Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 2 Number 3
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, Volume 2, December 1966, Number 3:



   Central Telephone Company, taking over where the old Sunfield Telephone Company Central Telephone Company left off (and it seemed like it left off in many places) has buried some new telephone cables along Sebewa roadside preliminary to the installation of a dial system for the Sunfield Exchange.  Some other work toward that end has been done, giving hope that this “Hello Central” pocket may yet catch up with the world of automated telephones.

   There was a day when the party line held the loyalty of its users to the extent that outsiders had a little of the flavor of foreigners.  In our early consciousness, we supposed that everybody had “line picnics” as did line 45.  We can recall three such picnics.  One was at the home of Steve York.  The highlight of the day as we recall, was Steve playing on his Edison cylindrical-record phonograph an emotional recitation of “The Blue and the Gray”.  His G. A. R. status seemed to make Lilliputians of his audience on that occasion.

   Bring on your touchtones, conference sets and number systems!  We’ll be satisfied to keep only the memories of the old system.


   The schoolhouse has been prepared for winter by draining all the pipes that might be damaged by freezing.  Water should remain available at the hydrant with pressure supplied to the church hydrant for the occasions that water is needed there. 


   Compared to last year at this time, our membership is high.  We now have 193 dues-paid members and in fairness to them we can hardly recognize an unpaid membership category.  Funds from the fees should allow us to shingle the paper roof of the furnace room addition now begging for cover.  Perhaps some of the membership funds can be used in liquidating the $200 still owed on the building. 


   Several new names have been added to the membership list this year.  If you have acquaintances and friends who might like to join in our project, the dues are $1 per person and generally that means $2 for man and wife.  For an extra dollar all the back issues of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR will be included.  If you have lost any particular issue and wish to replace it, send 20 cents and specify the date or number of the issue requested.


   Sebewa is not exempt from the first nor overly blest with the second.  On a mile of little traveled road we recently picked up 60 bottles of all the favorite brands, almost as many tin cans and an assortment of other trash.

HOW I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL by Clarence H. Sayer

   When I finished the eighth grade at the Johnson school with a refresher at the Sebewa Center School in 1905, my parents began thinking about sending me to High School.  Nobody at my distance from town had ever made daily trips to High School and it was not even considered for me.  There were other ways.  I had an uncle, Albert Sayer, who was a hardware merchant in Sunfield.  My father made arrangements for me to live with Uncle Albert while I was attending school.

   High School turned out to be a different situation than I was used to at the Johnson School.  Although the enrollment at the High School was small with the Professor and one classroom teacher, it seemed to be the pupils winning the control in the perpetual contest about discipline.  It was not unusual to have to dodge an overshoe or an eraser to keep from getting scarred in the school room.

   Such conduct by the pupils did not improve when they left the school for the day.  One night, one of the boys hid himself in the freight depot until the station agent locked up the place for the night.  There was a wooden pail of candy in the station, waiting for a local merchant to pay the freight and take his goods.  After lock-up time, it was easy to unhook a door, and boy and pail disappeared down the railroad track.

   Next afternoon, several boys and some girls skipped school for a candy feast.  As it happened, I had borrowed a gun from Uncle Albert to go out rabbit hunting.  I, too, was absent from school the same afternoon as the candy party and did not miss being questioned about the affair.

   Railroad detectives soon came to town and did not take long to find the whereabouts of the offending youngsters.  A number of boys were taken to Grand Ledge for questioning and where else but to jail?  John Palmer had a son involved and John took the next train to Grand Ledge.  He did what he went to do and the next train coming toward Sunfield brought John and the boys back.

   With a school run as that one was and with algebra that did not take,  I’d had enough by the first of the year and became one of Sebewa’s first---they call them dropouts now.


   Perhaps luck was with Francis Warner this fall when he was excavating a pond in Roxland Township, Eaton County, southeast of Sunfield.  His machinery uncovered the huge skull and some other well preserved bones of a mastodon some four or five feet below the surface.  He has sent his find away for treatment against atmospheric damage.  His son, Keith, displayed the bones at Lakewood High School shortly after they were found.  The Warner family lives in a trailer home on the west side of Sebewa a little north of Musgrove Highway.

   It seems a little unreal that we are neighbors in place, if not in time, with that huge beast, the mastodon.  With all of Sebewa’s once-swampy areas, we may yet come up with a prehistoric mascot.


   On the Grand River, eight miles above Portland, and twenty miles below Lansing, at Meshimnekahning lived chief Medayaemack, and his band of Indians.  After visiting and preaching to this band a few times, in council, we persuaded them to purchase a tract of land located on the north side of Grand River in the town of Danby, Ionia County.  There were, I think, 160 acres.  It was on the Oxbow Bend of the river.  The purchase was made of Mr. Fitch, who lived in the vicinity of Lyons.  In the first payment of the lands he took 5 ponies and the balance in specie (coin) at the three following annual Indian payments.

   I secured a surveyor from Vermont Colony (Vermontville), about 20 miles south, who surveyed and cut up the land into small lots.  Each lot had a front on the river for their canoes.  A street was laid out through the center of the land, and on each side of the street we had contracts let to Mr. John David to build eleven log houses for these families, the Indians paying for the same in ponies, furs, and money.  Other log houses were afterwards built.  I myself carried the surveyor’s chain to survey and cut up this tract of land for this Indian village.  At the lower end of the central street we located the Mission House.  Of logs it was constructed.

