THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Historical Newsletter from Sebewa; Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI;
October 2014, Volume 50, Number 2. Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden
FRONT PAGE PHOTOS OF 2 FARM HOMES:
Those of Joseph & Mary Magdalene (Anre) Keller; Farm Home, Republic, Scipio Township, Ohio and
Robert & Sarah (Keller) Shaw Farm Home, Scipio Township, Ohio
Those of Nathan & Ann Matilda (Shaw) Baldwin; Farm Home, Republic, Scipio Township, Ohio and of
Rush & Phoebe Maria (Friend) Baldwin, 357 James St., Portland, MI
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET” Gathered from past issues of PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER
May 26, 1929: Alterations now being made in the house lately purchased by Dr. W. W. Norris from C. F. Powers reveal a style of construction that is not used in these days. (We think this may be the house at the top of Bridge Street Hill, northwest corner, which many of us think of as the Dewey Hesse home and which has been occupied by the Keith Neller family in recent years. Further speculation concerns its style of construction. The innovation after log cabins, when a sawmill came into the community, was to saw out planks 3-4 inches thick x 10-12 inches wide. Instead of studding, the planks were stood flatwide side-by-side and spiked to the sill and plate. Then shakes or clapboard siding were applied to the outside and plaster on the inside. This allowed much less air-leakage than logs caulked with mud; altho some heat and cold exchange occurred by conduction. The next discovery was that a true dead-air space was better insulation, and after that came barrier paper and all the things that are stapled or blown into that dead-air space today. We may have the wrong house and maybe not even the oldest section was built this way. The old Frank Showerman/Philip Spitzley home in Sebewa Township was the last one we knew about of this style.)
May 26, 1949: A note from Geraldine Pierce Torp-Smith, who lives in Dakota, reads……”how much we are enjoying the R & O on the Dakota plains.” Her husband is working on the Garrison Dam job as a Soils Engineer….and they will be located at Riverdale, ND, for some time.
June 23, 1949: The recent Sebewa Center School Reunion was attended by more than 100 persons. Coming from a distance were Peter Britten of Riverdale, MI, and Mrs. Moe Gunn Kelly of Coral. Mr. George Gunn and Miss Ella Gunn, who attended the school when it was located a mile east of the present building, previous to 1883, as did Mr. Britten, were also present. Ross Tran was elected president for the coming year.
Residents of Portland Township were to vote in the August 1949 Primary Election to buy land for an addition to the east and south of the original cemetery. The land was part of the former J. H. Briggs dairy farm, which had once supplied milk for home delivery in Portland. The current owner was a Mr. Ralph Summers, living in California. If this offer failed to pass, it might be necessary later to buy land not adjacent to the cemetery and have a divided cemetery. That had been the case years before, when there was a west side and moved to the present location. (Since this editor has long been involved with cemeteries, we have been asked numerous times about the location of that west side cemetery. One speculation we have heard is that it was located on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Church and thus did not appear as a separate property description. However, St. Patrick’s was not among the earliest churches in Portland, and Catholic families such as the Olrys on our farm in Sebewa had to travel to Westphalia to worship.)
June 23, 1949: Many older residents of Sebewa Township will recall J. H. McClelland; (Wilton & Willis, but this editor doesn’t know which was which.) The father was a school teacher and a specialist in fancy handwriting, and samples of his work appear in old records of the Township, as he was Clerk years ago. (His farm was the Fred Hart/D. & D. Desgranges 55 acres on the north side of Musgrove Hwy). W. A., now 82, writes from Englewood, CO, that he is still working part time as collector of delinquent Personal Property Taxes. He left Sebewa years ago, spent nine years in Sioux City, IA; two in Milwaukee, WI; 30 in Denver, CO; and the last 12 years in Englewood, a suburb of Denver. In five years he collected $50,000 for the Street Improvement Fund in Englewood, and in past six years has collected another $60,000 in delinquent Personal Property Taxes. Not bad for a man now 82! And he is still at it.
