THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
AUGUST 1996, Volume 32, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: LEIGH, COURSER, FRIEND, BENEDICT, STOLT, MAY, FREDERICKS, COE,
CASWELL, OGALVIE, KAISER, BERGER, BRUMM, LYONS, HANSON, GIERMAN, WEDDERBURN,
CHAMBERLAIN, COBB, ANSLOW, COOK, LOWER, SHANSKI, SHELTON, HAYDEN, CARTER, HUNT,
BELCHER, GENEREAUX, LEIK, SLOWINSKI, MEADE, BUCK, LOWREY, PRYER, KENYON,
DENSMORE, FINEIS, CRANE, STITT, LAKIN, GREEN, CROSSEN, SHOEMAKER, FARMER, HAZEL,
ROSE S. LEIGH, 103, widow of Elmer, born January 23, 1893, married March 2,
1912, they farmed on Eaton Hwy. in Sebewa Township for many years, retired to
Lake Odessa in May, 1970, he died March 1, 1974, and she died June 6, 1996.
H. DALE COURSER, 98, widower of Ruth Evelyn FRIEND COURSER, father of Marjorie
BENEDICT, Lucy Noreen STOLT & Eugene COURSER, brother of Ernest & Anna May, son
of Herbert & Elizabeth FREDERICKS COURSER. He attended KILMARTIN School, farmed
on the home farm in Orange Township on Portland Road, worked at Ypsilanti-Reed,
retired to Lake Six at Remus & Palm Harbor, FL. Evelyn was a great-granddaughter
of John FRIEND, Sebewa pioneer.
HISTORY OF AUTO DEALERSHIPS IN IONIA as told by Orson E. COE:
My dad, George Coe, Sr., entered the auto business in Ionia in 1912, two years
before I was born. He was a farmer in Ionia & Orange Townships, and continued to
farm all his life. We still own part of the farm, and Sunset Memorial Gardens is
on some of it. Norm OGALVIE was selling cars in the livery stable on West Main,
where SEARS later was and CLORWELL Electric is today. Dad had bought a couple
cars from Norm and decided to join him in the business.
They sold Oldsmobile, Oakland, Overland, and Ford. Then Ford wanted an exclusive
dealership, so Norm took that and stayed in the building where he was. Dad took
the rest to the east side of KIDD Street, south of Main, in the Henry MILLER
building. Later he added Nash. Once he didn’t have Olds for a couple years,
1929-1930, and a fellow named Tubb MILLER had it. Then Dad took it back, along
with the Nash.
Ross BENEDICT was selling Reo in his building on West Main, where the A&P store
later was and the Antique Mall is now located. He started before Dad, as did
Charlie CHAMBERLAIN, who sold Nash & Studebaker in his machine shop south of
First Methodist Church, on Husdon at Adams Street.COB & ANSLOW HAD Dodge on the
corner of Steele and Washington streets, across from the present day Ambulance
Later Norm OGALVIE moved his Ford dealership to a new building down on the west
side of South Depot Street, which is a vacant lot now. Then Jack KAISER moved
into the SEARS building and sold Flint, Chrysler & Star cars.
Reuben COOK opened a Chevrolet dealership in 1930 and sold it to Ned BERGER Sr.
& Joe LYONS in 1940. They were in the SEYMOUR Tire building that has just been
torn down. Ned built up on Lincoln Ave. and later sold to Ned Jr. Ned Sr’s.
brother had the dealership in Grand Rapids. Walter BRUMM had been in the SEARS
building after Jack KAISER, selling Buick & Pontiac. He went broke in 1940.
Later LYONS left BERGER and sold Pontiac. I bought him out and added Pontiac to
our line in 1958.
My brother, George COE, Jr., had the Buick dealership and gave it up during
World War II. Berger took it on and then gave it back in 1946. Later George sold
it to BERGER. He was in the building that is now the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Dad & George & I had been one-third partners since 1937. When George went on his
own, Dad & I became half & half partners. I moved back into the SEARS building
in 1943, after BRUMM had vacated it. Dad had had Olds & Nash, and I added
Cadillac in 1948.
Denard CASWELL was selling Packard and Dad sold him the Nash about 1946-1947.
Richard HANSON was selling Mercury down in the OGALVIE building and sold that
dealership to Denard. A couple years later Denard got Ford also.
