Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 3 Number 3
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 The Sebewa Center Association, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association, December 1967, Volume 3, Number 3:



Our Building Is Back – TOGETHER AGAIN

     Once again we have a building and the nightmare of the caved-in front of a brick schoolhouse is passed.  Thanks to the efforts of Lynn Morris of Wm. Morris and Son and his crew, our building has been bricked up before winter sets in.  All our members should share in the elation and relief that comes with the knowledge that the major part of restoring the building has been done.

     It is easy to stand in awe at the fearsome power of a tornado.  But when did a tornado ever lay up a brick, fit a door or do anything else but destroy?  Let’s give a salute to the manpower whose efforts did put our building back in shape, piece by piece.

     From the time of the tornado April 21 of this year until the building was enclosed in November there were many who helped in various ways in its restoration.  It is proper that the names be listed and apologies are offered for any recognition omitted.  The names coming to mind are as follows:  Russell Curtis, Maurice Gierman, Howard Cross, Allen Cross, Bernice Gunn, Wilbur Gierman, Eric Gierman, Richard Droste, Howard A. Meyers, Tony Droste, Judy Seybold, Debbie Meyers, Kay Fender, Westley Meyers, Jr., Howard Meyers, Harry Meyers, Wesley Meyers, Sr., Patricia and Martha Meyers, Zack York, Kendall Smith, Karen Smith, Dave Thompson, George Carr, Volney Tuma, Paul Thuma, Harley Leifheit, John York, and Wilma York.

     A major contribution in the form of skill was Elmer Creighton’s welding job that made a wheel of the bits and pieces that were left in the crash of the bell to the ground in that infamous incident.  The bell, itself, was not damaged in the fall.

     Other contributions were made in cash.  With all of these forms of support, we have our building back instead of the mess the insurance company shied away from and gladly paid the full value of the policy in lieu of restoration.  Let us hope we do not have to go through another such experience for at least another 84 years that it will take to double the age of the schoolhouse.

     The men who worked on the brick laying were:  Tom Hanline, Karl Russell, Forest Estep, Jr., Dale Cope, Clyde Kent Jr., John Devers, Harry Tucker and Lawrence McMeeken.  We strongly suspect that the fact that Mrs. Lynn Morris was the last teacher at the school as District $4 Sebewa had something to do with a contract price within our means. 


     During the summer a Methodist minister and his wife were driving on Shilton Road.  As they approached the church he explained “That is the Methodist Church”.  She quickly pointed across the road at the gaping wreck and said “And that must be the parsonage”. 


     The International Rescue Committee project where Richard works with the Viet Namese refugees is on Highway 13 about 20 miles north of Saigon.  In the Commni(??) Development Team there are four other persons, a retired army medic, a nurse from Denmark, and two community workers.  They hope to have one or two more people besides Richard for agricultural work.

     In other projects in Viet Nam the Committee uses more than 20 medical people who are themselves, mostly refugees of the medical profession of Cuba.  Most are not technically qualified to practice medicine in United States.

   At the camp, 2000 acres of land has been cleared of trees for the use of the 750 families of refugees assigned to the area—70 families were added in the last couple of weeks.

     U. S. A. I. D. has put up buildings consisting of end walls and roofs with an area of 12’ x 25’ to a family.  The refugees are expected to complete their individual quarters with materials that are furnished.

     Most of the refugees were wet-land rice farmers cleared from battle areas.  They must now be taught to make a living from dry-land farming.  The Community Development team will supervise demonstration plots of crops and encourage the refugees to follow the best procedures in growing crops.  There is much to be done in land leveling, cleaning and clearing, securing seeds and fertilizer and providing enough irrigation to have a year-around growth of vegetables.

     Richard is making plans for a cooperative to buy and sell the essentials of living.  Handicraft articles may provide a source of income for some of the people.  He says he has found several people among the refugees who are progressive and willing to work.  We shall be hearing more of the project later.

