Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 4 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, Bulletin of the The Sebewa Center Association, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association, August 1968, Volume 4, Number 1:



     At our annual meeting in June, Faith (Mrs. Iril) Shilton was elected secretary-treasurer of the Sebewa Center Association, replacing Lucille Meyers.  Wilbur Gierman was reelected trustee.  Both were elected for three year terms.  Faith’s address is R 1, Portland, Michigan  48875.  Her telephone is 647 9434.  Lucille has been relaying dues sent to her.  We have been reluctant to do more than make casual announcement that the Association dues are payable each year beginning in June.  Now we find that we have been a little too casual and some have missed out on membership because it was not brought more forcibly to their attention.  So this time we’ll shout it “IF YOU HAVE NOT PAID DUES FOR 1968-69 YOUR DUES ARE DUE”.  This is intended especially to elicit the $1 per person from those whom we reach only by mail. 


THE BONANZA BUGLE is the name chosen for the bulletin of the newly formed Lake Odessa Area Historical Society.  Changing a date and a few names, the following comment from the PORTLAND OBSERVER of Marcy 14, 1888 seems appropriate.

     The first issue of the LAKE ODESSA WAVE, Harry Walker’s new paper is on our table.  The sheet is certainly a credit alike to its publishers and the village.  If the boys continue as they have begun, they have no reason to be ashamed of their effort and we can only wish them success.  Long may she WAVE.

     Now that the LAKE ODESSA WAVE has broken on the shores of what brother Keyes of GRAND LEDGE VIDETTE thinks is his island, we presume the denizens of Lake Odessa will be able to get job work, the news and everything else in the printed line free.

     We await with bated breath, the result of the war.

     Don McDowell and Robert Reed are the editors of the BUGLE.  Sample copies of the BONANZA BUGLE may be had on request.  Your 6 cent stamp for mailing will be appreciated.  Send your request to Don or Robert or the the RECOLLECTOR. 


     On Sunday, August 11, Mrs. Robert Inbody of 408 Hill St. in Ionia, plans an open house to celebrate the 91st birthday of Mrs. Della Post.  Mrs. Post is the mother of Buster Roll and made her home at his residence on Musgrove Highway before she entered the Inbody Convalescent Home. 


      Developing trends of recent years see the elimination of roadside fences and a movement outward of the tilled acres.  At the same time the road graders have gradually widened the driving space of the roads by peeling off a few more inches of shoulder each year.  Where can it go from here?  Already there seem to be zigzag tracks of the scraper as the blade just misses the ends of corn rows. 


       Few, if any, of Sebewa residents have there been who have not at one time or another, stone pickers.  In some parts of the township the picking was necessary to make a place to sink the point of a plow into the ground.  More often it was for convenience in tillage and a precaution against breaking farm implements.  Sometimes it was a matter of pride—man over nature.

     So complete has been the “civilization” of the soil that the most obvious characteristic of the Grand Ledge Moraine has been nearly erased.  The glacial action of 15 thousand years ago left a line of boulders, cobbles and in between sizes of rocks overlying various sand and gravel beds and ridges across the township.

     This ridge, called a moraine by geologists, was caused by the huge mass of ice, which was the glacier, squeezing and pushing from the direction of Saginaw, no faster than the melting rate.  Thus the load of rocks and earthy debris carried by the ice was released at this nearly stationary melting line.  This “shoreline of a lake of ice” was rounded outward from the direction of its push (Saginaw) and this particular line of glacial debris is named the Grand Ledge Moraine because it can be traced from there through Danby southeast to southwest along Grand River, diagonally northwest across the east and north parts of Sebewa, following Sessions Creek through Berlin, thence north passing Ionia slightly to the west and then north along M 66 to Stanton, Edmore, Remus and Mecosta, with a final swing toward West Branch.

     The reason this is brought to mind now is that Philip Spitzley has been at work with his bulldozer on the Ritter farm on Bippley Road just east of Sunfield Highway, putting out of sight and underground the rocky spew of the Grand Ledge Moraine.  If you did not see the variety and concentration of rocks when Phill had them open to view, you might find it hard to take another’s word for it.  Photographs will confirm this sight.

     How many generations will pass before the curious with electronic locators will start excavating these rock burials and try to give motives to the actions of their ancestors? 


