THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Bulletin of the Sebewa Center
DECEMBER 2004, Volume 40, Number 3. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan.
Submitted with written permission of Editor, Grayden D. SLOWINS:
SURNAMES: WEAVER, DUSO, ZELLER, PLINE, KEENEY, SLOWINS, LEIK, FOGEL, ALDRICH,
MORRIS, LEPARD, LIVINGSTON, LONG, STALTER, MOTE, NASH, DARBY, OST, GROFF,
BROVONT, O’MARA, GROFF, BJORK, FLANIGAN, BATES, DEMARAY, NURENBERG, SWILER,
CARTER, THUMA, RUDD, KYSER, SMITH, MEYERS, GIERMAN, GIBBS
JOSEPH EDWARD WEAVER, 81, brother of Thomas & Bernie WEAVER, Norine ZELLER,
Clara PLINE, Edna KEENEY and the late Charles & Ruth Ann WEAVER, son of Ed &
Sylvia DUSO WEAVER. Joe graduated from S.S. Peter & Paul High School in 1940,
served in the US Army in Germany in WWII. He began working at Berger Motor Sales
at age 16, while still in high school, and worked there 65 years, counting his
three years in the Army. He worked up to salesman and made the title of car
salesman an honorable profession. He worked for five generations of Bergers and
changed diapers on the last three – Ned Jr., Brett, and Briana. His last years
he mostly made trips to Secretary of State and Post Office and shuttled cars
between dealers. But for a few of us special long time customers who still
stopped in to visit, he continued to sell cars, and we bought two cars and two
pickups from him in his last 25 years. Joe is buried at Mt. Olivet.
OLD BARNS WITH RACK LIFTERS by Grayden SLOWINS: (With FRONT PAGE PHOTOS of
ALDRICH-HEALY BARN & GROFF-BJORK BARN)
Sunday, July 18, 2004, Charles LEIK, George FOGEL, and Grayden SLOWINS set out
on a tour of old barns, specifically those equipped with rack lifters.
FIRST and in best condition was the Huron HEALY barn one mile west of Lake
Odessa on the south side of M-50/TUPPER Lake Road in Sec. 32 Odessa Township.
This was the Frank ALDRICH farm in 1906 – about the age of the barn. This is a
gambrel roofed, bank barn. The rack lifter is still fully roped and ready to
These devices called rack lifters used poles under each end to raise the entire
wagon rack loaded with loose hay to the top of the barn. This was accomplished
by means of a large wooden pulley, six to eight feet in diameter, with a wooden
axle thirty two feet long.
Mechanical advantage allowed a team of horses to pull the load up easily. As the
one-inch rope unwound from the large pulley, the two-inch ropes from the four
corners of the rack wound up the axle and lifted the load. An ingenious ratchet
brake & trip rope prevented the load from dropping unintended, yet near-perfect
balance allowed the empty rack to be lowered and guided.
The first load was pitched off by hand and leveled off to cushion the mow floor.
Thereafter one, two, or three layers of sling-like ropes were layered across the
rack as the hay was loaded. Unlike true hay-slings, these ropes were not a woven
web, but a simple loop with both ends fastened to iron rings on the mow side of
the load and the center of the rope looped to the opposite side. The rings could
then be hooked on wooden pegs in the crossbeam at the purlin plate level. The
loop was pulled up & over by horses to dump that layer of hay and repeated for
each layer. It took less height to dump than true hay-slings, allowing more
space for hay.
THE SECOND BARN was on the west side of JACKSON Road at the railroad tracks,
Sec. 24 CAMPBELL Township. Now owned by Frederick MORRIS & Son, it belongs to
Oscar E. LEPARD when built in 1905, according to faint lettering above the
double drive floor doors, and after that by Hale LEPARD into the 1960s. The roof
& beams & foundation are good on this gambrel roofed bank barn, and it is
salvageable if the south siding and drive doors are replaced soon. The rack
lifter is no longer fully roped, but most of the wood parts seem to be in good
THE THIRD BARN was around the corner on the north side of CAMPBELL Road, on land
owned by R. LIVINGSTON today and by George LONG in 1906. This bank barn is
falling down and the rack lifter is protruding into the weather.
