THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the
Sebewa Center Association, Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
FEBRUARY 2000, Volume 35, Number 4. Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. SLOWINS:
Petrie, Walkington, Sage, Livingston, Brake, Cosens, Betzner, Sherk, Break,
Brech, Thomas, Daniels, Mulholland, Slater, Burleigh, Hooper, Heintzelman,
Wilson, Haney, Ritter, Willits, Harper, Mathews, Layman, Ogle, Terry, Van Sicle,
Totten, Meyers, Creighten, Reahm, Pavlova
IDAH E. PETRIE, 80, wife of Dennis, mother of Nancy HAYNOR & Mary Ellen Van
STEMPVOORT, sister of Pauline HOUGH & the late Merwood REAHM, daughter of Fred &
Essie REAHM. They farmed in Sebewa and she taught at Mulliken and Lake Odessa,
lived in Lake Odessa for a few years with his accounting business, retired to
Florida, then Georgia, buried in East Sebewa Cemetery. She was born in Sebewa
and her parents’ farm on TUPPER Lake Road later became the Wayne THRAMS farm.
She and Dennis had the SHOWERMAN farm on MUSGROVE Hwy., homesteaded by Orlando
V., then Elmer Jay SHOWERMAN, then Robert & Clarice SHOWERMAN.
BRUCE WALKINGTON, 62, husband of Thelma, widower of Vivian, father of Cynthia
ACKERSON, Carolyn SMITH, Terry WALKINGTON, Renae WALKINGTON, Ida Mae MORROW,
Mark WALKINGTON & the late Lewis WALKINGTON, brother of Gordon & Ronald
WALKINGTON, Bonnie LEAK, Rosalyn JOHNSON, and the late Loren WALKINGTON, son of
Ora & Verl SAGE WALKINGTON. Born in Orange Township and a dairy farmer for 44
years, Bruce was known and loved by everyone and truly outstanding in his field.
He had been president of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association, Ionia County
Farm Bureau, member of Michigan State Holstein Association and 4-H Dairy
Superintendent at Ionia Free Fair. First Christian Church in Ionia had not seen
such a crowd overflowing the balcony since President James A. Garfield preached
there 125 years ago. This time the minister was Rev. Jeanne Wisenbaugh, and she
paid perfect tribute to Bruce, as he set out in his fifth-wheel for that great
campground in the Beyond.
KARL LIVINGSTON, 87, husband of Iris, father of Sandra DURKEE, James & Dennis
LIVINGSTON, Ronda MUNN & Judy KERNEY, brother of the late Gordon, Frank, Forrest
& Burdette, son of Walter LIVINGSTON & Ida Caroline BRAKE, daughter of Caroline
COSENS & Abraham BRAKE, son of Catherine BETZNER & John BREAK, son of Christina
Magdalena SHERK & John BREAK, son of Hannes BRECH, immigrant from Switzerland.
UCEBA DANIELS THOMAS, 97, widow of Bernard THOMAS, mother of Bernadine CARR,
Lowell, Douglas & Bruce THOMAS, sister of Oren DANIELS and the late Bernice GUNN
& Myrtle EARLE, daughter of Anna LINDLEY & Andrus DANIELS, son of Sarah & Oren
W. DANIELS, son of Eunice & Andrus W. DANIELS, who settled in Sebewa Township in
1865. She & Bernard were both teachers and long lived in the Martha Jane BRAKE &
Frank TASKER house behind the George REISER Lumber Yard in Lake Odessa.
SIXTY DESCENDANTS OF PETER & CLARA MULHOLLAND SLATER recently
held a reunion in Lake Odessa. Peter SLATER emigrated from Holstein, Germany
with his mother in 1854 at age 13. In 1867, he married Clara, and in 1872 they
homesteaded a wilderness farm on what is now THOMPSON Road in Campbell Township.
This farm was later known for many years as the John F. BRAKE farm and is now
the Dale ZOOK Llama Farm.
