Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 48 Number 5
Transcribed by LaVonne I. Bennett

     LaVonne has received permission from Grayden Slowins to edit and submit Sebewa Recollector items of genealogical interest, from the beginning year of 1965 through current editions.

THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR Historical Newsletter from Sebewa; Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI; April 2013, Volume 48, Number 5.  Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins: 

Front page photo:

     A gathering of Patriarchs.  The eightieth birthday of Edwin White is celebrated August 11, 1912, by an assemblage of his friends.  Left to right:  William White, Dr. Charles Dellenbaugh, W. A. Staley, Edwin White, Isaac Perrigo, H. G. Stevens, Samuel Gibbs, Charles Maynard, Lester LaSalle, The Reverend David E. Millard, William Towner, William H. White. 


  [Note: This article has been redacted as it is deemed by the Ionia MIGenweb County Coordinator to be current political satire.  This website is exclusively for genealogical and historical information and is not a suitable place for airing concerns about current political leaders.]

I recently heard an old preacher’s widow here at Clark Retirement Community call us members of the Grand Old Party, “Idiot Republicans”.  That required me to print the above. 

     This so-called “Sequestration” may turn out to be the best way to cut the Federal Government Budget.  There is not a department in that government that cannot find 2% waste.  They don’t need to make the cuts where they hurt the most and show the most.    This writer once worked part-time for a few years for the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water Conservation Service.  It was mostly an Engineering Technician type job, and I enjoyed it very much as the sidecar to our sheep-farming.  Then the Johnson Administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) was put on notice by Congress that since the Budget had not been balanced, there would be what they called “Across-The-Board-Cuts” back then.  Suddenly every previously-authorized position in the Government must be filled.  I had to go full-time before July 1st or quit.  I suspect this is why we have had a two-months delay in implementation of the “Sequestration”.  Reluctantly I went full-time in the middle of haying.

     Then six months later they were able to cut out all of us newly hired employees, whom they hadn’t really needed anyhow, without cutting any of their pet projects and personnel.  I was one of the first to go, partly because the Johnson Administration had labeled me “Not a team player”.  This was because during that six months full-time, I had complained to my good friend, Congressman Gerald R. Ford, that at an area training meeting, we were told that those of us who were not having U. S. Savings Bond money withheld each Pay Period, knew who we were, and could expect to be passed over for promotion.  I became unemployed for four months in the middle of the winter, when there was no hay to bale.  Then I was called back to work part-time just as before; and that area supervisor suddenly took an early retirement!

     As per the old saying “When one door closes, another door opens” it was tough to lose a good job in the middle of the winter.  But if I had stayed on in a bureaucracy whose philosophy never really fit me, I never would have got to spend forty-three years in Sebewa Township, Ionia County, local grassroots government, culminating in the Presidency of the Michigan Townships Association. 


     In the February 2013, Volume 48, Number 4, third installment of “A Strang Amongst Us” page 6, third paragraph from bottom, reads: 

     “Gyneth Strang died in 1901, one year after her mother.  Her remains were removed from Olivet, Michigan, on October 22, 1902, and she was reburied beside her mother in Mt. Hope Cemetery”.  It should read:  “Gyneth Strang died in 1891, one year after her mother’s death.  Her remains were removed from Olivet, Michigan, on October 22, 1892, and she was reburied beside her mother in Mt. Hope Cemetery.”

     In the next paragraph it reads:  “On November 18, 1890, Clement married Marietta (Maria) Francis in Walton Township, Eaton County.  Marietta was born in 1863 in Walton Township.  Her parents were Cynthia Paine and Lester Francis.  Maria died in 1892 and is buried on Clement’s lot.”  Please delete the last sentence; Maria did not die in 1892 and is not buried on Clement’s lot.

     On page 8, fourth paragraph it reads: “Clement Strang’s family has rather small headstones facing east.  The first stone on the right is that of their little daughter, Gyneth 1887-1891, then first wife Rosabelle 1857-1890, next is Clement J. 1853 (should be 1854)-1944, next is third wife Nevada 1867-1936, lastly second wife Marietta (Maria) 1863-1892 is listed on that lot, but her stone was not found.”  Please delete beginning with “lastly” and to the end of the sentence.

