THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Historical Newsletter from Sebewa;
COVER PHOTO: The turntable at Woodbury, Mich.; Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw Railroad.
SURNAMES: Eldridge, Slowinski, McLeod, Ingraham, Bettinghouse, Towner, Aves, Sandborn, Atwell, Crosby, Cook, Bandfield, Miller, McDowell, Johnson, Pierce, Toan, Maynard.
ELDRIDGE, Lawrence E., 87, husband of Betty WOHLSCHIED MERRYFIELD Eldridge, was
born May 2, 1922, died March 26, 2010, stepfather of Sharon (Jeff) Sandborn
(John) Ackerson, Diane (Richard) Capps, Keith (Michelle) Merryfield II, Ken
Merryfield II, and the late Kitty (Ron) Arnesen, brother of LaVern Eldridge,
Madelene (Calvin) Buehler, Margaret (Bruce) Gender Buchanan, and the late
Madonna (Carlisle) Hilley and Marie (Gerald) Wickham, son of Pearl B. McLeod &
Eddie Eldridge, son of Rufus James (Jay) Eldridge & Sophia (Sophie) Slowinski,
daughter of Ludwig (Louis) Slowinski, son of Anna Schnabel & Daniel Slowinski
Sr., son of Casmer Slowinski.
INGRAHAM, Betty Jean Bohil BETTINGHOUSE, 69, former wife of Joe Bettinghouse and
David Ingraham, mother of Kevin (Kari) Bettinghouse and Laura (Gary) Harper,
seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, Spencer Bettinghouse, sister of
John Mutschler of Saranac, Karen Thorpe of Florida, formerly of Sebewa Township,
and the late Mary Ann (Roy) Spitzley, who lived on the south line of Sebewa
Township, daughter of Martin & Bessie Pospicil Bohil. Betty worked at
Bosley Pharmacy in Ionia for many years and also enjoyed working with stained
TOWNER, Mary C. AVES, 88 born September 17, 1921, died March 9, 2010, wife of
Kenneth Towner, sister of Elaine Austin, Norma Bever, and the late Marjorie M.
Swiler, daughter of Mildred Leak & Arlow Aves, son of Estella Greiner & Charles
Aves Jr., son of Harriet Catt & Charles Aves Sr., son of Elizabeth Aves.
SANDBORN, Charles L., 61, born February 9, 1949, died February 28, 2010, widower
of Kathyleen A. Higbee Sandborn, husband of Jerie Gardner Sandborn, father of
Derek (Stacey) Sandborn and Gregg (Jen) Sandborn, brother of Jackie Whitfield,
Beverly Fedewa, Norma Kay Hill, Mary Sandborn, Steve (Gerry) Sandborn, Jim
(Brenda) Sandborn, and the late George (Bill) Sandborn, Jr., Loren (Bud)
Sandborn, and Janean (John) West, son of Norma Atwell & George Sandborn, Sr.,
son of Carrie Kleiner & Ernest Sandborn, son of Eliz Carr & Lawrence Sandborn,
son of Betsey Ann Ingraham & Edward Sandborn of Portland, MI, son of Mehitabel
Gilman or Polly Higbee & Thomas Sandborn, son of Molly Morrill & Abijah Sandborn,
son of Catherine Rollins & Daniel Sanborn of Sanbornton, NH, son of Sarah
Philbrick & Ensign John Samborn, son of Ruth Moulton & Richard Samborne, son of
Margaret Page & Lieut. John Samborne, son of widow Anne Bachiler Samborne &
probably William Samborne of Brimpton, Berkshire County, England.
CROSBY, Kay Dawn COOK, 67, born December 24, 1942, died February 15, 2010,
mother of Ron (Leslee) Crosby, Kris Crosby, and Raymond Crosby, and six
grandchildren, sister of Georgia Catt, Pamela Cook and John (Jane) Cook,
daughter of Catherine (Kate) Blackmer & George Cook, son of Gladys Shetterly &
Clifton Cook, son of Viola & Charles Cook Sr., son of Ursula & Pierce G. Cook,
who was born in 1817 in New York State, son of Sarah Hall & Titus Cook, and
settled June 9, 1853, on what was later the Henry G. Smith farm on Musgrove Hwy
in Sebewa Township.
