Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 49 Number 1
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; August 2013, Volume 49, Number 1.  Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins: 

FRONT PAGE PHOTO of Sebewa High Grade School, 1917


PAGE 2:  COVER PHOTO:  Students in Sebewa High Rural Elementary School – 1917

     BACK ROW:  Wesley Dorin, Herbert Evans, Nellie Reeder, Bernice Reed, Thomas Huizenga, Miss Hatch (Teacher), Ruth Brown, Bertha Reed, Cornelius Huizenga, Vernon Willits.

     MIDDLE ROW:  Eddie Sleight, Edward Showerman, Ida Brown, Helen Augst, Naomi Willett, Lucile Howland, Elizabeth Dorin, Gertrude Sleight, Mildred Evans, Floyd Evans, Harold Augst.

     FRONT ROW:  Emily Showerman, Clarabelle Tryon, Ileen Ainsworth, Raymond Cramer, Isabelle Haight, Julian Howland, Beatrice Smith, Bernice Smith, Bertha Willits, Roy Sleight. 


     Gathered from back issues of IONIA SENTINEL-STANDARD

February 7, 1920:  Watson Merchant, who is 78 years old, is going to leave the old farm where his parents settled when he was but one year old (1842), and is coming to town.  Last week he sold the 40 acres on which the house stands to Will Leik, a neighbor, and as soon as the weather moderates he will move into his house on the west side, in Portland Village – the house where his sister-in-law, Mrs. Jane Hutchinson, formerly resided.  Mr. Merchant was once one of the largest land owners in this part of the country, but had gradually been letting loose of his farms, and will probably sell all of them before long.  He has always been known as one of the county’s most solid citizens.  After having lived on the same farm for 77 years, it will be something of a novelty for him to reside in town, but he says he is going to try it for 30 or 40 years anyway.  (The house Watson moved into was on the north side of Grand River Ave. between Albro and Quarterline Streets, where Ralph Blackman later had his bee & honey business for many years.  His home was the NE ¼ of NE ¼ Sec. 1 Sebewa Township.  He had also owned 40 acres across the corner in Portland Township, and 80 acres just north of the corner 40 in Orange Township.  Beyond that, he owned 40 acres later known as the Sullivan-Watkins farm on Ionia Road, backing up to the Ab-Way-Donald Slowins farm.  Watson Merchant died in 1924, and somehow the home 40 came back to his estate and was owned for many years by his granddaughter, Mrs. Leon Huhn.  She passed it to her daughter, Mrs. Richard (Carol) Hoppes, who still owns it 171 years after settlement and it was one of the first to receive a Centennial Farm designation.)

     December 26, 1888:  PORTLAND – The new bell of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church rang out clear and musical for Low Mass this morning.  There are five church bells in town and of different weights.  No two are of the same key.  The Catholic bell weighs 1,800 pounds and has a melodious sound, but it is not as heavy as the Baptist bell, which, weighing 2030 pounds, is more sonorous.

     December 26, 1888:  CHATTANOOGA, TN – Judge Allen Benton Morse, Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, was in the city yesterday at the Stanton Hotel, with his wife, to whom he was recently married.  They are on a wedding trip through the South.  During the war he was an Adjutant in the Twenty-First Michigan Infantry Volunteers, and lost an arm at the Battle of Missionary Ridge.  He was a former home-townsman of Captain J. W. McGrath of this city, and yesterday was driven about the city by that gentleman.  The judge visited the residence of Mr. Carroll on the north side of the river, where he was taken after he had received his wound.  It is needless to say that he was astounded to see a growing, prosperous city on the site of the mud village he knew during the war.  (A. B. Morse practiced law in Ionia for many years, and Allen Street, Benton Court, and Morse Street in the northeast part of town are named for him.)

     December 3, 1965:  Matherton – In 1843 three men, Asaph L. Mather, Norton Beckwith, and James R. Langdon – built a sawmill on Fish Creek in North Plains Township, and a hamlet grew up around the mill.  Asaph Mather platted the village around the mill in 1851 and gave it his name.  His brother, Dr. William Mather, became the first Postmaster on April 23, 1848, even before the village was platted.  But doctoring may have required all of Dr. Willaim Mather’s time, because Asaph Mather became the second Postmaster in 1850.  Matherton’s Post Office was open for over 117 years – today it closed. 


     December 10, 1933:  Richard Wolverton, 12-year-old son of Mr. & Mrs. Lester Wolverton, Orange Township, had a wire staple, which he accidentally swallowed, removed from his lung in a three and one-half hour operation.

