THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
JANUARY 1998, Volume 33, Number 4. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Grayden D. SLOWINS, Editor:
CREIGHTON, SONDAY, WOLCOTT, GOODEMOOT, ELDRIDGE, KLENEN, HAMBLIN, WANDEL, ROHNER,
BORDEN, FARRELL, WALTERS, DEATSMAN, SLOWINSKI, SCHNABEL, LOWE, SOUTHWELL,
CARBAUGH, CAMPBELL, JACKSON, McCRUMB, LEIK, KEUSCH, MORIARTY, BAKER, KEEFER,
ESCH, HOPPES, HOLTON
KENNETH CARL CREIGHTON, 76, husband of Ruth, father of Linda SONDAY, Roger &
Arthur CREIGHTON, brother of Frederick & Rex CREIGHTON, son of Arthur CREIGHTON,
son of James CREIGHTON, son of Mary WOLCOTT CREIGHTON GOODEMOOT,
great-granddaughter of Oliver WOLCOTT Sr., Governor of Connecticut and signer of
the Declaration of Independence. Carl was a retired farmer in Sebewa and WW II
James (Jay, Jake) ELDRIDGE, 90, husband of Eunice KLEVEN HAMBLIN ELDRIDGE,
father of Judith WANDEL & Jayne ROHNER, brother of Hazel BORDEN and the late
Hattie FARRELL, Eddie ELDRIDGE, Mattie WALTERS, Alta DEATSMAN, Ernest ELDRIDGE &
Lewis ELDRIDGE, son of Rufus James (Jay) ELDRIDGE and Sophia SLOWINSKI, daughter
of Louis SLOWINSKI, son of Anna SCHNABEL & Daniel SLOWINSKI, son of Casmer
SLOWINSKI, whose family emigrated to Berlin Township, Ionia County, from Posen,
East Prussia, in 1870. Jake began his automotive career at GATES & HUNTZINGER
Ford Garage, Lake Odessa, and worked for Ford Motor Co., Packard Motor Car Co.,
Reo Motors, and Fisher Body, before retiring from General Motors with 33 years
MICHIGAN COURTHOUSES CONTINUED by Grayden SLOWINS: (with front
page photo of MONROE COUNTY COURTHOUSE – MONROE – 1880)
The original MONROE COUNTY courthouse was a two-story log structure on the
current site of the Presbyterian Church. It housed the court, jail and sheriff,
as well as being used for church services. A stone courthouse was built in 1839,
but it burned in 1879 and was replaced by the present structure on the same
LENAWEE COUNTY courthouse in Adrian is a Romanesque style edifice which was
completed in 1885 and features round arched entrances and an ornate tower. Its
red brick exterior is adorned with classic reliefs and terra-cotta trim. Lenawee
County was first settled in 1824 at Tecumseh, which the Territorial Legislation
made the county seat. In 1838 the first State Legislature moved the seat of
justice to Adrian. The first courthouse was built in 1837 in anticipation of the
move, but it burned in 1852. Immediately the county purchased the present site
and erected a temporary courthouse until they were ready to build this beautiful
building. Today it is undergoing sandblasting, re-pointing and extensive
external rejuvenating on the south, east & west fronts, and replacing the north
entrance with an elevator.
HILLSDALE COUNTY courthouse at Hillsdale is a tan sandstone & marble structure
in the style of those at Ionia, Gratiot, Clinton, Shiawassee, Eaton & Van Buren
Counties, but neither David W. GIBBS nor Clair ALLN is given any visible credit
for the design.
BRANCH COUNTY has a new, modern, gray structure at Coldwater, thanks to an
arsonist in 1972. Named after Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of the Navy, John
BRANCH, the county was one of thirteen established by the Territorial
Legislature in 1829. The village of BRANCH, three miles southwest of Coldwater,
was the original county seat, but in 1842 the Supervisors moved it to Coldwater
and erected the first courthouse on the site. In 1884 local architect M. H.
PARKER designed the second courthouse, a High Victorian building. The stately
corner tower housed a 3500 pound bell and a clock. Only the clock & bell were
salvaged after the fire and a new free-standing tower was constructed for them,
including the original finial atop the cupola. The clock mechanism can now be
viewed at ground level, with the faces high in the air.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY courthouse in Centreville, built in 1899, is a red brick and
sandstone structure in the Romanesque Revival style, designed by Sydney J.
