Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 33 Number 2
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,
OCTOBER 1997, Volume 33, Number 2. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:



We continue our tour of county courthouses in Michigan by beginning with the ARENAC County courthouse in Standish. Two-story polished granite pillars with modern tan brick and sandstone give it a business-like appearance.

GLADWIN County courthouse in Gladwin was built by WPA in 1939, during the oil boom, and has the Art Deco style of that period, with pale yellow brick and gray stone. The one redeeming quality is an attempt to depict agriculture and other occupations of the sixteen townships by etchings in the gray stone. Gladwin County was named after Henry GLADWIN, a British Army officer.

CLARE County courthouse at Harrison is flat, with the plain tan brick and gray stone trim of the 1950s. Clare County is named after a county in Ireland.

OSCEOLA County courthouse at Reed City is the same, except it appears to be built in front of an older part, now the annex, which was not much more than an Italianate house. Osceola County has less than 20,000 people.

LAKE County courthouse at Baldwin, build in 1927 of red brick with white pillars and trim, looks quite dignified with its portico bearing the Great Seal of Michigan. Especially since Lake is an even poorer county, with fewer than 8000 permanent residents.

The year 1893 saw the construction of a new courthouse for MASON County at Ludington. When the county seat was moved to Ludington from Lincoln in 1873, a small brick courthouse was erected. This courthouse was originally a one-story building, and though a second floor was added in 1883, it soon became inadequate for the county’s needs. On April 4, 1892, the voters chose to bond the county for $50,000 to purchase property and build a new courthouse. The courthouse was designed by Sidney J. OSGOOD of Grand Rapids, one of the leading architects of West Michigan. Between 1887 and 1900 OSGOOD designed four Lower Peninsula courthouses, of which Ludington and Centerville remain. His KENT County courthouse in Grand Rapids, built in 1888-1890, and MUSKEGON County courthouse in Muskegon, built in 1895, have both been demolished. OSGOOD also designed the Muskegon Union Depot, which still exists as a tourist information center.

Charles T. GATKE of Ludington was the contractor at a bid of $39,150. The lot, a full city block, cost the county $11,000. The building is 93 x 93 feet square with three floors. The red Milwaukee pressed brick and red Jacobsville sandstone, quarried near Houghton in the Upper Peninsula, are combined in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The sandstone is used for the basement, beltcourse, window sills and lintels. The roof is both hip & gable, crowned by a central pyramid-roofed bell & clock tower. The clock was installed in 1907. There is also a cylindrical tower on the southwest corner enclosing a circular staircase from the Clerk’s office to Circuit Court. The Clerk devoted the rest of his afternoon to showing us nook & cranny.

At the time of construction the Ludington courthouse was piped for gas and wired for electricity and combination fixtures were installed. The interior of the building still has most of the original woodwork and many of the original furnishings. There are decorative tin ceilings and the four main offices on the first floor (Clerk, Treasurer, Probate & Register of Deeds) retain their wall adornments and fireplaces with elaborate mantles and tile. Symmetrical wood staircases with wood banisters and finials lead from either end of the first floor to the second. The second floor courtroom has folding seats which were patented in 1882, and wood swivel chairs for the jurors. Mason County was named after the first Governor of the State of Michigan, Stevens T. MASON. Ludington was named after its founder, James LUDINGTON.

After stopping to photo our hay being baled in large round bales for the first time ever, we travel to Port Austin at the tip of the thumb and camp at Port Crescent State Park, under the oak trees and near the roaring waves of Saginaw Bay.

HURON County courthouse at Bad Axe is an example of a neat, modern, gray brick & stone flat-top building with some quiet dignity. It was built in 1967.

The SANILAC County courthouse at Sandusky, with its red brick and white pillars & trim, is contemporary to the 1927 LAKE County building in styling, but was apparently built somewhat earlier in this century and has a World War I memorial statue.

St. CLAIR County courthouse at Port Huron has been
vastly remodeled into a modern county building for a
bustling lake-port city that is an international trade

LAPEER County on the other hand, has preserved its majestic and historic white wood courthouse as a museum, while doing county business in a modern flat-top building that is separate and discreetly behind. With its huge pillared portico and gold-domed tower, the styling of the old building is more representative of the Greek Revival buildings in the Atlantic States than the simpler Midwest style of the wooden courthouses at Cheboygan and Mio.

