Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 41 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 Newsletter from Sebewa;
AUGUST 2005, Volume 41, Number 1. Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI.
Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. SLOWINS:



JOHN CLIFFORD WILSON, 95, widower of Margaret THUMA WILSON, father of Duane WILSON, Janice JEWELL, Barbara GROSS & Sharon WESTVEER, brother of the late Charles WILSON, son of Sarah MOSSON & Alfred WILSON, son of Francis (Frank) WILSON, who family settled in Sections 1 & 2 Sebewa Township before 1891. They farmed all their life on the Edwin & Bart BUCK farms on Peck Lake Road in Orange Township, first as tenants and then as owners. Margaret passed away two months before him and they are buried beside his grandfather Frank in East Sebewa Cemetery.

MARJORIE CHAPMAN VROMAN, 81, widow of Joseph VROMAN, Jr., mother of Patricia YOUNG, Phillip VROMAN, Karen RUSSELL, Barbara WRIGHT & Susan KRUGER-MILLS, sister of Gerald & Gordon CHAPMAN, daughter of Marjorie NEEDHAM & Archibald Chapman. She came to America as an English war bride in 1945 and after raising her family was bookkeeper at their HSV Redi Mix Company and longtime treasurer and choir member at Zion Lutheran Church. She is buried at Woodland Memorial Park.

ELEANOR SCHNABEL, 91, sister of the late Rita & James SCHNABEL, daughter of Elizabeth ROLL & Robert SCHNABEL, son of Marina GRENIC & Martin SCHNABEL, son of Regina & Anton SCHNABEL. The Martin SCHNABEL family settled on the corner of HARWOOD & Portland Roads in Berlin Township in 1857. Eleanor attended Ionia County Normal and taught in rural schools for nine years. She worked at Ypsilanti Reed/AC Spark Plug for two years during WW II and retired after thirty years as a teller at Ionia County National Bank in 1975 at age 62. She built a new house on Alden Drive in North Berlin Township and lived another 30 years in retirement. She is buried at Mt. Olivet.

STANLEY SAYER, 87, widower of Sherry WARNER SAYER, father of Naomi SHELTON, son of Edna GIERMAN & Clarence SAYER, son of Isabelle GUNN & Jacob SAYER, son of Christena & John SAYER. Edna GIERMAN was the daughter of Christina KLUGER & Charles GIERMAN, son of Sophia BENSCHNEIDER & Frederick (Fritz) GIERMAN. Isabelle GUNN was the daughter of Amelia RARICK & Theodore GUNN. Stanley farmed all his life on the family farm on KIMMEL Road in Sebewa Township and retired to a small farm on David Highway at Collins in Portland Township.

GRACE GRIMES GRAY, 94, first wife of the late Duane GRAY, sister of the late Carol GRIMES and a brother in California, daughter of Bertha & Marion GRIMES. Grace was born dirt poor on a forty-acre farm at the S.E. corner of CASSEL & YORK Roads in Sebewa Township. She overcame great odds to acquire an education. She paid her room, board, books & tuition to Portland High School by working as a live-in maid for the Chester BLANCHARD family. While their own daughter, her classmate, did not have to lift a finger to do household chores that normal families expect.

She is listed as a graduate of Lake Odessa High School in 1929, and then attended Ionia County Normal. She taught rural Ionia County Schools and eventually became a fully certified Elementary teacher in Lakewood Schools, from which she retired. Her last years were spent within a wall of silence, ending at Cumberland Manor in Lowell. She is buried with her father, mother, and baby sister on their lot in West Sebewa Cemetery.

FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Historic Barn Display, Ionia Free Fair, July 21-30, 2005. Standing with horses in front of the barn are:
Frank & Regina LEHMAN, with son PETER at Family Barn, 307 W. KNOLL Rd. Current Owners are Tom & Chris WILSON.See our Family Barn Story in Volume 32, OCTOBER 1997, Number 2 or <>


Thursday, February 24, 63 degrees & misty……

Saturday, 50 degrees………Talked with Sally & Henry from Barre, Vermont. Second marriage for both, she has seven children and he has two………following the trend most everywhere, little Barre, the monument capital, is getting built up to homes. Henry’s father had the International Harvester-Massey-Ferguson-New Idea dealership, but their hilly stony land is only good for hay & pasture, and most small dairy farms have lost out. Some have been turned into hobby farms raising sheep as they did prior to 1830………

Tuesday, March 1, 43 degrees & sunny. At the potluck supper we sat with Elmer (Dude) & Barbara MOHN from northwestern Illinois near the Mississippi River. He is age 68 and retired from Keystone Wire Co. which made Red Brand Fence and Red Top Posts. We used a lot of both products on our Sebewa Sheep Farm and are just now pulling out the last to recycle them and make way for eight-wheel center-articulated tractors & wide tillage, planting and harvesting tools………

Friday, March 4………Biked another one and a half miles after lunch. J. W. STEFFEN shot a Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin) Snake in the back pond today. The temperature got to 67 degrees by noon and with very little breeze, it was just right for sitting outside to read. Lots of bikers……

Saturday, March 5………Mail arrives Saturdays and with a high of 72 degrees, it’s time to sit outside to read & absorb 72 degree sun. TO BE CONTINUED


Santo Tomas University. This, the Japanese had used as a prison for interned civilians and 67 American Nurses captured at the fall of Corregidor. I had heard when the American forces re-entered Manila a First Calvary tank rolled up to the gate and broke it down. The Japanese prison commander charged the tank with his drawn sword and was shot by the tank commander. I did visit Santo Tomas and saw some of the hard wood cages in which prisoners had been kept.

At night we could look out over the city and see very few lights. The Signal Center was one of the places with lights on all night and as busy at night as during the day with messages coming and being sent all over the world. The equipment had to function at all times so members of the maintenance team were on duty night and day.

During the summer of 1945, I was seeing many planning messages in the code room for the invasion of mainland Japan giving casualty estimates. The number of doctors, nurses, and other personnel required, the number of hospital ships and the tons of medical supplies. This was very disturbing. I would go in the evening to our quarters on the fifth floor of the Chico Building and lay on my canvas folding cot thinking isn’t there any way we can avoid this.

It made me feel sick inside to think of the casualty estimates. I could never talk to anyone about what I had seen. We never discussed anything we had seen. The estimate of the number of casualties was very large and I expect they were accurate based on our experience in other island invasions. This however would be worse than Iwo Jima or Saipan. On mainland Japan every man, woman, and child would become a guerrilla fighter defending their sacred homeland. I am sure President Harry Truman reflected on these estimates in making his decision to drop the atomic bombs that caused a sudden end of hostilities and the saving of many more Japanese and American lives than we can imagine.

By June 7, 1945, censorship was lifted to the extent that we could now say we were in Manila and we could mention places in the Philippines we had been. About this time I ordered some Heller Swiss jeweler files to be used in making some small parts. The Heller Company sent them at no charge which I certainly appreciated.

During WW II all radios were the tube type, both military and civilian. There was an effort to make radios smaller and lighter. A Sargent in the radio repair section had a small battery operated radio he wanted to sell as he was expecting to go home soon on rotation. It was a General Motors (GM) Pocket Portable, Model 985775 measuring 4 ¼” W x 7 ½” H x 2 ¾” D. It had a standard superheterodyne circuit but with miniature parts.

The tubes were 1r5, 1t4, 1s5, 3s4, and the batteries were a B 67 ½ Volt Eveready #467 and the A battery a D flashlight battery. It did not work when I bought it and I knew it. I just paid 15 pesos ($7.50) for it about June 25, 1945 and I repaired the open lead to the oscillator coil and replaced one tube and it worked fine. I have never seen one of these described or for sale any place. I still have this unique radio.

Lt. PETERSON and I had gone swimming a few times with two nurses form the 248 General Hospital, Lt. Frieda JOHNS and Lt. Helen SCHLABACH. The weather was good for swimming any time. The temperatures in Manila are mild, year around. The average temperature in January is 75 degrees and the average in June is 82 degrees. On July 19, Helen SCHLABACH came back to the 248 General Hospital from New Guinea and Lt. PETERSON and I went out there. The 248 General Hospital was located just east of Manila in Pasig about 5 miles from downtown.