     The International Rescue Committee is a voluntary, non-sectarian association of Americans dedicated to aiding refugees from political tyranny.  Founded in 1933, a week before Hitler seized control of Germany, the Committee has been active on behalf of the refugee victims of totalitarian oppression on 5 continents.  It has emphasized aid to the exiled leadership element—those men and women who helped to shape their nation’s destinies in thought, culture, politics, business, labor and the professions.  Increasingly it has been concerned with the plight of refugee children.  83.7% of the Committee’s budget is spent in a direct program for the refugees.  Only 3.8% is used in program administration. 


     Adding to our list of users of mercury vapor lights and numbering from 37 to 41 are the names of Homer Downing, Vernon Pifer, Charles Kimmel, Dean Kimmel and Don Eckman.  These help continue the milky way effect in an arc from the northeast to southeast to the southwest part of the township. 


     Daisy Staples Creighton, daughter of Lewis and Julia Staples, who spent her formative years in Sebewa, died late in October.   As a girl she lived on “Wall Street” (now Henderson Road) and made the daily 1 ˝ mile trek to the Sebewa Center School. 


     By Richard W. Thrams, May 1967

What is the Peace Corps, how does it function and who operates it?  The cover of the monthly Peach Corps Volunteer magazine gives us a clue by showing a page from a dictionary with several definitions of the Peace Corps.  Some of these are:  Agency of Volunteers which makes friends for the United States and gains insight into foreign cultures.  Special kind of graduate school in which volunteers learn as they serve.  Agency which sends overseas volunteers it has specially trained to do a specific job to fill shortages of skilled manpower.  Agency which sends overseas volunteers who have professional skills which are fairly rare in the host country and are necessary to its development.  Agency whose members change attitudes and develop human resources.  Agency which combines two or more of the above definitions.

     To get a country moving forward faster than it is prepared to go is bad.  The Peace Corps Act specifies that it shall supply to those who want it.  There are skilled people in the Peace Corps but more than 80% of the Volunteers are what we call A. B. generalists.  An educated person trained in one or two skills can function very well if he is placed in a proper position in the host country.  But what happens when the host country wants skilled people with experience?

     The Peace Corps today is finding out that when the host country asked for skilled people, that is what they wanted.  Usually more volunteers have been sent than what were asked for.  The staff tells the volunteer to drink tea with the local people and make friends while government agencies in other circles seem to be doing the opposite…………… 


     Late Saturday night about midnight, the house of Walker Meadows in the west part of Sebewa was discovered by his nephew, a young man named White, and Will Hair, a neighbor, to be on fire.  The OBSERVER representative, who visited the scene of the fire, gives us the following particulars:  The young man above referred to had been drawing wheat to Portland during Saturday and did not get home until late Saturday night.  After getting home he took the horse, which he had borrowed, back to Will Hair.  After having lighted a lamp and eaten lunch, the rest of the family consisting of Elder Meadows, his wife, three children and Mrs. Meadows’ mother having retired.  They all slept downstairs except the little boy, who was sleeping upstairs alone.

     In the woodshed, attached to the house was an incubator under which a lamp was left burning, which had been the case for many nights and days.  When the fire was discovered, it was in the portion of the house where the incubator was, thus proving almost conclusively that the fire originated from this source.  Neighbors got to the scene of the fire as soon as possible, but when they got there, the house was a mass of flames and all were out except the mother, they having awakened just in time to escape being burned alive but taking not an article of household furnishings or wearing apparel with them, they all being in their night clothes except that the Elder grabbed his pantaloons as he ran.

     Not so, Mrs. Meadows, however.  Knowing that the others were safe and thinking that she had time to go upstairs and get the little boy, she did so.  She took him from his bed and put him out of the window.  In dropping, he caught hold of a window sill and hung there for a couple of minutes.  The neighbors saw him hanging there and saw that he was safe upon the ground.  By this time she was utterly exhausted and putting her hands to her head, fell back upon the floor and in a moment’s time the fire was roaring where she had stood.

