THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Association (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI).
APRIL 1999, Volume 34, Number 5. Submitted with written permission of Grayden D.
SURNAMES: LENON, KRISTEN, NEWTON, TIDD, BULLEN, HAYNES, DUNSMORE, HURD, MORRIS,
PROBASCO, SHAY, SPIRE, BROWN, CASWELL, SHOWERMAN, BOYER, CONKRITE
MICHELE LENON KRISTEN (no relation to Theo), 40-something wife of Jeff,
great-great-granddaughter of Nathaniel NEWTON TIDD, East Sebewa Cemetery, once
pastor of HALLADAY UB Church & buried from there, whom she wrote about in our
Volume 26, No.4 in February 1991. Employed for several years by Michigan
Township Association, she loved to come help with our lambing and loved horses.
She died January 24, 1999, and will be buried in May near her grandparents at
Gulliver, UP, MI.
CLARK H. BULLEN, 83, widower of Bettie & Vern, father of Roger, Craig & Barry
BULLEN, Laurie JARRAH, Kathie SHOWERMAN & John CHIDESTER, brother of Robert &
James, son of Jessie HAYNES & Herman BULLEN. He taught Agriculture and coached
FFA for 31 years, mostly in Portland, and helped many of us. He specialized in
getting kids started with bees. In retirement he ushered at Detroit Tigers
winter home in Florida. Kathie & Ralph SHOWERMAN once owned & lived in the
ancestral SHOWERMAN home (Dennis PETRIE’S place) in Sebewa
HERBERT J. DUNSMORE, 88, widower of Vera HURD DUNSMORE, father of Roger & David,
brother of George DUNSMORE, Ruth BROOKS & Alice WARDEN. He graduated from
University of Michigan as civil engineer and became one of the first
environmental engineers when the term was invented. He worked for Pittsburgh
Health Department, then U. S. Steel, and is credited with cleaning up “The
Smokey City”. He also cleaned up the steel industries of Yugoslavia and
Venezuela, whose dictators would not listen to their own engineers, but they
listened to Herb! In retirement he came back to his birthplace and spearheaded
the restoration of Ionia’s stores & homes and got them on the National Historic
Register. Longtime activist in Ionia County Historical Society and Sebewa Center
Association, he collected antique carpentry tools and photographed old barns. He
was brother-in-law to Sebewa Center’s last teacher, Ariel MORRIS.
THE PROBASCO FAMILY OF SEBEWA – by Grayden SLOWINS. (Front page
photo of Jacob O. PROBASCO):
The PROBASCOS are one of the oldest families in Sebewa Township and Ionia
County. According to the family Bible, Jacob PROBASCO & Mary SHAY were joined in
the holy bonds of matrimony on the 19th day of January in the year of our Lord
1813. Jacob PROBASCO was born on the 12th day of October A.D. 1793, and died
July 30, 1840. Mary SHAY was born on the 27th day of June A.D. 1795, died May
30, 1878, and is buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. Jacob apparently never came to
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. John PROBASCO born February 6, 1814
2. Priscilla PROBASCO born November 30, 1815
3. Phoeba PROBASCO born February 24, 1818, died May 6, 1873
4. Henry R. PROBASCO born January 9, 1820, died November 12, 1862
5. Sara Ann PROBASCO born February 22, 1823
6. Uzel PROBASCO born December 19, 1824
7. George PROBASCO born March 3, 1827
8. Ephraim PROBASCO born February 18, 1829
9. Benjamin PROBASCO born April 8, 1831, died September 16, 1912
10. Mary Jane PROBASCO born July 22, 1833
11. Melissa Cordielye PROBASCO born November 27, 1835
PHOEBA PROBASCO married James SHAY (cousins?) in Ohio and several of their
children were born there, before they came to Michigan about 1855. They
apparently lived both in Muir and Sebewa, because James, born 1814, died in Muir
in 1861 and is buried there. Phoeba then took up their forty-acre farm at SE ¼
SE ¼ Sec. 16 Sebewa Township, which surrounds the Sebewa Center School, near her
brothers Ephraim & Benjamin, and lived out her life there until she died in
1873. We have written about her son, Ephraim SHAY, in past issues, including our
October, 1998, story about his invention of the SHAY Steam Locomotive and other
PHOEBA & James SHAY’S children were:
1. Loretta SHAY born 1837, died 1853
2. Ephraim SHAY born 1839, died 1916, buried at Harbor Springs
3. Uzel SHAY born 1841, died 1849
4. Priscilla SHAY born 1843
5. Theodore SHAY born 1845, died 1883, buried in East Sebewa
6. Victoria SHAY born 1847, died in 1847
7. Chauncey SHAY born 1848, died 1853
8. Susanne SHAY born 1852, died 1856
9. Mary Ann Velma SHAY born 1856, died 1889; married George Shipman
10. Arthur SHAY born 1858, died 1925; logged & buried Louisiana
11. Florence SHAY born 1861, died 1861
HENRY R. PROBASCO was born in New Jersey in 1820 and moved with the family to
Ohio when still a small boy. He grew up in Huron County, Ohio, and married Mary
C. RAYMOND, born in New York City, daughter of Alanson RAYMOND, an extensive
manufacturer of hats, who had stores in several cities. Alanson RAYMOND, in
company with the father of Gen. William TECUMSEH SHERMAN, went from New York to
Ohio and formed a colony in Huron County called SHERMAN Township.
