Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 32 Number 3
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 Association,
NOVEMBER 1996, Volume 32, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:



DONALD ALONZO MARSH, 75, husband of Helen, father of Donald L. MARSH & Janice PRELESNIK, stepfather of James & Richard STANK, brother of Robert, Opal, Howard, Fred, Esther, Norma & Mary, son of Edna VANDERBURG & Alonzo MARSH. He was a farmer, employee of Sunfield Elevator and Lake Odessa Canning Co., school bus driver, and Korean War Veteran.


This 1913 photograph shows the family which made the 1865 trip from Indiana to Sebewa Township by covered wagon:

back row, left to right: Jason and John PEACOCK; Anna PEACOCK STEINER, and Thomas and Samuel PEACOCK;

Front row: Arthur PEACOCK (author of the accompanying excerpts); John Joy PEACOCK and his wife Margaret Carolyn PEACOCK; and Thursa PEACOCK GOODEMOOT.


The first PEACOCK of record was Abraham, probably born in Guilford County, North Carolina. He had a brother Silas, who moved to New York State. Abraham moved to Randolph County, Indiana, in 1818. The name of his first wife is unknown, but their children were Amos and Achsah (Hill). The second wife of Abraham was Anna JOY, born on the Island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Their children were Margaret (Cox) and John JOY PEACOCK. Abraham’s third wife was a HOLLINGSWORTH.

John JOY PEACOCK was born in Guilford County, NC, and died in Randolph County, IN, in June, 1860. His first wife was Ruth COX. Their children were: Elwood, Simon, Anna (PAXON), Achsah (PAXON), Enoch, William and Benjamin. His second wife was Rebecca PICKETT, born in Orange County, NC, died at Sterling, KS. Their children were: John J., Caleb, Amos, Ruth, Rosanna, Cyrus, Henry, Simon C., and Manlon P.

Benjamin PEACOCK was born in Randolph County, IN, and died in Howard County, IN. His son was Benjamin Calvin PEACOCK, born in Howard County, IN, August 21, 1848, died Ionia County, MI, June 12, 1906. He married Catherine E. DOWNING, daughter of Elizabeth BAIRD and Samuel DOWNING, who were married September 10, 1829, moved to Randolph County, IN, in 1837, and to Ionia County, MI, in 1865. Samuel was born in Chester County, SC, April 6, 1805, and died July 7, 1871. Elizabeth was born in Erie County, PA, July 17, 1808, and died in Ionia County, May 21, 1884. Benjamin C. & Catherine Peacock’s children were: Harlan J., Ella (WILSON), Delia (JOHNSON) and others.

Harlan J. PEACOCK, born 1878, died 1951, married Alice E. HITCHCOCK, born 1876, died 1936. Their children were: Robert, Homer J., Ted, Wayne, Elwood, Harlan Jr., Catherine (SMITH), and Ivah (GUERNSEY).

John JOY PEACOCK Jr. was born in Randolph County, IN, November 20, 1836, and died in Odessa Township, Ionia County, MI, December 2, 1917. He married Margaret Caroline DOWNING, another daughter of Elizabeth BAIRD and Samuel DOWNING, born in Darke County, OH, December 9, 1834 and she died in Ionia County, January 31, 1916. Their children were Arthur Sheldon, Samuel Leander, John Joy, Thursa Antoinette (Mrs. George GOODEMOOT), Jason ELWOOD, Thomas Henry, Luella, Anna Caroline (STEINER), and Minnie Rebecca. Luella and Minnie died in infancy.

Samuel Leander PEACOCK was born in Randolph County, IN, February 14, 1860, died in Ionia County, MI, December 2, 1917, was married to Eunice Elizabeth LINDLEY, born in Sebewa Township, October 8, 1871, died in Ionia, MI, March 1, 1959. Their children were Thomas Leander, Walter, two other sons and three daughters.

Thomas Leander PEACOCK, born in Sebewa Township, June 3, 1894, died in Grand Rapids August 13, 1980, was married first to Eliza KLINGMAN and she died. Their child was Helen (HALLER). Then he married Reine E. CONWAY, born January 31, 1915, in Allegan, MI. Their children were: Elizabeth, Frances, Catherine, Thomas, Richard, Harry.

