Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 5 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 1969, Volume 5, Number 1



     The June Annual Meeting brought together an interesting group of people.  From away were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Tysse of Holland; Zack and Helen York of Kalamazoo; Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Kussmaul of Woodland, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Gierman, Mrs. Martha Gierman, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Coe, Mrs. Wilma Coe and Mrs.Sharon White of Ionia; Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Wilkes of Muir; George Sargent, Mrs. Reva Clark and Mrs. Clifton Cook of Lake Odessa.  For a short visit was Richard Thrams with his guests, two Polish exchange students, Stanislaw Drupka and Jan Pawlak of Warsaw and Manuel Lecca of Lima, Peru, a student at M.S.U.  The one-room schoolhouse was a curiosity to our foreign visitors.

     At the business meeting Robert W. Gierman was reelected as president for another 3-year term.  The 20-minute film “When Michigan Was Young”. Furnished by Consumers Power Company, held the program interest and gave some understanding of Michigan’s early history. 


     Sebewa now has two stretches of two miles of highway without a habitation.  Knox Road from Keifer to Sunfield Highway is without an occupied dwelling as is Petrie Road from Emery to Musgrove.  A number of other single miles of road are without residents.  Historically this condition has presaged closing of such roads.

     Other highways show some concentration of dwellings.  Rene (to rhyme with today) and Patricia Ann Van Neste are preparing a mobile home site on the Van Neste Sod Farm on Henderson Road.  This was once the location of Ben Low’s log house where he brought his “mail order bride”, Fannie Redfern.  (If Fannie had a round trip ticket, Sebewa might never have seen her after her first look at the log house.)  The muck land vegetable crops are giving way to the growing of sod coverings for use in landscaping.  Across the corner John Lich and family will occupy the house left vacant by the death of Nora Sindlinger.  We’ll not call him Junior but for clarity this is the John of Lich’s Farm Service of Portland, son of John of Sebewa Farms. 


     The fossilized remains of the Gingko are found in widely scattered areas of Europe and Asia—fossils whose living fan-shaped leaves grew as long as 120 million years ago.  Of all the trees of that coal forming period, only the Gingko and the Cycad (sage palm) survive as living species.  There is only one Gingko tree in Sebewa that I know of.  That is found in the lawn of Raymond Kenyon.

    The name Gingko is Japanese for silver apricot.  Only the female bears fruit—a malodorous pulp about a seed.  The fruit, however, is esteemed as a food in the Orient.  Gingko is also known as the Maidenhair tree.  The toughness of 120 million years of survival allows the tree to flourish in smog polluted atmospheres that most other trees cannot tolerate. 


     In mentioning in our April number that the Sindlingers were the first immigrants to Sebewa, the sentence should have read German immigrants. 


     From a Paper by O. A. Jenison, Lansing, to the Michigan Pioneer Society, Read to the Society February 5, 1879.

     Finally, I present you with an ambrotype likeness of the old Indian Chief, Okemos, in doing which, I wish to say that I know it to be genuine; it is not a copy, neither does it come to you second-handed.  Okemos sat for this very picture to my certain knowledge, in 1857, and it has never been out of my possession from that date to this.

     Within the last year, since having concluded to present you with this likeness, I have thought it not inappropriate to compile and rewrite a few incidents in his life, in the undertaking of which I was not unmindful of the fact that sketches of his life had already been written by much abler biographers than myself, and to them I am somewhat indebted for portions of the life and character of this noted Indian Chief; but the principal part of this biography I obtained from gentlemen who were personally acquainted with him, could speak his language and who traded and bought furs of the tribe for many years.  The date of the birth of Okemos is shrouded in mystery, but our researches disclose the fact that he was born at or near Knaggs Station on the Shiawasee River, where the Port Huron and Lansing Railroad now crosses said river.

      I wish to say right here, that in writing up the biography of this man, I have carefully read his history as portrayed by Campbell in his Political History of Michigan, Tuttle’s History of Michigan, F. J. Littlejohn’s legends of “Michigan and the Old Northwest”, together with many newspaper accounts of his heroism and bravery.

     From all this information I might have lengthened this article to an almost unlimited extent, but have chosen rather to give such facts as I have been able to obtain, and although some portions of my remarks may not be new, still they throw new light on an old story.  The great event in the life of Okemos was his battle at Sandusky, in regard to which I think I have secured facts that were never before committed to paper.

