THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR – Historical Newsletter from Sebewa (Township, Ionia County, Michigan). February 2012, Volume 47, Number 4. Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowings, Editor.
SURNAMES: Vroman, Lehman, Collier, Peppel, Slowins, Chapel, Kelland, Neller, Bell, Coleman, Frost, Smith, Huffman, Carbaugh, Bullen, Jenkins, Norwood, Divine
COVER PHOTOS OF: Poznan: morning – top; evening – bottom. Many German-Polish families in Ionia County trace back to Posen, East Prussia, also called Poznan, Poland. Our cover photos show rural Poznan as found on the Internet. No homes show, because their small farms have always been bunched together, with the homes grouped in tiny villages.
Emerson D. Lehman, 93, husband of Phyllis Kimmel Lehman, father of Sharon Davis of Sunfield, Sue (Don) Cooley of Byron Center and Denny (Nadja) Lehman of Lansing, sibling of two deceased brothers and sisters Ruth Newton of Woodland and Betty Baghai of Massachusetts, son of Earl & Essie Webster Lehman; born September 3, 1918, married March 29, 1941, died November 24, 2011. Emerson attended Goddard Rural School, graduated from Lake Odessa High School in 1936, joined the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and helped plant thousands of pine trees in northern Michigan. He and Phyllis farmed in Sebewa Township all their married life. They were 4-H leaders for 17 years and Superintendents of Lake Odessa Fair Youth Horse Show for 37 years. Buried in Odessa Lakeside Cemetery.
Charlotte Petrie Collier, 90, widow of Jerome Collier, daughter of Ray Petrie & Anna Brook Petrie. Born in Sebewa Township.
Albert Peppel, 90, husband of Louise Hoffs Bartlett Peppel, father of a daughter and step-father to four Bartlett children, born in Germany, served in WWII, former band director in Lansing area, son-in-law of Alice Hoffs, age 109.
ANOTHER RECENT DEATH:
Nancy Ann Vroman, 79, wife of George J. Vroman, mother of Val (Jim) Moyer, Marcia (Darryl) Spear, Kristi Brzezinski, Steve Vroman and Mike Vroman, grandmother to 13, great-grandmother to 16, sister of Zoah (Butch) Bengal, George (Nora) Edgar and the late Jane Thorn, daughter of George Edgar, Sr. & Helen Legget Edgar, born September 24, 1932, married in 1952, died November 20, 2011. Nancy was born in Lansing, started Kindergarten in Eaton Rapids, joined us in First Grade in 1938 at Portland Public Schools, graduated from PHS in our class of 1950. She was employed as Receptionist and Assistant to Dr. Donald Anderson in Portland while raising her family. Later she worked in the Computer Records Department under her daughter Val at Lansing Community College (LCC) and also took classes, some of them in nursing. Nancy was an avid antiques, estate sales and auctions enthusiast all her adult life, and pursued this as a retirement hobby/business. Unlike some antique buyers, she was also a good antique seller. She enjoyed the nice home they built on Ionia Road in Vroman Subdivision, Portland; swimming, sunbathing and reading at their summer cottage on Pretty Lake near Mecosta, Michigan; and a nice winter home in Puerto Rico. She enjoyed our Class Reunions over a sixty-one year period. Nancy always overlooked everyone’s faults and could see the good in everyone.
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET”
Gathered from back issues of PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER
August 17, 1950: One of the oldest buildings in the downtown section (of Portland) will be razed this week, to make way for a modern implement store. It is what many years ago was known as the “Wool Building”, because it was used as a storage place for the annual clip bought by local dealers. The old wood frame building had also been used for manufacturing, and at one time the late E. D. Verity had a coat-hanger factory there. Later it was used for garage purposes. In recent years it has been owned by Edward L. Peckins, along with the house just south. Both have been used in connection with Mr. Peckins’ John Deere agency. It is located on the west side of Kent Street, at the corner of Academy, opposite Leik Bros. Garage building. (The late Bert Towner stomped wool into bags there as a husky sixteen-year-old, but our daughter Karen’s tiny feet could pack the most pounds of wool into a bag at our farm!)
