THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Historical Newsletter from Sebewa Township, Ionia County, Michigan – December 2012 - Volume 48 – Number 3. Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins:
Front Page Photo of James Jesse STRANGE
RECENT DEATHS: Lester R. Yonkers, Douglas E. Krausz, Howard Wayne Nash
OTHER SURNAMES: Strang, Wieber, Bauer, Lakin, Creighton, Brake, Green, McClelland, Lakin, Phelps, Slowins
A “STRANG” AMONGST US By Anne Fleetham Dow Merrill:
PART 2 JAMES STRANG: James presented himself before the elders in 1844 and announced that he had the authority to follow Joseph SMITH. Strang said he had traveled to Nauvoo, IL, and Smith had baptized him at the Mormon Church Headquarters, and he had joined the church. To this “Quorum of Twelve” elders, Strang stated that Smith had appointed him as successor, should that necessity occur. He claimed to have experienced a miraculous vision such as Smith had. Brigham Young did not believe Strang and used everything within his power to disprove him. Was James God’s prophet in Nauvoo? Who was to lead the church? Between these two factions there was a major dispute, which was never resolved.
Strang’s group, though smaller, was dedicated to him and he was a very determined man. The “Strangites” as they were called, returned with their leader to Wisconsin. While there their numbers increased, as did Strang’s power. His word on every subject was LAW. He controlled diet, dress, money, all material possessions, behavior, and their sexual morality, which Strang held to his highest standards.
In 1847, Strang sought a new, more isolated location for his group. He searched the Charlevoix, MI, area and found an ideal location on Beaver Island. Fred Foster described the 1847 island in a 1955 article. “It was unquestionably the site of at least two permanent Indian Villages before the coming of the white man. The island had swamp conifers, pine, oak, and mixed hardwoods, soft maple, aspen, and birch trees, with abundant fishing.” Strang moved quickly, and by the settling-in of winter, 1847, five Mormon men and thirteen women and children had settled in their new home. By 1850, the main body of Strangites had moved from Wisconsin to Beaver Island. They numbered 600-700 people. From the beginning the group met with resistance from the local “Gentiles”, as well as the Indians living there, who saw them as competitors. James had a “city” built on the harbor, which he called “St. James”. It would be the headquarters of his church. The faithful, hardworking people that followed Strang cleared paths through the woods, with roads to come later. A sawmill was set up, simple homes were constructed, and a large log tabernacle was built. In addition, the island soon boasted a printing press and newspaper to spread the Word of God.
On July 8, 1850, at the closing of the Beaver Island Annual Church Conference, Strang had himself crowned “King of the Kingdom of God on Earth”. Four books were sacred to the Strangites: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church, and the Book of the Law. Approximately 235 people filled the tabernacle the day of the coronation. Strang sat on a throne on a decorated stage. He wore a flowing red, floor-length flannel robe with white trim. He made this claim: His appointment as king was a revelation from God. “God hath chosen his servant James to be King. He hath established him as a prophet above the kings of the earth; and appointed him king in Zion. By his own voice did He call him, and sent His angels to ordain him.” Strang had his flag raised and a new cheer for the King of Zion. As God’s own “Chosen People”, it was felt the earth and its goods, whatever they needed, belonged to them, including items owned by others. This practice, never called by what it actually was, became known as the practice of “Consecration”. Some followers came to believe Strang’s power had gone beyond what was spiritual. For instance, at that time most women in America wore long dresses or skirts; Strang commanded all women in his group to wear bloomers. This was one among many issues to cause resentment.
In the meantime, in 1848, Brigham Young, with his devoted followers, started the long, long trek, across the country to the isolation of the Great Salt Lake Valley, in Utah. Once there, the “Brighamites” hoped to live peacefully, while awaiting the Second Coming of Christ. The journey was tortuous and some turned back; however the majority continued. Within one week after their arrival in Utah, plans for Salt Lake City were drawn. More people quickly followed, numbering 1,750 by year’s end. Today this is the headquarters of the Morman religion, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has world renown.
