Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 29 Number 1
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,
AUGUST 1993, Volume 29, Number 1.

Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins:


MILDRED G. IVES, 77, wife of A Winston Ives, mother of Denise Beechler & Patricia Girdwood, sister of Edward & Henry Kenyon, daughter of Roxanna Campbell & Nathan Kenyon, son of Henry Kenyon, who emigrated from the Netherlands.

VIVERNE COOK, 84, husband of Frances, father of Nadine Speas, Marcia Lake & Jerald Cook, brother of Vera, Betty, Verrsal, Adren & Kenneth, son of Hennrietta Hough & Carlton R. Cook, son of Emily & Charles Pl Cook, son of Ursula & Pierce G. Cook, who commenced farming in W1/2 SE1/4 Sec. 19 Sebewa in 1853. Viverne also farmed and ran a gas station & radiator repair shop in Lake Odessa.

LOSIA E. KIRTLAND, 98, widow of Clare Kirtland, mother of Susan Tayor & Evelyn Gunn, sister of June Gould & Ruth Cole, daughter of Lena Bake & Leon Bass, born in Caledonia, operated drugstore in Sunfield.

JOHN F. STRANGE, 80, of Grand Ledge. His grandfather, also named John (or Joseph?), was a brother to James Jesse Strang, king of the Beaver Island splinter goup of the Morman Church. John Sr. settled on a farm in Eaton County and Strange Hwy is names for him. Young John was a long-time farmer on that same farm, retired school employee, and member of Delta Presbyterian Church. Clement J. Strang, son of James Jesse, was the early publisher of The Gospel Sun in Sunfield. Apparently one branch used Strang and one Strange.

FLOYD N. EVANS, 84, husband of Angela Adams Evans, father of Gordon, grandfather of Scott; son of Anna Gibbs & George Evans, son of Susan & Jacob W. Evans, who settled in Sec. 11 Sebewa before 1875. Floyd was a farmer, a shepherd. He became Justice of the Peace in Danby Township in 1944. At that time Justices also sat on the Township board in the seats now occupied by Trustees. In 1947 he was elected Township Supervisor and served continuously for 45 years, retiring in 1992. He was the longest-serving Supervisor in Danby Township history and probably Ionia County, although not the State of Michigan. Prior to January 1, 1969, Township Supervisors also served on the County Board of Commissioners. See Volume 24, Issues 1-5 for his life story as he told it. Ashes to be buried in Danby Cemetery.

JAMES D. LEAK, 56, husband of Carol Linderman Leak, father of Deborah and James Jr. (Jake) Leak; son of Doris Sherrard & Zeno Leak, son of Hermine Bulling & Edwin Leak, son of Mary Ann Day & David Leak, son of Mary Woods & Christopher Leak, a pioneer family in Sebewa. See Volumne 28, Issue No. 1 for the Leak History. Jim was a member of the Lake Odessa Cooperative Elevator Board and the Sebewa Township Board of Review. He farmed all his life on the Leak land. He was buried in the midst of it, in West Sebewa Cemetery.

ERNESTINE N. MAHON, 76, mother of Larry Cassel, grandmother of Cheryl Cope; daughter of Edythe Hodges & Herbert Wheeler. She was first married to Kenneth Cassel, son of Asa Cassel, and her mother was married to Vernie Cassel, brother of Asa. She owned the Cassel Centennial Farm in Sebewa, but lived and ran the beauty shop in Muir. Buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.

REGGIE DENNY, the truck driver who was dragged from his rig in Los Angeles riots last year and shown on national TV as he was being beaten by four blacks thru no fault of his, was an Ionia County boy. His father, Reginald Denny Sr., and his aunt Audrey were one year behind us at Portland High School. Their father, uncle & grandfather, Bert, Harry & Ernest, ran Denny’s Auto Parts east of Portland on US-16 near Hudson Rd, Sec. 13 Danby. Later they lived in the north part of the county and Reggie Jr. grew up in the Ionia-Palo area.