Henry R. PROBASCO became well-to-do in Ohio as a meat packer, but during the
panic of the early 1850s he lost practically all he had. He then determined to
start over again in a new country and in 1856 drove a team & wagon, with his
family, to Sebewa Township where his brothers had located, and later moved to
Muir in Lyons Township. The family trade was cooperage, and they seem to have
had a corner on the market for flour barrels, wash tubs & water buckets in
Sebewa & Lyons Townships and perhaps all of Ionia County. About 1859 Henry R.
opened a meat market at Muir and continued in that business until his untimely
death at age 42, due to a steam-engine blow-up at a sawmill. He left seven
children, of whom Jacob O. PROBASCO was next to the oldest son, just 18 years,
and recently enlisted when his father died on November 12, 1862. Mary C.
PROBASCO survived until August, 1874.
JACOB O. PROBASCO was born in Sherman Township, Huron County, Ohio, on August
20, 1844, and came to Sebewa and Muir with his family at 12 years of age. He
enlisted as a private in the Union Army in June, 1862, at age 17, following the
bombardment of Ft. Sumpter. His regiment trained at Grand Rapids for three
months. Then he re-enlisted on September 8, 1862, as a sergeant in Company #,
Sixth Michigan Cavalry. He stopped off as the troop train passed thru Muir to
attend his father on his death bed, then rejoined his unit at Washington, DC. On
November 12, 1863, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant, the youngest
commissioned officer in the regiment at age 19.
On May 19, 1864, he was advanced to First Lieutenant, and on December 10, 1864,
was promoted to Captain at age 20. Many others from the Sebewa & Ionia County
area were with this unit, including Irving A. BROWN, William EDWINS, and others,
and were commanded by James H. KIDD, who himself attained the rank of Brigadier
General at age 25. The Sixth Michigan was afterward consolidated with the First
For the greater part of Jacob’s service the Sixth & First Michigan were attached
to the Army of the Potomac under General SHERIDAN, and participated in all the
great battles from Gettysburg to Appomattox, including the engagements at Yellow
Tavern, Meadow Ridge, Winchester, Sandy Ridge, Five Forks, Shepherdstown,
Travillion Station, Fort Republic, Mt. Crawford, Woodstock, Leetown, Baltimore
Crossroads, Cold Harbor and the twenty-one day raid from Winchester on the James
River Canal. His regiment was second in point of casualties sustained of any
cavalry regiment in the Union Army. The two weeks of the war it was CUSTER’S
relentless spearhead pressure on General Robert E. LEE that helped hasten the
surrender at Appomattox.
After LEE’S surrender and their participation in the Grand Review at Washington,
D.C., “Where wave after wave of bayonet-crested blue swept by the reviewing
stand” the regiment was ordered to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and thence to Utah,
Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. He was mustered out once in October, 1865, but
persuaded by General STAGGS from the Army of the Potomac to re-enlist for six
months in the First Michigan Veterans Cavalry. Fortunately, PROBASCO was again
mustered out in March, 1866, after some fierce Indian fighting in Utah, but well
before the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. He was twelve hundred miles from
home and traveled eighteen days and nights by stage to reach a railroad terminus
for the remaining ride home.
