Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 2 Number 4
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 The Sebewa Center Association, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association, February 1967, Volume 2, Number 4:



The biggest snow drift ever to be left so long, now blocks the entrance to the Sebewa Center Schoolhouse, a sort of Christmas card memento of the late January snow storm that may be cause for recollections a few years hence.  If there was tragedy in the storm, it seemed not to apply locally.  Such difficulties usually promote neighborliness and that we welcome.


In telling what we think we know, error that needs correction sometimes creeps in.  Our reference to the corner of Bippley and State Roads as “Pine Tree Corners” might better have been “Log Tavern Corners” says Mrs. Irwin Hall.  The log tavern stood on the northwest corner where there is still one pine tree.  The tavern was operated by the Warner family, grandparents of Walter, Francis and William Warner.  Long before State Road was designated as a State Highway and improved for traffic it was the main road from Ionia to Vermontville, Bellevue and points south.  That horse-drawn traffic accounted for the need of the Log Tavern and another tavern to the north near Portland Road, now the Zanto residence.

   Mrs. Henry Tysse of Holland contributes the story that corrects the statement about the first Sebewa Methodist preacher to drive an auto.


   Our school interior picture is a stencil tracing of an original pen and ink sketch done for us by Zack York.


   Renewing the count on the mercury vapor lights that star Sebewa’s darkness, the “milky way” seems quite well developed in an arc from northeast to south and west across the township.  Newly added lights are those of Mrs. Faye Walker, Dale Petrie, Richard Stank and Marvin Smith (Harold Peabody farm).  This seems to make 31, counting a feeding light inside the Lenon Beef Farm.


   That is the title of a new 75 cent paperback book telling of the make-do of American pioneer life.  Although “Gramp” was a Vermonter, the stories of his home-made tools and contrivances to make a living from the things nature offered as told by his grandson seem typical of the pioneers of Michigan.  This is an entertaining account of how Gramp handled his problems and learned a thing or two that most of us have forgotten.  If you do not find the book on the news stand racks, you may want to know that the publisher is Paperback Library Inc., 260 Park St. South, New York, N.Y.  10010.

THE AUTO RIDE---ALMOST By Mrs. Dora Vandepoel Tysse

   It was in 1916 or 1917 that my family lived on the Lon Evans farm (Henry Hoort farm), on the Lake Odessa to Sebewa Corners road, west and across the road from the Zeke Downing farm.  Rev. Wynn was then the circuit pastor, and we attended the Sebewa Corners M. E. Church.  It was customary for members of that church to entertain the pastor and his family at Sunday dinner.

   They were to come to our home on a particular Sunday, and they drove to church in their new car.  My parents hurried home after the services, and for a treat, we girls were to ride home with the preacher’s family.  But the car would not start.  (Suspicion rested heavily on Montague, the young son of the manse, who left church during the morning worship).  So someone drove us home, and when the Rev. spoke in tones of disgust, Mrs. Wynn would say “Now Albert”.

   After dinner, my father drove Rev. Wynn to Sebewa Center for the afternoon services, with horse and buggy, of course.  Planning to use the morning service theme, Rev. Wynn asked my father if he could stand warmed over potatoes!  A mechanic from the Corners delivered the car to our home, so, the Wynns drove back to Sunfield.

   I remember, too, that when the roads were too bad for a car, in early spring, Rev. Ellinger drove a skinny, large horse, which he called “Bonaparte”.  One could literally count the ribs of the old nag.  It’s fun to recollect, isn’t it?


   The death of George Geisel in mid-December ended the relations of a man and his community seldom found in these busy days.  George once attended Sebewa Center School when his father lived on the Thrams farm on Musgrove Highway.

   Our first recollection of him is as the operator of the grocery wagon out of Woodbury.  There was the team of gray horses with considerable red decoration on the harnesses and the wagon that gave off the unforgettable odors of fresh coffee, stick candy and spice when the various doors and drawers were opened in a customer stop.  (Somebody may remember horses of a different color—memory is tricky).  The wagon was later installed on a truck and more calls could be made on a longer route.

   For the past forty years George was the Raleigh Man and as such knew the state of housekeeping in the majority of homes in Sebewa and adjacent townships.  He will be missed and surely never replaced.


A monthly magazine whose contents are mostly recollections of its readers is the GOOD OLD DAYS, fairly new on the scene.  It is a folksy account of the old things and events that people like to remember with many old photos.  Subscription is $3 per year to Tower Press Inc., 703 Washington St., Lynn, Mass. 91903.


Our 1966-67 list now totals 213.



   Born to the wife of Frank Cassel Tuesday, March 7, a nine pound girl.

   Harry Heintzelman’s two children have the whooping cough.