KAREN FRYOVER HUFNAGEL, 46, wife of Leon; mother of Herman, Samuel, Joseph & Thomas; sister of Thomas, Luanne & Anna Belle; daughter of Samuel Fryover & Kathleen Gibbs, daughter of Elizabeth & Thomas Gibbs, son of Mary E. & Norman Gibbs Sr., son of Robert Gibbs, pioneer farmers on Knoll Road, NW1/4 SW1/4 & S1/2 SW1/4 NW1/4 Section 3 Sebewa Township, where Cleo & Gordon Piercefield are now, prior to 1875. Her mother, Kathleen Gibbs, was a cousin to Floyd Evans, whose obituary also appears in this issue.

PHOTO ON FRONT PAGE OF THIS ISSUE FROM LAKEWOOD NEWS PHOTO, titled JOSEPH A. VROMAN: “Joe Vroman holds his Certificate of Naturalization and an America flag given to him by the judge who issued his citizenship papers on February 10, 1927. “No one could get this away from me for a million bucks”, says Joe of his American citizenship. He holds dual citizenship, also being a citizen of King Albert of Belgium by birth.


Our Cover Story this issue begins with Joseph A. Vroman, born in West Flanders, Belgium, February 24, 1902, son of Metchie & Henry Vroman. Joe recently celebrated his 91st birthday at Woodland, MI. He grew up on his grandparents’ farm in Flanders. His father left to go to America when Joe was 4. When his father had saved enough money, he sent for his wife and then for the three boys. Maurice, born September 17, 1903, and Mitchell, born in 1904, were allowed to go. But Joe had to stay behind and help his grandparents on the farm.

He did not have an opportunity to come to America until 1919, when World War I was over and he was out of school and working as a blacksmith. He arrived in New York on August 9, 1919, and without a word of English, made his way to his father’s home in Detroit. He had to work and turn over his pay to his father for the voyage.

Then, since his parents were separated, he went to Janesville, Wisconsin, to visit his mother and brothers. His mother remembered him as a little boy, not a grown man. She remarried, to Leon Roose, and had another son, Albert Roose, also of Lakewood area. Henry Vroman returned to Belgium during World War I and served in their army, since he never became an American citizen. The Belgian government paid his ticket over and back. After the war he mined gold in Alaska, then bought a farm in Canada, made a living as a shoemaker, and died there at age 90.

Joe Vroman came to Lansing to work and attended night school to learn English & American Government and got his citizenship papers on February 10, 1927. After working in Lansing & Battle Creek, he bought a feed grinder and served the Lake Odessa area. When his son, Joe Jr. returned from World War II with an English bride, Joe sold him the grinder and moved to Woodland. He retired from Spartan Engineering at age 80, and built a small home workshop with drill press, lathe & welder.
Besides Joe Jr., who recently died and whose son is a partner in HSV Gravel & Redimix, Joe had a son Gilbert, who had a feed grinder in Saranac and 9 or 10 kids. Pam Vroman, Circuit Court Administrator, is Gilbert’s daughter-in-law. Joe Sr. also had a daughter who lives in Livonia, an adopted son, and another daughter. He and his second wife have 21 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great-grandchildren. They are members of Zion Lutheran Church.

Mitchell (Hap) Vroman was in charge of Lakewood School bus repair and died younger than his father & brothrs, from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He and his wife had no children.

Maurice Vroman married Zelma Verlinde and farmed on Ionia Road, Portland Township, just outside the city. He also had a feed grinder, which he later sold to his son Leo. He also operated a gravel pit on the family farm and sold it to his son Albert, who got into redimix, and eventually into pre-cast septic tanks and manure storage facilities. Maurice is still going strong on the riding lawn mower at almost age 90.

1) Leo Vroman, married Margery Prentice July 3, 1943.
1. Robert.
2. Rosalie Ann.
3. Charles.
4. Kathy.

