THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Historical Newsletter from Sebewa; Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI;
February 2014, Volume 50, Number 1. Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden
FRONT PAGE: 2 photos of “THE FARM HOUSE UNDERGOING CHANGE” – From COVER STORY (found on back page): - The farm house is the one we sold when we moved to Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids at the end of 2010. The farm was taken up from the government by John F. & Margaret T. Olry on April 17, 1849. The first dwelling, made of logs, stood just east of the present structure and had very low ceilings, just over 6 feet, and the Olrys were tall people! The present house was built in 1878-79 and has 10 foot ceilings! The stone and brick work were done by a Mr. Thomas French; the carpentry by George W. Cole. Passing to John C. & Lora E. Olry, then Glenn & Fern Olry, the farm was sold to Grayden C. & Ann Slowins April 27, 1957. We sold to Brian & Rebecca Haskin Nov. 24, 2010; they on to Alex & Rachael Haskin in February 2013. Extensive remodeling is under way, but 10 ft. ceilings survive!
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET” Gathered from past issues of the PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER.
March 17, 1949: R. & O. editor receives some interesting souvenirs from a reader in Lime Ridge, WI, a Mrs. Frances Prouty. They are receipts issued by Portland firms years ago. One is from Smith & Hudson, and covered an account for general merchandise. It was written in 1871. Another is from Churchill & Woodbury, in 1883, covering account of Pierce G. Cook. (Longtime farmer and Justice of the Peace in Sebewa Township; he lived on what became Henry Smith’s farm on Musgrove Hwy. and was ancestor of many Cooks from Sebewa. Churchill & Woodbury ran a general store in the building just east of John A. McClelland & Son’s general store. In later years, when Harry High, Ralph Cotton and others ran a bakery in that building, the large safe with Churchill & Woodbury names on it was still there. Woodbury’s son Erastus D. Woodbury married Helen A. Maynard, the daughter of Charles Maynard, town banker, and Frances A. Maynard.)
Most interesting were receipts for payments on shares of stock in the Ionia and Lansing Railway Co., issued in 1869 to I. Dixon. This later became the Detroit, Lansing & Northern R. R., and eventually part of Pere Marquette R. R., owned by Chesapeake & Ohio R. R. in 1949. For years it ran to Big Rapids, through all the little towns between here and there, but those days had gone by, and Ionia again became the northern terminus. R. B. Smith, an early Portland mill owner was collection agent for those stock payments. (C. & O. later became part of Amtrak and most local lines were pulled up.
March 17, 1929: Last week J. W. Southwell purchased the building on Maple Street owned by Nicholas Hosey and long used as a feed barn and livery stable. (Now it had become Southwell’s Garage and automobile dealership, where he sold Kaiser-Frazer and others.)
Of the 33 who will graduate from Portland High School in 1929, 13 are boys, 20 are girls. Laura Nunneley is Valedictorian and Constance Webber is Salutatorian.
March 17, 1909: Mrs. Frank Pryer, formerly Estella Baldwin, died at the age of 33. She was the mother of Marian and Margaret Pryer. (She died of sugar diabetes twelve years before Drs. Banting & Best discovere insulin.)
Miss Wilhelmina Hunt and Mr. Joseph Russman were married at St. Patrick’s Church by Rev. Fr. John A. Koelzer. (Fr. Koelzer was a brother of George Koelzer, the Portland tailor.)
Unbra J. Maynard has sold his 1909 clip of 3000 pounds of wool to Buck & Wilson, receivine 33c per pound. Wheat is $1.15/bu, corn is 65c/bu, white beans $2.10/cwt., eggs 20c/doz, butter 20c/pound.
William Earle has bought back the meat market which he had sold to M. Olmstead a year ago.
March 31, 1949: Mrs. Helen A. Woodbury, born in Portland 91 years ago (1857), and a resident of the community all her lifetime, died at her home on Bridge Street at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, after several years of ill health. Mrs. Woodbury was the daughter of the late Mr. & Mrs. Charles Maynard, and she was born on the farm known as Maynard Place, and now owned by William Toan (II). A few months later the family moved into the village and occupied the large brick home where her death occurred, then just completed for Mr. Maynard, a partner of Capt. E. M. Allen in founding the banking firm of Maynard & Allen, which later became the Maynard-Allen State Bank, and had always been keenly interested in its operation, until her final illness. For many years she was a member of the Ladies’ Literary Club and was a charter member. She was also an active member of Portland Methodist Church.
Funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at 2:30, at the Neller Funeral Home, which was the home in which her maternal grandfather, William R. Churchill resided many years ago. The Rev. William Simpson will officiate, and bearers will be Leo C. Lehman, Carl O. Derby, John Kortes, Malcolm Robertson, Herbert (Unk) Schafer and Jr., of Portland; Richard Schafer, of Detroit; Mrs. Ross Frantz, Rochester, MI. (Frances Reynolds, and Helen B. Schafer, Unk’s mother, were Churchill girls, and their father was a brother to Helen A. Maynard Woodbury’s mother, children of William R. Churchill.)
Sewage Disposal Conference: The village of Portland has been invited to send representatives to a meeting in Bay City on April 9, to participate in drawing up a request to the Federal Government for assistance in building sewage disposal plants. There are many cities and villages located on the Grand and other rivers in this area which have no sewage disposal facilities other than the streams. They will request to be included in aid granted under the Federal Anti-Pollution Act. Many of these municipalities have been ordered by the Michigan Conservation Department to build sewage disposal plants. The group will ask the State to defer orders to construct sewage disposal units until Federal officials have heard the request of assistance.
Portland has qualified for mail delivery service in the city, according to Postmaster Peter J. Trierweiler. However he said that qualifying for the house-to-house delivery does not necessarily mean that it will be granted. Notice was given after a government inspector looked over the entire town. The house & business numbers, there are 975, street lights and porch lights were approved.
March 31, 1929: A longtime resident of Ionia County is Mrs. Ellen Kilmartin, of Danby Township, who was 89 Thursday.
Mrs. Leonard Cross, of Sebewa Township, has been advised of the death of her brother, William Aves, in South Dakota.
No longer will the brown uniform of the corn-borer inspector strike terror to the heart of the unsuspecting bootlegger, who mistakes him for a State Policeman.
Clive Hunt, who resides in the house recently purchased from Allen Mack by Prin E. Barclay, has purchased the place on the same street formerly owned by Claude Wilson, of Flint, and will move soon.
Delmar A. Packard has purchased the cottage belonging to Mrs. Hattie Newman, just south of his own home on Church Street, (now called Warren Street, near the Congregational Church).
For a couple of years local business men have been divided in the matter of a night watchman. Starting this week Orson Norwood will handle the night watch job alone, the job having formerly been shared also by Charles Blossom. (Orson was the father of Mrs. Wade Buckley and Mrs. Earl Allen and lived on Water Street. His brother Chester lived next door and owned several rental properties there, and possibly properties on Kent Street as well.)
March 31, 1909: By the provisions of a special bill, Nelson Aldrich is to receive a (Civil War) soldier’s pension of $30 per month.
Dr. John J. Green, who was elected County Clerk on the Democrat ticket, and who has always been affiliated with that party, announces his intention of voting the Republican ticket hereafter.
Mrs. Charles Brooks was winner of the prize offered by a Chicago newspaper for the most attractively trimmed hat. She was formerly Miss Zoe Goff and for some time was employed in a Grand Rapids millinery store. Nearly 75,000 designs were sent to the Chicago paper.
Remember when one had to descend several steps to enter business places on the west side of Kent Street in Portland? (The buildings were raised several courses on their foundation stones to match the east side.)
April 7, 1949: Nate Peake is seen loading lumber in his car and heading for the country. This week he is beginning the remodeling of the home on the former Nathan Peake farm in Danby Township (on Grand River Trail). Purchased from his uncle, C. E. Peake, it was years ago the home of his grandfather. (Nate operated an electrical appliance store, first in the Peake Building at the foot of Maple Street on Grand River Avenue with “Peake” in the façade, then in the John A. McClelland & Son Building on the southeast corner of Kent & Bridge Streets, which some foolish young folks called “The Peake Building!”)
