Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 39 Number 1
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, Michigan);
AUGUST 2003, Volume 39, Number 1. Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. SLOWINS:



DOUGLAS DOTY, 67, husband of Marian DOTY, father of daughters Dody & Sharon and son Bill, brother of Maureen CROSS, Shirley GRIGHTON and Bruce DOTY, son of Merle & Dorothy MUMAW Doty. He once ran the North Inn restaurant in Lake Odessa, which has been in the family since his grandmother Ada (Becky) MUMAW HANSBARGER SHUPP.

ROSE M. COOK AUGST DRAGHI, 86, widow of Gerald AUSGST & Nathan DRAGHI, mother of Geraldine WINSLEY, Ernest & Vaughn AUGST and Bonnie ROCKEFELLOW, sister of the late Ilene HOLLAND, Gaylord, George and Merlin COOK, daughter of Gladys SHETTERLY & Clifton COOK, son of Emily & Charles P. COOK, son of Ursula & Pierce G. COOK, who settled in Sebewa Township on MUSGROVE Hwy. in the Spring of 1853.

PAULINE E. GIERMAN LILLIE, 88, widow of Robert C. LILLIE, sister of Maurice GIERMAN and the late Charles & Robert Wilfred GIERMAN and Christine JARCHOW, daughter of Nellie E. MEYERS & Robert E. GIERMAN, son of Christina KLAGER & Charles GIERMAN, son of Frederick (Fritz) GIERMAN, who settled in Sebewa Township on BIPPLEY Road about 1875.

FARMERS’ MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, of Ionia County, Annual List of Members, 1874, is especially interesting because Charles RALSTON of Sebewa Township was later the long-time Secretary/Manager, followed by Homer DOWNING, also of Sebewa, who was in charge when they merged with another company, possibly Hastings Mutual Insurance Company.

OATLEY FAMILY UPDATE: The following letter is a reply to two recent inquiries about the OATLEY families of Sebewa Township, Ionia County & GRESHAM, Chester Township, Eaton County:

To: Sandra McCARRICK – I suspect you are right about Chester & Mary OATLEY in our West Sebewa Cemetery. It never occurred to me that the Mary OATLEY buried with Chester II would be his father Simeon’s second wife.

Yes, Sandra SLOWINS MILLER is my sister. She & her husband Jim are retired at HARDY Dam, near White Cloud, MI. My wife Ann’s Aunt Gerry SMITH LAKIN HATCH was probably your relative also, and her daughter Sheila was in your class.

Wilbur GIERMAN, 11616 S. SHILTON Road, Portland, MI 48875, is the son of Mae OATLEY GIERMAN, but he doesn’t have much information beyond what was printed in April 1970 and February 1999. I do have the same 1880 census information from the Internet that you have.

A man named Clark TINNEY…..Tucson, AZ, writes: “My grandmother, Emmaline WHEELER FRAZEE’s death record of October 7, 1916, shows her father as M. or Mr. WHEELER and her mother as Pheba OATLEY, who was born in Ohio. Emmaline was born either 1857 or 1859, supposedly at Eaton Rapids, MI. She was married to James FRAZEE, July 1882, at Portland, and is buried in North Eagle Cemetery. He is trying to find out more about her parents living in and around Ionia County. He is also looking for Ionia County Poor Farm records listing people there around 1870.

This sounds like your branch of the OATLEY family and you are probably already in contact with Clark TINNEY, but if not it’s worth a try. Wilbur GIERMAN seems to think Simeon’s father may have been Edward, but he has no record of Pheba. Perhaps she was Simeon’s brother John/s daughter. Hope this helps a little bit –

Sincerely, Grayden D. Slowins, Editor of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR”

ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION was last held on May 29, 2000. At that time the membership voted to cease collecting dues and move toward dissolving the organization. The school building was leased to Sebewa Township at $1 per year for a period of five years, July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2005, for continued use as voting precinct. This was done with the idea that the Association treasury would be depleted by that time and the property could be deeded over to the township. Sebewa Township has paid the liability & property insurance, utilities, janitor and lawn care. But the Association is responsible for repairs to the building, well, pump, furnace and premises. The well & pump now need replacing. This will probably finish off the treasury balance, even though some people have continued to make voluntary contributions. The church & township will pay the rest of the well costs, because they will share in its use.