2) Albert Vroman, married Patricia Whitcraft
1. Pamela.
2. Daniel.
3. Gwen.
4. Rod.
5. Shelby.

3) ROSAMOND VROMAN married Harold Ball.
1. Cynthia.
2. Coleen.
3. James.
4. Gregory.
5. Patrick.

4) GEORGE VROMAN to Nancy Ann Edgar, daughter of Helen Leggett & George Edgar.
1. Val Vroman Tissue.
2. Marcia Vroman Simon Spear.
3. Steve Vroman.
4. Kristie Vroman Brezizinski.
5. Michael Vroman.


LEON MOYER came from his family’s farm in Eaton County in the triangle area of Mulliken Road & M-50. He married Fannie Snyder, daughter of our Civil War Veteran Dr. George Snyder, sister to Henry Snyder – Winnie Benschoter’s father, and to George Snyder Jr. – Mamie Downing’s stepfather. They farmed on the Elihu & Charles Halladay farm at S 130Ac NE1/4 Sec. 25 Sebewa, where Larry Brown is now, and owned it in 1906. Then they moved to Grand River Avenue near Eagle.
1. Russell Moyer, who farmed with Leon at Eagle.
2. Theron Moyer, village marshall in Portland.
3. Bruce Moyer, father of Betty & Bill, father of Mark of Sebewa.
4. Thelma Moyer Knox, mother of Kendall Knox.
5. Myrtle Moyer Wilcox, no children.
6. Maude Moyer Jansen, mother of Yvonne, Brenda, Joyce Scheurer.
7. Herb Moyer, father of Mary & Susan.

RUSSELL MOYER & wife had 15 children, of whom 12 grew up, and the approximate order is as follows: Eleanor, Elizabeth, Beverly, Robert, Elon, John, John’s twin who died, Barry, Norma who lives on Musgrove, Margaret, Gene, Jack, Jim, and two more who died. Jim Moyer who lives on the Raymond Kenyon farm, N1/2 NE1/4 Sec. 13 Sebewa, is son of Robert.

…………the first time, ever, that the Lasker award had been given to a pharmaceutical company……
Just 20 years ago in May, I returned to work from a quick trip to California. We were planning to attend a convention in Copenhagen the following week. I came home, mowed my lawn and set down to read the evening paper. But I couldn’t see one half of the page! Something had changed. A quick call to a friend and optometrist resulted in an eye exam that evening. This led to a call to an ophthalmologist for an appointment the next morning and that resulted in an immediate trip to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for eye surgery the next da. Prompt attention and brilliant skill by the surgeon reattached the retina that had pulled away from my optic nerve and restored the sight of my right eye.

But, mentally, I was shattered. I was 60 years old and while I knew I could return to my position within Squibb, still I had no confidence that my eyes would remain serviceable through all the stress of my work. So I resigned from my hospital bed and never returned. My company offered me a generous settlement and so Charlotte and I retired to Lake Odessa, built a home just off Jordan Lake and have enjoyed immensely the last twenty years spent in retirement.

Early in retirement, I couldn’t forget how I used to do calculations with logarithms. And I determined that I was going to master this new Personal Computer that appeared to excite so many youngsters. I wanted to see if it could offer a retiree anything new and exciting. So I bought my first little black box in 1981.

And for the last eleven years I’ve been following with deep interest the incredible year-to-year developments in this exciting technology, where things simply un-dreamed-of earlier are now commonplace in the home. Why, I now can write a letter in my computer, check the spelling and grammar automatically, and then have it printed out. I have in my computer the entire King James Bible and can almost instantly locate any verse with a few taps on my keyboard. I have equal access to all of the information contained in a 27-volume encyclopedia – stored on a single 3 ˝” compact disk; identify a street address and city anywhere in the United States. And I can tell you the exact Zip Code. And that’s just the beginning! I give thanks to God and I express my grateful appreciation to you people of the Lake Odessa Area Community for allowing Charlotte and me to lead lives that have been filled with delightful surprises. We must never fear change; it is the normal fate of every one of us. Together, let’s enjoy every new turn of events. Remember: The Only Constant Thing in Life is Constant Change.