     Since the death of Irving Charlton in 1963 the museum at Charlton Park near Hastings has been closed.  Charlton’s will was contested and it was not until this spring that the Barry County Park and Recreation Commission was free to proceed with plans for reopening the museum.  John Harvey Verstoog has been hired as director of the museum.  Mr. Verstoog has a background in museum work at the Detroit Historical Museum.

     Tom Neithamer of Woodland has donated an old frame barn of Civil War vintage that is being reconstructed at the park as a blacksmith shop to house the extensive Charlton blacksmith collection.  Charlton’s 8,000 piece historical collection is rated among the ten largest in the country.

     There are plans for a millpond with sawmill and grist-mill.  It is likely also that an old country church and schoolhouse will be moved to the park.

     One piece of farm machinery at the museum is the cane mill built by Adelbert Northrup of Sebewa.  He used two logs as rollers operating in a log frame and powered by a horse sweep to squeeze the juice from sorgum. 


     In the early 1900’s horses were as important for travel and farm power as the automobile and tractor are today.  They served well for short trips to town and for buggy trips to visit friends, a ride to church or other community affairs.

     Horses had dispositions attuned with their drivers and reflected the care and training they received.

     Prince and Bill, a bay team of Rob Gierman’s lived more than twenty years.  Bill doubled as a buggy horse more because of his good disposition than his speed.  They were replaced by a young black and bay pair named Dick and Polly purchased at Fred McNeil’s sale on the Luscher farm about 1913.  This team lasted until they were replaced by the tractor and auto.

     Another black and bay of the early 1900’s was Major and Nell owned by Henry Whorley.  They furnished the power on  40 acres—the plowing was done by Henry and the cultivating done by Grandpa Jacob until he was more than 80 years old.

      Fox was a buggy horse at Fred Gunn’s.  In her later years she was purchased by John Joynt to transport William and Muriel to Sunfield High School.  When John came to Sebewa from Hope in Midland county, he drove a big team on his sleigh carrying household goods—Pat, a dapple gray and Mike, a sorrel.  Fastened behind the sleigh were the Percheron mare, Nell, her 3 year-old daughter, Molly, and her yearling colt.  Later the team of Pat and Mike was sold to the Shaffers living south of Sunfield.

     Belle Sayer had a very gentle white faced buggy horse named Maude.  As the Sayers always started early, Maude could always make it on time at her own easy gait.

     The Cassel horses were usually black and moved at a faster step than other teams.  This was why Vernie was first to get his oats planted in the spring.

     Sindlingers raised many beautiful Percherons.  They were loved but never disciplined.  Many times Fred was nearly jerked off his load of grain bundles as his team lunded for a morsel of grain slightly out of reach.

     Here is some other outstanding horseflesh with some of the names missing from my memory.  Dobbin and Colonel, a big brown team of Carl Gierman’s; the iron grays of Hugh Showerman, the beautiful bay buggy mare owned by Verah Gunn; the big fast cart horse driven by Fred McNeil and not the least was beautiful Babe that I drove to high school with my future wife.  Babe would also double as a saddle horse, but, alas, she was balky on the cultivator.

     Many of us remember the black team that George Geisel drove on the grocery wagon from Woodbury.  Another pair of blacks hauled the hearse for Harry Mapes.  This brings to mind the outstanding horses driven by our minister, Mr. Wynn.  He always owned a good driving horse and occasionally sold one at a good profit. 


     Notice is hereby given that Welcome (who answers to the nickname of Weck) J. Lumbert has strayed from his farm at Sunfield and his whereabouts are unknown to his relatives and friends.  For some time he has shown signs of insanity.  He is 5’ 9” in height, 32 years of age, light brown hair, heavy moustache and when last seen wore a suit of working clothes.  Any information which may be had to his return or his present whereabouts should be communicated to the OBSERVER at Portland. 

June 14, 1904.  Welcome Lumbert was not to be found although the ad appeared in several papers throughout the state.  One day last week the wanderer returned armed with a big revolver.  In addition to hallucinations, he made it interesting for those who sought to interfere with him for some time when Sheriff Halliday of Eaton County took him to Charlotte for safe keeping until committed to an asylum, which he, no doubt, will be.