     December 10, 1933:  C. F. Powers expects to leave Portland this week for a trip to the Pacific Coast, accompanying his daughter, Dr. L. I. Powers, of Muskegon.

     Miss Marjorie Lakin (daughter of Claude & Nora Lakin) has been appointed Portland distributor for the Detroit News.

     The mild weather of last week caused considerable loss of perishable food.  There was not a pound of ice in the village until Joe Spitzley, with four horses hitched to his wagon, brought in four tons from Grand Ledge.

     Fishermen have made some good catches of bass and pike, with hook and line, on both Grand River and Looking Glass River of late.

     December  17, 1953:  G. B. (Jack) Phillips, son of Lloyd & Lillian Phillips, passed the bar examination for admission to practice law in Michigan.  He attended Michigan State College and Wayne State Law School.  Ronald Van Buren had established a law practice in Portland and was also to work for the Legislative Service Bureau at the Capitol in Lansing.  


 November 19, 1933:  A daughter was born a few days ago to Mr. & Mrs. Elmer (Jessie) Adgate.  (This would be Phyllis Adgate, I believe.)

    Portland High wound up a successful football season by drubbing Lake Odessa 50 to 0.  Portland won six and lost one this season.  The squad was as follows:  Fullback – Arthur Baker (captain); halfbacks – Howard Kortes, Arnold Wilcox; Quarterback – Herbert (Unk) Shafer; Center – Charles Koelzer; Guards – Terry Warder, Fred Fedewa, Kaye Hargie; Tackles – Harvey Dake, Bert Moran, Maynard Gibbs; Ends – Carl Smith, Patrick Behan, Ralph Vesterfelt; Subs – Ted Bullis, Russell Blackman, Bernard Keefer, George Lakin.  Dale Davenzetti and James Spencer were regulars until injured.

     Maurice Cribb has purchased Robert Brooks’ house on Grant Street and is soon to move from what is known as the John Roberts farm, near Friend Brook hill, on the Collins (Lyons) Road.  (In the 1940s Rob & Blanche Brooks were living in their house on the west side of Grant Street.)  Hugh O’Conner is to work the Probart place next year.

     A happy companionship of 57 years between husband and wife came to a close Friday evening with the death of Thomas J. Lockwood, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Fred England.

     A daughter, Laura Josephine, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ed Meyers.  (Doesn’t see possible that little Laura could be 80 years old)


November 19, 1913:  Residents of Culvertown have petitioned the council for an extension of the water main now ending near the Farmers’ Elevator.

     The Post Office at Sebewa Corners is to be discontinued at once.  Mail is being brought over from Sunfield by Rural Carrier (Lawrence) Knapp and Postmaster (John) Bradley is distributing it as a matter of accommodation.  As soon as rural boxes have been erected, the carrier will distribute it himself.

     Mrs. John C. Probard is visiting her daughter, Mrs. Chester Divine, now living in Benton Harbor.


November 19, 1953:  Mr. & Mrs. Gordon (Cleo Downing) Piercefield of Sebewa Township, are the parents of a baby girl, born November 15.  She weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz and they named her Lori Lynn.


December 3, 1953:  Mrs. A. D. Olmstead of Allen Park was a Thanksgiving holiday weekend guest of Mrs. Raymond Jenkins.

     Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Towner of Danby Township entertained Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Aves, Mr. & Mrs. Arlo Aves, Mrs. Norma Bever & daughters, all of Sebewa Township, Mrs. Dolph Gattner of Lansing, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Swiler and family, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Austin and family, for Thanksgiving dinner.


December 3, 1933:  Dr. C. C. Young, director of the State Health Department Laboratory, whose home is in Portland (on James Street, east of the Webber mansion), is in serious condition at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, MD., where he underwent surgery several days ago.

     Charles A. Wilson and family have moved from Orange Township to the Allen Hughes farm in Danby Township, (south of the Barr School.)  (Later they moved back to Orange Township on Peck Lake Road, east of Sunfield Road.)

     Conrad Stegenga’s right wrist was broken as he was cranking his car.  He resides on the Charles Frost farm, north of the Village of Portland, (west of Goodwin Road.)

     Henry Townsend luckily escaped serious injury early Friday in an auto accident at Frost Corners.  (Henry was one of sons of the Steward & Eliza (Tuttle) Townsend family of Orange and Ionia Townships.  He farmed on Cassel Road in Sebewa Township, where Hazel Fender later lived.  He was the father of Blanche (Mrs. Earl) Reed, mother of Iris Tasker; and Ross Townsend, father of Forrest, father of Larry Townsend and Joyce Dutcher.  In retirement he lived just north of the Ernest Seal family on Divine Hwy in Portland and drove a Model-A Ford coupe.)


