THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Bulletin of the The Sebewa Center Association, Bulletin of The Sebewa Center Association, February 1972, Volume 7, Number 4
OLD PAPERS COME TO LIGHT
Not many people remember John and Rose Bainbridge. Recently when remodeling his house on the southeast corner of section 30 in Sebewa Township diagonally across the corner from the old Goddard Schoolhouse, Ed Leak discovered a roll of old newspapers left in a partition of the house. The papers were dated 1911 and had address labels with the name of Jno. And Rose Bainbridge addressed to them on R. F. D #45. They were living in that house in 1911.
Among the papers were two issues of the Lake Odessa Wave, some of the Middleville Sun, two copies of the Grand Rapids Herald, copies of the Orange Judd Farmer—a weekly published in Chicago by Orange Judd--, a copy of Hearth and Home from Augusta, Maine, Parks Floral Magazine from Pennsylvania and the Northwestern Farmer from the Upper Peninsula town of Menominee, Michigan. Some of the 1911 items used in this issue of the Recollector are from those papers. Our thanks to Ed for showing them.
A contrast in the cost of nursing care in old age comes into focus with the recollection that in her decline in health and subsequent death, Rose Bainbridge hired Ella Gunn to care for her on a live-in basis for two dollars a week. Two dollars might not last through breakfast on Monday at current rates.
HISTORY—A FOURTH DIMENSION
Most things we encounter can be described in terms of the three familiar dimensions of length, width and height. In a familiarity with history we have a fourth dimension in which to move about. With history, we can, in a sense, move freely backward in time for glimpses of the development of the things that are about us today. Without that insight into the past, much of today’s scene remains as meaningless as abstract painting is to most people. The trip into the past is yours to enjoy for the digging. Exploring in the other direction in time is more controversial and uncertain.
SAVING THE CLINTON TRAIL
From a 1911 issue of the Lake Odessa Wave. The Board of Supervisors of Eaton County voted down the proposition to close the old Clinton Trail, the old crossroad in the northwestern part of that county. Petitioners for and against it had been presented to the Board at the last two sessions. The trail was one of the first state roads laid out and supposed to be an airline from Grand Rapids to Detroit, a part of which is still in good use across Odessa.
ALSO IN THE LAKE ODESSA WAVE: Ionia, January 21, 1911. Ralph Walker, murderer of William Priestman of Lake Odessa, has been transferred from Jackson State Prison to the State Asylum at Ionia. (See December 1968 issue of the Recollector for the account of Priestman’s death). William Priestman’s daughter, Sarah Downing, died recently at the age of 88. Another old timer to die recently was Vern Davis of Lansing. His widow, Letha Demary Davis, survived him.
INDIAN PAYMENT DAY IN OLD TIMES
By Prof. M. A. Leeson, Historian, C. C. Chapman & Co. History of Kent County, 1881
There is a vast difference in the Indian payment day of the present (1881) and that of “olden time” long before Grand Rapids had attained its present importance and standing. About 1,200 Indians, of “all sorts and sizes” from the toddling pappoose to the swarthy nich-na-va, were assembled together in the morning, upon the beautiful lawn which gently sloped toward the river in front of the council house, near the rapids.
It would be almost impossible to give the reader an idea of the hubbub and confusion of tongues that prevailed upon the occasion. Aside from the 1,000 Indians were a variety of other characters, including the chattering Frenchman, the blarneying Irishman, and the blubbering Dutchman, all mingling their discordant jargon with that of the vociferous Yankee.
Groups of Indian boys, some exercising with the bow and arrow, others jumping, running, wrestling, and making the welkin ring with their noisy merriment, were collected in the vicinity of their respective tents. The river, too, was covered with canoes, and here the “dusky maid” in a more quiet and becoming manner was enjoying the occasion; and it was really surprising to see the dexterity and fearlessness with which she managed the “light canoe”.
A list of all the names of the heads of Indian families, chiefs, etc., was taken by the Indian superintendent, each Indian being entitled to a certain amount. The money to be paid was placed upon a table in the council room, in piles of $10 and $20 each, in American half-dollar pieces. Around the table sat the Indian Superintendent, interpreter, clerks, etc. Commencing at the top of the list, a crier called off the names, the parties presented themselves, were paid off, and immediately made room for others.