Walter HANSON had bought out Norm OGALVIE Ford in 1940 and moved it from the
location at Depot & Adams to a new building on Washington Street. That building
is now the west part of Clothing Care. Maynard GIERMAN & Jack WEDDERBURN bought
out COBB & ANSLOW Dodge, moved into the building across the alley to the east of
HANSON, and sold Chrysler & Plymouth. That building is now part of Clothing Care
also. It was built by Elwyn BROWN & LeRoy (Prunie) UDELL, who sold Chrysler
there for a while when they first opened their John Deere dealership. GIERMAN &
WEBBERBURN had been with Joe SCHANSKI at one point, and SCHANSKI eventually got
all the Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep Eagle line at his location across from
me in South Ionia. That building had been built by MILLER to sell Hudson &
Kaiser-Frazer. Then Burr SMITH had it and he sold it to SCHANSKI.
I sold the Ionia dealership to Orson Jr. & Jim HAYDEN when I moved to Grand
Rapids. Later they joined me there. They sold this one to Bud SHELTON and he
sold to Tom CARTER. I built that building in 1960 and still own it. Margaret and
I and all three of our children graduated from Michigan State University. She,
her parents, my parents, George & his wife, are all buried in Sunset Memorial
Gardens on the family farm. END
THE IRON COUNTY COURTHOUSE, Crystal Falls, 1890 (Photo on front
THE IRON COUNTY COURTHOUSE, pictured on our cover and designed by J. C. CLANCY,
was built in 1890. Characteristic of the Romanesque revival period, it features
a high pitched roof, high windows, deeply arched doorways, and exterior
ornamentation. Standing atop Superior Avenue, it commands a scenic view of the
City of Crystal Falls and its surroundings.
A bid of $26,470 by Louis A. WEBBER of Menasha, WI, was accepted by the County
Board of Supervisors for construction. The final cost rose to about $40,000.
Late in September, 1890, after the cornerstone of the new building was laid,
$2,700 was paid to C. T. CRANDALL, an early Prosecuting Attorney, for the land
on which the courthouse was being built. William RUSSELL, a Crystal Falls
building contractor, as well as a member of the County Board of Supervisors, was
the contractor hired to dig and build the foundation of the courthouse……
THE CAPTURE OF THE COUNTY SEAT
Crystal Falls is proud of its courthouse. It’s a fine structure of ivory brick &
stone. But the citizens of Iron River, in the same county and only a few miles
away, don’t share this pride. When Iron River’s old timers cast their eyes upon
the proud building on top of the hill, they mutter harsh things under their
breaths and some actually are seen to clench their fists. It’s a sore subject,
the courthouse, and no wonder Crystal Falls is always willing to laugh when it
is brought up…….
……In 1885 the Legislature set off Iron County from Marquette County, and
designated Iron River as a temporary county seat. The permanent county seat was
to be chosen later by an election. Iron River and Crystal Falls, both infant
mining towns as well as lumber camps, were about the same size and each wanted
the court house. When the honor fell to Iron River the citizens were greatly
elated and those of Crystal Falls correspondingly depressed…..
……… “Iron River imported five hundred lumberjacks from Gogebic County, and
Crystal Falls imported an equal number from other areas. The dead in both
communities received a miraculous resurrection, for the names of many were found
on the registration rolls. All over the Upper Peninsula men laid down their work
to join the “ringers”, handsomely paid for their services. Iron River hired a
Chicago detective to watch the goings-on at Crystal Falls, but he was plied with
drink by the gamblers and sent away on election day. There were countless
irregularities that today would result in investigations for election fraud.
When the election was over, it was found that Crystal Falls had won by five
EDITOR’S NOTE: A similar rivalry existed over the location of
Ionia’s county seat. In March 1833, what few white men were here – Indian
traders mostly – petitioned Territorial Governor George B. PORTER to appoint a
commission to locate the county seat for Ionia County, with the idea of having
it located where the village of LYONS now stands (Arthursburg.) The petition was
signed by William HUNT, Elisha BELCHER, Louis GENEREAUX, and seven other
Before the petition was acted upon, the DEXTER Colony of 63 permanent settlers
arrived at Ionia on May 28, 1833, named their settlement “Ionia County Seat” and
lost no time in sending a larger petition. It was finally acted upon by Stevens
T. MASON, who succeeded Governor PORTER upon his death. Ionia ultimately
prevailed, but Lyons and their supporters in Portland avenged their supposed
wrongs by steadfastly opposing and voting against all appropriations for the
next fifty years for the construction of a courthouse on beautiful grounds which
were set apart for such purpose in 1833 by Judge Samuel DEXTER. Even today some
of this feeling of being slighted crops up in the Portland & Lyons area from
time to time. END
OUR JUNIOR YEAR AT PORTLAND HIGH SCHOOL by Marie LEIK SLOWINSKI
September 4, 1918, saw our ranks once more assembled within the school halls,
which had become dear to us with the memories of other years. We soon decided to
elect our class officers. Ernest Victor MEADE, as he prefers to be called, was
chosen president, E. BUCK vice president, Eloise LOWREY secretary & treasurer.
