THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR –
Historical Newsletter from Sebewa (Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI)
Volume 46, Number 2, OCTOBER 2010 (Submitted with written permission of Editor
Grayden D. SLOWINS):
Front page photo: HOTEL
DIVINE, PORTLAND, MICHIGAN
Avery, Maynard, Toan, Kidder,
Rowe, Terry, Munger, Fuller, Howell, Barnard, Sandborn, Shepard, Divine,
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” &
“THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET”;
Gathered from back issues of PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER:
January 7, 1960: John B.
AVERY, 86, died at the White Convalescent Home, Nashville, MI, December 29.
A former Portland Township Supervisor, Mr. Avery came to Michigan at the age of
5 from Ontario, Canada. In 1901 he was employed as a cooper for Portland
Milling Co., later operated a delivery service for Richards Grocery, and served
as a clerk there for over 30 years. A longtime farmer on Looking Glass
Avenue in Portland Township, he had served as Township Treasurer for two years
and Supervisor for 13 years, and was a life member of Portland F&M Lodge.
Surviving are the wife, Carrie, to whom he had been married 65
years; three daughters, Mrs. Beatrice Cotton, Mrs. Lula DURKEE and Mrs. Alice
SMITH, all of Portland; three sons, Herbert of Vermontville, Forest of Sheridan
and Frederick of Ionia; 15 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.
Henry BEIMERS has purchased of Norman LAY the building located west of Portland
on Grand River Avenue just east of Vandevenne’s Market, and is moving his J. I.
CASE agency and Norge appliance store from the Walter MARTIN property at the
west village limits. The building was built and used by HUVER Brothers
some years ago as an automobile agency and garage. It was later occupied
by a truck-stop restaurant. Clarence BROWNING Jr. will be in charge of the
repair shop. (In 2010 this location is the Portland school bus garage.)
Movies coming to Sun Theatre: Robert Mitchum & Julie London
in The Wonderful Country, Randolf Scott in Ride Lonesome, James Steward in
Anatomy of a Murder, Spencer Tracy in A Bad Day at Black Rock, Victor Mature in
Timbukto, Gary Cooper in The Wreck of the Mary Deare, and Rock Hudson & Doris
Day in Pillow Talk.
At the R & O last week a new pencil sharpener was attached to the
wall. This would not be a special event, but for the story of the one it
replaced. The old one had hung in the hallway just outside Miss Carrie
MARTIN’s classroom in the old Portland Public School. We took it out of
the burning building the night the school was destroyed. It appeared the
whole building would go, and it did, so we yanked the old sharpener off the wall
and kept it as a souvenir. That disastrous fire occurred October 16, 1918,
and that sharpener has ground down a lot of pencils for the R & O since that
time….first in the “loft” above Black’s (formerly Roy DAWDY’S) Store for 19
years, then moved to Wilhelm (Harness Shop) building, for 10 years, then to R &
O’s own building (across from the Carnegie Library) built 12 years ago, for a
total of 41 years. It has seen its best day long since.
January 7, 1920: Mrs.
Drua MAYNARD, widow of Umbra J. MAYNARD, died lat Saturday at the home of her
brother, William (Bill) TOAN. Six hours previous to her death, word came
that another brother, Robert O. TOAN had died at Jackson. (This explains
how Bill TOAN came to own his “MAYNARD Place Farm” as discussed in a letter in
the June Issue---it was his sister Drua who had married into the MAYNARD family
and acquired property from her husband Umbra J. MAYNARD and he from his father
John J. MAYNARD.)
January 7, 1960: Mrs.
Anna KIDDER of Akron, OH, announces the engagement of her daughter, Frances E.
KIDDER, to Richard R. MAUREN of Portland. Saturday, April 23, 1960, has
been selected as the date of the wedding, which will be solemnized at St. Mary’s
Catholic Church in Akron.
