THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Historical Newsletter from Sebewa; Sebewa Township, Ionia County, MI;
December 2014, Volume 50, Number 3. Submitted with permission of Editor Grayden
Front page: Joel Guild Home/Store Photos and one of the main street of an unnamed village.
Page 2: FINDING MORE HISTORY OF SEBEWA TOWNSHIP – A couple people have asked for more history of Sebewa Township and less on the surrounding townships, and there WILL BE more appearing in THE RECOLLECTOR. But most all information that exists Wilfred Gierman over a twenty-six and one-half year period and now by us over a twenty-three year period so far. Wilfred got his stories from THE PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER, THE IONIA SENTINEL, THE SUNFIELD SENTINEL, THE LAKE ODESSA WAVE, and a little from their predecessors. His other main source was from elderly pioneers whom he knew personally. Our sources today are past issues of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR and of THE PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER, with occasional bits from the current Sentinels; plus my once-great, but now-fading memory. I struggle to fit the names to the stories.
Gb knowing that you who have requested more Sebewa Township history and many others are fans of the Internet, we suggest you punch in: history of sebewa township and also try the sebewa recollector. You will find fifty years worth of articles on Sebewa History in 297 issues, all put on the Internet thanks to Ms. LaVonne Bennett of Ionia.
But if you are like many of us Old Fogies, and you would like to have the articles in hard copy, along with attached photos, you can send us $60.00 or call 616-243-2093 for an appointment to pick them up at our home for $50.00. The 50 years of info is clamped in three theme folders that fill a half-case copy-paper box.
Just today, leafing through past issues for one reader’s proper name, I happened onto stories about several different Ionia County pioneers that I can use in this issue:
In Volume 29, Issue Number 1, August 1993, we find Judge Samuel William Dexter, founder of Dexter, MI. He was not the same Judge Samuel Dexter who founded Ionia. Samuel William Dexter was the son of a lawyer, also named Samuel, who was Secretary of State under John Adams, served in the Massachusetts Senate and the United States Senate. Samuel William Dexter moved from Boston, MA, to Detroit, MI, in 1824, and founded the town of Byron in the southeast corner of Shiawassee County. He expected Byron to become the County Seat, but when Corunna got the honor, and his wife died at the birth of their second child, he sold Byron to his wife’s brother and traveled back to Ohio to find a second wife.
With his new wife he founded Dexter in Washtenaw County and built a large house which still stands in good condition. It has great white pillars, twenty-two rooms, 9 fireplaces, 55 windows with indoor shutters, a beautiful walnut banister, and is called Gordon Hall. He owned a 629 acre farm which straddled the corners of Dexter, Webster and Scio Townships. He saw this as a perfect junction for a barge canal to connect the Huron River at Ann Arbor with the Grand River at Jackson. This did not pan out either, but he had a successful law practice and was Washtenaw County Circuit Judge at his death in 1863.
What makes this story more fascinating is the fact that our Ionia Samuel Dexter had two brothers, Steven & George Washington Dexter, who settled at Whitmore Lake in Washtenaw County, before coming to Ionia. And Samuel William Dexter’s settlement at Byron was very close to our Samuel’s Dexter Trail as it cut across Shiawassee County on his trip from Herkimer, NY, to Ionia, MI. Our Samuel Dexter had five single men in his party of settlers: Dr. William B. Lincoln, P. M. Fox, Abraham Decker, Warner Dexter and Winsor Dexter. There were also five men with their families: Erastus Yeomans, Oliver Arnold, Darius Winsor, Edward Guild, and Joel Guild. This leads us to the story of how Grand Rapids was founded as an offshoot or suburb of Ionia:
In Volume 33, Issue Number 6, June 1998, we find Louis Campau, the fur trader, who is frequently thought of as founder of Grand Rapids, because in 1826 he established a camp and in 1827 built a log cabin and trading post at the rapids in the Grand River. He staked out his claim and in 1831 purchased from the United States Government, seventy-two acres of land bounded today by Michigan St. on the north, Fulton St. on the South, Division Ave. on the east, and the Grand River on the west, in the Township of Walker, for the sum of $90, or $1.25 per acres. Campau later added a blacksmith shop to his trading post. Lucius Lyon, who had surveyed the area, recorded a claim in 1832 on the land between Division and the river, north of Michigan St., and in 1836 purchased part of Campau’s claim down to Pearl St. Platting separately, they purposely created the jog in at Pearl St.