     He imagines that his relatives desire to kill him for his property when, indeed, they have been as kind as they could be toward him.  He has also got it into his block that he is the son of Alexander Hamilton, Abe Lincoln and others, this item of being the son of some big man being his specialty. 

July 5, 1905.  There was received in Portland last Thursday several pamplets of 26 pages of small size.  The title of the bunk is THE EAGLE SCREAMS, while on the first page of the matter are the startling words “Revelations of Crime”.  On the back page it says it is high time the eagle screamed.  The job of printing is the bummest that ever happened and can scarcely be read.  The ink looks as though it had been put on with the sponge and the spelling, composition and grammar would drive a scholar to seek relief in death—something fierce.

     The pamphlets were mailed at Alto, near Grand Rapids.  The OBSERVER imagines that the author of the book is Weck Lumbert, whose actions we have had occasion to speak upon previously.  The book lays at the door of certain Sunfield, Sebewa and Portland citizens, some since dead, and others removed, some of the most atrocious crimes ever credited to man.  The writer makes no bones of the matter and does not mince things at all but calls names and some of these are the most reputable (supposed) citizens in the places above mentioned.

     The name of William Turner, the name of the old man who formerly resided on the hillside of the river road of this village, is more frequently mentioned than that of any other in connection of the awful crimes.  The author charges that this name Turner is an assumed one and that his real name was Frank Payne Russel and that he was a brother-in-law of Jeff Davis.  He changed the name after going to Indiana from Kentucky.  He came to Danby from Indiana. 

September 20, 1905.  When Weck Lumbert was captured he was neatly dressed and seemed sane on some subjects.  However, he was decidedly unbalanced when it came to his parentage.  He still declares that he is the grandson of Abraham Lincoln, that he was kidnaped in infancy, the object of his captors being to secure property which he would inherit and he now thinks they wish to murder him.  Weck usually goes about well-armed to protect himself, he says, and people who know him are not particularly anxious to meet him, although he has never harmed anyone as far as is known. 


     The horses I grew up with in Boston, Berlin and Portland Townships were named Fan, Queen and Nell.  Fan and Queen were a medium sized team of blacks, who worked together for many years.  Nell was a younger horse, a big gray mare.  She was sometimes hitched with the other two on a two-bottom riding plow or a three-section dray.  She was originally christened Fran, after my Aunt Frances, but she had to be renamed Nell, to avoid confusion when working with Fran.  In later years, Queen became so balky and unwilling to work that she went to the glue factory.  The team was then Fan and Nell.

     I learned to “double corner drag” from that team of horses.  I can remember exactly which field we were in.  I had no more control over them than I have over the wind.  They started work when I said “Giddap” and would have worked half a day until I said “Whoa”.  My presence kept them moving, but they paid no attention whatever to my “Gee” and “HAW”.  They seemed to know just how much to overlap and drag swaths to avoid making a ridge, and when to turn the corner and “to heck with that flea on the end of the lines.”

     We usually used a one-bottom walking plow, which I still own.  With that plow, a 6-foot riding disk, a two-section drag, two hand cornplanters (later a two-row riding planter without fertilizer attachment), a one-row riding cultivator, a corn knife, a shocking horse, a high steel-wheeled wagon and a husking peg, we raised corn.  We didn’t raise many bushels, but every dollar was ours.  I never husked corn in the field, but rather on the barn floor in winter.  I carried the ears to the hogs in two 5-gallon pails and fed the fodder to the sheep and cattle.

     We also raised barley, oats, and wheat every year back then.  Dad always was first to plant oats in the spring on his rather light soil, and first to plant barley and wheat, usually on Labor Day weekend.  Then he would be first to cut with the binder and when the bundles had dried in the shock, he usually hauled them into the barn, especially the barley and wheat.  All this being first was important, because we lived closest to town and the threshing rig started with us.  Alfred Bauer, who had a 10-acre fruit and vegetable farm entirely surrounded by Portland, owned the threshing outfit.  He had to drive on the shoulders of US 16 and on the gravel roads branching from it because the separator had steel wheels and the big Rumley Oil Pull had steel wheels with lugs.  But for a distance of about 40 rods between his place and ours, the shoulders were paved and curbed.  So on a Friday evening in midsummer when the grain was dry, he would come to the edge of the pavement, look both ways for a State Police car and then head for our place.  The engine moved so slowly and the lugs made such a terrible clanging that if a police car had been within three miles, they most certainly would have heard him.  Saturday’s threshing at our place gave him a chance to get the machine in working order.  Then, starting Monday, he would crisscross the pavement to each farm as he worked his way west out of Portland to the farms of Jeo Simons, Walter Martin, Freddie Manning, Arthur Nunnelly, Josie Rowe, Norman Lay, George Erdman, Maurice Vroman, George Bower, Norman Gibbs, George Rowe, Warren Rowe, Warren Rogers, Lloyd Gibbs, Almer Gibbs etc.