Earlier, in Nauvoo, many expressed disapproval of polygamy, also known as “Spiritual Wifery”. Strang often spoke against this practice and assured his following that he would not tolerate such behavior on Beaver Island. It was only then that the group agreed to move there. However, there had been continual rumors that Strang himself was quite a “Ladies’ Man”. The original leader, Joseph Smith had, in the year 1843, revealed a “New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage”. In simple terms that was interpreted to mean that Smith was required to obey the law of plural marriage or be damned to everlasting hell. Some of the laws enacted under both Strang on Beaver Island and the Mormons in Utah had certain Old Testament harshness. Strang’s reasoning for the adoption of polygamy has never been fully explained.
The interesting thing about Strang’s next announcement is that he had met 18-year-old Elvira Eliza Field at a Conference in 1848 and they were secretly married on July 13, 1849. In his many travels, Strang desired Elvira to accompany him. This was managed by cutting Elvira’s dark hair short and dressing her in men’s clothing, then introducing her as his secretary, Charles Douglas. The disguise seemed to work in many places, in other places people were suspicious. Strang had been seen walking around Beaver Island arm-in-arm with Elvira, but he was not yet ready to make public his doctrine of polygamy.
Thus, he now made this announcement: “A law for the peace of families and the purity of the Kingdom of God. From this time forth, one man shall have but one wife, and let no person make any contract or bargain in anticipation of any other.” Apparently, no official record of the marriage of James and Elvira survives. However, many believe that when Strang published the “Book of the Law” in 1851, it became public knowledge. It appears that Mary knew nothing of these plans. When and how Mary found out about her husband’s polygamous marriage remains a mystery.
ELVIRA ELIZA FIELD STRANG: So who was this Elvira? She was the granddaughter of Thomas Field and daughter of Reuben Field, born in Massachusetts, April 22, 1801, died in Eaton Township, Eaton County, MI, August 13, 1859, and Eliza (Granger) Field, born in Massachusetts, June 20, 1798, died in Eaton Township, October 1, 1892. After the parents were married in May, 1827, they moved to Streetsborough, Portage County, OH, where a son, Albert, was born June 20, 1828, and Elvira was born July 8, 1830. Another daughter, Anna, was born December 26, 1832, and died six months later. In 1844, the family moved to 80 acres in Sec. 36 and later Sec. 34, Eaton Township, Eaton County, MI. Albert lived in Eaton Township for nearly 70 years, except while the whole family was on Beaver Island for seven years. He owned and improved 83 acres in Sec. 25, Eaton Township, just north of his parents, and raised a family of six children there.
When the family first came to Michigan, from 1844 to 1846, Elvira lived with an uncle, Israel Smith, in southeast Washtenaw County. Here she learned the tailor’s trade, while also attending school. She joined the Presbyterian church in nearby Milan, just over into Monroe County. At sixteen, Elvira signed a twelve-week contract to teach school in Henrietta for $1.00 per week and her board. In 1847 she taught in Eaton Rapids, and in 1848, at a school in Eaton Township, near Charlotte, where she received $1.25 per week and board for twenty-two weeks. As a young girl Elvira enjoyed hunting with a rifle. She could kill a hawk on the wing and on one occasion killed the finest buck in a herd of deer drinking from a stream. A love of outdoor life led to reporting weather data for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, recording three times daily for five years, 1844 through mid-1849.
The parents of Elvira were Morman, even before Strang became a convert. After the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844, they became believers in Strang’s prophetic succession. In the spring of 1848, Elvira, with her parents, attended a conference at Vorhee, Wisconsin, and met James Strang for the first time. There is no way of telling just how or when Elvira attracted more intense attention from James Strang. Within a year Elvira was offered the honor of becoming the first plural wife of James Strang. On July 13, 1849, after the annual conference held at the new City of St. James on Beaver Island, Strang and Elvira exchanged Mormon vows, as mentioned above.