Thomas Leroy PEACOCK was born in Lake Odessa, January 18, 1838, and married Lois Irene SESSIONS, born in Ionia, March 7, 1943. Their children were Catherine Marie, Carolyn Lee, and Shari Lynn.

Catherine Marie PEACOCK married Mark A. BECKER. They were divorced and she married Mark D. HANEY. We are indebted to Cathy for much of the family-tree portion of this issue, as well as her valuable assistance in our new method of production with this issue. She is Administrative Assistant/Financial Secretary at Ionia Presbyterian Church. Her three younger children are the fifth generation of the HANEY family to attend HAYNOR Rural School north of Ionia in Easton Township. Michael attends Ionia High School.


One Sunday morning in the autumn of 1865, a covered wagon stood near an old farm home in Randolph County, IN. In the wagon there were a man and his wife and four children, three boys and a girl, the oldest (this writer) being less than eight years old. The man was John JOY PEACOCK, Jr., and his wife, Margaret Caroline DOWNING PEACOCK. They were bidding good-bye and starting on what then seemed a long move to the woods of central Michigan. Two hours later they were joined by three other covered wagons. The first stop was made at Union City, IN, half Buckeye, half Hoosier, for more good-byes.

The caravan moved northward along or near the Ohio-Indiana state line, passing through that region which once centered around Old Fort Recovery. We moved slowly – the season had been a rainy one, and the roads were merely avenues of mud. That first night comes back vividly. This writer slept with his father in a barn, an entirely new experience, and the bright moon had for him an unusual interest. The weather continued unfavorable; sleeping out of doors was not to be though of for women and small children, and even in the wagons was not much better. To keep the rain out, black oil cloth was spread along the roof-tree of the canvas covers. As we neared Ft. Wayne one rainy night, a farmer grudgingly allowed the women and children to sleep in the house, making their own pallets on the floor.

At Ft. Wayne some of the loads were lightened by shipping some of the heavier boxes as freight. Also at Ft. Wayne I saw my first canal and my first mountain ash tree, a small shade tree with bright red berries. I never see a grub box that I do not think of the red cedar chest in which we carried our eatables, and again almost catch the aroma which arose from it when the lid was lifted. Further along our journey the roads and weather were much better. I remember the Michigan residents called us gypsies, on account of the black oil cloth which covered the top of our wagons. We passed through Coldwater and Marshall and camped near Battle Creek one evening. I saw the creek, but was disappointed, there was no battle. You must remember that this was just after the close of the Civil War.

It was a damp, rainy day when we passed through Vermontville, and probably the next evening a little before sunset, that we came in sight of the promised land. It was a country crossroads, a little log school house on the northeast angle, and an old oak tree on the southwest.
That was my first view of the place ever-afterward called West Sebewa. The wearisome journey was at an end, fifty years ago today, but some of the events and people in it come to mind. For one, there was Riley DIEHL. I hardly think he was a returned soldier, being too young for that, but no road was too muddy and no day too rainy for him to sing “The Girl I Left Behind”. And I remember the tar buckets, swinging from the coupling poles of the old-fashioned, thimble-skein, linch-pin wagons. It was not very long before the younger fry were learning to say “reach” instead of “coupling-pole”, and what a lot of other words we had to learn or unlearn.

As I remember, we camped at Grandfather DOWNING’S place the first night. Our first log cabin was about 18 feet square. There in that one small room the family of six ate, slept, moved and had its being. Across the road from the front of the cabin was standing timber – the primeval forest, practically. That winter I saw eight deer hanging in one tree at a time. At that time a deer’s carcass brought as little as $2.50. It was in those woods that a little later, Stephen LINDLEY made a record by cutting down ten acres of timber in ten days by windrowing it. I remember some of the deprivations of our first winter in Michigan. Flour was 7 cents per pound, corn meal half as much, and even salt was “out of sight”. At our house we were glad to have wheat bread on Sundays only. We lived to a large estent on potato soup. One of our teams was sold, the mare for $180.00, and the other traded for a pair of steers.”