SLATERS had 8 children, of which 5 grew up: Minnie BURLEIGH, Nora HOOPER, and
Garfield, Edgar & Berton SLATER. Garfield’s children were Esta STUART KOLE,
Marian HOWLETTE, and Elwin & Ivan Kenneth SLATER, who married Olive HEINTZELMAN
of Sebewa. Edgar’s children were Merton & Glenn. Berton’s children were Mabel
McCAUL, Phebe GEIGER, Mary McCAUL, and Carl, Roy, Keith, Forrest & Richard
SLATER. Phebe SLATER GEIGER is the oldest still living, at age 97.
EATON COUNTY GHOST POST OFFICES. “REST IN PEACE”
This list was compiled by Jeremy C. NAGEL from a book called Michigan Place
Names, by Walter ROMIG, 1976, who in turn used the U. S. Post Office archives
for much of his research. Several were very close to Sebewa’s borders. How many
can you remember or know their location?
Allen’s Corners 1870-187l
Brookfield 1858-65, 1867-1904
Chester 1842-1873; 1874-1913
Clinton Junction 1871-1874
Delta Mills 1842-1910
East Walton 1866-1870
Kingsland 1882-96, 1898-1903
Mud Creek 1850-1870
Oneida Center 1839-52, 54-66
SHAYtown 1880-94, 1898-1901
South Sunfield 1858-1865
Spicerville 1854-7, 1857-9
Tyler (So. Eaton) 1839-45
Walton(E. Bellevue) 1838-49
West Benton 1855-60
W. Windsor (Sevastopol)
Jeremy NAGEL writes: “The small Post Office is the grain of sand around which
thousands of small pearly communities have formed. Whether it’s just a counter
top in a general store (or Edwin LEAK, Sr’s. bedstead for Sebewa’s Rosina P. O.
or a watered-down Art-Deco edifice, the Post Office has traditionally been a
focal point of small communities. Along with schools, churches, and the most
basic commercial necessities, the local Post Office is one of those fundamental
institutions that define the smaller community.
“They foster traffic to the downtown area, where people can also have a cup of
coffee, eat breakfast, pick up a newspaper, or have their prescription filled.
Indeed, the Post Office is one of those little necessities that can turn over
the engine of commerce. Many a trip downtown begins with the phrase, ‘I have to
go to the Post Office….’ Mailing things is a necessity, shopping is an optional,
but likely, side effect.
“The Federal Post Office Department began abandoning rural and small town
offices in the late 1800s with the advent of Rural Free Delivery. By 1920 the
government had closed down most of its lowest tier of offices, those that had
served hamlets and the smallest villages. No fewer than 29 of the 30 rural
offices in Eaton County shown above were closed by 1913; funny how most of these
places are now ‘ghost towns’.
“But we are not out of the woods yet. According to the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, the United States Postal Service closed about 150 Post
Offices every year in the 1980s; almost 600 have been shut down since 1995.”
COVER PHOTO: CATHERINE PEACOCK HANEY, SEBEWA DESCENDANT HAS BATS
IN HER BELFRY – Cathy Haney, secretary at First Presbyterian Church, cautiously
removes a dead bat from the bell tower of the church.
THE RITTER FAMILY OF ORANGE, SEBEWA & ODESSAS by Grayden SLOWINS:
We wrote briefly about the RITTER family in June 1999, Volume 34, Number 6, and
asked our readers for help with this family’s story. A reply was received from
Jim WILLITS, whose family we wrote about in December 1998, Volume 34, Number 3.
Jim and his siblings, Charles, George, Viola, Virginia & infant Leland RUE
WILLITS, are children of Vernon WILLITS, who is buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
Ray was the son of Leland RUE WILLITS, who lived on the 50 acres on the Danby
side of KEEFER HWY. now owned by Joe & Karen TOWNER. Leland Rue WILLITS was the
son of Stephen WILLITS and both are buried in SPAULDING Cemetery on DEXTER Trail
near SPAULDING Road, Sec. 25 Lyons Township. Leland Rue WILLITS married Jennie
Etta RITTER, daughter of Samuel RITTER, Sr., thereby leading us into the RITTER
Samuel RITTER, born 1820 in Maryland or Pennsylvania, died 1891 in Orange
Township, Ionia County, buried in TUTTLE Cemetery, was married July 29, 1845, in
Creston, Canaan Township, Wayne County, Ohio, to Elizabeth Ann HARPER, born 1929
in Virginia, died February 27, 1861, Ashland County, Ohio, buried in Ashland
1850 Census of Mifflin Township, Ashland County, Ohio: 1)RITTER, Samuel, age 30,
born Maryland; 2)Elizabeth, 21, Virginia; 3)John, 3, Ohio; 4)Isaac, 2, Ohio;
5)Elizabeth A., 9 mo., Ohio.