It was amusing to observe the great number of “friends” that would gather around the Indian after he had received his money from the paymaster. Here a trader suddenly recollects some debt of long standing against Mr. Indian; there a seedy individual with sad eyes and nasal promontory coleur de pinque, most seductively offering him a drink of water slightly tinctured with poor whiskey, while one or two dear friends are advising him to look out for sharpers, at the same time intimating that the superintendent has been paying off in bogus coin.
In the evening, while the drinking Indians were rioting and carousing, in the towm, the evangelized natives were encamped upon the opposite side of the river, and the surrounding forest fairly resounded with their loud singing, preaching and praying. Instrumental music, from the fiddle to the Indian tum-tum, might also have been heard arising above the “horrid din”.
The scene that presents itself at the Indian payment now-a-days is altogether a different one when such payments are made. We are happy to see measures adopted to prevent the sale of intoxicating drinks to the poor Indians on such occasions. Would to God it might be prohibited upon all occasions.
THE WHO GAVE WHATS
Nearly 100 years ago it was the practice to write up an account of the weddings of the young folks of respected families with a list of wedding gifts and the donors for all to see in the local paper. Here are two examples of the 1820’s.
Married at the residence of Theodore Gunn, Sebewa, February 22, 1882, by Rev. G. L. Mount, Jacob Sayers to Miss Mary Isabell Gunn.
A large company of relatives and acquaintances were present and many valuable presents given, among which were a fine toilet set from Mr. J. D. Woodbury of Portland; hat for the bride from Mrs. O. S. Stout of Ludington; set of silver teaspoons from Miss Mary Sayers of Roxand; tidy from Miss Calista Sayers of Boxand; set of glasses from Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Gunn; a quantity of silver change from Mr. Will Sayers; clock shelf from Blanchard and Morehouse of Portland; bed spread from David Gunn; pair of vases from Miss Maggie Gunn; fruit dish from Miss Ella Gunn; and a mirror from Jacob Gunn.
Ye editors were most graciously remembered by a bountiful portion of the wedding cake, not a piece but a whole cake. A long life of peace and prosperity is our wish to the bride and groom.
WEST SEBEWA—Married at the West Sebewa Church October 21st, 1886, in the presence of nearly 200 people by D. A. Jewell of Ionia, Mr. George Goodemoote and Miss Thursa Peacock. Miss Maud Estep acted as bridesmaid and E. J. Downing was groomsman.
After the ceremony, about 40 invited guests sat down to the table filled of the good things of this world at the home of the bride’s parents. The rest of the day was spent in visiting and music until the shades of evening warned us that we must part with all good wishes to the happy couple.
They were the recipients of many useful presents. Among them were a set of silver knives and forks, Mr. and Mrs. John Johnson; set of dishes, Mrs. Downing and Della Rabidue; water set, Maude Estep; set of silver teaspoons, E. J. Downing, water pitcher, Mr. and Mrs. E. Waring; large lamp, Mr. and Mrs. LaLonge; butter dish, J. Henderson; towel, Mary Henderson; table linen, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Saxton; napkins, Mr. and Mrs. O. Soules; fruit dishes, Clara and May Knolls; pickle dishes, Mr. and Mrs. S. Downing; pair of towels, Mrs. Fox; cards, Bertie Fox; silver butter knife from Mrs. D. E. Creighton of Three Rivers.
September 21, 1887 West Sebewa—Mr. and Mrs. George Goodemoot each wear a smile which will compare favorably with a half bushel in size but the smile is considerably large than is usually the case. It’s an eleven pound boy which arrived last Thursday.
SUNFIELD SENTINEL September 23, 1971 WEST SEBEWA NEWS—Mr. and Mrs. Allyn Goodemoot were pleasantly surprised on Wednesday, September 15, when their children and families walked in on them to help them celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Sayer, Clarence, and his wife, Edna, also have a 58th wedding anniversary in 1971.
WHERE DID THE HOLLANDERS COME FROM? Dateline Portland, Michigan, February 13, 1911, to the Grand Rapids HERALD:
PLAN NEW COLONY IN IONIA COUNTY. Farmers from Ottawa are Buying Land in the Vicinity of Portland.
The hardy Hollanders are turning their eyes in the direction of Sebewa and there bids fair to be built up in that fertile township a large settlement of this nationality. They come from Holland, Michigan. Their forefathers were from the land across the sea. Henry Kenyon, who owns the old Emery place and the Roseveare farm adjoining on the west came to this section a few years ago from the city of Holland in Ottawa County and his success here has prompted others to investigate.