     In the next paragraph it reads:  “Facing west is a large family monument with the name STRANG cut across the top, and “Woodmen of the World Memorial” in a circle.  The west half of the lot was deeded to Charles J. Strang, and his headstones say:  Father 1851-1891, Mother 1858-1917, Nina (which could be what we (this Idiot Editor) deciphered as Maria in the records), and Frank 1887-1944.”  Please delete the part in brackets after Nina.  Further research on Nina shows she was the nine year old daughter of Charles and Hattie Strang, killed by a freight train in 1894, with her distraught mother looking on.

     As for Marietta (Maria) Francis Strang, second wife of Clement J., she and Clement J. were apparently living in the Olivet, MI, area in 1891, when little Gyneth died and was buried there.  By February 21, 1894, she and Clement were no longer married, and he married Nevada M. Sutherland.  On November 9, 1898, Marietta married Trustrine (various spellings) Cassady, in Olivet, Eaton County, Michigan, born March 1858, son of Abraham & Phebe Reynolds Cassady.  She was listed as married once previously.  In 1900 census they were listed in Walton Township, Eaton County, Michigan, had a son Robert J. Strang, age 7.  In 1910 census they were living in Selmer, McNairy County, Tennessee, had a five year old son, Lamont, and Robert J. Strang was listed as adopted son.  Thrustine Cassady died October 28, 1915, in Selmer, TN.  Marietta returned to Michigan and died of influenza, March 10, 1920, in Hamlin Township, Eaton County, MI.  Olivet records show her buried there, but there is no date or stone.  Robert J. Strang was born in

April 1893, and by 1930 & 1940 censuses was a Boarder or Inmate of the Eaton County Poor Farm in Chester Township.  Did Clement J. Strang have a relationship with or even know about this son? 



     August 11, 1912:  Mary (Mrs. George A.) Buck, in honor of the 80th birthday of her father, Edwin White, entertained 12 spry old gentlemen at dinner.  The youngest was not below 75 and the oldest scarcely beyond 80.  Left to right in the cover photo they are:  William White, Dr. Charles Dellenbaugh, Willam A. Staley, Edwin White, Isaac Perrigo, H. G. Stevens, Samuel Gibbs, Charles H. Maynard, Lester LaSalle, Rev. David E. Millard, William Towner, William H. White.  (Notice Baptist Church just north of the White-Buck residence on Smith Street, Portland, MI.)

     November 20, 1932:  Packard & Lewis have about completed alterations and additions on the old grammar school building, which has been moved down to Maple Street (from the Brush Street School tennis courts) and converted into a very convenient farm implement store.  (Later it was occupied by Ward’s Garage, before being replaced by today’s modern building to house Ward’s.)

 January 8, 1953:  William B. (Bill) Stocum was pictured at his chair in the barbershop, on his 84th birthday on Dec. 31, 1952.  After operating the shop for many years, Bill sold it to Leo Piggott, due to ill health.  Now much improved, Bill was at the shop most every day helping out with the work load.  The customer in the chair was Laban Smith, local hardware dealer.  The Smith Hardware Co. was successor to Mr. Stocum’s hardware, when he disposed of that business many years before to open the barbershop.  He had purchased the hardware business of the late Duncan Kennedy in the same location.  So one can see that Mr. Stocum’s association with Kent Street goes back a long way.  He is the oldest active businessman on the street.  (Smith Hardware was later sold to Aaron Channel and became Channel Hardware.  Marge & Labe Smith then operated a lumber yard with some hardware, in a building complex near the corner of E. Grand River Avenue and Charlotte Highway, which included the barn on the former Pierce property.  Labe served on the first Ionia County Board of Commissioners, when they replaced the Board of Supervisors, and at his death Marge succeeded him and served longer and efficiently.)

     November 10, 1949:  Bill Stocum was born in Ionia Township, December 31, 1868, moved with his parents to Orange Township at 8 months of age and grew up there.  He attended Barber School in Chicago and barbered in Portland 1886-1903.  He then barbered in Lansing, Grand Ledge and Sunfield over the next ten years, coming back to Portland in 1913.  He bought Duncan Kennedy’s Hardware store and operated as Stocum’s Hardware over the next 8 years.  In 1921 he sold the hardware to Laban A. Smith, Jr., and barbered in Portland since.  Bill once gave 42 haircuts and 35 shaves on one Saturday.  (By our count, Bill barbered more than 58 years, 48 of those in Portland.)