     Today I would be Separator Man on the Red River Special, if Fate and W.W.II had not caused a manpower shortage and an accelerated rush to combines.  In 1941 I started learning to block the wheels while George Dinsmore backed the Rumley into the belt, and to grease the separator.  As I recall, there were no zerk fittings, some grease cups, but we lubed with “soft oil” in a big squirt can.

     The older boys were starting to be drafted for “One year of peacetime training”.  We operated mostly with small boys and older men that summer.  The next year every able-bodied man was either in the Army or working 8 ˝ days per week in a war plant.  A little threshing was done evenings, but Francis Baurer, Alfred’s son, managed to get an Allis-Chalmers Model 60 combine and was working every minute.  The day of threshing machine was over.  Dad said “We will never have one, but some day every good sized farmer will have his own combine.”  The next year George Rowe, George Bower, Norman Lay, Warren Rowe, Warren Rogers and the Gibbs’ got Allis-Chalmers combines.  In 1944 Joe Simons got a John Deere Model 12-A and in 1947 Grandpa Dan Slowinski stopped using his threshing machine and bought a Massey-Harris Clipper Combine, which had much greater mobility than the threshing rig and could easily travel the 10 miles to harvest our grain.  By 1952 even Dad had his own combine.

     During the period after the horses were gone but before the combine, Dad pulled the binder with the tractor and I clung to the binder seat to work the bundle carrier.  Once the toe of my shoe got caught in a chain and went around a gear that run the canvases.  It put a hole in my shoe but never hurt me—chains ran slower in those days.

     The threshing rig is gone, but even today on a hot July day when that first clump of grain hits the cylinder, it sends a thrill through my soul that makes all my farming troubles worthwhile.            The End. 

FRIGID RESCUE         By J. Wesley Joynt

     My memory as to dates is pretty bad but it must have been about 1916 that all us Joynts went to the Christmas celebration at the Sebewa Center Church and when we came home on this bitterly cold night, we found that old Maud (or Nell or whatever her name) had gotten out of the stable and gone to the water tank to get a drink.

     The water tank was concrete about 5 feet wide, 15 feet long and 3 feet deep.  It had a coal burning heater in one end and right in the center a 2” steel pipe about 30” high to bring in the water.  There was a couple inches of ice over the water and ice all over the ground around the tank.  The mare had slipped on the ice and was lying on her back wedged between the pipe and the side of the tank with all four feet up in the air and still alive by being able to just keep her nostrils above water.

     My dad tried to pry her out with timbers but she was a big draft horse and just too heavy.  Finally he hitched up one of the other horses and put a log chain around her neck and dragged her out and around into the stable.  It was probably around zero that night and no telling how long she had been in the tank.  In a couple of days she was as good as new.  You can be sure that was a very exiting Christmas night celebration for all of us.    


     In 1867, Andrew B. Travis owned the 40 acres on the opposite corner from what is now the Travis School at the corner of Sunfield Highway and Clarksville Road.  Sebewa school district #8 took its name from Mr. Travis.  Mrs. Travis was the mother of blind Johnny Smith, who was so well known around the township for his musical entertainment and classes in singing and instrumental music.  He sold parlor organs and made many deliveries in the Sebewa area.  Mrs. Temperance Travis died in 1885 and after a few years, Mr. Travis moved from the neighborhood.

     The names of Miller, Oatley, Smith, Ames, Powell, Ostrander, Harvey, Pierce, Treece and others were real estate owners and residents of the district in the late 1860s.

