THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Center Association (Ionia County, MI),
OCTOBER 1995, Volume 31, Number 2. Submitted with written permission of Editor,
Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: SLOWINS, BRAKE, SLATER, PRESTON, SEARS, NASH, HEADWORTH, LAUGHLIN,
WENGER, CLEMEN, McDIARMID, FRIEND, SULLIVAN, HOWLETT, MOTE, MERRILL, YOUNGS,
WELCH, COOL, FIRST, SNITGEN, BARTOW, GRAY, JOLLY, SIMON
NEW BRUNSWICK, NOVA SCOTIA & PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND by Grayden
Saturday, July 22, 1995, 9:30AM, we left home in our new red Chevrolet Cheyenne
C2500 Pickup with our Coachman camper on it…..we took I-69 from Lansing to Port
Huron, crossed the Bluewater Bridge to Sarnia, Ontario…..Monday provided nice
photo opportunities across New Hampshire, Maine and into New Brunswick…..saw
many big old farmhouses with barns attached by a kitchen-breezeway-woodshed….The
Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, up to 40 feet high in some
places and this causes a sudden change of flow direction of the rivers....in
Canada again, visited Bed & Breakfast called The Organry, whose owner has 98
reed pump organs in various stages of repair and restoration. He was away, but
his teenage daughter gave us a tour and let Ann play any she wished. Later the
mother joined us. Their name is VanderLeest and she was a Meijer. They came from
the Netherlands in 1968 and he taught in college, Ag extention, etc…..happened
to meet & visit with the BOTTINGS of Grand Rapids, parents of Jim of Ionia,
while we waited (at ferry crossing).
Thursday, July 27, the weather was hot & humid……..saw a small flock of Suffolk
and white-faced sheep east of Antigonish…We arrived at the port town of Wood
Islands, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.)….saw Loons and sheep and beautiful green
& yellow little hedged fields, and the red rock soil common to Ontario and these
eastern provinces…..then to the Anne of Green Gables House which Lucy Maude
MONTGOMERY wrote about….also her childhood home….church….post office….family
plot in cemetery….later at North Cape saw the tides meeting….also experimental
windmills there of all shapes, intended to generate electric power….to
Charlottetown….this area is more wooded, wet, and not such good farms…
Back thru Moncton, New Brunswick, we saw a man baling hay with a New Holland
baler with thrower…..headed west…Augusta, capital of Maine…in Montpelier, VT….on
up the peninsula in the middle of Lake Champlain, where we saw dutch-belted cows
and several more houses made of cut sandstone blocks, as we had seen coming
across before. No corn until we got part way back along the south side of the
St. Lawrence River, at Ogdensburg, NY. Also a flock of sheep, but most of the
hay in the fields was baled in huge 3-wire square bales for shipping. On I-90 we
saw lots of grapevines, peach & apple orchards.
The trip was 4373 miles and the highest price we paid for gas was $1.76US per
gallon in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. END
THINGS I REMEMBER (continued) by Crystal Lovina BRAKE SLOWINS
I liked the brick house and was homesick for it when we moved. The new house was
nice tho. There were four bedrooms upstairs, one closet, and one storeroom.
There were two stairways, because when a new addition had been built, they built
a new stairway in the east upright and left the old one in the west upright. You
could go up one side of the house, around thru, and down the other. Downstairs
were two bedrooms, one closet, parlor, living room, dining room, kitchen, and
pantry. Grandma BRAKE was living with us most of the time then, and she had the
large downstairs bedroom and my folks had the small one. After she was gone, my
folks had the large one and used the little one for a closet and later a
That first year we lived on the SLATER farm, there was an old binder in the
orchard back of the hen house. Dad gave Johnnie and me wrenches to take the
bolts and nuts off with and we spent a lot of time with that old binder.
In the summer of 1913, my father remodeled the barn and put it on a wall. Will &
Cecil PRESTON from across the road were carpenters and in charge of the project.
