Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 49 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 2014, Volume 49, Number 5.  Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins: 

     Photo and text: “Del Northrup taps maples – TAPS MAPLES 70 YEARS – Dell Northrup, 83, of Portland, stands beside the sugar house he built in 1908. He had completed his twenty-ninth tapping season when the building was constructed. He hasn’t missed since. –Cut courtesy Grand Rapids Press.”

BUILDING THE BARN By George E. Leik, contributed by Charles Leik.

Dad first began talking about building a barn during the summer of 1910. In those days a barn in a rural community was more than a building; it was a personal statement by the farmer about himself and his position in the community. By 1915 Dad was ready to start the final planning. Our existing barn was eighty by thirty feet (two thirty-by-forty barns that had been joined together). At one end of the barn was a lean-to, which served as a horse barn.

The opposite end housed the cow stable. Dad wanted to separate the two barns and move the sections back together side by side to form a forty-by-sixty-foot barn with a basement, and construct a new gambrel roof over the rejoined building. A gambrel or double-pitched roof would provide more room for hay storage than the existing roof allowed.

Uncle Jim Moriarty visited one Sunday in 1915 and strongly advised Dad to take the old barn down and build a new one. After his visit, there was no more talk of using the old structure; plans progressed rapidly towards completing a new barn by haying time 1916.

One Sunday Dad and Mother drove five miles to Sebewa Corners to retain Omer Baker to supervise the barn building. A heavyset man of about fifty-five years, Baker had built many area barns, structures noted for their well-designed proportions and gambrel roofs. My oldest brother, Jerry, sixteen years old at the time, was assigned the endless round of winter chores, so Dad could spend his time felling timber and hauling the logs to the sawmill. Jerry milked by hand each morning and evening, hauled water, chopped ice out of the water tank, cleaned the stables and fed the livestock.

Dad began working in the woods during my school vacation, probably the week before Christmas 1915. Jerry helped Grant and Sherman Keefer husk corn on the neighboring Knox farm. Henry, my twelve-year-old brother, and I went to see the steam-powered husker work; while walking up the road, we heard Dad’s first tree, a large beech, fall with a deafening crash in the woods. The log was later sawn into heavy twelve-inch-square floor joists sixteen feet long. Dad and local woodsman, Ben Esch, did all the felling with crosscut saws. They used axes and saws to limb the trees. Our wood lot was stripped of all reasonably sized trees to supply the new barn’s timber.

After the trees were felled, my eldest sister, Helen, telephoned Omer Baker to come and mark the log sizes he wanted cut. That phone call to Sebewa Corners was the first long-distance call our family ever made, and we were all quiet as mice as Helen rang the operator. Baker arrived within a few days and marked the end of each log. Dad then skidded the logs and hauled them to the mill site. The front ends of the logs were placed on two runners held together by a strong cross timber called a tote. Our horses, Rob and Doll, strained to drag the logs over the uneven terrain and around trees and stumps.

Once the timber was cut, the gravel hauling began. The barn’s foundation required a great deal of gravel. Dad drove Rob and Doll two miles to town to dig gravel from the face of the fifty-foot cliff near the Grand River (on Market Street). Undercutting the cliff was dangerous since the frozen gravel above the excavation area didn’t fall. He was relieved when, after a mild February day, the face thawed and collapsed, without him under it. The winter of 1915-1916 was one of deep snow. Dad used the bobsled, which carried about one-quarter yard of gravel, to haul the material. The sled easily glided over level ground, but hills were hard on the horses. The toughest part was going up Dilley Hill from the river flats to the bluff with a load. Only the horses’ forelegs were shod, and they strained as they pulled the load up the hill.

Dad often returned home with a load late in the morning. Mother usually hot soup ready for him. Before going into the house, Dad would hand the team over to Jerry, who by that time had finished the morning chores. In cold weather the gravel load had to be dumped immediately before it froze. Jerry would take the load to the barn site, pull out the removable floor boards, and let the gravel fall to the ground below.