December 3, 1913:  Grant Blackman is putting up a 20x60 building for the Misses Martin, to be used as a greenhouse (at the southwest corner of Brush and Danby Streets.  Miss Carrie Martin was a retired school teacher, first in Sebewa and Orange Townships and later in Portland Village.  Grant Blackman was the father of Ralph Blackman – beekeeper, and Russell Blackman Sr. – Rural Mail Carrier.  Grant’s wife was a sister to George Hazel of Lake Odessa, forefather of Hazel Brothers Farm Drainage, and father of Alfred (Alf) Hazel, father of Lee, Bob and Russell Hazel, father of Tom Hazel.  His first significant project was digging a drain around the Village of Bonanza about 1875, before Lake Odessa was platted, using a number eight pointed shovel, a pickax, a tiling spade, and a carpenter’s level set on an apple crate!)

     Mr. and Mrs. William Roseveare of Sebewa, who came from England 21 years ago (1892), are going to visit their old home.  They leave from New York City on December 2.  (They lived on Bippley Road, west of Benschoters, on what was previously the Ephraim Probasco farm, and Will was Sebewa Township Supervisor/Assessor for many years.)

     Petty thieves have stripped the Bandfield furniture factory of all leather belts, as well as certain other contents.  The building has been closed a number of years and the stealing has been going on gradually until little movable machinery is left.


December 3, 1953:  Mr. & Mrs. Leo Vroman have bought the Martin Cronk farm three miles west of Lake Odessa.  They have been residents of Portland for 10 and a half years.  Their home on Ionia Street will be rented.


December 17, 1933:  A revolver, part of the loot taken from the dental offices of Drs. Horning and Lowry, mysteriously reappeared there last week.  It is believed the party who stole the revolver and some gold, returned the gun because he feared it might lead to his identification.

     A truck loaded with celery crashed over the bank on Alton hill Wednesday, coming to a stop near the home of Walter Martin by his hatchery building on Water Street.

     Wallace Jackson, son of Mr. & Mrs. B. W. (Bernard) Jackson of Portland, has resigned as Ionia County representative for Michigan Mustual Liability Insurance Company, and will leave Ionia January 1st for Cincinnati, OH, to enroll in a college of embalming.

     Mr. & Mrs. A. Fred Klotz attended the annual banquet for members of the Michigan Livestock Exchange Friday evening at the Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.

     Judge Webber (Justice of the Peace Lorenzo Webber) gave the nuptial knot just the right twist Saturday evening, for Miss Hazel Strong of Eaton Rapids, and Mr. Carl Boom of Danby.  The ceremony was performed at his office, with Mr. & Mrs. Perry Boom, parents of the groom, as witnesses.

     Applicants for Old Age Pensions will find that Miss Mary Moriarty has been deputized for this work.  It is believed between 50 and 60 persons will apply in the Portland area.


December 17, 1913:  Ernest G. Willemin is at Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, in the employ of a large construction Company as a Civil Engineer.

     E. L. (Edwin) Goodwin has bought the interest of the W. W. Terriff Estate in the Wolverine Washing Machine Company, manufacturers of Terriff’s Perfect Washer.


December 17, 1953:  Radio & Television Sales & Service advertises they had been in business at 118 Kent Street for 7 years.  (That would make 67 years by 2013; has Milton Smith really been there all that time, or did someone else start it?)

     Plans for a new Ionia County Jail were being sent to the Michigan Department of Corrections for examination and approval.  The county jail committee, along, along with the architect and the jail inspector would then incorporate any suggestions into the plans and present them to the Board of Supervisors in January.  (This jail replaced the original Victorian/Italianate style jail on the same site.  Less than 40 years later we went through the same process to again build a new jail, this time on Adams Street.)

     Mrs. Bruce Holmes of Portland was named Treasurer of the Ionia County (D. Hale) Brake-for-Governor club; Harvey H. Lowrey of Saranac, Chairman, Elwood M. Brake, of Ionia, Secretary.

     Peter Feldpausch, 72, passed away at his Center Street home in Portland, on December 15, 1953.  Surviving were eight sisters and three brothers:  Mrs. Ida Koenigsknecht, Fowler, Mrs. Michael Schmitz, Fowler, Mrs. Peter Schmitz, St. Johns, Mrs. Helena Gensterblum, Mrs. Martin Pline, Mrs. Victor Trierweiler, Mrs. Peter Trierweiler, and Mrs. Isadore Schrauben, all of Portland; Fred Feldpausch, Westphalia, Anthony Feldpausch, Eagle, and Joseph Feldpausch, Portland.  (Last we knew, Mrs. Isadore Schrauben was still living and over 100 years old.)