BANDFIELD, Joyce Marilyn MILLER, 81, born September 15, 1928, died March 3,
2010, wife of Thomas Bandfield, mother of David Bandfield II, and another son
and daughter, sister of Veda Hummel, daughter of Dalton Miller & wife, who were
tenants on the John F. Terrill/John Friend/Lawrence Knapp farm on the west edge
of Sebewa Corners about the time of Marilyn’s birth. Later they bought the
37-acre Barbara Schneider farm just north of Portland on Divine Hwy.
THE C. K. & S. RAILROAD AT WOODBURY – From the writings of Woodbury native ViVerne PIERCE
ViVerne Pierce recalls that “Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw, ( C, K & S)alias Cuss, Kick and Swear, alias Cow Kicked Susie” was not the original name of the railroad that ended in Woodbury. It was organized as the Kalamazoo, Lowell and Northern Michigan Railroad on December 9, 1871, and was to extend from Kalamazoo to Hastings to Smyrna to Greenville and then northerly through the “Pineries”. Right-of-Way was bought and graded to Hastings. Then the Panic of 1873, a recession similar to our current one, hit the country. Everything came to a standstill.
In 1883, activity to build the railroad was renewed. There was new money from new investors and a new board of directors. With the new organization, the route and name of the railroad were changed. The new route was to run from Kalamazoo to Hastings and then northeasterly, cutting out Lowell, and hopefully ending in Saginaw. The name changed to Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw. Chicago was included because the line would connect with a railroad in Kalamazoo which would allow traveling and shipping to and from Chicago.
In 1886, activity to build the railroad was renewed with vigor. In 1888, the first train run from Kalamazoo to Hastings was made. On September 1, 1889, service opened from Kalamazoo to Woodbury. There were two passenger runs daily. The first left Kalamazoo at 6:10 AM and arrived at Woodbury at 8:35 AM, a trip of approximately 47 miles (with 13 stops) in two hours and 25 minutes. The stops made by the C.K. & S. were, in order, East Cooper (Twp.), Richland Junction, Cressey, Milo, Crooked Lake, Delton, Cloverdale, Acker’s Point, Shultz, Hastings, Coats’ Grove, Woodland and Woodbury. The train made contact with the Pere Marquette Railroad in Woodbury. The engine was turned around on a turntable, re-hooked to the cars and returned to Kalamazoo.
The second passenger run left Kalamazoo at 2:20 PM, making the same run to Woodbury and back. There was a freight train that left Kalamazoo between 9 and 10 AM every day except Sunday. The freight crew did all of the necessary switching along the line. The coming of the automobile had its impact on the C. K. & S. Railroad. In January 1934, the passenger runs were discontinued, due to bus lines and cars. Instead a passenger car was hooked to the freight runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Finally, on July 18, 1937, the following report appeared in the Kalamazoo Gazette: “Tearing up the 15 miles of track between Woodbury and Hastings has begun. The Hastings-Delton strip will be removed next.” Thus ended an era of approximately 50 years, some of which I (ViVerne Pierce) will never forget.
There were many obstacles to overcome in the building of this railroad. To begin with, there were no steam shovels, bulldozers or earth movers as we know them today. Instead, there were horses, slip scrapers, shovels, wagons with dump-boards, and a lot of muscle. South of Hastings, near Schultz, sink holes, six of them, started to appear after the tracks were laid. To deal with these, men cut down big trees and dragged them into the sink hole – trunk, limbs, and all, creating a type of basket, and then shoveled dirt on top until the hole was completely filled. Then came time to cross the Michigan Central Railroad tracks in Hastings, near the Thornapple River. The law of the day was that once a railroad crossed the tracks of another railroad company, the Right-of-Way was earned and remained viable. The trick, of course, was to get across.
Michigan Central kept an engine and two cars working the area constantly, to forestall the ready and waiting builders of the C. K. & S. Railroad. Then one Sunday, when the M. C. R. R. moved their engine and cars out of the way to let another train thru, the C. K. & S. Crew took advantage of this opportunity and pushed a track across the Michigan Central tracks and on across the river. (This trestle is still standing, currently made into a pedestrian bridge by the City of Hastings.) The new railroad then headed northeast toward Coats’ Grove, Woodland and Woodbury.
