Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 36 Numbers 5 & 6
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 Center Association,
APRIL-JUNE 2001, Volume 36, Numbers 5-6 . Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. SLOWINS:

SURNAMES: Goddard, VanHouten, Bopp, Figg, Leak, Ingall, Leik, Sandborn, Platte, DeBoer, Alden, Coe, Hunt, Downing, Williams, Sindlinger, Snyder, Estep, Goodemoot, Fox, Wolcott, Creighton, Peake, Inglis, Pryer, VanRiper, Steinmets, Myers, Karrar, Stambaugh, Greenman, Hoffman, Roush, Leik

FRONT PAGE PHOTO of GODDARD SCHOOL, Sebewa Twp., Ionia Co., Michigan – not sure of exact year of this photo but by looking at the birth years of the people listed, we can assume it was the early 1900s.

The names that were written on the original photo were as follows:

BACK ROW, left to right: Minnie VanHOUTEN, ? BOPP – father was Fred BOPP; Teacher’s name unknown, Vera FIGG, Voight FIGG, Hazen FIGG, Maynard LEAK b. 1899.

MIDDLE ROW, left to right: Unknown, Mildred LEAK b. 1897, Greta INGALL, Lola LAPO?, Miney VanHOUTEN, Iva INGALL b. 1899 (still living), Maurice LEAK b. 1901

FRONT ROW: Leon LEAK? B. 1905, unknownCan you help to identify who the other children are, and what year this was taken? If so, contact Pam SWILER, Ionia County Genealogy Society.


LARRY ALDEN COE, 64, husband of Jean, father of Gilbert REYNOLDS, Rebecca CHIODINI & Cynthia VIDOR, brother of Joyce KURR, son of Wilma HUNT & Ralph COE, grandson of John & Hermina HUNT and Alden J. & Abbie COE, great-grandson of William S. & Libbie HUNT and William H. COE, all of whom settled on HENDERSON Road in Sebewa Township before 1875. Larry founded COE Accounting & Tax Service and continued to work there even after selling to his nephew Rodney KURR. He had retired to Lakeland, FL.

BRUCE WILLIAM DOWNING, 77, widower of Myrtle THOMSPSON DOWNING, father of Vicki BOWERMAN, Diane BLACK, James & Thomas DOWNING, brother of Cleo PIERCEFIELD, son of Mamie WILLIAMS & Homer DOWNING, grandson of Lewis G. WILLIAMS & Theresa SINDLINGER WILLIAMS SNYDER and Maude ESTEP & Ezekiel J. DOWNING, great-grandson of Barbara & Fred J. SINDLINGER, Sr., William ESTEP and Samuel W. DOWNING. William ESTEP settled on MUSGROVE Hwy. in Sebewa Township in 1849. The DOWNINGS were inter-married with the PEACOCKS and came to KNOLL Road in Sebewa Township with them in 1865 and before. The SINDLINGERS settled in Sebewa Township on KIMMEL Road in 1855. Bruce was retired from Motor Wheel in Lansing. Buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

MYRON H. “ODESSA MIKE” GOODEMOOT, 79, husband of Lois, father of Barbara SAUERS, Nancy POTTER, Jerri YEAGER, Gary & Mark GOODEMOOT and the late Roger GOODEMOOT, brother of Helen LIVERMORE ROBINSON, Peg FAULKNER, Rex and Don GOODEMOOT, and the late Francis & Ford GOODEMOOT and Marian McDOWELL, son of Sadie FOX & Donald GOODEMOOT, grandson of Russell GOODEMOOT, great grandson of John & Mary J. GOODEMOOT, and once more, thru Mary, a great-great-great-great-grandchild of Oliver WOLCOTT, Sr., an early governor of Connecticut and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mary was first married to a CREIGHTON and mother to James H. CREIGHTON and had settled in Sebewa on Clarksville Road before 1875. Mike farmed all his life on the farm where he was born, delivered milk in the Lakewood area, and sang barbershop. Buried in Lakeside Cemetery.