January 14, 1960: We
recently visited with Ben PROBASCO, who lives in Sebewa Twp. and last Fall
returned from an auto trip to Washington State. At Rawlins, WY, he saw a
large mountain lion in an enclosure. The animal was two years old, about
eight feet long, and had been acquired as a mascot by Los Angeles Dodgers.
The lion was very tame and could be petted, like a large cat! Readers may
recall that some years ago we printed a picture of Ben and an African lion.
It was taken in Mexico, while Mr. & Mrs. PROBASCO were traveling there.
Clarence BROWNING Jr. tells us of a holiday season trip to
Houghton-Hancock in the U. P. There was plenty of winter in that area, and
he enjoyed seeing the new straight-up lift bridge operating on the lake channel
(Portage to Superior) between the two cities. His dad, Clarence BROWNING
Sr., was 95 years old last week.
Elon LAKIN, who for years has traveled for a Grand Rapids drug
firm, recalls days when he worked in E. A. RICHARDS’ store here. It opened
at 6:00 AM, because a half-hour later Ramsey-Alton plant went to work, and the
store did quite a business in that half hour. Much of it was sale of
chewing tobacco to men on way to work. Plug was popular then, and the
store had a “plug cutter” which cut slices from a large tobacco block. That was
in the days of the hand-cranked coffee grinder, too, and Lion brand coffee,
Sapolio and Japanese Rose soap, etc.
In early morning we meet Mr. & Mrs. George HOFFMAN going into
Portland Carnegie Library. George tells us they will look after the
building. Otto SCHRAMM gave up the job when he became caretaker at
Maynard-Allen State Bank.
Lewis ROWE Sr., 86, passed away at his home in Orange Township
Monday evening. Surviving are his wife, the former Olive E. WILSON, to
whom he had been married for 65 years; a daughter, Mrs. Revah (Edwin) GALLOWAY;
a son, Lewis E. ROWE Jr; six grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, one
great-great grandchild; and a sister, Mrs. Mary BADDER. Services at
LeValley Methodist Church, officiated by Rev. J. Lawrence WARD and Clinton
Fire destroyed a barn on the HENGESBACH farm southwest of
Westphalia, early Friday morning. The blaze was the second to hit the
farm, the first destroying the house last March.
January 14, 1940: Two
men from Portland were among those accepted for assignment to CCC (Civilian
Conservation Corps) near Grand Haven recently. They are Melbern A. BARBER
and Leo R. YERGE.
William TOAN of Maynard Place Farm was severely injured Sunday
forenoon when a horse kicked him just above the knee on the left leg.
January 21, 1960: In
days long ago, before invention of the mechanical refrigerator for homes, the
Grand River had an important function in furnishing ice for home use during
summer. It was watched closely during January, and when the ice was thick
enough, the annual harvest was cut and stored in ice houses that stood on banks
of the river back of Harold STORZ home (on present-day Riverside Drive), and
also on west bank of stream. A January thaw before harvest sometimes meant
no harvest, and then ice was shipped in by train, although that situation
occurred very few times.
Laban SMITH went to Redford Monday to attend funeral services for
his aunt, Mrs. W. E. TERRY. Mr. & Mrs. TERRY lived in Portland many years
ago, where Mr. Wm. TERRY learned the printing trade on the REVIEW. The
couple later went to Redford, where Mr. TERRY for years conducted a large
commercial printing business. His death occurred several years ago.
Three children survive. Mrs. Lela TERRY’S maiden name was CHALKER.
(As was Labe’s mothers’, Tressa (Mrs. George) SMITH).
January 21, 1920: There
is no danger that Portland will suffer from an ice famine next summer. In
the storage house on the west side of the river are 900 tons of the nicest ice
ever put up in Portland.
A blaze, starting in the row of wooden stores on the east side of
Kent Street Sunday afternoon, wrecked the building owned by A. SULPIZIO and
occupied by SIMONS & SHAY as a restaurant. The fire also burned the second
story from a building owned by Francis BURGER.
Superintendent STITT, Miss Mary BROWN, and Mrs. Lewis (Ruby) ADAMS
of the school staff were taken sick Wednesday and school was closed, as many
students were ill too.
