Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 31 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 Sebewa Center Association;
FEBRUARY 1996, Volume 31, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. SLOWINS:


SURNAMES: STORY, POSSEHN, MOL, TOWNSEND, STENCEL, MERRILL, FRIEND, TODD, CURTIS, HALLADAY, CARPENTER, MEACHAM, COMBE, BARTOW, SNYDER, COOPER, PALMATIER, DRUMM, BOWMAN, PROBASCO, SINDLINGER, WILLIAMS, DOWNING, BRAKE, SLOWINS, GIERMAN, PETOSKEY, MEYERS, KLAGER


RECENT DEATHS:

GEORGE A. STORY, 91, widower of Amy and husband of Lucille, father of Ronald STORY, Sharon CROMARTIE and Royce STORY, brother of Frieda PITSCH. Born on the family farm on WARE Road, Sec. 18 & 19 Boston Township, Ionia County, he was a descendent of the pioneer STORY & WARE families. He was the Standard Oil Agent in Lowell for many years.

BERTHA J. POSSEHN MOL TOWNSEND, 99, widow of Ernest MOL and Lynn TOWNSEND. She was born August 16, 1896, on NE ¼ Sec. 9 Odessa Township, Ionia County, 12th of 14 children of Amelia STENCEL and August POSSEHN, and the last survivor. She attended LIMERICK School, COON School, and St. John’s Lutheran School in Ionia.

MILDRED L. MERRILL, 88, widow of Royce W., mother of Sandra L. JONES, Royce H., Ralph M., Gary M., Dean R., and Stephen J. MERRILL, sister of Lawrence FRIEND and Lucille TODD and the late George FRIEND, Evelyn COURSER and Beatrice CURTIS, daughter of Lucy E. HALLADAY & Ralph E. FRIEND, son of Jane E. CARPENTER & George E. FRIEND, son of Polly Ann MEACHAM & John FRIEND, son of Betty COMB & John FRIEND Sr.

ROBERT WILFRED GIERMAN, 86, brother of Christine JARCHOW, Pauline LILLIE, Maurice GIERMAN and the late Charles GIERMAN, son of Nellie E. MEYERS & Robert E. GIERMAN, son of Christina KLAGER & Charles GIERMAN, son of Frederick GIERMAN, uncle of Deanna BOLES, Carolyn ANTOKEE, Evelyn KOENIG, and Jon GIERMAN. Memorial service will be held in the spring, probably on Memorial Day Sunday or Monday at SUNSHINE Park.


HOUGHTON COUNTY, MICHIGAN, COURTHOUSE: (with photo on front page)

Houghton County was names for Prof. Douglass HOUGHTON, a geologist in Michigan, and organized in 1845. Commencing
in 1849 all meetings of the Board of Supervisors were recorded as being held in the office of the Lake Superior
Copper Co. In 1853 the meetings were held in the office of the County Clerk in the Phoenix Copper Co. building. Eagle
River was named the County Seat in 1853, but was not legally established as such until 1856. When the Legislature separated Keweenaw County from Houghton County and provided that Houghton County’s seat be established in Portage Township, the village of HOUGHTON became the County Seat. Meetings were in the Post Office.

On July 21, 1862, a contract was let for the construction of a frame Court House, Jail and Sheriff’s quarters on the present site. This was used until 1887, when the present Court House was constructed at a cost of $75,568. This also contained the Jail and Sheriff’s quarters, but in 1961 that part was condemned and a new jail constructed in 1963 at a cost of $200,000. The
opulent High Victorian design of the Houghton County Courthouse testifies to the prosperity the copper boom
brought to the area in the late nineteenth century. The building’s irregular form and poly-chromatic exterior make
it one of Michigan’s most distinctive nineteenth century courthouses. The red sandstone trim and copper roof were
products of the Upper Peninsula. The bricks could be VanderHeyden of Ionia.


BIOGRAPHY OF HERVEY BARTOW from HISTORY OF IONIA & MONTCALM COUNTIES by John S. SCHENCK, 1881:

Hervey BARTOW, lawyer and real estate operator, was born in Freetown, Cortland Co, NY, March 31, 1813. His parents
were William and Grace BARTOW. The father was born in Rutland Co, VT, in 1772. As a young man he moved to Cortland Co., NY, and was married there, served in the New York Assembly in 1824, and moved to Michigan Territory in 1825. He settled in the woods twenty-one miles west of Detroit, in the Township later organized as Plymouth, in Wayne County. He was elected to the Territorial Council in 1831, when General CASS was Governor of the Territory.