In 1881, A Past and Present History of Eaton County, lists Elvira Strang, born July 8, 1830, residing in Eaton Township, being the widow of the Rev. James J. Strang. Their four children were living, namely: Charles, Eva, Clement and James. Some of these children are buried with their families in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing. (Not in Grand Ledge Cemetery as we reported in error in our last issue.) We hope to cover more about these descendants in a future issue. There is a Strang(e) Hwy. in Eaton County, across southern Roxand and Oneida Townships, with older maps showing a Strang home at the southeast corner of Strange Hwy and Oneida Rd., and a half-mile south of Sunfield Township is Granger Hwy, which, perhaps just by coincidence, was Elvira’s mother’s maiden name, and connects to Shaytown Road and Sebewa Township history. TO BE CONTINUED
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET” Gathered from back issues of PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER:
August 28, 1952: Alan C. Greene, formerly of this village, who has been manager of the A & P Store at Carson City since 1937, last week resigned his position with the company and will go to Ionia as assistant manager of the Meijer Store beginning September 2. He is the son of Mr. & Mrs. Lemuel Greene and a brother of Wayne Greene, all of Portland. He graduated from Portland High School in 1925. He had been with A & P since 1931, in which year he entered employ of the Portland store. Mr. & Mrs. Greene expect to move from Carson City to Ionia in the near future.
Mrs. Morna Porter and her neice, Mrs. Bertha Baldwin, drove down from Breckenridge Tuesday to spend the day in Portland.
Mr. & Mrs. Frank Wieber and son Tom, and Miss Lenore Potecny of Ionia, visited Pvt. Frank Wieber at Fort Custer on Sunday. Next week end Tom leaves for Plymouth, MI, where he will continue his studies at the seminary there. Tom has previously attended the seminary at Grand Rapids and at Montreal, Canada.
Joe Wieber, son of Mr. & Mrs. Frank Wieber, has signed a Detroit Tiger baseball contract, receiving a $1,000 bonus. Joe will report to Jamestown, NY, baseball clug at the Detroit organizations’ minor league camp next spring in Florida. Jamestown is a Tiger Class D farm club and a member of the Pony League. Joe has been hurling for the Peschke Packer team of Ionia this summer, after a brilliant season with the Portland High team. He had been scouted by several major league teams, the Chicago White Sox being the most recent to make him an offer before he inked the Tiger contract. Joe recently worked out at Briggs Stadium under Schoolboy Rowe. (Does anyone know if and how Olympic Athlete Jordyn Wieber of Dewitt is related to this Wieber family?)
“Signs of the times” is the caption above a picture in the Grand Rapids Press and it shows Lansing’s sugar beet plant with a large “For Sale” sign posted in yard. No more beets will be processed there; what acreage is produced here will be trucked to other plants in the state. (After completely disappearing in this area, sugar beets are again being raised around Portland in the 21st Century, including the McCormack Farms on Musgrove Highway in Danby Township.)
Carl Goodman drops off a 1913 license plate he plowed up on his farm north of Portland. In that day they were finished in baked enamel and this one is well preserved. It bears the number 28851 and we imagine it was issued to William Toan, who lived on that farm at the time. Perhaps it was issued for one of his Regal “Under-slungs”; he owned several of those cars.
Among recent visitors at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Bauer was his grandmother, Mrs. Joseph Bauer, 89 years old, of Beaver Dam, WI. She was accompanied by Mr. & Mrs. Victor Bauer and daughter, of Mayville,WI, and Mr. & Mrs. James Weinberger,of Knowles, WI.