   James Creighton, who has been sawing logs on the farm of Andrew Shilton, has finished.  Andrew Shilton had material sawed for a barn.


   At the recent election in Sebewa Township, votes were cast by two who did the same thing 56 years ago.  They are Benjamin Probasco and Samuel Bingham.  Leonard Lumbert, 92 years of age, also cast his vote that day.


   Russell Waring purchased Fred Gunn’s automobile last week.


   The farmers are improving the roads by hauling gravel.


Misses Maud and Ursula Samaine and their guest, Miss Frances Park of Portland visited Mrs. Bert Evans a couple of days last week.  Maud Samaine also visited several other friends in the neighborhood.


   The Pere Marquette train reached Portland on schedule Tuesday, the first time on time in four months.


   Elmer Downing and Allyn Goodemoot have gone to Barryton on a hunting trip and G. E. Waring has gone to Onaway to hunt.


   Mrs. Jeanette Smith died Monday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. George Coe.  Funeral services were held at the Baptist Church, Wednesday, conducted by an Adventist minister from Saginaw.


   Mr. and Mrs. Charles Creighton of Elkhart, Indiana are the proud parents of a little son.


Shilton and daughter, Rilly, are sick with la grippe.


   Those who attended the auto show in Grand Rapids last week from this place were Clarence Sayer, Henry Whorley, Fred Gunn, Robert Gierman and Clarence Oatley.

   The Medicine Show moved to Mecosta Monday after a week’s entertainment at West Sebewa.  Lula Oatley received the most popular and handsomest lady prizes in the contest, Florence Andrews in the baby contest and Lester Durkee in the homliest man contest.


   Zachariah York of Ann Arbor, who was here to attend the funeral of his sister, Mrs. W. W. Hanson, returned to his home last Wednesdasy.


   J.H. Palmer & Co. have sold their elevator and tile business to the Sunfield Elevator Company, a stock company.  George Triphagen of Mulliken will be secretary and manager of the new firm.


   Russel Waring and wife, Clarence Oatley and wife autoed to Vermontville Sunday.

REFLECTIONS By Gerald C. Joynt

   Clarence Sayer’s stimulating story in the RECOLLECTOR of his early academic experiences makes me reflect that, perhaps then as now, while our educational institutions deserve a rightful amount of credit for our success as a people, there are many other influences that must receive fair credit, at least in developing our characters and personalities.

   Trying to evaluate memories of early outstanding influences in my own early education, I am a bit bothered to find that I remember the somewhat negative things better than the positive.

   For instance the big black mark which lingered on the blackboard long after Teacher Jennie Weippert administered corporal punishment via an appropriate length of rubber hose on Oliver Ritenburg—God rest his soul---for some infraction of the rules—I can’t remember the crime but I remember quite well how actively Oliver dodged around as the hose whistled after him!

   Or am I thinking of the time Howard Cross got it after being invited to eat before the whole school as an audience, one of the purloined apples from Henry Whorley’s tree branching over the roadside across from the school yard.  His relish of the apple would have been of even shorter duration, could he have seen as the audience did, the instrument of torture (a switch, I believe) being stealthily withdrawn from Teacher’s desk drawer and descending with vigor and accuracy as he finished the last bite.  I believe this bit of education was administered by Mrs. Lydia Watkins.

   One more incident, related to a somewhat neglected, at least by present day standards, phase of our education, which I will call “Boy Scout” activity.  Burton Smith was, in my opinion, then somewhat of a leader in things out-of-doors and had the knack of motivating us somewhat younger boys to participate in nature hikes, going flowering, etc.  He inspired your brother, Charlie, my brother, Wes, and you and I, as I remember it, to build a willow and grass thatch wigwam in the northwest corner of the school ground.

   Entrance through the crawl hole door could be made only after the Club password was given, so we really discriminated against ordinary kids who had not earned membership in our exclusive Club.  However, our distinction was short lived, for after a few sessions of sitting around a smoking fire and trying to roast potatoes in the fire as Burton said the Indians used to do it, alas!  Our wigwam came to a fiery end through the suspected perfidy of one of our own members, one Charlie Gierman.  If he didn’t actually apply the torch, perhaps in a mood of jaded interest in the whole project, he at least was suspect for not exerting himself to put out the fire if it accidentally started from the live coals of our own campfire.

  And finally, another laughable, routine-breaking occasion arose from one of the many nice things your good mother, Nellie, initiated such as hot lunches for the kids---this one literally back-fired when the can of soup, someone---was it you?—put on top of the jacketed stove, blew its top and the contents hit the high ceiling.  With all eight grades in one room with no partitions, this was just an extra special diversion.

   If I have seemed to stress the negative events, it seems in retrospect that it was all in fun and life then was one big adventure with nothing but good times and pleasant experiments as the final outcome of everything we did.