WILBUR H. PEAKE, 80, husband of Mary SIMON PEAKE, father of Julie WEST, Betty LEYRER, and the late Cindy PEAKE, brother of Forrest PEAKE, Margy MOYER and the late Lynn PEAKE, son of Guy & Pearl PRYER PEAKE, grandson of Margaret E. WOODIN & William PRYER, great-grandson of Cornelia Ann PHILLIPS & Thomas PRYER, who was son of Mary INGLIS & Merselus PRYER, son of Mary Van RIPER & Casparus PRYER, son of Sarah ANDRESSON & Casparus PRYER, son of Johanna STEINMETS & Andreas PRYER, son of Margaret & Thomas PRYER, who emigrated from the Netherlands to New Jersey before 1674, and was descended from Thomas PRYER, an officer in Queen Elizabeth I’s Army, who fought in Holland in 1586-1587, and whose family had originally gone to England from Normandy Province of France with William the Conqueror in 1066. Young Thomas & Cornelia PRYER settled on Frost Road in Danby Township in 1850, although his brother James took up the Land Patent for him in 1835, when Thomas was only 15 years old and an apprentice cabinet-maker. Wilbur farmed the land of Thomas & William & Guy all his life. He was a veteran of World War II and was buried in Danby Cemetery with military graveside honors.

O. VIRGINIA (STAMBAUGH) KARRA MYERS, 83, widow of Leon KARRAR and Vergil MYERS, mother of Donna VANCE, Forrest KARRAR, Gayla FREEMAN, Phyllis HYVARINEN and the late Marjorie KARRAR, sister of the late Arlin STAMBAUGH & Vivian EASTMAN, daughter of John J. & Greta INGALL STAMBAUGH, granddaughter of John H. & Sarah Jemina GREENMAN STAMBAUGH & D. C. INGALL, great-granddaughter of Sheldon C. & Lydia A. GREENMAN and William INGALL. William INGALL settled on TUPPER Lake Road in Sebewa Township before 1875, Sheldon C. GREENMAN & John H. STAMBAUGH settled there soon after. O. Virginia was long-time Sunfield Clerk. She is survived by her Aunt Iva DUNLAP, our only remaining survivor of the 1800s. O. Virginia will be buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.

BERNADINE L. HOFFMAN, 82, sister of the late Ronald & Rowland HOFFMAN and Lucille STAMBAUGH, daughter of Rev. Andrew & Ida ROUSH HOFFMAN. After attending Huntington College and graduating from Western Michigan University, she taught in Lansing, Bath & Charlotte. Then she served 39 years as a missionary in Sierra Leone, West Africa, longest in United Brethren history. She always cast her vote in Sebewa Township in every Presidential Election by Absentee Ballot.

She was one of only 12 people whose ballot was not recorded in the Gerald Ford Re-election vote of 1976. Gerald Ford had been our Congressman and we had a massive 97 ½ percent turnout – 486 out of 498 registered. By 7:30PM that day we had contacted anyone who we thought might need transportation or an A.V. Ballot. The other eleven were either very, very sick at home or hospitalized, and two died that day, one while I was in his house with the ballot. Bernadine’s ballot came to the Post Office one day late, after traveling by truck, airplane, jeep, pack-animal, and jungle-runner to Darkest Africa and back. Bernadine is buried in Bowne Mennonite Cemetery, Kent County.

THE ALL-CROP 60 HARVESTER From “OLD ALLIS NEWS”, Summer 1997, by Charles LEIK:

The All-Crop 60 was simply a wonderful piece of equipment at a price any serious farmer could afford. It was to independent grain harvesting what the Model T was to affordable transportation for the masses. It spelled the end of neighborhood cooperation in threshing whether by the binder/tractor/separator or by the first combines in the 30s that were often jointly owned.