     Elder Meadows is a preacher of the United Brethren denomination and last year preached upon the Saranac-Lowell circuit.   This year he has done no preaching except to fill vacancies and having preached here upon several   occasions, is well known to the members of that denomination here.  The woman who met such an awful death for the sake of her child, for she could have escaped had she not gone upstairs is spoken of by the neighbors and all who knew her as a most estimable woman.  There is an insurance of $200 on the house and contents in one of the mutual companies of Ionia County.  The funeral services of Mrs. Meadows were held at the residence of B. C. Peacock of West Sebewa yesterday afternoon and interment was made at Sunfield.   From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER August 30, 1893. 

WEST SEBEWA AS I REMEMBER IT  By Dora (Peacock) Johnson

     West Sebewa as I first remember it about the year of 1891 when I started school was much like this:  It was situated on a four corners of the northwesterly part of the Township.  In the southwest corner of the little village was the Presbyterian Church with ample church sheds to protect the horses and carriages in cold and inclement weather.  On the same corner, adjoining on the north, was a building occupied by the Hope Chilson family, containing a small store of groceries and supplies, with living quarters in the back.  Across the road on the northwest corner was the Post Office with Luke Cook as Postmaster, who also carried a limited supply of groceries and household needs.

     When that Post Office was established or where the people went for their mail for several years before that—I can’t recall.  I can remember being told that before the time of the Post Office, the place was known as Snyder’s Corners, mainly because Snyder, who had settled there earlier, operated a large lumber mill there.

     Across from the Post Office on the northeast corner, was the schoolhouse and playground.  Pupils in those days numbered around fifty and ranged in age from five to twenty or twenty-one.  The school was divided into terms—fall, winter and spring.  The very youngest children were not always obliged to go to school during the winter term because of the cold and stormy weather.  We were not transported in those days.  We had to walk.

     Next to the schoolyard on the north was the blacksmith shop—very essential at that time in keeping the horses well shod and their feet in trim and in making the necessary repairs on the iron parts of farm machinery.  This work was done by the village blacksmith, Luke LaLonge.  He was considered very efficient in that line of work and was kept very busy.  His constant clanging on the anvil was a sort of musical accompaniment to all our school sessions.  The blacksmith building and family living quarters, which Luke and his family occupied for several years.

     Just north of this place and adjoining was a building erected by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of that place.  The ground floor was rented as a store building and the upper floor was used as a hall for the meeting place of the I.O.O.F. Lodge.

     Soon the Chilsons had moved away and their store building was remodeled by Presser and Waring for an Agricultural Implement Store.  For some time Postmaster Cook had been failing in health and his little stock of goods became depleted.  In 1892 or 1893 my father, B. C. Peacock, purchased the stock of goods in the Odd Fellows Building store and soon afterward was appointed Postmaster.  He moved the Post Office across the road to his store and Cook’s little grocery was soon extinct.

    Peacock and Sons operated the general store and Post Office there several years before my father decided to build on his own place.  The store and the Post Office with Government approval, were moved to the Peacock farm, one half mile north.

This location served for the Post Office until the West Sebewa Post Office was discontinued with the coming of Rural Free Delivery mail in about 1903.

     I must add a little of interest concerning the mail route before 1903.  Mail was transported from Woodbury to Ionia by Mail Coach operated by Bill Martin and wife, Em.  They also carried passengers from the Woodbury station to the depot in Ionia.  The passengers were mostly agents and businessmen who could save time with the shortcut instead of going the long way around by rail.  The Coach was usually drawn by two horses, but in the spring, when roads were bad, four horses were sometimes used.  They were always urged to go faster so that passengers wouldn’t “miss the train”—poor horses!

     On the Mail Coach Route there were three Post Offices—Rosina, West Sebewa and Tremayne’s Corners.  We had two deliveries a day at about 9 A.M. and around 4 P.M.  The West Sebewa Post Office was Government approved with boxes numbered and private to those who rented them.  When Rural Free Delivery was established, the first Rural Route was from Lake Odessa, but it was later changed to come from Portland.

