THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
NOVEMBER 1996, Volume 32, Number 3. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: MARSH, PRELESNIK, STANK, VANDERBURG, PEACOCK, JOY, HOLLINGSWORTH, COX,
PICKETT, DOWNING, BAIRD, HITCHCOCK, LINDLEY, KLINGMAN, CONWAY, SESSIONS, BECKER,
HANEY, JOHNSON, SNYDER, STEWARD, WOLVERTON, LaLONGE, CREIGHTON, STEINER,
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.
FRONT PAGE PHOTO: JOHN JOY PEACOCK FAMILY
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 PEACOCK FAMILY OF SEBEWA complied by Grayden SLOWINS
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
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.
COMING TO IONIA COUNTY BY COVERED WAGON as written by Arthur
PEACOCK in 1915:
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
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
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
WEST SEBEWA AS I REMEMBER IT as told by Dora PEACOCK JOHNSON in
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
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
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
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