Neighbors in the northwest quarter of Sebewa were as follows: WARINGS, Solomon HESS, James SPRAGUE, John COOK, GOODEMOOTS, VanDUSEN, R. A. KNOLL, George SNYDER, E.B. BUCKMAN, Wash SECKSTONE, Joe WILLIAMS, Frank BLISS, FELL, WILSON, BAIRD, Henry SPRAGUE, AND Giles THORPE.

Just about that time also, several people got the Minnesota fever, and a little later the Dakota fever, and left. All the people lived in log houses.

Now let us get back to the West Sebewa School. My first teacher in that little log school house was Lucy TITUS. My second teacher was a Miss JACKSON, if I am not mistaken, a summer term in 1866. I think that year they built the Presbyterian Church, and began to build the new school house. My memory is a little hazy over the succession of teachers: Hester CARTER, Millie CARPENTER GODDARD, Matt KNOLL, who gave me and Chauncey WOOD a good wooling one day, not amiss either. I remember it was the fashion in those days for the teacher to board around. Father made a pole ladder so Lucy TITUS could climb into the loft of our first little log cabin, and there she roasted at night during her week at our house. Others stayed with us, but that was after we moved into a more pretentious house.

I remember a little scrap that Andrus LINDLEY and I had on the playground one day, and Hester CARTER brought us in and made us stand on one foot, the other held high, a stick of wood held in one hand and a book in the other. I think that was Frank HOSEY’S frozen-up stoneware ink bottle that was set on the stove one cold morning to thaw. It thawed out all right, as everybody knew, and great was the noise there-of. The wooden stopper made a dent in the ceiling which was beautifully embroidered with ink splashes. We had a sawmill on the northwest corner, also a general store with Post Office; and a blacksmith shop north of the school. We had baseball games with the CARR School and the TRAVIS School. Today this writer sits on the Probate Court bench at Wakeeny, Kansas. (Jason was Ionia County Drain Commissioner for may years and Thomas Henry was a prominent Physician.)


West Sebewa as I remember it in about the year 1891, when I started school, was much like this: It was situated on a four corners in the northwesterly part of the Township. In the southwest corner of the little village was the Presbyterian Church, with ample church sheds to protect the horses and carriages in cold and inclement weather (see photo in Volume 23, Number 3. The church was served by the Presbyterian minister from Ionia.)

One the same corner, adjoining on the north, was a building occupied by the Hope CHILSON family, containing a small store of groceries and supplies, with living quarters in the back. Across the road on the northwest corner was the Post Office with Luke COOK as Postmaster, who also carried a limited supply of groceries and household needs.

When that Post Office was established or where the people went for their mail before that, I can’t recall. (Editor’s note: Apparently it was in the home of Charles & Sarah STEWARD where Linda & Randy WOLVERTON now live.) I can remember being told that before the time of the Post Office, the place was known as Snyder’s Corners, mainly because George Snyder, who had settled there earlier, operated a large lumber mill there.

Across from the Post Office on the northeast corner was the schoolhouse and playground. Pupils in those days numbered around fifty and ranged in age from five to twenty or twenty-one. The school was divided into terms – fall, winter, spring. The very youngest children were not always obliged to go to school during the winter term because of the cold and stormy weather. We were not transported in those days, we had to walk. And the big boys did not attend during spring and fall terms, when they would be busy helping plant and harvest crops.

Next to the schoolyard was the blacksmith shop – very essential at that time in keeping the horses well shod and their feet trim and in making the necessary repairs on the iron parts of farm machinery. This work was done by the village Blacksmith, Luke LaLONGE. He was considered very efficient in that line of work and was kept very busy. His constant clanging on the anvil was a sort of musical accompaniment to all our school sessions. The blacksmith building had family living quarters for Luke and his family.

Just north of the blacksmith shop was a building erected by the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. The ground floor was rented as a store and the upper floor was used as a hall for meetings of the I.O.O.F. Lodge. Soon the CHILSONS moved away and their store building was remodeled by PROSSER and WARING for an agricultural implement store. For some time Postmaster COOK had been failing in health and his little stock of goods became depleted. In 1892 or 1893, my father, Benjamin C. PEACOCK, purchased the stock of goods in the Odd Fellows store building and soon afterward was appointed Postmaster. He moved the Post Office across the road to his store and COOK’S little grocery was soon extinct.