Through his influence the Merritt Allen farm of 120 acres was purchased by Luther Huizenga a few months ago. Cornelius Wolfert came later and rented 160 acres of Woodbridge Merrifield and then Tim Plockmeyer made a lease of the Ansil Green place north of Sunfield. Another Hollander is coming with enough money to buy 100-160 acres and will probably find what he wants.
Meanwhile many others who are getting along with small acreage and expensive land in Ottawa County are investigating the openings in Sebewa. Not only is the land in this vicinity cheaper than around Holland but it is more productive. Like the Germans, the Hollanders are a thrifty, industrious race and Sebewa people are not sorry to have them come. The money they receive for their smaller holdings in Ottawa County buys a much larger acreage in this vicinity and those who are now only renters probably will own farms of their own soon.
THE DUTCH—WEST MICHIGAN’S PIONEERS
From THE PEOPLE OF MICHIGAN by George P. Graff STATE LIBRARY Occasional Paper #1
West Michigan has often been described as having “a Dutch flavor”. Towns such as Holland, Overisel and Ggafschap in Allegan County and Zeeland, Vriesland and Drenthe in Ottawa County still possess an atmosphere of the old country. Names on mailboxes indicate that the VandeBuntes, Vander Muelens and Vander Voudes are all present.
Since Holland has always been considered “a county by the sea” it was natural for the first Dutch settlers in Michigan to select building sites adjacent to the shoreline. The area around Zeeland and Holland, Michigan, has therefore long been called the “Dutch Coast” because of the numerous immigrants from the Netherlands.
A series of events in Holland during the 1840’s led to the Dutch migration to America. Prior to the 1840’s, taxes had been steadily increasing and each year found additional families hopelessly destitute. In 1845 the same “potato rot” that swept Ireland also hit Holland. If these conditions weren’t enough, about 1846-47 a serious industrial depression plunged the entire country into deep economic poverty.
The Dutch, always a religious people, were also deeply troubled about restrictions imposed by their State Churches. The state forbade the establishment of schools by a religious group. Members of the Reformed Church maintained that it was their Christian duty to provide schools for their children. Historians indicate it was this combination of rural famine, urban poverty and religious oppression that set the stage for the emigration from Holland in 1847.
Some years earlier, their neighbors, the Germans, started moving to America. German publications, printed in the Dutch language, itemized the advantages one could find in America. For example, here’s a listing of conditions one newly arrived settler fund in 1845:
Ordinary people are as good as rich folks.
He need not take off his hat to anyone.
Rich people honor the poor because they work for them.
There are good churches here and many of God’s people.
The schools are free.
You need fear neither wild animals nor bad men.
You do not need to lock your door.
There are no poor people. If one is well he can earn good wages.
Women need do nothing more than milk and prepare the food.
Reverend Albertus Van Raalte served as the vanguard for the Dutch migration into Michigan. In the summer of 1846, Reverend Van Raalte and family sailed from Rotterdam. After considering several locations in Michigan, Rev. Van Raalte selected a site between the Grand and the Kalamazoo Rivers where the Black River emptied into Macatawa Bay
During the long voyage to America, the settlers were organized into an association of pooled funds and resources, the well-to-do paying for the poor. To join the association a person only needed to pay a 40 cent membership fee, “be from the Province of Zeeland and be of good character”.
Once in Michigan the settlers proceeded to choose their own land and develop farms. In 1847, a group of 425 settlers founded the community of Zeeland. It is interesting to note that these Dutch pilgrims were totally committed to the cause. No one had the slightest notion of ever returning to Holland. From the beginning the spiritual leaders, who also served as civic officials, encouraged the people to look forward to becoming American citizens.
Typical of the settlers in the Zeeland area was the Van de Luyster family. A GRAND RAPIDS PRESS article of July 14, 1947, provided an account of their arrival in west Michigan: “Grandfather Van de Luyster was a successful Dutch farmer at a time when the Netherlands offered little but poverty for agriculturists, and when there was strong opposition to the interference of the Dutch State Church with religious freedom.
“He invested approximately 80,000 guilders in the transportation to America of his family and a number of his neighbors who sought better conditions and liberty of worship.
“Their voyage wound up on the shores of Black Lake, near Virginia Park, where they were landed from rafts with all their belongings after transferring from the ship which had brought them around the lakes. Van de Luyster bought nearly two sections of land, including the area on which Zeeland stands, and sold it to the other members of the colony on land contracts.
“The first log house was established a mile west of today’s city of Zeeland.”