OSGOOD, whose work we discussed at Ludington. Established by the Territorial
Legislature in 1829, Centreville was proclaimed by the Territorial Governor
George B. PARKER in 1831. The first courthouse was a Greek Revival structure
with four large columns on its east portico, built in 1842. That building was
removed to make way for the present structure, built for $33,000.
CASS COUNTY courthouse at Cassopolis, built in 1899, was designed by architects
RUSH, BOWMAN, & RUSH. It is also Romanesque Revival in style, but is a wood
frame building with limestone veneer. Set off by the Territorial government in
1829 and named after Governor Lewis CASS, the first courthouse was built in
1835, but the county’s rapid growth necessitated the erection of a second
courthouse in 1841. It was replaced by the present building on the same square.
VAN BUREN COUNTY courthouse in Paw Paw, built in 1901-1903, is another Classical
Revival building designed by Claire ALLEN. It is built of tan stone and has a
clock in the tower. The original Van Buren County courthouse, built in 1845, is
still in use as Paw Paw City Hall. This is one of the thirteen counties set off
by the Territorial Legislature in 1829, and one of seven named for President
Andrew Jackson’s cabinet members, in this case Secretary of State and then Vice
President, and later President, Martin VAN BUREN.
CALHOUN County courthouse in Marshall is a modern gray stone structure with lots
of window glass. Ann was able to trace her great-great-great-grandfather Daniel
MERRILL, who was elected Clerk of Newton Township, Calhoun County, at its first
organizational meeting in 1838, held at his house. He was clerk 1838-1842, and
also Postmaster. The county was named after Andrew JACKSON’S other Vice
President, John C. CALHOUN.
EATON COUNTY courthouse in Charlotte, built in 1883, was designed by David W.
GIBBS, who also designed the Ionia and Clinton County courthouses and the
Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne. This red brick and white stone structure is
the second of three courthouses built in Charlotte, all still in existence. The
county was named for President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War, John H. EATON.
Bellevue was the first county seat, but it was moved to Charlotte in 1840 and in
1845 a modest white wooden Greek Revival courthouse was erected on the
courthouse square. That building was moved off and the brick & stone Classic
Revival structure build in 1883-1885. A modern county complex was built north of
the city in 1976. EATON is the only county in Michigan with three extant county
courthouses. It is also unique in having had four residents; Frank FITZGERALD,
Austin BLAIR, Luren DICKENSON, and John SWAINSON, who served as Governor. The
interior of this courthouse features the GIBBS trademark marbleized slate
fireplaces and native butternut & walnut trim. A cast zinc statue of Justice
crowns the building above the dome and clock. The building was mostly destroyed
by fire in 1894 and rebuilt almost exactly to the original plans.
BARRY COUNTY courthouse in Hastings, built in 1892 of red brick and tan stone in
the Romanesque Revival style, is similar to several we have seen. The county was
named after Andrew Jackson’s Postmaster General William BARRY. A courthouse was
built here in 1842, but it burned in 1846. A second was built in 1849, and it
was replaced by the present structure in 1892-1893. The bell & clock were
provided for the tower of the new courthouse by voluntary contributions of the
citizens. After a period of silence, the clock & bell were restored by Vern
DeMOTT in 1995 and now chime the time again.
ALLEGAN COUNTY courthouse is an ultra-modern structure of glass & stone. Set off
in 1831, the county was organized in 1835. Only the Civil War Soldier’s Monument
stands for the past.
OTTAWA COUNTY courthouse at Grand Haven is also a new and modern flat-top, tan &
glass structure. A statue of seagulls and fish out front is more interesting.
LOWE UPDATE: Minnie LOWE, born 1822, died January 22, 1931,
daughter of Dayton & Henrietta LOWE, was first married to Henry SOUTHWELL,
descendant of William H. SOUTHWELL, a Civil War veteran buried on Lot 8 Block 14
in East Sebewa Cemetery. Minnie & Henry had two daughters, Goldie and Helen.