THE FOURTH BARN, about a mile further west in Sec. 23, is a nice T-shaped,
gambrel roofed, bank barn, with a rack lifter. Today it is apparently owned by
Phillip STALTER, but no one was home and we didn’t go into the barn. It was
owned by E. MOTE in 1906 and then Calvin NASH kept it well-cared-for into the
THE FIFTH BARN we visited was around the corner to the south on the east side of
DARBY Road in Sec. 26 Campbell, and is now owned by Burton & Sandra LEPARD and
by his father, Forrest LEPARD, before them. Because the barn was once let go for
a long time before replacing the roof & flooring & some siding, this once &
again great gambrel roofed barn shows some signs of decay in the beams & roof
Burton LEPARD relayed good information from his late father and thinks the
designer/builder of all these lifters clustered within a 3-5 mile radius lived
right here among the LEPARDS – but probably was not a LEPARD or BURTON would
have heard stories about him.
SIXTH & SEVENTH BARNS are on the next farms south of Burton LEPARD on both sides
of the road. Ruth & the late Lawrence O’MARA on the west side in Sec. 27
salvaged their lifter when a windstorm took the top off their barn. This was the
R. DARBY farm in 1906 and later was owned by D. J. BROVONT. The farm & barn
across the road are owned by Kenneth OST, but the occupants of the house resist
visitors. This place was owned by Hy GROFF in 1906, son of the owner at that
time of the next farm we visited.
THE EIGHTH BARN and one with a lot of oral history is a mile and a half further
south at the corner of DARBY & VEDDER Roads. Both sides are owned by Vernon
BJORK since 1939 – 65 years. The farm now includes the Old German Baptist or
Dunkard (Tunker) Church & grounds, which reverted to the farm from which it was
donated by the original owner, Samuel GROFF, before 1875.
On the west side of the road sits a majestic T-shaped, gambrel roofed, bank
barn, with double drive floors and almost intact lifter wheel & axle & poles,
plus some of the ropes.
Vern is 84 and had talked to the GROFF family. He thinks perhaps the BROVONT
family, who lived among these barns and ran a saw mill, may have been the
designers/builders of the rack lifters right along with the barns. We know it
was common practice for barn-building to own a sawmill and contract to build
barns from standing timber at that time. More barns once in the CAMPBELL Corners
area had lifters, perhaps two dozen in all, and we may have missed some still
existing today. We set out to see two or three, found nine, and actually entered
OUR NINTH & FINAL visit was to a BARN twelve miles away on Coats Grove Road in
Sec. 34 Woodland Township. Owned by Janice BATES FLANIGAN & the late Roger
FLANIGAN, it is far enough away from the others to be a copy of the idea but not
exactly the same design. It has two large pulley wheels that lift both ends of
the wagon separately but simultaneously, with the pulleys & 32 foot axles &
poles hooked to the same team of horses, with an easier pull due to greater
mechanical advantage. That part of the idea is good, but the pulley wheels were
a poorer design that could have ropes jumping over the side and tangling. Three
days later Ann & I went back to get more photos and found Amish carpenters
replacing some barn siding & doors, to go with the good metal roof & solid
foundations to preserve for posterity.
We also found a rack lifter in good condition, except for the two-inch ropes, in
our Sebewa neighbor’s barn – Ed DEMARAY in 1906 and Bill NURENBERG now.
See accompanying photos to understand the workings of rack lifters. See also
Charles LEIK’S old barn website for many more barns & information on rack
lifters at <the_barnjournal.org>. As far as we could tell, all of these barns
were gambrel roofed, bank barns, although a couple were partially destroyed.
Some may have been raised from a gable to a gambrel roof at the time of
installing the rack lifter, to gain maneuvering room as well as more hay
storage. However, most barns & lifters seemed to have been built as a team.
