Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 38 Number 2
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); OCTOBER 2002, Volume 38, Numbers 2. Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. SLOWINS:



ARIEL AGNES DENTON DUNSMORE MORRIS, 90, widow of Richard George DUNSMORE & Lynn E. MORRIS, mother of Sharron DUNSMORE VanVLECK KIRCHER McCARGAR, Ardelis DUNSMORE ENDREI & DeAlina MORRIS TROUT, daughter of Arthur Elliot DENTON & Cora DeAlice VANDECAR, daughter of George A. VANDECAR & Agnes A. SCHNABEL, daughter of Mary CANANT & Michael SCHNABEL, son of Regina & Anton SCHNABEL, Sr. Born October 12, 1911, on a Saranac farm, she died June 22, 2002, in her “grossmuter wing” of Alaina’s home in Onekama, MI. Ariel was energetic, resourceful and multi-talented, with a zest for life. She graduated from Ionia County Normal in 1930 and practice-taught under Crystal BRAKE SLOWINS, then on her own. Upon the untimely auto death of her young husband in 1939, she ran the DUNSMORE Dairy for a year, then studied photography and operated her own portrait studio in Ionia.

After marrying Lynn, she developed Horizon Drive subdivision on ARNOLD’S Hill in South Ionia. In the 1960s she attended Western Michigan University and was the last teacher at Sebewa Center School 1963-1965. She always found humor, and when she came to interview for the job, she told the other School Board members “I used to hold Grayden on my lap”. All her long life she was an extensive traveler, reader, teacher, painter, photographer, historic preservationist – including the BLANCHARD House – and farmer on her family’s farm. Her winter home was in Eustis, Florida. She is buried in Saranac Cemetery.


EDITOR’S NOTE - ……another good article by Charles LEIK on Allis-Chalmers. Charles has a website about old barns, the Red Mill in Portland, and has a story on our family barns, including the WENGER-ZIMMERMAN barn. His website is: <>

Charles LEIK’S article: Dad purchased the C used in 1943 from a Homer PEACOCK, and was glad to get it during the shortages of WWII. I think I remember Dad referring to it as a 1938 model, but according to Charles Wendell’s “The Allis-Chalmers Story”, production of the C only began in 1940. To me it looks identical to the B introduced in 1937 except for the tricycle front. There must be a story why essentially the same tractor was given a new model designation; was it a marketing decision. Again, according to Wendell, the C had a 3-3/8” x 3-1/2” bore and displaced 125 cubic inches. Although the C retailed at its introduction for $595, Dad paid $800 because of wartime scarcities.

I remember the three-forward and one reverse gears. Low was a creeper, second for the field and high was a winning road gear. There was also a set of cultivators that were raised and lowered manually since the C had no hydraulics of PTO. There was a foot starter, a throttle on the column and the drawbar was a semicircle with numerous holes so that equipment could be pulled off center.

I remember the three-forward and one reverse gears. Low was a creeper, second for the field and high was a whining road gear. There was also a set of cultivators that were raised and lowered manually since the C had no hydraulics of PTO. There was a foot starter, a throttle on the column and the drawbar was a semicircle with numerous holes so that equipment could be pulled off center.

Dad and Uncle Henry sold their Chevrolet dealership at the beginning of the war and moved to their respective farms. They were in their mid 30s when they both married in 1940, and the farms may have seemed like a good place to start housekeeping. Besides, there were virtually no cars, new or used, available to sell.

Dad and Mother had Holstein dairy cows, hogs and sheep during these years, and the C was the only tractor on our 80 acre homestead. We also owned a nearby 40 acres that we called the “Sheep farm” and there the hills limited us to one crop field.