To saw the timber, Nick Hoppes dismantled and hauled his heavy, portable sawmill from his Clinton County farm to the woods in several sled loads. He and his son Ralph served as sawyers. Ben Esch drove his two-cylinder Buffalo-Pitts steam engine through snowdrifts to power the sawmill. A large flat belt from the engine’s flywheel turned the circular saw on the sawmill. Every night the boiler was drained to avoid damage from freezing. Dad had dug a hole near where the engine was to sit, thinking enough water would seep into it to supply the engine. This proved inadequate; Jerry, assigned to haul the water, filled Ben Esch’s ten-barrel water tank with a hand pump every day and hauled the load to the woods.

Esch arrived early every morning, February through March, and started a fire in the Buffalo-Pitts so that steam was built up when Ralph and Nick Hoppes arrived.

Once the Hoppeses arrived, they rolled heavy logs onto the traveling saw carriage, securing them. The sawyer standing on the carriage then passed in front of the whirring sixty-inch circular saw and cut off a two-inch plank. The engine huffed, the saw screamed, and wet sawdust flew as the saw engaged the log. The sawyer then advanced the log two inches more into the saw, repeating the process. Each night there was a pile of planks wet with sap, a heap of slab wood for fuel the next morning and a pile of sawdust from the day’s work.

Omer Baker and his four-carpenter crew arrived on April 1 to begin constructing the barn. They first built forms and hand-mixed the concrete. They placed as many field stones as possible into the forms to reduce the mixing and to save concrete.

After spending nearly a month completing the foundation, the carpenters began installing the first-floor posts and beams. While the concrete cured, most of the old barn was dismantled to supply the roof boards and the subfloor for the new structure. The old barn’s shed and lean-to were left standing as temporary shelters for the cows and horses. I remember the day the carpenters began laying the barn floor, it was 30 April 1916, my eleventh birthday. That day I received my first bank savings book. Mother deposited twenty dollars into my account because I had agreed to o without a bicycle until my next birthday.

Omer Baker agreed to cook for the carpenters for $150 total. Under a big apple tree near the road in front of the old barn, he pitched a tent over some boards. He also brought a kerosene stove for cooking. Baker arose each morning to prepare breakfast for the men, who were on the job by 7:00 A.M. About 10:00 A.M. he would leave the barn site and start dinner. With dinner over and the dishes washed, he then returned to supervise the work until 4:00 P.M. or 5:00 P.M., when he left to prepare supper. Baker’s menu was simple but substantial. I recall him bringing several large smoked hams wrapped in paper and burying them in the oat bin until they were used for a meal. After supper the men often sat and smoked pipes or gossiped until bedtime, when they climbed the ladder to the loft above the old tool shed. Their beds were springs and mattresses set on sawhorses. The unheated loft with its cracked siding made for chilly sleeping quarters in early April. Baker, because of his age and status, slept in our house, usually spending his evenings visiting with our family around the wood-burning stove.

Once a week all the men walked two miles to town to see a silent movie for ten cents. The men, never having lived so close to a movie house before, took advantage of the opportunity. Every Saturday, after a full day’s work, a double buggy –the roads were free of snow by April – came from Sebewa Corners, picked up the carpenters, then returned them early Monday morning. In addition to the workers’ Spartan room and board, the experienced carpenters made $2.50 a day and the two novices earned $1.50 a day. I remember everyone got along, even though the men worked and lived away from their families six days a week.

Work on the barn progressed throughout May and into June. By mid-June the thirty-four-by-eighty-by-forty-three-foot barn was far enough along that we were able to store hay in it. The lumberyard materials – siding, shingles, and several one-hundred-pound kegs filled with spikes and hardware – had cost eight hundred dollars. Baker received the same amount for his crew’s labor, which included laying the concrete floors in the cow and horse stables and installing all the stalls and mangers.