After the surveying & platting, in 1833 Louis Campau sold for $45, the first two lots on the southeast corner of the jog in what was to become Monroe Ave. at Campau Square, to Joel Guild, who came down the river from the new Dexter Colony at Ionia. Guild built the first frame house and thus is credited with being the first permanent settler in Grand Rapids. Later he made it a meat market and grocery store, and today the McKay Tower, originally the home of Grand Rapids National Bank and now a luxury apartment and office building, stands on the site of the old Guild house. Joel Guild also recorded in 1833, a claim to 40 acres of farmland east of Division Ave., in Section 30, Grand Rapids Township, on Fulton St., in the Central High School and Davenport College neighborhood. SEE IN COVER PHOTO, THE WHITE BUILDING RIGHT OF CENTER. Credit is due PICTORIAL HISTORY OF GRAND RAPIDS, by Lynn G. Mapes & Anthony Travis, with illustrations by Reynold H. Weidenaar, for this story and photo.
UPDATES ON LAST ISSUE: The full list of George & Esther Baldwin’s descendants from Volume 34, Issue Number 1, August 1998, is as follows:
1. Charles Baldwin, who married Christi Sayer, sister to Jacob and aunt to Clarence, sold their 40-acre share of homestead to Sayers and moved to Six Lakes, not quite Lakeview as we said last time. Their son was George Jr., whose son was Steve of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
2. Mary Baldwin, born May 9, 1864 or 1874, died at Lake Odessa, April 27, 1949, married Oscar Saxton and Edwin Leak Sr., children were:
1. Claire Saxton,
2. Maude Saxton Olds, who lived in Hesperia, MI.,
3. Vern Saxton, who lived in Lansing, MI.
4. Mabel Saxton, who married Archie Valentine and had Bufford, Balfour, James, and Bernard Valentine, Mary Patterson, and Margaret Buche. James Jr. is son of Bufford.
5. Zella Saxton, who married Ben Hazzard and Frank Beckhold, had Marguerite Short, Betty McMillen, Maxine Torrey, and Maxwell Hazzard. Maxine was Marilyn Possehn’s mother.
3. Edison Baldwin, born April 19, 1875, in Sebewa Township, lived in Ionia and died December 5, 1966.
4. Jesse Baldwin, born May 4, 1879, in Sebewa Township, died June 15, 1952, was married to Florian Kenyon, son of Marvin or Edgar Kenyon 1848-1898, and grandson of Phidelia 1808-5/20/1879 & Christopher 1802-12/6/1891 Kenyon. They lived at W ½ NW ¼ Section 10, Sebewa Township, where Ron Thelen lives today. 1. Their Children were:
1. Esther Kenyon, who married Herman Grimes of Lansing.
2. Margaret Kenyon, who married Leonard Dennis and ran a beauty shop in Lansing.
3. Loyd M. Kenyon, born 1905, died December 8, 1905, was buried in West Sebewa Cemetery with grandparents.
4. Loren L. Kenyon, a Chiropractor in Lansing & Colorado.
HISTORY OF THE PRYER – LAKIN HOME
Kimberly & Kevin Lay asked us to put together a history of their home at 9934 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI., so here we go: Frank Wilson Pryer was born August 1, 1862, in Danby Township, Ionia County, MI., to Thomas & Cornelia Ann Phillips Pryer. He farmed with his father and three older brothers until age 32, all the while saving to buy a farm. He got his start March 7, 1895, when he purchased 50 acres of cropland, plus a 4-acre chunk across the road with a small house on it, from Horace & Theodoria Peake. Then on November 20, 1895, Frank W. Pryer married Estella Edith Baldwin, age 18, born December 15, 1876, in Sebewa Township, Ionia County. On January 14, 1899, he bought the 6 acre adjoining chunk with a larger house on it from Clark Pierce and the family moved into that house. The 4 acres plus 6 acres made 10 acres cut off from the 50 acres by the Detroit-Grand Rapids Road, also called the Portland – Lansing Road.