July 21, 1949: Early village ordinances applied to many animals: That Portland has always been a peaceful village, governed by an ironclad set of laws, is evidenced in official records of the first By-laws drawn up in 1869. Records recently found by village employees have brought to light many interesting facts about Portland and its early residents. For instance, in the original set of by-laws, No. 7 stated “It shall not be lawful for any of the cattle kind to run at large within the corporate limits of said village between the fifteenth day of November and the fifteenth day of May in each and every year; and in the night time between the hours of nine o’clock at night and five o’clock in the morning in any portion of the year.” (So could the cattle run at large during daylight hours between May 15 and November 15? We have read, from Clarence Budington Kelland for instance, that the town cows were lead to pasture on the outskirts of town every day in summer. But if they were actually running loose, it was only by accident.)
Conduct of Fowl: By law No. 5 stated: “It shall not be lawful for the owner of any fowl (sic), geese or turkey, to suffer such to run at large within the corporate limits of said village during the months of April, May, June, July and August in each year.”
Bylaw No. 3 Stated: “It shall not be lawful to permit any swine to run at large within the corporate limits of said village.”
Bylaw No. 10 related: “It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to keep in our around his shop, warehouse, or other buildings situated within eight rods of any residence or place of business within said village, any green, tainted hides or skins of any kind, nor to carry on any filthy or loathsome trade.” Other early bylaws were to be printed in another edition.
August 4, 1949: Basil Kinney tells us that a Stanley Steamer stopped in at his station Monday, for water! Occupants were driving back from Wisconsin, where they had participated in an old-car fete of some kind. It has been many years since steam cars have been seen in Portland. The Fred Knox Sr. family owned several, seems as though they were Whites. The Stanley was a deluxe outfit in its day.
August 4, 1929: Towner’s Restaurant (Not Tommy’s Restaurant!) has been purchased by Sidney Osman. (When we were Portland High School buddies with Sid’s great-grandson, John West, in the 1940s, Sid was ling retired, but continued to run a hamburger stand in a stairwell on the west side of Kent Street on Saturday nights; it may have been the stairway to the Oddfellows Hall.)
Buildings at the piggery (on Okemos Road south of town) are being painted a “barn red” and the place is being slicked up, so as to be presentable for Portland Homecoming visitors who may wish to see the hundreds of hogs that are in process of fattening. (The piggery was operated by various partnerships over the years, including Claude Plant Sr. & “Butcher Bill” Young, then Fred “Curly” Jarvis of Portland and Royal “Sam” Johnson of Lake Odessa. It was built on the concept of being paid to collect the household and restaurant garbage in Lansing and then using the contents to feed hogs. Later they used only the garbage from the Village of Portland and perhaps some other small towns. When the State of Michigan Health Department declared the meat from these hogs unsafe for human consumption, Curly Jarvis & Vern Johnson continued to gather the garbage, along with other trash, and transport it to a sanitary land fill, as part of their local dray (hauling) business.
Fred. J. Williams, former science teacher and coach, was named Superintendent of Portland Public Schools.
While elevating hay into his barn last Monday, Richard Bickle, Highway Commissioner of Sebewa Township, was struck in the arm and hip by an evener, and is now in the hospital with a broken pelvic bone.
August 4, 1909: Charles Gilden (Sr.’s) barn caught fire, presumable from matches in the hands of small boys who had been playing “firemen” in the neighborhood. His daughter, Mrs. Chauncey Guilford, with the aid of some boys, was able to run out the buggy, cutter, and other accessories. Mr. Gilden was away with the horse at the time.
Mrs. David Blanchard was badly burned about the face and hands by the explosion of a (baby chick) brooder.
A new house owned by Jake Miller, in Sebewa, burned to the ground; fire having started from a defective kitchen chimney.
Joe Patterson has opened a soft drink stand in the room formerly occupied by the bar at Hotel Divine. (Prohibition was in force!!)
Chester Blanchard has received a new canoe from Old Town, Maine. (Bearing the brand name “Old Towne, no doubt.)
September 18, 1949: Sidney Osman, 90, who was brought home from Ionia Hospital a week ago, is slightly improved early in the week. He suffered a fractured hip when struck by an auto while he was crossing US-16 at Pleasant Street intersection several weeks ago. Sid is hopeful of being able to sit in a wheelchair soon.
September 15, 1929: The Clara (& James) Churchill farm of 75 acres, located a little north of the village, has been sold by the heirs, Mrs. Herbert Schafer (Sr.) and Mrs. Frances Reynolds, to Henry Lange of Lansing. (This is that portion of the Marcellas Fedewa land lying on the south side of Barnes Road. The potion on the north side came from the estate of Clarence Carpenter, who died about the same time as Mrs. Churchill.)