Upon his return from his frontier service in 1866, Captain Jacob O. PROBASCO
engaged in the hardware business at Muir, establishing the first hardware store
opened in that then promising village. He took a leading part in the commercial
life of the growing town and continued in business for forty years, until his
retirement in 1906, in which year he sold his store and lived quietly retired at
his old home built by his father in Muir. He was a Republican and held numerous
village and township offices, as well as delegate to county and state Republican
Conventions. He was an active Member of the Grand Army of The Republic and Loyal
Legion Veterans’ organizations.
On July 21, 1869, Capt. Jacob O. PROBASCO was united in marriage to Mary O.
SPIRE, born in Brewertown, New York, daughter of Daniel & Eveann DOMINICK SPIRE.
The SPIRES had a farm at the edge of Muir, then retired to the village, where he
died in 1908 at age 92 and she survived him by several years. Jacob, Mary and
daughter were members of the Church of Christ, Disciples at Muir. Jacob O.
PROBASCO died at Blodgett Hospital, in Grand Rapids, August 1, 1919.
JACOB O. & MARY O. PROBASCO’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Delia O. PROBASCO who married Arthur A. STODDARD of Muir
2. Henry O. PROBASCO who graduated from University of Michigan Law School and
was a prominent attorney for Michigan Trust Company at Grand Rapids. Henry O.
married Claudine VOSBURG.
BENJAMIN PROBASCO, youngest boy in the pioneer PROBASCO family was born in
Sherman Township, Huron County, Ohio, August 8, 1831, and came to Sebewa
Township in 1852 or soon after. He first set up his cooper shop and farm at the
northwest corner of Sec. 22 Sebewa, but later sold that land to Sam & Joshua
GUNN and bought 80 acres at the northeast corner of Sec. 22. His first wife was
Deborah J. SHOWERMAN, born 1833, died March 3, 1861.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Levant PROBASCO born 1858, died April 23, 1886; married Lenore BADGER
2. Eugene PROBASCO born 1860, died September 9, 1922
BENJAMIN PROBASCO next married Luryette A. BROWN, born 1844, died January 20,
1866, daughter of Eleazer & Melissa SHOWERMAN BROWN, and sister of Heman S. &
Irving A. BROWN. She died soon and he married Dora BOYER QUACKENBOSS.
BENJAMIN & DORA’S CHILD WAS:
3. Eva M. PROBASCO born 1871, died March 21, 1944; married Henry P. SNYDER and
they were parents of Winnie (Mrs. Don) BENSCHOTER and others.
EUGENE PROBASCO, born in 1860 in Sebewa Township, married Emma CASWELL, born
1867, died 1902, daughter of Henry & Emaline BRIGGS CASWELL, who lived across
the road. Eugene and Emma had a house on the same farm with Ben, although their
son was born in the Frank SHOWERMAN house down on the south corner.
EUGENE & EMMAS’ CHILD(REN) WAS (WERE):
1. Benjamin PROBASCO born May 21, 1885, died September 6, 1981
2. Fern PROBASCO born 1890, died Dec. 17, 1949; married Theron McNEIL
Benjamin PROBASCO born 1885, died 1981; married Maude May Anna HANSON OATLEY,
and they farmed all their lives on the old home farm.
BEN & MAUDE’S CHILDREN WERE:
1. Uzel PROBASCO born 1910, died 1925
2. Harold PROBASCO born 1911, died 1929
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Fern CONKRITE was 104 on March 3 and has moved
to Heartland Health Center, 814 E. Lincoln Avenue, Ionia, MI 48846
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION: Monday, May 31,
Memorial Day, pot luck supper at 6:30 PM. Bring table service and dish to pass;
beverages provided. Business meeting at 7:30 PM with short program to follow.
Janet GIERMAN RUDD’S term as President and LaVern CARR’S term as Trustee expire.
Wes MEYERS Jr. is V.P. until 2000, Sharon HUNT KYSER is Sec/Treas. until 2001,
one Trustee seat is vacant. The furnace has been serviced and works fine, now
pump has problem.