Dad bought a fifty-gallon barrel of paint for $37.50 from a Grand Ledge paint factory. It was shipped via horse and wagon. The barrel provided enough paint to cover the barn with two coats, along with a new hog house, the granary and other incidentals in the years after. Jerry lived out his life on our farm, spending
good deal of it in the barn he had helped build as a teenager. I grew from a ten-year-old boy to a ninety-year-old adult who continued riding bicycles until last year, despite Mother persuading me to avoid them until my twelfth birthday.

Today Jerry’s son Dan and Dan’s wife, Sally, own the farm. Dan and his sons keep the barn in excellent condition. The boys will undoubtedly carry on the family’s farming tradition. Nowadays, I marvel at the backbreaking labor my father, my brother Jerry and our neighbors undertook in 1915-16 to build our barn. My family and millions like them are the unsung heroes who built the United States.

COVER STORY: Charles Leik and his brother Edward now own the Adelbert Northrup farm, along with other farms near their dad George’s farm, where they grew up. Our cover photo appeared in the April 28, 1949 issue of THE PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER. At that time Del was 83 years old, and was tapping the trees in his sugar bush to make maple syrup for his 70th year. We understand he made syrup at least 5 more years, and another photo may have been taken when he reached the 75th season. He died May 14, 1961, at age 95, and was buried in our East Sebewa Cemetery, near his pioneer ancestor, Polly Baker, who was born in 1770 and died 1861, earliest-born person buried in that cemetery.

Charles Leik is enjoying his retirement carrying on the tradition of tapping for maple syrup and boiling it down to make one gallon of the highest quality sweet syrup delicacy for approximately every 40 gallons of sap. His headquarters is the George Leik farm, where Charles & Edward grew up. It is a Centennial Farm, because it was previously owned by their great-uncle, Michael Moriarty, whose sister Ellen was their grandmother, Mrs. Anthony Leik. Mike’s wife was Rose, daughter of Jeremiah Kilmartin. When Mike retired from the farm, he moved to the same house Jeremiah had retired to, from his farm on Portland Road at Mellstead Road, Orange Township, later owned by Stella Baker and then Fred Werner. The square white retirement house is at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Grape Street in Portland, just east of the Slowins farm. So he was a much-appreciated childhood mentor of this editor. Coincidentally, Mike & Ellen’s father was also Jeremiah – Jerry Moriarty, also father of James and John Moriarty.

RECENT HEADLINES: A story concerned the kidnapping of an Ionia gas station of a Belding woman by a convicted murderer escaped from Ionia Correctional Facility, formerly called Ionia Maximum Security Prison (I-Max Prison) in Easton Township. That woman was Cheryl Van Wormer, who had ancestors in Sebewa & Orange Townships and receives THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR. Her grandparents, or perhaps great-grandparents, were: Mable York, daughter of Lucinda Wilson & Elias York, and sister of Gladys York Tran Shafer; and Fed W. Scheurer Jr., son of Fred W. Scheuer Sr., and brother of Bert Scheurer. They lived on Sunfield Road near David Hwy. in Orange Township. She outsmarted her kidnaper and escaped by locking herself in a restroom when he stopped for fuel!!


Gathered from past issues of the PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER.

November 4, 1928: Permission has been granted for Prine E. Barclay to build a (power) line from the village to his farm, nearly one mile west on US-16, and on completion of same he will be furnished electricity on the same terms as it is being sold on the rural line north of the village. (Prine Barclay was a bricklayer and built his home and barn on the farm owned by Edwin & Josephine Rowe, whose buildings burned on Goodwin Rd in Orange Township; then by George White, who put his name in the asphalt shingles on the barn roof; then it was owned by Ronald Lenneman, who built the Wagon Wheel restaurant-bar-bowling-alley on part of his farm and sold the rest to become the Sunset Manufactured Home Park. Ron sold the house, farm buildings and a few acres to James Moyer for headquarters for his concrete & construction business; Jim also owns the Raymond Kenyon farm in Sebewa. Prine originally came to Sebewa Township in 1891, to lay bricks for Sebewa Center United Methodist Church. He married Fred Gunn’s sister, Rosetta (Rose), from across the road and then established his farmstead in Portland Township. Rose was born March 20, 1871, Sebewa, died July 8, 1927, buried in Portland; Prine was born in NY, August 24, 1865, died in Oregon, 1946, buried Belle Passi Cem., Woodburn, OR; second wife was Jessie F. Barclay, 1870-1958.)