TUSCULA County courthouse was built on land donated by Peter DeWitt Bush, the second permanent resident of the village of Caro. An old frame church was moved onto the site to serve as the first courthouse in 1866. In 1873 a brick courthouse was built that served until 1932. Then the present Art Deco style structure was completed on the same site. It is faced with Indiana limestone and cost $180,000. William H. KUNI of Detroit was the architect.

The BAY County courthouse in Bay City is an eleven-story gray building and quite imposing, but it too reflects the 1930s Art Deco style that reveals its age.

MIDLAND County courthouse at Midland, built in 1924, is English Tudor in style and strikingly different from any other in Michigan, except possibly the Swiss Chalet in Gaylord. Exposed foundation bricks & stones near the basement restrooms indicate the structure was built at least in part on the remains of the previous courthouse.


Last issue we introduced the pioneer SCHNABEL family and covered the family of the oldest daughter, Anna SCHNABEL SLOWINSKI. The complete roster of Anton & Regina SCHNABEL’S children was:
1. Anna SCHNABEL born 1816, died 1893
2. Rosanna SCHNABEL born 1824, died 1895
3. Martin SCHNABEL born 1826, died 1917
4. Michael SCHNABEL born 1828, died 1896
5. Amelia (Minnie) SCHNABEL born 1833, died 1905
6. Lena SCHNABEL born 18__, died 19__
7. Anton SCHNABEL born 1851, died 1939

Today we continue by covering Rosanna’s family. Born in Posen, East Prussia in 1824, and died at Ionia, October 1, 1895, Rosanna married August STEINBERG, born in Prussia, 18__, died at Ionia, MI, May 24, 1897. August had come to Posen as a cattle buyer, and never revealed his family history. He married Rosanna (Rose) and they became sharecroppers for a baron, with a small strip of ground for their own food. They had a cottage near a small stream with Forget-me-nots on its banks. Two of their nine children were killed in a house fire.

Rosanna and August came to Odessa Township, Ionia County, in 1880, with their youngest daughter, Julia. Two of their other children, Paulina and Lawrence, came over that same time and stopped off in Ionia. Mary, Frank, Roman and Sophia had come earlier. August built a log cabin with thatched roof on a small chunk of ground given them by Paulina’s new husband, John O’Mara, on the west end of his farm on Clarksville Road. August worked as a handyman, doing remodeling and repairing for others. They had a horse, cow, and chickens, and Rosanna made butter and carried it to O’Mara’s in a gallon crock to sell in Ionia. Both are buried at Mt. Olivet.

Their children were:
3. Paulina STEINBERG born 1852, died 1925
4. Mary STEINBERG born 1856, died 1936
5. Frank STEINBERG born 1858, died __
6. Roman STEINBERG born 18__, died 1947
7. Sophia STEINBERG born 1866, died 1944
8. Lawrence STEINBERG born 18__, 1881
9. Julia STEINBERG born 1868, died 1966.

PAULINE STEINBERG, born in Charnikov, East Prussia, March 1, 1852, died in Odessa Township, October 7, 1925; was married to John O’MARA, born in Limerick, Ireland, 1846, died in Odessa Township, April 19, 1926. John had come over with his parents at age 2, to a farm south of Saranac, at the time of the Irish potato famine. His father had seven brothers in Ireland and never knew if any more came over. John’s only sibling, Tom, died as a young man. The LIMERICK school was built on .75 acre of John’s first 40. John and Pauline are buried at Mt. Olivet.

Their children were:
1. Infant daughter born 1885
2. Winifred O’MARA born 1886, died 1942
3. Thomas P. O’MARA born 1888, died 1977
4. Frank R. O’MARA born 1890, died 1967
5. Mary C. O’MARA born 1892, died 1980
6. Anna J. O’MARA born 1895, died 1981.

FRANK ROMAN O’MARA, born in Odessa Township, March 8, 1890, died in Odessa Township December 10, 1967; was married August 18, 1919 to Emma Frances ENDRES, born April 19, 1900 and died July 11, 1989. He attended the LIMERICK School on the corner of his family’s farm and farmed all his life on the farm where he was born and died, except for a brief stint in World War I. They were charter members of St. Edward’s Catholic Church and are buried at Lakeside Cemetery. Emma was active in the church organizations and veterans’ auxiliaries and was loved by all who knew her. All of the O’MARAS of Ionia and Lake Odessa are descended from this family.

FRANK AND EMMA’S children were:
1. Marie J. O’MARA born 1920
2. Thomas S. O’MARA born 1922
3. Lawrence J. O’MARA born 1824, died 1983
4. Pauline A. (Peggy) O’MARA born 1929
5. Eugene E. O’MARA born 1932
6. Rosemary F. O’MARA born 1934.