Dad and Uncles Jerry and Henry owned a JD combine with a 4’ cut, bagger and auxiliary engine for several years in the late 40s. I recall one day standing on the bagging platform and watching Dad, or one of my uncles, manage the sacks. There was a V spout so that when one bag was filled the grain flow was diverted to the attached empty sack. The first was meanwhile tied and positioned on the platform, and the process repeated. At every round the full sacks, weighing about 120 lbs., were slid down the chute into the wheat stubble.

These were not gunny sacks, but long cylindrical white cloth sacks imprinted with the logos of the mills that had shipped flour in these sacks. Then men loaded the sacks into the wagon and dumped them at the granary. There was as much handling of the threshed grain with the bagger combine as with the stationery separator fifty years earlier.

My recollection is that Dad and his brothers spent a lot of Sundays under the lawn trees at Jerry’s farm repairing the JD combine. The brothers advertised it for sale and a purchaser came to our house. I heard Dad and the prospective buyer discuss the combine and, not understanding any of it at age 7, still wanted to help make the sale. So, as the prospective buyer left, I remember shouting after him, “It’s a John Deere”, which was the only helpful information I knew. I think he was the one who bought it and I know its sale caused no regrets on our part.

The advent of the All-Crop and its competitors also ushered in the era of bulk grain handling. Our neighbor had an All-Crop equipped with both a bagger and bin, but otherwise everyone in our area went to bulk grain handling as soon as new equipment was available after WWII. We fitted 3/4” plywood sheets to the inside of the stake rack on our 14’ Dodge Job-Rated two ton truck. But first Dad tacked strips of rubber from an old inner tube to the bottom edge of the plywood to form a tight seal with the floor.

The back gate was constructed of tongue and groove 1 x 6s attached to the four steel stakes that came with the truck racks. Oscar SMITH, the village blacksmith, fabricated a steel gate that could be opened at the elevator to allow the grain to spill out the back when the truck was tilted at 30 degrees. We used our heavy fence stretcher chains and racket to counter the outward push of the grain against the side racks.

The combination of the affordability of the All-Crop and bulk handling meant that grain harvest could theoretically be done by one man. He could combine most of the day into a truck the size of ours, or several grain wagons, and haul them to town in the evening, or empty them in the cool of the next morning into the granary. It certainly eliminated the bagger man on the combine and all the heavy lifting of sacks.

We purchased our All-Crop 60 Harvester from F. S. NIETHAMER, Woodland, Michigan in January 1951 for $1134.78. This included $24.99 for the straw spreader and $3.50 for a clover seed sieve. Uncles Henry and Jerry also purchased identical combines that winter. “All-Crop” was pretty accurate as we harvested everything from wheat to cloverseed with oats, rye, barley and buckwheat in between.

We were amazed that the instruction manual gave sieve and cylinder settings for dozens of crops; some of which, like rapeseed, we had never heard of. We, thinking of the 12’ sunflowers in our garden, could not imagine even the sturdy “60” threshing such stalks. We never imagined though that someday combines would shell corn.

The 60 had a five foot head with an upper and lower canvas, and a 16 bushel grain tank with a self-unloading auger. After going through the main cylinder, the straw had to turn 90 degrees to the straw rack and sieves which were perpendicular to the canvas, and the straw was discharged from the right side—just behind the grain tank. This differed from, as far as I know, every other manufacturer where the straw flowed in a straight line from front to rear. I suppose the reason for this engineering, that is contrary to good sense, was to make a compact machine. It never caused us any problem since our live PTO allowed a pause in forward travel when there was a heavy grain, or we had to cut lodged grain at ground level, or the straw got tough at dusk.

The straw discharge was inconvenient though because the strawspreader and the straw hood had to be lifted on their hinges to a vertical position when unloading the grain tank. Our two-ton truck, which we called “Big Truck”, had high sides, and the truck had to be very close to the combine for the auger to reach. It probably wasn’t a problem with wagons and, of course, most farmers in that era of livestock, did not use a straw spreader.