In his boyhood days Wellington E. (Will) Porter owned a high-wheeled bicycle. Tuesday one of these earlier wheels was standing in Southwell’s Service Station and Mr. Porter decided he was not too old to try it out.
Dogs answering the description of two that were seen on the Barr farm in Danby several days ago, attacked a flock of sheep belonging to Marcy Reed and Roy McIntyre, north of Mulliken, around the same time they slaughtered some of Mr. Barr’s sheep.
One of the most unassuming of Portland Homecoming visitors is George Hudson, who grew up southwest of town in Danby Township. He has been in government employ at Washington, D. C. He is Chief Statistician for the Navy Department.
September 15, 1949: Justice John C. Balderson reports that doges have been invading sheep flocks in several parts of the township, and warns farmers to be on the lookout for sheep-killing dogs. On Mrs. John Hoppes’ farm in Christian Bend district, on Joe Simon’s farm on Ionia Road east of Friend Brook School, sheep have been killed recently. Three were killed in one raid and one each on the other farms. (These farms are only a little over a mile apart from one to the next, but the dogs had to swim the river to or from the Hoppes farm on Maynard Road.)
George Steward, of this village, was severely injured last Thursday afternoon, while working at the former George Davenport farm, just east of Frost School, which Mr. and Mrs. Steward have recently purchased. Mr. Steward had been tearing down a barn on the property. Both ends had been removed, and he was taking down some boards which formed a grain bin. Suddenly the building collapsed and fell on him. He was caught by the falling lumber as he was almost out, and had got under an old table for cover. He received bad scalp wounds on the back and side of his head; he was nearly scalped and 90 stitches were taken to close the wound. An arm was also injured. He was removed to Ionia Hospital and this week Tuesday two more blood clots were found in Mr. Steward’s head. By Thursday he was much improved.
September 15, 1909: The Commonwealth Power Co. has material on the ground and was to start building the Goodwin Bridge, which was carried away by the flood.
October 29, 1875: Another store is being erected at Sebewa Corners, this time by Mrs. Rush (Phoebe Maria Friend) Baldwin and her oldest brother, F. N. (Francis, Frank) Friend.
September 7, 1883: Sebewa is again taking a fresh start. Mr. John Friend is erecting a good-sized store building to be occupied by Mr. Colwell with his hardware stock. Mr. E. H. Deatsman has sold his store building and will erect one on the opposite side of the street, which will be occupied by himself with his drug stock and his wife with her millinery stock. It is said his building is sold to a lady from Lansing, who will fill it with a grocery stock. Eggs are selling for 17 cents per dozen, butter 18 cents per pound, and potatoes 90 cents per bushel.
August 16, 1916: A group of stockholders, made up exclusively of Westphalia residents, has been organized and has purchased land from William Schultz just above the Commonwealth (Webber) Dam. They expect to begin work at once on construction of a large pavilion and a number of cottages. The place is to be called Electric Park, and the owners call themselves Electric Park Amusement Co.
C. D. (Claude Dwight) Lakin was one of the few auto junk yards in the county. He recently bought a Winton automobile from Lorenzo Webber for $55. Originally it had cost $2700 in 1907.
October 6, 1949: Sid Osman, 90, died Friday from complications of a broken hip and other injuries received about six weeks ago when he was struck by an auto on US-16 at Pleasant Street. According to officers, he had waited for one car to go by, but stepped in front of another. He spent some time in Ionia Hospital, but was brought home later. Born in Grand Ledge September 1, 1859, he came to Portland with his parents as a small boy, (and grew up to marry a Hyland girl.) Long a resident of Albro Street, for many years he ran a restaurant in Portland, but retired from that business long ago. After that, he had a hamburger stand on Kent Street Saturday evenings and on special occasions for many years. He was a member of Oddfellow and Maccabee Lodges and was custodian of the Oddfellow Hall until his injury. Rev. George Stanford of Vicksburg, MI, former pastor of Portland Methodist Church, officiated at the funeral, burial in Portland Cemetery. Mrs. John Sherrard of Portland and Mrs. L. V. Gee of Lansing were his daughters, Paul Osman of Portland, his son.