     Okemos, at the time of his death, was said to be a centenarian, but a century contains a number of years that but few out of the many are permitted to see.  In a sketch of his life given in the LANSING REPUBLICAN under date of April 6, 1871, it is said he probably took the war path in 1791; this is the earliest account I find of him in any written history.  Judge Littlejohn in his Legends of “Michigan and the Old Northwest” introduces him to the reader in 1803, and expressly says “in our data, local delineations, and topographical outlines, the reader may trust to our general accuracy.”

     The Battle of Sandusky, in which Okemos took such an active part, was the great event of his life, and this it was that gave him his chieftainship and caused him to be revered by his tribe; for a detailed description of that memorable and bloody fight, I am indebted to B. O. Williams, Esq., of Owosso, who for many years was an Indian trader, spoke the Indian language and received the story direct from the lips of the old Chief.  In relating the story, Okemos says “Myself and cousin Man-ato-corb-way with sixteen other braves enlisted under the British flag, forced a scouting or war party, and leaving the upper Raisin made our rendezvous at Sandusky, where, one morning while lying in ambush near a road lately cut for the passage of the American army and supply wagons, we observed twenty cavalrymen approaching us.  We immediately decided to attack the Americans although outnumbered by two, concluding that we could effectually cripple them at the first fire, which followed by a dash with the tomahawk would accomplish our design; accordingly we waited until they had approached so near that we could count the buttons on their coats, when firing commenced at close quarters”.  The cavalrymen with drawn sabres immediately charged upon Okemos and his followers, and then commenced the bloodiest and most decisive battle in which Okemos was ever engaged.  In fact, from all that I can learn, it was his last battle.  Okemos says that he and his cousin fought side by side through this conflict, and their experience was about the same throughout the engagement; each one firing from two to three times while dodging from one cover to another.  But to return to the beginning of the fight:  In less than ten minutes after the first fire of the Indians, the sound of a bugle was heard, and casting their eyes in the direction of the sound they saw the road and woods filled with cavalry, in describing which, Okemos says “The plumes on their hats looked like a flock of thousands of pigeons just hovering for a flight”.

     The small party of Indians was immediately surrounded and cut down to a man; not one escaped the sabres of this dashing charge, and all were left for dead on the field.  Okemos and his cousin each had their skulls cloven and their bodies gashed in a fearful manner; and as a finale, in order to be sure that life was extinct upon leaving the field, the cavalrymen would lean forward from their horses and with their sabers pierce the chests of the Indians, even into their lungs; thus they were left prostate upon their backs, entirely unconscious from the first heavy blows that crushed through their skulls. The last that Okemos remembered was after emptying one saddle and springing toward another with clubbed rifle raised in the act of striking, his head felt as if being pierced with a red hot iron, and he went down from a heavy sabre cut.  All knowledge ceased from this time until many moons afterward, when he found himself being nursed by squaws of their friends, who, with others, had found them some two or three days after the battle.

      The squaws thought all were dead, but upon being moved, signs of life were discovered in Okemos and his cousin, who were at once taken on litters to a place of safety, and by careful and untiring nursing, finally restored to a partial health.  The cousin always remained a cripple, his suffering having induced chronic rheumatism which distorted the joints of his hands and feet.  The iron constitution with which Okemos was endowed by nature, restored him to comparative health; but he never took an active part in another battle, this last one having satisfied him that “white man was a heap powerful” and shortly afterward he plicited Colonel Godfrey to intercede with General Cass, and he, with other chiefs, executed a treaty with the Americans, which was faithfully adhered to the remainder of their days.

     Okemos did not obtain his chieftainship by hereditary descent, but this honor was conferred upon him after having passed through the battle just described—for his bravery and endurance his tribe considered him a favorite of the Great Spirit who had preserved his life through such a terrible and trying ordeal.

     The next we hear of Okemos, he had settled with his tribe on the banks of the Shiawassee, near the place of his birth, where for many years, but to 1837-8, he was engaged in the peaceful avocation of hunting, fishing, and trading with the white man.  About this time the smallpox broke out in his tribe, which together with the influx of white settlers, destroyed their hunting grounds and scattered the bands.