   Naturally I have a lot of other remembrances of completely happy events.  One was the old Olds gasoline engine that served for many years as a turkey roost or chicken roost  at Fred and Minnie Gunn’s well---you will remember we always saw it on our turn at carrying water from their well to the school water pail with the community dipper hanging close by.

   I’ll tell you more about that engine one day, as it had quite an illustrious second career after my father recognized its potential, and, who knows, may have had a bearing on influencing my chosen and subsequent and present career of monkeying around greasy engines, etc.

   Also there is the memory of Perry Rogerson, water monkey on Frank and Asa Cassel’s bit Port Horon, or was it a Case dual cylinder “thrashing machine” steamer that had a unique coal smoke and steam odor that the nostalgic poets still can’t describe in words.  Perry was definitely limited, but in his position of authority, he was very tolerant of small boys fooling with his pump and other magic items.  Also, speaking of academic endeavors, one of my early memories is that after your esteemed Uncle Elmer passed the eighth grade the second time (don’t ask me why he took it twice—ask him!)  and had decided to further his ambitions by attending Sunfield High School and then later, M. A. C., he used to speed grandly by in the morning with Ross Tran and Alton Gunn behind his dashing mare, Bebe, on their way to Sunfield.

   To recall any of the details of the actual content of my school books at Sebewa School District #4 is hazy.  Maybe that has been my trouble all along and I am just recognizing it at this late date—maybe I remember all the wrong things.

   I do recollect my mother saying that I came home after the first day of school to Mrs. Weippert vowing firmly that I was through with school and definitely would not return a second day.  This incident is not in my memory at all, but Mother said my resolve softened and I went back after she talked to Jennie W. and was assured that Mrs. W and I would get along fine if I would but return to classes.

   Don’t remember any other case after that fall of 1913 where I had any overpowering desire to quit school until I had the plum--the diploma--in my hot little hand.  Looking back over this I think how I will not write an autobiography--at least not for another thirty years or so when my education will be further along.   All of us can take a lesson in this matter of continuing education from the southern lady shown on television the other day getting a special diploma for learning to read at age 103.

   Anyway I’m sure if a Hemingway or Capote or some other such imaginative chronicler had been in Sebewa then, he could have easily been inspired to write, if not a best seller, then at least an outstanding literary gem.  I really can’t understand why you with your talents--or say, Zack—don’t favor your public with such an achievement!

    My good wife says the best things I remember are those that never happened, but I’m sure you can vouch for the veracity of much of the things I’ve related here.  The best part is that, good as those old times were, today is even better!

   Say hello to Rob, Charlie, Christine, Pauline and Maurice for me when you see them.  Wilfred, I get a big kick out of the RECOLLECTOR—the excerpts from the present such as young Thams’ letters from India---as much as from the past historical gems.  So again, my commendations to you for stirring up the culture around you.  GERRY JOYNT

A RURAL SCHOOL By Pauline Gierman

   I stood for a moment outside, looking at the once familiar schoolhouse.  It seemed like only yesterday that I had gone to school there.  The old belfry had many slats missing enabling pigeons to seek refuge there; often times they built nests in the remote corners.  This provided much amusement for the more mischievous boys, who delighted in robbing and destroying the nests.

   I opened the door and stepped over the worn threshold, into the hall.  The frayed old bell rope was wound around a brace to the wall.  I had a desire, suddenly, to hear the old bell again.  While unwinding the rope, I chanced to step on a loose slivery board in the floor and it creaked so loudly that I let go of the rope.  It gave a quick jerk and was then beyond my reach.  All attempts at jumping for it were in vain, so I opened the next door and stepped inside the room.

   That “school room odor” of books and pencils seemed so familiar that I could readily imagine that I heard the rustling of papers, small children whispering, a desk cover slam, and occasionally a wooden pencil box fall to the floor in a clatter.

   The drip, drip, drip of the water fountain in the corner could be heard.  In the warm days of spring when we came in breathless and hot from play, we never missed paddling barefoot in the little puddle of cool water, which had bubbled over from the fountain.

   The same battered desks remained in the room.  Upon raising the cover to the desk nearest me, I found deeply carved initials corresponding to those of mine along with several cuds of gum that were so old and dried they now seemed a part of the desk.

   A dusty organ on the platform was loaded down with old “knapsacks” and song books of which only one still had a cover.  The red cloth background of the openwork along the front of the organ was faded and ragged where curious children’s little fingers had poked through to see what might lie behind it.

   I began to walk slowly to the entrance.  However, I stopped long enough to examine the round hole in the floor by one of the largest seats.  We, as children, had often been told of the “big bad boy” in father’s day, whose chewing habit necessitated something of this sort and how his use of it entertained the other boys when he displayed his accuracy at hitting the target.

