Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 37 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 (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI);
APRIL-JUNE 2002, Volume 37, Numbers 5-6. Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. SLOWINS:

SURNAMES: Eldridge, Borden, Slowinski, Schnabel, Goodenough, Carr, Zibowski, Kartuski, Collier, Gilbert, Petrie, Geiger, Whiters, Slater, Possehn, Fox, Schroeder, Buck, Pryer, Lakin, Baldwin, Phillips, Inglis, Van Riper, Andressen, Steinmets, Friend, Shaw, Brown, Meachum, Comb, Cramer, Zerfas, Linch, Sandborn, Lass, Senters


HAZEL A. ELDRIDGE BORDEN, 100, widow of Robert BORDEN, mother of Anolah MOORE, grandmother of Edward & Richard MOORE and Margaret ROSSOW, sister of the late Hattie FARRELL, Eddie ELDRIDGE, Mattie WALTERS, Alta DEATSMAN, Ernest, James & Lewis ELDRIDGE, daughter of Rufus James (Jay) ELDRIDGE and Sophia (Sophie) SLOWINSKI, daughter of Ludwig (Louis) SLOWINSKI, son of Anna SCHNABEL & Daniel SLOWINSKI, Sr., son of Casmer SLOWINSKI. Jay ELDRIDGE was the son of Mary Ann GOODENOUGH & Edgar M. ELDRIDGE. Anna SCHNABEL was the daughter of Regina & Anton SCHNABEL, Sr. Born in Odessa Township on the M. V. CARR farm, Hazel attended CARR Rural School, was a telephone operator in Lake Odessa at age 16, then lived in Lansing. She is buried at Lake Odessa Lakeside Cemetery.

EDWARD J. (JACK) CARR, 77, widower of Jean Marie CARR, father of Cathy CARR, Paul CARR, Clara TRUAX & Mary ROSS, brother of Delores STEDG, Katherine MARTINI, Leo & Gene CARR, and the late George CARR & Clara TIMMERICK, son of Mary ZIBOWSKI & John CARR (KARTUSKI). Born and raised in Sebewa Township, mostly on the Heman BROWN farm, Jack had lived in Wisconsin for many years, where he was a dairy farmer. He is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.

JERENE M. (Corky) COLLIER, 76, husband of Charlotte PETRIE COLLIER, brother of the late Plynn COLLIER and Joyce MUNSON, son of Mina GILBERT & Ervin COLLIER, his grandparents are in West Sebewa Cemetery and Charlotte has one of the largest groups of ancestors in the East Sebewa Cemetery. Born on the south border of Sebewa Township, he lived in Lake Odessa, was Head Custodian at Lake Odessa & Lakewood Schools, then at Lake Manor in retirement. Buried at Lakeside Cemetery.

PHOEBE A. SLATER GEIGER, 99, widow of Russell A. GEIGER, mother of Donald, Von & Leroy GEIGER, and the late Eleanor POTTER & Madeline ALDERINK, sister of Forrest & Richard SLATER and Mary PETERSON, and the late Mable McCAUL and Carl, Roy & Keith SLATER, daughter of Rose WHITERS & Burt SLATER, granddaughter of Peter SLATER, who homesteaded on the farm on THOMPSON Road in Campbell Township long owned by my Grandfather John BRAKE and now occupied by Dale ZOOK’S Llama Farm. Phoebe & Russell operated the GEIGER Counter Restaurant. She is buried in Balcom Cemetery.