ROSEMARY F. O’MARA born in Odessa Township, February 22, 1934. She married September 7, 1957, James Daniel HICKEY, born May 28, 1934. She attended LIMERICK School and graduated from Lake Odessa High School. They lived on a portion of the HICKEY farm in Campbell Township.

Their children were:
1. Perry J. HICKEY
2. Joseph W. HICKEY
3. Kathleen A. HICKEY
4. William J. HICKEY
5. Mary E. HICKEY

SOPHIA STEINBERG, born in Posen, East Prussia, 1866, died in Orleans Township, 1944, was married to George E. HILL, born in 1869, died in Orleans Township in 1931. She came to the United States with her Aunt Lena GARLICK at age 4, and grew up working in the fields at her Aunt Minnie CANNOM’S. Sophia and George lived in Orleans Township and he ran the potato storage at Orleans. Both are buried at Orleans.

Their children were:
1. Goldie E. HILL born 1893, died 1961
2. Iva P. HILL born 1895, died 1980
3. George HILL
4. Julia HILL

GOLDIE E. HILL, born in Orleans Township, Ionia County, 1893, died in Belding, 1961; was married to Erme C. FACE, born in Orleans Township, 1890 and died in Orleans Township, 1975. They had a large farm with a beautiful cobblestone house on Belding Road – M-44.

Their children were:
1. Dorothy FACE born 1914
2. Alva G. FACE born 1918, died 1969
3. Earl FACE, born 1920
4. Barbara FACE, born 1924.

DOROTHY FACE, born in Orleans Township, June 9, 1914, was married to Gaylord DREGER born July 14, 1911 and they lived at Belding.

Their children were:
1. Janice DREGER
2. Judy DREGER
3. Fred DREGER
4. Teri Ann DREGER

MARTIN SCHNABEL, third child of Anton & Regina SCHNABEL, was born in Posen, East Prussic, August 5, 1826 and died in Berlin Township, Ionia County, March 25, 1917. He was married November 20, 1851, to Marina GRENIC, born in Prussia, January 11, 1831. He died in Berlin Township April 21, 1914. They came to this country in 1854 with 50 cents in their pocket and settled on their farm in 1857. Not only did they raise six children of their own, but being the first of the family in this country, they assisted many of their brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews to make the trip. They met every one of them at the depot and found them a place to stay in the New World. Martin kept his sheep on “the woods forty” south-east of the Chris & Dan SLOWINSKI home in the summertime, and walked down their lane with a pail of salt over his arm. He had a full head of snow-white hair. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary and are buried at Mt. Olivet.

Their children were:
1. Peter SCHNABEL born 1854, died 1926
2. Levi SCHNABEL born 1857
3. Susan SCHNABEL born 1860, died 1945
4. Thomas SCHNABEL born 1865, died 1946
5. Amelia SCHNABEL born 1866, died 1948
6. Robert J. SCHNABEL born 1870, died 1954.

PETER SCHNABEL, born in Prussia May 18, 1854, died in Odessa Township July 27, 1926. He was married to Margaret SHOTWELL, born in Prussia May 7, 1864, died in Odessa Township September 2, 1908. He came to the United States with his parents in 1854 and settled with them on their farm in Berlin Township in 1857. He got his own farm in Sec. 1 Odessa and Sec. 36 Berlin Townships. They are buried at Mt. Olivet.

Their children were:
1. Infant boy born 1887
2. Infant boy born 1889
3. Helena SCHNABEL born 1890
4. Leo SCHNABEL born 1891, died 1953
5. Rose SCHNABEL born 1893, died 1974
6. Joseph SCHNABEL born 1895, died 1966
7. Genevieve SCHNABEL born 1897, died 1975
8. Infant girl born 1902
9. Infant girl born 1903
10. Infant boy born 1903

JOSEPH SCHNABEL, born in Odessa Township February 15, 1895, died in Sebewa Township March 7, 1966; was married to Ethel May YORK born in Sebewa Township February 7, 1890, died November 19, 1965. They farmed in Sebewa Township on Clarksville Road all their married lives. He was a veteran of World War I, and they are buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.

Their children were:
1. Duncan T. SCHNABEL born 1920, died 1976
2. June SCHNABEL born 1928

JUNE SCHNABEL born in Sebewa Township June 15, 1928, was married March 15, 1947, to Norman PIERCEFIELD, born November 6, 1926. They live on a portion of her parents’ farm in Sebewa.