Then Minnie married Grant CARGAUGH of Orange Township and she had a son who died
as a baby. They ran the LOWE Mill and Minnie carried mail from Sebewa Post
Office to Sunfield. Grant died in 1950 and they are buried on Lot 66 in East
Goldie SOUTHWELL married Frank JACKSON and had seven children:
1. Helen JACKSON married HAGER and now is deceased
2. Hilda JACKSON married PORTER and now decreased
3. Hugh JACKSON lives in West Branch, MI
4. Hertha JACKSON married FRANKS of Mulliken
5. Hazel JACKSON married COLE and lives south of Sunfield
6. Harold JACKSON, now deceased, has a baby boy on SOUTHWELL lot.
7. Hope JACKSON married Fred HART and lives here in Sebewa.
Helen SOUTHWELL was first married to Charles CAMPBELL of Sunfield, and then to
Burton GILBERT of Sebewa. They had no children and are buried on Lot 151 in East
Otho LOWE, son of Dayton & Henrietta LOWE, was married to Dawn McCRUMB of Danby
Township, born 1893, died 1927, and they had four sons, including the infant
buried with her in Danby Cemetery. Otho is buried there too, but there was no
marker when our records were last updated. After her death, Otho left their farm
on Tupper Lake Road in Danby and moved back with Date in Sebewa.
Their children were:
1. Mike LOWE, who lived in Guernsey, Wyoming, and is deceased
2. Richard LOWE, whose widow Mary is still living in Lansing, MI
3. Lynn LOWE, who is still living in Lansing.
4. Infant son.
THE BUILDING OF THE BARN by George LEIK. This story first
appeared as an article in MICHIGAN HISTORY MAGAZINE (Jan/Feb 1995).
“The first talk I remember of building a barn was in the summer of 1910 when I
was five years old. Dad and Mother discussed the barn plans for years and
finally one Sunday in 1915 Dad had Julius KEUSCH, a carpenter from Portland come
to the farm and give his advice.
Our existing barn was 80 feet long and 30 feet wide and had been made by joining
two old 30 x 40 barns, dating from before the Civil War, together end to end. A
lean-to was built onto one end to serve as a horse barn and the cow stable was
on the opposite end. Dad’s idea was to again separate the two barns and move the
two sections together side by side to form a 40 x 60 barn with a basement
underneath and put a new gambrel roof over the combined building. A new gambrel
roof would allow more room for hay storage in the mow than the existing shed
My oldest brother, Jerry, was 16 years old in 1915 and was excited about a new
barn. Uncle Jim MORIARTY was over one Sunday and strongly advised Dad to take
the old barn down and build a completely new one. After this there was no more
talk of using the old structure and plans progressed rapidly towards completing
a barn by haying time in 1916.
One Sunday Dad and Mother drove five miles to Sebewa Corners to engage Omer
BAKER. Omer was a heavy set man of about 55 years who had come originally from
Ohio. He had built many barns in the area over the years and they were noted for
their well designed proportions, particularly the gambrel roofs. Some builders
got the relationship between the two pitches wrong and the result was an
unattractive barn. A barn in a rural community was more than a building, it was
a personal statement by the farmer about himself and his position in the
It was arranged that Jerry would take care of the endless round of winter chores
so that Dad could spend his time in the woods felling the timber and hauling the
logs to the sawmill site. Winter chores included milking by hand morning and
night, hauling water and chopping ice out of the water tank, mucking out the
stables and feeding all the cattle, horses, hogs and sheep their various diets.
The first work in the woods started during winter school vacation, probably the
week before Christmas. I was 10 years old and Henry 12. Jerry was helping Grant
and Sherman KEEFER to husk corn on the neighboring KNOX farm. My other brother
Henry and I went to see the steam powered husker work and while walking up the
road heard the first tree fall with a deafening crash in the woods half a mile
It was a large beech in the extreme northeast corner of the woods. I can still
identify the heavy floor timbers in the barn that were sawn from it. They are
the 10” x 12” joists 16’ long just as you enter the south basement door of the
barn. Now 75 years later you can still detect the beech bark where the timber
didn’t square up.
Dad and Ben ESCH did all the felling with crosscut saws and used axes and saws
to limb the trees. Our woodlot had to be stripped of all trees of reasonable
size to furnish the timbers for the new barn. After the trees were felled my
eldest sister Helen called Mr. BAKER to tell him to come and mark the sizes he
wanted them cut into. It was a big event and we were all quiet as mice while
Helen rang the operator and told her with an air of importance that it was to be
“long distance” and gave Mr. BAKER’S name and town. Soon the operator rang back
advising the connection was made.