     As time passed the older members of the Presbyterian Church had passed away or removed from the neighborhood; and the church building came into disuse.  The Disciples of Christ began using the church for their meetings.  Previously they had met at the schoolhouse (in Snyder’s Corners days) and later at private homes.  The home of Rev. and Mrs. Meadows was used mostly.  Mrs. Meadows met a tragic and untimely death when their house burned at night and she went upstairs to save other members of the family and was unable to save herself.  The Disciples meeting at the Presbyterian Church were conducted by State Evangelist, J. W. Humphrey, one of the oldest members.  Once, after walking to the service, he was testifying of “his faith and the uncertainty of life” when he was stricken with a heart attack and died before medical aid could be summoned.  During the series of meetings, many were baptized and added to the church membership.

     The Disciple Church finally leased the old blacksmith shop, which had been unused for some time, with the privilege of remodeling the building with new floors, siding and windows.  This they proudly called the “Chapel”.  Later a Church was built in 1902 on a lot donated by E. C. Peacock adjoining the Post Office and store.  Soon after the Post Office was taken up the store was discontinued.

     The Church of Christ still stands where it was built and recently a small addition was made for Sunday School classes.  Very few of the older members remain but we hope the younger ones will carry on for the years to come and sometimes sing this old song:

     “Some are gone—forever gone

Down that ever onward tract.

Where the traveler—weary traveler

Goes and nevermore comes back


To that land of Angel choirs

Where the Heavenly legions reign

There we’ll strike glad hands forever

Be united all again. 


     The area that is Sebewa has a history much older than its name.  The record of its much earlier times is not in the newspaper files, man’s memory nor in books.  It is to be found in the soil and rock layers beneath us.  We rely on the science of geology to interpret the story of the rocks—our rocks—to know the conditions of our area millions of years ago such as the climate, the life forms and the topography that prevailed.

     A geologist cannot use a divining rod to read the history that is hidden beneath us.  Instead he makes use of drilling samples of the material that oil drillers and, more recently, water well diggers, bring up from the depths as their drills make room for casings.  Michigan law requires the drillers to furnish the Geological Survey frequent samples of the material drilled, with labels to indicate the depth from which it was taken.  Geologists then analyze the material and make a drilling log for each well.  A study of many of the drilling logs gives a picture of Michigan’s geologic past.

     Presented on the following pages* (can be seen in THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, available at local libraries) are three such logs for wells drilled on the Roy Patrick farm, the Fred Apsey farm and the Charles McNeil farm, all in Sebewa.  Allowing for some variation in the geologic interpretation of the drilling samples, it is easy to see that Sebewa has not been mountainous nor hilly during the past 350 million years.  There is nearly a uniform depth of drift left by the glacier that covered all of Michigan and some points south.  In some parts of the state the drift is up to 1000 feet deep.  The last glacier left the area some 10-15 thousand years ago.

     For a period of 220 million years previous to glacial times, there is no record in Michigan rocks of the events that happened.  Whatever traces that may have been left of this long period, were in some way destroyed.  This included the time of the age of reptiles, the dinosaurs and the development of mammals.  Fossils of these life forms are found in the Western States but never in Michigan.

     The first rock layers that our local wells pierce are the Pennsylvania rocks that were formed from sediments of huge swampy areas that produced tropical tree-like plants in such profusion that coal veins of varying thickness, formed from the plant residue.  It is estimated that it took a depth of 20 feet of the peaty mass to be aged and compressed into one foot vein of coal.  Such a coal vein can be seen at the Grand Ledge clay pit.  The shales in the pit contain many fossil imprints of carbon blacked leaves of the vegetation of the Pennsylvania period.  The Pennsylvanian rocks extend to a large roughly circular area to the northeast of us.  The geologic map shows them to be in an area from Roscommon to Jackson Counties from north to south and from Tuscola to Newaygo counties east to west.

     Next below are the Mississippian rock formations.  Add a few more million years and we find the Devonian rocks of about 350 million years ago.  The world’s largest limestone quarry at Rogers City removes huge quantities of limestone from the Devonian formations.  The familiar Petoskey Stones, a petrified coral, are found in the Devonian rocks.