Hervey BARTOW was twelve years old when his father moved to Michigan. With the exception of six weeks’ attendance at a neighboring log school-house, he obtained all his subsequent education by studying at night, after severe hard labor through the day, by the light of burning hickory bark. In April, 1836, having earned a few hundred dollars by clearing land and other hard labor, he headed west. He traveled on foot through the forest, camping-out nights, guided by Indian trails, section-lines, and pocket compass, to and along the valleys of the Maple, Looking-Glass and Grand Rivers. Passing near what is now the city of Lansing, he reached “Hog Prairie” at the junction of the Maple and Grand Rivers at ten o’clock at night.
Finding the Indians in a dance on the opposite side of the Grand River, and no sign of a white man, he retired to the bushes on the rising ground at the eastern skirt of the present village of Lyons.

Thence he went up the Grand River, past the mouth of the Looking-Glass River, and by compass to the United States Land Office at Kalamazoo. He made the first land purchase in the town now known as Lyons, and finally in the fall of 1836, settled with several of his friends near the present town of Lyons. Here he cleared some of his lands and farmed till the fall of 1840, when he went to Lyons and commenced the study of law, still looking after his farming interests. He had been elected school inspector when Portland School District was organized June 6, 1837, because the district included part of Danby & Maple, now
Lyons, Townships.

In the winter of 1846, having become unable to perform the hard manual labor of farming, he went to Portland and gave more attention to law studies. He was admitted to practice in the several courts of the State of Michigan in May 1846, and opened a law-office at Portland. He was elected Prosecutor for Ionia County for the years 1855 and 1856. The county being new, the consequently small amount of legal business soon induced Mr. Bartow to attend to other matters as well.

When an attack was made upon the town of Portland by the County Board of Supervisors and various officials of the county for unjust claims against Portland, Mr. BARTOW was Portland’s representative on that board and successfully defended the township against the almost united efforts of the County of Ionia. (Editor’s note: Portland still feels persecuted on some financial matters in 1995.)

Then, when some sixteen citizens of Portland formed a joint company to dam Grand River at the village of Portland, BARTOW felt it would destroy the water-power interests on the Grand, as well as flood his land on the west side. He offered the free use of as much of his land as needed, by damming the Grand at a higher point up the river and running a race down his side. He said this would give many times the power of a dam built at the lower point. But jealousy of the sides of the river being the moving stimulant, their policy could not be changed. So BARTOW obtained an injunction and secured partial protection from its effects.

BARTOW served six years on the village board of trustees, with special interest to establishing by-laws, rules, and precedents in the beginning under the village charter.

In the summer of 1866 a few citizens agitated the idea of a railroad, and Mr. BARTOW was chosen to confer with the Hon. James TURNER of Lansing as to the practicability of procuring a railroad through Portland on a line from Lansing to Ionia. A company was formed, of which Mr. BARTOW was chosen director. He took a very active part in its advancement, paying liberally from his own funds, obtaining aid from others, and getting rights-of-way at little cost. When this was accomplished, there seemed to be a peculiar falling off of zeal at Lansing and Ionia, at least in parties having control of the road.

Mr. BARTOW immediately opened correspondence with Hon. . C. ELSWORTH of Greenville, A.L. Green of Olivet, and George Ingersol of Marshall, with a view to constructing a railroad from Marshall through Portland to Greenville. A survey was made to Greenville through Sebewa, Portland, Collins, Lyons, and Muir. A company was formed with Mr. BARTOW again as director. This aroused the jealousy of the Ionia citizens and people on other parts of the Lansing and Ionia line, and in the fall of 1869 that road was pushed through to Greenville. Thus one railroad was secured for Portland.

The other, called the Coldwater, Marshall, and Mackinaw Railroad raised its means of construction in subscriptions and town bonds. But just before these bonds were negotiated, the courts decided against their constitutionality. The people then tried to accomplish it by subscription alone. Mr. BARTOW was again chosen to take charge of the project for Portland. The subscriptions were mostly obtained, but not fully, and the road-bed mostly graded from Marshall, in Calhoun County, to Elm Hall, in Gratiot County, being one hundred and twenty miles, with many ties furnished. The road was never completed.