   I walked out slowly, closing the door behind me on the familiar scenes of yesterday.  Those memories would stay with me always.

   (Written as a rhetoric theme about 1934).


September 25, 1913.  (From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER)

   John Fronssway, the Ottawa Indian, who was in Danby last week investigating the present occupation of lands once included in the old Indian Settlement, known all over this part of the state as Shimnecon, is back on the farm of his son near Mt. Pleasant.

   If his intentions as expressed to the OBSERVER last week are carried out, he will return in a few weeks and build his tepee on the parcel of land his father once owned and it will then be up to the present occupants to prove their right of possession.  At least this is the old Indian’s view of the case, whether it holds good in law or not.

   Fronssway is remembered by some of the older residents of Danby.  He lived in the Indian village and his uncle was a chief, his father being one of the counselors.  In 1854 the Indians moved to a new reservation, which the government had provided for them in Isabella County.

  It was in the relinquishment of their claims to Shimnecon that John Fronssway, now grown old and nearly blind, sees a scheme to get possession of the valuable tract along Grand River by illegal means and he says he has been advised that the titles that passed then were irregular.  He and eight other Ottawa, now living near Mt. Pleasant, have pooled their interests and want to get at the bottom of things.

   The Indian pitched his tent in Charles Ingalls’ yard, for the two were fast friends in the days when the Indians were more numerous in Danby than the whites.  When he called on Mr. Ingalls, he readily got his consent to camp there.  His wife was with him and it was said she doctors the sick Indians around Mt. Pleasant, employing nature’s remedies, the roots and herbs gathered in forests and streams.  She took back with her considerable of this sort of medicine, gathered along the banks of the Grand.

   Meanwhile, those who now own the flats where the Indian village stood are not losing sleep over threatened litigation.  They are positive that the men who bought the land of the Indians, back in the 50’s, did so in a regular way and they are of the opinion that John Fronssway, old and blind as he is, is the victim of a delusion, possible inspired by someone younger than he and with a purpose in view.

   Fronssway talked entertainingly of the days when he hunted and fished along the picturesque Grand, occasionally following  the trail to Portland, which led along the bank of the river and came into this village on the west side, past what is now known as the Pick place.  He remembered when E. Perrin’s hut stood on the bank near the Pringle place and spoke of Martin Compton, WS. W. Bogue, Wm. Churchill and others that he knew in the early days.

   He is 77 now and the Happy Hunting Grounds are within a short journey for him; but he wants to pass the balance of his life where he roamed the woods as a young man.   He has no property of his own, except that existing in his mind, that little strip in Shimnecon.  Shimnecon lies west of Centerline Bridge and south of the Section School in Danby and 178 acres are involved in the Indian’s claim.  It is still a sort of fisherman’s Paradise and people go there from miles around to tempt the bass, which lie in the deep holes in the Grand.


   In Paris, like everyone else, we saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, the Mona Lisa and other paintings in the Louvre, Napoleon’s Tomb at the Invallides, and worshipped at Notre Dame.  We took a lovely evening boat ride on the Seine to see the buildings lighted.  There was a full moon.

   We were at Versailles where we saw the private and state apartments, the hall of mirrors, and the gardens—all beautiful, of course.

   One evening we went to the Follies Bergeres.  This was something like the Follies at the Ionia Free Fair.  The dancing was well done and the costumes were beautiful—when they wore them!  One evening our travel guides took twelve of us ladies to the Montmartre section of the city.  We took a cable car up to the Secre Coeur (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) which is on the highest point of Paris where legend says St. Denis was martyred.  It is inspiring to go inside where so many candles were lighted at all times.  We hated to leave, but there was more to come.  Students sing and play guitars on streets and on the steps of buildings; others were painting.  We walked by the Moulin Rouge and strip tease places of entertainment.  Finally we sat down at the outdoor café, La Boehme.  Some of the girls went inside and begged our guides to take us all inside where an orchestra was playing and people dancing.  You can imagine how happy the French gentlemen were who were there alone, to have so many ladies come with just two gentlemen—so many unattached ladies to ask to dance.  Language didn’t seem to be a barrier.  But like Cinderella, we forgot the time.  The Metro (subways) stopped running while we were in their depths on our way home.  We came out and took taxis.

   Budapest, Hungary was the next stop.  We were taken on sight-seeing tours of the city.  Little medieval courtyards opened off the streets in many places.  Here people used to wait with friends for transportation to come—or just wait there to meet friends.  We saw beautiful Japanese gardens.  We were taken to St. Mathius Church and St. Stephens.  We saw a sign on one of the streets which said “Johnson Hoher”, which our guide told us with an embarassed smile, meant something like Johnson, the hangman—because of Viet Nam.  Europeans wherever we were did not think we should have troops in Viet Nam.