November 4, 1948: Marks of long ago have disappeared from downtown, in the removal of the old Portland Review lettering from windows above the Federated Store (Dawdy’s Men’s Wear & The Style Shop). Fifty years ago (1898) those windows were lettered for our dad (Fred J. Mauren Sr.). (When the Review
merged with Observer, they moved all equipment to the Wilhelm building and stayed for many years; Milton Smith moved in when R & O got their own new building in 1948.)

From Sebewa way comes Luther McDowell, who stops in on business and we get on the subject of baseball. Years ago Lute was a left-handed pitcher for Sunfield and other teams, and played teams from Alto to Mason and some further south. He pitched to 23 catchers in one season and beat Portland that year by a score of 2 to 0. One man he feared at the plate was Portland’s Pedro Pratt. “A close ball game could go smash in a minute if Pedro ever got hold of one with his bat”, was Lute’s comment, and we have seen it happen.

Also from Sebewa is Louis Bower, who lives near Travis School. He started with a 60-acre farm once owned by Sam Creighton. He puts in crops, but keeps no livestock, because he still works in shop. He is a son of George Bower and was raised on the farm on Grand River Ave. where Henry M. Leik owns now.

December 23, 1908: Reverend John H. Stewart, retired pastor of Portland Baptist Church and resident of Portland, has been called by the Portland Congregational Church as their Pastor.

January 13, 1929: Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Rowe are now occupying the fine home on the Barclay farm, which farm they recently purchased.

December 23, 1948: Construction of the new Hill-Top Restaurant, on US-16 at Charlotte Hwy. (northeast side), has recently been completed and the establishment is open for business 24 hours a day. The restaurant is operated by Mr. & Mrs. Lyle Corey. The building was erected by Leik Brothers, who own the property. A 100-foot frontage in addition to the original drive-in lot was purchased from Lyle Adams.

Down in the southern part of Michigan, where the soil is especially adapted to growing spearmint, Ben Franks, formerly of Sebewa, is engaged in this kind of farming and finds it more profitable than the kind he was engaged in when he lived in Sebewa Township.

John Beard from Knox Road, with whom we (Fred J. Mauren Jr.) went to Portland High School, stopped in at R. & O. recently. John played a lot of football in his high school days – at guard or tackle – and he liked it rough & tough.

William F. Witte from atop the Bates (James Street) Hill, rents a spot for Theron Moyer’s trailer home on the Foundry property. Theron advertises to haul your trash or do light moving with his pickup.

December 23, 1928: Clara Beard (Stewart), (John Beard’s little sister) graduated from St. Lawrence Hospital School of Nursing.

January 6, 1929: “Back the last of February!” is the sign Dr. R. W. Alton is going to hang on the door of his office when he leaves for Florida on January 3rd or 4th. He has practiced for 50 years (since 1879).

In the Michigan one ton-litter pig contest for 1928, John York of Portland RFD, (Bippley Road, Sebewa Township), ranked fifth, as determined by Michigan State College judging team.

Lee Hendee, carrier on Rural Route #2, was the only one of the five carriers out of Portland who was unable to make his route last week because of the Flu, which is prevalent.

January 6, 1909: J. C. Blacksten has been elected commander of the Portland G. A. R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Post. Floyd Davis, father of Mrs. Elder Shay died at the Soldiers’ Home.

Lambert Cramer, of Sebewa, died as a result of injuries received in a runaway accident near his farm south of Sebewa Corners.