1860 Census of Montgomery Township, Wayne County, Ohio:1)RITTER, Samuel, born
Maryland; 2)Elizabeth, wife, 32, Virginia; 3)John, son, 14, Ohio; 4)Isaac, son,
12, Ohio; 5)Elizabeth, daughter, 8, Ohio; 6)Rachel, daughter, 8, Ohio; 7)Samuel,
son, 5, Ohio; 8)Anthony, son, 4, Ohio; 9) Mary A., daughter, 2, Ohio.
1870 Census of Orange Township, Ionia County, Michigan: RITTER, Samuel, 50,
farmer, Real Estate Value $3,000, Personal Estate $630.00; 2)Isaac, 22, son,
Ohio; 3)Elizabeth, 20, daughter, Ohio; 4)Rachel, 18, daughter, Ohio; 5)Samuel
J., 17, son, Ohio; 6)Anthony, 16, son, Ohio; 7)Mary A., 12, daughter, Ohio;
8)Will, 8, son, Ohio; 9)Jennie Etta, 6, daughter, Ohio.
ELIZABETH ANN RITTER, daughter, born 1850, is still listed as part of the family
in 1860 & 1870 censuses, however she is listed in Ashland City Cemetery records
as having died January 2, 1857. Elizabeth Ann HARPER RITTER, wife, died in Ohio,
February 27, 1861. Samuel then married Mary MATHEWS on October 13, 1864, in
Ashland, Ohio. She is believed to be the mother of Jennie Etta and possibly
Will, although he more likely was born just before the death of first wife
SAMUEL RITTER, 51, was married November 10, 1871, in Orange Township, Ionia
County, to Rebecca LAYMAN, age 48, resident of Orange, born in Pennsylvania.
Married by D. L. RITENBURGH, Justice of the Peace, witnessed by Wesley
RITENBURGH. Rebecca died August 8, 1880, and is buried with Samuel in TUTTLE
SAMUEL RITTER, age 60, was married for a fourth time on October 19, 1880, to
Margaret OGLE, age 27, also a resident of Orange, but born in Dresden, Ohio.
Married by G. H. THOMAS, minister of Methodist Episcopal Church, and witnessed
by Lucy J. VEASY and David OGLE.
RACHEL RITTER, age 21, was married September 1, 1872, in Orange, to Edward C.
TERRY, age 22, born in Pennsylvania, both residents of Orange Township, by J. C.
FERRIS, minister, witness Emma Van SEVEN.
SAMUEL J. RITTER, age 23, born February 1, 1853, in Ashland, Ohio, died March 8,
1930, in Lansing, Michigan, and was buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Lake Odessa,
was married November 12, 1876, while a resident of Orange Township, to Mary Ann
VanSICLE, age 19, of Odessa Township, born in Coldwater, Michigan, died May 24,
1888, Groton, South Dakota, and buried there. Married by Myron TUPPER, minister,
witnessed by David Bretz & Sara VanSICLE. Samuel’s occupation was farmer.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Fred Henry RITTER born April 16, 1878, Lake Odessa, died October 1, 1894,
Groton, South Dakota, and buried there
2. Frank Alvin RITTER born April 13, 1879, Lake Odessa, believed to have died in
Manitoba in 1940s
3. John Ernest RITTER born January 14, 1881, Lake Odessa, dies April 3, 1943,
Pueblo, Colorado, and buried there
4. Cora May RITTER born May 21, 1883, Groton, South Dakota, died September 4,
1963, Lansing, Michigan, buried Lakeside Cemetery.