PEACOCK and Sons operated the general store and Post Office there for several years before my father decided to build on his own place. The store and Post Office, with government approval, were moved to the PEACOCK farm, one half mile north. This location served unti the West Sebewa Post Office was discontinued with the coming of Rural Free Delivery about 1903. I must add a little of interest concerning the mail route before 1903.

Mail was transported from Woodbury to Ionia by Mail Coach operated by Bill Martin and wife, Em. They also carried passengers from the Woodbury station to the depot in Ionia. The passengers were mostly agents and businessmen who saved time with the shortcut instead of going the long way around by rail. The coach was usually drawn by two horses, but in the spring, when roads were bad, four horses were sometimes used. They were always urged to go faster, so that passengers wouldn’t miss the train.

On the Mail Coach route there were three Post Offices – Rosina, West Sebewa and Tremaynes’ Corners. We had two deliveries a day at about 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. The West Sebewa Post Office was government approved, with boxes numbered and private to those who rented them. When Rural Free Delivery was established, the first Rural Route was from Lake Odessa, but it was later changed to come from Portland.

As time passed the older members of the Presbyterian Church passed away or removed from the neighborhood and the church building came into disuse. The Disciples of Christ began using the building for their meetings. Previously they had met at the schoolhouse (in Snyder’s Corners days) and later at private homes. The home of Rev. and Mrs. Meadows was used mostly. Mrs. Meadows met a tragic and untimely death when their house burned at night and she went upstairs to save other members of the family. The Disciples then started meetings at the Presbyterian building, conducted by Evangelist J. W. HUMPHREY. While testifying to the uncertainty of life, he was stricken with a heart attack and died before medical aid could be summoned. The Disciple Church then leased the old blacksmith shop, which had been unused for some time, and remodeled with new floors, siding and windows. Later a church was built in 1902 on a lot donated by my father, B. C. PEACOCK, adjoining his Post Office and General Store, half a mile north. When the Post Office was taken up in 1903, the store was soon discontinued, but the Disciples of Christ Church continues.

OUT INTO THE WORLD FROM WEST SEBEWA as told on tape by T. Leander PEACOCK in 1979:

I was born near West Sebewa June 3, 1894. My parents were Eunice LINDLEY and Sam PEACOCK, son of John PEACOCK, who lived in the log house on M-66 just north of Clarsville Road on the Odessa side. (Samuel Leander lived on the east side where a small red barn still sits behind a big oak tree.)

I went to school at West Sebewa and that was the extent of my education through the eighth grade in my sixteenth year. We took the eighth grade examination at Lake Odessa in the old High School building. I remember Alta JOHNSON as one of my teachers and also one of the CARPENTER girls.

At home I worked on the farm some. When my brother got a little bigger, I began to work out in the summers for two or three years. I worked in the West Sebewa store one summer when W. R. WELLS owned the store. His son was operating the store and he wanted to be gone for the summer, so I took his place in the same building where Mrs. PATTERSON now operates her store. We bought eggs and cream from the farmers. The truck came over from Woodbury once a week and picked up the cream and eggs and took them to Woodbury to ship them out. We tested the cream and paid for the amount of butterfat. We had a BABCOCK centrifugal tester turned with a crank. We also bought butter. We did not buy poultry. A truck came through the neighborhood for that. We sold drygoods, overalls, groceries and things of that kind. We did not have the Post Office.

About that time the Presbyterian Church just south of the store stopped holding meetings. The membership got so low that they quit and went to other places to go to church. The CREIGHTONS, GOODEMOOTS, THORPS and others as well as myself used to go to that empty church to play cards and fool around as young men do. The store was about shot, so we met there only in good weather.

I painted houses some in early summer, but later I went to work threshing and working in the sawmill. I worked eight winters in the sawmill and eight falls with the thresher gang. I tended the separator and looked after the blower so that whoever was stacking straw could get the straw where he wanted it. By that time we had begun threshing out of the field, though some were still stacking the grain before we threshed it. I worked for Jimmy CREIGHTON one year and the rest of the time for his son, Sam CREIGHTON. Jimmy was a good manager. He had threshed for a good many years before that. I think that my father was with his crew for one or two falls.