     Jan. 8, 1953:  Edward L. Peckins, Portland John Deere dealer, had just been named dealer for the Packard Motor Car Co.; and Robert Ackerson had recently been named Portland agent for Willys cars and would operate the agency at his garage on Maple Street.  (In the Southwell Building we believe, but soon to have a new building, along with the Allis Chalmers dealership, on East Grand River Avenue, between Lindsley’s Farmers Gas Station and Joe Crosby Jr’s Pontiac & Buick dealership.)  Other dealers advertising in the same issue were Jay’s Sales & Service in Eagle with new Minneapolis-Moline model UB tractors, Vern Minkley Ford cars, trucks and tractors, Portland Motor Sales – Johnson family – Chevrolet and Oldsmobile, Leik Brothers Dodge cars and trucks and Portland Equipment Co. with International trucks & Farmall tractors.  (In 2013 Portland has only one farm tractor dealership in Ionia County, the John Deere store once owned by E. L. Peckins, then greatly enhanced by John Lich Jr., and now part of Bader chain; but no auto dealerships!   In fact Berger’s General Motors cars chain; but no auto dealerships!  In fact, Berger’s General Motors cars & trucks and Schanski Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep in Ionia are the last.)

      January 8, 1953 continued:  Mrs. Addie Ryerson was collection Portland Township Taxes at the Bandfield Furniture Store, each Wednesday and Saturday.  But Ernest Jl. Frantz had to divide his time between Allen W. Hughes office in Portland, Union Bank in Lake Odessa, and Sunfield Farm Store, to collect from all the far-flung reaches of Sebewa Township.

     Hughes G. (Lad) Southwell brought in an interesting section from Chicago Tribune of September 16, 1923.  It had a large advertisement for Victor Victrolas.  In those days several Portland dealers represented such lines as Victor, Edison Diamond Disc, and others.  Then came the radio and the cabinet phonograph went out of style.  But for years before that the machine with the long and ornamented horn was popular.  We recall a Portland saloon keeper who had one of these, with the end of the horn stuck out through a window and it used to grind out “Where O Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?

     January 8, 1933:  The first official act of Jay Clark, the new Portland Deputy Ionia County Sheriff, was responding to a call from Bernard Meyers, who lives on the Ionia-Clinton County Line Road out LookingGlass Avenue.  He had several sheep attacked by stray dogs.

     George Whitney is having a new garage built at the rear of his residence property across from the Carnegie Library.  (This garage faced on Maple Street at the upper level and George had it adapted for a small apartment and his harness shop, when he sold the other end of the lot with his house for commercial property—possibly the new dial telephone building for Michigan Bell, or Review & Observer building.)

     January 8, 1913:  Byron Welch, proprietor of a feed barn on Maple Street, is likely to be appointed the new Deputy Ionia County Sheriff for the Portland area.  He replaces Norman T. Sandborn, who is ill.

      Remains of Elijah Hair were brought to Portland from Lakeview and funeral services were held at the home of Albert Way, his uncle.  (This home was later the Slowins family farmhouse when they bought from Albert Abram (Ab) Way in 1937.  The 21st Century residents have remodeled this home, thought to have been built in the 1840s or soon after, so that it is almost unrecognizable.)

     January 15, 1953:  A few days ago our observer reported seeing Miss Fern Conkrite of this village crossing Kent Street toward Portland Cleaners.  She waited for the green light, also waited for a late-started driver to go through, then proceeded.  At west curb she paused, because now she wanted to go south at Bridge Street.  Again she waited for the light, while other pedestrians crossed against it and bluffed the drivers.  She will receive two free tickets to Sun Theatre as our courtesy award.

     Mrs. Hobard Carpenter has reopened the Lynda Lee Shop in the former Consumers Power Company building on Fourth Avenue in Lake Odessa.  The shop was formerly located on Tupper Lake Street.  A line of baby and children’s apparel, also knitting and crocheting supplies are carried.  Mrs. Dora (Lewis Jr.) Lehman is assistant in the shop. 

     January 29, 1953:  William J. McClelland, 69, who began working in the family business here in 1899, died at his home Monday.  He was born March 6, 1883.  In years of service at the McClelland Store on Kent Street, he was Portland’s oldest merchant.  Mr. McClelland suffered a stroke a short time ago and had apparently been recovering satisfactorily when he passed away suddenly.  Funeral services were held Wednesday at Neller Funeral Home, Rev. Keith Avery officiating, with burial in Portland Cemetery.  Bearers were Roy Dawdy, Jay Clark, Bernard Jackson, Leo Lehman, William Spitzley and Will Toan.  Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Lucille Young of Portland and Mrs. Luis Hunsberger of Lansing.  There are four grandchildren.

