THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
AUGUST 1997, Volume 33, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of Grayden
D. SLOWINS, Editor:
SURNAMES: TASKER, REED, SEDORE, SCHNABEL, SHOTWELL, HAUSERMAN, DEMARAY JOHNSON,
ALLEN, MILLER, MAJOR, CHAPIN MAJINSKA, KUBISH, SOVOKA, TORREY, POSSEHN, BURGESS,
BROOKS, TOWNER, HENRY, McDIARMID, BARNARD, SLOWINSKI, LANDIS, WHITE
MALCOLM A. TASKER, 81, husband of Iris REED TASKER, brother of the late Marshall
TASKER & Phyllis SEDORE, son of Roy & Rose SCHNABEL TASKER, daughter of Margaret
SHOTWELL & Peter SCHNABEL, son of Marina & Martin SCHNABEL, son of Regina &
Anton SCHNABEL. Malcolm was a pharmacist in Detroit, Lake Odessa, and Hastings.
REVA HAUSERMAN, 96, widow of John HAUSERMAN, mother of Rose Marie DEMARAY
JOHNSON & the late Betty DEMARAY, sister of Lamoin ALLEN, Vera MILLER and the
late Clarence MAJOR, daughter of Mabel CHAPIN & John MAJINSKA, son of George
MAJINSKA & Annette KUBISH, daughter of John KUBISH. George MAJINSKA was son of
Tony MAJINSKA & Anna SOVOKA.
Cecil F. TORREY, 80, widower of Maxine HAZZARD TORREY, father of Norman TORREY &
Marilyn POSSEHN, brother of Charles, Clare & Chalmer TORREY & Marie BURGESS, son
of Glenn & Katie BROOKS TORREY. He was the last of the “Gandy Dancers” – section
hands – for the old Pere Marquette Railroad. Others were Bert TOWNER, John HENRY
& Voight McDIARMID, plus Ray BARNARD in the early years. I personally have seen
these four men take four long-handled ratchet jacks and lift a fully loaded coal
car back onto the tracks. Uncle Bob SLOWINSKI was once their supervisor.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BEGINNING CEMETERY SEXTON by Grayden
The cemetery sexton’s job begins in early April. The first task is to remove all
the old faded flowers and wreaths, both real and artificial, as well as leaves &
branches from trees. This is also a good time to prune trees & shrubs if it was
not completed in the fall & winter. Burials from winter storage should be
completed by May 1, weather permitting, and all graves leveled and re-soded or
Mowing should begin the last week of April in the areas that grow the fastest………
State law requires United States flags on the graves of all known veterans for
Memorial Day. If the veterans, scouts, or cemetery society supply the flags or
labor, that’s find. Otherwise the township is responsible. Flag holders denoting
the specific war are a nice touch but not required.
When a funeral home calls for a grave, the first step is to alert the
grave-digger, usually a back-hoe operator. Be sure the family has selected a
grave-site, then measure and stake it out, remove and save the sod……..
The sexton is the last person to do a service for a human being on this earth.
Yet they are seldom thanked. The doctors, ambulance personnel, nurses,
ministers, undertakers & luncheon ladies are publicly thanked, but seldom the
sexton. Sometimes people say the cemetery looks nice all trimmed up, but they
never say thanks for a good job of burying our loved one. The reward is
satisfaction of a job well done, not from being appreciated! END
GERMANS FOLLOW ENGLISH TO IONIA by Grayden SLOWINS
Most of the settlers who came to Ionia with the DEXTER Colony in 1833, or during
the 20 years thereafter, were of English descent. Their families had lived in
the New England Colonies for several generations. Many of their ancestors had
arrived from England with at least a few gold coins in their pockets, and these
Yankees had prospered in the Colonies before heading west. In Ionia they founded
the First United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian
Church, and the Church of Christ (Disciples).