     In early years, much of the land was still in the hands of land speculators.  Many farms were yet to be cleared.  Joe Evans, who, until his death in 1958 lived on York Road, used to tell of woods for miles and miles.  Gradually the land was cleared and settled.  A map of 1875 shows many small farms dotting the countryside.  Each farmer raises cattle, pigs, horses and generally sheep.  Today, John Smith has the only herd of cattle in the district.  Louis Bauer and Ed Kenyon raise pigs.  The horse, which was unfamiliar for a generation in the neighborhood, has come back into popularity, not as a work animal, but for pleasure riding.

     Here are some early items from THE PORTLAND OBSERVER:  A comment of appreciation to George Young for bringing some beautiful apples to the editor. 

1870—Mrs. Gibbs fell and broke her shoulder.

1874—The Coldwater & Marshall Railroad advertised for help at $1.75 per day to work on the grade of the proposed railroad through Sebewa.  (How did they keep the young fellows down on the farm with the lure of all that money PLUS being put up in high style at the Halladay Hotel south of Sebewa Corners?)

     All was not peace and quiet in those days.  In 1875 George Thorpe was charged with assault and battery.

     The Travis Schoolhouse was often found useful for purposes other than holding classes.  On February 1, 1876 the wife of Salem Ostrander, a young married lady of Sebewa was buried on Friday last, 28th ult.  The funeral was held in the Travis schoolhouse.  Sunday religious meetings in the evening rivivals were often scheduled there before some of the area churches were built.

     Some of the earliest teachers were Jesse Peacock, an older brother of Mrs. Victor Wilson; Emerson Ray and Leon Williams.  This was prior to 1900.  An old class book shows that between 1899 and 1904 the school was taught by Miss Jesse Laird, Myron Way, Bruce Gibbs and Dona Alverson.

     In 1911, the woodshed was built east of the schoolhouse.  A tornado in 1967 deposited part of this in a tree across the road and the rest, piece by piece, to the far end of George Crosby’s field.

     The earliest school records cannot be located.  Probably somebody in a fit of housekeeping destroyed them or perhaps they may still be in somebody’s attic.  The earliest Secretary’s book with the other school records begin in 1912.

     Early items in this book are bills for fixing an organ--$2.50; payment for wood hauling and the purchase of coal and water.  The water was purchased from Isaac Johnson, who lived where George and Mildred Crosby now live.  The youngsters drank from a common cup in a pail and not worrying too much about an occasional hat falling into the pail.  After walking to school in winter the children would warm their hands and feet around the potbellied stove.

     More OBSERVER items:  Roy Patrick and Lester McNeil each have a new buggy.  Miss Ursula Samain was appointed a delegate to the ministerial convention at Washington, D. C.  Mrs. S. Shilton was in Grand Rapids to care for her daughter, Mrs. George Gill. 

     6-27-11. Population increased by two—a boy at Glenn Frantz’s and a girl at James Storey’s.

     July 1911.  Nearly all the young folks were in Ionia July 4th.  As ice cream social, held on the lawn of the George Thorpe home (Larry Steward home now) netted $30 for the benefit of Tiney Williams, who suffered from rheumatism.  Ladies of the Society presented a summer cushion to Mrs. Lindsley, who will be going to York State for an extended visit.  Jacob Evans and wife entertained company from Bath.  They drove through in an auto.  Ethel York is home from Ypsilanti.

     1912.  January, Miss Roxanna Campbell and Nathan Kenyon were married.  February—Miss Lula Oatley received the most popular and handsomest lady prize in a contest.  March—Several children are absent from school because of chicken pox.  May—School closed Friday and a very pleasant picnic was held at the school Saturday.  About 100 attended dinner such as none knows better how to prepare than the Travis ladies.  (How is that for a mouthful?)

1912:  June—Andrew Shilton is building a new house.

August—Everyone went to camp meeting Sunday. 

October—Andrew Franks’ celebrated their Golden Anniversary.  Dil Franks has bought a 20 H.P. engine.

1913:  August—Charlie Campbell and Vern Cassel spent Saturday in Grand Rapids, making the trip on their motorcycle.  Frank Cassel has a new Birdsall clover huller.  The first homecoming of the Travis School was held in Frank Cassel’s woods with about 400 attending. 

September—Mable and Nettie York are attending school in Ionia.

October—Miss Ella Peacock of West Sebewa and Victor Wilson are married.  A shower was given for Mr. and Mrs. Wilson at Oatley’s.