FENDER UPDATES: Debra Stadel Eddy writes that Hale Lepard married Grace Fender, daughter of Daniel Fender. Also that Anslem G. Dodds married Ellen Fender as his second wife in 1923. We don’t know where she fits into the Fender family. Louisa Everest Burger has located a couple cousins from the N. E. Fender family thru the Hastings Banner.

INGALLS UPDATE: Arlene Ingalls Schrader writes to correct us on the “s” on the end of Ingalls. Jonathan Ingalls’ tombstone says Ingalls. We stand corrected. However the Halladay Genealogy refers to Elizabeth Ingall Gates as his daughter. THE INGALLS INQUIRER relates to Ingalls, Ingall, Ingell, Ingles, Inglies, Ingle, Engel, etc. The name Mary Inglis appeared as the mother of Thomas Pryer in his story. Charles Ingalls platted part of the City of Ionia, and M. (Manley?) Charles Ingalls (his son?) owned the family homestead at Shimnecon well into this century.

Marian (Mrs. Guy) Stiffler was his daughter, born & raised there. She was a life-long friend of Marian Pryer Lakin. Arlene is daughter of Herbert D., son of Charles S., son of John D., son of John C., son of Jonathan Ingalis, our only veteran of the Revolutionary War buried in Sebewa. Herbert D. Ingalls was a well-driller from DeWitt, and his partner, Mr. Gilbert, was also descended from Sebewa families.

One thing I have learned in Genealogy is that different spellings do not mean not related, we just may not have established the connection yet. My name is Slowins, from Slowinski, from Slovinski, from Slavinski, all related. My mother’s name was Brake, from Break, from Brech, all related. Her mother’s name was Wenger, also spelled Winger & Wanger. I certainly would not dis-own Debra Winger, movie actress and my sixth cousin twice removed, just because she uses Winger and we use Wenger! In fact Wenger is often pronounced Winger, just as Sebewa is properly pronounced Sibewa.

NOTE FROM THE CEMETERY: One hundred twenty years after his death, Henry J. Mapes finally got his Civil War Monument in the East Cemetery and becomes the 42 person so recognized. This is thanks to the efforts of his great-grandson, Rev. Byron L. Gibbs Jr. We poured a foundation and set it on the grave under the same tree where Polly Baker is buried. Polly is our earliest-born resident of the cemetery, born in 1770, died in 1861. Henry was born in 1830 and died in 1873. Johathan Ingalls was born in 1762 and died in 1843, but he isn’t in the cemetery. He died before there was a cemetery and his stone is along the roadside, a quarter mile south of Musgrove Hwy. on Keefer Hwy, Sec. 25. Mary Probasco was born in 1795 and Diana Benschoter in 1797. Elihu Halladay was also born in 1797.

Almeron & James Newman enclosed their new flouring mill on the Looking Glass River in Portland and began grinding in September, 1843. On February 9, 1893, it burned to the ground. Rebuilt and remodeled many times, it was called Valley City Milling Company when it burned to the ground again in February, 1950.

Central Soya Company grinds & mixes animal feed concentrates on that same site even today. John Waterman put in a mill race north across the Looking Glass from the Newman mill and proposed to wash, card & spin wool. But the next spring he got soaked & chillied while cleaning the limbs & trash from his race, caught pneumonia & died. His daughter, Mattie, married Jack Cool of Campbell Township, and their daughter, Nadia, married Elwood Brake Sr. Someone continued the Portland Woolen Mill after about 1870.