October 13, 1949: The Knox Building is being remodeled to convert from former Frank’s Five & Dime Store branch out of Ionia, with two front doors, to College Drug Store branch out of East Lansing, with a corner door, which it had when originally built. Review Editor Fred J. Mauren (Jr., born about 1900, we believe,) recalls, as a boy, having watched bricklayers on that building and its partner, the Blanchard Building to the south. The Blanchard building has always been occupied by a furniture business. (We can’t bring to mind the name of the original occupants of the corner store, but believe it was a so-called “General Store.”) (Editor Mauren reveals in October 27 issue that he was born, “Four weeks after a new minister, Rev. W. E. Stevens, came to Congregational Church in early January 1900.”
October 27, 1949: An Ionia company buys the Portland Piggery buildings. Three buildings at the Portland Piggery have been purchased from Consumers Power Company, (current owner of flood plains along Grand River,) by the Ionia Livestock Auction Co., of which Carl A. Smith of Portland is part owner. The deal was closed Monday, and on Tuesday workmen began tearing down the building. Most of the lumber will be used to construct a new livestock yards, location of which has yet to be determined. Other portions of the lumber will go to the livestock company’s plant at Marshall.
The Ionia Livestock Auction Co.’s plant at Ionia was destroyed by fire some weeks ago, and since that time the firm has been operating at the Burt Houghton farm northwest of Portland, (on M-66 south of Peck Lake Road.) Claude Plant of Portland purchased the buildings for Mr. Smith. The local piggery was some years ago operated by the firm of Plant & Rice, being Claude Plant and the late Oscar S. Rice.
Wolverine News, which reports doings of Wolverine Shoe Co. and its employees at Rockford, MI, carried an interesting story about the former Portland man. It is Will Browning, brother of Mrs. P. M. (Mike) Robertson of Portland. It is Will Browning, brother of Mrs. P. M. (Mike) Robertson of Portland. He has been with the Wolverine firm for 30 years, (as of 1949.) He left Portland at age 17 and worked in drug stores in several towns, the last one Rockford, where he was employed in Hessler Drug Store. Shortly after the close of World War I, he joined the shoe firm as a shipping clerk. Back then 50 dozen pairs a day was big business and everything was packed in large wooden boxes. Now twenty employees are required to work full time shipping the firm’s products. And Mr. Browning’s record for handling this expansion has been outstanding.
Peter Creighton (father of Elmer Creighteon) of Sebewa Township, stops in to renew his (Review) subscription for another year. He turns the conversation to football and we learn that he is a fan. His interest started way back when Dan Watson and some other stalwarts of the day had about the first team at Portland High School. The Peter’s interest waned, and there was a lapse of years, but he is again a regular attendant of Portland’s home games. He tells us he thinks the game of the year will be when Portland goes to Lake Odessa next week. Peter says some of his brothers went in for sports in their youthful days, baseball being their biggest interest. Peter never advanced beyond the “work-up” brand of baseball, but says “If I was 40 years younger, I would take a crack at football!” (Recollector editor recalls stories that Peter’s father, James Creighton, bragged that he was aiming to have enough sons for a baseball team, and we think he accomplished his goal.)
(Editor Mauren mentions that the Dalton Miller farm, Marilyn Miller Bandfield’s folks just north of town on Divine Hwy, was long the home of the Lockwood family. We had known that the Thomas Lockwood homestead was the large farm south of town at Danby at the junction of Kent Street, Clarksville Road and Emery Road, known in our time as the William Pohl farm and then Marvin & Janet Pohl Fedewa’s farm, can anyone clarify?)
THE BALDWIN FAMILY IN SEBEWA TOWNSHIP – Cover story by Grayden & Ann Slowins – Between 1865 and 1875, the Baldwin family homesteaded in sections 21 & 22 of Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI. Three brothers had “Patents” or Homesteader’s Deeds to 320 acres straddling what is now Kimmel Road, on the north side of Musgrove Hwy. Rush P. Baldwin had the west 80 acres, which is the east half of the 160 later owned by the Fred & Theo Bulling families and now by Charles Leik. None of the original buildings on this 80 still exist, although the house foundation remained in the fence-row straight out from the John & Marie Shay driveway when we moved to Sebewa in 1957. Rush married Phoebe Maria Friend, daughter of John & Polly Ann Meacham Friend of Sebewa Corners. About 1890 they sold their 80 acres and bought the west 120 of the 200 acres on Grand River Avenue in Portland Township now occupied by the Sunset Manufactured Home Park. There was a small tenant house on that 120 acres and they actually lived in the village of Portland at the top of James Street hill, first house on the left. They also had a 17 acre cow-pasture south of the Oakwood Elementary School, later owned by Fern Conkrite and Gertie Fishell, where town residents could board their cow in summer.