SAMUEL J. RITTER, age 37, was married February 22, 1890, in Groton, South
Dakota, to Rosella TOTTEN, age 17, born in Ionia County, Michigan, daughter of
Daniel TOTTEN & Claressa WHEELER.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
5. Myrta Ethel RITTER born May 1, 1891, Groton, South Dakota, died 1983, in
Lansing, Michigan, buried in Lansing Chapel Hill
6. Elmer Vincent RITTER, born April 29, 1893, Groton, SD, died June 7, 1961,
Lansing, MI, buried Lansing Mt. Hope
7. Edna Evelyn RITTER born November 26, 1897, Lake Odessa, MI; died June 7,
1961, Traverse City, MI, buried Lansing Mt. Hope
8. Carl Daniel RITTER, born May 25, 1904, Lansing, Michigan, died August 9,
1977, Oxnard, CA; buried in Ventura, CA, Ivy Lawn.
ANTHONY RITTER, age 24, born April 19, 1854, died November 14, 1932, was married
March 30, 1879 to Sarah Jane STANTON, age 18, born September 17, 1860 in Orange
Township, died January 2, 1930, married in Orange Township, by Rev. Arthur J.
WHEELER, witnessed by Willie RITTER & Millie STANTON. Anthony’s occupation was
THEIR CHILDREN, ALL BORN IN IONIA COUNTY, WERE:
1. Sarah Eliza RITTER born November 5, 1880, died Oct. 13, 1936
2. Mary Maude RITTER born March 8, 1882, died October 28, 1924
3. Alfred D. (Bruce) RITTER, born Jan. 14, 1884, died Sept. 10, 1950
4. Samuel RITTER born April 24, 1885, died May 30, 1885
5. Grace Ann RITTER, born May 10, 1886, died October 18, 1958
6. Mabel Agnes RITTER born March 23, 1888
7. Floyd Maxwell RITTER born Jan. 17, 1890, died June 2, 1966
8. Harold Everard (Abe) RITTER born May 30, 1892, died Dec. 9, 1970
9. Forest Ezra (Jack) RITTER born July 9, 1895, died Nov. 15, 1936
10. Guy Earl RITTER born April 14, 1898, died May 20, 1898
11. Roy LaVerne RITTER born January 16, 1900, died June 15, 1950
Sarah E. RITTER and George E. HEDGES, January 21, 1904
Mary Maude RITTER and Wesley VOSBURGH, October 29, 1910
Alfred D. RITTER and Mary WALTERS, November 30, 1904
Grace Ann RITTER and Fred L. PATTERSON, January 11, 1906
Mabel Agnes RITTER and Claude TEACHOUT, March 30, 1911
Floyd Maxwell RITTER and Pearl GIBBONS, October 29, 1910
Harold Everard RITTER and Florence CARBAUGH, February 26, 1925
Roy LaVern RITTER and Bertha SWEET, December 21, 1920
MARY ANN RITTER, age 18, was married April 7, 1875, to Charles Milo REED, also
resident of Orange Township, but born in Kent County, Michigan, occupation
farmer. Married by G. A. PHILLIPS, of Methodist Episcopal Church, witnessed by
JENNIE RITTER, age 16, was married March 24, 1880, to Leland RUE WILLITS, age
24, born in Michigan, both residents of Orange Township, married in Orange
Township by Abraham ROOT, Minister, witnessed by Ellen HITCHCOCK & Emma TREECE.
Leland RUE WILLITS was a farmer.
FLOYD MAXWELL (Skinny) RITTER & Pearl GIBBONS farmed on 100 acres at east side
of SW ¼ Sec. 14 Sebewa, beginning soon after their marriage in 1910 and ending
with his death in 1966. Pearl died November 24, 1970, in Oak Park, Illinois, age
84, and is buried with him at Lake Odessa Lakeside Cemetery.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE:
1. Jane RITTER, married Ray REYNOLDS, lives at Hastings
2. Jean RITTER, married Harris, lives in Chicago
3. Maxwell RITTER, bulldozer operator, deceased
4. Paul RITTER, collects information on RITTER family
5. Maynard RITTER ?
6. Royal RITTER ?
We found some conflicting information, such as birth and death dates sometimes
in the same source. Take your pick!