In politics Mr. BARTOW at first identified himself with the Whig party and later for many years with the Republican party. He never married. BARTOW’S Addition to the village of Portland encompassed all that part of Section 28 lying west of Quarterline Street to the one-eighth line at SLOWINS Addition and north to Ionia Rd & Lyons Rd, just under 80 acres, and that triangular part of Section 33 lying west of Quarterline and bounded by Grand River Avenue on the north and Grand River itself on the south, also 80 acres more or less. BARTOW’S house was at the very tip, on the corner of Market and Bridge Streets.


BIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE W. SNYDER from PORTRAIT & BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF IONIA & MONTCALM COUNTIES by CHAPMAN Bros. 1891

The medical profession is represented in SEBEWA, Ionia County, by men of extended knowledge and practical skill, and an honorable place among them is held by Dr. SNYDER, who belongs to the Eclectic School. He hung out his “shingle” here in the fall of 1878, immediately after his graduation from the BENNETT Medical College in Chicago.Dr. SNYDER is of Dutch descent in the parental line, but prior to the American Revolution one of his progenitors was living in Canada and crossed the border to enter the Colonial Army. By so doing, he lost his property, it being confiscated by the British Government, and at the close of the war he settled in Pennsylvania. Another of his ancestors was John COOPER, who also fought in the Revolutionary forces, having emigrated from Ireland prior to the Declaration of Independence.

John A. SNYDER, father of the Doctor, was born in Schoharie County, NY, and removed to this State in 1862, settling in Barry County. His wife, formerly Fanny M. PALMATIER, was of French and Dutch descent, and was a daughter of Thomas and Martha (DRUMM) PALMATIER. She was a native of the same country as her husband, and a member of the same church, the Methodist Episcopal. She entered into rest in 1865. Their family was comprised of seven sons: Thomas, William Henry, George W., Francis M., Charles N., John L., and James A. of which William, George and Charles are physicians, John is a minister in the United Brethren Church, James and Francis are farmers. Thomas died as a young adult.

Dr. George SNYDER was born in Chemung County, NY, August 26, 1845, and with the exception of one summer spent in Pennsylvania, he lived there until his parents came to Barry County. At the new home he remained until the last of September, 1864, when his father and older brother went to Hastings, leaving him to finish cutting the corn, there being but half an acre standing. When this was done he had nothing to do but follow the bent of his inclination, and so went to Jackson, and on October 1 enlisted in Company H., Twenty-first Michigan Infantry. Eight days later he started to the front and joined the regiment at Chattanooga, TN, whence they went to Dalton, GA, and took the line of march with SHERMAN to the sea.

Dr. SNYDER was at Savannah during the seven-day siege, after which the troops rested thirty days before starting on the return trip. They marched to Goldsboro, captured Fayetteville, and reached Bentonville March 9, 1865, meeting the combined forces of Gens. BRAGG and JOHNSTON. The hardest fight in the march to and from the sea took place there, and was the last engagement led by Gen. SHERMAN. In one charge made by three hundred men, nearly a third were left on the field, so great was the slaughter. Continuing on toward the North after witnessing the surrender of Gen. JOHNSTON, Dr. SNYDER was afflicted with rheumatism and was sent to Washington via Newbern, NC. He was placed in the hospital at Alexandria, VA, where he received his discharge June 16, 1865.

Returning to his home in Barry County with the $600 he had carefully saved from his soldier’s earnings, Dr. SNYDER bought eighty acres of wild land in Maple Grove Township, and for two years labored at its development and at the carpenter’s trade. He then sold the property, bought in the town of Barry, and began the study of medicine under Dr. WATSON, of Bedford, Calhoun County. He entered the medical college before mentioned, and after his graduation and establishment at Sebewa, exchanged his Barry County property for land in Ionia County. He now owns one hundred and thirty acres in the north half of south half Section 36 Sebewa, which he superintends, having the work done by hired help.

In February 1866, Dr. SNYDER was united in marriage with Mary C. BOWMAN, daughter of Henry and Mary BOWMAN of Johnstown, Barry County. Mr. BOWMAN was by birthright a member of the Society of Friends, and never departed from his faith, although he was deprived of association with any body of Quakers after he came West. Doctor and Mrs. SNYDER are the parents of five children – Edwin M., Fanny E., Winnie B., George W., and Henry P. Edwin was graduated from a Detroit Medical College in the Class of ’88, and is now a practicing physician and druggist at Sunfield. Henry married Eva, daughter of Benjamin PROBASCO Sr. (by his third wife, Dora, and they became parents of Winnie BENSCHOTER and farmed on the eighty acres south of his father). Fanny is a student in Portland. Winnie died at age seven. (George Jr. married Lois M., and after her death at age 27 he married widow Maria Theresa SINDLINGER WILLIAMS, mother of Mamie DOWNING.)