R. THOMAS POSSEHN, 70, husband of Katherine FOX POSSEHN, father of Christine WILSON, Jeanne GOOSMAN, Patricia EICKHOFF, Cheryl FARR, and Tom & Ron POSSEHN, brother of Donald & Raymond POSSEHN, Hulda SUTTON, Helen GODWIN, and Lucille HEPPE, and the late Harold & Herbert POSSEHN, son of Bertha SCHROEDER & William POSSEHN. Tom attended Coon Rural School, graduated from Ionia High School in 1950, worked for GenCorp and farmed all his life. Burial in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

MARIAN ADDIE PRYER LAKIN, 101, widow of Elon Dwight LAKIN, mother of Ann L. SLOWINS & Phyllis M. NEMECHECK BOYER, sister of the late Margaret Morna PRYER MORIARTY COREY JACQUES, daughter of Estella Edith BALDWIN & Frank WILSON PRYER, son of Cornelia Ann PHILLIPS & Thomas PRYER, son of Mary INGLIS & Merselus PRYER, son of Maria Van RIPER & Casparus PRYER, son of Sarah ANDRESSEN & Casparus PRYER, son of Johanna STEINMETS & Andreas PRYER, son of Margaret & Thomas PRYER, who emigrated from the Netherlands to New Jersey in 1674, but who ancestor was an officer in Queen Elizabeth I.’s army who fought in Holland in 1586-1887, and whose family had originally gone to England from Normandy Province of France with William the Conqueror in 1066.

Estella E. BALDWIN was the daughter of Phoebe Maria FRIEND & Rush PORTER BALDWIN, son of Matilda SHAW & Nathaniel BALDWIN Rush BALDWIN and his brothers settled on MUSGROVE Highway in Sebewa Township, right after serving in various Ohio Infantry & Cavalry units in the Civil War. Rush homesteaded the east 80 acres of the Fred & Theo BULLING farm, now owned by Charles & Edward LEIK. Their children were born and raised on that Sebewa farm. By 1899, they were living in their house on the left side at the top of James Street hill in Portland, which was originally built as the old red east side central school. After Phoebe Maria died in 1903, Rush married Emma BROWN in 1910 and owned the farm which is west 120 acres of what is now the Sunset Ridge Mobile Home Park in Portland Township on Grand River Avenue west of Portland City.

Phoebe Marie FRIEND was the daughter of Polly Ann MEACHUM & John FRIEND, son of Betty COMB & John FRIEND, who emigrated from England in 1833 with their seven children, landing at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The family settled near Beria, Ohio. After their marriage in 1843 and the birth of their four children, John & Polly Ann moved to Sebewa Township in 1854 and settled on the farm now owned by Jim & Sid STANK, and long known as the KNAPP farm. Polly Ann died in 1857 and John married Sarah J. CRAMER and had five more children. His youngest brother, James FRIEND settled between Carlton Center & Woodland and has many descendants in that area, as does John in Ionia County.

Marian PRYER LAKIN, born Marcy 17, 1900, died February 11, 2002, and lived most of her life on the farm in Sec. 3 Danby Township where she was born. Frank PRYER began acquiring the farm on March 9, 1895, with the purchase of the central 50 acres from Horace PEAKE & wife. Married Nov. 20, 1895, in 1899 he bought the adjoining triangular 6 acres from Clark & Mary PIERCE, and in 1908 another 4 acres from L. F. & Eliza CARD to round out that 60 acres. He added 60 acres to the south in 1900 from Albert BROOKS. Another 40 acres from BROOKS and 27 acres from David TRAIL were bought and sold before the final 40 from C. Millie BROOKS brought the total to 160. In recent years the 10 acre triangle with buildings has been sold and cuts it back to 150 acres. They built the barn in 1900, then lived in its granary while adding the new high front section of the house in 1903. Howard WILCOX worked there as a young man and told about the Hinman milker, powered by an IHC gas engine to run the line-shaft and cam shafts between each two cows to the vacuum pump & bucket which sat on the floor.

