandborn, her third cousin once
removed. Their sons, Greg & Derick, are Sandborns on both sides.
ROBERT WILFRED GIERMAN will no longer be delivering your Recollector in
person, nor collecting your dues each year. So if there is any error or change
in your mailing address, so that you do not receive six issues per year, for
August, October, December, February, April & June, please let us know. Since
people leave for the warm climates at all different dates of the year, it is
very difficult to tell the computer which address to use. Therefore we would
like you to give the address where you reside most of the year and make other
arrangements for forwarding your mail in the short season. Be sure to mail your
dues of $5.00 per household for the Volume Year beginning July 1 each year to
our new Secretary-Treasurer: WALLACE SEARS, 11501 S. SUNFIELD HWY., PORTLAND, MI