In 1900 they built a nice basement barn, large for its day. There was a hay-track in the peak and slings to lift the loose hay from the wagon into the high mows. He had a one-cylinder gas engine installed in the milk-house to power the line-shaft that ran the milking machine behind each row of cows. Later a Delco generator provided electricity for the barn and eventually the house. The generator may have been on the second floor of the buggy-shed attached to the barn, although that seems awfully dangerous as a fire hazard.
On March 17, 1900, a daughter, Marian Addie Pryer was born, and on November 2, 1902, Margaret Morna Pryer was born. In early Spring 1903, the family moved into the nice clean granary in the southwest corner of the new barn mow and began to remodel the house. The northeast end of the present-day dwelling was the original house. Story has it that either the center or the southwest section was moved there and joined to the original house. The southwest two-thirds was given a four-gable roof with a taller attic than the original part.
Since electric lights were a new thing in 1903 and the power lines had not gone out into rural areas, the house was wired for electricity but also had gas pipes in the walls with jets for gas lights. These were discovered when Kevin & Kim Lay removed all plaster and trim to refinish. We had always had a few gas jets in a drawer, but didn’t know they came from that house. About 1903 the little house on 4 acres was sold to L. F. Card & wife, and bought back in 1908 as a tenant house for a hired man.
February 16, 1909, Stella Baldwin Pryer died of Sugar Diabetes, twelve years before Drs. Banning & Best discovered Insulin as a treatment for Diabetes. Frank Pryer bought 60 landlocked acres adjoining his farm in the center of Section 3 Danby Township from the Isaac A. Brooks Estate, and included in the record was 40 acres cornering on the above 60 at the southwest corner of the section. This 40 was relinquished in the divorce settlement with Frank’s second wife, Evangeline Abbey Pryer, on April 12, 1913. Frank had also purchased 27 acres in the southeast corner on Section 2 Danby Township known as the David Trail Place, making their joint property listed as 190 acres at time of divorce—actually 187 to be exact. Frank’s third wife was Ethel Friend Coman, age 44, born July 9, 1871, sister to his first wife’s mother; he was 53. While single, on February 27, 1915, he had deeded full ownership of his farms to daughters Marian and Margaret.
In Spring 1921, Frank was kicked in the groin by a horse and died a painful death July 3, 1921. June 2, 1937, Marian Pryer Lakin bought her sister Margaret Pryer Moriarty Corey’s half interest in the full 147 acres, and Marian, husband #lon D. Lakin, and daughters Ann and Phyllis moved there from Ionia in 1939. Soon thereafter Lakins had the Trail barn moved to the home place, just across the road from the big barn, as a place for milking cows during summer pasture season without herding them back and forth across the road twice a day. The traffic kept increasing, as it became M-16, then US-16, and concrete pavement instead of a good gravel road. Originally it had been an advantage to have a good road through the door-yard, just as it was great to have the back corner of the 10 acres touch the railroad right-of-way, where Frank hoped to construct corrals & ramp for loading market cattle. Then Lakins sold the Trail farm of 27 acres and bought 40 acres which was the C. Millie Brooks Estate directly west of the home farm and facing Charlotte Hwy. This made 160 acres that held for 40 years.
After Elon’s death in 1978, Marian sold the big house and 6 acres in 1979, to Richard T. Smith, an antique dealer, who filled it with stuff, but let the roof and paint go. Kevin & Kim Lay acquired it about 1990 and began to restore it, adding the 4 acres in 1998. Margaret Pryer had died in 1974 and Marian died in 2002. The 1903 house had only a large upstairs bathroom, Lakins took half of a closet to make a two-piece bath off the downstairs bedroom/den. The original porch had a railing all around at floor level and roof level; the new rail at porch level brings back the beauty. With all inside woodwork refinished and plaster replaced and similar furniture placement, it is more beautiful than when new.