Since the Sebewa Center Association is in the process of dissolving over the next year or two, we soon will no longer be able to accept monetary contributions as a non-profit organization. This editor will probably continue a newsletter in some form for family and friends after the organization ends, but it will be done for free, so as not to involve Michigan tax laws.


Thursday, March 13, 2003 – 68 degrees in the morning & sunny. Along the roadside we identified the flowers & leaves of Blue-Eyed grass. Resurrection fern grows three to six inches tall on tree limbs and is spread by spores. Ann practiced her organ music on the keyboard, while I walked over to visit with John from Lake City, then we both walked.

Wednesday, March 19, 71 degrees & sunny, becoming partly cloudy………We visited with Marie STEFFENS, owner of the park, at the ice cream social. She & her husband, son & grandson & wives had a dairy farm at Rockford, IL. After his stroke, she & the children sold the farm and bought this park, only about six years old. Her husband died within the year. Son John, his wife Debbie, grandson Matt, his wife & two little great-granddaughters are involved in the day-to-day operation……

All thru the South we saw John Deere Lawn & Garden tractors being sold at hardware stores, discount outlets, and various other chains or franchises. Probably it is happening in the North too, and we have to wonder who will be servicing these machines, when authorized dealers aren’t making the sale. Maybe the company perceives a need to compete with Sears Crafsman and others that sell for less, but what will service cost and where will it be available?

Marie Steffens stopped in today to visit and see the aerial photo of our farm on our wall, similar to those on her walls……visited with a man from Middlebury, VT, who retired from the Boston-Maine Railroad. Said Middlebury is a college town – Middlebury College – an expensive private college – plus home of the late Robert FROST and Bob NEWHART’S Bed & Breakfast……a couple from Rockford, MI. She grew up in Ithaca, he in Ionia. Their name is Roberts, but claim no relation to any Roberts currently in Ionia, Lake Odessa, Portland or Sebewa………

Sunday, March 23………visited with John Steffens, park owner, about his John Deere 720 tractor. He says they have a Gas & Steam Antique Tractor Show at Ft. Meade the last week in February each year. He loaned us a video tape of it to watch tonight. Allis-Chalmers was the featured make this year and McCormack will be next year, but all kinds take part. A man in the park from Ontario has Allis-Chalmers tractors and a farm license plate on his pickup….

Monday, March 24, 51 degrees at daylight. Breakfast TV had an interview with Melissa RATHBUN COLEMAN of Texas, whose great-uncle Frank RATHBUN is in our East Sebewa Cemetery. During the Gulf War I in 1991, she was the first woman, and one of only two women, to be taken POW. The truck she was driving was disabled when she was shot in the arm and driveshaft. The lead driver had wandered into enemy territory and Melissa could not believe it when her interrogators told her she was at fault. Released after 30 days, her medical attention had not been the best, but otherwise she was not abused. Psychological effects lasted longer, but she says now okay.

We battened the hatches, took in the electric cord & wheel pads, headed toward Michigan. Drove northwest on Florida-100 to Lake City, then on I-75 north into Georgia. With next year’s reservation in place and several people & places already in mind to visit, we leave Florida with pleasant memories.

Tuesday, March 25, 54 degrees in morning……Saw yellow daffodils and red & yellow tulips planted in rows on the highway roadside along with wildflowers. Also red-violet blossoms on shrubs, not really fruit trees………Drove thru the mountains in North Georgia & Tennessee, with rock outcrop ridges like fins, then began to see some green hillside pastures with beef & dairy cattle & nice homesteads.

Thursday, March 27, woke (in Auburn, IN, KOA) to robins singing, 40 degrees, nice flock of sheep north of town, home 2 hours, unloaded 60s, shirtsleeves……

Our Florida trip covered 1609 miles from Sebewa Township, MI, to Trilby, FL, then 494 miles touring in FL, and 1273 miles home.



Last update November 10, 2013