     The plaintive, soft notes of the wooing young hunter’s flute, made of red alder wood, and the sound of the tom-tom at council fires and village feasts was heard no more along the banks of our inland streams; for years before, the tomahawk had been effectually buried, and upon the final breaking up and scattering of the bands, Okemos became a mendicant, and may a hearty meal has the old man received from the old settlers of Lansing with a grateful heart.  In his palmy days, I should think his greatest height never exceeded five feet four inches; he was lithe, wiry, active, intelligent, and possessed of undoubted bravery; he was not however, an eloquent speaker, either in council or private conversation, always mumbling his words and speaking with some hesitation.  Previous to the breaking up of his band in 1837-38, his usual dress consisted of a blanket coat with belt, steel pipe hatchet or tomahawk, and heavy long English hunting or scalping knife sheath, his face painted with vermillion, on his cheeks and forehead and over his eyes, a shawl wound around his head turban fashion, together with the leggings usually worn by Indians, completed his outfit, which during his lifetime he never discarded.

     None of his biographers have ever attempted to fix the date of his birth, contenting themselves with the general conviction that he was an hundred years old.  In this respect I most respectfully beg leave to differ from them, for the following reasons viz:  Physically endowed with a strong constitution, naturally brave and impetuous and inured to the hardships of an Indian life, we are led to believe that he took the war path early in life, and his first introduction to our notice is in 1791.  I reason from this, that he was born about the year 1775, in which case, he lived about eighty-three years; the old settlers of Lansing well remember that up to the latest period of his having been seen on our streets, his step was short, quick, and elastic, to a degree that is seldom enjoyed by men of that age.  He died at his wigwam a few miles from this city, and was buried December 6, 1858, at Shimnecon, an Indian settlement in Ionia County; his coffin was rude in the extreme, and in it were placed a pipe, tobacco, hunting knife, birds’ wings, provisions, etc.  He surrendered his chieftainship a few years previous to his death to his son, John, but he never forgot that he was Okemos, once the chief of a powerful tribe of the Chippewas, and nephew of Pontiac.  The end.



     A few Chippewas were left in the country, but their headquarters was the Shimnecon Mission just over the north line of the county.  There was something of an Indian village in the town of Delta, the northeast corner of the county.  Okemos was their chief.  In the REPUBLICAN of September 10, 1869, and in other articles published about that time, are some interesting sketches in regard to the Indians of which Okemos was chief.  Mr. Chauncey Goodrich gives a description of a war dance he witnesses in Delta at an early day.

     SAWBA, from when the lake in Sunfield derived its name, was not a good Indian.  He had a disagreeable habit of visiting houses when the men were away and frightening the women into giving him the best there was in the house to eat.  He thus made himself a terror and a pest to the settlers, and does not seem to have been remarkable for anything else. 


From EARLY HISTORY OF ST. CLAIR COUNTY by Mrs. B. C. Farrand, of Port Huron:

     Ogemos or Okemos, was a nephew of the great chieftain, Pontiac, and like him, was a bold and daring warrior.  He was in person fleshy and short, was full of life and ambition, and was buried in Ionia County, December 5, 1858, and was not less than one hundred years old.  On one occasion, on his way to Sarnia for the purpose of obtaining his annuity, he, with his wife and children stayed overnight at Mrs. Brakeman’s.  His wife at the time was very ill with consumption, and he manifested toward her much sympathy and kindness, himself dressing her feet and waiting upon her, much like an attentive white husband, and carried her in his arms to the canoe in which they were to cross the St. Clair River.  When near the middle of the stream he hoisted the British flag, but he did not receive the payments for which he had made the trip.  He said he had much trouble; his wife died on the way, and he returned to bury her, taking her body to the Riley settlement, and afterward went down to Malden to straighten out the annuity business.

     How he succeeded I do not know, as he had given in his allegiance to the United States, after the Battle of Sandusky, in which he was engaged, and which was the great event of his life, having been left on the battlefield as dead, for two or three days.