Dr. SNYDER belongs to Henry RICE Post, No. 151, G.A.R., at Sebewa, and is a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge, in both of which he has held all the chairs. He has always taken an interest in politics, and has frequently served as a delegate to county and state conventions, where he has been quite active. He is an unwavering Republican. END

Dr. George W. SNYDER died July 20, 1927, and his wife Mary died November 27, 1926. George W. SNYDER Jr. was born in 1878 and died February 14, 1929. His second wife, Maria Theresa (Tracy), was born in 1874 and died June 15, 1972. Henry P. SNYDER was born in 1869 and died September 7, 1940. His wife Eva M. was born in 1871 and died March 21, 1944. They are all buried in East Sebewa Cemetery and still have many descendents in the area.


THINGS I REMEMBER (conclusion) by Crystal Lovina BRAKE SLOWINS 1904-1984

In November 1924 there was an opening in the Hoppough School on White’s Bridge Road, south of Smyrna. Because there were never more than seven pupils – sometimes only five, I wouldn’t have much close work, and Elwood thought it would be a good place. My father took me up there, they hired me, and I started teaching on December 1. I stayed at Clayton and Flossie BAKER’S. They had a little girl, Helen, in the first grade. I received $85 a month and paid $3.00 a week room and board. I didn’t get home much there during the winter, in fact all of the time I taught there. Roads weren’t passable part of the time. A couple times that I did go home in the winter, I went on the train. The station was south of Smyrna, and I’d ride down to Elmdale, where my father would meet me. Flossie would call the stationmaster at Greenville and tell him to have the train stop at Smyrna for me. Bess Peterson, across from BAKER’S, worked in Belding. Instead of letting her off at Smyrna, the trainmen would bring her along down to the Peterson farm and stop in their field, so she wouldn’t have so far to walk. Down by Freeport and Elmdale we called the train “Old Jerry”. Up there they called it “Bobby” as I recall.The residents around Smyrna had electricity, which we didn’t have down our way. Nor did they have it at Limerick nor North Bell, when I taught there. There were two dams near Smyrna. During the summer between the two years I was there, they had another little girl at BAKER’S, Bertha Louise (Betty Lou). Flossie wanted me to help her, but Jackolyn was born at Elwood’s that same time, in fact a day apart, and I helped Nadia.

After two years Elwood thought I might like to move on to a larger school. By increasing the strength of my glasses often, I was doing O.K. I applied for the LIMERICK School, north of Lake Odessa, and was hired for $100 a month. I went home weekends. During the week I stayed with Frank and Emma O’MARA for $5.00 a week. At that time they had 3 children, Marie, Tommy and Lawrence. Frank’s home had been just east of the schoolhouse, but they lived across the road to the west and north now. His brother Tom, sister Annie, and hired man Bernie MAJINSKA lived in the old place. Emma and Annie worked together and went places together a lot. When I went home from school in the afternoon, if Emma wasn’t home I went to Annie’s. If they had all gone someplace and it came time to start supper, I added wood to the old cook stove and prepared supper. More than once I baked a cake for it. The coffee pot was always kept on the back of the stove – just add more grounds and water. By and by you had to empty the grounds and start over. The first year I was there I got a bit homesick for Smyrna and didn’t really know if I wanted to stay a second year, when they asked me at Christmas time. I said I’d stay for a raise of $20 a month and they immediately said they’d pay it. And you see, it was a good thing I stayed, for I met Don there. One night (April 7, 1927) he came to Tom’s while we were all there, to pay the men for some road work that his dad had been overseer on. It was raining and Bernie (who was Don’s cousin) said “Donald, you’d better take the teacher home”. Of course I could have gone with Frank and Emma. The O’Mara’s were distant cousins too, but I didn’t know it at that time. We went together from then on.