   One evening we went to see folk-dancing in the native dress of various areas.  This was excellent.  I especially liked the bottle dance in which the girls balanced bottles on their heads as they moved—most gracefully.

   We went for a boat ride on the Danube the next afternoon.  It was a bit windy and cold for a while, but the scenery was beautiful.  Our guide answered any questions the group members asked.  He said about what we expected and already knew to be the conditions—even that it was not wise to find fault with the government.  He spoke five languages, understood and read two more, and was at the time studying French.  He was a most pleasing young man of twenty-two with one of the firmest handshakes we had ever experienced.  Such moments as this were sad and we mentioned this several times as we said goodbyes to guides we had grown fond of, to European students at Oxford, and others, probably forever.

   At Athens we saw the Acropolis and all the temples one sees in the history books.  We sat under a Cyprus tree for a while after our long, hot walk among the ruins and listened to our guide tell more about the temples and about theatre in ancient days.  Whenever ladies attended, the play would be a tragedy because Athenians did not think it proper for ladies to hear the risqué jokes in the comedies.

   The spike-like Cyprus trees in the gardens among the lower, wider olive and umbrella trees and shrubs was striking to see.  We were at Delphi and Old Corinth; also at Agamemnon’s palace and tomb.  The tomb is beehive shape.  It has a large rock over the doorway weighing 120 tons.

   In the evening our guides took us to Lykabettos where we could see all over the city.  This was the highest spot and we could even look down on the Parthenon.  After coming down, we made our way along narrow streets in which people lived so close to the traffic, we could have reached through a window and touched a person snoring in bed.  We sat on steps at one place and listened to guitars and singers entertaining a sidewalk group.  When they left, we asked them as they passed to play for us, and they willingly did.  We walked on and up to see the Acropolis by moonlight—a fairyland.  Some of the group went swimming in the Agean Sea.

   At Patmus we boarded the boat “Atreus” to be taken to Brindisi, Italy.  It was not a very large boat or very clean, but the meals were good.  Those of us who had berths below deck could not use them because they were so hot and stuffy.  We slept in deck chairs.  A storm came up that night so we stayed closer to shore than is usual so that our trip was six hours longer than it was scheduled to be.  The water and sky were the pretty sights we enjoyed watching.  Many of the group tried for some Mediterranean suntans.

   We took a scenic route from Brindisi and Foggin to Rome.  It was along here that we could see the Mediterranean as we rode.  In Rome we saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain (three coins fame), a very old bridge across the Tiber from which one could see St. Peter’s Basilica, old fortifications and Hadrian’s burial place, and the Arch of Titus.

   St. Peter’s is the largest cathedral in the in the world.  There are marks on the floor to show where other well-known churches would end if set alongside of St.  Peter’s.  The surprising thing is that it doesn’t look larger, at least not as much larger than the others we had seen as the marks indicated.  This is because of the attention that was paid to proportion and balance—one thing with another.  There are letters in the dome which are seven feet tall.  They don’t look that large until one compares them with people walking on the balcony up there near them.  There is a dove representing the Holy Spirit way up above the high altar.  Its wing-spread is also seven feet, but doesn’t look nearly that large because of the distance up and the way it is placed.  Berenini’s Holy Water Fount is another example of harmony of proportion.  The cherubs look small enough and babyish as such figures should until one notices people standing close in front of them.  Michelangelo’s Pieta is back in its regular place here after its trip to New York World’s Fair.  The dome too, is Michelangelo’s.  We saw his Sistine Chapel in the morning just before we had to leave the city.  We were in the Church of St. Peter’s Chains where Michelangelo’s Moses is located.

   We went to an evening program, “Sound and Light” in the ruins of the old Forum.  A recorded voice told the history of Rome from Romulus and Remus to the time of Christ, accompanied by music and changing colored lights thrown upon the ruins.  When the burning of Rome was narrated, red lights seemed to spring up here, there, and all around until all was flaming red.

   One evening we went to a performance of the opera “Aida” in open-air theater near the ruins of aqueducts.  Another evening we went out to Tivoli to the Villa D’Este built by Ippolito, son of Lucresia (Borgia) and Alfonso of Ferrara.  He was a cardinal who hoped to be pope and he entertained influential persons here with that thought in mind.  The cardinal had an excellent education and had engineering and mechanical ability.  The fountains in the Cyprus gardens on the grounds are a wonder for the fact that they worked back in the 16th century without today’s modern power systems.  In recent years they have been restored and lighted so that they are beautiful at night.  In the daytime they would look as they did originally.