Dad had a 2-12” JD trailer plow and managed to purchase a used 3 ton wagon gear in 1944, but otherwise the diversion of production to the War Effort forced him to borrow from the neighbors or my Uncle Jerry who lived nearby. Finally, in 1945, he got a cultipacker and a Blackhawk two row corn planter in 1946. I recall one day in 1948 when a JD side delivery rake and a Co-Op rake, both on order for several years, were delivered within days. Dad returned the Co-Op rake. There is a photo of the C pulling a wagon of ear corn in the fall of 1945. I am 2 ½ years old and probably taking my first tractor ride. I estimate the load at 50 bushels or crates, as we measured corn, because the box, although 14’ long was only 48” wide and 20” deep with the extension sideboards. Nevertheless it must have been a full day to pick and load a wagon, and later shovel it into the crib. Horses that moved the wagon alongside the huskers seem more efficient than a tractor in this operation.

Dad and his brothers jointly owned a JD bagger combine in the late 40s and used the C to pull it. The combine had its own engine and luckily our terrain was flat, but nevertheless the combine must have been a good pull for such a light tractor. Since the B with a wide axle weighed 1,860 pounds, I imagine our C was less than 1,700 pounds.

I was eight in the spring of 1951 when I drove my first tractor. First Dad reinstalled the back support to the bench seat that had been taken off to make access to the seat easier from the drawbar. There was a newly planted field of oats north of the barn that stretched for more than a quarter mile without any obstacle except the fences on either end. Dad attached the 10’ cultipacker with a clevis hitch, put the C in low and made the first round with me. Then I was on my own. I recall he pointed out the magneto button and surmising that my leg wasn’t long or strong enough to engage the foot clutch told me to push the magneto button when I wanted to stop.

In the following years I would pull the cultipacker or 6’ drag while Dad plowed nearby with the new WD. This was usually in the evening because Dad had reentered the automobile business after the War, and we farmed after supper. I recall devising a system of flashing our lights to signal when we were ready to quit for the night, or when there was trouble. Dad never took this clever idea very seriously.

I don’t recall cultivating corn with the C. The WD had a two-row hydraulic set that were infinitely easier to raise and lower than the manual ones on the C. After stumbling over the C’s cultivators in the tool shed for years, I finally stored those cumbersome items at a farm we had recently acquired. I didn’t want to ever see them again and never did!

We narrowly missed a serious accident in 1954 when I was 11 and Ed 8. Neighbors were baling and storing our clover hay that summer and I was backing down a gentle slope to hook onto an empty wagon. Ed was holding the tongue and, too late, I realized that the C’s brakes, long needing repair, were not grabbing. I was out of control with Ed between the tractor and wagon when one of the young men pulled him out of danger seconds before the C banged into the wagon.

In later years, when I graduated to the WD, my younger brother Ed used the C. By this time we kids rather disparingly called it the “little tractor”. He was a little resentful of his status, but now with 30 years in commercial aviation that include flying the 747, he has certainly piloted the biggest machine. One summer in high school I ran the All Crop combine and Ed pulled a small trailer that took two 16-bushel dumps. Then he’d speed in high gear to the nearby building and unload.

By the mid-60s the C was idle most of the time and unappreciated by Ed and me. Dad was approached by a young man from a neighboring town who wanted to restore it for his Vo-Ag project. Dad liked the boy and after consulting with us, decided to sell. Several years ago I came across the purchaser’s address when sorting through old papers and, although 30 years had passed, I sent a letter. His parents responded that the C had been taken to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) years earlier and supplied another name.

I called that winter and learned that the faithful old C was now disassembled and buried under three feet of snow. The owner wanted to sell, but I thought it best not to take on that restoration. But if you are interested, let me know! I’d like to drive the “little tractor” again!


This past summer, during the month of August 2001, one of the trips that my wife and I made was to visit one of her brothers and his wife in West Chester, PA. West Chester is a town west of Philadelphia which of course is down in the southeast corner of the state. One of our destinations on that trip, should we have the time, was to look up the ZIMMERMAN farm. I am related to the ZIMMERMANS by their marriage to my great-great-great-great-grandfather on my father’s mother’s side of the family. The ZIMMERMANS are also related to me by marriage to a WENGER on my father’s mother’s side of the family, by a ZIMMERMAN on our great-great-great-great-grandmother’s side of their family. Their farm was located near Lancaster and they were Mennonites as were the family predecessors on that farm.