   I had to tax my ingenuity to secure the material and labor to erect the Mission House.  One hundred and fifty dollars per year, out of which I was to board and clothe myself, purchase what few books I could, and also feed and shoe my horse, was meager salary allowed me, and had it not been for the hospitality, magnanimity and generosity of the pioneer settlers through whose neighborhoods I traveled, and in whose schoolhouses I very often preached, I could not have succeeded in my missionary work.  For instance, I preached one winter evening five miles west of Portland to a crowded schoolhouse of attentive listeners.  This was a Thursday night.  After preaching, I stated to the audience that on next Tuesday, we should have a chopping bee to cut the logs for the Mission House at Meshimnekahning, ten miles away, and called for young men to volunteer and meet me on the ground where we were to cut the logs and build the Mission Chapel.  Seven young men promised to come.  We then asked the women of the congregation to prepare and send provisions for our lunch—pork and beans, bread and butter etc. which they promised and duly furnished.  On the next Tuesday, at daybreak, we drove our pony and cutter over the ice on Grand River to the spot where the Mission House was to be built, and were met there by the seven men and others.  The logs were cut and the Mission House commenced.  With two or three more such bees, the logs were raised and the rafters ready for the roof. 

   In Portland one merchant gave a keg of nails, another gave a box of glass for the Mission.  One, George Taylor, who had a saw-mill at Portland, when I asked him to aid in the enterprise, became very much enraged, and declared that the Indians were a drunken, lazy and thievish set, and also said it was all useless to try to reform and civilize them, and at first refused to aid the enterprise at all, but finally changed his mind, and in the presence of a crowd, in one of the stores in Portland, made the following proposition to me:  “Now, though I have no faith in your cause, yet I will agree to give 500 feet of lumber, if you will preach here a sermon for me to such a crowd or audience as I shall select for you—there shall not be a single Christian, or professor of any religion, but I shall invite all the Sabbath breakers, profane swearers, drunkards and gamblers for you to preach to.”  I replied:  “I will agree to preach the sermon no matter to me how hard a crowd of sinners you gather—so long as they are one step this side of the pit.”

   We then and there agreed that I should preach the sermon on the next Wednesday night in the schoolhouse in the village of Portland.  Mr. Taylor at once wrote and posted notices on the doors of post office, grist-mill, and store, that “Missionary Hickey will preach a sermon at the schoolhouse next Wednesday night, to all the sinners and hard cases, and they, one and all, are invited to come and hear him.  No Christian is to be present.”

   Wednesday night came and I rode into the village, directly to Mr. Taylor’s door.  He had my horse cared for, and invited me into his house.  I was offered supper, but declined to eat until after the sermon.  We walked over to the store.  Mr. Taylor purchased 2 pounds of candles, which he took along to the schoolhouse for light.  He had already, during the day, prepared pioneer, wooden, hanging candlesticks, which were hung around the school.  Mr. Taylor had his candles all lighted, which was an exception in those days, for often we had to preach with very few lights.  The schoolhouse was crowded with people of all ages.  In walking up the hill to the schoolhouse, Mr. Taylor had asked me “to give it to them the best you know how”—I replied:  “Mr. Taylor, I am to preach this sermon to you and for you, for which you are to give 500 feet of lumber, and I want you to take the sermon, all of it, to yourself.”

   When the house was filled, I asked Mr. Taylor “Who will do the singing?”  He said “Give us some old fashioned Methodist hymns”.  We did, and the singing was heartily done.  Our text was 50th Psalm, 13th verse.  As we looked out over this assembly of the hardest class of sinners, our knees trembled and smote together.  We preached with much zeal and the audience was moved to tears>

   Sermon over, benediction pronounced, Mr. Taylor took me by the hand and said:  “Missionary, did you ever see a better behaved congregation?  If a dog of them had lifted his tongue, I would have threshed the floor with him.”  While Mr. Taylor was speaking to me, Mr. Van Horn, who had not been to any religious meeting for 7 years (except funerals) said “Taylor, do you expect me to get off by only paying 500 feet of lumber for such a sermon?”  Then, turning to me, he said “Well, I myself will give all the brick and lime for the chimneys and to point up the log Mission House”.  I thanked him and in due time he furnished the brick and lime as pledged.  Mr. William Arms, standing by said:  “Mr. Hickey, I will make all the window sash for your Mission”.  (This was before machinery was invented or at least used in that locality to make window sash).  This he did with his own hands.  He was a good mechanic but was said to be the shrewdest card player and gambler in Portland.

   The next Sabbath morning I preached in the village of Lyons, nine miles below Portland, and the merchants and clerks, and congregation raised and donated the shingles for the roof.  I rode the same afternoon nine miles and preached at the Sessions Schoolhouse, near the mouth of Fish Creek (now Matherton) and raised more supplies by the voluntary contributions of the people for this Mission House.  I personally worked at shingling, laying floors, etc., until my pantaloons were worn through at the knee, and as I had no change of clothes nearer than Battle Creek, seventy miles south, the following Sabbath I had to preach at this Mission wearing the self-same pantaloons.  The white people from six to eight miles around came in and joined our services, and I had to tie my handkerchief around me knee to cover the hole in my pants, and thus preached with my knee bandaged whether I limped or not during sermon I cannot tell, and as my interpreter is now dead, I cannot ask him.

   During the month of August, 1850, there was to be an Indian camp meeting at the bend of the Cass in Saginaw county.  We, that is my Indian guide, Peter, and myself, left Meshimnekahning Mission early Monday morning with our saddle bags, blankets, etc., our ponies being fresh and in good condition for the journey.  Peter was a very genial Indian.  He could speak some English and I some Indian, and so between us we were able to converse upon different subjects as we rode along on our journey.

   Another half hour’s ride brings us among the pony bells near the camp ground, for an Indian campmeeting their ponies are turned loose in the woods to get their living as best they can from browse and grass, and every third pony has a bell strapped to its neck, so that the owners can find them.  The flies torment these ponies as well as the mosquitoes, when thus gathered at camp-meeting.  To relieve them, their owners built large log fires to smoke the flies away, and these ponies will gather around the smoke-fire during the heat of the day when the flies are the most troublesome.