   We spent a night and a day in Assisi.  We had come through the Magiorre Mountains.  Our hotel was next to the Basilica Francesca Assisi and built high on a small mountain overlooking a valley.  The sunset that night was magnificent—all pink and gold, sinking down behind the mountains on the other side of the valley.  Fluffy cloud formations looked like Santa eating an ice cream cone as we watched from our terrace.  Later we walked up the narrow, inclining streets of the city.  Many of the buildings had window boxes and places to hang pots of flowering plants and brackets for candles to be placed on holidays.  One could see various changes, additions, and other construction marks—different types of building bricks, etc. used in different ages as time went on.  We wandered up and down the steep streets and finally through the cloisters and back to the hotel.

   The next morning we were guided through the Cathedral of St. Francis.  His tomb is here; also several second degree relics (things touched, worn or used by him).  Our guide was on assignment there from Chicago for the summer months.  I had gone out on our balcony a little after six that morning.  As I stood there looking out across the valley, a monk dressed in brown habit walked up across the fields to some barn buildings!

   Florence was much of Michelangelo’s work, since that was his home city.  The Cathedral of Florence, the Church of Mary of the little Flower, has his third Pieta with Nicodeos and Mary Magdelene besides the Mother Mary and the Lord.  Mary Magdalene was done by a student of Michelangelo after the death of the master sculptor.  Many persons feel it to have been presumptuous of the student to have placed his work beside that of Michelangelo’s to complete the work, even though he knew Michelangelo planned to have the figure there and knew the dimensions.  The outside of the cathedral is especially beautiful, being of marble mosaic of many colors.  The Tower nearby also has many colors of marble in a delicate pattern.  Toscany, of which Florence is the capital, has much marble.  Michelangelo’s well-known David is here as is the Uffizi Museum, which has work of Botticello, Michelangelo on wood, and Titian among others.  There is a story of Michelangelo and Titian teasing each other—Michelangelo having remarked that Titian would be great if he learned about design.  Titian’s answer:  “Michelangelo would be great if he learned about color.”

   We saw Pisa’s leaning tower and cathedral.  Later in the day we drove again in the mountains.  We were told to look ahead where we would be riding in the clouds.  We did.  It was as misty rain when we passed through.

   Probably Milan’s greatest attraction for us was daVinci’s “Last Supper”.  It is fading and in various ways suffering from time, but there is constant restoration and preservation work being done on it.  Enlarged photos show how near it and one at the other end of the room, the “Crucifixion” came to being destroyed by bombing in World War II.  The Cathedral of Milan is of great repute, being the third largest in Europe.  Its many turrets, pinnacles, and statues on top are delicately done.  Its metal doors have stories from the Bible cast in bronze upon them.

   If there was a favorite country, as many people ask, it would probably be Switzerland because of the majestic scenery and its immaculate cleanliness.  We went through Gotthard Pass, through the town of Altdorf where there is a monument to William Tell, and on to Lucerne on the lake.  At one point on the lake there are three white rocks that mark a spot where representatives from three cantons of Switzerland met to form the Federation of Switzerland.  We came through many hairpin curves and turns.  At one point along the way, the buses backed up a side road and we had a picnic in the mountains—an unforgettable experience to sit or walk up there in all that outdoor loveliness.  A cowbell could be heard as we went along a path.

   In Lucerne, many of the students shopped for watches.  There was a cable-car for a mountain ride.  In the evening we had the dish of the restaurant—cheese fondue cheese mixture.  The tradition is that if a lady drops her cube of bread in the cheese, she must kiss the gentleman at her table.  We were entertained later with Swiss songs, yodeling, and folk dances.

   Going north through Germany, we stayed a night in each of the cities of Baden-Baden, Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, and Rudesheim.  We were taken through the castle of Heidelberg.  It has been partially destroyed several times, so they no longer try to rebuild those ruined parts.  Several rooms are furnished or partly so.  There are a number of decorative stoves like the one in the story, The Nurenburgh Stove.  We walked up to the University.  It was closed when we were there.  In Rudesheim we went through a cognac factory, rode in a cable-car up across the vineyards, and walked down narrow streets where music could be heard coming from cafes.  That evening several of our group danced a version of the twist to German music with German young people.

   The next morning we rode on the boat “Deutschland” down the Rhine from Rudesheim to Boppard.   There is an old castle nearby every large turn in this section of the river.  Some of these castles are still being used, but most are deteriorating and some are almost entirely in ruins.  The Lorelei Rock is on one of these curves.

   That night and the next day we spent in Luxembourgh.  We walked up to the Palace and the old Casments.  It is a scenic city.  We walked up to the Palace and the old Casements.  It is a scenic city.  From here we flew back to Prestwick, Scotland and then, quickly, to Windsor, Ontario.