     The McClelland Store is Portland’s oldest retail establishment.  Will’s father, John A. McClelland, who started as a clerk in the store in 1872, turned over management and an interest in the business to his son in 1899.  The firm was then known as John A. McClelland & Son until John’s death.  (This writer had owned the sign from the J. A. McClelland Store until our farm auction in 2011.)  In 1906 Miss Grace Buell, daughter of Rev. George A. Buell, a former Methodist minister here, was married to Will J. McClelland.  In 1924 Will’s father sold him the family homestead, located at the southeast corner of Kent Street and Brush Street, and the two families lived together from then on.  In recent years Will’s son-in-law, Bruce Young, had been associated with him in the operation of the store.  (Will’s grandfather was also named William McClelland and we are uncertain at this juncture whether he had the same house and store building. We have read in old Reviews that William D. Lakin, Ann Lakin Slowins’ great-grandfather, sold his grocery store to the McClelland family, but are uncertain to which generation.)

     In  1948 Will McClelland received an honorary life membership in the  Portland Chamber of Commerce, an organization of which he had long been a member.  In his younger years Mr. McLelland was a member of the Portland Community Band, in which he played the cornet.  He also played with Will Porter’s Imperials, another well-known local musical organization years ago.  The death of Will McClelland removed from the community the man who had spent more continuous time on Kent Street than any other now here.  (Bill Stocum was older and had started 13 years sooner, but he had only 48 years’ service here to Will McClelland’s 53, and Bill’s was not continuous like Will’s.)  Will could have retired and let son-in-law Bruce Young take over completely had he cared to, but he was doing the work he loved.  He served several generations of many families.  Farm women (including Crystal Lovina Brake Slowins) brought their eggs in every week to be candled and traded toward groceries.

     February 6, 1953, marks the 25th anniversary of forming the Portland Dairy Company, which consists of Hubert Fryover and Otto Schramm.  These men came from Ionia and bought out Dell Packard’s milk business.  A short time later Raymond Sandborn took over the home delivery route and is still at it daily.  Some years ago Otto sold his interest in the business and it is now conducted by Hubert Fryover and sons, Sam and Herbert Fryover.

     Nineteen men from the US16-M66 neighborhood gathered at the home of Joe Schnabel in Sebewa Township, to form a bee to cut, chop and haul wood.  Onver 20 cords were cut and stacked last Thursday.  Mrs. Ethel Schnabel, assisted by Mrs. George Young and Mrs. June Piercefield, served dinner to the men at noon.  The men  doing the work were:  Roger Allen, Paul Allen, Mike Goodemoot, Earl Goodemoot, Richard Goodemoot, Leo Zanto, George Young, Leo Coulson, Hugh Coulson, Donald Seiler, Marshall Thorp, Clyde Avery, Arlo Aves, Lawrence O’Mara, Harold Bennett, John Sarlouis, Leonard Hausserman, Richard Wolverton and Norman Piercefield.  Mr. Schnabel was injured recently in a fall, and that was followed by an operation for appendicitis.

     Bart D. Buck, formerly of Portland, and executive vice-president of Muskegon State Savings Bank since 1943, last week was elected president of that financial institution.  The new bank president went to Muskegon January 8, 1924, from Portland, where he was associated with the Webber State Savings Bank.  He started with the Muskegon bank as auditor, becoming assistant cashier in 1926, cashier in 1934, and executive vice-president in 1943.  Mr. Buck serves as president of the Muskegon Rotary Club, a director of the Greater Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, a trustee and treasurer of Hackley Hospital, and a director of the Greater Muskegon Industrial Fund.  Mr. Buck is the son of Mrs. Lulu Buck of Portland and the late Edwin Buck.  He was born here and attended and graduated from Portland High School.

     Miles Tran, age 61, died in Belding hospital January 24.  Funeral services were held at Ellis Funeral Home, with burial in (East) Sebewa Cemetery.  Besides the widow, Neva, two sons, Raymond and Alan of Belding, and two daughters, Mrs. Ardith Rittersdorf of Belding and Mrs. Herman Russman of Portland survive, plus thirteen grandchildren.  The Tran family resided in this vicinity (Sebewa Township) before locating in Belding.

     January 29, 1933:  Nelson Bauman of Sebewa Township has rented Mrs. Elsie Boyd’s farm on the Sebewa-Danby town line, part of which adjoins the Bauman farm.