Ralph Felton has been elected captain of the 1901 football team. In one of this year’s games he was badly hurt, but stuck to the game. Next day it was discovered he had sustained a dislocated elbow.

Mr. and Mrs. Dower Decker are furnishing music in a moving picture theatre in Denver, Colorado.

January 6, 1929: Miss Lula Avery (later known as “Dude” Durkee, wife of Mr. Hope Durkeel, who teaches at Halfway, Michigan, was home for the holidays.

(Anyone ever hear of this ghost town? MICHIGAN PLACE NAMES says it was part of East Detroit, which is no longer on the map under that name either.)

January 13, 1949: People we meet on Kent Street: Frank Bickle, in from Sebewa, on Bippley Road, meets us at Leik’s Garage, would like to come up to see our new building, but time forbids it, so he pays his subscription right there. John DeVries farms some on Knox Road in Sebewa Township, and works construction for his brother Bill – and wants an ad on corn for sale. John Stank, from Bill’s Inn, out west of town. Arthur Bandfield, down bright and early, helping his son David get his car started and on his way to school at MSC. Mrs. Owen Gilbert, from east of town – the family owns what for years was the Shuart Place at “Shuart’s Corners”. Butcher Bill Young, getting back “in shape” after a long pull of illness.

Robert Sawyer, from Rt #1 (in Orange), in town for the weekend’s shopping. Mrs. Sid Brown, another from Sebewa, doing the same kind of errands – her husband is on the road much of the time, hauling livestock to Detroit. Harvey Seller, from Orange Township, and Elmer Creighton from Sebewa, with a blacksmith shop in Sunfield, are two other men we meet. Last is Arnold Nurenberg, who lives northeast of town.

Former residents, Floyd R. Martin & wife, live at Pinckney, south of Howell, Michigan, where “F. R.” runs a frozen food locker plant. He was in the grocery business in Portland for many years and sold out to Bob Lear.

Harry Budd, whose boyhood was spent in Portland, is another former resident we meet. He is superintending the installation of conduit, grounds, etc., for the new electrical generator at Webber (Commonwealth – Consumers Power) Dam in Lyons Township. It will take about three months more to complete installation, Harry tells us. A contractor has the job of breaking up concrete, setting the units in place, etc. Consumers men are handling the hookups.

Dan Watson, of the Portland Elevator Company, and Portland Township Clerk, has been confined to his home on Lincoln Street for several days, due to a painful fall suffered last Thursday. Mr. Watson was going from home to work, taking his usual shortcut down what was years ago called “Webbers’ Hill”, between James Street and US-16 (Grand River Avenue). He slipped on an icy spot and received a painful blow on the head, with concussion.

Clarabelle Roach, 36, died suddenly Monday at her home, and funeral services were held this (Thursday) afternoon at the Bandfield Funeral Home, Rev. Lowell J. McCarty officiating. She is survived by her husband, Ralph Roach, an adopted baby, and her mother, Mrs. Grace Martin, of Sebewa. An autopsy was performed at the Bandfield Funeral Home to determine the cause of her sudden death. Dr. Charles Black performed the autopsy and found death was caused by a sudden brain hemorrhage. Burial will be in (East) Sebewa Cemetery.

BACK ISSUES OF RECOLLECTOR: Only three sets left, each has 49 years, 294 issues, in 3 binders, for $60 including packaging & shipping, to clear out our limited storage space.

CURRENT ISSUES OF RECOLLECTOR: We aim to publish every two month there are six issues per years, and we ask $6.00 to cover paper, ink, and postage.

Everyone should be paid up by June 1st for the year ahead, which begins July 1st of each year.


Kenneth E. Goodemoot, 62, husband of Terese Goodemoot, brother of Keith Goodemoot, Jane A. Taylor, and Kendall Goodemoot, son of the Late Marian & Richard Goodemoot, son of Allyn Goodemoot, son of George Goodemoot, son of John & Mary J. Goodemoot, generations of farmers in Sebewa Township. Ken was the father of several children and stepchildren. He died August 11, 2013.