   These were struggling times between the fur-whiskey traders and the missionaries.  The traders and whiskey dealers were determined to keep the Indians wedded to their pagan religion, and thereby keeping the Indians under the trader’s control and speculating out of them.  The missionaries sought the Indians conversion to Christianity establishing schools among them, settling them on lands, teaching them to cultivate the soil and learn to live by farming, and not the chase.  The medicine men and their wives were among the strongest opponents to Christianity in these bands of Indians.

   There were 16 Indian chiefs at this camp-meeting.  The next morning after my arrival the Presiding Elder invited me to preach through an interpreter, of course, which I did.  The singing of an Indian audience of 800-1000 in a tented grove is perfectly captivating.  It is the finest vocal music I ever listened to.  This was my first sermon preached to these Saginaw Valley Indians, and as it is customary for the chiefs after they have heard a new man preach to have a council and select an appropriate Indian name and give it to him, and by that Indian name he will be called in that locality.  After hearing me, such a council was had and the following name was given me:  “ah-ne-me-ke-ah-nine”.  The Thundering man, or Big Thunder, as I am known to this day by that name among those Indians, and have been for the past thirty-one years.

    There was a very old, pagan Indian chief, who lived six miles east of Lansing; his name, Okemos.  He was rather an interesting Indian, was in the war of 1812, second in command under Tecumseh at the battle of the Thames.  He saw Tecumseh fall, was himself severely wounded, had a scalp wound of six or eight inches from a white man’s sword in that battle.  He wore a large, silver ring in his nose.  He camped with us, and he and I argued three or four hours that Sunday night, while others slept, but I believe he lived and died a pagan.  On Monday morning our camp broke up and we parted.

   At Meshimnekahning (meaning the little apple-tree orchard) Mission in the town of Danby, Ionia county, July 4th, 1850 we had one of the finest and most interesting celebrations I ever enjoyed.  Here at this mission we had circulated invitations for miles around that the citizens of that location would have a celebration without whiskey or fire-water, and every person was invited to come.  I had told the Indians to all be at home and unite with their white neighbors in a national celebration, and they were all dressed in their best outfits.  The inhabitants of that location came in for sixteen miles around with their teams and families.  The lodge of the Sons of Temperance came from the village of Portland in full force.  Really it was a patriotic sight to witness these pioneer settlers and their neighbors—the aged men and women and their gray locks, and their chubby, cheery cheeked grandchildren, driving in full wagon loads until the woods were full of teams and people.  They were called to order, a President elected for the day, and short addresses were delivered, both by the whites and the Indians.  These were interpreted to the mutual edification of all.  After the speaking, the wagon boxes were taken apart, stakes and crotches arranged and a dining table sufficiently long was constructed from the boards of the boxes.  It was long enough for 400 or more to gather around and eat, and this table was well loaded with hearty eatables for the dinner.  Tea and coffee were supplied in abundance and the beauty of the dinner was that it was free.  We had the arrangement so that all were to take their dinner standing, and the order was that the Indians and all the whites were to stand alternately—and so the tables were filled and one and all dined together, except one old Indian medicine man who stood off alone and looked on but did take a whole loaf of bread lying on one end of the table, put it under his blanket and went off.

   After dinner we had more speaking and singing and then Mr. Sawyer placed on the ground, pipes and tobacco so that all who desired, used the same, visiting in groups.

   The elder white pioneer settlers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and other eastern states, who in other years had enjoyed many a 4th of July celebration, declared that this exceeded all they had ever enjoyed before, in its simplicity, dignity and individual independence and that this celebration would always be recalled with most pleasurable recollections.  The influence of the presence and hospitality of these white families on the Indians was most salutary in many respects.  That celebration was to me, one of the brightest spots in my patriotic associations of that 4th, even to this day, with more pleasure than to any other one of my whole life.  (From Volume IV MICHIGAN PIONEER COLLECTION)


   Katmandu, Nepal.  Late in May 1966.  By Richard W. Thrams:  Nepal is a kingdom in the heart of the Himalayas.  It has all the beautiful scenery that one can imagine it should have—lakes, mountains, waterfalls and lush green valleys.  The first mountains you approach are the 10,000-foot ones and then come the majestic highest-in-the-world peaks.  The tallest is Mr. Everest at 29,029 feet.  It lies to the east of Nepal’s capital Katmandu.  To the west is Annapurna at 26,495 feet.  In the winter months you can see both of these peaks from Katmandu although they are 250 miles apart.  Imagination can fill the intervening space with peaks of 22,000 feet.

   There are three seasons in Nepal—cold, hot and rainy.  The cold season is a pleasant time with blue skies nearly all of the time.  The hot season is a pleasant time with blue skies nearly all of the time.  The hot season comes in April, May and June with temperatures reaching as high as 90 degrees in May.  In January the temperature may drop into the 20’s now and then.  There is rainfall of 50 inches per year.

   The people embrace two of the world’s largest religious organizations.   80% are Buddhists and the rest are Hindus with a scattering of Moslems and Jain sects.  Although the language is Nepali, English is commonly heard in Katmandu.  There are many racial strains to be found here with almost as many dialects.

   Since China took over Tibet, there are many Tibetan refugee camps in Nepal.  One such camp is a large one at Patan, three miles west of Katmandu.  The refugees spin yarn and make it into all kinds of desirable items.  Their rugs are very good and the woolen sweaters are the greatest.  This camp sells about 1,000 rupees worth of such goods per week.  This amounts to only $100 but there, it means a great deal.  A laborer may make Rs5 per day or 75 cents.  I spent two afternoons there, watching them making the woolens.  The camp is on a plateau overlooking a small valley with 3,000-foot hills nearby.  From the valley floor that is 4,000 feet—mountains, you must admit.