The story of the early Dutch immigrants’ struggle for survival in the wilderness reminds us of the conditions endured by Yankee settlers in southeast Michigan 20 years previous. There were the difficult tasks of clearing the land, establishing the water-driven saw and grist mills, and providing the day-to-day handmade essentials such as soap, bricks, and furniture. Many Dutch families started their new life in Michigan in a log cabin.
The immigrants from Holland are credited with developing Michigan/s nationally-known celery industry. Oddly enough it was a Scotchman, James Taylor, who first grew celery in his back yard in Kalamazoo as early as 1856. To him these European seeds produced only a novelty item, which was soon forgotten. But ten years later, a Kalamazoo Dutchman, Mainus De. Bruin, became the state’s first celery grower. He wisely reasoned this plant would grow well on his “worthless muck”. In addition, the large acreages of muck around Kalamazoo indicated that there would be no shortage of land if this specialty crop was accepted. At first when De. Bruin’s children went from door to door peddling the new crop, many thought it was a poisonous plant. Others said Mr. De Bruin and fellow much farmers were fools for grubbing on hands and knees in the black ooze. It took a lot of faith and common sense to keep going in the celery business in those early days.
The coffee pot has always been the center of the Dutch social life. In the early years, the words “recreation” and “leisure time” denoted laziness. However,the women would gather frequently for the “koffee kletz”. Even at such times the ladies did not tarry from their work and usually did mending while discussing community happenings over the hot beverage.
The Reformed Church was the center of the community’s activities. It was not unusual to find two or three services held on Sunday, a weekly catechism, and a
Midweek prayer meeting. In a sense this “spiritual refreshment” provided a needed rest from the strenuous physical labor required for day-to-day existence.
The Holland immigrants and particularly Rev. Van Raalte were very conscientious about the educational needs of their young men and women. The early establishment of the Holland Academy, later Hope College, is indicative of their educational interest. Referring to the latter institution, Rev. Van Raalte once said “This is my anchor of hope.” The expression has been widely quoted. For 115 years Hope College has been one of Michigan’s outstanding private schools, serving the needs of students throughout West Michigan.
Many Dutch settlers brought with them skills learned in the old country. Grand Rapids was anxious to hire Dutch woodcarvers, who were so skilled at their trade that they could carve the face of the owner on the headboard of his bed. Holland immigrants into Michigan also brought with them the ability to be outstanding dairymen. The Dutch settlements of Vogel Center and McBain in Missaukee County (north central Michigan) have long been famous as dairy areas. In recent years, both the hard average and butter fat content records have been won by Dutch farmers in this region.
Michigan owes much to the descendants of Van Raalte’s Dutch migration. They have been influential in Michigan business, government, industry and politics. The first Soil Conservation District in Michigan was organized in 1938 in Ottawa County by Dutch descendants who saw a need to conserve the top soil on their farms. Western Michigan has been strongly influenced by the faith and courage of our Dutch settlers.
THE EAGLE SCREAMS
Part Three of Serialization. (Turner had just buried the “head” between two pine trees which stand in front of the house.”
It was midsummer and Turner, fearing the grass would die, carried pails of black dirt from the barnyard in which he reset the sod he had removed when excavating to bury the head. This caused Turner much annoyance as the grass grew rank and of a darker green and thus marked the spot where the head was buried. The head was that of the young man who rode into Sunfield with Dennis Pool and wife on the morning of July 5 A.D. 1896.
THE MURDER OF ED SMITH
Ed Smith, a man who lived with William Edmunds, a farmer in the town of Sunfield, was murdered by William Turner and Tom McArthur. Their object being so McArthur could have William Edmund’s daughter. McArthur called in the evening and gave Smith whiskey with morphine and then about nine o’clock went away but returned about eleven in company with Turner and together they held Smith and choked him to death. Then McArthur went down stairs and got a bottle of aconite and poked the cork down Smith’s throat, using his pocket knife with which to do the deed. He accidentally cut the vein, which allowed the blood to flow. If Smith’s remains are disinterred, the corn will undoubtedly be found to corroborate this statement.
THE MURDER OF MILTON R. BRETZ
Milton R. Bretz, a cousin of Orson Bretz of Lake Odessa, Michigan, and a public speaker of some notoriety, was shot to death by Ewilda Stinchcomb Bretz and buried in the backhouse or privy. It occurred when the two of them were at home at Orson’s along. After she killed him she took a rail and pried the building over and put a board on top of him and carried some broken crockery and chip dirt and put it in the hole and then when Orson came home she had him to finish filling the hole as Orson had been in the habit of cleaning out the hole and drawing manure out upon his land, and he was inclined to do so now, but his wife insisted that it was too close to the buildings, so he filled up the hole and moved the building.
