Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 30 Number 2
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;
OCTOBER 1994, Volume 30, Number 2.

Submitted with permission of current Editor Grayden D. Slowins:


COVER PHOTO: Taken on the front lawn of John FRIEND’S home on what is now called Mrs. CLOSSON’S vacant corner lot in Sebewa. George was living in the original farmhouse by this time, where Jim & Sid STANK live now. Left to right in front row: Morna FRIEND, John FRIEND, Ethel FRIEND, Francis FRIEND, Rush BALDWIN, Alonzo EVANS, George FRIEND.



DOUGLAS R. WELCH, 80, husband of Winifred McKendry Welch, father of Marcia YORK & Sue McFARLANE, brother of the late Emma Jane CROSSMAN, son of Blanche REYNOLDS & Henry T. WELCH, son of Emma TREMAYNE & Amos M. WELCH, son of Sarah Ann Morgan & John B. WELCH, son of Ruth SQUIRES & Vine WELCH. His great-grandfather, John B. WELCH, Sr., came to Ionia in 1836 and settled on the farm in Sec. 9 & 10 Ionia Township in 1837. His great-great-grandfather, Vine WELCH, a blacksmith, and wife Ruth also settled in Ionia. John B. WELCH raised the Twenty-first Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the outbreak of the Civil War and was commissioned its colonel. They drilled at Prairie Creek flats, where American Bumper now stands, and fought under General George Armstrong CUSTER and James H. KIDD.

Douglas REYNOLDS WELCH was born October 22, 1913, at the home of his grandparents Emma & Amos WELCH, on Washington St. in Ionia. His father was helping run the family sheep & cattle ranch near Taft Station in Ogemaw County at the time, and Blanche was in Ionia. Henry was called home by telegram and drove all night on unmarked roads, a distance of 175 miles, in a 1908 Model 10 Buick with no top, no doors, and no windshield, but with carbide gas lights, to be present for the event. Two stock dogs were thrown out of the car on a pothole near Pinconning and arrived on foot three days later.

Henry T. WELCH and family moved to the Ionia Township farm in 1916. Amos & Emma had succeeded John B. WELCH Sr. on the farm in 1884 and retired to town in 1910. They were followed by John B. WELCH Jr., brother of Henry, who moved two miles north to his own farm on Cooper Rd. Sec. 33 Ronald Township (the old County Poor Farm) in 1916. At that time the WELCH homestead consisted of 445 acres, employed five or six hired men, a hired girl, and maintained 50 milking cows, 100 feeder cattle, 12 work horses, and 250 breeding ewes.

Doug rode a pony to Ionia every day to attend kindergarten and tied it at the Central Feed Barn, at the head of Steele Street, where ETT Ambulance barn is now. Destined to be a farmer, his life took a sudden turn at age 6, when he contracted polio. Determined to do all the normal things a kid would do, he earned Boy Scout merit badges in swimming and lifesaving as part of his therapy. He graduated with honors from Ionia High School in 1930, excelling in debate, oratory, and playing the saxophone in the band. He graduated from the University of Michigan and entered Law School there in 1935. The late George Petrie Sr. of Sebewa was working in the WELCH Blacksmith Shop, which was located just south of the Martha Washington Café and apparently was a continuation of Vine WELCH’S trade, when Doug entered law school. Doug often hung around the shop after school and on this occasion George asked him “Well Doug, did they teach you how to lie yet?” “Hell yes! That was the first day’s lesson!” said Doug.

Doug was born a Democrat and he died a Democrat. But for a time in law school he joined the Young Republican Club, at the invitation of his pal, Gerald R. FORD. He told us this in 1977, while admiring an autographed portrait that President FORD had sent to Ionia County Republican Party. One County Commissioner, a Republican lawyer who was disgruntled because I had not given him what he considered a plush political appointment, refused to allow the photo to be hung in the Court House Rotunda. Doug WELCH said “Gerald FORD was our Congressman, our President, and our friend, hang the damn portrait!” We hung the portrait, but the Commissioner got the inscription covered by matting.

Douglas WELCH had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer and public official in Ionia. He was first a law partner with Ray COLWELL, then Flint C. WATT, later as WELCH, NICHOLS, MCKAIG & WATT, and finally of counsel to O’CONNER, MCNAMARA, O’KEEFE AND SYKES.