   On the west side of the state, not far from Grand Haven we came upon a band of Indians at the “Clay Banks”.  We told them we had come among them prompted by the Great Good Spirit to do them good, and that many of their red brothers on the other side of the State on the Flint, Shiawassee, Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and on the Saginaw Bay and also their Pottawattomie brothers in the interior of the State near Battle Creek had left off their old pagan ways and had gone to farming, taken the white man’s schools and the white man’s religion and we came prepared to start a school among them and to teach them the Christian religion, which we believed would be better for them to believe and embrace, both for this life and the next.  We were acting in conjunction with the best wishes of their Great Father at Washington, the President of the United States and we desired them to counsel over our proposition and give us an answer.

   The second chief spoke somewhat as follows:  My white brothers, you say the Great Good Spirit has sent you here to talk to us and to persuade us to take the white man’s religion and the white man’s schools for our children and to live as the white man does by plowing and farming.  Now I don’t believe you at all because I am an older man than either of you (pointing to us) and I know just as much about the Great Good Spirit as you do, especially about his will concerning the Indians.

   You say the Great Spirit sent you here to visit us and to ask us to leave off our ways and the ways of our grandfathers and take the white man’s ways in religion and schools for our children.  Now my reasons for not believing that the Great Good Spirit sent you is this:  I have lived a great many more years in this country or land from the head of this Lake Michigan around the Mackinaw and Detroit to the mouth of the Detroit River then straight across the country to Chicago or where Chicago now is.  I have traveled over this land a great many times.  When I was a small boy I went with my father in a canoe along the shore of this Lake Michigan around to Mackinaw to Saginaw to Port Sarnia, down the river to Detroit and then on down the river to Lake Erie and along that lake to the River of Thundering Waters (Niagara) and everywhere I went there was plenty of Indian villages with plenty of Indians and Indian corn fields and Indian burying grounds with large and small Indian graves.

   The Indian canoes were almost the only boats on all these lakes and rivers.  The woods were full of wild game for us.  Our people were then very numerous all over this country and it was our country and we were happy.  We visited, hunted and had our great festivals.  When I was a boy, only once in a great while did we see any pale faced people and they were French people but you white men came and bought our lands for a very small price and when we could not agree with you, you fight us and we fight you and sometimes both white man and Indian get killed and you come on more and more from toward the rising sun, you were so many.

   Then when you could not kill us all off with gun and powder, you make peace with us and you want more land and you get more and you pay us very little for it.  Then you build fences across our trails; you plow up our corn fields and graveyards.  You have no respect nor care for our dead.

   Then your fur traders and others came among us and brought the fire water or whiskey and bought our furs with it and made us drunk and foolish and we died with this treatment of yours and you have crowded what few of us that are left out of the woods, right here on this bank and you are just ready by your coming settlements of white people to crowd us into this lake.

   Now you come to us when there are only a handful left and say to us that the Great Good Spirit has sent you to persuade us to take the white man’s religion, his ways and his schools for our children.  Now I have no faith in you.  I don’t believe that he sent you, for if he wanted us Indians to take your white religion, why did he not send your fathers before you to persuade us when we were strong and a great people, filling all this land with our villages and our hunting grounds, with our camping tents and all these lakes and rivers with our canoes and not wait until we were almost all gone?  The smoke from our wigwams is almost gone out.  We are now weak and you want us to change our religion.  No.  We shall live and die as our fathers did.  We have on ill feelings toward you, but we don’t believe you and shall not take your school or religion.


   From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER May 23, 1911.

   Uncle Dan, who has been writing articles of pioneer life in this vicinity for the State Journal, appears to be well posted on the conditions that existed in this locality in the early days according to the testimony of pioneers and he has this to say relative to the Portland Stage Route in 1849.

   “Up to 1863 the only public conveyance in and out of Lansing was by stage, which was chiefly the old-time coach, the rockaway.  These were the Detroit and Jackson stages, the Portland via DeWitt and Eaton Rapids stages were mud wagons, so-called, but large and necessarily very strong for the roads generally in those days were about the worst in the state.  In fact, in the spring and late fall they were often nearly impassible.  Frequently the passengers were obligated to get out and assist the driver to extricate the huge wagon from the ruts and sloughs, hub deep in which they had become stuck.  They were often obliged to wade out to some nearby fence for rails to pry the vehicle out of the hole in which it was sunk.  This was the case more particularly on the Portland and Eaton Rapids routes.

   “Tom Palmer of the Portland stage said he did not doubt it a bit as he had the same experience on the Portland stage.  In fact, just this side of town he was obligated to drive through a mudhole so deep he couldn’t see his horses’ ears; simply cracked his whip at the bubbles in the water.  Tom was a very truthful jayhoo, although a little droll in his way.”