     Dr. John W. Toan is leaving Portland early this week for Detroit, where he has accepted a position on the staff of Herman Kiefer Hospital, in the tuberculosis department.

     January 29, 1913:  Charles W. Waring is about to leave his West Sebewa farm and will have an auction sale.  (The Waring farm was the same farm where Joe & Ethel Schnabel were slowing down forty years later.  The small farm in Portland, to which the Warings retired, included the large Italianate ivory brick home on East Bridge Street now long occupied by the VFW Club; since Charlie died in 1936, and Florence died 1946.

     Mrs. Ethel Cowman (nee Ethel Friend) will arrive in Portland this week with her two daughters and will make her home with her sister, Morna and Wellington E. (Will) Porter.  They have been living in Nebraska.  (These women are the youngest daughters of the late John Friend Jr., who platted the village of Sebewa from part of his farm.)

REVENGE?  The tennis courts in Ionia at the corner of Jackson and Lincoln were demolished last fall, in order to replace collapsed storm sewer pipes below.  There is lots of history in this area, going back to the arrival of the Dexter Colony in 1833.  The courts sit over what was a reservoir made from damming East Creek.  It provided the Village and then City of Ionia with a water supply.  Just below the dam was a many-sided (perhaps octagon?) building that housed the pumps and filtration system for the water supply.  The excess water flowed in a stream down across Lafayette, Washington, Main, Front (Adams), stream down across Lafayette, Washington, Main, Front (Adams), Railroad and Webber Streets to the Grand River, just as it does today.

     Early-on a portion of the East Creek flow was taken by ditch along the north side of Washington Street to West Creek to enhance the water supply to drive the waterwheels of the Dexter Mill in the area north of today’s Armory.  Eventually all the East Creek water was needed for the city mains.  Both creeks now flow into underground concrete pipes above Lincoln Avenue.  In times of heavy rains or snow melt, the water exceeds the capacity under the concrete and can create blowouts or underground cavities and cave-ins of concrete.  These have sometimes been called “The Potawatomi’s Revenge” after the particular tribes of Ottawa and Ojibwa who occupied these lands when the Dexter Colony came and bargained for their land, crops and huts. 

     LaVonne Bennett writes:  “Enclosed is my contribution for THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR.  I must tell you about some of the people who’ve e-mailed me about my getting the RECOLLECTOR posted on the Ionia County Genealogy Website.  I have heard from readers from California to Belgium!  Two California ladies contacted me to thank the RECOLLECTOR for writing about a grocery store in Sunfield that was owned by their grandparents.  A man from Belgium met a Sebewa Township fellow, Duaine Pinkston, at the military ceremony at Normandy Beach in Europe last summer.  He later discovered my postings of your RECOLLECTOR, and I sent him 6 pages pertaining to Duaine.  The Belgium fellow was so very appreciative to have them.  (I had posted only a small part of Duaine’s story because at the time, I was only posting RECOLLECTOR articles that were of genealogy interest.)  So the Belgium soldier was really happy to have the complete article.” 

     (NOTE:  I have, since then, been resubmitting all RECOLLECTOR issues in their entirety.)  

     “LaVonne continues:  “There was also this gentleman who wrote “I wanted to share with you that I have discovered your posting “My WWII Experiences and Observation” by Byron Gibbs, which has been very useful to me, as I am working on a manuscript about the Buna-Sanananda Campaign, in which the 32nd Infantry Division (Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard) was involved.  I am writing about the Southern officers who were also part of the 32nd, because of its assignment to Camp Livingston, LA, at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack.  When the 32nd was placed on war alert, it needed to mobilize lots more manpower to come up to full strength, in a big hurry; in doing so, many ROTC graduates from programs in the Deep South were called up and assigned to all three regiments of the 32nd.

     “While evidently none of these officers were in Company C 126th, Gibbs’ Company, the information he includes in his recollections is extremely helpful in describing everyday existence up to and leading into actual combat.  Thanks very much for having included these on the web.  Every little bit helps to piece the story together.  Just wish I had as good a body of info from the Wisconsin side as I have had from Michigan.  Regards, J. H. C.,  Ph.D, South Carolina.” 

BACK ISSUES:  We offer 286 back issues of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, almost 48 years worth, in 3 binders, for $60 including shipping. 

CURRENT ISSUES are $6 for one year, 6 issues, to cover paper, printing and postage.  Due by July 1st each year.

From:  Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
       702 Clark Crossing, SE
       Grand Rapids, MI  49506-3300

Last update May 27, 2013