HISTORY OF THE JOHN H. SCHLOSSER FAMILY
In a recent conversation with a woman named Gerry Vandlen here at the Clark Retirement Community, she mentioned that a family name on her Mother’s side was Schlosser and said the late John Schlosser of Ionia was her Great Uncle and she remembered visiting there as a little girl. A few days later at our Slowinski-Slowins Family Reunion at the Wagon-Wheel Restaurant near Portland, my sister Donna Slowins Eder introduced me to a former schoolmate of hers, Brenda Davids. Brenda’s parents were William & Maude Moyer Jansen, good shepherd friends of ours, who had three daughters, Joyce, Yvonne and Brenda. Joyce was married to the late Harold Scheurer Jr. His mother was Bertha Schlosser, daughter of John Schlosser, and Harold’s sister was Betty Scheurer (Mrs. Kendall) Knox. John Schlosser had another daughter, Marguerite, who sent my Uncle John Slowinski a “Dear John” letter in the Italian combat zone during World War II. I believe she later married a man who was a Pharmacist in the Traverse City area. John H. Schlosser’s children were: John T. Scholosser, Joseph D. Schlosser, Herman M. Schlosser, Bertha Schlosser Scheurer, William P. and Marguerite Schlosser (Whipple?). At least one son lived with his mother on Hinds Road, Orange Township, Ionia, MI, after his parents separated.
John Herman Schlosser, born in Orange Township – October 5, 1879, died in Ionia (c. 1955?), son of John Schlosser Sr. and Alice M. Havens Schlosser; married 1901, to Bertha Antcliff, born in Belding – 1883, daughter of Thomas H. Antcliff & Phoebe Raby. John H. Schlosser owned and farmed over 400 acres in Orange Township, a big farm in his day. He also operated a threshing rig, with a Case separator and steam engine. Later he switched to gas and oil tractors, also Case. He had the dealership for J. I. Case, New Idea, and perhaps New Holland farm machinery. What he was most noted for was being a pack rat. He gradually filled the fields around his buildings with used farm machinery taken in on trade. He had one or more huge tool-sheds built especially for his threshing rigs. He gradually filled these with new farm equipment, as well as such new items as woven wire fence, steel posts, post drivers, post hole diggers, pointed shovels, scoop shovels, rakes, hoes, axes, mauls, forks, hammers, scythes, sickles, stone-boat heads, etc., much of it in bundles. If anything was scarce during World War II, he found a way to get it and hoard it. Like most pack rats, he thought all that stuff would be worth a lot someday. He also had junkyard dogs, possibly Rotweilers, to protect it. After his death, we were just getting started farming and attended his auction. Hardware dealers and others backed flatbed trucks up to the sales ring to load out stuff. Some of the old stuff had been taken out of the weeds for scrap iron with large cranes and magnets during WW II, and now the rest was gathered for scrap.
William & Maude Moyer Jansen’s daughters were born in the following order: Joyce – married Harold Scheurer Jr., Yvonne –married Mr. Maus, and Brenda – who married Wes Davids. Maude was a daughter of Leon Moyer, as was Kendall Knox’s mother, Thelma. Leon’s children were Russell, Theron, Bruce, Thelma, Myrtle, Maude and Herb. Leon came to Sebewa from his family’s homestead, six miles south of Mulliken at Moyer Corners and Moyer Cemetery, Eaton County, MI. He married Fannie Snyder, daughter of one of Sebewa’s Civil War Veterans, Dr. George Snyder. She was a sister to Henry Snyder, Winnie Benschoter’s father, and to George Snyder Jr., Mamie Downing’s stepfather, Cleo Downing Piercefield’s grandfather, Lori Piercefield Fox’s great-grandfather and Governor Rick Snyder’s grandfather. They tenant-farmed for Charles L. Halladay, former Ionia County Clerk, south of the Sebewa Corners United Methodist Church and were buying that farm in 1906. Then they moved to Grand River Ave. in Eagle Township. John & Mary Carr (Karczewski – pronounced Kartewski) became tenents on the Halladay farm, and later Walter & Maxine Brown became the owners, followed by Larry & Nancy Brown. Russell Moyer farmed with Leon & Fannie at the Eagle farm, and had 15 children: Eleanor, Elizabeth, Beverly, Robert, Elon, John, John’s twin who died, Barry, Norma, Margaret, Gene, Jack, Jim and two more who died. The Jim Moyer whose wife is Val Vroman, and lives on the Raymond Kenyon farm and also owns the Prin Barclay buildings near the Wagon Wheel, is a grandson, the son of Robert Moyer. Mark Moyer, who lives on Bippley also is a great-grandson. Betty Moyer was Bill’s sister. As we mentioned above, Kendall Knox was the son of Thelma Moyer Knox. Herb Moyer’s children were Mary & Susan.