August 17, 1930: Although Philo N. Chapel of Portland, sole survivor of John Megarah Post, G.A.R., is now only 82 years old, he is not the youngest survivor of the Civil War currently living in Michigan. The youngest is 80, so was born about 1850.
Much of the dirt taken out for the basement of Sam Burman’s new house at the rear of his oil station has been drawn across the trunk line and dumped on the lot east of C. E. Peake’s service station. Albert & Santino (Louie) Guidi acquired this lot some time ago and the dirt will be scraped toward Looking-Glass River to build up the lot. (After Albert’s daughter Gina & husband Hal Brooks operated a restaurant in the new building on that lot for several years, various people have operated there. Later the Hoover family’s Home Restaurant was moved across the parking lot from the east, where it had been in the building that was attached to the Goff family residence, later Menold’s Flower Shop. Today the Looking-Grand Restaurant is in the Guidi-Brooks building, and everything to the east is parking lot.)
The Portland Rabbit Club, the only juvenile organization of its kind in the county, fared well in the distribution of prizes at the Ionia Free Fair. Glenn Wyman Lewis, John B. Hecox Jr, Miss Ruth Lockwood (French), and Miss Beulah Meyers all won prizes on entries.
A number of Portland families have been swapping places of residence recently. Louis Smith, proprietor of the barbershop at Hotel Divine, will move to the brick house on Maple Street owned by William A. Young, formerly the Hugg property, (later the Meitler Nursing Home.) Dr. & Mrs. Basil Lowry now occupy part of Mrs. Jennie Rice’s house. Mr. & Mrs. Allen Newman have moved from that part of Mrs. Rice’s house to the Atwell place.
August 17, 1910: Lynn D. Rudolph, who recently purchased the Samaine farm from the Webber estate, is about to build a new barn and other outbuildings on the property. The barn will be 40x80 and cost $3500. (This farm is on the southeast corner of Clarksville & Petrie Roads in Sebewa Township and today has no buildings.)
August 17, 1910 continued: Ed L. Goodwin last week purchased the interest of his partner, C. H. Aldrich, in the Portland Washing Machine Company, manufacturers of Goodwin’s Oscillating Washer, and will continue the business alone.
The Detroit News says Hon. Frank E. Doremus will run for Congress to oppose E. C. Denby. Mr. Doremus’ record as City Controller in Detroit should make him a very popular candidate for Congress. (Frank E. Doremus was a former editor & publisher of the Portland Review.)
August 24, 1950: Fred Vogt has purchased the Borden Company property at the corner of Maynard Road (Divine Hwy.) and Looking-Glass Avenue. It has long been vacant, and Mr. Vogt will remodel the building and use the property as a storage for his excavating business. He has two large hydraulic diggers (Grandalls) and many miscellaneous parts for same.
Years ago that large corner lot was known as the Thomas Toan property and a large home was located there. For years it was occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Derby and son Carl. Eventually it became a commercial site. Arctic Ice Cream Company erected the plant about 30 years ago. Karl Miller and Hie Kieff were among the company’s early managers. Milk was gathered from a wide area around Portland and trucked to this plant. There it was dumped from the farmers’ cans, cooled, and piped into large trucks to be hauled to Grand Ledge, where it was made into ice cream. After Arctic left the local scene, the Borden Company bought the place. It was similarly used for a time, with the milk being hauled to Perrinton and later to Sheridan. After this company ceased operations, the plant closed.
Ronald Pung, living southwest of Portland, (in Sebewa Township, son of Sylvester Pung and brother to Joe Pung,) went to Sunfield a few nights ago and stepped into Fleetham’s barbershop for a haircut. John is a busy man; in addition to being the village barber, he is one of the fire department’s most energetic members. One side of Ronald’s head had been clipped when the whistle blew. The barber threw clippers and comb into the air and they landed in their respective places on the back bar. He rushed out the door to the fire. Ronald waited, but finally went home before John’s return. Next day he drove back to Sunfield and the barber finished him up.