The days passed by uneventfully until October 16, about seven o’clock, when the
news spread quickly that the schoolhouse was in flames. There was great
excitement the following week, as it was rumored that a Bolshevik had burned the
building. The next week saw our work started anew at the Congregational Church,
where we were to remain until the new building was completed. Finally we became
accustomed to the straight hard pews and settled down to business.
For the evening after the fire we had already planned a marshmallow roast, but
the night was so windy that only a few came. The second party of the year was
held in January at Margaret Pryer’s home. We went there in a lumber wagon, the
fashion of the eighties, but enjoyed a lively night.
We can never forget how Dorothy KENYON tried to teach Miss DENSMORE the Ionia
style of dancing. On April 14 a poverty social was given at the Woodman Hall.
The hours sped merrily playing games. Prizes were given to those wearing the
most original costumes. Beatrice FINEIS, who wore an old-fashioned dress,
received a gold braclet. Harold Crane, who came dressed in a barrel, was awarded
the boy’s prize, for such poverty should not be unrewarded. We enjoyed a
pleasant evening April 25 at SYKES Hall, at a dancing party we gave for the
purpose of raising funds for the Senior reception.
At the close of the school year in June, the Juniors gave the Seniors a
reception at the Methodist Church. The room was beautifully decorated with
maroon & gold. Roses were tied with ribbons to each Senior’s place card.
Beatrice FINEIS represented the Juniors in a welcome to the Seniors. Harold
CRANE gave the response. After a solo by Mr. STITT, the banquet was served and
the rest of the evening was spent dancing at SYKES Hall.
We must stop for a moment to recall those who left during our Junior year. They
were Wayne GREEN and Elon LAKIN, who went to work in Lansing, and Virginia
CROSSEN and Wayne SHOEMAKER, who moved away from Portland. Time sped by,
bringing our third year of high school to a close.
HAZEL BROS. FARM DRAINAGE:
Dates back to May, 1885, when George HAZEL began digging a large ditch around
and thru Bonanza Village. George and his son, Alfred (FARMER) HAZEL, used
shovels and a carpenter’s level on an apple crate. Alfred’s sons, Lee, Russell
and Robert, got the first wheel machine and a backhoe. Russ’ son, Tom, got a big
Steiger tractor and plows the tile in, guided by a laser beam. In May, 1996,
Tom’s daughter, great-great-granddaughter of George, joined the crew with shovel
in hand. She started at the bottom of the trench, just like George. Welcome, Ms.
HAZEL! We fully expect to see you in the driver’s seat of that Steiger tile plow
someday soon. HAZEL Bros. becomes “& daughter!”.
SHIMNECON’S SECOND CHANCE: SUNLIGHT AND BIODIVERSITY.SIMONS SAYS
by Nan SIMONS – It’s finally time to give another update on the disposition of
SHIMNECON in Danby Township. I’ve received a number of calls from concerned
residents in the area about timber harvesting taking place on the Boy Scout
property adjacent to Chief OKEMOS’ burial site.
Rest assured that, while the land may look a bit shell-shocked right now, the
old chief isn’t rolling over in his grave. In fact, he probably approves of
these changes.Let’s talk about the sale itself, then get down to understanding
the basics of modern forestry practices.
I spoke with Pat BRIDGES, executive director of the Chief OKEMOS Boy Scout
Council, last week to confirm a few facts. He says the sale was approved by the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources March 6 and closing on the property
should take place by the end of June.
UNDER THIS AGREEMENT, the DNR picks up SHIMNECON’S 19.2 acres sans commercial
timber. The state has allowed the council one year to do selective cutting and
the majority of that work has been completed.