     He, with other Indians, had enlisted under the British flag and had formed a scouting party for American scalps.  His story as told by himself is already recorded in the county histories of Saginaw and of St. Clair, and I will not now repeat.  After his recovery from his wounds he saw he was on the wrong side and took the oath of fealty to the United States, which he faithfully observed.  But I have not satisfied myself of his entire honesty in claiming the protection of the British flag in 1844.  Perhaps his poverty knew no law.  At the time of this visit of Okemos at Mr. Brakeman’s, which was December 21, 1844, they conversed together in Indian the whole evening.  Okemos stated he was well known in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Dexter, Jackson and Pontiac, and pulled his shirt up over his head and showed the scars of the fearful wounds made by tomahawks and the indentations of the bullets in the battle of Sandusky.  His totem was the bear. 


    Okemos was a witness.  I am 76 years old; have lived in Michigan 48 years; I knew General Cass well.  I was at the treaty of 1819.  I was at that time a chief of a certain band among the Ottawa tribe—a part of the band I was chief over were Chippewas.  The treaty was signed at Saginaw, on the west side of the river, back of Mr. Campau’s house, in a long shed.  I signed the treaty as one of the Chippewas’ chiefs.  At the time I signed the treaty my residence was at a place about six miles above Lansing, on the Red Cedar River.  I was born in Michigan near Pontiac, on an island in a lake.  From that time to the time of the treaty I lived at Okemos City, near Lansing.  I was 30 years old when I left the place where I was born.  Min-e-to-gon-o-way, my mother’s father, and Kob-e-ko-no-ka, my uncle, were my chiefs.  The first named was a Chippewa Indian and the last named an Ottawa.  They were no connection to each other.  I was first a chief when I was 20 years old and was about 50 at the time of the treaty.  I knew Kaw-ga-ge-zhic; he was at the treaty.  He lived about six miles from the present village of Flint, at Tobosh’s trading house; he was a chief at that time.  I knew Noc-chie-o-me; he is acting as chief now; he is down the Saginaw River; he had two children at the time of the treaty, and lived at that time at the Big Rock, on the Shiawassee, called Chesaning. 


     Unless you are prepared to use a helicopter hearse and a flock of angel pallbearers to reach the East Sebewa Cemetery, you might not make it there.

     Road Closed signs on Keifer Highway and on Bippley Road indicate there is no open route to the Cemetery.  Two miles of Keifer from Emery to Musgrove is being brought to grade for blacktopping next year.  At present there is a 4-foot separation of grade between Keifer and Bippley roads.  The sign on Bippley Road is to indicate the bridge across Sebewa Creek at the Cemetery is closed for repairs.  Extensive reinforcement of the bridge will be made. 


     Strict enforcement of the State Health Department rules for covering refuse at public dumps within a 24-hour period of the dumping has brought disagreement and noncompliance charges in the operation of the Duffy dump.  Unless new arrangements are made, the dumping privileges to Sebewa Township residents will no longer be available.  The Setchfield dump on Clyde Road off Kelsey Highway near Ionia is open daily until 4 PM for anybody who pays the nominal dumping fee. 


     A property damage accident at the intersection of Clarksville and Shilton Roads that involved the cars of Paul Thuma and Max Strachan point up the need for review of highway traffic signs in the Township.  Three years ago a traffic fatality occurred at the Goddard Road intersection and another at Goddard and Henderson Roads.  Other road signs in Sebewa show little consistency in their placement—stop signs where a yield sign would be sufficient and yield signs on country road approaches to fast moving blacktop traffic as well as several intersections with no markings whatever.

     We do not know who has the responsibility for deciding the locations of proper highway signs.  So the appeal goes to Supervisor Smith to find somebody in the three ring circus of the Sheriff’s Department, the Road Commission and the State Police to live up to the responsibility of giving the motorist who may be unfamiliar with our roads, a chance to drive them without unwittingly causing an accident of whatever proportion. 


     Recently started in operation is a drilling rig in the southwest corner of Orange Township on the farm property of Mrs. William Possehn under lease to the Ashland Oil Company.  This is only a few golf drives away from the 2900-foot salt well on section 4 of Sebewa Township.

     Barring salt or oil production, maybe they will bring up some Orange juice. 


     For all of Harry Meyers’ 78 years he and Ben Probasco have been neighbors.  Harry was off base for a little while, sowing his wild oats in North Dakota.  When he came back he brought his wife, Mattie, and son, Harold, with him.  Harry once served as Township Clerk and was a member of District No. 4 School Board. 


     Young Charlotte lived by the mountainside, in a wild and lonely spot; No dwelling there for three miles around, except her father’s cot; And yet on many a winter’s night young swains would gather there,

     For her father kept a social board, and she was very fair.