   The Tibetans hold to their own dress and customs.  Quickly noticeable are two prayer flags to be seen everywhere.  They place 20-foot poles in groups with tight ropes strung between the poles from which to fly pieces of cloth of many sizes and colors.  At each place where the prayer flags fly, there is a monument near-by for a Buddhist temple.  Katmandu has many such with some dating back to 1200 A.D.  At “The Golden Gate” in the village of Bhadgaon is a structure 300 years old.

   The world-famous soldiers come from western Nepal in the valleys of Pokhara and Mustang.  They were used to stop the rioting between Hindu and Moslem in the partitioning of India and Pakistan when those countries became independent of British rule.  It is said their job was to decapitate any who had taken the life of another whether it was Moslem or Hindu.  Their weapon is a knife called the khukuri—a knife with a one-foot blade with the last part of the blade curving at about 30 degrees when you look at the back of it.  A large 4-foot version of the knife is used to behead animals.  A form of the knife is a common souvenir.

   Other curios and souvenirs for sale in Nepal are cloth goods, shoes, shawls, dolls and wood carvings of everything imaginable.  Jewelry ranges from antiques from Tibet to custom made items.  I got hooked on Tibetan trinkets.

   One evening in Nepal I saw slide pictures of Willy Unsoeld of the American Expedition climbing Mt. Everest in 1963.  There were 20 Americans making the hike of 180 miles from Katmandu in 14 days.  All of the equipment had to be carried.  There were 941 porters to do the job, men, women and children, single file, spread three to five to a mile.  Each of the Sherpa porters and each American started out with a 60-pound pack strapped to his back.  The Sherpas are so acclimated they can reach 20,000 feet without oxygen.

   Only six people went to the summit.  The first two, Jim Whittaker and his Sherpa went the “old route” used by Sir Edmund Hilary and by a Swiss group that failed.  Willy Unsoeld and Tom Hornbein went up the west ridge—the only time it has been climbed.

   Lute Jerstad and Berry Bishop also made the summit by the old route.  All other climbs have been on the south col.  The Chinese claims for records are doubted by experienced climbers.  The present Chinese government has “asked” Nepal not to allow any more expeditions on Mt. Everest.  Nobody knows when there will be another climb.

   There is a trip out of Nepal by truck.  I wish now, I had come back that way, for the trucks follow a route higher than the airplanes fly.

   (Note:  Richard made this trip with another Peace Corpsman while on leave from his regular duties in India.  Ed.)


Recently Mrs. Hazel Fender was elected Sebewa Township treasurer.  Despite the 120 woman suffrage amendment to the United States Constitution, the men of Sebewa have been reluctant to give up their traditional monopoly of the township offices.  However, it was only one year after passage of the amendment that Mrs. Cora Showerman stirred the power structure of the Democratic township caucus to nominate her for township treasurer.  She won the election in 1921.  Her late husband, Frank Showerman had been township clerk 20 years previously.  She served a second term as Mrs. Cora Shepard.

   So far as we can recall, Mrs. Fender is the first woman to have her name on the ballot since Mrs. Shepard held office.

   Mrs. Shepard, now living in Lake Odessa, is now 91 years old and holds the distinction of being the oldest member in our Sebewa Center Association.  While she lived in Sebewa she accepted the task of marking war veteran’s graves with flags in both cemeteries for many years.

   In the earlier years, the men found no room for women on the election board.  Recently the women have turned the tables on the election day jobs and the men may have to seek refuge in the Equal Opportunity Employment Act.

EDUCATION ON THE WING By Mrs. Wayne (Margaret Sindlinger) Brown

   When the Fall 1965 issue of the Western University’s Field Service News carried an item about a group going to Oxford, England under the sponsorship of the University’s Social Studies Department, I became interested.  These students were to be a part of an International Summer Course on Contemporary Britain.  After the seminar was finished, the group was to see several well-known cities on the Continent.  We were to be given a list of preparatory reading, which was to be done before leaving on the trip.

   For all this package and trimmings, the students would earn six hours of credit in social studies.  I had a minor in that area; I applied and was accepted.

   At Oxford we attended lectures on many phases of British education, government, agriculture, foreign relations and more.  Most of the lecturers were professors of some college of the University of Oxford.  We attended as many as three or four lectures a day, or two or three lectures and a seminar meeting.  We were given a three-hour examination at the close of the seminar.

   Our first sight of the Old World was Prestwick Airport near Glasgow from which we went by bus to Edinburgh.  Here we visited the Castle on Castle Rock.  We saw the tiny room where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England.  Here, also, we saw the crown jewels of Scotland.  There is a War Memorial Shrine built on Castle Rock for those who died in the two World Wars.  The lead casket containing a scroll listing the men deceased in those wars is on a marble slab, which is on actual rock of Castle Rock, the floor coming up to and blending into an area of Castle Rock itself, large enough to stand upon.

   Some evenings of the week, military marchers in kilts parade and play bagpipes and other instruments on the parade grounds in front of the Castle.  There are units of these military marchers stationed many places throughout the world.  Two or three groups, one of which was the Black Watch, played on the evening we watched.  This group, or one of its units, played at President Kennedy’s funeral.

   We drove out through Queen’s Drive in Holyrood Park where the queen gives garden parties in the summertime.  Out along this drive a way, there is a house in what is now a golf course, which was built as a home by a gambler who loved the game of golf.  He once staked everything on the need for one card.  Lady Luck was with him.  The right card did turn up.  He made plantings of trees in the east lawn area in the shape of that card.  From the road, high above, we could look down on those trees and see the card was the ace of clubs.  Farther along the drive were the ruins of the chapel of St. Anthony, where friars used to hang a lantern to guide the sailors in, off the Firth of Forth.

   The High Kirk of St. Giles, the Kirk of Scotland, is here in Edinburgh.  It is a Presbyterian church, of course, but the queen diplomatically worships here when she is in the city.  Its steeple is in the shape of Scotland’s crown.  At different periods of history, the church has been used as a parliament building, stables, and a hospital.  There is a statue of John Knox there and one of Sir Walter Scott in the square out front.