Stanley Sayer, 31, of Sebewa Township, was reported as slowly improving at Ionia County Memorial Hospital. He had been injured in an auto accident the last night of the Ionia Free Fair. The hospital reported that he had partly regained consciousness. His father, Clarence, 60, and his mother, Edna, 60, were also injured in the crash and their conditions are improving also. The accident occurred at the intersection of M-66 and Musgrove Hwy. The auto, driven by the father, collided with one operated by Carl Rasmussen, 50, of Augusta. The younger Sayer received severe head injuries and was unconscious for almost four days. Mrs. Sayer received a fractured hip and her husband had several broken ribs and was suffering from severe shock. (The Sayer men had another accident at this intersection with farm trucks.)
August 24, 1950: Robert Torp-Smith, of Riverdale, North Dakota, has been called into the armed services. He and Mrs. Torp-Smith and family will be in Portland to visit this weekend at the home of her father, Dale Pierce. Mr. Torp-Smith will report in California and his wife and family will accompany him there.
September 7, 1950: Two of the largest trees in Portland were cut down last week, on the former Borden Company property at the corner of Looking-Glass Avenue and Divine Hwy., just bought by Fred Vogt. They were both towering elms. The northerly one was badly rotted, and when the workmen got to trimming the other one, a similar condition was found. How long they had stood there Mr. Vogt does not know, but as we remember they were just as big when we were a boy.
A tip-off in advance has it that a Bud Kelland article of interest to older residents of Portland will appear this week in the September 14 issue of Saturday Evening Post. Kelland, as most residents know, was born in Portland, in the house now occupied by the Proctor family on Broad (West Bridge) Street, across from the Nazarine Church. Later the family lived on Lincoln Street in the house the George Edgar family recently began occupying. The Kelland family left Portland when Bud was about 10 and he ended up with a writing career in Detroit. He has continued in New York and Arizona in recent years. (Clarence Budington Kelland was said to be the most highly-paid fiction writer of the Mid-Twentieth Century.)
Lewis E. Rowe Jr., of Portland Realty, announces sale of the modern dairy farm of Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Roberts Sr to Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Simon. The farm is the former Chester M. Divine farm on Divine Hyw. Years ago, Mr. Divine acquired the adjoining farms of Maude Hitchcock and Ed Hitchcock, after fire had destroyed the barn on the first mentioned place. Mr. Divine had all the present fine buildings built, including a milk-pasteurizing and bottling plant. (Foundations of older buildings remain to the north of the barn.) The previous home farm of Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Simon at Lyons (on Kimball Road, just east of Murphy Road at Greenview Point), was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Harold Schwab of Ionia. The Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Sandborn farm in Danby (on Sandborn Road just east off Charlotte Hwy.) was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Henry H. Leik of the Helen Woodbury farm (on Goodwin Rd.)
September 14, 1950: Lewis Roe reports sale of Harry Tucker’s 40 acres in Sebewa Township (at northeast corner of Clarksville and Petrie Roads) to become part of the Sylvester Pung farm. The farm was known years ago as the Dale McCausey place.
Bandfield Funeral Home has been purchased by Harvey G. Neller. The funeral business will be continued at the Neller Funeral Home, the former Wm. Gibbs home at Bridge & Maple Streets. The business was founded by Thomas J. Bandfield, father of Arthur, in 1871. Arthur has been associated since boyhood and licensed since 1907. He is retiring, but will continue the furniture store with son Tom. (Thomas J. Bandfield manufactured furniture and coffins, as did most early undertakers, in a building north of Looking-Glass River replaced by Barley-Earhart building.)