I needed to renew my Teacher’s Certificate, so went to Big Rapids to summer school between my two years at LIMERICK (1927). Mary MARSH, who had taken the HOPPOUGH after me, went to Big Rapids with me. We roomed and boarded on State St. with Mr. & Mrs. Frank STEFFY from Stockbridge. They had come up there, rented a house, and were taking in roomers while their two youngest children attended college. Their son received his degree in Pharmacy there. The daughter never finished college.I went to summer school at Kalamazoo in 1928, rooming with Olive RICHARDSON. Again I decided to move on to higher wages and was hired at the North Bell School in Boston Township, for $125 per month. That was the highest wage paid in any Ionia County rural school at that time. I boarded with George & May WALKER the first year for $5.00 per week. Their health became poor and they moved to Saranac to be near their daughter, and I went across the road to Maurice & Jessie CAHOON’S to stay the second year. For several years when I was teaching, I was sent girls from County Normal for practice-teaching. They were Doris PHILLIPS, Eunice KNIGHT, Doris COX, Ruth PEACOCK and Ariel DENTON.

A few more thoughts from my childhood come to mind. We had a croquet set from the time we lived on Uncle Fred’s. The men would play at their noon hour. I remember Sime SEARS would come down at noon and play with my father & Elwood & Uncle Chris one summer when Chris worked there. Sime and Uncle Chris were both quick tempered. Once in a while the game got a little touchy if they played on opposite sides. Another game the men played was horseshoes.

When I was growing up, my chores were hoeing or pulling weeds in the garden, picking berries or cherries, and cleaning. Mable helped with the cooking. On Saturdays I had to wash all the lamp chimneys and lantern globes. Sometimes they would get smoked up and need to be washed more often. Each bedroom had a lamp and I would gather them on Saturday, wash them, and refill the oil. Mother had wooden kitchen chairs that had to be washed and always the kitchen sink.

We had autograph albums back when I was in country school. In fact that craze seems to go in cycles like some others. Back when Mother was in school she had one too. She gave it to me in later years. My father had written in it “In after years when this you see, I wonder what your name will be”. Of course, it turned out it was his name. I can’t remember exactly what my dad wrote in mine, but I know as we grew older it was rather amusing. He said in all of his travels, I was the dearest and best. Of course his travels didn’t include much farther than Ionia, Lansing, and Grand Rapids at that time. Although he had been to Saskatchewan with Uncle Allen AMON of Sunfield on a land-buying expedition in 1904. END


MORE ABOUT ROBERT WILFRED GIERMAN:

Bob GIERMAN was one of the tru historians of the area. Once he picked up on the scent of a piece of Michigan history, he worked it through to the finish. Such was the case with the now-deceased Princess Ella Jane PETOSKEY. Ella Jane was tiny in size but huge in Indian pride and stamina. She was a college graduate and had taught in the Indian schools until her retirement. She now survived summer and winter in a one-room shack near Harbor Springs, living on the hope that somehow her grandfather, Chief PETOSKEY would be duly recognized.

Bob GIERMAN heard of Ella Jane (probably because Ephraim SHAY, Sebewa native who invented the SHAY locomotive, also retired and died at Harbor Springs). He looked her up, talked about the PETOSKEY fossil stone, and he was on a new pilgrimage. He contacted the late State Representative Stanley M. POWELL of Ionia and then State Representative Eugene CATER of Ludington, urging them to have the PETOSKEY stone named the State Stone of Michigan.

Finally, Ella Jane PETOSKEY agreed to come to the Sebewa area. Bob brought her down June 24, 1965, and she was in Governor George Romney’s office in Lansing when he signed the bill naming the PETOSKEY Stone the State Stone of Michigan. The Governor gave Ella Jane the pen used in signing the bill, along with a medallion. She in turn presented him with a tie clasp and cuff link set made from PETOSKEY stone. She went back to Harbor Springs the same day, leaving her mark on Michigan history---with the help of Bob GIERMAN. She did come back later to stay with Bob’s Aunt Mae GIERMAN and attended church at Sebewa Center United Methodist. Her grave is now marked by a simple stone placed there after her death by Bob GIERMAN.---Vern M. BULLEN


IONIA COUNTY INFIRMARY:
On Sunday, October 7, 1984, a bronze marker, set in a ten-ton boulder, was dedicated at the cemetery which served the Ionia County Infirmary. The marker bears 55 names. The cemetery is located a short distance off the northwest corner of the picnic grounds at Ionia State Recreation Area on the north side of Riverside Drive, approximately three miles west of M-66.