In July I continued to send most of my pay home. I would send $100 money orders and keep a record at their number to be sure mother received them.

The hometown paper, the CLARE SENTINEL, came regularly and it was passed around for the others to read…..there were letters from servicemen in it. One was a letter a service man wrote to his dad, he said in part…….”was very glad to get your letter. It was the first one you have written me in over a year.” The fellows had a good laugh about this. You would not have been proud of neglecting to write his on in over a year.

On August 1, 1945, we now have an Officers’ Club in a rented place with a pool and an outdoor dance floor. This was located within walking distance. We went there, Lt. PETERSON, Lt. Frieda JOHNS, Lt. Helen SCHLABACH and myself. We took along sandwiches for a picnic supper.

On the evening of August 10, 1945, I was in our quarters on the 5th floor of the Chico Building and the field phone rang about 9:00. It was Lt. SUSTURKA who was duty officer at the Signal Center that evening. He was excited and said he just got a message from our short wave monitor station that Japan was willing to discuss terms of surrender.

It must have been around 11:30 before word got around to all the soldiers and ships in the harbor after the armed forces radio news broadcast. It was dark then and there was now a lot of firing in the streets and an occasional stray bullet would ricochet off our walls and ceiling. The ships in the harbor were firing their guns and it looked like a 4th of July celebration. Someone asked me if I did not want to go out and celebrate. I told them no I had gone all through the war without getting shot and I did not want to get shot as we were about to see the war end. We knew now that we could plan on going home sometime within a few months.

August 18, 1945, the float switch on the water tank needed repair. It looked as if this switch would need to have the contacts cleaned every three weeks or so. That week I also had to fix the burned out speaker transformer on my Knight radio. This repair was successful and the radio ended up working like new.

Near the end of August, Lt. Helen SCHLABACH was head nurse at the 248 General Hospital. The point system was now at 106 points to go home. It would take sometime yet to get to my 83 points. Mail was still being censored even though the war was over. The last letter opened by a censor was a letter to mother dated Aug. 31, 1945.

The first of September I went up to San Fernando with another officer who had business to do up there. The trip one way is a little over 40 miles. It is on the way to Clark Field. I had never seen the country before so it was interesting to me. It seems as all the farmers between Manila and there grow mostly rice, a little sugar cane and a few bananas. The rice fields were beautifully green. On the way up there we met a convoy of trucks loaded with surrendered Japanese. It was the most live Japanese soldiers in one bunch that I had ever seen. They were all dressed in their best uniforms and were wearing their packs and cartridge belts. They did not look at all starved to me and in fact they looked as if they had been eating pretty well. Most of them looked as if they were glad it was all over.

September 22, 1945, Lt. PETERSON and I took a repaired radio to the 248 General Hospital. There were now many British former prisoners of war patients. Some had been prisoners since before the fall of Singapore there for treatment. They all seemed to be in good spirits but very thin and a large number had TB.

In the last week of Sept., Lt. PETERSON, Lt. Frieda JOHNS, Lt. Helen SCHLABACH and I went swimming. To got too late to get in the mess hall so Lt. PETERSON took us to an excellent Chinese place run by Mr. WONG. It was in a house on a side street of a residential section on the far side of Santa Mesa about five miles from the center of Manila. There was no sign, just word of mouth to bring business. Mr. WONG was a Chinese American citizen who had a fine restaurant downtown before the war. It had been destroyed and he was starting over in his house. The chop suey was delicious. I think the wonderful Chinese meal was only about $1.50 at the time. Lt. PETERSON had a jeep at his disposal all the time and one time previously, I had gone there with him. How he had ever located it in the first place, I do not know.

By October 28, 1945, Lt. TANNER took Lt. BETT, Lt. FORCINA and I to Binan about 15 miles south of Manila to get some wooden shoes. We got back late so we went to the mess at the Manila Hotel. This was where the high-ranking officers were billeted. Lt. TANNER lived there so he could take us as his guests. They had fresh salad and soup with the meal at one peso (50 cents). This was a bargain.