   We visited the former homes of Sir James Simpson, famous for his development of chloroform; Joseph Lister, remembered for his work in antisepsis; and John Knox, founder of Scottish Presbyterianism.

   Leaving Edinburgh by bus southward we passed the castle of an earl whose wife was said to be the prototype of Scott’s Bride of Lammermoor.  Each time a reigning monarch visits the place, he or she must present a white rose in memory of service rendered by that earl.  The building is now used as a girls’ school.

   We visited Durham to see its cathedral with its Norman architecture.  The streets of the town are so narrow that the bus ahead of us drove with two of its wheels on the sidewalk in order to have room for the other line of traffic.  We were told to remember the city of Durham “is very, very old”.  Durham Cathedral’s dean list on a plaque on the wall dates back to 909.  Dean Ramsey, now archbishop of Canterbury, was dean at Durham in 1952 to the early 1960s.  We had high tea in the Tudor Room of the Swallow Hotel.  There were Tudor roses around the top of the walls.  The beams were square and dark.  Large blue and white vases sat in front of the fireplace.  The pattern looked much like that we call “willow”.  High tea means tea with sweet pastries.  At other teas there would be only bread and butter or a simple cookie.  The sweet pastries are a work of art with a variety of frostings, a delicate texture, crumbling at a touch, and too high to bite easily—all making for difficulty in eating.

   We stayed overnight in York where the Houses of Lancaster and York fought for the throne of England.  We walked along the top of the old wall of the original town.  There is an area of town here called the Shambles.  Streets are narrow, buildings timbered and leaning a little, but solid enough for shops, especially antique stores in the first floor of the buildings.

   We took a walking tour of Cambridge University on Saturday, June 25th.  It was graduation day.  Students wearing ermine capes were taking 3-year bachelor’s degrees; white silk indicated 4-year masters’ degrees; and red silk was for a doctor’s degree for research and thesis.  At one time Byron was supposed to have been entombed at Westminster.  Our guide said “His character was not considered quite appropriate for Westminster, so he was donated to Trinity College at Cambridge.”  The statues of Sir Isaac Newton, Bacon and Darwin and more are there.  There is a mathematical bridge on campus, which is for the first hundred years had no bolts or nails.  Weights and stresses had been figured so well that the bridge held together of its own weight.  Then termites started working, and it had to be repaired.  A statue of Henry VIII has a chair leg in its hand instead of the original scepter—a student prank.  The scepter was replaced a few times but always the chair leg replaced it.  Now the sceptre is kept  in a museum case.

   Everyone liked London.  We worshipped at St. Paul’s Cathedral in which Churchill’s funeral was held.  We saw a little old lady on the steps selling books and were reminded of a scene of “Mary Poppins”.  In the British Museum we saw so very much.  Memorable was one of the four original copies of the Magna Charta.  Later we saw the Memorial to the Magna Charta at Runymede placed there by the American Bar Association.  Here, too, is England’s memorial to President Kennedy.

   At Marble Arch in Hyde Park we saw and heard soapbox speakers.  We saw Big Ben, Parliament Buildings, The Admiralty, 10 Downing St., Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Tower Hill and Tower Bridge.  We were inside the Tower where several noted persons had lost their heads.  The crown jewels are kept here.  Our history instructor said his favorite was a large ruby, it would make such a nice paper weight.  We saw the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace.  Also there were stops at the “Old Curiosity Shop” and Charles Dicken’s home.

   We saw Shaw and Wilde plays, and a Shakespearean play in an outdoor theatre in Regent’s Park.  Some of us saw Vanessa Redgrave, a popular British star, in “The Prime of Miss Brody”.

   We visited a session of the House of Lords.  We saw a couple of lords introduced as life peers for the first time in a short ceremony.

   We went to the National Art Gallery, which houses old masters and on another day the visit was at the Tate Museum, where the paintings are mostly contemporary.

   On our way out to Oxford, we went through Henley where a regatta was in progress.  Harvard’s team was then the only American team left in competition.

   On Sunday we were taken on a tour of several of the colleges of Oxford University.  We had already worshipped at Christ Church Cathedral in the morning.  John Wesley studied at Christ Church, but he taught at Lincoln.  We were at Lincoln several times in an effort to see the Wesley Room where there is said to be a desk that Wesley used.  This room was always being used for correcting examinations and was closed to the public.  Christ Church was founded by Cardinal Woolsey.  The bell, called Great Tom, peals 101 times each evening from Tom Tower—one peal for each of the original students.  Jesus College was founded for students from Wales.

   Magdalen on the Cherwell River has an impressive square tower with eight spires.  There is a deer park on the grounds of New College.  Architecture of many of these colleges was done by Sir Christopher Wren.  Some famous men connected with Oriel College were:  Sir Walter Raleigh, Prynne, John Keble, Cardinal Newman, Arnold Pusey, Tom Hughes and Cecil Rhodes.  The gardens of St. John’s College, including a rockery are among the most beautiful in Oxford.

   Merton, one of the oldest if not the oldest college of Oxford, still has a book chained to the shelf in its library as most of the books were for several centuries.  Here, queens are housed and entertained when staying in Oxford.  Queen Henrietta Maria lived in apartments near the library a whole winter.  Her husband, Charles I, was across the way at Christ Church.  The queen had an underground passage dug to keep an eye on her husband.  Our guide remarked “If you remember much about the Charleses, you know they would bear watching!”

   There are several high spots in the city as the Carfax Tower, the top floor of the Scheldonian Theatre, St. Mary’s Church Tower, and other where one may climb take pictures out over the city of the many spires of Oxford for which the city is famous.