     All of the formations beneath us that the three drillings cut through are sedimentary rocks.  For millions of years past, the regions outside the boundaries of Lake Michigan and the Lower Peninsula were so much higher than Michigan that erosion sediments from the high areas poured down to our area from all directions.  Most of that time, Lower Michigan was a shallow sea receiving the sediments from the area around it.  As the deposits increased in mass and tonnage there was a gradual sinking from the weight.  The center of the area sunk more than the outer edges so that the layers of sediment, slowly turning to rock, instead of being stacked like a plate of wheat cakes, became more like a set of nested bowls.  You will notice that the layer of gypsum that comes near the surface at Grand Rapids and Tawas City is at a depth of 500 plus feet in Sebewa.  The Devonian brine we pump from 2900 feet is found much closer to the surface at Midland where the Dow Chemical Co. uses it as its basic raw material.

     Over the millions of years, differences of climatic conditions and the materials eroded account for the varied deposits that were made on our ocean floor. 

     Encyclopedias and other reference books will help develop your mental picture of the very ancient times if you follow through the rock formations on the drilling logs with a session with the references.

     The oil drillers had hoped to find a dome in the Traverse Formation under which, a considerable pool of oil might have been trapped.  There was no dome and no oil; but what a wealth of information came from the exploratory holes! 


     The following from the pen of Erie LeValley published in the GRAND RAPIDS DEMOCRAT may be of interest to our older readers:

     The first settlers in this country cut their way through 100 miles of unbroken forest in 1833, but with all their cares and labors they did not forget to bring with  them fruits, seeds, pits and cuttings of all trees.  They were soon blessed with cultivated fruits.  The first apple trees were planted in the fall of 1833 by George Case, Erastus Yeoman, Samuel Dexter and Alfred Cornell within the present city limits of Ionia.  Mr. Cornell also planted apple seeds, peach and plum pits for a nursery the same year.  He sold his first trees in 1836.  The first grafting in the county was done in the spring of 1839 in the Cornell nursery.

      A nursery was started in the township of Portland about the same time by Willard Brooks and Mr. Hall.  From this time on, trees were planted by nearly every newcomer and grafting soon followed the planting.   Apple orchards were set from 1836 to 1839 by Alonzo Sessions, John E. Morrison, William Babcock, Levi Taylor, Mr. McElvy, Porter Place, Mr. Chubb, Charles Gott, Mr. Knox and Mr. Brooks, Mr. Newman and many others.  From 1839 a general assortment was added to orchards.

     The first peach orchard planted was by the writer in 1839.  Elder John VanVleck of Palo planted an orchard of peaches about the same time, all seedling trees.  The pits were brought from western New York.  These trees bore fruit in 1843 and in 1847 peaches were sent to Milwaukee.  By grafting and budding, the best varieties were secured and this, together with good care of the orchards, has made Ionia County what it is today, one of the best fruit counties in the state.

     The grape, one of the fruits we grow, was planted first in 1844.  The Isabella and Delaware varieties were first and a few years later the Concord was introduced here by George Hosford from Massachusetts.  It is now the leading variety in the state.  Although the group is not a specialty in the county, the fact that over 100 tons were grown in 1882 gives some idea of what we are doing in the fruit culture.

            ~ From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER June 6, 1883 


     A project for next year will be to install the school bell.  Some differing ideas have been suggested as to where and how the bell should be mounted; even how conveniently it should be located for would-be thieves.  Pass on your ideas on this problem—they might be adopted. 


     In the same seasonal and unsuitable weather in which the bricks were laid, a bulldozer operation was going on across the road from the schoolhouse.  Larry Daniels cleared the west part of the Church and Town Hall lots of their rubble of dead elms, brush and church shed-foundation rocks.  The lots now will have their lawns extended.  Outstanding is the view of the Town Hall from the west, always before hidden by the trees. 


     As of the first day of December our membership list stood at two hundred sixty-five (265) dues payers.  Our membership year runs from June to June.  Anyone wishing to join the Association now may pay the $1 per person fee.  New members will receive THE RECOLLECTOR for the year.  There are 20 copies of volumes I and II of THE REDCOLLECTOR available to new members for an additional fee of $2.  If more than the 20 copies are needed, some reprinting will have to be done.


   Robert W. Gierman, Editor

   R 1

   Portland, Michigan   48875 U. S. A.

Last update March 03, 2013