So, one afternoon with my self in the driver’s seat, my wife Jody beside me, her brother Eric in the back seat armed with a plat book and a copy of an old map with an “X” on it and his wife Lois seated beside him, we wandered off into the countryside. We drove in the direction of Martindale enjoying the many farms and the countryside along the way. Everything was lush and green, and growing well. The two most common crops we saw were tobacco and corn. The Amish and the Mennonites are very good at keeping their farms in pristine condition. The fields are neat, the houses well kept, and the barns always painted.

As we traveled along the winding roads, we came to an intersection where my wife’s brother announced “it should be here on the left side of the road”. As we looked to our left there was nothing but a field, a hay field as I recall. Alas, the “X” must have been slightly off! Ahead in the intersection was a group of children gathered, probably to discuss the day’s news and catch up on any good gossip. I pulled our van over, got out, and wandered up to see if they could shed any light on our lack of direction at this point in our excursion. The children were all properly dressed. The boys wore black pants, blue shirts, suspenders and hats. The girls all wore print dresses with simple, plain, but nice bonnets on their heads.

I explained my dilemma to them. It seemed that my directions were a bit off and I wondered it they knew where MENNO
ZIMMERMAN’S farm was? A few of the older children, possibly junior high school age, pondered the question for a few moments before deciding that yes there used to be a Menno Zimmerman and that he had moved to Iowa a while back. This of course was not exactly the news I was looking for. I asked if they knew where the farm was located that he used to live on. That question they knew the answer to for certain. They said it would be the first farm on the left. So, I returned to the van, explained my findings to the others and off we went again.

As we proceeded on down the road the few miles we came upon the church. It was a plain, simply built, white painted, well care for, small building that is quite typical of the Mennonites. There were places to hitch the horses during meetings, in the side yard. There was no huge sign in front of the church and of course no marquee, neon lights or flashy billboards.

Then on the left was the ZIMMERMAN farm. I was certain this was the place because I had copies of pictures that were taken by my father when he visited that farm back in 1977. The barn and house looked the same. The trees were older now, almost blocking the view of the house from the road. There were a couple more grain storage bins by the barn now too. But, this was definitely the place. We pulled into the long driveway and headed up to the buildings. I stopped the van at the end of the short sidewalk that lead up to the side porch and got out. As I approached the house, I could see that the yard and the house were, of course, very well cared for. It was a place that anyone would be proud of. I knocked on the door and after a short wait a young woman with a baby in her arms appeared. It suddenly reminded me of the story that my father had written about his visit to this farm in 1977 when the door was also answered by a young woman with a baby in her arms. Obviously this was not the same woman nor the same baby. But, just the coincidence of this being the same situation was quite interesting. I began to vaguely explain how I was a distant relative of a man, Menno ZIMMERMAN, who used to live on this farm. I then explained that my father had been here to visit back in 1977 and that I was making the same visit again.

Then, much to my surprise and delight, she explained to me that Menno was her husband’s uncle and that the farm had remained in the family when Menno had moved to Iowa. At some point during our conversation her husband came to the house from the barn where he had been tending to the cattle, just as his uncle had done 24 years ago. He confirmed the family connection and we continued the discussion of who was related to whom in the different family names, for him the ZIMMERMANS and me the WENGERS, BRAKES, and SLOWINS.

After we had nailed down all the relatives, I asked permission to walk out and take some pictures of the barn. Pictures of buildings are usually allowed but, in many sects, pictures of people are not permissible. I took the same shots that my father had taken plus a few more to show the new storage bins. The stone barn was still in excellent condition after all these years. Unlike the many red barns in Michigan, the doors and peaks above the stone were painted in white. I returned to the yard where he was working in his garden tending to some of the vegetables that he was raising for his family to eat. I thanked him for his time and my pleasure in meeting him. I took one last picture on the way back to the van at the end of the sidewalk. Here were laid a few stones with the initials and years carved into them of every ZIMMERMAN generation that had ever lived on this farm. As much as many things change these days, it is certainly nice to know that some things remain the same, forever.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we introduce the third generation of the SLOWINS family as writers for the RECOLLECTOR. My mother, Crystal BRAKE SLOWINS, wrote her memoirs some years ago. Also, my wife, Ann LAKIN SLOWINS has written about our generation & travels. Now our son, Joe SLOWINS, tells of his travels to the family farm in Pennsylvania. The farm he visited belonged to Christian, Hans & Joseph WENGER before a double marriage to the ZIMMERMAN family, so to me it will always be a WENGER farm.


Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke at Independence Square, and uninvited guests could not get onto the premises. But I heard him on TV that night. I did bring the National Park Rangers to attention when I walked the second time around the grounds of Independence Hall early in the morning of July 2nd! And there were still a week’s worth of things to see while Ann was attending her biennial American Guild of Organists Convention, which was held in Philadelphia this year.

We stayed at the Downtown Marriott Hotel, and I rode the tour buses & trolleys and walked a lot. Because we had visited Independence Park with the kids in 1977, I didn’t take more photos there, but concentrated on other areas………Philadelphia, like Boston, seems to have done a little better job of protecting historic buildings from the wrecking ball than has New York.

One of the highlights was the Farmer’s Market on the ground floor of the old Reading Railroad Terminal next door to the hotel & Convention Center. It brought tears to my eyes to see and hear the Pennsylvania German Mennonites & Amish from Lancaster & Bucks Counties. Surely there must have been someone there who was my sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth cousin. And I discovered that those modern-day pushcarts used to sell jewelry, hats, scarves and souvenirs in the shopping malls are made by Mennonite buggy shops and have genuine iron buggy axles, just like the antiques I use for crow-bars around the barn. The wooden-spoked wheels with steel rims are held on by big square nuts, of which I have a pail full.

Many interesting sights were within walking distance of the hotel or of the tour trolleys. For instance, the Hahnemann Medical School & Teaching Hospital is about 5 or 6 blocks north. It is meaningful to us because at Ferris State Univeristy (Ferris Institute in our day), we had an Anatomy Professor named William A. PEARSON. He taught at Ferris about the time our parents were there, went on to Hahnemann and worked up to become Dean of the Medical College. Then in old age he “retired” back to Ferris and taught until he died in his 80s. Since he was nearly blind, some of the students used to answer for their absent classmates, but I don’t think they really fooled Old Doc PEARSON, especially when two answered at once! His walk was a shuffle, so he drove his pre-war coupe down the middle of the street to and from class.

Admiral William PENN had loaned money to King Charles II of England in his campaign to overthrow the Commonwealth & Protectorate of Oliver CROMWELL in 1660. Young William PENN inherited this debt. He asked the King for some land in the Colonies in payment of the debt. King Charles was so grateful, he gave him an estimated 45,000 square miles extending from New York to Maryland and from the Delaware River to “as far west as it goes”. That was later chopped off at the Northwest Territory in 1787, but still left him the Great State of Pennsylvania. My Mennonite ancestors purchased their 290 acres from William PENN’S sons – Richard & Thomas – soon after arrival in 1727. The original deed, drawn on a real sheepskin, is still in the family.Having experienced disastrous fires in wooden London, PENN required that every building in Philadelphia be built of brick or stone. Supposedly this is where the term “Built like a brick outhouse” came from. King Charles was also glad to get rid of William PENN for his ideas on religious freedom. PENN had joined the Quakers as a young man and established this colony for them, since he had been persecuted in England. But he also encouraged people of all religions to join his colony, unlike some colonies.

Old Christ Chruch (Anglican or Episcopal) is on the other end of the block from PENN’S American Society of Friends Church (Quaker), even tho they and the Catholics were the ones who persecuted him in England. Both churches are still in use and share a joint cemetery, now full. Benjamin & Deborah FRANKLIN are buried in it, along with seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and five signers of the Constitution. There is a folk-lore story that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence died in battle or penniless. That is only partially true, since many simply died young – the life expectancy was only 42 in those days.