SAMUEL RITTER, SR’S farm in Orange Township was located at the East ¾ of South ½
of North ½ of Section 16. He lived on this 120 acres from about 1865 until his
death in 1891. It is now land-locked, but can be reached by turning south into a
farm lane located a quarter mile east of the eastern-most jog in Forty-Acre-Town
Road, where it becomes GOODWIN Road. The lane was formerly called BOWERS Road,
and we wonder if it was named for Ruth BOWERS LEIFHEIT’S family, who lived in
that neighborhood. The JANES family, who were also related to Ruth, owned land
on BOWERS Road and acquired the BOWERS land, too. END
MEYERS UPDATE: Elfa MEYERS CREIGHTON, whose obituary we included
last issue, had a fourth brother, Chester MEYERS, who lived in Battle Creek and
worked for OLIVER Machine Works.
REAHM UPDATE: Idah REAHM PETRIE, whose obituary appears in this
issue, had three more brothers: the late Duane, Carl & Kendall REAHM.
LAKE ODESSA TIMES for April 21, 1899 lists names of farmers in
the vicinity of Lake Odessa who had recently purchased McCORMICK-DEERING
Grain-drills, Grain-binders, Hay-mowers & Hay-rakes. We note the creative
spellings, especially for our relatives – SLOWINSKI & MAJINSKA:
A. CRAMER, W. GARLINGER, W. M. EDWINS, A. DELI (DILLEY), M. REISER, GEO. SMITH,
D. SMITH, J. MOYER, A. ECKARDT, A. BROADBECK (BRODBECK), F. ECKARDT, H.
HORLINGER (GERLINGER), J. SMITH, M. SMITH, A. SMOKE, J. FUNK, A. BALDINGER (BAITINGER),
C. BERKLEY (BERKLE), P. FENDER, S. DAVIS, J. VELTE, W. JORDAN, J. GRIEBLE, L.
METZGAR, J. PICKENS, J. DAVIS, C. GRIEBLE, J. PARMERTON (PARMENTER), D. LANDIS,
J. SCHIVLEY (SCHAIBLEY), H. B. MILLER, L. CHRISTIE, F. DURKEY (DURKEE), F. DEAN,
G. HUMMEL, C. McROBERTS, T. AINSWORTH, J. SYLWINSKEY (SLOWINSKI), W. MAGINSKY (MAJINSKA),
N. VanHOUTEN, D. BISHOP, U. BISHOP, R. BOSWORTH, L. WONDERLICH, U. BRIMINGSTALL
(BRININGSTAUL), C. BISHOP, A. BISHOP, F. WILCOX, F. SPRAGUE, D. GORHAM, W.
HUNTER, J. NEED (NEEB), JOHN NEED (NEEB), N. PERKINS, G. BAKER, W. MYERS
(MEYERS), A. REAHM, H. HORN, B. SHELLHORN, S. KUSSMAUL, A. KIMMEL, C. HASKINGS
(HASKINS), S. FIGG, E. GRIFFEN (GRIFFIN), J. PEABODY, W. HALL, A. E. ELLLIOT, S.
GUNN, J. SAYERS (SAYER), J. DEAL, G. LAPO, C. ESTEP, J. BROOMFIELD, C. COOK, M.
FOGHT, W. LAPHAM, F. HARPER, J. ERVY, J. SMITH, J. STALTERS (STALTER), J. O.
MORROW, O. BACHELOR (BACHELDER), T. LEMON (LENON), F. LOVELL, J. KOUTZ, G.
COOLEY, J. BRENDTS (BRETZ), C. HOLLER (HALLER), W. BEAVER, K. HOSSERMAN (HAUSSERMAN),
B. MAURER, L. MAURER, D. TRAVES (TRAVIS), J. HAHN, GOE. MILLER, W. M. RICHARDSON
Some of the above were fairly new Polish-German immigrants whose
families had not been here more than 20-30-40 years, and they had worked hard
and prospered in this Land of Opportunity. We take this opportunity to
congratulate a newly-naturalized American citizen. She is Emma PALOVA, 39, a
resident of Lowell and reporter at IONIA SENTINEL-STANDARD. She was born in
Czechoslovakia, but her family left there in 1966. Her father, a calculus
professor, taught three years at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, Africa. By
then the Russians had invaded her homeland to quell efforts at liberty, and they
were found guilty of having left the country illegally.