We kids were amazed that this machine, with its pitman powering the sickle bar to the heavy V belts on main cylinder and all the lesser belts on the back that powered the rack, fan and bucket elevators, could extract clean grain from a standing field. After every dump, when combining resumed, the reel gently pushed the grain into the sickle bar and onto the canvas; it laid on the canvas on its way to the cylinder and then there was “whosh, whosh” as the tinder dry straw met the cylinder and was threshed. Moments later grain—first a trickle—then a steady stream flowed into the grain tank. The “60” was high tech for us!

It was awesome to engage the PTO and see all the belts, pitmans, shafts and chain (it was a chain from the right wheel sprocket to a shaft running through the grain tank that turned the pulley on which the V belt to the end of the reel was connected) slowly turn and watch the dust come out from under the straw hood as Dad, and later I, revved the engine to its maximum after hitching it for the season.

In mid-Michigan the first grain is ready about mid-July, and we would have our third and last cultivating done by the 10th so the WD was freed for the combine. Once Dad got the PTO and shields in place the tractor was kept hitched to the combine for the season.

In the early years Dad ran the combine and boys would stand on the platform in front of the grain tank where the lever for the unloading auger was located. Twenty seconds after the first heads of grain flowed out of the spout and straw dropped from the straw rack onto the spinning spreader.

The first operation was to “open up the field”. This was slow because the tractor had to run close to the fence as possible in order to run over as little standing grain as possible. The straw spreader was removed, and the straw hood was pivoted on its hinges 180 degrees to lie on top of the area over the straw rack. The straw dropped onto the wire fence, and on the second round it fell on the mangled standing and downed wheat the tractor had run over to open the field. It was a mess. We usually waited until the field was finished before reversing direction; lowering the sickle bar to the ground and slowly running the downed grain and straw through the machine while watching for stones and clumps of earth that would damage the sickle bar.

Here the hand clutch and live PTO were invaluable. Once Dad was so engrossed in all this that he failed to notice the discharge auger was running and his hard won grain was running onto the ground. We kids, in the grain truck on the other side of a 17 acre field, thought we detected a thin stream running from the auger and ran through tall stubble and straw waving our arms. Dad, as you can imagine, was pretty disgusted to learn that he had just dumped most of the round’s grain.

Once the field was opened a routine was established of Dad going around the field in a counterclockwise direction with one of us kids accompanying him just for the sheer thrill of hearing the whosh, whosh of the dry grain as it hit the cylinder, and watching a steady stream of grain flow into the tank. The other one was in our “Big Truck”. We’d play in the grain that slowly, by mid-afternoon, had half filled the truck.

It generally took a full day of harvesting to fill the truck with 200 bushels of grain that today would represent one dump from a large combine. Or we’d sit in the cab; once the hired man let me drink his cold iced tea. Another good location was under the large maple at the end of the lane. Things seemed to collect there; the grease gun, an empty gas can, the old green gallon thermos filled with Vernor’s ginger ale, and probably some food.

As the rounds became shorter the bin was a little less full and finally two rounds could be made before dumping. The field had, by this time, lost its square corners since the tractor and combine could not turn too sharp or the PTO would chatter. The standing grain field must have looked from the air like the logo for Fels Naphtha soap. Sometimes, to avoid this, we would loop at the corner so we could come in squarely.

Wheat combining was better than oats. The wheat often went directly to the elevator, and it was exciting to arrive there in the evening with the “Big Truck” and visit with our school chums who we had not seen for weeks, and to survey all the rigs there; watch the grain being blown into a boxcar that held 2000 bushels and drink all the free Cokes that we wanted. The nights were warm, there was no curfew, no school tomorrow; just watching the wagons move slowly forward as load after load was slowly dumped. This was a slow process as in the pre-gravity flow wagon days, every truck or wagon had to be chained to the platform over the dump site and then the platform over the dump site and then the platform tilted to maybe 30 degrees so that the grain ran into the pit. Then it was cleaned and weighed in batches before the next load could be dumped. This was in the early days of bulk handling.