Dad always kept the house, barn, and outbuildings in good repair and well
Back then the ladies sewed carpet rags and had carpets woven in nice patterns.
They often put straw under them and they were tacked down and taken up spring
and fall for house cleaning. Mother had a tack hammer and a carpet stretcher.
With that straw, the carpets would get dusty. When they wanted to sweep, they
often sprinkled salt on the carpet so the dust wouldn’t fly. Later they quit
using the straw. We had straw ticks for mattresses for a long time though. When
I began teaching school and stayed at home, I remember buying at least two
You weren’t anybody, if you didn’t have lace curtins in at least the parlor and
living room. Those were a chore to wash. They had regular curtain stretchers and
after washing the curtains you put them on the stretchers to dry, so they would
be even. The stretchers had little nails like pins and you generally ended up
with many pin pricks.
While growing up there on that farm, John and I had many good times together. We
went back to the creek on the CHEESEBROUGH farm behind us. I think in good
weather we went every day. On rainy days the top floor of the old granary was
our playhouse. When the men cut grain, we would follow the binder around the
field the last few rounds to try and catch rabbits. Wm. PRESTON across the road
had cages that he’d loan us. We never had much luck raising anything, except
Johnnie did have several little skunks for quite a while once. He did some
trapping on SEARS’ and PRESTON’S, where it was sort of swampy, as he grew older
– still in country school. I went with him by lantern before school in the
morning – almost secretly hoping he hadn’t caught anything, because I didn’t
want to see him kill it.
I’ve mentioned that Mother taught the Young Ladies’ Sunday School Class and Aunt
Inez taught the Young Men’s Class when she was here. I can’t remember who did it
after she moved away. I was probably about starting my teens when they were
combined. Originally many of the men sat on one side of the church and the women
on the other – although my father always sat with my mother. Lee OSBORNE always
sat with Ruth. Evidently when the church was organized, they sat separate and
some never changed. Uncle Walter always sat on the men’s side. So one time when
they came to church in a sleigh, Aunt Ida got out and came in with some of the
boys and sat on her side of the church. Uncle Walter tied the team and came in.
When the service was about half over, Burdette came wandering in. He had been
asleep and each one of his parents thought he was with the other.
Elwood graduated from Freeport High School and after attending college at Mt.
Pleasant that summer, he taught the JENNINGS School – one mile west of our home
school. Then the next year he was Principal of a two-room school at Hickory
Corners. Uncle Frank WENGER had been there the year before. Elwood went to Mt.
Pleasant for a year after that and then went to Pewamo as Superintendent. He and
Nadia were married in August before school began. The next year he went into the
Army, World War I, and then returned to become Superintendent at Hubbardston.
From there he was elected Ionia County School Commissioner – now called
Intermediate School Superintendent – beginning in 1923. He held that position
until he retired – 39 years.
While Elwood was Superintendent at Hubbardston, and Barbara was a baby, I went
to visit them, early in 1922. I took the train from Elmdale to Lowell, and
changed lines to Pewamo. There I spent the night in a hotel above the Bank and
was very concerned about bed-bugs. Then I took the “Morning Stage” to
Hubbardston. The Stage was an extended open touring car with side curtains. It
almost got stuck in the mud on Hubbardston Road, but we made it. I stayed there
for a while and helped take care of Barbara and her older brother Elwood Jr.,
because Nadia’s health was very poor. They had a Victrola that Mrs. COOL had
just bought them. I’d rock Barb, play the Victrola, and sing. If I’d let up on
any one, she would cry. I think we had her spoiled a bit.