     The Travis School will hold a Halloween Social October 30.  Prizes to be given to the person with the most appropriate costume as well as to the one telling the best ghost story.

November—It looks as if the Travis District is becoming steadily depopulated as there are 7 vacant houses in the District.  The school, at one time was the largest in the county, has dwindled down to 20 scholars with only five boys on the list.

December—William Smith has sold his farm. 

While there may have been a few Halloween parties, the Christmas program has always been a highlight of the school year.  Here are some comments from the local items:

January 1912—The Christmas tree and entertainment by the pupils of Travis School on December 22 brought the usual full house and was greatly enjoyed by all.  Too much credit cannot be given to our young teacher, Mr. Lester Campbell, for the way in which he conducted the school.

January 1914—Miss Winegar and pupils had a Christmas tree and program in the schoolhouse Tuesday evening.  The house was tastefully decorated, the teacher sparing neither labor nor expense.  The pupils rendered a fine program and the tree was well filled with presents.  Charlie Kenyon as Santa Claus did good service.  The crowded house was unanimous in voting the entertainment the best ever held in the old Travis School.


March—Mother’s meeting not too well attended because of bad roads.  Miss Edna Oatley, daughter of Mrs. Francis Oatley of Sebewa, represented the Ypsilanti State Normal School in the State Oratorical contest at Albion last Friday evening.  A. Shilton and son are talking of building a new barn this summer.  Jacob Miller and Forrest Uri each lost a horse.  Dell Sherman and wife, married 18 years, dined by invitation at Will Luscher’s where a few of the neighbors had gathered.

July—Florian Kenyon moved his family to their home here.

     Time marched on.  Second generation families began attending Travis.  More and more young folks began attending high school.  Sometimes they boarded with families in town.  In the 1930’s, many of them drove to and from high school.  Since early in the 1940’s buses have transported them.

     In the 1940’s many of the boys of the community marched off to serve with the Armed Forces.  One lad, Maurice Storey, did not return but gave his life for his country.

     Although many families have come and gone through the years, many have remained in the community.  Thus in the mid-forties and early fifties, the third generation began filling the school.  With them came inside plumbing and water under pressure to replace the two little outbuildings.  In the late fifties the District began sending the seventh and eighth grades into Portland, Sunfield or Lake Odessa.  Most of the youngsters are now sent to Portland for their junior and senior high school classes.

     The tornado that destroyed the woodshed in April 1967 did considerable damage to the schoolhouse as well.  Windows were shattered, the walls cracked, the roof damaged and the chimney blown down.  Fortunately this occurred at night when the building was unoccupied.

     At the present time, many of the boys from the district are again serving their country.  Bill Luscher returned home recently, wounded, from VietNam.  Mike Harger, Terry Soule and Richard King are in the military service.

     In 1965, 280 acres were annexed onto District 8.  This land is owned by Iril Shilton, Vernie Cassel, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Merryfield and Hazel Fender and is located in sections 10 and 15.  Kay Fender’s transfer to Travis began the fourth generation of pupils from one family.  Her great grandfather, Frank Cassel; her Grandmother, Jenny Cassel Brundage; her father Dick Fender all attended Travis.  Their mother Joan Kenyon Normington; their grandfather, Henry Kenyon and their great grandmother Roxanna Campbell Kenyon all were Travis pupils.

     The District points with pride to many youngsters who have gone on to excel in high school.  Portland High’s 1968 valdevictorian is Laurl Lee Luscher, whose mother, Joyce Wilson Luscher and her father, Walter Luscher were Travis students.  Walter’s father, Warren Luscher and mother, Gertie York Luscher, grew up in the district and attend the school also.

     The following are the names of the teachers who taught the school from 1908 to the present time:  Miss Gladah England, Lester Campbell, Edna Winegar, Martha Lundquist, Hazel Westbrook, Ethel York, Esther Kenyon, Gladys Cooper, Ruth Barnes, Leona Peacock, Ruth Benedict, Mable Nicholson, Ruby Adams, Frances Hunt, Bessie Elizabeth Croel, Caralee Phillips, Iva Aikens, Mariam Caddell, Wanda Sillman, Betty Briemayer, Grace Graft, Margot Bailey, Mildred Ingall, Margaret Brown and again, Mrs. Mosser for last year and next.