He was Mayor, President of the School Board, Fair Board, Michigan Commerce, and served on the Independent Bank Board, Michigan Municipal League, Ionia Industrial Development Fund, Rotary, Elks, Masons, and First United Methodist Church. He retained his keen mind and memory until the day of his death. Without question Douglas R. WELCH was the best Ionia attorney of his time, and most of us would have wanted him to defend us on any serious charge, especially if there was strong evidence that we were guilty. END


MONROE H. MERRILL, 92, husband of Leah for 73 years, father of Joyce WISNER & Barbara LENORE, brother of the late Royce MERRILL and Olive NASH, son of G. Lillian HALLADAY & Roscoe MERRILL. Born in Sebewa, he had long lived in Lowell.

EVELYN H. CHAPIN, 86, widow of Galen CHAPIN, mother of Nancy WALLACE & Jack CHAPIN, sister of the sate Luna PICKENS Van TIFFLIN, daughter of Anna GRIFFIN & William SWITZER. Louisa SWITZER FENDER (Mrs. Adam) was her aunt, and the SWITZER family settled at SW ¼ Sec. 31 Sebewa Township in 1866.

WILLIAM H. GRIFFITHS, 88, husband of Maxine, father of Thomas GRIFFITHS and the late Ann HOLLANDER, brother of Geraldine TILLIE, son of Hanna R. BONNER & William P. GRIFFITHS. He was Superintendent of Portland Public Schools from 1952 to 1966, later served on Ionia County Mental Health Board, Ionia County Commission on Aging, and Portland School Board.

JOHN FRIEND – OBITUARY – PORTLAND OBSERVER – June 17, 1885. JOHN FRIEND died at his home in Alanson, Michigan, on June 10, aged 61 years, 3 months, and 6 days. Mr. Friend suffered a stroke two weeks ago last Sunday and was paralyzed on his left side. Word was received in Portland that he was not expected to live, and his five living children, four residing at Sebewa plus Mrs. R. P. BALDWIN of Portland, left for Alanson. Mr. FRIEND’S death was caused by two more strokes of paralysis on Tuesday evening, June 9th, beginning about 6 o’clock. He remained unconscious until his death on Wednesday morning at 5:15.

The remains were brought to Portland Thursday noon and taken to Sebewa, where on Friday they were interred under the direction of the Sebewa Lodge I. O. O. F. assisted by the Portland encampment, of which Mr. FRIEND was an honored member. About 100 Odd Fellows were present in the procession, representing lodges from Sunfield, Hoytville, Vermontville, Portland, and Sebewa. The funeral services were held in a beautiful grove west of Sebewa Corners (Horace T. BARNABY United Brethren Campgrounds at that time, now called Bible Missionary Campgrounds). Rev. F. N. JANES preached a short but effective sermon, after which the remains of the deceased were taken to the cemetery for interment, followed by almost 150 carriages and wagons, showing how highly Mr. Friend was esteemed by his neighbors and friends.

John FRIEND II was born in Devonshire, England, March 24, 1824, son of John and Betty COMB FRIEND. His ancestors were farmers and landowners. In April 1833 the family emigrated to America, settling at Royalton, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where John Sr. farmed. On June 17, 1843, John FRIEND II married Miss Polly Ann MEACHUM of Brunswick, Medina County, Ohio. By this union four children were born: Francis N., George E., Phoebe Maria, and Emily A. (Emma).

In April 1854, Mr. FRIEND removed with his family to Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan. On December 16, 1857, he was afflicted by the death of his estimable wife. During this time he conducted a general store at Sebewa in connection with his farm, gristmill, and sawmill. On December 24, 1858, he married for his second wife Miss Sarah J. CRAMER of Herkimer County, NY. By this union there were born five children: Estella Edith, Bertha B., Judson Zach, Morna Belle & Ethel Rose.

On July 5, 1875, Mr. FRIEND was afflicted by the death of his second wife. November 12, 1876, he married for his third wife Mrs. Lou A. FARRELL. They were divorced November 15, 1880. From 1859 to 1862 Mr. FRIEND engaged in business as a stock-raiser and drover (one who drives livestock to market, hence a dealer). From 1862 to 1867 he followed the occupation of lumbering and from 1868 to 1871 was engaged in hardwood lumber sales. From 1871 to 1875 he resumed the store at Sebewa, while continuing the management of his extensive farms, totaling 361 acres. He had just purchased the Ramsey sawmill at Muir and moved it to Alanson April 15. He had been a Republican since the organization of that party. END.