Rush & Phoebe had four children: Addie E., who married Albert B. Culver II and lived first in old Mexico and then in Pasadena, California, had one son Albert B. Culver (the 3rd); Estelle E. (Stella) who married Frank Pryer and lived east of Portland on Grand River Ave., had two daughters, Marian Lakin who had two daughters, Ann Slowins and Phyllis Nemechek Boyer, and Margaret Moriarty Corey Jacques, no children; Lee E. Baldwin, who was a banker in Breckenridge, MI, had son John and daughter Bertha Lee Tuck; and Clarence E. Baldwin, who died young. Rush & Phoebe, and in fact all of their immediate family but Lee & wife Bertha, are buried in Portland Cemetery. Rush was born August 6, 1841, in Republic, OH. He enlisted May 27, 1861, in Co. G. 25th Ohio Infantry. Re-enlisted October 1, 1863, in Co. I, 9th Ohio Cavalry, discharged 1865. Moved to Michigan 1866; died July 22, 1921.
The 80 acres next east was owned by George H. Baldwim. George also was a Civil War Veteran. He and his wife Esther are buried in West Sebewa Cemetery. She had remarried after his death in 1894 and was buried under the name Hutchins on his lot in 1924. The Baldwin School stood on the corner of this 80, which may be why the house is a bit north. Their son Charles married Christi Sayer and their 40-acre share of the farm became part of the Jacob Sayers farm, now LaVern & Kendall Carr farms. Charles and Christi’s family lived on a farm near Lakeview, MI, along M-46. George & Esther’s daughter Jessie married Florian Kenyon and lived in Sebewa on Clarksville Road, where Ronald Thelen lives now, had daughters Esther Grimes and Margaret Dennis, son Loren L. Kenyon. George & Esther’s daughter Mary married a Saxton from up on Goddard Road where Richard & Marian Goodemoot later lived. Her daughter was Zella Hazzard Beckhold, mother of Maxine Torrey, grandmother of Marilyn Possehn. Another great-grandchild of Mary Baldwin is James Valentine, former Odessa Township Constable, then Police Chief in Lowell and now Director of 911 Central Dispatch in Ionia County, if we are up to date.
The 160 acres on the east side of Kimmel Road was owned by Isaac Baldwin. He may have been the oldest brother, because title to his land passed rather quickly to William E. Baldwin. The south 40 acres of George’s land and all 160 acres of Isaac & William’s land became the Edward Demaray farm. His estate was split into: 80 acres with buildings to his son Herbert Demaray, 40 acres north of barn to daughter Letha Davis, 40 acres next east to daughter Audrey Kussmaul, 40 acres furthest east to third daughter, who quickly sold it to Harlan & Ruth Leifheit. Some sources say Isaac and wife went back to Republic, Ohio, and we have found no record of their burial here.
In 2003 we took a trip to Seneca County, Ohio. Tiffin is the County Seat, where we found all the land records in the County Recorder’s Office, called Register of Deeds in Michigan. We searched the Grantor-Grantee Indexes to help locate four family farms in the area. At the cemetery in Scipio Township called Farewell Retreat Cemetery, we quickly found the graves of the parents of Rush Baldwin, Ann’s great-great-grandparents, Nathan & Ann Matilda Shaw Baldwin; her 3X great grandparents Robert & Sarah Keller Shaw; and 4X great grandparents, Joseph & Mary Magdalene Andre Keller. With the help of the Village Superintendent, we found the Nathan & Matilda Shaw home in Republic, and then with help from a copy of an old plat map we drove to and photographed the farm homes of the above families as they look today.
BRAKE-COSENS FAMILY HISTORY: $25 in USA, $39 in Canada, including updated prices on packaging & postage & Canadian Customs.
SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY: $25 in USA, $39 in Canada, including updated prices on packaging & postage & Canadian Customs.
Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
Last update September 30, 2014