“VOICES FROM THE PAST” & “THOUGHTS WHILE STROLLING ON KENT STREET” Gathered from past issues of THE PORTLAND REVIEW & OBSERVER and THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR.
October 27, 1909: E. A. Richards (Portland Grocer and grandfather to Barbara & Marilyn Richards) has purchased George W. Allen’s fine new Dolson auto. Mr. Allen will buy one of the new models on which the necessity of hand cranking is eliminated. (E. A. Richard’s wife Lu (Lula) was a daughter of John A. McClelland and sister to Will McClelland. After her husband’s death, she switched back to clerking in the McClelland Store.)
Mrs. Frank Norwood died at the home of her sister, Mrs. John A. McClelland. (Portland Cemetery Records indicate that Frank A. & Mary E. Norwood were the parents of Orson B. & Chester R. Norwood. Therefore Orson & Chester were first cousins to Will McClelland and Lu Richards; and Mrs. Florence (Wade) Buckley and Mrs. Earl Allen were second cousins to Lucille McClelland Young and her sister, and to Curley Richards; so the Richards girls, the Young kids, the Buckley kids, the Allen kids of Sebewa Corners and their half-sister, Daisy Parmeter, were third cousins, and in some cases first cousins.)
October 19, 2014: Sixty years ago today, on October 19, 1954, this Editor, along with Roy Spitzley, Gerry Schrauben, and Jerome (?) Cavanaygh, were sworn into the United States Navy, to serve in the Korean Conflict. We all survived and have had a good life.
October 27, 1929: Editor Fred Mauren saw Claude Plant carrying building materials into his former meat market, which was being remodeled for (Max) Pierce’s Recreation. (This was next north of Pierce’s Tavern, formerly Louie’s Tasty Foods or Candy-Land. Pierce’s Grill (for teens, up by the Maynard-Allen Bank, replacing Hosley’s Men’s Wear) had become economically unsound and was closing soon.)
December 29, 1909: The building owned by the Odd Fellows and occupied jointly by their Lodge (upstairs) and Leon Williamston’s Store (downstairs), at West Sebewa, burned to the ground.
January 12, 1910: Dr. John W. Toan and family are now located in Oklahoma City, having left Bancroft last week. (Dr. Tone was a Portland boy, who had previously practiced medicine in Portland and Muir, MI, and possibly other towns; both Michigan and Iowa have a Bancroft, Oklahoma does not.)
January 12, 1930: Natural gas for the Village of Portland within a few months is almost a certainty, according to a statement made by one of the officials of Consumers Power Company. (Coming by pipeline up Charlotte Highway. Locally manufactured gas was available before that; called “Coal Gas”, it was made by distilling bituminous coal and used for lighting and heating.)
Beginning January 27, 1930, when the second semester starts, hot lunches will be served to all students attending the Public Schools. (This statement is somewhat misleading, as not all students were able to get free lunches in the 1930s & 1940s, as some do today. Sometimes we would carry our lunch and sometimes we would buy it for awhile.)
Ralph Hiar (from Sebewa Corners) has leased the Hanibal Wilson building on Kent Street and has purchased the furnishings left there by George Herron, who conducted a card room and lunch counter there. Mr. Hair will put it to the same use. (One of the small wooden buildings south of Divine Hotel).
Robbers entered Fred Shindorf’s oil station two miles west of Portland Saturday night, carrying away several cartons of cigarettes, a number of boxes of cigars, a quantity of chewing gum, cookies and crackers. (This is not the first time; the previous time they took several rings of bologna and loaves of bread as well.)
December 29, 1909: Portland barbers have announced a charge of 5 cents for neck shaves. (There was significance to this, because no matter the amount of facial hair, no self-respecting man, or husband of a self-respecting woman, would be seen in public in that day and age without the back of his neck shaved to a clear and sharp hairline. Haircuts and shaves were 10 cents – 15 cents each, but just a neck shave could no longer be done for free.)