By the year 1833 England had become thickly populated and every avenue for business was crowded. The common school advantages were very inferior; many were desirous of leaving England and seeking home and fortune in the new land. About this time John FRIEND, with his wife and seven children, John, Betsy, William, Blanche, Maria, Thomas, and James decided to leave their native land and seek a home in the new land under new government. Mr. FRIEND lived in Devonshire, England. He had become a farmer of some note, managing and carrying on many acres of land at one time. The farms were owned by Lords and Squires, each farm having its own name, such as Black-a-broom, Batzell, Dartimore, etc. Mr. FRIEND was small of stature, wide awake, energetic, and always on the alert.

Before leaving England, Mr. FRIEND showed great forethought in case of accident or shipwreck that would separate the family. For each of the girls, being three in number, he provided a stout canvas bag, large enough to hold a guinea. Into these he put three hundred pounds (between twelve and fifteen hundred dollars). These were securely sewed around the waist under the clothing. The voyage by sailing ship took several weeks. The young ladies had many friends among the passengers and were often asked by other young ladies as they paraded the deck “Do you wear a bustle?” They always informed them that they did, not explaining the value of the article. The oldest boys were also provided with means. Into the linings of each of their vests, then called waistcoats, they had five hundred pounds quilted. Mr. and Mrs. FRIEND also had some money about their person, so that in case they should be separated, each would be provided with means. The next step was not so discreet. The balance of the money was put into a large cask, and as all luggage was stored in the hold of the boat, that went with the rest.

All went well, until nearing New York, off Sandy Hook, now a summer resort near Long Island, the ship struck a sand bar, when about two miles out at sea at two o’clock in the morning, and with every wave was washed farther and farther into the sand until she was fast. The scene on board was terrible, some crying, some praying, some cursing & swearing. The tide was running high and each effort to reach the shore proved fruitless. It seemed all on board must be lost.

About two o’clock in the afternoon the first and second mates said if they might be allowed, contrary to the rules of the boat, to leave the boat and try to reach land, and if it would please God to spare their lives and they could reach land, they would return to the vessel. They were fine swimmers and were granted their request. On leaving the ship, they carried with them a small line. As the breakers would be rolling high, the swimmers would be lost from sight, all on board feeling that their brave rescuers had perished. After some time the heads of the swimmers would appear again, nearer shore. Once, twice they tried, and on the third try, after being given up by all on board, they reached land.

On reaching land with the line, a communication was established with the ship. Then began the voyage back to the ship in small boats. After hard labor, with water-filled boats, they succeeded in reaching the wreck. The women and children were first to be rescued. To do this they were taken in the small boats until they struck a sand bar, then they were taken from the boats by men and carried across the bar and put in other boats. This was twice repeated before reaching land. This being a dangerous point, there was a large building on the shore called “The Wrecker’s Home”. A fireplace extended the full length of the room. This was opened and a large fire built to dry the clothes of the people, who were wet, cold, and hungry, everything soaked with salt water. The Captain had given each a small tea biscuit and a cup of wine before leaving the wreck. Mrs. FRIEND had been sea-sick and in her berth the entire length of the voyage. In the confusion, her clothes could not be found. Mrs. FRIEND went ashore in her husband’s overcoat.

In getting ashore, one of the small boys was separated from the rest. They searched up and down the shores in hopes of finding him, but in vain. Betsy and Blanche, after searching long and diligently, broke down and cried. Blanche’s crying attracted the attention of a rich man who was passing in a beautiful carriage. He ordered the driver to stop and upon discovering the cause of their grief, took them in his carriage and drove along the beach in search of the missing brother. About two miles out, at a hotel, they found him eating his supper. Their grief was turned to joy. The gentleman was blind, but very kind. He owned a small cottage which he opened to Mr. FRIEND and his family. While there he brought them many eatables and luxuries.