August 28, 1952: What do those who witnessed the recent political conventions on 18,000,000 television sets think of the way presidential candidates are selected? That would be an interesting poll subject. We have been told by many that TV is going to revolutionize the way nominees are selected. (As kids we were groomed by our mothers for a life in politics by listening to the conventions gavel-to-gavel on the radio, especially the state-by-state roll calls. Each delegation answered by touting the assets of “The-Great-State-of-So-and-So!” It was a welcome break from the hoeing our father had us doing in the garden. As adults, we were never delegate to National Convention, although we could have been in 1980. We attended many State Conventions, and as chairman of our Ionia County delegation, we shared a microphone with Senator Paul Henry from Kent County and Senator Joanne Emmons from Mecosta County.)
Most R & O readers know by now that Col. Robert McCormick, editor of world-famous Chicago Tribune, asserts that another political party is the salvation of our government woes. We recall that back in the early years of our life a “third party” was wanted when Teddy Roosevelt lost the nomination at the Republican Convention. It was the “Bull Moose Party”. We also recall that our dad (Fred J. Mauren Sr.) was a delegate to the State Republican Convention at Sault Sainte Marie, and Teddy Roosevelt supporters were put out of the hall. Dad was for Teddy and he was locked out of the convention, along with a lot of other supporters. Harvey Lowrey of Saranac was, as we recall, another Ionia County delegate to that convention.
Among local people attending the wedding reception for Marci Marion & Herb Lee at Ionia on Saturday evening were: Mr. & Mrs. Earl Dake, Mrs. Ruth Richards, Marilyn Richards, Mrs. Richard Smith, Mrs. Elmer Smith, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Allen, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Disch, Gerald Hackenbruch, Harold Denny, Mr. & Mrs. Richard Oaks, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Schrauben.
August 28, 1932: A thoroughbred Durham bull, two years old, belonging to Joseph Bliss, who resides on the Frank Pryer farm, broke a leg and had to be shot. The bull weighed 580 pounds dressed out.
Ionia County has a number of candidates for the title of “Miss Michigan” to be bestowed upon someone at Detroit. Among the candidates is Miss Florence Ryerson of Portland.
August 28, 1912: Claude Lakin has purchased the produce business founded by his father, William Dwight (W. D.) Lakin, but more recently conducted by Arthur S. Nunneley, who now retires to give his whole attention to his creamery business.
The main road between Mulliken and Portland is being re-graveled wherever necessary, under the direction of George Hughes, Highway Commissioner of Danby Township.
August 28, 1912: Jimmie Creighton, one of the best natured men in Sebewa Township, has been threshing continuously for 43 years and has just purchased a new Case Separator, making it the 10th machine he has owned since he started.
The Methodists, who lost their church by fire, have accepted the offer of the trustees of the unoccupied Universalist Church and will hold their services there. They expect to build a $20,000 brick structure on their lot to replace the old. (The old Universalist building stood where Bob Lear later lived for many years in a nice bungalow, at the corner of James Street and Warren Street, called Church Street back then, and often confused with the Church Street on the west side of town.)
The house on the New Sydney Farm, occupied by Levi Ingraham at this time, was struck by lightning, but did not burn. (We believe this is the farm and home on West Grand River Avenue, now owned by Philip Leik and shown in the Portland Commemorative Calendar as the William Love farm at the time the house and round barn were built. It was owned for a short time in the early 1920s by Frank Adgate, when he moved from his Orange Township farm to the house at Grand River Ave and Union Street/Knox Road in Portland. George Bower was the next owner of the farm. Somewhere along the way, the round barn was struck by lightning and replaced by the current L or T-shaped barn. Henry & Mary Rose Leik became the next owners, and now their son Philip.)
October 30, 1952: Among six fox bounty payment applications filed at Ionia County Jail last week, were those of three Portland Residents. Those filing applications were: Elon D. Lakin, Leonard Zanto, and George Rowe. Mr. Lakin killed a male fox in Danby Township Friday; Mr. Zanto killed a male fox in Orange Township Sunday; and Mr. Rowe also got one in Orange on Sunday.