William Nurenberg, 77, husband of Agatha Smith Nurenberg, father of 4 daughters: Barbara (Scott Stuck) Nurenberg, Annette Fryover, Diane Zinser, Kathleen Marvin, and 12 sons: Patrick, Joseph, Daniel, Robert, Richard, David, Mark, Terry, Scott, Brian, Kurt, and William Jr. Bill was a U. S. Army Veteran, retired from G. M. Fisher Body, worked part-time at McDonald’s Restaurant, and farmed all his life with Allis-Chalmers farm machinery. He died August 31, 2013.

Gary (Dozer) Daniels, 66, husband of Sharon Wilder Daniels, father of three daughters and two sons, brother of Dallas Daniels and the late Larry Daniels and Margene Smiley, son of Beulah Austin & Oren Washington Daniels, son of Anna U. & Andrus W. Daniels Jr., son of Sarah D. & Oren W. Daniels, Sr., son of Eunice & Andrus W. Daniels Sr. Gary was a U. S. Navy Veteran with Vietnam medals, and an operator of heavy earth-moving equipment. He died November 11, 2013.

Merval Carter, 80, husband of Paula Desgrances Carter, father of Marty Carter, Kelley Carter, Kim VanNeste, and Gina Meyers, brother of Vaughn Carter, Marcia Roth, Eleanor Patrick, and the late Glada Carter, son of Morris & Cecile
(Darby) Carter. Merv attended Limerick Rural School and graduated from Lake Odessa High School in 1951, was retired from Twin City Foods and farmed on the family homestead all his life. He died November 28, 2013.

Jerald (Ross) Krebs, 87, husband of Dorothy Varney Krebs, father of Sue Graybill, Gary Krebs, and Sandra Weingart, brother of Richard Krebs, graduated from Woodland Rural School and graduated from Lake Odessa High School in 1951, was retired from Twin City Foods and farmed on the family homestead all his life. He died November 28, 2013.

Gary Geiger, 64, husband of LeeAnna Geiger, father of Doug Geiger, brother of Randy Geiger, Roger Geiger, Diane Ramey, and Marilyn Simmons, son of Fred & Elvetta Geiger, graduated from Lakewood High School in 1967, was a GM employee and restored antique tractors. He died December 29, 2013.

HISTORY OF EAGLE: While searching for history of Halfway and East Detroit, we found the story of Eagle Village and Township, Clinton County, MI. First settlers were Anthony Niles and Stephen B. Groger in 1834. The first post office was established by William Fletcher Jenison in 1841, and called Waverly, but changed the next year to Eagle. The village was moved a half mile east in 1872, to fit the location of the new Ionia & Lansing Railroad. The land, depot, and a Methodist Church building were donated by George W. McCrumb, and he is considered the true founder of Eagle Village. George was born in Medina County, OH, in 1827, and soon moved with his parents, William & Mary Stewart McCrumb to Lorain County, OH, and from there to Eagle Township in 1844. William died the next year, leaving the mother and six other children for eighteen-year-old George to support. He purchased 40 acres of his own land, added it to his mother’s 80 acres, and gradually built it up to 240 acres and added another 260 to make a 500 acre farm. In 1877 he erected a spacious residence. He also built a building for someone to run a general store, in addition to the above buildings and those that others built in the thriving village, plus a sawmill powered by the Looking-Glass River. George W. McCrumb married Calanthe M. Hill and they had eight children, only three of whome survived to adulthood, including one son, George W. McCrumb Jr. Lester C. McCrumb would appear to have been a child of one of William McCrumb’s other sons, and would be a nephew of George Sr. and first cousin to George Jr., but we have been unable to track the connection as yet.

Lester C. McCrumb married Elizabeth (Libbie) & Cornelia Philips Pryer, pioneer settlers of Danby Township, Ionia County, MI. Many of the McCrumbs around in 2014 are descended from Lester & Elizabeth.

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

Last update August 12, 2014