THE KROUTCH MURDER
William Turner and his son, Kella, made a trip to Charlotte. There they ran across a stock buyer from the west and, thinking he had money, they followed him to the Kroutch home. There they surprised them while they were eating their supper. They shot and killed all that were within sight and made a hasty search for money but found none but became aware that there was someone upstairs and were frightened away. They went home without securing any money. They made Ed Stinchcomb acquainted with what they had done and he said he believed he could find the money. After careful consideration they decided to try it again. They reasoned that because of such a daring raid they would not be looking for another attack so soon again. In this they were right for Jud Kroutch proved to be as easy prey as did the rest.
When William Turner and his son, Kella, made their first trip to the Kroutch home they drove a young team that Turner bought of George Pool while residing near Kiddville. One was an iron gray gelding and the other a light bay mare. They drove them to a peddling wagon made on the running gears of a buggy, which was painted red with a top left on and the body painted black. When they went the second time, Ed and Monroe Stinchcomb drove Ed’s pacing mare on a top buggy while William and Kella Turner drove the little bay mare they got of George Pool and a three-quarter size top buggy that Ora Turner bought of Oscar Lincoln, alias Welcome Lumbert, which Lincoln had bought of Jed Alleman through the agency of Charlie Tryon. This was the rig that Turners had when Kella shot detective Brown. Kella Turner also traded this team to a man at Dover, Clare County, Michigan as a payment on forty acres of land. They afterwards murdered him and took the team back.
THE GONZELGENE MAN
In the spring of A.D. 1900 there came to Sunfield a man who was selling horses. He went to Sunfield where he sold a black coach stallion called Gonzelgene to a stock company for $3,000. Of this he got a part cash but the most of it was in farmers’ notes. The final settlement was held at Stinchcomb’s Drug Store. It took all the day until night to get the matter settled up. The man intended to board the seven o’clock train east so as to get to Charlotte that night. Just before train time, Ed Stinchcomb called him in to the back end of the store where Orrin Hanks was armed with a large druggist’s pestle and waiting for him. Ed called his attention in such a way as to get him to turn his back to Orrin when Orrin struck him a very hard blow on the head with the pestle, which killed him stone dead.
They caught him and let him down on the floor so as not to make any noise and Ed went back to the door and went outside and bid Orrin goodnight. Then he ran down the sidewalk, stamping as hard as he could as if it was the man hurrying to catch his train. He then went back along the sidewalk on the ground when he went in his store. Orrin Hanks asked him “Is he gone?” Ed replied “Yes, and may the Lord go with him.”
Then Ed commenced a search for a vinegar jug, which resulted in his having to move a stack of pails and tobacco, which completely cut off the view from the front part of the store, which was crowded with men and boys. About that time Monroe Stinchcomb came in and walked to the back end of the store where David met him just at the narrow pass between the prescription case and the counter. Said David, “We have killed the Gonzelgene Man.” Monroe’s face turned ashen pale and he trembled from head to foot as he gasped “Great God! It’s a good thing for that Lincoln is not in this country”. And David jokingly replied “I guess he left this country on purpose so we could do this job”. Ed and Orrin then carried the corpse into the little back room while David got a mop and mopped up the urine the man had made because of the sudden blow upon his head.
Then Ed went to the stave mill to find out what the chances were to cremate him in the arch in the engine room but found the fire all out, so proceeded to dig a grave along by the side of the arch. After Ed had finished the grave he went back to the store and, finding the crowd most all gone, asked Len Van Buren to help carry the man to the grave. Van Buren thought at first Ed was joking but after Ed showed Len the corpse he realized that it was true. At first he refused to have anything to do with it but finally agreed to help carry him out for $750. Van Buren was very drunk at the time and when the next morning had dawned began to regret what he had done. He went to Sunfield and the gang informed him that his brother, Louie, had just participated with Rome Perkins in the drowning of Jesse Jones, the only son of William Jones, a farmer living at Woodbury and in order to shield him, Len took the money and said no more about it.
Rome Perkins and Louie Van Buren drowned Jesse Jones in Round Lake on the side of the lake next to Tom Van Buren’s house. They had been swimming and as they were coming out of the water, Rome’s murderous disposition got the better of him and calling upon Louie to help him saying “Steven had said he ought to be killed” and together they drowned Jones. Morris Perkins’ abducted boy, Ray, was also present at the drowning.