Oats were lighter to handle, but prickly. We never played in a bin of oats. The oats were stored on the farm and this meant setting up the wooden elevator that had been locally made during the war.

This was powered by an electric motor and had paddles that pushed the grain along. However, it was easily stalled by too much grain or too sharp an inclination. Later we had a 4” Mayrath auger that was light and whose end could be placed in the wagon to minimize handling.

By the mid 60s we kids were in college and Dad rented the farm on shares. The All-Crop was stored until we sold it, about 1970, to someone who took it “up North”. The 60 was a machine that never failed us. It was quite simply a wonderful piece of equipment, and all my memories of it are positive.


Dad purchased the Roto-Baler on January 15, 1951 from Pewamo (MI) Hardware which we usually referred to as DAVERN’S for $1148.30 which included a bale counter for $12.50. The round baler was a new invention and a friend with relatives in Missouri said that the bale shed moisture so well that the farmers left them in the field all winter.

I suspect Dad opted for the Roto-Baler because of ALLIS’ general reputation and his decision to stick to an orange line of equipment. He probably also figured that this could be a one man haying operation since the bales could take some weather before being hauled to the barn. In addition it was PTO powered while most of the squar balers of that period had big auxiliary KOHLER or BRIGGS and STRATTON engines. Dad had one of these on a JD combine and didn’t want any more auxiliary engines. ALLIS-CHALMERS was on to a good idea, but the bale’s size and handling system were all wrong.

Unfortunately, I remember the Roto-Baler ejecting bales prematurely, producing cone-shaped bales or bales wound with yards and yards of twine, the twine-typing arm refusing to trip, or the wide flat bale-forming belts hopelessly twisted. The round bales were tough to stack and handle. You needed a rack at either end of the wagon and the bales had to be heaved from the ground to an ever higher level on the wagon unlike square bales where you loaded directly from the baler and could build the load in terraces.

You needed to use bale hooks since the twine was untied and useless as a handhold. Once in the mow it was difficult to walk across a layer of round bales without slipping between them or getting tangled in the loose twine ends. We solved that problem by walking the field and tieing each bale. Sometimes we would stand each one on end so that they could be grabbed from a moving wagon, but if it rained first the bale would absorb the moisture.

We dropped a whole bale into the cattle mangers and let the livestock play with it. But if you needed a small quantity for the calves or our pet goats you had to unroll the bale. And a final problem with the system was the long twines. It was easy to lose livestock, particularly calves to those long strings. Cattle would gradually chew a 30’ twine into their stomach.

I liked the haying season and hated the Roto-Baler.

My cousin thought the answer was to purchase a chopper and blow the barn full of hay. That way you never had to handle the darn stuff. By 1959 I desperately wanted to trade the Roto for a JD 14T baler (although I acknowledged a New Holland was the best) and even had a $1200 offer to trade from the dealer. But Dad thought a new baler was extravagant on the eve of my going away to college and we kept the Roto-Baler. But this story is about my experience with ALLIS-CHALMERS equipment.

Since Dad worked in town and we no longer had a hired man, it seemed that we were always making hay on the Fourth of July. In the morning when the day was cool and the dew was still on the grass, Dad would give two or three pumps of grease to each of the innumerable zerks until grease was squeezed out of the bushing. Then he’d fuel the tractor out of two five gallon gas cans and load the baler’s twine container with four balls of binder twine and tie them together.

As the dew burned off, but before the alfalfa or clover leaves were brittle, he’d rake the field or turn the windrow with our ground powered JD side delivery rake. It was important to have heavy windrows so that the bale chamber would feed evenly; otherwise, the bale was cone-shaped or even tapered at each end. If the hay was light on a clay knoll or alongside a fence row, several swaths had to be raked together. This was a bigger problem with the lighter hay of the 2nd and 3rd cuttings.