     Her father liked to see her dressed as fine as a city belle,For it was New-Year’s eve, the sun had set, why looks her anxious eye So long from the frosty window forth as the merry sleighs pass by?

     At the village inn, fifteen miles off, there’s a merry ball tonight; The piercing air is as cold as death, but her heart is warm and light; But ah! How laughs her beaming eye as a well-known voice she hears, And dashing up to the cottage-door young Charles with sleigh appears.

     “O daughter dear!” her mother said, “this blanket round you fold, For it is a dreadful night abroad and you’ll get your death of cold.”  “Nay, mother, nay” fair Charlotte said, and she laughed like a Gipsy queen;“To ride in blankets muffled up I never can be seen.  “My silken cloak is quite enough, it is lined throughout, you know; Her gloves were on, her bonnet tied, she jumped into the sleigh And away they ride by the mountainside and o’er the hills away.

     There is life in the sound of the merry bells as o’er the hills they go; What a creaking noise the runners make as they bite the frozen snow; with muffled faces silently, o’er five long miles they pass.  When Charles with these words the silence broke at last:

     “Such a night as this I never saw, the reins I scare can hold” When Charlotte, shivering, faintly said “I am exceeding cold.”  He cracked his whip and urged his team more swiftly than before.  Until five other dreary miles in silence were passed o’er.

     “O see”, said Charles, “how fast the frost is gathering on my brow”.  Then Charlotte, in a feeble voice said “I am growing warmer now”. And on the ride through the frosty air and the glittering cold starlight until at last the village inn and ballroom are in sight.

     They reached the inn and Charles jumped out and held his arms to her; “Why sit you like a monument without the power to stir?”  He called her once, he called her twice, and on her the cold stars shone; And then into the lighter hall her lifeless form he bore; For Charlotte was a frozen corpse and words spoke nevermore.

     He sat himself down by her side, and the bitter tears did flow, And he said “My young intended bride I nevermore shall know”; He threw his arms around her neck and kissed her marble brow; And his thoughts went back to where she said “I’m growing warmer now.”

     He bore her out into the sleigh and with her he drove home, And when he reached the cottage door, oh, how her parents mourned; They mourned the loss of their daughter, dear, while Charles mourned o’er their gloom Until with grief his heart did break, and they slumber in one tomb. 

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY By Francis Miles Finch

     By the flow of the inland river, Whence the fleets of iron have fled,Where the blades of the grave grass quiver, Asleep are the ranks of the dead; Under the sod and the dew Waiting the judgement day; Under the one the Blue, Under the other, the Gray.

     These in the robings of glory, Those in the gloom of defeat, All with the battle blood gory, In the dusk of eternity meet; Under the sod and the dew Waiting the judgement day; Under the laurel, the Blue, Under the willow, the Gray.

     So, when the summer calleth, On forest and field of grain, The cooling drip of the rain; Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgement day; Wet with the rain, the Blue, Wet with the rain, the Gray.

     No more shall the war cry sever, Or the winding rivers be red; They banish our anger forever When they laurel the graves of our dead; Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgement day; Love and tears for the Blue, Tears and love for the Gray. 


Portland is having a Centennial celebration of its incorporation year of 1869 and, in attempting to develop our ideas of what the village must have been in that year, we who have worked on the Centennial Book (which will be published soon) have discovered a number of interesting aspects of our history.

     People, of course, are responsible for that history and those hardy pioneers who were able to penetrate this wilderness area of the Grand River Valley and settle their families so far removed from any civilization, certainly deserve to be especially remembered.

     We have only to make a tour through the oldest part of our Portland Cemetery, which was established in 1837, to find the family names which we associate with the founding of sawmills, grist mills, carding mills, wood working plants and woolen mills or the blacksmiths, the carpenters, shoemakers, dressmakers, and always, the farmers who provided the grains for the mill and the food for the table.