While Ed Stinchcomb was digging the grave for the Gonzelgene man, Amos Davis, a shareholder in the horse, upon seeing the light, went to the stave mill as he wished to see the foreman about something. As he drew near he saw Ed Stinchcomb at work and watched him until they brought out the corpse and put it in the grave. When Edgar Fleetham told Ed Stinchcomb that a man by the name of Davis had seen him burying the man, he decided it must have been Frank Davis, the young man that painted with Wesley Boston, and accordingly killed him. Frank Davis was last seen by Alonzo Lavey on the night of July 4, A.D. 1901, about 12 o’clock at night as they were passing along by Stinchcomb’s store. Ed Stinchcomb called Frank out back of the store and together Ed Stincomb and William Turner killed him. They took his body in a buggy and took it over on the Putnam place on the SE of the SE of section 8 of the township of Sunfield where they buried him in a little swamp. The grave was afterwards opened by Thompson Burns and Will Park and identified by them as Frank Davis. The Gang immediately circulated a story to the effect that Wesley Boston was jealous of Davis—the object in this was to direct suspicion against Boston and away from themselves in case this murder should come to light.
Some years previous to that, William Turner and Ed Stinchcomb killed a one-armed man by the name of Bill Whitcomb. They killed him in Stinchcomb’s Drug Store and Oscar Lincoln and Roy Childs saw them carrying him into the back room. Lincoln got a constable, Jack Wilson, but Wilson got scared out and said he was afraid to act. Then Lincoln went to the station and found the agent at home in bed although it was only two or three o’clock in the afternoon. The agent’s wife said he could not be disturbed if the President of the United States was dying and a telegram to Charlotte would save his life. Then Lincoln got discouraged and quit as he had no money with which to hire a horse and he knew he could not walk to Charlotte and get the sheriff before they would have time to disperse the corpse. After dark they drew the corpse to the Putman place and after tearing down a pile of rails, which were piled between two trees, which was situated about 100 rods north and 20 rods west of Will Blair’s corners, they buried him then, piled the rails back over the grave just as they were before they tore them down.
When they took Davis there they intended to take out the rails and bury him there, too, but decided it would take too much time and after throwing out a part of the rails, changed their minds and not stopping to pile up the rails, carried the corpse about 30 rods south and buried him in the swamp. Frank Blair, on his way home that night, met Turner and Stinchcomb on their way back to Sunfield. The next day he went over into the field and saw where they tied their horse and followed their tracks down to the swamp and saw where they buried something but did not know it was a human being.
Norris Perkins killed two women and three men and buried them in the cellar in the old house on the same place. One of the men’s name was Jack Bradford. They drove a gray mare and a black four-year-old mare colt. Joe Kimble helped to dig a hole and bury the wagon and furniture and the gray mare but Perkins kept the black mare. Norris Perkins also killed Old Man Nichol, who lived in a little shanty back on Si Perkins’ place. Milton Hagar was with him at the time. He also killed Jack Nichol. He got the boy, Ray, from the people he buried under the old horse.
SON OF SEBEWA MAN EXECUTED IN PENNSYLVANIA BY HANGING
From THE PORTLAND OBSERVER, January 21, 1885. Mr. George Travis was a former resident of this (Portland) township. His father now lives in Sebewa. A great many who were acquainted with Mr. Travis here think he was an innocent man as the evidence against him was only circumstantial and in their judgement was a man who would not be guilty of such a horrible crime. We clip the following from the Detroit paper:
“Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, January 15. George Travis was executed here today. Just before going to sleep last night his jailer said to him “George, this is a good time to confess. Why don’t you do it?”
He replied “I want you to do this after I am gone. Say they murdered me”. He further intimated that the real culprit ran away and remained away until he was convicted. At 12:10 today the death warrant was read to him. He seemed little moved and walked with a steady step to the gallows. On the scaffold he was not given the opportunity to say anything. Death resulted from strangulation. The body was given to friends for interment at Marsh Creek, Pennsylvania.
Travis was executed for the murder of Martha Sylvia on the night of April 13, 1883. She was seen that evening in the company with Travis. An alibi could not be proved and the prisoner was sentenced to death. Prior to the execution, every effort was made to have Travis confess but he maintained a dogged silence to the end.
Mrs. May Gierman recalls her father, Gravener Oatley, telling that after Travis’ death, evidence came to light that showed him innocent. Travis’ father was presumably Andrew Travis after whom the Travis School was named.
THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR
Last update May 27, 2013