Mable began High School in 1914, at Clarksville. I started in 1917, so we had
one year together. We drove Lady on a cart in summer and a sleigh in winter and
were many times tipped out in the snow. We were real cold by the time we reached
the Ernest NASH barn where we kept Lady. Many country children came to school
the same way. The second year in High School I rode with Blake and Dorothy
ALLERDING. We took turns driving. Bad nights I stayed over at Mrs. HEADWORTH’S
or with Gaylord LAUGHLIN’S mother. The next year Mable taught the MILL School,
having gone to Mt. Pleasant in the summer. After High School graduation in 1918,
she had worked for Uncle John WENGER’S at Coopersville, then at Herpolsheimer’s
Department Store in Grand Rapids. When she taught at the Mill, I would let her
off at Pinhook if the weather was good or otherwise take her to school. Then I’d
drive to Uncle Walter’s and Forrest would ride with me to school, usually drive
the horse, and help unhitch. I sometimes wonder now if he didn’t get tired of
bothering with me.
Mable was well-liked as a teacher and the School Board wanted her to stay on,
but she wasn’t too keen on teaching, hadn’t been well after a bout with the flu,
and decided not to teach. Her former pupils still speak well of her. When she
was ill, I substituted for her some – so did Esta SLATER. I was 15-16 and in the
11th grade, Esta was a Senior and two years older. So my last year in school I
rode with Dayton FRIEND. That was 1920-1921. He drove a car, except in the dead
There were 10 of us who graduated. Beulah KING was Valedictorian. I was
Salutatorian. Others in the class were Esther McDIARMID, Annabell FRIEND, Thomas
SULLIVAN, Vera and Vere HOWLETT, Maxine MOTE, Russell MERRILL, and Marian
SLATER. As I write this (1/8/83) Memorial services are being held for Tom – the
fifth one in the class to pass away.
As no-one could teach until they were 18 years of age, those of us who wanted to
teach and were 17 had to wait a year. I worked at Elwood’s and substituted some
in schools – there seemed to be no age rule on substitutes. I went to summer
school in 1922 at Mt. Pleasant. After passing exams there, we had to write an
exam at the County Seat, Ionia. When Mable wrote hers, I went along with her and
Irene ALDERINK and wrote it too – at age 15. Strange to say, the Examining Board
said they would have given me a Certificate then if I had been 18. That made our
teachers at Clarksville very happy, especially Supt. McCUMSEY, guess they though
they were teaching us well.
I used to go to Grand Rapids on the train and take the Inter-urban to
Coopersville, when Mable worked for Uncle John. I was in High School then. Later
I would go down to Grand Rapids on the train and visit her when she worked at
Uncle Verne’s. The Union Station was something. I can still see the large
colored man standing up by the ticket cages at the time the trains were to leave
– calling “All Aboard” for train so and so on such and such a track, leaving for
__ and then name the stations – Crosby (Bowen Station), Elmdale, Lowell,
Clarksville, Lake Odessa, Woodbury, Sunfield, etc. I remember I was always a bit
worried for fear I would get on the wrong one.
In September, 1922, I started teaching at the JENNINGS School, where Elwood had
begun 8 years before. I walked the 1 ½ miles each way every day, unless the
weather was very bad, then my father took me. I had as many as 33 pupils at one
time there. We thought nothing of walking 2 or 3 miles some place – especially
in summer. We always walked to church unless it was storming. When there was a
funeral, Mother, and usually I too, would walk down to the JENNINGS corner to
gather myrtle to put on the black cloth which draped the altar. I remember her
sending Johnnie and me to Harry CLEMENS’ home, which was anyway three miles from
our place, to take a bouquet of flowers to the grandfather who was ill. My
father bought sheep of Alice & Wilbur YOUNG’S father in South Boston. Although
he drove there with the buggy, we drove the sheep home and some of us walked to
herd them. No traffic to bother, no open gates, no stray dogs, no problem.
Back when I was a Freshman in High School, Mother discovered my eyes weren’t
good. I could not read the figures on a large calendar when I was but a few feet
away. My parents contacted Uncle Verne, who was an M.D. in Grand Rapids. He
recommended a Dr. WELCH and the folks took me to him. He said I’d think I was in
a different world when I got the glasses, and I surely did. I was surprised to
see each leaf on the trees. I’ll say here that it’s no doubt due to earlier
advice from Uncle Verne that I’m here at all. Hazel had died of Spinal
Meningitis. Mother said that as a baby I cried a lot and looked just the way
Wayne did before he died. The neighbors all thought I wasn’t going to live
either. The folks called Uncle Verne and he came out on the train. He said my
only trouble was that I was starving, and Mother should give me cow’s milk.