Their children:
1. Lucinda
2. Edward
3. Gary

MICHAEL SCHNABEL, born in Posen, East Prussia, April 7, 1828, died in Berlin Township, Ionia County, September 10, 1896; was married to Mary CANTANT, born in Netherlands, August 5, 1831, died in Ionia Township October 19, 1921, daughter of John CANANT. They had a farm on AINSWORTH Road in Berlin Township and attended Zion Lutheran Church at Woodland. They are buried at Balcolm Cemetery.

Their children were:
1. Mary SCHNABEL born 1853
2. Hannah M. SCHNABEL born 1855, died 1918
3. William SCHNABEL born 1856, died 1946
4. Edward SCHNABEL born 1858, died 1946
5. Agnes A. SCHNABEL born 1859, died 1929
6. Sarah Jane SCHNABEL born 1862, died 1963
7. Franklin SCHNABEL born 1863, died 1838
8. Louis Horace SCHNABEL born 1868, died 1962
9. Emma J. SCHNABEL born 1870, died 1950
10. Lydia SCHNABEL born 1871
11. Delbert (Cova or Covey) SCHNABEL born 1875

AGNES A. SCHNABEL, born in Berlin Township, 1860, died in Berlin Township, 1929; was married to George A. VANDECAR, born in Odessa Township in 1853, died in Berlin Township 1943. They farmed in Odessa and then in Berlin Townships and are buried in Saranac Cemetery.

Their children were:
1. Bertha VANDECAR born 1880, died 1934
2. Edward VANDECAR
3. Cora A. VANDECAR born 1888, died 1976

CORA DeALICE VANDECAR, born in Berlin Township, November 19, 1888, died in Ionia Township November 4, 1976; was married June 22, 1910 to Arthur Elliot DENTON, born in Lowell Township, Kent County, September 21, 1888. He died January 16, 1972. She graduated from Ionia County Normal and taught the DURKEE School and Mud Street School. They were members of Berlin Center United Methodist Church and are buried at Saranac Cemetery.

Their child was:
1. Ariel Agnes DENTON born 1911.

ARIEL AGNES DENTON, born in Berlin Township, October 12, 1911, was married first to Richard (George) DUNSMORE, born February 19, 1908. He was killed in an auto accident at Berlin Center. She had graduated from Ionia County Normal and taught rural schools. After widowed, she opened a photography studio, first above a store in Ionia and then in her home on 8 acres she bought on Arnold’s Hill in South Ionia. After she married Lynn MORRIS, born July 16, 1912, of MORRIS & Sons Construction Co., they added 21 acres next to it from her Uncle Horace SCHNABEL, and later more from others. They developed Horizon Drive Subdivision and built a new house up there for themselves. In later years she went back to teaching and was the last teacher at Sebewa Center School.

Their children were:
1. Sharron DUNSMORE
2. Ardelis DUNSMORE
3. Alaina MORRIS

ANTON SCHNABEL, JR. born in Posen, East Prussia, 1851, died in Berlin Township, Ionia County, April 2, 1939. He was married to Julia ZELNER, born in Prussia in 1850, died in Berlin Township, July 18, 1921. They settled in Berlin Township before 1875. The house that Anton built on State Road – M-66 – south of Portland Road in Berlin Township was considered a showplace for its day. It has been restored in recent years by Clyde & Ruth KIRSCHENMAN. Anton and Julia were members of SS. Peter Catholic Church and are buried at Mt. Olivet.

Their children were:
1. Mary SCHNABEL born 1876, died 1944
2. Susan SCHNABEL born 1877, died 1960
3. Peter SCHNABEL born 1879, died 1951
4. Roman SCHNABEL born 1881, died 1941
5. Frank SCHNABEL born 1882, died 1960
6. Michael SCHNABEL born 1884, died 1946
7. Anna E. SCHNABEL born 1888, died 1966

MARY SCHNABEL, born in Berlin Township January 24, 1876, died in Odessa Township April 21, 1944. She married Lewis LEHMAN born in Odessa Township July 2, 1876 and died in Odessa Township March 11, 1960. They farmed in Odessa & Sebewa Townships.

Their children were:
1. Gertrude R. LEHMAN born 1899, died 1979
2. Thomas F. LEHMAN born 1901, died 1974
3. Lewis LEHMAN born 1907, died 1990
4. Julia LEHMAN born 1909, died 1988
5. Mary Rose LEHMAN born 1912, died 1963. She married Henry LEIK
6. Therese (Tressie) LEHMAN, born 1915.