Since Frank PRYER died in 1921, there has been a long line of renters on his farm, several having connections to Sebewa:
1. Willard & Addie KINNEY – parents of Basil KINNEY, Thelma PEACOCK
2. Frank SMITH & wife – parents of Elmer SMITH & Bessie PEABODY
3. Harry KIRKHAM & wife – parents of Lester (Turkey) KIRKHAM
4. Joe & Alice BLISS – his parents and grandparents are in West Sebewa Cemetery
5. Carl & Alice SMITH – 3-1-1935 – 3-1-1939 – parents of Howard, Lois, and Bob
6. Jim & Minnie BAZAAN – 3-1-1939 – 3-1-1941 – once lived in Alton GUNN tenant house
7. Richard & Gladys MILES – 3/1/1941 – 3-1-1948 – brother to Meredith SANDBORN and Vivian COE
8. Roy BRADLEY & wife – 3-1-1948 – 3-1-1950 – once lived in the Zeke DOWNING house across from Henry HOORTS
9. Peter Pohl & Isadore SCHRAUBEN – next door neighbors
10. Lewis INGRAHAM & wife – last ones to have cows
11. USDA Soil Bank Conservation Reserve – 1958-1975
12. Dale PETRIE & Dave CASSEL – crop farming – 1957-present

Hart & Elizabeth BUCK homesteaded and raised their family north of the corner of BARNES & HAMLIN Roads, on what is now part of the Joe KLEIN farm. Sons Bart, Edwin, George and others attended the HAMLIN or BARNES Rural School, not the GIBBS as Mary WHITE BUCK did. George & Mary never lived on the WHITE farm, but owned that and other farms and lived in the house on SMITH Street.


Sunday, February 17, 2002, we were up at 5:30AM and loaded the final fresh-food items to empty the home refrigerator. Took M-50 to Charlotte and got on I-69. Sunny skies, but flurries overnight have left melting snow, slush and chloride in the passing lane, which semis splash on us, even though our driving lane is dry. Stopped at a rest area just before Fort Wayne and got an Indiana map and tourist brochures. We carry a good Rand McNALLY road atlas, but find the official state road maps have extra information about roads and stops. Huntington, IN, has Huntington College and a branch of Indiana University nearby. Indiana Wesleyan & Taylor University are near Marion. This is the Bible Belt and the Bible College Belt, too, I guess. Just before Indianapolis we stopped at another rest area to eat lunch. Asked the attendant for water for our pail and used our long-handled brush to scrub off the RV.

Went around Indianapolis on the north-west ring road, I-465, and came out on I-70. At Terre Haute we crossed the Wabash River into Illinois and got a map and brochures at the afternoon rest stop. Effingham is a manufacturing town of over 12,000 people that we never heard of, except the one in England. Spent the night at Pocahontas Campground near a little town called Pierron, IL. It is seven miles off the Interstate and quiet & nice. As often happens on our trips, we are spotting pioneer cemeteries along the trail, in this case right across the road from camp. Our first day’s journey was 475 miles, a little more than we like, and we were pretty tired. Ate supper, watched TV news and Olympics, to bed soon.

Monday, February 18, gassed up at Pierron and got back onto I-70 for a few miles. Picked up I-55, then turned onto I-255 ring road around south-east side of East St. Louis, with traffic not too bad. Crossed the Mississippi River into St. Louis, Missouri, on the Arches Bridge, then the highway became I-270 and out of the city on I-44. Weather getting warmer but windy, upper 20s last night and up to 60 today. Lunch at the rest area before Springfield, MO, and got a Missouri map. A couple at the rest stop were from Negaunee, MI, in the U.P., next township to Tilden Township, where our good friend on the MTA Board, Debbie PELLOW, is Supervisor.

Afternoon break and an Oklahoma map near Miami, OK, just over into that state. Very hospitable women at the Information Center gave us good help in finding our niece’s home tomorrow morning. On to Tulsa, where we found our KOA (Kampgrounds of America) right at the exit from the Will Rogers Turnpike. Walked around the campground and saw our first robin. Traveled 430 miles today, still a little too much. This is a nice camp, but close to a spot on the interstate where semis use their noisy engine brakes to slow down. And of course a railroad, which we usually find near campgrounds. Watched Winter Olympics before bed.

Land in Indiana & Illinois along our route is flat, with good corn and soybean stubble. Mostly nice buildings, although some barns are getting old & unkempt, because there is very little livestock anymore. In very southern Illinois and all across Missouri the land is more rolling and we mostly see small herds of beef cattle now, with pasture land and alfalfa hay, but very few other crops except some wheat. There is also lots of semi-abandoned land in Missouri, where people live on the land but work in town.