   Well, the country was very new in those days and the roads, for the most part were simply horrible much of the time from the fact that there was as yet little or no drainage and the country had not yet fully recovered from the general flood in which one, Mr. Noah, figured so prominently.  Way back before the capital was located in Lansing or even the hog’s back was brought forth as the King’s Highway between the two county seats and had that gentleman who had signed for a lodge in some vast wilderness pitched his tent or reared his cabin within the radius of many miles of the capital of Michigan, he would have been up against many disagreeable disappointments.


   This report of our project in India is strictly unofficial.  Officers in charge of the project will issue the official report in due time.

   Our Tractor Evaluation Project is made possible by a Ford Foundation grant to the Institute and, so far as we know, it is the only one of its kind in the world.  There have been other tractor projects, but none taking a number of small tractors, two-wheeled, four-wheeled; gasoline, kerosene and diesel fueled; two-cycle and four-cycle engines’ wet land and dry land types; and horse-power from 5 ½ to 12 for testing with a variety of equipment by the farmers who will use them, as we are doing here at Allahabad.

   Population experts have good reason to believe that the world’s population will double by the end of this century.  With food production lagging behind population needs in much of the world, it is urgent that ways are found to increase food production in the areas where it is needed.  Here we are trying to find out the most effective workable method for the Indian farmers to increase their production and supply the food for their country.

   Tractor production in the world has seen a trend to the higher horse-power models.  The large tractors are unsuited to the small farms that comprise the most of India’s agriculture.  We are trying to find a form of mechanization that will greatly increase production in the present economy without shaking the social foundations of the country as would be done by sudden change to large farms operated with big tractors and heavy machinery.

   We have a set of 5 two-wheeled (walking) tractors and a set of 5 four-wheeled (riding) tractors from Japan that are for rice farming in wet land.  From Switzerland is a ruggedly built walking tractor with a side range of implements including a reaper-binder and power take-off trailer.  The tractors from U.S.A. and Germany included a few implements and we added others such as irrigation pumps and plow or cultivator as needed.  During our project we have placed tractors on 23 farms within a 30-mile radius of Allahabad.

   To get meaningful data we use several forms of records of each tractor placed in operation with an Indian farmer.  The farmer keeps a record of tractor expense and a work report covering hours of use, fuel consumption and repair time.  In addition to the farmers’ records, we fill out the Performance Report, Design Report, Machine Failure Report, Monthly Work Record and an Engineer’s Report.  Also there is a Stock Record, Farmer Inventory Record and a Crop Performance Report for us to record.  With these records we have a basis for judging the merits of mechanization in a variety of settings.

   In making our visits to the farms where we have placed tractors, we might see all of the following as a composite of a week’s visits.  We go as a team, one Indian staff member and one Peace Volunteer.

   Leaving headquarters around 9-9:30 AM we may spend an hour getting to our tractor site.  At this time of day we find traffic that differs from Michigan Freeways.  There are camels, bullock carts, trucks, flocks of sheep, goats, elephants, cars, jeeps, cows, water buffaloes, tongas (horse drawn carts) and people afoot.  Bridges are narrow and frequently we must wait it out for the opposing traffic.  In the villages the streets are nearly filled with open-air markets pushing into the traffic, so we must blow the horn and keep up the pressure.  Very seldom do people get hit.  As you pass through the marketing area the people open a hole for you and it closes as you drive on.  We may expect to see a truck off the road where it has struck a tree.  Much of the trucking is done at night after the road inspector has left his job at 5 PM.

   No matter where you go in India, any convenient wall, ditch or open field serves as a latrine.  Several organizations interested in better health in the rural areas are beginning to bring some changes in this custom.

   We try to visit each of our farmers with the tractors once a week.  A stop near or at a village quickly collects a group of as many as 20 children to see what the white man is doing.  Traditionally a white man or an educated man would not get his hands dirty in India.  At first I wore my white pants and shirt (hot weather work clothes) and everything on the tractor had to be cleaned up before I could touch it.  But there is always that one time when you can move in and show them that the dirt of work is not degrading.  On one visit we went to help a farmer plow down a green manure crop.  I kicked off my shoes, rolled up the pant legs and plowed with a 2-wheeled walking tractor.  After that the dirt did not much matter.

   There are no houses on the land that makes up the fields in the Allahabad area.  So, around every two miles, we find the villages of 500-1500 people living in compact quarters with the livestock separated from the people by only a mud walk.  A town of 1000 may divide itself into 20 groups of families with only that many roofs to house them.



   Robert W. Gierman, Editor

   R 1

   Portland, Michigan   48875 U. S. A.

Last update February 25, 2013