Reelect D. Hale Brake, State Treasurer, Tuesday, November 4, 1952. People of both parties agree, “Hale Brake is honest, able, and dependable – He’s as straight as they come.” Brake’s policy is – “A public office is a public trust.”
The area on the east side of the Grand River back of Kent Street stores was cleaned of debris this week. For many years a narrow channel was allowed to accumulate refuse thrown from business places, and received a cleaning annually (by floodwaters). In spring of 1951, when floodwaters washed out the rear walls of the Knox-Blanchard block, the village hired a contractor to fill in more dirt around the building footings along the river. In that operation the small channel was removed. Since that time there have been complaints of merchants throwing waste materials onto this strip of created land. It was to get rid of this deposit that Tuesday’s cleanup was done. Village Manager Bernard Morse says that from this time on, the state law governing such dumping in streams will be enforced, and further practice of throwing litter into the river, or onto the ice, will bring prosecution.
October 30, 1932: Wholly unexpected was the death of Norton Green, pioneer resident of Portland Township, which occurred Sunday at the summer home of his son-in-law, William W. Lung, at Walled Lake. He was 77 years old and had been enjoying a couple weeks of fishing.
October 30, 1912: Floyd Rice (Sr.), who last week sold his interest in the Portland Observer, expects to go to Lansing to live.
November 6, 1952: Will J. McClelland, veteran merchant of Portland’s Kent Street, has been confined to his home since Friday, when he suffered a light stroke early in the morning. For many years the McClelland Store did business as John A. McClelland & Son. After the death of John A., it was continued by his son Will J., who had spent many years in the business with his father. Of late years, Mr. McClelland’s son-in-law, Bruce Young, husband of Lucille McClelland, has been associated with the business. (After Will J.’s death in 1953, it was reported that John A’s estate, or perhaps even John’s father’s estate, (he also was named Will, ) had never been probated and the existence of silent partners required liquidation of the business.)
November 13, 1952: Our neighbor Westphalia set a record in voter turnout in last week’s election; 91 1/2"% of registered voters of that Township cast their ballots, according to Clerk Alfred Snitgen. The count showed that voters supported Eisenhower by a vote of 6 to 1, and in the votes for state offices only 62 ballots out of 574 were split. (This is not quite as good as Sebewa Township in 1976, when 97 ½% of voters turned out for local boy Gerald R. Ford. An even 400 were registered and only 2 1/2"% or 10 people did not make it! Of those 10, several were in hospitals outside the area, one sat on his bed at home and shook as he marked the ballot I took him, one died while I was in his living room before he marked his ballot, and one missionary lady’s ballot arrived at Lake Odessa Post Office from Africa, the morning after the election.)
November 13,1952: Dogs killed or wounded a number of sheep and lambs in flocks owned by Will Mosser and Almer Gibbs, and some belonging to John Lawless, Jr., west of town several nights ago.
Young Teddy Lakin has been very ill at his home in Sebewa Township. He is the son of Ted Lakin Sr. (and was living with his maternal grandparents, the Glen Nicholsons, across from Ora Walkington on the Orange Town Line ).
November 20, 1952: Miss Nettie Jane Phelps, 72, of Portland, passed away at St. Lawrence Hospital, Lansing, where she had been a patient for about eight days, following two strokes. There were no immediate survivors. (We remember her best for her art work in painting an assortment of scenic canvas backdrops for school plays, under a grant from the W. P. A. in the 1930s & early 1940s.)
Forrest Townsend, who has been confined to his bed for many weeks by a heart attack, has improved to a point he can be up four hours a day.
November 20, 1932: John Soughders, who has owned and occupied the place for many years, last week sold the home on the west side where the famous author, Clarence Budington Kelland was born, to his son-in-law, Loren Proctor, who will move his family in at once.
Home from a five-weeks vacation in the northland, Wellington E. (Will) Porter is enthusiastic about the experience. He and Thomas (Tommy) Frost Jr. spent most of the time fishing and hunting, the latter sport taking them into a real wilderness.