This brings us to the question of the Saginaw part of the name. If it was the Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw Railroad, why did it end at Woodbury? As Grandpa Wells told it, the C. K. & S. Railroad Company wanted to continue northeast (into and through Sebewa Township, but they again had to cross the Right-of-Way of another railroad, the Pere Marquette, which ran east and west through Woodbury. The C. K. & S. building crew planned to do this under the cover of darkness, but the Pere Marquette Company heard of this plan and were secretly waiting for the work to begin. There was a fight, with some broken limbs and spilled blood. When the noise and fracas subsided, the C. K. & S. crew had not made it across the Pere Marquette Right-of-Way. Consequently the turntable was built to turn the engine around and the railroad line ended at Woodbury.
Before national Prohibition, Barry County was “dry” and Eaton County was “wet”. Woodbury was just across the county line and had several saloons. Some fellows would go to great length for a bucket of beer. The C. K. & S. started a special run from Hastings, through Coats’ Grove, Woodland, and into Woodbury during the evening hours. At the various stops, men with a thirst would hop aboard the train and ride into Woodbury. When the train arrived, they would jump off the train and run to their favorite saloon to fill their buckets with beer. Then they would stand at the bar, drinking as much as they could until the train whistle blew, signaling that the engine was turned around, re-hooked to the cars and ready to make the return trip to Hastings. Grandpa Wells spoke of the many times men who ran to catch the train were not speedy enough and missed the train. Then they had to walk home or stay overnight to catch the next train.
The turntable at Woodbury was a point of curiosity and interest. When I was a youngster, it was truly a big experience for me. As soon as I heard the familiar whistle coming across the road from behind Eckardt’s barn, I would drop whatever I was doing and run for the C. K. & S. tracks about two blocks away. I say “tracks” because Smith Brothers, Velte & Company Grain Elevator and stopped. The second track, a siding, ran along beside the stockyards and could be hooked into the Pere Marquette line. The third track led to the turntable and that is where all the fun was.
When the train slowed down or came to a stop, I would jump up into the caboose with Charlie McCall, the conductor. The caboose was then sidetracked onto the stockyards siding and the cars were backed onto the elevator siding. The engine would then go up the third track. Every time the train had to cross the highway, a dirt road actually (now M-66), I would get a chance to pull the whistle rope to warn the automobiles and horses and wagons. The engine would proceed onto the turntable at a slow pace and stop at a precise spot. Then I would jump down from the engine and watch Charlie unlock the turntable. After he did so, I would jump into the air and grab hold of one of the big steel arms. While the men were pushing the turntable around, I would ride around with my legs churning in the air. As I grew older and could actually touch the ground, I began to really help turn the table.
To better understand the wonderment of this, we need to consider how this turntable was built. It had a huge steel hub in the center, much like those of the old round oak tables. Tracks long enough to accommodate the engine were laid across this hub. These tracks had smaller railroad car wheels attached at each end, which rode on a circular track like the outside edge of the round table. The engine was driven onto the table. Two men, one on each of the steel pushing arms, would turn the engine around 180 degrees. Then the engine was driven off the turntable and hooked back onto the railroad cars which had been left on the siding.
The locomotive, weighing from 40 to 50 tons with coal tender and a load of coal, had to be balanced very well on the turntable so that only two men could turn it around. If the engineer was getting along well with his crew it was a simple task. But if he were to be out of sorts and disposed to stop the engine two or three inches off center, the men pushing on the arms had their work cut out for them. Then one knew how the railroad got its nickname Cuss, Kick and Swear.
(Editor’s note: The Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw was one of three railroads originally speculated to converge on Sebewa Township. The second was the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit, later called the Pere Marquette mentioned above, which missed the township by a half mile south of the town line and is now part of the Chesapeake & Ohio. Third was a Coldwater, Marshall & Mackinaw, which would have come thru Sebewa Corners/East Sebewa and made Ann’s Great-Great-Grandpa John Friend’s platted town a big deal!)