The family did not return, but went to Saskatchewan, Canada, for one year, and
then to Hawkins, Texas, in 1970. They were granted amnesty in 1973 and returned
for a while, but her father could not find a job because he was considered a bad
influence on the students. The family had to live in one room of her
Emma was a bit of a celebrity among her teenage peers, because she could now
speak English and they called her “Americhanka”, which translates as “American
girl”. In 1976, her father illegally crossed into Austria by swimming across the
Danube River. With the help of friends, he made it to a job at Ferris State
University. Emma’s mother and brother were able to join him in 1980, but Emma
was now married and legally no longer part of that family. Finally in 1989,
after applying every year for nine years, she got an exit visa and joined her
husband, Ludek PALA, in Montreal, because he could only get a visa to live in
Canada. In 1993, PALOVA, her husband, and two children moved to Michigan.
She didn’t have to face one of the biggest obstacles to many new immigrants,
because she spoke English. But even with a bachelor’s degree in civil
engineering, Emma found getting a job difficult. She worked as a women’s
department clerk at Meijer four years, before getting a writing job in Allegan
and then Ionia. She feels she can exercise her freedom as a writer and also is
excited about being able to vote. Her 20-year-old daughter was naturalized the
same day and Emma can apply in her 12-year-old son’s behalf. The family speaks
Czech at home and eats Czech food. However, her son is a typical American boy.
He likes Nintendo and TV, and prefers burgers and pop.
FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF THE SHERIFFS OF IONIA COUNTY FROM THE
1837 Elhanan W. CURTIS 1893-1896 Alexander T.MONTGOMERY
1839-1840 John P. PLACE 1897-1898 Henry JORDAN
1841-1842 Alonzo SESSIONS 1899-1902 Frank MOON
1843 William CRAMER 1903-1906 Elmer FALES
1844 Cyprian S. HOOKER 1907-1910 Elmer CILLEY
1845-1846 Hiram BROWN 1911-1914 William TAYLOR
1847-1848 Volney EATON 1915-1918 Ed LOWREY
1849-1850 Peter COON 1919-1922 Mark HOPPOUGH
1851-1852 ASAPH C. SMITH 1923-1926 Henry COOK
1853-1854 Ami CHIPMAN 1927-1932 William FRANCH
1855-1858 Charles A. HOLMES 1933-1938 Herbert ROSS
1859-1862 Abraham ALDERMAN 1939-1944 Leslie MURPHY
1863-1866 James L. JENNINGS 1945-1948 Richard DODES
1867-1870 Abraham ALDERMAN 1949-1954 Ben NEVE
1871-1874 Edson P. GIFFORD 1955-1964 Peter VanVLECK
1875-1876 William REYNOLDS 1965-1976 O. Gary NEWTON
1877-1880 William H. MATTISON 1977-1984 William BENSINGER
1881-1884 William TOAN 1985-1998 Terrance JUNGLE
1885-1888 Hiram LEE 1998-2000 Dwain DENNIS
1889-1892 Hamilton WELKER
The above list is everyone ever elected Sheriff of Ionia County, and alas, Riley
N. WILSON is not listed. His descendants have always believed he served as
Sheriff. He was listed in numerous articles in the PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER
and SUNFIELD SENTINEL as Deputy Sheriff in Sebewa. When he moved to Ionia and
owned a store on the north side of Main St., west of CORNELL Alley, they started
referring to him as Sheriff WILSON. Unless he was appointed to complete
someone’s elected term, he must have always been a deputy, or perhaps
Elaine GARLOCK sends a clipping in which Woodland Cemetery
Sexton Jim WICKHAM is actually included along with the Doctors, Nurses,
Preachers, Soloist & Organist in a Card of Thanks after a funeral!