January 26, 1930: As the first step toward piping gas to Portland from its central plant at Lansing, the Consumers Power Company last week made application to both the Portland Village Commission and the Portland Township Board for a thirty year franchise. (That would have required a vote of the people to approve such a franchise, and a new vote every thirty years thereafter. This applies to both gas and electric franchises. Sebewa Township voted on electric franchises for both Consumers Power Co. and Tri-County Electric Cooperative. Consumers’ was about 1927 – 1957 – 1987 we believe, and therefore will be due again about 2017. Tri-County’s vote came in the early 1930s, to cover the more northerly portion of the Township, and again in the 1960s – the 1990s, and is due again in the early 2020s. You never hear of anyone voting these things down, but they are needed to legally determine who covers what territory, to prevent disputes.)
(Story has it that Charles Ralston, who lived across Musgrove Highway from our farm and was Secretary/Treasurer of Farmers Mutual Insurance Company funds in Ionia, encouraged investment of a considerable amount of Insurance Company funds in Consumers Power. In return he got a promise for the power line coming from Lansing through Mulliken and Sunfield to come down Musgrove Hwy, to Lake Odessa, rather than down M-43. Thus residents of Musgrove Hwy. had power several years before the rest of Sebewa Township was covered. Robert Wilfred Gierman, founder of THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, started working for Tri-County as office assistant to Secretary/Manager Dolph Wolf, and eventually became Treasurer of that Cooperative.)
January 26, 1930: Present indications are that Dr. John W. Toan, injured in a railroad crossing accident at Mulliken a week ago Sunday, will be able to take the ride to Lansing on Wednesday for a more thorough X-$ay examination.
February 2, 1930: Robert Cramer, who is employed as a clerk in E. A. Richards Market, accompanied Mrs. Lula Richards and her father, John A. McClelland, to Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida, relieving Mrs. Richards as driver part of the way. Robert arrived back in Portland Thursday and is again clerking in the store.
Dr. John D. Bandfield traded his bungalow, first door north of the Congregational Church, for Delmar A. Packard’s larger, two-story, bungalow at the north end of the same block, which stands on the former location of the Universalist Church. (Bob Lear & wife, owners of Lear’s Market, owned and occupied the latter home in the l950s & after, and Merwood Reahm & wife, the former.)
CURRENT ISSUES OF RECOLLECTOR: We aim to publish every two months, so there are six issues per year, and we ask $6.00 contribution, to cover paper, ink, and postage, given by June 1st for the year ahead, beginning July 1st. Please be sure we have your correct address, and let us know when you no longer wish to receive THE RECOLLECTOR.
BACK ISSUES OF RECOLLECTOR: We have a few sets left, get them while they last: $60.00 for almost 50 years, 297 issues clamped in three theme folders that full a half-case copy-paper box, including packaging and shipping.
SCHNABEL FAMILY HISTORY: Leather-bound book that includes the Schnabel, Slowins, Slowinski, Slovinski, Slavinski, Steinberg, Sarlouis, Benhagel, Biehler, Kubish, Lehman, Majinska, O’Mara, and all related families. Includes old family pictures, genealogy, and lots of stories of history & herstory: now $25 in USA, $39 in Canada, including updated prices on packaging & postage & Customs to Canada.
BRAKE-COSENS FAMILY HISTORY: Leather-bound book that is a history of the Brech-Break-Brake family in America, beginning with Hannes Brech I, who came from Switzerland to Pennsylvania about 1751, and Elizabeth (Ann) Goodchild & Charles Westley Cosens I, who came from Dorking, England about 1832, and whose families were united by the marriage of Abraham Break & Caroline Cosens in 1859. Complete genealogical family register with photographs where available; $25 in USA, $39 in Canada, including updated prices on packaging & postage & Customs to Canada.
WENGER-NOGLE FAMILY HISTORY: About to start; if your family should be in it, get me up to date on births-deaths-marriages and family photos.
Grayden D. Slowins, Editor
Last update February 07, 2015