CLASS LISTS – SEBEWA CENTER SCHOOL (As of 1st day of school each year)
YEAR: 1938 - 1939; Teacher: Mildred Ensworth
Kdg: Mary Lee
Bailiff, Robert Cross, Robert Culver, Howard Shilton, Marvin Smith, Bernard
York, Marion VanPolen
YEAR: 1939 – 1940; Teacher Mildred Halliday
Kdg: Dean Cross, Doris Culver, Pauline Shilton, Mary Lou Smith
YEAR: 1940 – 1941; Teacher: Vera Gierman
Kdg: Larry Castle, Lois Culver, Carol Gierman, Ardell Meyers
Year: 1941 – 1942; Teacher: Mildred Halliday
Kdg: Donald Cross, Karabell Meyers
YEAR: 1942 – 1943; Teacher Allene Lippincott
Kdg: Ronald York
YEAR: 1943 – 1944; Teacher Allene Lippincott
Kdg: Kendall Cross
Letter from the Editor:
“March 12, 2010:
Dear Marilyn JOHNSON McDOWELL, Really enjoyed visiting with you yesterday. But I was a bit mixed up on the William (Bill) TOAN story. His farm, called “The MAYNARD Place Farm” was originally settled by John J. (J.J.) MAYNARD, and it is of course on MAYNARD Road, Portland. The brick house your grandparents owned was on the corner of that farm and owned by Umbra J. MAYNARD; then I believe it was owned by Dr. John W. (J.W.) TOAN. I don’t think he was a medical doctor (I could be wrong), perhaps a Ph. D.
I think Bill TOAN was descended from the MAYNARDS, too, but his TOAN ancestors, (Thomas, William R., Margaret, etc.) owned farms further north along Divine Highway, north and south of the Laban SMITH Sr. farm, which Charles, the banker, had farms up in that area too, so the TOANS and MAYNARDS were longtime neighbors and destined to intermarry.
After you mentioned them, I well remember your parents, Robert & Donna MILLER JOHNSON, and grandparents, the Val JOHNSONS – and can see them in my mind. In retirement Valmer & Isabel set out in their Motorhome to visit every National Park in the U. S., having visited a number of them before retiring. I think they even did some kind of a survey for the National Park Service. I believe they reached their goal, although at one point they had missed one or two and had to go back. Of course there may have been less parks 50-60 years ago and I don’t think they included U. S. Forest Service rustic campgrounds, etc.
My wife, Ann, and I have traveled a lot in our Motorhome and visited many National, State, County, Township, and privately owned parks and campgrounds. We did not attempt to visit all of any one category, or even quite all the States, but a nice mixture. We also took tours in Europe and New Zealand/Australia. Then after settling down for a few winters in Starke, FL, we had to give it up in the Spring of 2008 for health reasons. It was great fun.
Hope you enjoy the RECOLLECTORS! We will probably trade more information in the future. Sincerely, Grayden D. Slowins, Editor”
UPDATES & CORRECTIONS: John E. KENYON lived in Addison, IL, not Addison, MI. Truman CURTIS settled on 40 acres Sec. 18 Odessa in 1867. His sons were Henry CURTIS, with 130 acres NE ¼ Sec. 29 and William Leander CURTIS, with 145 acres at NW ¼ Sec. 21 on TASKER Road, homesteaded by his wife Leticia Alice BRETZ’ father, Charles Ephriam BRETZ; their son, Voight & Nettie MILLER CURTIS followed W. & L.
PORTLAND REVIEW, MI;
April 18, 1928:
April 18, 1908:
Miss Gladys LINEBAUGH (HILL), the eight year old daughter of Frank LINEBAUGH, walks a mile to school each day, each way, and has just received a large certificate from Ionia County School Commissioner Harvey LOWREY for not having been absent or tardy.
REMEMBER WHEN – William H. HOWARD was a barber and operated a shop in Portland? He conceived the idea of becoming a lawyer, studied and was admitted to the bar. He maintained an office in Portland for a number of years, then moved to the new town of Lake Odessa about 1888, where he continued the practice of his profession until death.
Send $5.00 per year by July 1st to remain on the mailing list of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR. At a cost of 80-90 cents per issue for printing and postage – depending on who is having specials on ink cartridges and paper - $5.00 for 6 issues barely covers it. Back issues $65/45 years at our farm home; $10 extra if shipped.
FROM: Grayden D. SLOWINS,
Last update July 25, 2014