The descendants of Harold SWILER think B. F. (Ben) CARTER brought this idea for
rack lifters from Michigan Agricultural College (MAC). Ben graduated there
around 1900 and long worked for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. He and
his father, Z. W. CARTER, had farms on both sides of AINSWORTH Road, north side
of BIPPLEY Road, in Odessa Township. The west side now belongs to the SWILER
family and the rack lifter is still in their barn. There was also a water tank
in the barn grade, filled by the windmill and using gravity flow to supply water
in the barn to cool milk and water livestock. END
SPECIAL MEETING OF MEMBERS OF THE SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION was held on October
23, 2004, after proper notification by mail. The following actions were taken:
(1) New officers were elected – Paul THUMA, President, Janet GIERMAN RUDD, Vice
President, Sharon HUNT KYSER, Secretary/Treasurer, Bertha SMITH, Trustee,
Lucille MEYERS, Trustee.
(2) The Association voted to donate the building and land to Sebewa Township.
(3) The final vote was to dissolve the Association thirty (30) days after the
paperwork is completed on the property transfer.
In order to clear the books and bank account, the Sec./Treas. will make refund
checks to those who are paid beyond the current year – meaning July 1, 2005. The
remaining funds in the bank account will then be donated toward replacing the
water well which is shared by the School Association, the Township, and the
nearby church. We can no longer accept checks in the name of the Sebewa Center
NEW BEGINNINGS in February 2005: The SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR will be mailed free of
charge to everyone who has been receiving it. If you no longer care to receive
it, please notify us, to save our family the costs of printing and postage. If
you care to help with the postage, that is okay, too.
The SEBEWA CENTER SCHOOL, an ivory brick building with red brick trim, was
completed December 15, 1882, at a final cost of $1,206.03 paid in full by Andrew
M. RALSTON, district treasurer.
It replaced a wood-frame building located one mile east, which in turn replaced
a log school across the road to the south of the second building. The brick
school closed in April 1965 and the Association was formed August 12, 1965,
under the leadership of Robert Wilfred GIERMAN, to preserve the building for use
of the community.
On April 21, 1967, it was struck by a tornado, which tore off the front wall,
the belfry, and a portion of the roof. With his spirit and energy, the building
was restored and the bell was mounted at ground level on an I-beam frame. A
couple reunions and a wedding or two were held there, as well as an annual
combination ice cream social and birthday party for R. W. GIERMAN from his 75th
thru 86th birthdays. Also a 4-H Sewing Club met there for a few years. After his
death about its only use came two or three times every two years, when I swept
out the dead flies and mice and coon spit, so we could operate the township
voting machines there. I am researching back issues for a list of former
teachers and perhaps several lists of students at various times.
BRYON GIBBS’ WORLD WAR II MEMOIRS CONTINUED:
We studied radar theory and equipment. All of our books and notes were
classified and nothing left the school. So there was no studying to do after
leaving school. If additional study was necessary, I went back to the school
after the shift.
We studied antennas and the patterns they put out. I remember one problem in
connection with this. We had a reconnaissance photo of a Japanese radar
installation on an island and we had to calculate the antenna pattern and
determine the altitude our planes would have to be at different approach
distances from the target to avoid detection.
Many days we would be in school from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. After that I was
glad to get to my room to sleep. We had very little free time.
On Saturday, August 14, I went with Lt. Ellsworth Fletcher to look at a car that
had been parked behind an apartment building in Boston. It had been there for
some time as weeds were growing up around it. The car was a 1936 Plymouth and he
later found it had been sitting there since the owner died. The owner’s wife
could not drive and offered to sell it for $20.00. Lt. Fletcher bought it and
after putting about $50.00 in repairs in it, was able to drive it to Florida
with his wife Scotty and two young children, Johnny and Jane at the end of
October when the M.I.T. course was completed.
Near the end of August, I had determined there would be no income tax to pay for
1943. My taxable income as a 2nd Lt. was $1800.00. There was a military
exemption of $1500.00 plus a personal exemption of $628.00 and a $420.00
exemption for a dependent.