The Last Will & Testament of Mrs. Drua MAYNARD disposes of an
estate valued at $70,000.
January 21, 1900:
Landlord DIVINE (Monroe DIVINE 1851-1908, father of Chester M. DIVINE 1885-1945)
has changed the name of the WELCH House to Hotel DIVINE. (Eli T. WELCH was
the original proprietor.)
January 28, 1960: At
Westphalia Alfred & Hilary SNITGEN show us a copy of “Michigan School Reports
for 1855-1856-1857”. It was printed 103 years ago and recently found by
Joseph BIERSTETEL. Westphalia Township had six district schools in
operation and school year was only two and one-half months. There were 245
children enrolled and total teachers’ salaries amounted to $196.75.
Portland Township also had six district schools operating, with 351 enrolled,
and a school year of five and one-half months. Total teachers’ salaries
The Village Commission received a request for transfer of the
Tavern S. D. M. Liquor from Hotel DIVINE to Arthur KLOECKNER and Elmer NURENBERG.
The request states that the upper floors of the hotel are to be closed off, but
the tavern will be operated.
January 28, 1940: It was
100 years ago in February that ownership of a half-section of land (320 acres)
in Portland Township was filed with the Register of Deeds of Ionia County, by
Washington IRVING, noted writer of his day. (“The Legends of Sleepy
Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”.)
William TOAN returned from Blodgett Hospital, Grand Rapids, where
he underwent surgery on his knee, following a severe kick by a horse two weeks
January 28, 1920:
Superintendent A. C. STITT leaves for a new job at the University in Ann Arbor
this week, and his successor, C. H. BRYAN, becomes Superintendent of Schools in
Portland next Monday morning.
Among those named in the Will of the late Mrs. Drua MAYNARD are:
William TOAN, who was willed the homestead and farm (MAYNARD Place Farm); Dr.
John W. TOAN, Miss Mayme TOAN, Robert TOAN and Mrs. Jessie Jones, all relatives.
January 28, 1900: David
DORMAN has been granted an increase in his Civil War Pension.
February 4, 1960: Mr. &
Mrs. Charles KEUSCH of Portland have purchased the MILLARD General Store at
Langston, MI, through KORTES Realty Agency. The new owners took possession
on Wednesday of this week. Langston is located 10 miles north of
Greenville on M-91. The business is one of the oldest in the area.
February 4, 1940: Wright
WAKELY has purchased from Dr. Lunette I. POWERS of Muskegon the building in
which the ENGLAND and WAKELY Barber Shop and the Portland Dry Cleaners are
located on the east side of Kent Street.
Ira FULLER, one of Portland’s oldest and best known residents, died
at his home on ELM Street Sunday at the age of 90.
February 4, 1900:
Landlord DIVINE and R. St. CLAIR were in Grand Rapids last week, buying new
fixtures for the Hotel DIVINE bar.
February 11, 1940: A
quiet observance of their 60th wedding anniversary is planned by Mr.
& Mrs. Charles VanHOUTEN of Portland. (Formerly of GODDARD Road in Sebewa
Mrs. E. M. CLARK fell down the cellar stairs at the home of her
son, Jay CLARK, Friday, suffering serious though not permanent injuries.
William G. MINER received word of the death at Coleman, MI, of
Michael S. HOWELL, who enlisted for the Civil War while a resident of Portland
February 11, 1900: The
safe in the offices of GREEN & HORNING, Dentists, was cracked during the noon
hour and $40 stolen.
E. D. VERITY will move the machinery from his factory in Portland
to Lake Odessa about April 1. However he will not move his residence to
the house he had negotiated to purchase there, but will remain a Portland
February 18, 1940:
William BLOUGH has been cutting ice from the pond at Portland Municipal Dam near
his storage house off Lyons Road, with which to serve his customers next summer.
The ice there is about 15 inches thick.