     There are 63 youngsters in the census for 1968.  Twenty-four pupils should be on hand when the bell rings in September and 19 tuition students will be attending Portland Schools with one at Lakewood.

   The State Equalized valuation is now $415, 380.00 and the teacher’s salary is quite a little more than $204 per year.  The community has changed from many small farmers to fewer farmers working more land.  Many of the residents live on the farm and work in the cities; some do both.

     Things have changed, but some things remain pretty much the same—little boys still like to fish in the creek, play ball and bother the teacher a little.  Little girls still like to dress up and play house, pretend to dislike the boys and skip the rope.  Moms and Dads still love to be told what wonderful children theirs really are.

     Changes are in store that make a bicentennial unlikely.  Enjoy and make the most of the institution—The Travis District—while we have it.

                            --Mrs. Edward Kenyon  

FOR LO, WAS IT?  From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER February 20, 1907.

     Reverend N. L. Otis of Palo, a Methodist preacher here 50 years ago or more is writing a series of articles of early Ionia County History.  The following is taken from an article from last week’s PALO POST to which the articles are being contributed:

     When we first came to these parts there was a band of Indians living south of Portland 7 or 8 miles up Grand River called the Shimnecon Band, which at an earlier day was quite large.  Their greatest besetment was a love of firewater and they always seemed to know when a barrel of whiskey would be brought up the river from Lyons by pole boat and would gather in large numbers at Portland to await its arrival.  It is said that as fast as a gallon of liquor was sold the shrewd merchand would add a gallon of water.  At first poor “Lo” would get very drunk but as the firewater became more and more diluted he would gradually sober up, it being impossible to drink enough of it to get intoxicated on.  The sapient merchant argued that the watering of the whiskey was a kindness to the Red man while it added greatly to his own exchequer.



     The river flats near Lyons were favorite camping places of Indians and here Indian villages were regularly established.  The excellent pasturage afforded by the fertile lowlands, naturally attracted the savages thither while the picturesque location aided in no small measure in inviting them to fix their stationery homes there whenever they chose to retire temporarily from restless atmosphere of a nomadic existence.  Traces from Indian burying ground may yet be seen on the west bank of the river at Lyons between the bridge and the schoolhouse.  Relics of silver and stone are even now unearthed there.  And there, too, the curious will be shown the spot where the Indian Chief Kokoosh is supposed to have been buried.  Traces of Indian mounds and fortifications were plentiful when the white settlers first came and many, indeed, are yet found.

     John Toan recalls the presence on Arthursburg Hill of earthen breatworks and the testimony of an old Indian that there had been a good deal of fighting there.  A half dozen or more of large burial mounds, the largest being fully eight rods across were discernible not long ago near Lyons and from their recesses, explorers have taken from time to time, great numbers of bones and other evidenced that these places were places of Indian sculpture. 


July 20, 1904.

      M. E. Kenyon of Sebewa is the only person from this section who has gone to Benesteel, South Dakota to be present at the drawing of lots in the opening of the Rosebud Indian Reservation.  Thousands have been there for weeks but Mr. Kenyon stands just as good a show for making a valuable drawing as any of them.  There are 15,000 quarter sections to be drawn and about 1,700 of them are valuable.

April 29, 1899.  SEBEWA CENTER.  The following pupils of the Sebewa Center School were neither absent nor tardy during the month:  Ben Probasco, Harry Meyers, Oscar Cassel, Edna Gierman, John Luscher, Fern Probasco and Mae Gunn.  Those who did not miss in spelling were Vera Gunn, John Estep, John Luscher, Beulah Gunn and Edna Luscher. 

RECIPE FOR ANGLEWORM OIL (We thought Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin).

     Spade up rich soil for a supply of fresh angleworms.

Wash worms of debris and put them in a bottle.

Hang bottled worms in the sunshine until they have turned to oil.

This was a medicine used by our pioneer ancestors.  As far as is known it has not been tested recently.  Oil may be applied externally to hard-to-heal-sores on horses necks, etc.  The etc. could extend its use to humans. 


     The story of Weck Lumbert was prompted by news of a gun “used by Weck Lumbert to hunt buffalo” now in a gun collection and, of course, properly labeled.  In later years Weck mellowed and lent most of his energies to storytelling.  Some of these deserve to be recalled. 