     Floyd W. Peabody, 82, of R#3 Lake Odessa, passed away December 11, 1953, and was buried in West Sebewa Cemetery.  Surviving are the widow, Daisy, four sons:  John and Russell of Denton, Leslie of Glendale, AZ, and Robert of Sebewa Township; three daughters:  Mrs. Lydia Stairs and Mrs. Pearl Jackson, both of Woodland, and Mrs. Madeline Mast of Hastings; 20 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.


December 24, 1933:  A total of 44 persons were on hand at the Webber State Bank building Wednesday to apply for Old Age Pensions.  It is estimated that there are also 30 to 40 more, who will need to be called on at their homes.

     Steps which may lead to consolidation of all Protestant churches in Portland have been taken by members of the Methodist and Congregational Churches.  Two committee conferences have been held.  The move would be made in the interest of economy.

     When a tank-truck left the pavement Wednesday, opposite the home of Richard Wooden, near Frost Corners, there was not only a delay in traffic, but real danger of fire, as the truck contained 4000 gallons of gasoline, 1,100 of which leaked out.

     Dr. John W. Toan, specialist in prevention and cure of tuberculosis, is on January 1st to resume his former position in the State Sanitarium in Howell.  For nearly a year he has been on the staff of Herman Kiefer Hospital in Detroit.

     Norman Castle, well known resident of Orange Township, died at University Hospital in Ann Arbor.  He was 69.


December 24, 1913:  Mrs, Oscar N. Jenkins died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Emory Beale, at Ypsilanti.  Her husband was too ill to accompany the remains to Portland.  He was unable to walk, but was placed in a wheelchair and viewed his wife’s remains before the funeral party started for Portland.

     John C. Butler has purchased the Potter farm of 150 acres adjoining his own land, (on Butler Road in Danby Township) which now gives him a farm of 370 acres.

     George W. Burhans will go to Lansing in a few days to take charge of the office of the Michigan Bridge & Pipe Company.

     W. W. Merrifield (who seems to have entered the clothing business in Portland, besides operating his large land holdings of 520 acres between Bippley and York Roads in Sebewa Township) announces he will give away 10 suits of underwear and 10 pairs of shoes to the first 20 persons who apply.  This is just to observe Christmas in a little way of his own.

     Dr. C. C. Dellenbaugh intends to vacate his office and will move his effects to his home over the holidays, and operate from there in the future.

     William Goodrich has sold his farm of 80 acres in Sebewa Township (across the road from the east half of the Grayden & Ann Slowins farm) to W. A. Smith for $4800.  (William was the great-uncle of Alfred Goodrich, Mary Sandborn, Orpha Stiffler, and others.)

     Mrs. A. Fred Klotz fell down the cellar stairs and sustained a fracture of the right forearm.   


December 24, 1953:  Dan Watson, for many, many years a part of Portland Elevator Company, which is closing up its business matters, has accepted a position in production checking department of Ionia Manufacturing Company, and at present is working on a Dodge account.  He drives to and from Ionia daily with Lawrence Robertson of Danby Township.

     Arthur Kaumeyer of Portland, a pressman for a large Detroit printing firm, has been laid up with auto injuries, after he was run down while crossing a Detroit street.  H spent a couple days in the hospital, and after it was found he had suffered no broken bones, but many bruises, he went to the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. & Mrs. John Davies, in Mt. Clemens.

     Harry Kelly of  Danby, is soon to be retired from services at Michigan State College.  Both Harry & his wife have been employed there for many years.  Harry currently works in the barracks-style student housing.

     George Whitney was suddenly taken ill at his home on Maple Street last week.  He was later taken to the home of his sister, Mrs. Mae Crandall, at Fremont. 

April 21, 1955:  Frank O’Brian, 81, well known resident of Portland, passed away.  He leaves one daughter, Mrs. Ruth MacDuff, of Pontiac, and one sister, Mrs. Florence Giles, of Clark Lake.  Funeral & burial in Jackson, MI.  Mr. O’Brian, a retired engineer with General Motors, formerly owned the Weippert Mill property in Sebewa Township.  He was a pioneer Jackson automobile and aviation designer.  He went to work for Buick when it was a horseless carriage, being built in Jackson.  When Buick moved to Flint, he went along and was employed by General Motors on and off for 30 years, until he retired in 1935 and moved to Portland. 