WASHINGTON TRIP: Robert Wilfred Gierman & his friend from India, Elias Peter, did indeed make that trip to our nation’s capital on Sunday, May 2. Elias arrived here Saturday night, and the next morning they were off with Hartzler tour bus. They enjoyed the museums, Washington monument, Lincoln memorial, Mt. Vernon, the cherry blossoms, etc. Imagine all those trips around the world and Wilfred just now got to our capital!

JUDGE SAMUEL WILLIAM DEXTER, founder of Dexter, MI, was NOT the same Judge Samuel Dexter who founded Ionia, that’s final, we hope. Samuel William was the son of a lawyer, also named Samuel, who was Secretary of State under John Adams, served in the Massachusetts Senate and the United States Senate. Samuel William moved from Boston, MA, to Detroit, MI, in 1824, and founded the town of Byron in the southeast corner of Shiawassee County. He expected Byron to become the county seat, but when Corunna got it, and his wife died at the birth of their second child, he sold Byron to his wife’s brother and traveled back to Ohio to find a second wife.

With his new wife he founded Dexter in Washtenaw County and built a large house which still stands. It has great white pillars, twenty-two rooms, 9 fireplaces, 55 windows with inside shutters, a beautiful walnut banister, and is called Gordon Hall. He owned a 629 acre farm which straddled the corners of Dexter, Webster & Scio Townships. He saw this as a perfect junction for a barge canal to connect the Huron River at Ann Arbor with the Grand River at Jackson. This scheme did not pan out either, but he practiced law and was Circuit Court Judge for Washtenaw County when he died in 1863.

What makes the story more confusing is the fact that our Ionia Sam Dexter had two brothers, Steven & George Washington Dexter, who settled at Whitmore Lake, in Washtenaw County, before coming to Ionia. And Samuel William Dexter’s settlement at Byron was very close to our Samuel’s Dexter Trail as it cut across Shiawassee County on his trip from Herkimer, NY.

ED MORGAN IS A SEBEWA DESCENDANT who lives in Kent City, MI, and sends us TYRONE GLEANINGS, newsletter of the Kent City Historical Society. He includes a story about the last old-fashioned barn raising in that area. The men were nailing rafters above the purline plate on a hot day. They called down to a little girl on the ground “Some lemonade sure would taste good”. So she went into the house and asked her mother to make lemonade. A few minutes later they heard the girl say “Here’s your lemonade”, as she came walking across the purline, 50 ft above the ground, juggling a pitcher of lemonade in one hand and some glasses in the other!

ELECTION RESULTS: At the Annual Meeting and Potluck on Memorial Day, May 31, Mike Smith did an excellent job with his slide story of his canoe trip across the Midwest. Janet Gierman Rudd was elected President and LaVern Carr was re-elected Trustee. They join Wesley Meyers Jr. – Vice President 1994, Wallace Sears – Secretary/Treasurer 1995, and Duane Meyers – Trustee 1995. Wilbur Gierman will hold down the Past President seat in the absence of Raymond Heintzleman. Congratulations Janet, we are pleased to see younger people taking on the leadership.

In the June 2 Special Election on Proposal A, Sebewa cast 161 Yes votes and 114 No votes, following the pattern of Ionia County and 67 other counties. But 15 counties, many of them more populous, such as Wayne, Oakland & Macomb, where able to offset our votes. After the initial disappointment of those who had worked so hard on this compromise package of tax reforms, it’s back to the drawing-board for another try at equitable school funding and equitable taxation by way of income, Sales, and Single Business Taxes in place of Property Tax.

GUEST ARTICLES for THE RECOLLECTOR are welcome. We reserve the right to edit for space & content. Articles longer than one or two paragraphs are more likely to get used if typed & made photo-copier ready on a computer or word-processor. Most should have some connection to Sebewa – no matter how remote. We include Danby, Portland, Orange, Ionia, Berlin, Boston, Campbell, Odessa & Sunfield Townships in this circle because of the intertwining of our histories & herstories.



Last update November 15, 2013