September 14, 1930: While visiting at the home of his niece, Mrs. Winifred Bell Carter at Benton Harbor, Mich, Dr. Robert B. Bell, of Denver, Colo., contracted pneumonia and died there a few days ago. Dr. Bell’s wife was formerly Gertrude Allen, daughter of Capt. E. M. Allen, one of the founders, along with Charles Maynard, of Maynard-Allen State Bank in Portland. Dr. Bell formerly practiced in Portland.
Delegates to the Democrat County Convention at Ionia from Portland were: Charles F. Gilden, Frank Linebaugh, Leo C. Lehman, Carl D. Rywater, Dr. S. A. Horning, Dr. Basil Lowry.
Those attending the Republican County Convention from Portland were: Lorenzo Webber, Charles T. Lockwood, Fred J. Mauren, John B. Hecox, John C. Balderson, William H. Young, Morna Porter, Mae Briggs, Edward L. Goodwin, Carl O. Derby, William Toan, Chester M. Divine.
September 14, 1910: Funeral services were held for the late Eli Coleman, who was with General William Tecumseh Sherman on his march to the sea near the end of the Civil War. (The Coleman farm was what we know as the Riley Sandborn farm on Grand River Avenue, just east of Sunfield Road and the red brick Coleman Rural School in Orange Township.)
December 27, 1951: Mr. & Mrs. Clarence E. Roberts Sr. (formerly dairy farmers on the Divine farm,) who operate the cafeteria at Portland Manufacturing Co., gave folks at the plant a nice Christmas surprise last Thursday. They served a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for only 65 cents.
For the first time in some years, weather has permitted ice skating during the holiday vacation in Portland. The usual result is that after long labor on preparing the rink at Powers Playground, a couple of days of skating is enjoyed, then comes the January thaw ahead of time, and the ice rink is ended. But with near zero weather here this year, there has been very little trace of thaw, and the only difficulty with the rink has been to keep it clear from ever-increasing snow. (Before Dr. Lurette I. Powers donated the park, the Looking-Glass River Bayou east of Knox’s Portland Elevator was often used by skaters, sometimes with deadly results if the ice proved not to be strong enough.)
December 27, 1931: Charles Frost, pioneer Portland Township farmer, (farmed on Goodwin Road, married Harriett Smith, daughter of Laban A. Smith Sr, whose homestead is the Country Club; became parents of Harriett Stegenga,) died at Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, of injuries suffered in an auto accident.
December 27, 1911: Allie Rader has moved onto the Sumner Avery farm in Eagle Township, recently purchased by his father, J. Washington Rader. Arthur Williams, employed at the Earl A. Richards grocery store, expects to leave for Chattanooga, Tenn, and may decide to remain in that city. (But he came back and managed the A&P Store in Portland, with Arthur Baker Sr. as his assistant.)
June 9, 1949: Preparations for the start of city delivery service were under way at Portland Post Office. Lock boxes had been removed and residents must begin using the street number in their address. Merchants needed a mail slot in their door, as the first of two daily deliveries would be made before most were open for business.
Frank’s 5 cent to $1.00 Store, part of a chain owned by the W. N. Schlernitzauer family of Ionia, had closed after an 18-year run in Portland. Stores in Ionia, Lowell, Belding and Carson City remain open. Will C. Stone ran a grocery in that building before Frank’s.
Employees of the Ben Franklin Store gathered at Potter’s Park in Lansing for a Sunday picnic and farewell party for Mr. & Mrs. Harry Sullinger and daughter Caroline, who were returning to Flushing, MI. Mr. Sullinger had been one of the owners for the past year of the Ben Franklin Store. He sold his interest to partners Paul Black and son Charles Black. (The Blacks soon moved out of the building owned by Clifton Roe from his father’s estate, and into their newly combined and remodeled former Dawdy’s and Styleshop buildings, to house their new Federated Department Stores frachise.)
Mr. & Mrs. August Nowitsch, who have been living in the former Henry Stoeffel farm home on Barr Road in Danby, now owned by George Leik, are moving into the Feldpausch home on Elm Street, just vacated by Mrs. James D. Barr and children, who have moved to Ontario.