In the second 20 to 25 year period of settlement, approximately 1854-1879, a
different group of people made a massive influx to America and to Ionia. They
were largely German-speaking people from the Principalities of central Europe:
Alsace-Lorraine, Austria, Baden, Bavaria, Brandenberg, Brunswick, Hanover, Hesse,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mecklenberg, Palatinate, Pomerania, Prussia, East
Prussia, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Silesia, Switzerland, Westphalia, and
Wurttemberg.Their religions were Roman Catholic, German Lutheran, German
Baptist, German Brethren, and a few other Protestant sects. One thing they had
in common was their German language, although in different dialects. Another
thing they had in common was their poor financial condition and along with it a
fierce ambition to work hard and improve their lot in this land of opportunity.
During the 1860s Prime Minister Otto Van Bismarck led a series of wars against
Denmark, Austria and France, in order to unite all the German-speaking peoples
located in the areas between them. Bismarck came out of it as the Chancellor of
the United German Empire. But the average German did not fare so well, and
wanted a better life for their country in the military. Then at first
opportunity, they sold almost everything they had to pay for the $10 “steerage”
for the trip on a sailing ship to the New World. Often only the husband came
first, worked a year or two, and then sent for the wife and kids.
Immigrants were welcomed to settle the new lands opening up, but the story was
that every man needed a trade to guarantee that he would be a self-supporting
citizen. Among their few possessions, besides the clothes on their backs, they
usually carried a carpet bag with the tools of their trade as a carpenter,
bricklayer, stonemason, tailor, butcher, printer, or whatever. Most were really
farmers at heart, but then as now, a man needed a trade to grub-stake his
farming. Many worked a couple years in New York or New Jersey and then headed
In Ionia they were soon known for their industry and thrift. They worked on the
farms and in the construction trades. They worked in the Pere Marquette Car
Shops, the furniture factories, the shirt factories, and in the prisons. Soon
they saved enough to buy land or go into business for themselves.
It’s hard to believe that a man could work for 50 cents a day, support a growing
family, and save enough to make a sizeable down-payment on a 40-acre farm in
just two or three years. The reason, as with most all immigrant families, was
the extended family. With father, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts,
uncles, and cousins all working, they soon paid for a farm for one family, then
for another, and so forth. They never paid interest on borrowed money for very
In Ionia they formed the Arbeiter Bund (German workers Aid Society), and built
their Lodge Hall on the southwest corner of Dexter Street and Lincoln Avenue
(recently torn down to make way for a quick-oil-change shop). They built and
supported S.S. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church, and
the German Evangelical Church (now Zion United Methodist).
It is interesting to note that the uprisings in Poland at the end of the Cold
War started not in the shipyards of Gdansk, as is commonly reported, but 25
years earlier in the railroad car shops of Poznan, whence came many of Ionia’s
old settlers. A striker shown on TV from Poznan was a LEHMAN, and the LEHMANS of
Ionia originated in Posnan. My grandmother Wilhelmina SLOWINSKI was one of them.
The SCHNABEL family was one of the first to come from POZNAN to the Ionia area.
The oldest Schnabel child was Anna, shown on our cover with her husband, Daniel
SLOWINSKI Sr. (also shown - Christopher SLOWINSKI).
Their children were:
1. Christopher SLOWINSKI, 1838-1900; married Mary GREGIE
2. Louis SLOWINSKI, 1841-1918; married Henrietta
3. Michael SLOWINSKI, 1844-1917; married Josephine KLOSS
4. Theofil SLOWINSKI, 1847-1894; married Magdalena
5. Paulina SLOWINSKI, 1850-1931; married Frank BENHABEL
6. August SLOWINSKI, 1853-1912; married Amelia SHADDY
7. Minnie SLOWINSKI, 1855-1922; married George BIEHLER
8. Frank SLOWINSKI, 1861-1915; married Lena KRIEGER
9. Roman SLOWINSKI, 1864- ; married Mae OTTE.
Christopher SLOWINSKI, born in East Prussia, November 28, 1838, died in Berlin
Township, Ionia County, Michigan, December 5, 1900; was married to Mary GREGIE,
born in Prussia, September 1845, died in Berlin Township, May 23, 1895, daughter
of John & Catherine GREGIE. Catherine was born in Prussia, May 1808, died in
Berlin Township, January 8, 1899. Christopher, Mary and Catherine are buried
together at Mt. Olivet.