It was 63 years ago that Portland’s only bank robbery attempt was
made at MAYNARD-ALLEN Bank, which had been doing business for less than two
years. Several attempts at blowing the vault attracted attention and the
February 18, 1920: Lines
of sleighs, loaded with bags of wheat, extended from the Portland Milling
Company’s plant almost to the railroad tracks across Looking Glass River Bridge
on the north, and as far west as the village laundry, one day last week in one
of the biggest rushes to get out from under the failing market that the farmers
of this vicinity had ever seen.
February 18, 1900: Mrs.
Frank FRIEND has been granted a Civil War widow’s pension of $12 per month.
February 25, 1960:
Ernest BARNARD, 80, well known Orange Township farmer, died Sunday morning at
Ionia County Memorial Hospital. He was an active member and trustee of
LeValley Methodist Church and had held offices in Farm Bureau. Survivors
include his wife, Bertha, to whom he was married March 16, 1910, two daughters,
Mrs. Robert WOLVERTON of Orange Township and Mrs. Lawrence CROAL or Ionia
Township; six grandchildren; three brothers, Oley of Elkhart, IN, Ray of
Portland and Stanley of Carmel, CA. Services were held last Wednesday at
LeValley Methodist, with Rev. Heath T. GOODWIN officiating, burial was at
Few residents of the community celebrate their birthdays on
February 29. One who does is Mrs. Mabel (A.J.) BARTON. She will be
80 on Monday, and has celebrated only 19 “birthdays”. We would be
interested to know of others in the area who observe birthdays on February 29.
(We published a fairly long list a few years ago and wonder who would be on that
Mrs. Carrie K. (KLEINER) SANDBORN, 79, 401 James Street, passed
away Sunday morning at Ionia County Memorial Hospital. Surviving are her
husband Ernest; four sons, George of Portland, Harold of Clare, Russell of
Portland and Elon of Lansing; one daughter, Mrs. Marguerite FULLER of Mulliken;
23 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren; a brother, Albert KLEINER of Lake
George; a sister, Mrs. Marie BLASS of Baldwin. Services were held Tuesday
at NELLER Funeral Home, Rev. Robert TREAT officiating, burial in Portland
March 17, 1960: This
week Tuesday, March 15, marked the 40th anniversary of Portland’s
biggest flood. Thousands of dollars worth of damage was incurred when the
ice and water went on a rampage that Monday afternoon in 1920. Damage
estimated at today’s prices, would have been even more staggering.
Following is a graphic damage story from the Review’s files of 1920:
“It has been a slow process, emerging from the greatest flood Portland has ever
known, and it will be many weeks before the last traces of the havoc have
disappeared. It is difficult to make an estimate of the loss, but a
conservative figure would be $42,000. The lower bridge (an iron structure)
cost about $7000 when constructed in 1885 by the late S. S. RAMSEY, but could
not be replaces today (1920) for less than $25,000. Therefore the township
is the largest loser in this flood. (The bridge would probably cost 100
times that amount in 2010, although county, state and federal governments would
kick in a big chunk for disaster relief.)
Next comes Mrs. Ada BLANCHARD, owner of the building in which
Chester S. BLANCHARD has his stock. It may require $3,500 to replace the
rear wall, plus $200 for Chester’s stock lost out the opening. Lewis
WILHELM estimates his loss at between $2,000 and $2,500, eighteen feet having
been taken from the rear of the building.
The Portland Milling Company has no way of arriving at its loss,
but it is doubtful $750 will cover it. C. S. BENJAMIN cannot buy the
lumber to replace his buildings carried away for less than $1,000. The
village will have $2,000 in labor for cleanup costs. The two telephone
companies, in loss of poles, wires and labor to replace, have $750.
Will C. STONE’S loss of stock may be $500. George A. KNOX,
owner of the store building in which the Stone stock is located, will have $100
in repairs. Mrs. Herbert T. EMERY’S store building, home of City Bakery,
has $100 repairs. Carl D. BYWATER’S stock of wallpaper was hit by the
water and his loss may be $500. Wolverine Soap Company will lose $1,500 on
stock and office furniture. Terriff’s Perfect Washer Company has lost
considerable lumber, plus motors and machinery were also damaged, probably $800
will cover loss.