     We find the grave of Elisha Newman, who bought 200 acres of what is now the Village of Portland in June of 1833—the first land to be taken up in the township.  However, he returned to his native New York state and did not settle here until May of 1836 when he arrived with his sons, Almeron and James and their families and some other relatives.  It was the Newmans who dammed the Looking Glass River, dug a race some 60 rods long, erected a sawmill from trees cut on the site, put in a run of stone and were in business by the end of December 1836.  Almeron was to develop a carding mill and later the Portland Woolen Mills on the opposite bank of the river.  Inscriptions on the stone inform us that Elisha died in 1847 at the age of 71; James died in 1877 at the age of 65, and Rebecca, his wife, died in 1862; and Almeron died in 1876 at the age of 72; and his wife, Laura, at the age of 65 died in 1875.

     Mary Newman, daughter of James and Rebecca Hixon Newman, was the first white child born in Portland, October 23, 1837.  Her written account of those early days of settlement has been read by many people interested in the village history.  She married Napolean Bonapart Rice—a Portland school teacher.  Their graves are found on the west side of the entrance road.

     Philo Bogue and his son, William W., were really the first settlers in November of 1833.  They came as traders, supplying the Indians with pork, flour and whiskey.  W. W. Bogue later ran a store on the corner where Peake Electric is now located.

     James Milne and son, John, came here direct from London and bought land where the TRW plant is now located, in late 1833 and that family became the first people to farm in the locality.  James’ wife and 7 children came in the fall of 1834.  (I could not locate the graves of any of the Bogues at this writing and the dates on the 7 Milne graves did not coincide with the older Milnes’ but evidently are those of the children.)

     Ezra Perrin and his wife, Sarah, came in July of 1834 and immediately sent the ox team back to Shiawassee County to transport Mr. and Mrs. John Knox and sons, Alanson and Harvey, who had been stranded there for lack of transportation.  The Perrins spent that first winter in a little shanty on the west bank of Grand River near Island #1.  Sarah’s grave carries a D. A. R. marker.  She was born in 1793 and died in 1885 and Ezra was born in 1790 and died in 1860.

     Here is the grave of Orlando Pettit (1846-1919) and his wife, Rosalie (1849-1924) who in 1869 were advertising the following in the Portland Advertiser:  “picture frames, groceries, confectionery, raisins, herring, extracts, yankee notions and oysters by the can or plate.”

     A tombstone for the “wives of Wm. Dinsmore”, a dhoemaker and farmer, shows that one died in 1855, one in 1867 and one in 1873, which is another verification that the mortality rate was considerably higher than at present—and especially higher for infants.

     The largest shaft monument in the cemetery denotes the Webber lots.  John Webber, his father, Lorenzo, and later his son, Lorenzo, were associated with the first banking interests in Portland in 1870.  Another shaft monument—this one on the left side of the entrance road, bears the names of the Maynard family.  Charles Maynard was also in the banking business and that later became the Maynard Allen State Bank.  It was started in 1874.

     Nearby is a triangular plot with markers all of one size, which is a plot of the Bandfield family.  Thomas J. Banfield (1845-1927) came to Portland from England at the age of 20 and went into business as a cabinet maker.  Later he had furniture stores and in 1887 he bought the property of the Portland Woolen Mills and converted it into a furniture factory, making a specialty of library and extension tables. These tables were of fine quality and sold very well.  In the one year of 1890 he produced around 4,000 tables.  He married Annis White Bandfield (1849-1927) and their four children were Edna, Harold, Arthur and Edith.

     A very tall marker on the right side of the entrance road is that of the Robert Toan family and the inscription states “Robert Toan—born in Ireland, 1796; died in Portland 1879; a pioneer of Ionia County.  Settled on his farm in 1837”.

     Dr. Charles Dellonbaugh, a very popular doctor who seemed to be involved in many village interests, is buried on a corner lot on the entrance road.  Born 1834; died 1916.

     A plot enclosed by an iron rail belongs to the Dilley family.  Josiah Dilley had been born in England (1835) and moved with his parents to New York state in 1852.  In 1854 he married Catherine Favor and they came directly to Michigan to settle on a 160-acre northwest of Portland.  He became one of the big manufacturers and buyers in the state in the stave industry.  In 1880 the Dilleys moved into a large house on the west side and to this day, the old timers always call that hill above the valley church the Dilley Hill.  He died in 1909.

     The Perrigo and Hinman plots remind us that these families were related and were also in business together.  They made about 50 wagons and carriages yearly plus miscellaneous work of a similar nature and their small factory was located where the Sun Theatre is now.