I September 1943, Winston CHURCHILL spoke at Harvard. I went down there but
could only see the crowd through the fence from the street at Harvard Square.
About the time I applied for a ration book as I was not on an army post. The
book had stamps for everything but shoes I think.
At Harvard, there is the University Museum with the Ware Collection of the most
beautiful glass flowers created by two men Leopold and Rudolph BLASCHKA in the
1800s. They are so life like it is hard to believe they are not real. This was
really worth seeing.
One day in Boston, I remember going to lunch at Jacob WIRTH, 31-37 Stuart Street
not far from Boston Commons at the Boylston Street exit from Tremont Street
Line. This was an old German place that was established in 1868. There was
sawdust on the floor and big German waiters wearing white aprons and having a
gold watch chain draping from their vest pockets. The German lunches were
In September I bought a foot locker as I knew there would be a change of station
near the end of October and I needed something to ship my things in.
Late in September we went on an inspection trip to see Radar in use up in Maine.
This was on September 29, I believe. The commander of the radar unit was a
Michigan Tech graduate I had
played in the band with while at Tech. The radar station was looking for
aircraft or ships offshore and submarines if they surfaced.
So many of the historic places in Boston are located so close together that the
easiest way to get around is taking a walking tour or riding the subway or the
bus. I did not get to see some interesting places. One of the things I missed
was Durgin-Park Restaurant which is at 30 North Market Street about a block from
Faneuil Hall. In 1962 I took Gertie and Louise there. As we walked down the
street, Gertie said we are not eating in this area are we and sort of had her
nose up. They were unloading beef halves nearby and there was trash in the
gutter. Then entrance to Durgin-Park Restaurant is a set of stairs going to the
2nd floor. As we stood there a chauffeured limousine drove up and several women
in fur jackets got out and stood in line at the bottom of the stairs. This
rather changed Gertie’s opinion. She was now ready to get in line. Everyone sat
at long tables with a red and white gingham table cloth in the second floor
dining area. There were no reservations. The movie stars, diplomats, the working
people and all sat at long tables. The lights were bare bulbs on cords hanging
from the tin ceiling. The kitchen was in the center of the dining area and the
noise there and clatter was unbelievable.
The food was excellent. When we left, the cash was taken at the table. There was
no cash register. It had always been that way. This place had been a restaurant
since before the Revolutionary War, famous for its New England favorite foods.
It had been the favorite of Theodore Roosevelt. It was a favorite of Franklin D.
Roosevelt when he was a student at Harvard and also of his sons. This place was
also a favorite of John F. Kennedy when he was a student at Harvard. No one gets
a reservation. Many have asked and all have been denied; movie stars, kings, and
the very wealthy. Everyone stands in line on the steps. This is a place to be
By mid-October 1943, we knew we would be finished at M.I.T. by the end of
October and then be assigned to Camp Murphy in Florida near West Palm Beach.
Camp Murphy is no longer there. It is now the Jonathan Dickinson State Park
about 20 miles north of West Palm Beach and about 6 miles north of Juniper on
I know our orders would read we could travel by auto which meant we would be
expected to travel only 200 miles per day and there would probably not be a
reporting date on the orders. So I wrote mother to have my 1940 Ford Deluxe, two
door sedan tuned up and checked over so I could drive it and see what gasoline
ration I could get when traveling under military orders.
I shipped home my two foot lockers and bought a Pullman ticket for Detroit to
leave Saturday evening October 30 on the 7:00 P.M. train. At Detroit, I got a
bus that arrived in Clare, Sunday night at 10:30. This made it possible for me
to be home Nov. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and part of Nov. 6. The orders I received on the
last day at Cambridge authorized a five-day delay in route. (S.O. 132 P.I., Army
Electronics Training Center 30 October 1943.)
Late in the day November 6, I drove as far as Charlotte, Michigan and stayed
with Uncle Earn and Aunt Min. The next day I drove as far as Lexington, Ky.