BAKER came in a few days and marked on the end of each log how it was to be
sawn. The next job was to “skid” the logs. That is the process of hauling the
logs into a pile near where the mill was to be located. The front end of the log
was placed on two runners held together by a strong cross timber. It was called
a tote. Our horses Rob and Doll strained to drag the logs over the uneven
terrain and around the trees and stumps of the woods. There was one huge elm log
that was moved only with great difficulty. Its size and weight can be imagined
when you learn it was sawed into 55 2” x 5” rafters, each 14’ long.
After the timber was sawn, the gravel hauling started. A great deal of gravel
was required for the barn’s foundation. Dad drove Rob and Doll the two miles to
town and dug gravel from the face of a 50’ sheer cliff near the Grand River.
There was danger of undercutting the cliff since the frozen gravel above the
excavation didn’t slide down, and he worried that the frozen mass above could
suddenly fall. He was relieved when after a thawing February day, the face
collapsed and the danger was temporarily past.
The winter of 1915-16 was a hard winter with deep snow and Dad was able to use
the bobsled for gravel hauling. It carried an estimated 1 ¼ yards that weighed
3750 pounds. The sled was easily pulled on level ground, but hills were hard on
the team. The toughest part was going up DILLY Hill from the river to the bluffs
above with a load. The horses were only shod on the front as Dad believed rear
shod horses were too dangerous if the powerful Belgians kicked. Shod only in
front the team really had to strain to pull the load up the hill. Mother would
see him returning in the late morning and prepare hot soup. Dad would hand the
team off to Jerry who by this time had finished morning chores, and go directly
to thaw out in the house. Jerry could dump the load by pulling out the movable
floor boards and letting gravel fall to the ground. In this cold weather the
load had to be dumped immediately before it froze. This trip was repeated daily
and the pile slowly grew.
One stormy winter day Ben ESCH drove his two cylinder Buffalo-Pitts steam engine
through the drifts to the woods. A large flat belt from the flywheel would turn
the circular saw on the portable sawmill just as it powered a threshing machine
during harvest. The boiler had to be drained every night after a day of work so
as to avoid damage from freezing. Ben would then walk several miles across the
snow covered fields to town.
Dad dug a hole near where the engine was to sit and mistakenly thought enough
water would seep and drain into it to supply the engine. It proved to be
inadequate so the water had to be hauled with a tank wagon that had a pump
mounted on top. The man assigned to this job was called the water monkey. We
used Ben ESCH’S water tank. Jerry had to fill the ten barrel tank full with a
hand pump every day and draw the load to the woods.
Nick HOPPES brought his portable saw mill from his farm in Clinton County in
several sled loads. The dismantled mill was heavy and this was hard work. Nick
and his son Ralph were the sawyers and their pay for the entire operation that
lasted through February and March was only $100. The sawyers went home every
night, a distance of at least 8 miles in a buggy or cutter depending on the
As the days lengthened and winter changed to early spring, the daily process was
for Ben to arrive early and start a fire in the Buffalo-Pitts so that steam was
up when the sawyers arrived. Even though the waste wood was green it could be
used as fuel after the steam engine’s fire was started with dry materials.
Nick & Ralph would roll the heavy green logs onto the traveling saw carriage and
secure them with dogs. Then the sawyer standing on the carriage would pass in
front of the whirling 60’ circular saw and cut off a 2” blank. The engine would
huff and the saw scream and wet sawdust fly everywhere in the moments the saw
engaged the log. Then the sawyer would advance the log 2” more into the saw and
repeat the process. Each night there would be a pile of wet planks dripping sap,
a heap of slab wood and a pile of sawdust.
Dad and Jerry did the excavating for the foundation as soon as the frost was out
of the ground at the end of March. Then everything was ready for the actual
construction to begin.
Omer BAKER and his crew of four carpenters arrived about April 1. The first job
was to build forms and hand mix all the concrete with long handled hoes in a
mortarbox. The west basement wall was 22” thick at the base and the practice was
to throw as many field stone as possible into the form with the concrete. This
reduced the mortar mixing, saved concrete and eliminated the piles of stones we
had collected from fields. The foundation work took about a month and only then
could the carpenters start to install the post and beams that would carry the
first floor. While the green concrete was drying, most of the old barn was
dismantled for roof boards and the subfloor of the new barn. One shed though was
left standing for the horses and another lean-to as temporary shelter for the
I got my first bank savings book on my 11th birthday which was April 30, 1916.