Tuesday, February 19, a pleasant 39 degrees at East Tulsa KOA and sprinkles in the night……we gassed up at the nearby Texaco station and headed south on Highway 193 and west on Kenosha (Main) Street in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa…..after a few blocks we turn left on Iola St., a name we have never heard except for our late cousin Iola LEHMAN in Portland. Ann’s niece, husband and children live there…..we got on Highway 169 and back to I-44 west…..the Tulsa area is growing rapidly, and fireplugs along the farmland are signs of things to come…..northwest ring road around Oklahoma City, and out on I-40….saw our first little flock of 25-30 Suffolk sheep just before Oklahoma City, eating a large round bale of hay next to an Allis-Chalmers tractor and New Holland baler……now on the ring-road we see western feeder lambs pasturing where suburbs are gobbling up the land……soil is red clay all across Oklahoma and we saw 4 or 5 horses that had rolled in it and came up red, especially the white one. Brickyards made and sold bricks that color, and we saw many brick houses of that shade. The farmland is mostly flat in Oklahoma with growing wheat. No corn since Illinois and only a few soybeans in MO. Out here they pasture beef cattle on growing wheat in winter. There is native grass in the rougher areas for summer pasture. We also saw two more small flocks of Suffolk sheep.

We saw two large active grain elevators, one in Oklahoma City and one in Elk City on the west edge of OK. All along the highway, and the railroad beside it, there are old abandoned grain elevators. There is far less wheat grown than in the past, and what is raised gets trucked long distances. Other sad monuments are the many abandoned farmsteads with houses and shed falling down and farm machinery rusting away. Some look as if the family just got into their pickup one day and drove away. Wheat is sometimes irrigated here, and these large operations require fewer farmers. Unlike MO, there is not so much un-farmed land in OK, just the buildings are abandoned and the land is added to adjoining farms.

The cattle-on-wheat type operations continue on into the Texas Panhandle, but the ground gets rougher, with scrub oaks and sage brush in the native pastures. There are a few windmills and water-retention ponds, but increasingly larger acreages per cow. Much of the way we have paralleled Old Route 66 and at Britten, Texas, the famous leaning water tower and an abandoned gas station are all that remain of the town. A crew is laying new blacktop in mid-February. Now there are buttes and mesas, broad valleys, windmills and cattle-guards, but no cattle visible.

The road signs are small and sparse in New Mexico, once you get off the Interstate, and it is often difficult to find your way at night……Enjoyed scenic views of distant mesas across the valley and of Tucumcari Mountain surrounded by a wide plateau……Some places in the mountains of the north near Raton had 3 inches of snow. The dry wind evaporates the rain soon and the sun is shining by 8:00AM. We are learning to sit in the sun or shade and read and be retired………Headed west on I-40 and began seeing prickly-pear cactus. Saw a John Deere cotton picker on a semi headed west. A train with four Union Pacific engines was headed west on the tracks that parallel I-40 & Route 66 as we have seen since we joined these roads. Mountains with snow to the north, windmills and Angus cattle along the road.

When Highway 54 took off from I-40 to the southwest, we took it, then south on Highway 285 toward Roswell. Along the way there was a flock of 40-50 Rambouilet-Merino type sheep. Then 95 miles to Roswell, with nothing but a few scattered cattle, windmills, water tanks and corrals. We saw hawks sitting on a pole, buzzards and a golden eagle swooping, and someone’s nest atop a windmill tower. Closer-in there was irrigated wheat and a sheep flock with black lambs and white lambs, none spotted………Heading south toward Artesia, we saw four huge feedlots with Holsteins and one pasture field with elk. Also big square hay bales. Then oil wells & smells and partial refineries, called compoundiums. Poor Mexican-American farmsteads are everywhere. Pecan orchards are common in southern New Mexico. Temperatures 60 degrees and some wind.