MORE CATTLE.  Mrs. Ed Kenyon regrets that she forgot to mention the herd of Black Angus on the Lionel Normington farm when she stated that John Smith’s cattle were the only ones in the Travis District. 

Our Thanks to Grayden Slowins, Wesley Joynt and Elmer Gierman for the horse stories.  If you have some horse stories that should be added to the collection, it is not too late for your entry. 

EDWARD SANDBORN born June 17, 1806, lived in Portland, Michigan.   Married in Cato, Michigan October 23, 1827.  Married Betsey Ann Ingraham; born June 23, 1810, Medfield, Massachusetts; died April 28, 1879.


 Lawrence born May 22, 1829; married July 9, 1871

to Libby Poe of R. R. Flats, California; born February 14, 1832; died May 29, 1872 m. April 2, 1879 to Eliza Carr; born December 4, 1850.  A farmer, Portland, Michigan, had:  1.  Libbie born May 20, 1872, 2. Edna Alvina born February 4, 1880, 3.  Alta Ameda born June 24, 1882, 4.  Clifton Allen born August 4, 1885, 5.  Ernest Edward born October 13, 1887

Justus born April 16, 1831; married May 15, 1854 to Harriet Evans; born August 4, 1837.  A tinsmith; served in Michigan Cavalry; died October 28, 1865.  Had children:  1.  Clifford Lawrence born April 30, 1855; died in Salina, Kansas December 1878.  2. Helen A. born 1856; died 1859, 3. Elzera Sophia born January 18, 1858; married Joshua Smith.  3.  Elzera Sophie born January 18, 1858; married Andrew Travis; 4.  Alice Lincoln born September 11, 1863; married Joshua Smith.  5.   Bernice Ann born 1865; died 1869

Temperance Matilda

Columbus born June 29, 1837; married August 12, 1860 Sara Gibbs born January 14, 1844.  Served in 21st Michigan Infantry; confined to Libby Prison.  Had children:  1.  Chester Edward born May 20, 1861.  A teacher and farmer Portland, Michigan.  Married February 27, 1886 Clara Adelle Travis and had Jessie born1888; Henry born 1889.  2. Helen born November 6, 1862; married Rev. W. J. Scoles.  3.  Albert Riley born April 18, 1866, married Cora Ann Schaupp, 4.  Lawrence W. born May 25, 1869; 5.  May B. born May 23, 1871; 6.  Eliza Bell born 1874; died 1879.  7.  Arlie Bell born August 28, 1878, 8.  Alice B. born December 13, 1884.

     The above information is from the book GENEALOGY OF THE FAMILY OF SAMBORNE OR SANDBORN IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA, by V. C. Sandborn of LaGrange, Illinois.  Privately printed in 1899.  Library number 929.2 S. 198

     These excerpts are presented here partly because the Sandborn family has shown considerable interest in establishing the relationships within the family and the name Sandborn is numerous on the Sebewa Center Association membership list.   The names and dates as they work back to some of the earliest settlement in this country are of general interest because they parallel the story of so many other families that started in New England and worked their way with the expanding frontier through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.  There are genealogies of many other families in the large collection of the State Library at Lansing. 


     Mrs. Ida Oatley Howell, 87, died at Munson Hospital November 6, 1968.   She was the eldest granddaughter of Theodore Gunn.  Her parents, Gravener and Sarah (Gunn) Oatley were early residents of Sebewa.  The timbered  areas of Wexford County attracted them and without benefit of railroad they moved, soon after Ida was born, to a farm uncleared of trees near Mesick.

     Mrs. Howell attended the State Normal School at Mt. Pleasant and a Deaconess schools in Grand Rapids and Herkimer, N.Y.  She once taught school at the Indian Reservation at Mt. Pleasant.  She acted as substitute teacher at the Sebewa Center school about 1910.  She was married to Rev. Clarence Howell, who spent most of his ministry in New York. 


     The Sebewa Center United Methodist Church has sold the Sebewa Corners church to Basil Wolever of Portland.  Melbourne Sandborn is the new owner of the Halladay U. B. Church. 


Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association
Robert W. Gierman, Editor
R 1
Portland, Michigan 48875  U. S. A.


Last update March 12, 2013