The money which they had put in the cask was still in the wreck. After many attempts to secure it, Mr. FRIEND advertised for divers and offered a reward. After a number of days, the cask was secured and brought to shore. Immediately an old servant sat upon the gold and remained there as if taking a sun-bath. They remained three days and each night robbers attacked the house, so the men were obliged to guard it with firearms. With Mr. FRIEND’S daughters begging him to leave, they took passage for Cleveland, Ohio.

They searched for a farm between Beria and Binola, Ohio, and settled one mile south of BENNETT’S Corners. Mrs. Betsy SOUTHAM, the second oldest of the FRIEND children, was ninety years old and a consultant for this sketch when it was written in 1904. She and the youngest, James FRIEND of Carlton Center, Michigan, were the only two still living.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: James lived on the second farm east of Charlton Park Road, on the north side of Carlton Center Road, west of Woodland. James FRIEND died in 1923. His daughter, Mrs. NORTON, still lived there in 1983, and her daughters, one being a Mrs. SCHAIBLY, came in to check on her daily. Francis (Frank) FRIEND was James’ son, and Dayton, Russell & Annabelle were Frank’s children. There are other FRIENDS in the Freeport & Lake Odessa area who are descended from James. John FRIEND II lived on what is now the James STANK farm, long known as the KNAPP farm, Sec. 25 & 24 Sebewa. He has many descendents still in Ionia County and elsewhere.)

Our friend Martha CHURCHILL, after working as a reporter at the IONIA SENTINEL-STANDARD, and while a student at COOLEY Law School, researched the divorce lawsuit of Lou A. FRIEND v. John FRIEND II, as it progressed all the way thru the Michigan Supreme Court. She comments that it dies not make good case law by today’s standards, (because it does not allow for no-fault or amicable divorces) but it does make interesting reading. “The Judge who wrote this opinion is considered one of the big four of Michigan Jurisprudence, because there are four early judges of the Michigan Supreme Court who shaped Michigan Law to a large extent – and this one, James V. CAMPBELL, is highly regarded as having been one of the greatest.”
“It looks to me, Ann, like your great-great-grandpa had a pretty colorful marital situation. The judge here claims he doesn’t want to go into all the disgusting details, but it’s pretty easy to read between the lines and see that these two individuals were not exactly lovebirds by the time this case hit the Supreme Court.”

Divorce – Estoppel – Extreme Cruelty – Dower.
1. A party to a divorce suit is not estopped as to the main issue by a decree entered by his own procurement, since collusive divorces are unlawful.
2. It is extreme cruelty to turn a wife and her daughter out of doors without cause, and to make their separation the condition of taking the wife back again.
3. A woman who obtains a divorce cannot be deprived, without her consent, of her dower right.

C. C. HOWELL for complaintant: Conduct which results in driving a wife from home is cruelty.
Wm. O. WEBSTER for defendant: One is not obligated to support a step-child.

James V. CAMPBELL for the Court: Complainant obtained a divorce from defendant for cruelty, and was granted seven hundred dollars alimony absolutely, and six hundred more in case she should release her dower, - these amounts to be paid in one, two, three, and four years, with interest after one year. Defendant appealed generally, and complainant appealed for insufficient alimony.

Complainant, when she married defendant in November, 1876, was doing a fairly prosperous business as a hair-dresser, and had one daughter, named Jennie FARRELL, about ten years old. She had no property beyond her business, which was chiefly made available by her personal exertions. Defendant at this time was a widower who had been married more than once, and had several grown children living near him, and three daughters at home of the ages respectively of fifteen, ten, and five years. He lived on a farm adjoining Sebewa Corners in Ionia County, where he was also engaged in mercantile business. He owned other lands nearby. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinion goes on for six more pages, and in the end the lower court decision was upheld, except for a slight increase in alimony.)

JOHN FRIEND II and Polly Ann MEACHAM’S children were:
1. Francis N. FRIEND born May 20, 1844, married Martha RICHMOND, ran the family’s general store in Sebewa.
2. George E. FRIEND born February 18, 1846, died April 22, 1923; married Jane E. CARPENTER, ran the family farm.
3. Phebe Maria FRIEND born December 30, 1847, died June 2, 1903; married Rush P. BALDWIN, a farmer in Sebewa.
4. Emily A. (Emma) FRIEND born June 4, 1850, died in 1915; married Alonzo N. EVANS, a farmer in Sebewa.