Where I stayed the night of Nov. 7. I then drove through Berea, Ky. And past the
Boon Tavern Hotel on Highway 25. This was before there was highway 75 going
south. The next night of Nov. 8, I was in Cartersville, GA. The drive through
Kentucky and Tennessee was through some pretty hilly country. By Nov. 9, I was
in Jacksonville, FL. Then on Nov. 10, in Stuart, FL. It was late and I was
tired. The next morning, Nov. 11, the drive to Camp Murphy was less than 20
I mentioned Boon Tavern Hotel in Berea, Ky. Because it is a small town hotel
like hotels used to be with the beautiful dining room that looked out on the
town square to the college campus. Through the years this hotel which is run by
Berea College has been my favorite stopping place.
At Camp Murphy, my room at the Officers Club had an iron cot, clothes rack, a
bare light bulb, no chair, no table. The meals at the Officers Club were good
and the cost was only $1.50 per day.
I was assigned to the Signal Corps Replacement Pool. The training at Camp Murphy
was on airborne radar equipment and I. I. F. equipment. This was a transmitter
in a plane triggered by radar to send a signal so that our forces would identify
our plane so it would not be shot down by our own forces.
We also worked on some early t.v. equipment. There was a t.v. guided bomb and a
bomb controlled by trailing wires. The Germans were experimenting with the same
thing and sank an Allied Troop Ship in the Mediterranean with these type bombs.
The information on this was not released until after the war, I believe.
All was not study and hard work. Willie Hoppe, the billiard champion, was in the
Officers Club one night in mid November. I was never a billiard player but his
playing was something worth watching.
By mid-November, I had a B gas ration book for 12 gallons per month plus the A
book. Half the day, I was in class and the other half day giving enlisted men
basic training. When on the afternoon shift I was on duty from 1:45 p.m. to
12:30 a.m. The last half of the shift from 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. was in the
class room. When on this shift I had the choice of breakfast after 12:30 a.m. or
in the morning.
On Nov. 29, 1943, I had this Monday off because of working all day Sunday. I
went to West Palm Beach and to Hope Sound where a freighter had run aground a
week or so before and it was still burning. I was talking to Lt. Ellsworth
Fletcher that day and he told me he had driven the 1936 Plymouth he bought in
Boston for $20.00 to Florida with his wife Scotty and children Johnny and Jane
with no trouble at all.
It was not always warm in Florida. On the night of Dec. 21, 1943, I had several
wool blankets on the cot and it was still a bit cool.
On Friday, Dec. 24, I went to Juno Beach with the intention of going in the
ocean for a swim but the surf was much too high. The water was knee deep and
over head high. This was no day to go swimming.
As the year ended, I was preparing to give a one-half hour talk to the officers
at Camp Murphy on Australia and New Guinea. I had some slides made to show from
the many photos taken overseas.
JANUARY 1, 1944 – DECEMBER 31, 1944:
I started off the New Year doing something different. On New Years Day we went
deep sea fishing on a charter boat with Lt. Harold Engleman, his wife, Lt.
Clinton Congdon, Lt. Bernard Jankowski, and Lt. Ray Ragsdale. We all caught at
least one fish but the 2 ½ foot long Kingfish I caught was the only edible fish.
This was given to Lt. Engleman as he had his family in Florida with him.
On Jan. 2, I gave the talk on Australia and New Guinea in the afternoon at the
theater to the officers in Camp Murphy. Earlier in the day I had given the talk
to my class. A number of the officers were in New Guinea then the Philippines
within a year.
It was cool in January and it felt rather good wearing a field jacket. At the
school in addition to the work on radar I was practicing again on code and
passed the eight words a minute test. Most of the day I was working, repairing
equipment. Being able to get at the source of the trouble and repair it quickly
was something that I was able to do.