As of November 1, 1945, I was the highest point officer in the Signal Center with 83 points. Lt. BETT had 81. On this date the Chico Building was turned over to civilians and we moved to an area across the street from the Waterworks Building. As of November 1, I was relieved of duties at the Signal Center. My 83 points looked good now. Officers with 85 points are now on orders to return to the U.S. Things were beginning to move rapidly.

On November 2, 1945, I was promoted to 1st Lt. I did not know it till I saw it posted on the bulletin board November 7. On November 9, I received orders to go to the 21st Replacement Depot for shipment to the U.S. The order was dated November 8, 1945.

On November 10, we knew there would be a message to General MacArthur with official notification of Japanese Capitulation and his appointment as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers effective with receipt of the message. We had every Teletype in the Signal Center hooked up so everyone could get an original copy of this message.

November 15, 1945, at the Replacement Depot, about 6 miles east of Manila, I sold my Knight Radio to an American soldier. Now I wish I had kept that radio.

November 19, 1945, I wrote that I expected to be in the Replacement Depot up to 29 days as there were 600 ahead of me to go but things moved fast. I was now scheduled to leave November 22, as advance officer for 200 going. Lt. BETT is also going. He was promoted to 1st Lt. Nov. 20. Shipment was postponed until 0830 Nov. 23, 1945.

The trip across the Pacific was one that passed quickly. No more black outs, no evasive course, just straight to San Francisco where we arrived on December 15, 1945. I went to Camp STONEMAN then Camp BEAL near Marysville. I hitchhiked from there to San Francisco but I got there after the Biltmore Garage where the car was stored had closed for the day. I located Mr. BROCKMAN at home and he said he would have my car out in the morning, ready to go. That night I stayed at the Guest House at Fort MASON. The next morning Dec. 16, 1945, I picked up the car and went to Camp BEAL.

In February 1945 when I arranged to leave the car at the Biltmore Garage, Mr. BROCKMAN had asked how long I would store it. I really had no idea but I gave a guess at nine months. Here it was ten months later that I picked up the car.

I was in the Oakland Regional Hospital December 19, scheduled to go before a Disposition Board December 21. There I might be reclassified as general service from limited service for the purpose of being discharged and eliminating a lot of red tape. I now had the car in a garage a block from the hospital being greased, having the oil changed and being washed.

December 23, 1945, I was at the Camp BEAL Separation center and had started processing. December 24, 1945, at 11:30 a.m., I am ready to leave after lunch for home. That day I signed up to remain in the Reserves and joined the Reserve Officers Association.

I started driving on the southern route which is longer but is recommended this time of year. That night Dec. 24, 1945, I had traveled 300 miles and stayed somewhere north of Bakersfield, California. On Dec. 25, 1945, I drove to Flagstaff about 489 miles. It was snowing there and four or five inches of fresh snow was on the ground. A bus stop was about the only thing open to get something to eat. It looks very pretty out, the snow coming down and no wind. The next morning driving was all right and on Dec. 26, 1945, I drove about 500 miles arriving at Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Driving after dark there was little traffic and the 1940 Ford really run smooth. The night of Dec. 27, 1945, I stayed in Tulsa, Oklahoma after driving about 470 miles. The night of December 28, 1945, I stayed in Springfield, IL, after driving about 488 miles.

The next night, Dec. 29, 1945, I arrived home in Clare, MI, after driving about 385 miles. It certainly did seem good to be home. The next day, Dec. 30, 1945, I typed a letter to the Personnel Adjutant, Oakland Regional Station Hospital requesting a copy of Order 306 dated 21 Dec. 1945 that reclassified me as general service and sent me to Camp BEAL 22 Dec. 1945 for processing.

I was now on terminal leave until March 25, 1946 and on the army payroll and on active duty till that date. END

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have received numerous compliments on Byron GIBBS’ story from people who have been in that part of the world. Bill PRYER and Wes MEYERS and others were there in WW II, and Charles LEIK was there in his work with the Export-Import Bank.



Last update November 10, 2013