John FRIEND and Sarah Jane CRAMER’S children were:
5. Estelle Edith FRIEND born July 17, 1861, died October 24, 1861.
6. Bertha B. FRIEND born November 11, 1862; married Mortimer TRIM.
7. Judson Zach FRIEND born October 6, 1865, died May 7, 1866.
8. Morna Belle FRIEND born July 16, 1867, died September 20, 1956; married Wellington E. PORTER, barber & violinist.
9. Ethel Rose FRIEND born July 9, 1871, died November 29, 1957

George E. FRIEND & Jane E. CARPENTER’S children were:
1. Fred E. FRIEND lived in Portland, buried in Sebewa, no stone
2. Jessie E. FRIEND of Portland, buried in Sebewa near wife Bessie
3. Herbert E. FRIEND born April 1872, died April, died April 29, 1875
4. Ralph E. FRIEND born 1874, died 1940; married Lucy HALLADAY, farmed various places in the area.
5. Archibald E. FRIEND born December 1, 1881, died June 9, 1908

Ralph E. FRIEND & Lucy E. HALLADAY’S children were:
1. Lawrence FRIEND lived in Ionia.
2. Evelyn FRIEND born January 11, 1901, died January 7, 1981; married Dale COURSER, farmed in Orange Township
3. Beatrice FRIEND born 1903, died April 9, 1962; married Kenneth CURTIS, lived at Vermontville.
4. Lucille FRIEND married Todd, lived at Hastings
5. Mildred FRIEND born October 22, 1907; married Royce MERRILL and lived in the Apollos & Abel C. HALLADAY house at Sebewa.
6. George FRIEND II married Vida CURTIS, lived at Vermontville

Mildred L. FRIEND & Royce MERRILL’S children were:
2. Ralph Milton MERRILL born April 8, 1933, married Marlene PATRICK, worked for State of Michigan
3. Gary Monroe MERRILL born June 4, 1937, married Nancy J. WRISLEY and Suzette
4. Sandra Lee MERRILL married Bob JONES, ran Builders Lumber.
5. Dean Rosceo MERRILL
6. Steven John MERRILL

Evelyn FRIEND & Dale COURSER’S children were:
1. Marge COURSER
2. Eugene COURSER

1. Addie E. BALDWIN born July 22, 1868, died December 17, 1940; married Albert B. CULVER II, lived in Pasadena, CA
2. Clarence E. BALDWIN born December 13, 1871, died February 20, 1889
3. Estella E. BALDWIN born December 15, 1876, died February 16, 1909; married Frank W. PRYER (See June 1993 RECOLLECTOR)
4. Lee E. BALDWIN born October 13, 1883, died December 6, 1940; married Bertha E. TAFT

Rush & Phebe lived on the W ½ SE ¼ Sec. 20 Sebewa, on Musgrove Hwy., on what was later the east half of the Theo BULLING farm and now belongs to Charles & Edward LEIK. The house stood directly across from the driveway of the Reuben LAPO-John SHAY farm, and the foundation stones were still visible in 1957. Their children were all born there and started school at the BALDWIN School, which stood on the southeast corner of Sec. 20, south of the home of George BALDWIN, brother of Rush. Rush was the son of William F. BALDWIN & Matilda SHAW, daughter of Robert SHAW, son of Richard SHAW, Revolutionary War Veteran, who is this family’s tie to the D. A. R. Sometime in the 1880s Rush moved his family to W ½ NW ¼ Sec. 32 & E ½ E ½ NE ¼ Sec. 31 in Portland Township, which is now the west part of the Ronald Lenneman farm on Grand River Ave., and the children finished school in Portland.

Addie E. BALDWIN & Albert B. CULVER’S child was:
1. Albert B. CULVER III born November 4, 1914

Estella E. BALDWIN & Frank W. PRYER’S children were:
1. Marian Addie PRYER born March 17, 1900; married Elon D. LAKIN, lived on the Frank PRYER farm in Danby
2. Margaret Morna PRYER born November 2, 1902, died 1974; married Dan MORIARITY, William COREY, Hugh JACQUES

Lee E. BALDWIN & Bertha Taft’s children were:
1. John R. BALDWIN born September 27, 1904, died l968; married Ada Lee POINDEXTER
2. Bertha Lee BALDWIN born July 14, 1930; married Frank TUCK



Last update November 15, 2013