William Lester McDaniel, son of Dr. & Mrs. Alvin Lester McDaniel of Portland, received his DDS at the School of Dentistry, Northwestern University, in the Chicago area. Mrs. McDaniel is the former Jane Cherry of Western Springs, IL. They have an eight month old son, George, and live in Chicago area. (We had totally forgotten that the senior McDaniels had any other children than Betty Ann.)
Frank O’Brien, who for some years lived at the Weippert Mill location in Sebewa, and is now a Portland resident, shows some interesting pictures. One is of an airplane he built at Jackson in 1910. It was owned by Fred Lewis of Lewis Spring & Axle Company of Jackson. Other pictures are of items he designed for General Motors, for whom he worked back then at Buick in Flint. Mr. & Mrs. O’Brien came here from Flint and bought the old mill property. He revamped the millworks and buildings. His wife died a couple years ago and he has been living in Portland in recent months. (He also stored considerable old metalworking machinery in the basement of the mill and many intruders have thought it was part of the mill machinery.)
MRS. EDITH A. HUFFMAN, 72, who died at Grand Ledge last week, was a daughter of the late W. W. (Dick) Merryfield of Danby, Sebewa, and Portland Townships. In 1891 the Merryfield family owned what is now the Melborn Sandborn farm in Dandy. By 1906, they owned 600 acres of land in Sebewa Township, sections 14, 15, and 23, on Bippley Road. Later they retired to 22 acres on the south side of Ionia Road, just inside the village of Portland. Mr. & Mrs. Harry High attended the funeral and deceased was a cousin to Mr. High.
June 9, 1929: Mr. & Mrs. Garrett Smith of Sebewa are parents of an 8 pound 8 ounce boy, born May 21 and named John.
June 9, 1909: Charles A. Estep formerly of Sebewa Township, and his son Beech Estep, have been inventorying the stock of lumber in Portland, owned by Frank A. Caswell, also formerly of Sebewa Township, and it is expected an announcement of its purchase by them will be made this week. (Side-gates from the Estep Lumber Company truck or wagon were found in the A. A. Way barn after our Slowins family purchased the farm in 1937.)
Dr. John D. Bradfield, who recently moved his practice to Portland from Tremayne’s Corners, has leased rooms over the Post Office and will have his office there.
The proposition to bond Sebewa School District No. 1 Fractional (High District, partly in Sebewa partly in Danby), for $800, for the purpose of enlarging the schoolhouse to two rooms, carried by a vote of 50 to 46.
June 9, 1949 again: The Reverend Will L. Halladay (Sebewa Danby native) and wife, are visiting (sponging actually) for the summer in Portland, Saranac, Clarksville, Ionia and Belding, while making their headquarters at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Carl H. Bidwell in Sebewa.
Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Jameson and daughters, also Mr. & Mrs. Herbert Johnson, spent the weekend in Chicago. They visited Jean Lindsley and Eleanor Lanz at Moody Bible Institute.
June 2, 1949: W. J. Carbaugh, who many years ago practiced law in Portland, died at a Lansing hospital. He was 80 years old and had lived near Wacousta since retiring from practice in Lansing a year ago. His wife, Dr. Harriet Carbaugh, died several months ago. Grant Carbaugh of Sebewa Township is a brother, and Mrs. Mary Ferguson of Orange Township is a sister. (The family homestead was the Sylvester and Joseph Pung farm on Keefer Hwy, S. E. ¼ Sec. 1 Sebewa Township.)
Mrs. Clark Bullen, 38, died at her home on South Kent Street. She had been ill for the past two months. Mr. Bullen has taught Agriculture in Portland High School for the past three years. Mrs. Bullen formerly taught in Lansing schools. Besides her husband, two sons, Roger 4 and Craig 2 survive.
Mason Barrus & Sons have moved their garage business from the C. E. Peake building on Maple Street, to the building further north, just south of Southwell & Snyder’s garage. The Barrus’ recently purchased the building from John Kortes.