After serving three hitches in the German army, fighting against Denmark,
Austria, and France, Chris and his brother Mike took advantage of the Armistice
with France to sail out of Hamburg for America in 1870. They landed in New
Jersey and worked there two years. Then they had enough money to send for their
families and they all came to Martin Schnabel’s farm in Berlin Township in the
winter of 1872. (This farm was the Lyle & Peg FAULKNER home in recent years.)
They first lived in a log house on the Henry HAUSERMAN farm, next north of
Martin SCHNABEL. The men worked in a lumber camp near Stanton & Sheridan that
first winter, and the summer in a shingle mill at Sheridan. About 1874 or 1875
they bought land in Sec. 36 Berlin Township and began at once to clear and drain
Chris was a stonecutter/stonemason, and Mike was a carpenter/joiner. They built
their own barns with wide, solid, stone foundations, and then frame house. Chris
built his Michigan-T style farm house about 1895-1896. He was remembered by his
last surviving daughter, Mary, as a stubborn old man at 62, who had lots of guts
to come over to this New World and even learned to read and write English. Chris
and old Dan took out only their “first papers” and never became citizens, so
Roman and Theodore were never citizens either, which they could have been
automatically. Chris had learned the art of grafting, pruning, and raising apple
trees. He started orchards for all the family. In the old country they had
raised wheat, oats, and barley, and these were the favored crops here too. They
kept a few cows and hogs, but sheep and draft horses were their favorite
livestock. Chris & Mary’s children were:
1. Roman SLOWINSKI, 1868-1923; married Anna KRIEGER
2. Theodore (Pete) SLOWINSKI; 1869-1940, married Rose HAULIHAN
3. Anna SLOWINSKI, 1872-1929; married John LEHMAN
4. Daniel SLOWINSKI, 1874-1951; married Wilhelmina LEHMAN
5. Michael SLOWINSKI, 1876 -; married Myrtle
6. Martha SLOWINSKI, 1878-1940; married Joseph MAJINSKA
7. Minnie SLOWINSKI, 1880-died soon.
8. Mary SLOWINSKI, 1883-1969; married Guy Eicholtz
9. Emma SLOWINSKI, 1885-1904
Christopher SLOWINSKI’S Last Will & Testament is recorded as follows:
I, Christopher SLOWINSKI, of Berlin Township, Ionia County, State of Michigan,
being sixty years of age and being of sound mind and disposing memory, do make
this my last will and testament hereby revoking any and all former wills by me
After the payment of all legal claims or demands against me or my estate, I
give, devise, and bequeath my estate and property, Real and Personal, as follows
I will to my son Daniel SLOWINSKI the south half of the south half of the
northwest quarter of Section No. thirty-six, also the northwest quarter of the
southwest quarter of said section No. thirty six, both in Township No. six (6)
north of Range No. seven (7) west, 80 acres in the two descriptions, subject
however to the payment by said Daniel SLOWINSKI of six hundred dollars as
follows, to wit: Two hundred dollars to my daughter Anna SLOWINSKI, and two
hundred dollars to my son Michael SLOWINSKI, and two hundred dollars to my
daughter Martha SLOWINSKI, which said sums of two hundred dollars I will to my
three said children, and will that it be paid to them three years after my
I will to my son Roman SLOWINSKI the north half of the southeast quarter of
Section No. thirty five in Township No. six (6) north of Range No. seven (7)
west, eighty acres, subject however to the payment of six hundred dollars as
follows: Two hundred dollars to my daughter Mary SLOWINSKI, and two hundred
dollars to my daughter Emma SLOWINSKI, and two hundred dollars to my son
Theodore SLOWINSKI, which said sums of two hundred dollars I will to said
Theodore to be paid to them three years after my decrease, and two hundred
dollars to be paid to Emma when she reaches 21 years of age.
All the land hereinbefore described is in Ionia County in the State of Michigan.