Mother deposited $20 in my account for agreeing to go without a bicycle until my
12th birthday. This is how I remember the day the carpenters started laying the
floor of the barn.
Although most of the carpenters were from near Sebewa only five miles distant,
this was considered a prohibitive commute. It was apparently the responsibility
of the client to board the carpenters, but Mother wasn’t in the best of health
and couldn’t handle them in addition to our family of seven.
Mr. BAKER agreed to board them for, I think $150. He pitched a tent under a big
apple tree near the road in front of the old barn. He put down a board floor and
bought a three burner kerosene stove. The only heat in the tent was this stove
that also did the cooking. Every morning BAKER was up early and had breakfast
ready so the men could be on the job at 7:00 a.m. About 10:00 a.m. he would
leave the barn site and start dinner. After dinner when the dishes were washed
he returned to superintend until four or five in the afternoon. Then he left and
After supper the men smoked their pipes or just gossiped until bed time. Then
they climbed the ladder to the loft above the old toolshed. The beds were only
springs and mattresses set on saw horses. The unheated loft with large cracks in
the siding made for chilly sleeping quarters in early April.
Mr. BAKER, on account of his age and status spent evenings visiting with the
family around the Round Oak wood stove in the living room. He was also furnished
a bed in the house.
Once a week all the men walked two miles to town to see a silent movie. Tickets
were five cents for under 12 and a dime for adults. The men had never lived so
close to a moviehouse before and wanted to take advantage of the short distance.
Their menu was simple, but substantial. I recall Omer bringing several large
smoked hams wrapped in paper flour sacks and burying them in the oat bin till
ready for use. We also used to store pumpkins and squash there because the grain
kept the food from freezing and the granary was as free from rodents as anyplace
on the farm.
I remember that everyone was agreeable even though the men worked and lived
together away from their families for six days a week. I don’t recall of any
dispute or arguments during the months they were with us.
Every Saturday after a full day of work a double buggy (the roads were free of
snow by April) would come from Sebewa and return early Monday morning. The
experienced carpenters made $2-2.50 daily and the two beginners, $1-1.50 daily
plus the Spartan room and board described here.
During May and June the work proceeded rapidly and by the middle of June the
huge 34’ x 80’ x 43 barn was far enough along that new hay could be stored
there. The materials that came from the lumber yard such as siding, shingles,
and 100 pound kegs of spikes and hardware cost $800, and Mr. BAKER received $800
for his crew’s labor. This price included concrete floors in the cow and horse
stables and installing stalls and mangers throughout.
Jack HOLTON painted the barn one coat when it was finished and second coat in
the autumn. He was a small lithe man that had no fear of climbing. Dad bought a
50 gallon wood barrel of paint from the paint factory in Grand Ledge fifteen
miles distant. It came the entire distance by a horse and light wagon. The cost
was $.75 a gallon. That barrel gave the barn two coats, did the new hoghouse the
next year and the granary, and it lasted for gates, etc. for several years.
In 1917 Dad noticed that the barn was moving when there was a strong wind from
the west. In spite of the attractive design, Omer BAKER had neglected some
necessary bracing. A 36’ x 80’ barn 43’ tall does catch a lot of wind.
Additional bracing was added and the barn today stands plumb and straight in
spite of 75 years of winds.
Jerry lived out his life on that farm, spending a good deal of it in the barn he
helped build as a teenager. I have passed from a ten year old to one almost 87,
and I continue to ride bicycles that Mother persuaded me to avoid until 12 years
The barn is kept in excellent condition by Jerry’s son Dan and his boys, who
will doubtlessly carry on the family’s farming tradition.
Today I marvel at the construction job that my father and Jerry undertook in
1915-1916, and at the backbreaking work that went into that project by everyone
involved. These and millions like them were unsung heroes who built the United
States.This barn story was provided by George’s son, Charles LEIK, 9526 Locust
Hill Dr., Great Falls, VA 22066. It and other stories about barns, including our
story from the October Recollector, can be accessed on the Internet Webiste at
THE BARN JOURNAL on-line, http://museum.cl.msu.edu/barn>