March 17, 1920: Mrs.
Sara RICE, Republican, and Mrs. Nora YOUNG, Democrat, will oppose each other for
Treasurer in Portland Township. (This Spring Election was apparently the
first election in which women could vote and run for township office, although
the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not ratified by
enough states until August 18, 1920. Some State Constitutions had allowed
it in state elections prior to that.)
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Village Commission, Francis BURGER,
who is soon to extend his garage through from Maple Street to Kent Street, was
granted permission to install a gasoline pump next to the curb on Kent Street.
March 17, 1900: Apples
are selling as high as 8 cents each in Portland, a great surprise to the citizen
who usually stores away a few barrels, bought in the Fall at 50 cents to $1.00
February 25, 1920: Mrs.
Vilona FULLER, (Mrs. William B.) mother of Ira FULLER, (grandmother of Francelia
and others) was found dead in bed. She was 92.
March 10, 1960: In the
long ago, Portland almost landed several proposed new railroads, but only made
it once, because most of the railroad projects failed to mature. One of
these, brought to our mind by an item in the 50-year-ago- column in Ionia
Sentinel-Standard, was the Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids Electric Railroad.
Coming in from the east, the line was to run down town on Bridge Street, across
river at upper bridge, and on west through town on Broad Street (West Bridge)
Street and present Grand River Ave. Fifty years ago interurban type
electric lines were popular, but this one never even got started.
In earlier days there had been the Chicago, Kalamazoo & Saginaw
(which never got farther than Woodbury,) the Coldwater, Marshall & Mackinaw
(never completed,) and in 1918, the proposed Michigan Northern Railroad, which
never got under way. Portland was adequately served by the Detroit,
Lansing & Muskegon Railroad, which became part of Pere Marquette and later
Chesapeake & Ohio, which is still in operation but no longer has a branch to
Portland. Portland once had at least six passenger trains daily and good
railway freight service. Then came six passenger trains daily and good
railway freight service. Then came the day of motor buses and motor
trucks. Our location on US-16, now becoming I-96, quickly put us on fast
Comes maple syrup season again and while riding Sunday we see trees
tapped along M-43 south of Grand Ledge. Years ago there were numerous
sugar bushes in the Portland area. Several were quite large, with the
GIBBS, TYLER, LINEBAUGH and PEABODY farms producing large quantities of syrup
each year. The LINEBAUGH bush in Orange, a family operation for more than
half a century, with 1500 trees, will be operated again this year by Mrs.
Webster E. LINEBAUGH and family. Her father-in-law, Lafe (Lafayette)
LINEBAUGH, operated it for years, and later her husband, W. E., whose death
occurred a year ago.
March 10, 1920: Riley H.
SANDBORN, son of Mr. & Mrs. Lon (Lawrence) SANDBORN of Orange Township and Miss
Annis BENSCHOTER, of Sebewa Township, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John BENSCHOTER,
were married at Sunfield.
In the vault at Portland Cemetery are 28 bodies, five more than
have ever been there at one time. All have been placed there since January
1, and are awaiting burial under better weather conditions, when it will be
practical to dig graves.
The fire truck was used as a hearse Friday morning at the funeral
of J. L. SHEPARD, who was one of the active members of the fire company and who
often drove the truck. (To his funeral?)
April 7, 1940: Mrs. Lulu
M. DIVINE, D. D. S., of Portland, was among several postmaster nominations sent
to the Senate Monday. Dr. HORNING has served one term of four years and
was acting postmaster for about six months before official appointment.
April 14, 1920: The
trunk line route through Portland (US-16) will be by way of DeWitt Street,
instead of Bridge Street, the hill on the latter being objectionable.
Edwin L. GOODWIN is wrecking the south part of the old HINMAN and
PERRIGO building, (blacksmith shop, wagon shop and foundry,) preparatory to
putting a garage on the location. (Approximately where WARD’S Garage is
located in 2010.)