November 20, 1912: J. W. Benedict, who bought the Weippert Mill in Sebewa Township, has just finished extensive repairs on the dam.
LESTER R. YONKERS, 94, husband of Virginia Goodsell Yonkers, father of Kay Coates, Judy Johnson, Jerry Yonkers and the late Thomas Yonkers, brother of the late Irving Yonkers, Edward Yonkers, Esther McVay and Violet Miller, son of James Yonkers & Amelia Kotesky Yonkers, died May 26, 2012. Lester was a General Motors Retiree, where he was an electrician; member of Lake Odessa Historical Society, Choral Society, Lions Club, former Cub Scout leader, 4-H club leader, Grand Marshall Lake Odesssa Fair, loyal supporter of our Ionia County Republican Party, member Sunfield United Brethren Church, married 72 years.
DOUGLAS E. KRAUSZ, 52, born in Ionia, May 31, 1960, died on August 23, 2012, husband of Audrey Cabinaw, father of Samantha and Joshua Krausz, brother of Debbie (Gary) Miller, David (Denise) Krausz, Dan Krausz and infant sister Diane Krausz, son of Joann (Simmons) Krausz & Lawrence Krausz, son of Richard Krausz & Vera Ileene Sandborn, daughter of Elma Winifred Luscher & Lawrence Watson (Lon) Sandborn, son of Columbus Sandborn & Sarah Jane Gibbs, daughter of Robert & Miriam Ames Gibbs, who settled in Section 11 Sebewa Township in 1858. Douglas was employed at TRW for 34 years, enjoyed genealogy, reading, traveling with his family, sports and collection baseball cards. Buried in Danby Township Cemetery.
HOWARD WAYNE NASH, 93, formerly of David Highway, Orange Township, Lyons, born August 22, 1919, at Ionia, died September 15, 2012, at Spring Lake, married 67 years, husband of Josephine Heator Nash, father of Dwight (Gwen) Nash of Elsie, Sherry (William) Thelen of Grand Haven, Teresa (Brian) Horan of South Haven, brother of Gordon Nash of Virginia, Greta Parsons of Lowell, and the late Raymond, Forrest, Carl and Vivian Nash, son of Edgar & Nettie (Gierman) Nash. Howard graduated from Steele Rural School, Ionia High School and Dairy Shortcourse at Michigan Agricultural College and was a lifelong farmer. He also worked for a time at the Allis Chalmers warehouse in Lansing,Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge in Portland, and Lake Odessa Livestock Auction. He enjoyed his team of draft horses and attending steam and gas engine shows. Howard’s baptism, marriage and funeral were at LeValley Methodist Church.
UPDATES & CORRECTIONS: This editor made a big error in labeling the photo on the front of the October issue! TheStrang graves are in the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Lansing, not in Grand Ledge Cemetery. Please find your copy and correct it right now! I knew this full well, although I had been told wrong some years ago and typed it wrong now.
FURTHER CORRECTIONS: Joe Slowins was not the Service Manager in Lakewood Auto Shop. He helped set up and operate a small Parts Department, thereby creating his interest in parts department work, which he followed through on after college.
Joe’s wife, Jody, does not work for the University of Michigan. She is self-employed and has done contract work over the years for the U of M, as well as the CIL (Center for Independent Living), MRS (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), NMSS MI (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter) and others. She also runs her own support groups, as well as seeing clients individually.
BACK ISSUES: Ideal Christmas gifts for yourself and hard-to-buy-for relatives and friends. In case you didn’t get the message: We need to clear our storage space, and are offering 285 back issues of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, almost 48 years worth, in 3 binders. For $60 including shipping. Most are on the Internet, but many of the earlier years did not transfer too well. Here is a chance to get originals! Current issues are $6 for one year (6 issues).
Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
Last update May 27, 2013