     John Calvin (Cal) HOORT, 86, widower of Florence Hoort, father of Dr. Glenn & Marga Hoort of Holland, Sharon and Jim Strengholt of Washington, Karen & David Aupperlee of Ada, and Gary & Shari Hoort of Holland, 13 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren.  Also survived by his former wife Norma and many extended family and friends, he was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Hoort Sr., a sister and several brothers, including Anton, August, and Henry Hoort Jr. of Orange and Sebewa Townships.  Retired after a lifetime of working for Michigan Bell/AT&T, he worked part time for Van Wieren Hardware in Holland, and passed away May 29, 2013, at Resthaven Care Center in Holland.  He was a former member of Telephone Pioneers of America.  Burial in Woodlawn Cemetery, Grand Rapids.

     Norma Shoemaker McCaul O’MARA, 92, born December 4, 1920, in Grandville, MI, died May 31, 2013, widow of Owen McCaul and Thomas O’Mara, mother of Onette McKenna, Colleen (Larry) Goodman, David (Gwen) O’Mara, Phillip (Diane) O’Mara, Patrick (Deb) O’Mara, Robert (Patty) O’Mara, Stephen (Cathy) O’Mara, all of Ionia, Thomas (Darcy) O’Mara of East Grand Rapids, and the late Susan Csonka, 25 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, sister of Dale (Eileen) Shoemaker of Sparta, Barbara Ockerman of Hastings and Marlene (Bob) McKinney of Webberville, and the late Donald and Arnold Shoemaker, Lorraine Scheidt and Madellan Shoemaker, daughter of Leslie & Francis Rose Shoemaker.  Also many nieces and nephews, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law survive.  Norma grew up singing in public with her brothers and sisters, and continued singing all her life, even after moving to Green Acres Retirement in 2008.  Burial in Balcom Cemetery, Berlin Township, Ionia County, MI.

     Doris Normington MILLER, 76, widow of Donald Miller, mother of Donald (Sharon) Miller, Darwin (Annette) Miller, David Miller, Diane (Darrell) Hartman, Sue (Jeff) Biggs, Sandy (Ron) Hill, and Lois (Mark) Smith, sister of Bob Normington, Dennis Normington and the late Leon Normington, daughter of Lucille Rousch & Lionel Ray Normington, son of Ray Normington & wife, son of William Normington & Frances Powell, daughter of Ruth Ann Goodwin & Joseph Priestley Powell, who settled in Ronald Township, Ionia County, in 1845.  Doris died May 6, 2013.

     Henry G. SMITH, 87, born October 23, 1925, died April 5, 2013, father of Gary (Terri) Smith and Marilyn (Tom) Noffke, and had several grandchildren, brother of Marvin (Joyce) Smith of Ruskin, FL, and the late John (Bertha) Smith, of Sebewa Township, son of Rena Wyma and Garrit Smith.  Henry was a lifelong farmer in Sebewa Township and loved to fish for bluegills in his secret spot on the Martiny Lakes Impoundment in Mecosta County.  He had worked in a factory several winters and in retirement he knitted and crocheted for charities, and also liked to keep up with the news.  Buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.

ANOTHER RECENT DEATH:  Betty L. Hyland Goodman, 83, born June 26, 1929, in Muir, MI, died June 7, 2013, widow of R. A. (Tony) Goodman, mother of Steve (Betty) Goodman, Gary Goodman, Cindy (Dave) Gronner, Tony (Sandy) Goodman, and Becky (Tim) Wellman; 11 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; sister of Phyllis, Lois, Dick, Dale, and Jerry Hyland; daughter of Reva Conner & Estin Hyland, son of Charles Hyland, son of Sarah E. Hyland, who settled on Portland Road in Orange Township before 1891.  Betty graduated from Portland High School in 1947, and enjoyed being a wife, homemaker, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, gardener, and quilter.  Buried at Portland Cemetery. 

BACK ISSUES:  Only three sets of back issues of SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR left, each has 48 years, 288 issues, in 3 binders, for $60 including packaging and shipping. 

CURRENT ISSUES:  We aim to publish every two months, so there are six issues per year, and ask $6.00 to cover paper, ink, and postage, due by July 1st of each year. 

SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY:  Genealogy, history, and lots of early photos of the Schnabel, Slovinski, Slowinski, Slowns, Steinberg, Sarlouis, O’Mara, Majinska, Lehman, Kubish, Farrell, Eldridge, Biehler, Banhagel and related families.  Leather bound, hard cover, $35 including packaging and shipping. 

BRAKE FAMILY HISTORY:  Coming soon; send vital statistics on your grandkids if they qualify to be included.

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

Last update August 07, 2013