We pulled into Carlsbad RV Park, a former KOA, for the night. Also registered was Bob ZERFAS, who recognized our Michigan license plate and asked what town. When we told him, he said “I was born in Lake Odessa and my sister is retired there, she married a LINCH, lives next to Jordan Lake outlet dam”. His dad was George ZERFAS, who ran the International Harvester dealership before Carl SENTERS and later Conrad LASS. George’s brother John ran the dealership in Portland before WEIBERTS and later SANDBORNS.

Bob ZERFAS was born in 1936, and in 1943 the Lake Odessa store burned. It stood on the concrete parking lot still located north of the Drs. HOFFS/LINCOLN/TROMP/LUNDEEN/STUART office on Fourth Avenue. The Portland store was then sold and both families moved to farms in the Eaton Rapids-Springport area. Later George and family moved to Three Rivers and Bob graduated there in 1955. John’s daughters Dorothy and Berniece graduated from Portland in the early 1940s and Dorothy became a nun. Their brother Edward is still on the Eaton Rapids farm. There were other children in both families………

Drove to Carlsbad Caverns 22 miles southwest of town. Entry is free to this National Park with our Senior Citizens Golden Age Passport, and the guided tour is half-price - $4.00 each. The caverns are “Awesome” as the kids would say, and well worth the time. With the temperature 76 degrees going in and 84 degrees coming out, inside the caverns was a very constant 56 degrees……Our tour guide was Deborah – interesting & pleasant. The largest caverns have 200 ft. ceilings. They began forming 250 million years ago, when marine plants and animals built a limestone reef along the edge of a lake. Then about 60 million years ago sulfuric acid was formed from water and the hydrogen sulfide of oil & gas deposits and this began dissolving cavities in the limestone. Water drained from the caves and large chunks fell to the floor. Then about 7-10,000 years ago, when the hills above were still covered with trees, there was more rainfall than now and it seeped into the soil and down to the limestone caves, forming stalactites and stalagmites.

A third kind, called galactites, was formed when underground pressure forced the liquids upward into columns. Some are stained with other minerals to cause the colors. Most are not growing much now, because the trees and rainfall are gone. Those that are growing add about one-fourth to one-half inch per century……After the guided tour we walked around the main area self-guided. They have to watch for people breaking pieces off as souvenirs.

The caverns were discovered by a cowboy named Jim WHITE in 1898, when he was 16. He followed a flight of bats swirling in & out of a natural opening, thinking it was smoke at first. He supported his explorations by mining the guano (bat dung) for fertilizer until the tourism took off. He died in 1946 at age 64 of natural causes, after a life of risky exploration. There are 99 known rooms in the cave and probably more. We got some beautiful photos of various kings of cacti in the gardens near the caverns’ entrance. When you go, plan to take camera, water bottles, flashlights and jackets.

Sunday, February 24, sunny, up and away to Artesia for gas. Took Highway 82 to Alamogorda. Shifted down to 2nd or 3rd gear going down 6 percent grade for 16 miles, it was easy for the motor and brakes, but the hairpin turns and steep precipices were not easy on the driver. Road salt from previous ice and snow, also falling rock………

As we approach Deming, there are trees growing on better soil and crops being planted. An Allis-Chalmers Gleaner combine sits in the farmyard………Steve GERMAN, a resident of Hidden Valley Ranch, feeds Gambel Quail, of which we saw a lot. Other residents feed the Roadrunners, odd-looking, long-necked birds not unlike the cartoon character. The mail is said to come and knock on your door, then take the first piece of meat to his mate before he eats. The residents used to see deer, but the large cats – pumas & cougars – have been getting the deer and now cattle. Bobcats often come into the campground and coyotes are common, so don’t go for walks after dark! We are glad we chose to camp at the park nearer town……

Wednesday, February 27, partly cloudy with a morning low of 25 degrees and a high about 56 degrees….We drove to Lordsburg and Silver City. Our route was I-10 and US-70, crossing the Continental Divide at 4585 feet about 52 miles east of the Arizona State Line. We saw three trains with four engines each and a fourth train with hopper cars had seven engines. Rail freight is apparently very important across the South, as we saw lots of trains along I-40 and now I-10……


Last update November 10, 2013