FRANKLIN Court is Ben’s homesite, where he built a comfortable home and gardens behind the row houses that contained his print shop, post office, original dwelling, and that of his in-laws the Richard REED family. He had boarded with them when apprenticing in the next-door print shop. He met and married Deborah there and they inherited some of the property and bought more. He designed the home and she supervised the construction while he was Ambassador to France. But she died just before his return and he lived there with his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, adding a “grossvater” wing. Later his grandson took over the printing business and built a new house in the front row along Market Street.

Each day on the tour busses or trolleys, I found more of the houses & public or commercial buildings in the book that still exist today. Some are almost obscured by their high-rise neighbors.

After about ten minutes in Philadelphia, I knew the numbered streets plus Broad Street ran north and south, the tree-named streets plus Market Street ran east and west, and that Broad & Market intersected at Penn Square, with City Hall in the center and William PENN’S statue by Alexander Milne CALDER on top. Thereafter, I was perfectly oriented.

I learned about statues of generals & others on horseback. If the horse has all four feet on the ground, the person died of natural causes. If one foot is raised, the person was wounded in battle. If two front feet are raised, the person died in battle. George WASHINGTON was wounded, but died many years later of natural causes, so his horse usually has all four feet firmly on the ground, but not always.

The BOURSE Building, which I had never heard of, was a Victorian era Stock Exchange. Today it houses offices, a bank, and has a day-care center in the basement for use of employees’ infants. It happened that a fire alarm occurred one morning while I was there. The toddlers filed out in an orderly row, holding hands. The creeping infants were placed three to a crib and wheeled out by their care-givers.

The organists attended workshops, concerts, and church services at many of the larger churches. On Sunday morning Ann & I went at 8:30AM to ARCH Street United Methodist, which was behind the hotel and just beyond the huge old crenelated towers of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. We anticipated Rev. Susan COLE to be a youngish white woman, but she turned out to be an elderly black woman, and we were not impressed with the noisy service.

Then Ann got to accompany me on the trolley tour and a visit to Philadelphia Art Museum. It is built of unusual orange-ish sandstone – Minnesota Dolomite – rich in magnesium carbonate. There was a huge variety of art work and we mainly enjoyed the works of Claude MONET and other Impressionists.

Around and beyond the museum is Fairmount Park. It began with what was left from the American Centennial Exposition and World’s Fair of 1876. Several of the original stone buildings remain, although most buildings and exhibits were dismantled and taken back to their home states or countries. Many were typical homes of their area & era. Ohio’s brick & stone Queen Anne style house remains, as does the Japanese house. The park has more acreage than any city park in the United States, including Central Park in New York. It encompasses Philadelphia Zoo, Boathouse Row, and numerous historic dwellings. City residents were enjoying the sun, shade trees and grass. They were taking painting classes, polishing their cars, romping with their dogs & children, playing ball, canoeing, and romancing…………

Ann met a woman in a workshop who was a WENGER by marriage, probably our relative, knew the history………

One day when we were walking together between Ann’s concerts and lunch, I looked down a side street and said “See that black sheep sign hanging in front of that building, let’s investigate”. It was the sign for the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant. It appeared to be a family business, because the large front windows were raised and the young mother & little girl sat on the window ledge, with the father standing at the other window. We went inside and found the great ambiance of an old colonial row-house. They had restored and replaced the old dark woodwork, paneling, wainscot, and parqueted floors to match perfectly. There on the mirror hung T-shirts with the black sheep. They were reasonably priced as advertising and we bought two.

The old part of the city lies between two rivers, the Delaware & the Schuylkill (pronounced Schoolkill). It is built on a symmetrical plan laid out by William PENN. There is a park square on each of the four corners – FRANKLIN Square, WASHINGTON Square, RITTENHOUSE Square and LOGAN Square – plus PENN Square in the center occupied by architecturally superb City Hall. City Hall with the statue of William PENN on top was the tallest building in the city from 1874 until about 1980, at which time the “gentlemen’s agreement” was broken and the twin towers of the Commerce Square Building thrust up in the style of New York’s Chrysler Building. The excuse given is that they are behind PENN’S back, so he can’t see and be offended by them!


Last update November 10, 2013