   Beautiful Norham Gardens was on our way to lectures.  I had walked on a Sunday down along the paths where flowers were so pretty, sat by the duck pond and the Cherwell, and walked across meadows where several trees were different from any we have here.  I wanted to see all this very early in the morning, but the gate was not opened until 7:30.  Luckily there was a hole in the fence near the gate large enough for me.  One of our directors said they would probably get a call from the local police to come down some day to bail me out.

   While at Oxford, we saw a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers” by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.  On another evening there was “My Fair Lady”.  At another theatre we saw the movie “Sound of Music”.

   We made several trips into the country from Oxford to see points of interest such as Coventry Cathedral, Warwick Castle, Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace, and Stonehenge.

   The new Coventry Cathedral has been built near the walls of the old cathedral whose roof and ceiling were bombed out.  Several of the altar areas can still be seen.  In one place a cross has been made from charred timbers of the old cathedral.  In front of its altar are the words, “Father, forgive”.  The new building is beautiful with its stained glass, polished wood, brass, and sandstone.   There is some controversy about having built the new building, using modern architecture, instead of simply replacing in the style of the old.  But, as it is, one can see how it was, and it seems right to be forward-looking in our day.

   In the afternoon we visited Warwick Castle.  Here lived kings and those who’s influence made kings.  The grounds are spacious and green.  Peacocks walk around freely, so tame that one can feed or even touch them.  We saw them roosting on the low branches of the trees.  There are the usual formal flower gardens with goldfish pool and water lilies.  Inside are valuable paintings by Rembrandt, Rubins, Van Dyke, Reynolds, and Holbein.  There are elaborate rooms and furniture, a winding staircase, and a haunted room where an uncle was murdered.  In the gardenhouse there is a large, ancient Roman vase thought to have been owned by Hadrian.

   Another day we visited Churchill’s grave in the churchyard of Bladen.  We went on to Blanheim Palace, the home of Dukes of Marlborough, one of which was Churchill’s uncle.  At one time Sir Winston was heir to the estate.  He spent quite a bit of time there when he was young and there are many mementoes of him in this place.  There is a lake on the grounds, making the area very pleasant.  Here, too, are several elaborately furnished rooms.  The dining-room is set as if for a meal with cutlery, which is silver dipped in gold.

   We also visited Windsor Castle where the queen often goes.  Some of the family were there at the time so the state apartments were closed.  We did see George’s Chapel, which has an especially beautiful vaulted ceiling.  We saw many tombs of the past kings and queens but the Queen Mother has not made up her mind about a memorial for King George VI so there is nothing there for him.  He is buried in the vaults below the chapel.  The view from the tower and castle area down and out across the polo grounds was tremendous.  Some said Prince Phillip was playing there at the time.  There is a race track nearby too.

   At Stratford-on-Avon we visited Ann Hathaway ‘s Cottage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Hall’s Croit (home of Shakespeare’s daughter and her doctor husband), the remains of New Place where Shakespeare retired and died and the building put up to replace the original that was destroyed by fire, and Holy Trinity Church where he is buried.  In the evening we saw “Twelfth Night” at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.                       (To be continued)


   The Methodists in Sebewa have a history older than the township itself.  The house of John Terrill, one of Sebewa’s first settlers was used in 1839 for organizing a Methodist Class under the leadership of Rev. Mitchell.  John Compton of Danby helped with the class frequently as well as doing mission work with the Shimnecon Indians.

   The class at Sebewa Corners was continued and became part of the Danby-Sebewa Charge.  When the Sebewa Center Church was built in 1891, the charge was reorganized and the Sebewa Corners-Sebewa Center groups were known as the Sebewa Charge with the parsonage at Sebewa Corners.  A few years later the Sunfield Methodist Church joined the circuit and Sunfield became the location of the parsonage.  Until the time of the automobile the pastor made his Sunday rounds of the three churches with horse and buggy.  He made two services in the forenoon, was entertained for dinner by the family of one of the parishoners and had his final service in the afternoon at Sebewa Center.  Sunfield sometimes had an evening service.

   For the early history of the Sebewa Center Church we have an account prepared by Miss Ella Gunn for the 50th anniversary of its dedication in 1941.  Her words follow:

     “Sebewa Center, a thriving community with no place of worship.

Theodore Gunn, who God called and wonderfully blessed in meetings that were conducted by Rev. F. A. VandeWalker in the year of 1890.

     Immediately his heart went out for the conversion of his neighbors and Rev. T. J. Spencer was secured in the month of February 1891 to hold a series of meetings.  The result of these meetings was a large number of conversions and the founding of a strong class.  During these meetings, Jacob Luscher was converted on his barn floor in answer to the prayers of the people attending the meetings.

     Mr. I. A. Brown, a member of the Sebewa Corners Church felt the call to come and help us as the work was new.  Then the question of Sunday School came up.  We must organize a Sunday School.  Each one was willing to do his part.

     After much prayer the Sunday School was organized with the following officers:  Superintendent, I. A. Brown; Secretary, Ella Gunn; Treasurer, Isaac Gunn.  The Sunday School was carried on in the Schoolhouse until the Church was completed.

     After the Sunday School was organized, the plans for the Church were in order.  The board was elected May 9, 1891 and organized May 11th by electing Theodore Gunn, chairman; J. S. Gunn, treasurer and I. A. Brown, secretary.  It was also voted to proceed immediately to the erection of a church building.  Theodore Gunn, J. S. Gunn and I. A. Brown were appointed as a building committee to prepare plans and specifications.  These were adopted May 30.  The board made a contract July 7 with Bradford Kellogg of Charlotte to build the church for $2,000 to be completed October 1, 1891.  (End of quotation from Miss Ella Gunn.) 


     May 28, 1890.  Mr. Theodore Gunn and family do not intend to ride in the sun any more for they have purchased a new canopy top double buggy of Perrigo and Shafer of Portland.