Their own doctor hadn’t suggested that. I soon grew healthy, as the family
We had a Christmas program that year I taught the JENNINGS School, same as all
country schools did. Also a Box Social one night. I wonder now why there weren’t
more fires from Christmas trees. We used wax candles in little tin holders, just
clipped to the branches of the pine trees. I always did have someone watch the
tree for fire when I had a program. My brother Johnnie had scarlet fever the
first year I was at the JENNINGS School, and I had to stay a month at Mrs.
COOL’S. The house had to be fumigated before I could go home, clothing & bedding
burned that he had used. They weren’t allowed to write letters nor sell cream.
My father would come down to the corner and visit with me from a few feet away,
some nights when I came from school. Lalah JOLLY was teaching the Pleasant
Valley School and staying at Mrs. COOL’S too. Mrs. COOL’S sister, Hattie
WATERMAN, was living with her too as she had for years.
All summer after school let out, I doctored with Dr. WELCH for my eyes. He had
me wear colored glasses, have drops in my eyes every day, etc. I received $90 a
month the first year and believe it was raised to $95 the next. But I kept
having more eye trouble and resigned after five weeks or so of school. I did a
little substitute work now and then. I liked to read so very well, but was
limited as to the amount I could do, when my eyes were giving me trouble. Others
used to read to me. The one I best remember doing that was Aunt Betty, because
she was so good at it. Seems she would be at our place often for weekends or
Mable was working as a receptionist for Uncle Verne and a group of other doctors
by that time, and I was going to work for one of them. But after I went down
there, my folks called, before I started to work, to say the home school needed
a substitute. So I went back home and taught there two or three months. While I
was there, a neighbor, Burt GRAY, who had lost his wife and a son and was left
with seven children, expressed the belief that he could no longer care for them
alone. His mother had helped, but was too elderly to do so. Duane was 10 at the
time. The folks and I thought it would be fine if he came to live with us. He
said he’d like that, too, so my father talked with Burt, and Duane came just
before his 11th birthday in April 1924. He soon seemed like one of the family.
He was always good and thoughtful to my parents. (To be continued)
Nan SIMON, Editor of the Portland Review & Observer, recently
wrote about the Coldwater, Marshall & Mackinaw Railroad, which was promoted by
Harvey BARTOW and was to enter Portland from Sebewa thru his addition, now known
as the Marshall Street Subdivision. To extend the story a little further: Harvey
BARTOW was a pioneer bachelor attorney who lived in the house just west of the
church on W. Bridge Street long known as the old Nazarine Church, and before
that as the Presbyterian and then United Brethren Church. Later Ethol FIRST and
then Frank DAVENPORT ran a furnace repair and tin shop in that house.
Maybe Tony SNITGEN also operated there. The railroad came into town between
Marshall & Union Streets, curved at West Street, so that the diamond-shaped plot
for a depot was at the intersection of Empire and Church Streets. Then the
tracks were to head northwest out of town and cross the Pere Marquette Railroad
at the GIBBS School on Peck Lake Road in Portland Township, then pass just east
of Collins, making that town an important railroad center also. If you drive or
walk to the west end of Detroit Avenue, along the north end of SLOWINS Green
Acres Subdivision, then look north, you will see an embankment for a railroad
trestle over the creek….this railroad should not be confused with the Chicago,
Kalamazoo & Saginaw, which would have come into Sebewa from the southwest at
Woodbury, nor the railroad which was to run thru Hoytville, Sebewa & Bonanza,
but got moved to Mulliken, Sunfield and Lake Odessa.