(Photo): DIRECT LOADER – An attachment for the ALLIS-CHALMERS balers conveys hay directly to a trailed wagon. The loader is a raddle-type conveyor attached to the rear of the baler and driven by a v-belt. The only drilling necessary is a hole thru the rear frame of the baler to attach the wagon draw bar. (This item was apparently an after-market and according to the ad in a 1953 magazine it was available from Hansen Implement Co., Calamus, Iowa).

By 10:30 the July sun had burned off the dew and we could start baling at least several windrows in from the shade of the fencerow where the hay dried more slowly. In the 50s hay crimpers or conditioners were not yet in use and the heavy alfalfa stems dried slowly; we figured three days of good drying weather were required and often the weather didn’t cooperate that long.

Farmers in our area were particularly concerned about spontaneous combustion caused by wet baled hay after a series of spectacular barn fires in the late 50’s. Later it was learned that they were set by a young arsonist. I suspect that many barn fires conveniently attributed to this cause are really related to smoking or faulty electric wiring.

I recall one Fourth when Mother brought lunch and we picnicked by the marshy land at the “Sheep Farm” where we kids amused ourselves finding old buggy and wagon parts from the horse-drawn vehicles that had been abandoned there years earlier. After a lunch that must have included Jello and iced tea, it was back to baling and loading hay. We kids were too young to help at this time and so a young man was often hired to help wrestle the bales.

The Roto-Baler was idle for a number of years after the dairy cattle were sold, but later I went into the beef cattle business and in 1958 we used the baler for the first time in years. There was the day that I made 310 bales while driving in 3rd gear. The hay must have been in perfect condition and the windrows heavy because every bale was perfectly shaped, the twine wrapped and the bales ejected properly. I remember that day because it was a rarity.

A few days earlier in the same field things had gone quite differently. The completed bale would rotate endlessly instead of ejecting, or the twine tie tube would not drop to allow the bale forming roll to grab the dangling twine end and pull it into the chamber and wind it around the completed spinning bale, or the twine would wind and wind and wind. I was humiliated because across the fence line everything was going perfectly for a haying crew from Sebewa who were operating a NEW HOLLAND.

We consulted with the dealer and other owners, and after much tinkering with the bale chamber tension springs, or the trip rods, the size of the windrow or speed of travel. We concluded that the Roto-Baler was an unsatisfactory machine. I always felt it lacked the positive drive features of other machinery. Instead it was springs, all sizes of belts, trip rods, sprockets and clutches. Undoubtedly the condition and volume of material entering the bale chamber was critical, but agricultural equipment can’t be designed for the ideal situation. I envied the neighbors with NEW HOLLAND balers, the most prestigious name in haymaking, and by the mid-50s they were compact PTO driven units. It was impressive to see John SANDBORN pass with his IH utility tractor pulling a baler and several wagons, and father Melborn following with his Ford pickup and several more hayracks. There might even have been a 40’ bale elevator in the cavalcade.

The closest I ever came to this type of rig was when I hitched our wagon with the new homemade rack behind the baler and WD to make hay at a farm ten miles distant. This was the first (and probably last) time anyone saw a wagon pulled behind a Roto-Baler, even in transit, but it was a long outfit, and I was proud.

My classmate, Paul PLATTE had a new NEW HOLLAND baler and I conspired to go into the haying business with him. The plan was to contribute our WD and wagon, and he would simply supply the baler and more wagons. Paul’s father wisely nixed the idea.

After I went to college the Roto-Baler returned to storage for another ten years until it was finally sold to the local FORD implement dealer in 1970. During its 20 years with us, it was only used about five seasons and there was no regret when it finally left the property.

(Photo: A “WINDY ALLIS”: Mark DeBOER sent in this picture of the ALLIS-CHALMERS “C” weathervane. The unique use of the tractor is located on Interstate 35 at Boondock’s USA Truck Stop. It is located north of Des Moines and south of Mason City/Clear Lake. Not only does the direction of the wind get established, but the figure on the tractor gets his attire changed with the seasons.


Last update November 10, 2013