If you want to know more about the SCHNABEL families, we have a book to sell you, called THE SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY.


The oldest barn still in existence in our family is that of my Mennonite relatives at Martindale, Lancaster County, PA. A stone barn built by Joseph & Elizabeth ZiMMERMAN WENGER in 1797, it has been well maintained and added to, and cows are still milked there every night & morning. Also teams of horses call it home, along with a black buggy, a John DEERE tractor with steel lugs, and a spring wagon painted John DEERE green & yellow. The “new” house, also of stone, was built in 1800 to replace the old structure Joseph was born in, in 1769. They were my great-great-great-great-grandparents. His sister Elizabeth ZIMMERMAN WENGER harried his wife’s brother Christian ZIMMERMAN, and when Elizabeth ZIMMERMAN WENGER was widowed, she sold he farm to Christian & Elizabeth WENGER ZIMMERMAN, so the current owners are doubly cousins to us.

The second oldest barn, on the nearby farm at Groffdale, PA, of our five times great-grandfather, Christian WENGER, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1727, was replaced “new” in 1811. It is also largely built of stone. The foundations of the old barn are nearby.

The third oldest barn is a little unpainted wood barn built for widow Elizabeth ZIMMERMAN WENGER when she moved with her family from Martindale, PA, to Martin’s Corners, Waterloo Township, Ontario, in 1825. The stone house and white wood church are also still standing.

The fourth oldest barn is that of great-grandfather Christian G. WENGER on 76th Street, Caledonia Township, Kent County, MI. It is a wooden barn in the Mennonite style, built in or before 1870. The land is now a golf course.

The fifth oldest is our own barn here in Sebewa Township. It was built in 1870 for John C. OLRY, son of first settler John F. OLRY. The foundation stones for John F. OLRY’S first barn, probably built of logs soon after 1849, are still out back. The “new” barn is a 36x50 timber frame building meant to house horses, hay & grain. Bill CASWELL was a nail carrier at the building of this barn at age six. Square cut nails were so valuable that small boys were set to follow the carpenters and save every nail dropped.

The newest OLRY barn was built in 1882 as a cowbarn. It has a plank frame rather than timbers, and is more bowed than its proud older relative. These barns first had a crude system of ropes and pulleys to get the hay up into the mows. Then a hay track, car, and locking hayforks were installed in the early 1900s. Conversion to baled hay and elevators came after World War II, and about five years ago we installed conveyors suspended from the old hay track. We also put the older barn on a new foundation in 1963. Great-grandpa Frank LEHMAN’S barn on KNOLL Road in Odessa Township is next (in age) and was built in the early 1880s. It is a gambrel roofed barn with a full stone basement and barn grade. Now owned by the Tom WILSON family, it has been well maintained and was used for milk cows until recent years and now young stock.

The next oldest barn is probably that of great-grandfather Christopher SLOWINSKI, built in 1888. A timber-framed barn with thick cut-stone foundations, it has a barn grade to double drive floors, and was built entirely by Chris, who was a stonecutter, and his brothers. The basement measures 40x75 and has ample room for horses, milk cows, young cattle, and especially sheep. The upstairs has a nice granary and huge mows for loose hay, with a hay-track in the peak and a hay-car with locking forks to raise the hay to the mows. This was also Grandpa Dan SLOWINSKI’S barn. This barn is located on HARWOOD Road in Berlin Township, Ionia County, and is owned by the Ed ELDRIDGE family, descendants of Chris’s brother Louis.

Great-grandfather Abraham BRAKE’S barn on CAMPBELL Road in Campbell Township has been raised and put on a new basement, but was probably built in the 1880s, because it was not new when he moved there just before 1900. Mother was the first baby born in the new house. Long owned by the Roy TASKER family, then Richard ROSENBERGER, it now belongs to David & Carol McCAUL.

Granddad John BRAKE’S barn on Thompson Road – M-50 in Campbell Township was raised and set on a new stone basement in 1913, the year after he moved there. It may have been built originally before some of those above. It is timber-framed, with a nice granary and hay-mows upstairs and back then had whitewashed stalls & box stalls below for Belgian draft horses, milk cows and sheep. Today it houses lamas!

If you wish more information about old barns, contact Charles LEIK’S website, THE BARN JOURNAL, on the internet at


Last update November 10, 2013