     The Woodburys were early merchants.  Jason Woodbury trained two clerks, who also went on to be merchants—Jimmy Churchill and John A. McClelland.

     The only mausoleum in our cemetery is that of the Frost family and here are buried Thomas Frost (1868-1917) and his wife, Anna (1855-1940) who originally lived on the Frost Farm at Frost’s Corners.  Thomas Isaac Frost (1878-1960) and his first wife, Margaret (1879-1917) are here.  A second wife, Edith, died in 1967.  And so we could go on recounting the past, for, after all, there are more than 6,500 people buried here, but enough to say that these lives can instruct us by precedent as we have benefitted by what they established for our village.  The end. 


     There are 5,000 museums in U. S. and a new one pops up about every three days, according to W. D. Frankfurter, director of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

     It is not surprising then, to find that we have a comparatively new museum in our general area.  We refer to the museum on Squash Hill, one mile south of Bellevue and owned by Claude Burton, State Representative of the district that includes Eaton County.

     Mr. Burton started out his collection by acquiring a buggy that he took in lieu of cash for the payment of a debt.  The buggy seemed to attract customers for the squash market the Burtons have maintained for many years.  The next year he bought another buggy, the squash customers were interested and Burton was in the museum business before he was quite aware of it.  One purchase led to another so fast that a building had to be provided for the things that were representative of grandpa’s generation and many that went before.

     In only seven years, Mr. Burton has a collection that is remarkably complete in depicting the life and times of generations past.

     The Burtons raise a crop of 25 acres of squash and market the entire crop from their farm yard.  All through the squash season of September and October, visitors are welcomed at the museum.  There are many visitors at other times of the year but no regular schedule is maintained.

     Recently a buggy and a cutter were taken from Mr. Burton’s yard while the family was away.  If you should see a buggy or cutter with a bonafide owner, pass the tip to Mr. Burton at Bellevue. 


     Mrs. Ross (Dorothy) Horwood, 42, of Ionia died in Ionia in June.  Mrs. Horwood had been President of the Grand Valley Rock and Mineral Society.  She attended our October 1965 Open House at the Center Schoolhouse and had maintained her interest and membership in our Association since then.  She is survived by her husband and two daughters. 


     When Bernice Gunn sold her farm to LaVern Carr, another Centennial Farm lost its tie to 100 years of ownership in the same family.

     The Gunn farm was taken from the Government by the elder Benjamin Probasco through a soldier’s warrant he had purchased form his brother.  When the Gunns came to Sebewa, Ben sold that land to Samuel Gunn.  Sam soon sold to Joshua Gunn.  From Josh it went to Fred, to Alton and Bernice.  From this large house, Bernice has moved to a comparatively small house in Lake Odessa, 603 4th Avenue. 


     At the heading of this bulletin you will notice we go into volume 5.  It has been our attempt to limit the material in it to those things of lasting interest.  We now have several sets of the complete back issues of THE RECOLLECTOR in soft covers.  They are offered for sale to members at the rate of $1 per year or $4 for a complete set.  This might solve another of your gift problems.  Proceeds go to the Sebewa Center Association treasury. 


     During the first week in September Portland will celebrate its centennial as an incorporated village.  The week’s activities will focus on recalling many of the interesting and important events of the past century.  It is easy to be bored with “that old stuff” and assume a haughty air of a quest for something more relevant.  Should you be tempted to view the Centennial Celebration in that light, just remember that without that 100 years of trial and error, you might well be living under the conditions that prevailed 100 years ago.

     One project of the celebration is the Centennial Book.  Lucille Esch and Betty Anesi have made an extensive collection of photographs from residents of the area that pretty well show the history of Portland.  With appropriate explanation and commentary, the book will be published and offered for sale in September, 2,500 copies make up the initial printing order and more can be printed if the demand is firm.

     If you are tired of sox and hankies to fill your Christmas gift list, here is a reasonable item that will outlast them all.  The Saranac people did a similar project with their centennial in July.  Their book is still available at $2.00. 


     Fair Charlotte or Young Charlotte and The Blue and the Gray are reprinted here as a sample of the songs of emotion and melancholy that entertained the generation of nearly a century ago.  Many of the young ladies could sing these songs, verse after verse and probably took a little pride in being able to hush an assembled party and bring forth a tear or two with their rendition of a popular song.

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


Last update March 26, 2013