Near the end of January 1944, four of us officers went to Boca Raton and flew
out over the Caribbean and the Keys on submarine patrol. We were in a bomber in
a darkened compartment looking at a t.v. screen. We could see all the numerous
sunken ships in the area we flew over. The regular crew knew the location of the
old wrecks so they could easily tell if something underwater was a submarine. It
if was a surface ship the pilot could visually see it. The equipment worked on
the principle that any underwater metal object concentrated the lines of
magnetic force of the earth. The image on the t.v. screen showed the size and
shape of the boat under the water. Hitler, about this time in a foreign news
source was quoted as saying the failure of the German U boats was attributed to
recently developed allied detection equipment. There was no comment at all from
our government. I wondered if this equipment that so accurately located
submarines was what Hitler meant.
The first of Feb., I went swimming several times in the ocean off Jupiter Island
directly across from Camp Murphy. We could take the small boat ferry over to the
island for 10 cents a round trip.
By Feb. 14, 1944, the regular schools had finished and I was busy reading
unpublished war reports and writing about some of the equipment how it works and
why it works. A change of station was coming soon. On Feb. 21, I was at Lake
Park to see Lt. Fletcher and then washed and waxed the car and went swimming.
Now I knew I would be going to Arlington, VA, and started packing the car.
On March 2, 1944, I left Camp Murphy headed for Arlington, VA. I was granted a
10-day leave of absence as of March 3. I had time to go home but not enough gas
so I went directly to Arlington, VA. Then went by bus to Clare. The 10-day leave
went by fast. It was hard to say goodby to Gertie and take the bus back to
Washington. It was sad looking out of the bus window and seeing her as the bus
pulled out. I arrived in Washington on the bus March 14 at 10:30 p.m. The
following day I had a room at the home of Mrs. Pace at 3215 Columbus Pike,
Arlington, VA. About a mile from Arlington Hall Station where I was assigned to
the Signal Corps Advanced Rad Comm. Sch.
My change of station orders were Special Order 41 par. 1, Army Service Forces,
Office of the Signal Officer, Washington, 26 Feb. 1944. The 10-day leave of
absence as of March 3 was granted on Special Order 52 par. 20, Army Service
Forces, Southern Signal Corps Schools, Camp Murphy, Florida, 1 March 1944.
Being stationed close to Washington I knew would give me an opportunity to see
many places of interest on any free time I would have. There was a Capital,
Library of Congress, Smithsonian Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount
Vernon and many other places. We soon found out the Washington area was full of
high-ranking army officers and a 2nd Lt. with one gold bar was an oddity. Many
times I would be asked what rank the single gold bar was.
On Sunday, March 19, 1944, I went to the Pentagon, which was about a mile from
where I roomed, to look up Lt. Clarence Conrad, who I had been with at Harvard
and roomed in the same house there. I was rather surprised to be able to locate
him in that big building.
A few days later, I was able to go to the Post Exchange at Ft. Myer in the
evening. The PX there was well stocked with many scarce items. There was plenty
of gum, candy and film. I bought a small seven jewel travel alarm clock there.
The place was quite crowded. I saw General George Marshall there with two of his
I had the address of Miss Marjorie PITTS, who was the girlfriend of Lt. Harry
Richardson (by that time Captain) of Co. C, my old Infantry Unit. She taught in
the High School in Arlington and roomed in North Arlington. I phoned her and
went to see her one evening to see the pictures Harry had sent and the scrapbook
she had prepared with new items and pictures.
On Sunday, March 26, I walked around the Capital in Washington and went to the
Library of Congress. There I saw a photo copy of the Declaration of
Independence. The original was removed for safe keeping during the war. I was
surprised to learn that the Library of Congress had 169 miles of book shelves.
On that same Sunday I saw the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson
Memorials and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Around Washington I had to wear a blouse all the time and dry cleaning was
necessary. I had to hunt up a cleaner that would clean things while you waited.
On Tuesday, April 4, I had written mother that I had been on active duty for
three years. That meant a 5% raise in pay that amounted to $7.50 so now the base
pay would be $157.50 per month.My roommate in Arlington was Lt. Dick KEMPER. He
had a cousin Mrs. Doris BROWN who lived in Alexandria with her little boy Jimmy
and her sister, Louise. To be continued