June 2, 1909: George W. Ramsey has sold the entire amount of ice stored in the Grand Rapids Brewing Company’s ice house in Portland and it is being shipped to Toledo. There are 250 tons in all.
CORRECTIONS & UPDATES: As we predicted someone corrected us on persons on 1954 list of Charter Members of Portland Kiwanis Club still living. Robert Torp-Smith is still alive as we said, and also Welland Sprague. Both father and son were named Welland; neither is called Welland. Welland (Bill) Sprague was the father, Welland Walter (Walt) Sprague is the son and survives. I took it to be Bill as Charter Member, and of course it could be either, but I had to call and apologize to Walt.
Another request for correction was not so easily solved. I took from the Review the date of the Valley City Milling fire as January 22, 1948. I recycle the old newspapers after the Recollector goes to print. So when asked, I checked the Internet for the history of Valley City Milling Company, and found the fire listed as 1949. Fine! Either the Portland Review or the Sebewa Recollector had a misprint. Except………..a few days later I came across the Portland Review for December 30, 1948. A page is devoted to: “Facts, Progress, Tragedy, From the 1948 Portland Story.” They review the events and use the 1948 date in articles and advertising all through the issue:
January: The greatest industrial property loss in the history of Portland occurred when the milling plant of Valley City Milling Company burned to the ground.
Frank L. Jenkins, Village Manager since the Commission form of government was adopted in 1919, became Acting Manager while the Commission sought a person to succeed him. Then death suddenly struck him at age 67, as he was about to retire. Barnard Morse was named as Acting Village Manager.
First baby born in 1948 to residents of Portland was Miss Ann Evelyn Mathews, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Mathews.
Miss Nancy Edgar, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. George Edgar, was crowned queen of the 1948 basketball season at P. H. S.
February: The farm home of Mr. & Mrs. Chauncey Guilford was badly damaged by fire. Estimated damage was between $3000 and $4000.
March: Will J. McClelland and Roy W. Dawdy were honored by presentation of honorary membership in the Chamber of Commerce.
The fine new pipe organ in the Congregational Church was announced as fully paid for. The cost was $3,430.
One of the oldest district schools in this area, the Barr School in Danby, will close next year and maybe for good.
April: The Village Commission engaged as permanent Village Manager, Bernard C. Morse, who has acted as manager since January.
Royce Olin Bera, of Coopersville, became the new owner of the Carl D. Bywater Rexall Drug business.
May: Joseph A. Porter, Vice President of the Valley City Milling Company and President of the Village Commission, resigned from both posts.
June: Chester Norwood, 72, a lifelong resident of Portland, was killed in an auto crash near the former Shepard orchard on US-16.
The Review & Observer moved to its new building on South Kent Street.
July: An escaped convict from Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane was killed when a car he was driving hit a tree in Lansing, after he led pursuers on a fast chase through the streets of Portland.
August: It was announced that Portland Cooperative Elevator Company purchased the feed plant just across the street from their main plant from the Valley City Milling Company. (This plant was originally built by Charles Lockwood, and Frank Gilbert worked there for over 40 years, until age 80.)
An electrical storm fired the barn on the Cornelius Huizenga on Barr Road in Danby Township. Loss was estimated at $8000.
September: The building in which the James D. Barr Agency and the Stocum barber shop are located was sold to Faust Agostini by Mr. & Mrs. Howard Lowry.
Chester M. Divine, 63, died of a heart attack at his apartment.
October: Miss Pat Howard was elected Homecoming Queen at Portland High School.
November: Announcement was made of the purchase of the Ball property on Kent Street by Michigan Bell Telephone Company.
December: There are 975 numbered homes and business places in Portland.
Roy E. Higbee opened a Western Auto Supply Store in the Wilhelm building formerly occupied by the Review & Observer.
FROM: Grayden D. Slowins,
Last update January 17, 2013