I will all the rest and residue of my estate, real if any and all my personal
property to my two sons Daniel SLOWINSKI and Roman SLOWINSKI, to be divided
between them share and share alike. And after the division between them as
aforesaid, I will that said Daniel SLOWINSKI’S share of my personal estate shall
be subject to one good cow which he shall give to each of my three years after
my decease and Emma’s cow to be delivered when she becomes of the age of
I hereby appoint Henry DARNELL of Berlin Township, whose Post Office is Orange,
Mich., Executor of this my will. In witness whereof I have signed and sealed and
published and declared this instrument as my last will and testament at Ionia
City in Ionia County, State of Michigan, this fifth day of November A.D.
eighteen hundred and ninety eight. Signed Christopher SLOWINSKI. Montgomery
WEBSTER, Register of Probate. Wm. O. WEBSTER, Judge of Probate.
Be it Remembered, That I, Daniel SLOWINSKI of Township of Berlin in the County
of Ionia and State of Michigan, being of sound mind and memory, but knowing the
uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, execute, and declare this to be My
Last Will and Testament, in manner following:
FIRST, I will and direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid in
SECOND, I give, devise and bequeath unto my sons in manner as follows, to wit:
Donald Frederick SLOWINS, the sum of One Thousand Dollars, and my farm tools and
Herbert Clarence SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Eugene Adelbert SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Frank Hugh SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
John Bernard SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Clarence Henry SLOWINSKI, the sum of One Thousand Dollars;
Woodrow Wilson Daniel SLOWINSKI, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars, in full of his
legacy under my Will.
THIRD, All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, ral or personal or
mixed, wheresoever situated, whereof I may die seized or possessed, or to which
I may be in any manner entitled at the time of my death, I give, devise and
bequeath unto the following named children, to wit:
Frances Mary GAZALLA
Florence Genevieve SLOWINSKI
Marguerite Wilhelmina MARION
Louise Regina SARLOUIS
Clarence Henry SLOWINSKI
John Bernard SLOWINSKI
Frank Hugh SLOWINSKI
Eugene Adelbert SLOWINSKI
Herbert Clarence SLOWINSKI
Donald Frederick SLOWINS,
To be divided equally among them, share and share alike.I hereby appoint William
ALLEN and Thomas JOHNSON of Lake Odessa, Michigan, executors of this My Last
Will and Testament.
LASTLY, I do hereby revoke all former, any and every Will heretofore made by me.
In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this Twenty-seventh
day of January in the year One thousand nine hundred and forty eight
Signed: Daniel SLOWINSKI
Witnessed: Victor D. CLUM, Robert K. LAPWORTH.
OLD TOMB GETS A NEW LIFE:
Restoring a Nineteenth Century tomb in OAKHILL Cemetery has been a project for
several area residents for the past few months. It was said to be the grave of
an old time Presbyterian minister’s wife and child, but nobody knew for sure.
Rev. Robert NIXON, Pastor Emeritus of First Presbyterian Church in Ionia, and
his wife, Joan, began researching the 1850s tomb. With help fro the Ionian
County Historical Society, old local church minutes, and the National
Presbyterian Historical Society, it was determined that the wife of Rev. Dr.
Robert WHARTON LANDIS, Elizabeth WHITE LANDIS, and their child were buried at
Rev. R. W. LANDIS and his wife met and married in Philadelphia. They moved to
Ionia in 1856 and soon had a child. The child was always frail and died when 9
months old, just hours before the death of Elizabeth. Rev. LANDIS did not like
the idea of burying them in the ground and built a vault for them in the
hillside. He left Ionia in 1859 for Kentucky, where he later became president of
a college and died there January 24, 1883, at the age of 74.
Inside the tomb Rev. NIXON found a funny-shaped metal casket, probably
containing both mother and child, whose name is unknown. An anonymous donor
provided funds for the restoration, and Chris MECHANEY’S company, J. B.
Construction, did the work, with Tom HANLINE as bricklayer. The related bricks
have been sealed and a granite stone will tell who is inside.
UPDATES TO SHEPARD’S INSTRUCTIONS:
Hay managers need to have 7 ½-8” gaps for the sheep’s heads, with 5 ½-7 ½”
vertical dividers between. Viking Birdsfoot Trefoil is a good pasture legume,
gives small tender shoots for lambs & ewes, high protein, and high milk
production, and does not cause bloat. A mineral mixture containing calcium,
phosphorus, iodized sodium chloride, and other trace minerals, but not much
copper, should be available to the flock at all times.