     August 6, 1890.  Rev. T. J. Spencer of Sunfield lost a pocketbook containing $125 one day last week.  He hunted all over the township for it and finally came across a couple of men who had seen a man named Guyzer pick it up.  He went to the latter’s house with an officer.  Then the wife confessed that her husband had found it and handed it over.  The pocketbook with many valuable papers, Guyzer had destroyed and had it not been for his wife and a family of ten children, he would probably be playing checkers with his nose before many days.

     August 13, 1890.  The Woodland News says that the two men who recovered the pocketbook of Rev. Spencer of Sunfield  with $125 in it were rewarded by the reverent gentleman by a whole dollar to be divided between the two.  Evidently the Rev. Spencer is a gentleman of economy.

     January 21, 1891.   The meeting will continue throughout the week.   About 20 persons were united with the M. E. Church on probation last Sunday.

     February 11, 1891.  Revival meetings are in progress at the Center schoolhouse.  They are conducted

by Rev. Spencer.

     April 8, 1891.  The special series of meetings at the Center schoolhouse will close after much good having been accomplished.  There seems to be very strong talk of building a church in this place with a large sum of money having already been subscribed.  Mr. Spencer is now holding meetings at the Travis schoolhouse.

     August 5, 1891.  Sebewa Corners.  Sunday morning Rev. Vande Walker addressed an overflowing house after which fifteen persons were taken into the church.

     September 30, 1891.  Sebewa Corners.  Our town now affords an M. E. Parsonage, the former Danby Charge having been divided.  This part of the charge is now to be known as the Sebewa Charge with the parsonage at Sebewa.

     November 11, 1891.  The dedication of the M. E. Church at Sebewa Center took place last Sabbath.  There was a full house regardless of the inclement weather, our presiding elder officiating.  The liabilities were over $1,000, which were nicely raised.  Presiding Elder, Dr. J. I. Buell, gave the address.

     December 2, 1891.  Rev. F. A. VandeWalker is holding a special series of meetings at Sunfield.   

     December 30, 1891.  Rev. F. A. VandeWalker commenced a special series of meetings at the Travis schoolhouse last Sunday evening.

     February 10, 1892.  Rev. F. A. VandeWalker began a special series of meetings at Sebewa Corners last Monday evening.  Rev. R. H. Bready of Portland is expected to lend aid next week.

     April 20, 1892.  West Sebewa.  Rev. VandeWalker preached to a large congregation at this place on Sunday evening.  He will preach here again on Sunday evening, April 24.

     April 20, 1892.  Sebewa Corners.  Rev. Dr. Buell, our Presiding Elder in the Ionia district, has been stopping with F. N. Cornell the past week, as he has been assisting Rev. VandeWalker with a series of meetings at this place.

     November 30, 1892.  Elder Tiney with the assistance of an evangelist has begun a series of revival meetings at Sebewa Center.  (End Portland Observer quotes)


     The Ladies Aid Society of Sebewa Center was organized October 9, 1891 with Mrs. Agnes Gunn as president, Mrs. Emma Cross as vice president, Mrs. Julia Staples as secretary and Mrs. Bell Sayers as treasurer.  In the bylaws it was stated that the object of the society for the coming year shall be to procure funds to pay for the organ.  There were fourteen members at the start.

     Some of the funds received by the Society were, from Pisley Entertainment, $2.20; dues up to November 13, $3.17; from oyster supper Jan. 26, $6.07; proceeds from sugar social $2.80 and at the end of the first year $37.69 had been collected.  On July 8, 1892 it was decided to piece a quilt and give everyone the privilege of having their name written on it by giving 5 cents.  $4.00 was received in this manner by January 18, 1893.  The quilt was sold to Mrs. Agnes Gunn for $2.00.  An ice cream social was scheduled at the home of Mrs. John Cross.

     At a meeting at the home of Julia Staples it was decided to use the money in the treasury to repaint and carpet the church.  So it went year after year, digging and doing.   In recent years the Ladies Aid Society was reorganized as the Women’s Society for Christian Service.  Before the Annex was built, the Society served monthly 10 cent meals at the town hall.  Only recently were the dinners at the Annex discontinued. 


F. A. VandeWalker, D. C. Crawford, Joseph Grimes, S. Tiney, A. E. Wynn, Harry Buchanan, N. W. Gibbs, Henry Ellinger, John Bullock, A. K. Stewart, E. O. Guildhart, Merl Benson, I. T. Weldon, Stanley Thayer, Harold Arman, A. W. Lang, George Carter, Donald Strobe, Charles Hayward, B. B. Swem, Robert Carson, Eugene Burtch, George Peacock, Victor Jones, J. I. Buell, Thomas Thompson, Jerry Hippensteel, Howard Jerrett, Glenn Aldrich, Eugene Friesen, W. Slye, N. Bruce Lawrason, Clinton Galloway. 

Rev. Henry Ellinger was the first to make the Circuit with an automobile.  It was under his leadership that the Church Annex was built with a $425 subscription in 1917.  Harvey Sleight was the carpenter for its construction. 


The young people’s organization in the Methodist Church at the time the Sebewa Center church was started was known as the Epworth League.  A local chapter of the organization known as Chapter No. 12,946 was started in July of 1893.  From 1893 to 1895 the following names were listed on the roll:

Mrs. Emma Luscher, Jennie Simons, Maggie Whorley, Stacy Brown, David Gunn, Mrs. Cassel, Mrs. Mary Sayer, David Erkid, Emory Gunn, Ella Kenyon, Leon Williamson, Alice Hogle, Ella Gunn, F. J. Aves, Mrs. Nettie Gunn, Della Shilton, F. W. Kenyon, Charles Aves, Minnie Sindlinger, Rufus Morgan, George Gunn, Lydia Sindlinger George Youngs, Bert Arnold, Mrs. Viola Gunn, Vinnie Porter, Julia Staples, Ella Shilton, Wright Wakley, E. Tran, Ada Luscher, Clare B. Murphy, Harry York, Mrs. Mary Pettingill, Mr. I. A. Brown, James McCausey, Daisy Staples, Mrs. Belle Sayers, Frank Keefer, Irving Brown, Benjamin Lowe, Maryland Brown, Carrie Evans, Mrs. Agnes Gunn, Winfield Cassel, Carrie Smith, Isaac Gunn, Robert Creighton, Jennie Kenyon, Myrtie Townsend, ClarencePettingill, Lucy Kenyon, Blanche Townsend, Curtis Knoll, Annie Gibbs, Jacob Sayers, Lewis Trann, Stella Arnold, Henry Whorley, Robert Gierman, Mrs. Canfield, Mr. L. Canfield, Mrs. Fred Gunn, Mrs. Frank Cross, Earl Pettingill, Homer Luscher, Maud Kenyon, Jennie Keefer, Rachael Keefer 


An essential in the early days was a place to stable the horses during services.  Sheds were built across the lot from north to south at the west end of the lot.  The sheds served other purposes too.  They were convenient shelter from the rain, a place for the children to play—sometimes an extension of the school grounds, and later when the auto had supplanted the horse they were sometimes a free tool shed for the neighbors’ implements.  Well before the 50th anniversary the sheds had been torn down or portions moved to other locations. 

FOR LIGHTS the church was originally equipped with a set of hanging Rayo kerosene lamps.  Those were large round-wicked burners with tall chimneys.  Later a try was made at gas lighting with bottled gas piped to burners with mantles.  Memory recalls more smell than light from the gas system.  This was followed by the Alladin kerosene burning mantle lamps.  In a poorly ventilated room these lamps built carbon on the mantle and gave little light.  Next came the Delco electric system that gave light if you could get the generator motor to start and run.  Finally in 1938 highline electricity came to the church and community. 

OF ALL WHO ATTENDED THE DEDICATION OF THE CHURCH on that first Sunday in November of 1891, we can find only one person now living who can recall the event.  Daisy Staples Creighton, who lives in Elkhart, Indiana, recalls some of the incidents of the time.

“Yes, I was at the dedication in 1891 but I was then eleven years old, so I can’t remember too much to tell you.  I remember Rev. Spencer.  I went to the schoolhouse when he preached there.  One reason why I remember him was that he had once preached down near Hillsdale where my grandparents had lived.  I am not sure just where he preached but I know they did their shopping at a town called Litchfield.

   I remember Rev. Buell.  He was a large man and had a deep voice.  Perry Arnold, who lived a half mile south of the church, was a rather back-woodsy man but he had become interested in coming to church.  When Rev. Buell gave a talk and said “God never meant for man to smoke or he would have built a chimney in the top of his head”, Perry let out a noise that could be heard all over the church.

   I know there was a large crowd at the dedication as there were many who came from East Sebewa.  Then, of course, I well remember Rev. VandeWalker.  While he was there, he said that if any of us would learn the names of the books of the Bible in order, he would give us something.  He then gave us his picture.  It helps me yet to know the order of the books when I read the lesson each day that we get from the church.  It is called The Upper Room and it gives a reading for each day.

   I well remember when we were going to the schoolhouse meetings, Clarence Sayer, Beulah Gunn and Vera Gunn were all small and often they would get away from their mothers and run across the schoolhouse.

   My mother and grandmother Staples and Nellie and I as a small child had gone to the Presbyterian Church at West Sebewa.  When the Center church was being built, we came there as it was not so far to go.  My mother and grandmother joined the church by letter as soon as the church was built.

   I remember the first Children’s Day in the new church.  I crowned the cross.  It was a white cross with two steps leading up to it.  The crown was gold.  On Saturday, the crown slipped and went down over the cross.  I. A. Brown said “Now, tomorrow, be real careful and see that you get it just right”.  There were nails at the sides of the cross, and in after years I wondered why they didn’t put a nail at the back of the cross.  It would have been much easier balancing it.  With best wishes; Daisy Creighton

Submitted by the Committee on History—Mrs. Edna Sayer and Wilfred Gierman.


Up to the late ‘20s chattel mortgages were recorded with the township clerks.  Following are the first ones recorded in Sebewa Township: 

Gilbert SW. Ostrander April 17, 1867, mortgage given to Sandford A. Yeomans $84.00 due Sept. 11, 1867 covering one yoke of oxen (red), 1 two-year-old steer, 2 two-year-old heifers, and 1 yearling heifer.

   E. Shay, J.S. Gunn, Josiah Smith and Theodore Gunn on January 8th, 1869 gave mortgages to C. & J. Cooper & Co. totaling $2,425.42 on the following items:  One portable steam engine 10 inch bore, 16 inch stroke, 25 h.p.  Steam guage & whistle, boiler 12 ft. long, 40 in. in diameter.  67.2 ¼ in. flues, chimney 16 ft. long.  52 & 30 in. left hand circular saw mill, 30 ft. carriage, 60 ft. track screw head, etc.  Lumber wagon & harness, sawing machine.

   Charles Deatsman May 6, 1869 gave Murray Bromley a mortgage for $190 on one threshing machine in P. G. Cook’s barn.

   J. D. Perry May 6, 1869 gave Darius Ford a mortgage for $150 on one threshing machine, one separator and one set of trucks.

   Ralph Cherry October 1, 1879 gave mortgage to L. A. Olry and A. C. Green for $60 covering one four-horsepower and one cider mill.

   James H. Pierce and Henry Pierce gave on October 13, 1870 to Chas. Rogers a $1,260 mortgage on third part of saw mill, spoke and handle factory and tools belonging to the same.  One third of horse team belonging and used around the mill and one third wagon, trucks and bob sleds and stock.

   From THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Robert W. Gierman, Editor, R 1, Portland, Michigan  48875      


Last update February 23, 2013