April 21, 1960: Rev.
Heath T. GOODWIN, pastor of Ionia First Methodist Church, has been appointed
Superintendent of the Grand Traverse District of the Methodist Church. He
will continue to serve the Ionia Church until the Annual Conference. He is
a nephew of Mrs. Ruby KLOTZ of Portland. (And a cousin of Mrs. Harriet
April 21, 1920: A tank
car loaded with gasoline was pulled into Portland Sunday morning by the Pere
Marquette Railroad. It was for Frank Fineis, local Standard Oil Agent, and
broke a gasoline drought that had lasted for several days. Twenty-five
carloads of outgoing merchandise have been on various sidings in Portland on
various sidings in Portland awaiting shipment. The Ypsilanti Reed
Furniture Company had nine carloads of chairs in their yards last week. A
few more days of strikes and embargoes would have put the manufacturers and
other shippers in this town out of business.
October 13, 1960:
Firemen disposed of remnants of the home just west of Powers Park playground a
few evenings ago, a home which many of our citizens have pointed out to visitors
in town. It was the birthplace of Clarence Buddington KELLAND, small town
boy from Portland, who made good in the city as a writer, and whose novels and
magazine stories have earned him a fortune. KELLAND was born there, but
later his parents moved to (233 S.) Lincoln Street, where his youthful days were
spent. From Portland he went to Detroit, and there his career as a writer
got under way. (See RECOLLECTOR Vol. 31 – No. 6, June 1996, for Walt
LOCKWOOD’S story on KELLAND.)
John B. SPITZLEY, 82, died Sunday after only a few days at St.
Lawrence Hospital and services were held at St. Mary’s in Westphalia on
Wednesday. Mr. SPITZLEY had been identified with many projects in
Westphalia. He was president of Westphalia State Bank for many years until
it closed in 1950. In earlier years he had operated an automobile business
there, selling Reo cars and trucks. It was during his tenure as Village
President that a municipal electric plant was installed and Westphalia was one
of the first small towns, (along with Portland, Ionia and Lyons,) to have
electric service. He served on the Clinton County Road Commission
1926-1948. He was the first county road chairman when the commission was
formed, and was credited with creating a county road network of major
proportions. Surviving are a brother, Joseph of Westphalia and a sister,
Mrs. Theresa KOENIGSKNECT of Fowler.
October 16, 1900: Jacob
REVELS (Portland barber) was notified last week of the death of his father,
Absolem REVELS, who was born in slavery. He was about 95 and lived at
March 9, 1961: Many
years ago four hotels did big business in Portland. Frank Davenport’s
furnace and tin shop west of the Nazarene Church on W. Bridge Street was once
SOULES Hotel. A tall one stood at the center of the east edge of Powers
Park. In its day it was known as the National Hotel. It was last
occupied by Wolverine Soap Company as factory and office, and was torn down when
this firm moved out.
For years WORDEN Hotel stood at the west end of the lower bridge.
(William TOAN Park is there today.) It was torn down when this firm moved
out. For years WORDEN Hotel stood at the west end of the lower bridge.
(William TOAN Park is there today). It was torn down in 1930s to make room
for a wider US-16. And of course the last and largest was Hotel Divine,
first opened as the Welch House by Elias T. WELCH.
About 1900 he sold to Monroe B. & Julia A. DIVINE, who changed the
name to Hotel DIVINE and at their deaths in 1908 and 1905 respectively, were
succeeded by their son Chester M. & Lulu M. DIVINE. Lulu died in 1940 and
Chester retired from the hotel business in 1944.
(Until his death in 1948, he lived in a travel trailer which he
parked at the south side of Alton Park when in Portland. It was one of the
first postwar units and was an amazing 28 feet long! But people still
called them by their prewar name as “House Cars”.)
FROM: Grayden D. SLOWINS,
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
3226 E. Musgrove Hwy.
Lake Odessa, MI 48849-9528