Many remember Ionia County Infirmary was the name of the county poorhouse. It served the aged, infirm, abandoned and otherwise helpless for almost 60 years. It was the way the county cared for those who, for one reason or another, could not care for themselves and had no one who could or would care for them. Men and women and even children did get taken to the infirmary, lived and died there, and were buried there. Funeral arrangements were simple: a pine box generally. There were wooden crosses, but no headstones to mark the graves. When the infirmary was discontinued in 1966 and the land given to the State of Michigan soon thereafter, the cemetery---probably last used in 1934---went along with the rest of the real estate. The grass and brush grew. One had to know it was a cemetery once, since nothing designated it. The Department of Natural Resources is in the park business, not to mention fish and game, landfills, streams and lakes, and a good deal else. It is not in the cemetery business. When the County Board of Supervisors gave the land to the State, it made no cemetery exception or provisions in the deed. The cemetery at the County Farm was well on its way to being erased from memory.

One man thought that wrong: Robert W. GIERMAN of Sebewa, historian and writer, gentle man and scholar, preserver and protector, began work on the county infirmary cemetery. By searching, he found burial records. By more meetings and appointments, he won cooperation and support for restoring the cemetery. Ionia County Road Commission employees moved the boulder he chose from the old WILLIAMS Brothers gravel pit to the cemetery. Steve YENCHAR of Ionia, who works at Lowell Granite Co., made arrangements to fabricate the marker and set it into the boulder. Bob GIERMAN honored those who knew little honor in their dying and potter’s field as their resting place.--—Rus GREGORY


WILFRED ALSO TRACKED DOWN AND MARKED THE PREVIOUS COUNTY FARM CEMETERY IN RONALD TOWNSHIP:

It is located on the George & Barbara WITTENBACH farm, long known as the John B. & Amos WELCH farm, on COOPER Road, at SW ¼ of NE ¼ Sec. 33 Ronald Twp. The land was settled by Ronald Township’s first settler, Joshua SHEPARD, in 1837. J. S. SCHENCK’S History says: “He wore himself out and died soon after reaching this place in the woods and was buried on his own farm”. Title went from SHEPARD to David BALDIE and he sold it to Ionia County for its first poor farm in 1856. BALDIE made a reservation of that little quarter acre for cemetery purposes and that was the last entry in the Register of Deeds office for the cemetery.

In 1871 the Board of Supervisors replaced the original farm house with a $7000 brick building and from 30 to 50 people were cared for at a time. This building burned in 1907 and the foundations can still be seen on the WITTENBACH farm. After the fire, the farm was sold to W. NORMINGTON who later sold to John B. WELCH, and a new $37,000 brick poor house was built on the SESSIONS farm on Riverside Drive. Frederick H. VanderHEYDEN of Ionia furnished the brick, and 720 feet of six-inch sewer pipe ran from the house to the creek!!! G. WOLVERTON was the long-time manager of the Ronald Township Poor Farm, and Mr. and Mrs. Harvey GIBSON were the last managers at the Berlin Township Poor Farm. The little cemetery in Ronald has been left to itself enough so that little rows of depressions clearly show where there were graves. Records show 44 burials in that cemetery, besides the original Joshua SHEPARD. Another boulder was provided by Colin WILLIAMS and Ionia County paid for the bronze plaque to list them.--- Grayden SLOWINS


SUNSHINE is a land of soft undulation, some natural sloping and some cuts by the men who mined the gravel for the roads of Sebewa. Bob gridded his hilltops with pines, planted on the square. First white pines, then he moved out from this core, planting other pines and spruces, especially the dusty blue spruces and their turquoise siblings. A string of birches from the Little Traverse Bay collection of Ella Jane PETOSKEY was curved along a path like a pearl necklace.

Pines and spruces go about a business generously called “self-pruning”. What this really means is that all the lower limbs that don’t get enough sunlight just flat-out die. Then they stay on the tree, looking dead and ugly and make trying to walk through the woods even uglier. Bob, whose priorities run to orderly trees and trim lawns, created his own trimming ladder and ever since has been chasing dead limbs up tree trunks, lopping with his trusty bow-saw.

The result is that he has created an airy cathedral in his woods, a swaying, glistening, whispering, redolent Parthenon of pines.

Sprinkled around the county are mini-Sunshines. Here and there are Bob’s chestnut trees, ginkgoes, catalpas, and all else, thriving in gardens, honoring cemeteries, and gracing hillsides. Who can forget the sight of Bob roaring up in his Bondex Volkswagon with a palpitating bare-foot ginkgo strapped on the back. He was present to give another present. ---William B. DAVIS

 

 

Last update November 15, 2013