Timbering was granted with the stipulation that all tree tops larger than four
inches in diameter be reduced. That creates a firewood bonanza for local wood
burning enthusiasts – watch area newspapers for the advertisement. The logs have
been sold commercially and will be hauled out as soon as weather allows.
There’ll be some of these logs as well as from the sale of the land. Bridges
says “Monies raised from this timbering go into an endowment fund to be used in
perpetuity for the benefit of this council’s scouts. This was not an easy
decision, but the council’s deficit and continuing decreases in funding from the
United Way forced us to make a choice. How do you stay in business and serve
kids when funding becomes harder and harder to find? The long-range plan has
always been to support our 625-acre retreat, the Northwoods Scout Reservation.
To do that, we had to sell other properties that were underutilized. SHIMNECON
was one of those properties and its sale helps guarantee that scouting will be
here for the next generation.”
I haven’t been able to confirm it yet, but I have it on good authority that the
Optimists’ are also in the process of selling their island to the DNR, so they
end up with something to show for their gift of SHIMNECON.
Forester Bob COOL, a long-time Boy Scout volunteer, coordinated the timbering
project. While SHIMNECON’S huge old-growth stands were an asset to woodland
lovers, they were a deficit to sale of the property and to the life of this
“Standing timber is often worth as much as the property it grows on,” says COOL.
“That was the case with SHIMNECON. The trees were like a crop of wheat. Both the
crop and the land have a value and sometimes that cost is just too high for the
buyer. We would have liked to sell it---trees and all---but that wasn’t
It wasn’t a healthy solution for the land either. The DNR wanted this harvest as
a condition of sale and here’s why.
“Total crown closure, mature forest like that in SHIMNECON, shuts out the light”
COOL says. “When you lose light, you lose new growth and, most of importantly,
you lose biodiversity. Mature forests are deserts where nothing grows but the
big trees and few plants and animals thrive. Changing the structure of that type
of woods allows sunlight to reach the forest floor. New plants, wildflowers,
shrubs, and trees take root. Deer, grouse, turkeys, and birds of all
descriptions move in to take advantage of the food supply and cover.
Biodiversity is the key to good stewardship. The DNR knows that and so does any
He’s right. He’s also what I’d consideer an expert in his field with an honest
concern for the inhabitants of SHIMNECON. The site was thoroughly reviewed.
Trees selected for the cut were clearly marked. COOL insists no den trees and no
trees with owls or hawk nests were chosen. He notes that three trees were
excluded as habitat and they are not considered preferred stock for commercial
harvest because they may be damaged.
Mature trees that fell to the cut were mostly varieties of oak, two pockets of
walnut and sugar maple, and miscellaneous basswood, hickory, beech, and black
cherry. Drive by SHIMNECON and you may think you’ve discovered a disaster area.
Look closer and you’ll notice how many young trees survived the slash.
“We maintained a steady rate of average density per acre with this harvest” COOL
says. “By reducing the tree tops and leaving the additional brush at a height of
two to five feet, we’re also creating protective cover for fresh growth and
wildlife habitat. Tell people to mark May 15th on their calendars. That’s when
the leafing begins. One month later they’ll see phenomenal growth – young trees,
shrubs, plants, and sprouts from the stumps will be everywhere because now they
have access to sunlight. The increase in habitat will bring incredible
opportunities for wildlife watching.”
As a bonus, the DNR will allow area troops to camp at the site if permission is
requested in advance. Sounds like just what SHIMNECON supporters wanted – the
land in public trust and wildlife in abundance.
What was a wonderful woodland walk among giants emerges from the shadows to
nurture a riot of biodiversity with a flood of sunshine. Where tremendous trees
once dominated the landscape, the tender shoots of their successors reach for
MESHIMENCONING has a second chance.
DOGS IN THE SHEEP:
Dogs have been killing our sheep. A dog running loose reverts to a wolf. Then it
becomes a dead wolf!! Photo of damage next issue.
At the Annual Meeting, Janet GIERMAN RUDD was re-elected president and LaVern
CARR was re-elected trustee. Wes MEYERS, Jr. is vice president until 1997,
Sharon HUNT KYSER is secretary – treasurer until 1998 and Duane MEYERS is
trustee until 1998. Sharon KYSER gave a good Secretary/Treasurer’s report. Carl
& Mary KLAHN gave a nice slide presentation on Scandinavia.