Sam CREIGHTEN had a bean puller besides the thresher. Lots of times we slept right in the barns where we were threshing, because we were quite a ways from home. Sam had seven or eight men in the crew. There was quite a bit of transient help in the crew. The pay was 50 or 60 cents a day. This was in the period of 1910-1918. The CREIGHTONS used a steam engine. When I was a kid we could hear the steam whistle blow and we would run out by the road and watch the outfit coming and kept on watching until it got out of sight.

I went in the first call of the first draft in World War I. At Fort Custer at Battle Creek they put me in the Infantry. They were just starting to build the camp then. I was the fourth man in the first squad. The Corporal had been in there about three weeks and they made him a Sergeant. They needed to replace him with someone, so I became the Corporal and had the first squad in the outfit. I got a chance to volunteer with an outfit that was going across the pond. I thought the war was going to end before I would get out of there. When we got down to New York State, half of our men were in one barracks and half were in another small barracks. The other barracks became quarantined for measles, so they sent my half right on across. Over there we were helping to build a camp at St. Lazare in France.

There they asked for volunteers to join an outfit to go with the French Army to drive French ammunition trucks. In six days after I landed in France, I was on my way to the front on the ammunition train. Once I got on the front I made up my mind that the war was not soon going to be over and I wondered if it ever was going to be over.

We worked the ammunition run at night without lights. Even so, we lost a few men to German bombers that could find us. If a truck would backfire, the bombers that were flying over the roads could spot us. Once we went down the river about 20 miles to where a bridge was left. We had just gotten across the bridge and down the road 15 or 20 rods when I heard a big boom behind us. All I could see was mud and water flying. A time bomb was set under the bridge and it blew up just after we got across.

Another time I was sent out with four trucks and had to cross a pontoon bridge across a small river. The French Military Police said I could send one truck across, and if it was safe I could send another across. I told the first guy that when he got on the third pontoon he should have the next fellow start unless I told them to stop. The bridge was just about dipping water, but we got all our trucks across and the military police were jumping up and down to stop us. They reported us for endangering the bridge and made us go way down river the next time. I learned to understand French words for numbers and directions and got along fairly well that way. Our trucks carried directions and got along fairly well that way. Our trucks carried around four or five tons of ammunition. The tires were solid rubber.

Once we had to take a load in the daytime. We stopped about two miles from the guns. Then we sent one truck up front and when it returned we would send another. It had started to rain a little bit while we were waiting. The last truck was on grass that had become wet so there was not much traction. Two other guys and I pushed on the back of the truck to get it going. A shell exploded back of us. I said “Golly, that was close enough that time”. When I looked around I saw one of the fellows standing there holding his hand. I said “what’s the matter?” He had had his hand on the tailgate pushing and a piece of shrapnel had cut off two of his fingers.

I spent from spring until Armistice Day on the ammunition detail. Part of that time I was chauffeur for French officers. I drove both an English-made Model T Ford and a French Renault. That was the best job I had in the army. I had two leaves of two weeks while I was in France and visited mountain resorts in Southern France.

My father died while I was on the front and I did not know about his death until six weeks afterward. Once in a while the mail would catch up to us, but it was a long while between times. We came home on a German ship that had been confiscated. The apparatus that desalinated our drinking water played out and the last two days we had no fresh drinking water. We made tea from the salt water. We were five days in New York and then they sent us down to Camp Custer and then we were sent home the next day. I was paid off $30 and $30 extra and on that I came home to find a job. I think I painted some houses as my first work. We never got any other government help.

I worked for Sam CREIGHTON again for a year and then started farming on my wife’s folks’ place near Lake Odessa and ran a threshing rig of my own for a while. I also did some tile ditching. I worked for Zerfas International Harvester dealership for eleven years, six years in the Lake Odessa Machine Shop, and then thirteen years for the John Deere dealer in Lake Odessa.

Walter is my youngest brother. The two boys between us died. We also had three sisters. My sons are Tom, Harry, and Dick. My daughters were Helen, Betty, Frances, and Catherine. Catherine died in 1969. Shirley (Mrs. John P.) LICH is my granddaughter. She has traced the family back to its Sebewa beginnings. END



Last update November 15, 2013