April 21, 1949: Thieves took small amounts of cash and merchandise when they broke into Basil Kinney’s Hi-Speed Gas Station and Leik Bros. Garage late Saturday night. At the Hi-Speed Station about $15 in change from the Coke and cigarette machines and a dozen cartons of cigarettes were taken. An unsuccessful attempt was made to open the safe. The thieves took only a spotlight from Leik Bros., although they handled other valuable merchandise in obtaining it.
April 28, 1929: Mrs. Jane Peabody, 90, who died Saturday, was a daughter of the late John Compton and the first white child born in Danby Township, Ionia County. (1929 was 85 years ago, added to 90 years of her age, means she was born 175 years ago – in 1839. John Compton was a missionary to the Indians at Shimnecon, as well as establishing his farm at Comptons’ Corners at the southwest corner of present-day Tupper Lake Road and Charlotte Highway.)
Four young Duroc-Jersey sows belonging to Joe Bliss, on the Frank Pryer farm in Danby Township, east of Portland, gave birth to 50 healthy pigs.
April 28, 1909: Dr. John D. Bradfield, who has been practicing at Tremayne’s Corners south of Ionia in Orange Township, has rented George Pilkington’s house and will move to Portland this week. (Veteran of the Spanish-American War and later a unit of Michigan National Guard, Major Bradfield always rode his white horse to lead the Memorial Day Parade from Powers’ Park to Portland Cemetery.)
May 26, 1949: Sylvester Jenkins gave Review Editor Fred Mauren Issue No. 10 of Volume No. 1 of Portland Advertiser, January 1868, Portland’s first newspaper. It was published by Wickwire & Bailey and lasted only a few months. Wickwire left town and in 1875 Bailey established the Portland Observer. In 1868 Portland had no railroad, but a stage coach ran to Muir, where it connected with the Detroit & Milwaukee. (We recall reading that when Ephriam Shay and others left Sebewa to enlist in the Civil War, they went to Muir to catch the train to Grand Rapids.) Portland Planing Mill advertised hardwood flooring and walnut coffins, trimmed to suit your taste. Fred J. Maurene Sr. got his first newspaper experience under Bailey on the Observer and then joined Frank E. Doremus on the Review.
COVER STORY: The farm house is the one we sold (see front page for article).
RECENT DEATH: Gordon Lyle Piercefield, 85, husband of Cleo Downing Piercefield for nearly 65 years, father of Lori (Bill) Fox, and John (Cindi) Piercefield; grandfather of five: Jamie (Jennie) Fox, Lisa (James) Espinoza, Mark Fox, Tyler Piercefield, and Caitlin Piercefield; great-grandfather of seven: Brian and Jared Fox, Brooklyn and Logan Greene, Elijah, Landon and Aiden Espinoza; brother of fourteen: Wanda Pepper, Wayne (Bea) Piercefield, June (Robert) McCaul, Jerry (Caroline) Piercefield, Janet King, Bonnie (Willard) Kinsman, Patricia Van Houten, Wilma Waters, and James ( Shelly) Piercefield, sister-in-law June Piercefield, and the late Norman, Leroy and baby Joe Piercefield, Pearl Richardson, and baby Barbara Piercefield, brothers-in-law Mike Richardson, Leo Pepper, Dave VanHouten and Bob Waters, and (Joe) Piercefield and Thelma Irene Catlin Piercefield. Gordon ran a truck farm, lumber yard and Portland Iron and Metal Company. In retirement they traveled in their motor home, spending 25 winters in Florida; he loved to hunt and fish. Buried in East Sebewa Cemetery.
CURRENT ISSUES OF RECOLLECTOR: We aim to publish every two months, so there are six issues per year, and we ask $6.00 to cover paper, ink, and postage, paid up by June 1st for the year ahead, beginning July 1.
BACK ISSUES: $60.00 for 50 years, including shipping, until gone.
SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY: $26 including packaging & shipping, includes Slowinski, Steinberg, Kubish, Lehman, Majinska, etc., pictures & history BRAKE-COSENS FAMILY HISTORY: $24 ($29 in Canada) including packaging & shipping – just arrived – lots of pictures and lots of history.
Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
Last update August 12, 2014