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Ionia County Sebewa Recollector Items

Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 1 Number 3
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 SEBEWA CENTER ASSOCIATION; December 1965.  Volume 1, Number 3.  Submitted with written permission of editor, Grayden D. Slowins:


   The October 17 open house was a warm and pleasant send-off for The Sebewa Center Association.  Probably the schoolhouse that day had more people visit it than it ever saw in any one day of all its 82 active years of existence.  People were generous in showing their antiques and keepsakes and no incident nor even the weather marred the day.

   Visitors care from a wide circle.  Mrs. Etta (Pettingill) Allen came from Perry, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence McNeil from Lansing, Mrs. Allena Keifer from Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Zack York and Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Jarchow from Kalamazoo, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gierman and Frederick from Grand Rapids, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Tysse (Dora Vander Poel) from Holland, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Meyers from Charlotte, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Heintzleman and family with Dr. and Mrs.Waldo Frankenstein from Bellevue, Mrs. Freda Davern and Mrs. Ardie Ludwick from Pewamo with many from Ionia, Portland, Sunfield and Lake Odessa.

   To say we were pleased and grateful is an understatement.  Our thanks go to those who helped in the efforts to make the day what it was.  Jim Fisher from Berlin Center showed his collection of fluorescent rocks, Vern Bullen did the newspaper publicity, Ilene Carr, Ruth Seybold and Lucille Meyers managed the refreshments and Mabel Ralston kept the guest book.  Allowing for some of the children who did not get signed in, we think the attendance was about 175. 


   Total Cash Received:

      Membership Funds         $165.50

      Building Purchase Fund     278.75

      Sale of Folders                    1.75

                            Total      $446.00


   Expenses Paid

      Insurance                             17.00                    

      Fee of Incorporation Report      5.00

      Incorporations Fee                 20.00

     Table Cover Paper Roll              3.90

     Recording of Deed Fee              3.00

     Repair of Pump Motor               4.00

     Insulation for Well Pit                3.10

     Cost of Folders                         1.75

     Bulletin Expense for 3 Issues     21.00


Cash Balance                                                    367.25

Cash Balance Distributed              278.75

   Building Purchase Fund               /

     Membership Fund Balance   88.50


This leaves $221.25 to be raised for the $500 Purchase of the School Property.

RAILROADS – Researched by Deanna (Gierman) Pumplin:

   The first railway to reach Ionia was an extension of the railway built by the first company in Michigan to receive a railroad charter from the Territory.  However, while this charter was granted in 1830 to the Detroit Pontiac Railway Company, due to the lack of finances, the rails did not reach Ionia until September of 1857.

   The first portion of the Detroit Pontiac Railway was completed in 1838 between Royal Oak and Detroit, but the cars were drawn by horses over a partially wooden track.  By 1844 the railway was completed to Pontiac and the wooden rails were gradually replaced by iron; the horses by steam engines.

   The trains would frequently stop between way-stations at a signal from some farmer who wished to ask a few questions or to take passage.  An old lady denizen of a farm-house, with spectacles of a primitive manufacture placed high upon her forehead, came running out to the train waving her bandanna.  Her signal being heeded, the train was brought to a stop, and her inquiry of the conductor was, if a certain lawyer named Drake was on board.  After receiving a negative answer, a short conversation was kept up before the train started on its journey.

   It was no uncommon occurrence for the engineer, who kept his shot-gun with him, to bring down game from his engine, shut off steam, and send his fireman after the fruits of his marksmanship.  The road, being laid with strap-rail, one of the duties of the conductor was to keep a hammer for the purpose of spiking down “snake’s heads”S whenever they were seen from the cab of the engineer.  (From History of Ionia & Montcalm Counties by J. S. Schenck).

   The Oakland R.R. Co. was established in 1848 for the purpose of constructing a road from Pontiac to the mouth of the Grand River, thereby connecting Detroit with Muskegon and points west by boat and rail.  This company began construction in 1852.  In 1850 the Detroit Pontiac R.R. was given authority to extend its tracks west to meet the Oakland & Ottawa R.R.  These two companies were later merged in 1855 under the name of the Detroit Milwaukee R.R.  Construction was speeded by a loan of $1,250,000 from Europe, thus in two years it reached Ionia via Fentonville, St. Johns, Pewamo and Muir.  The line was extended to Saranac and finally in 1858 to Grand Haven.  In 1878 it became the Detroit Grand Haven and Milwaukee R.R. and more recently the Grand Trunk and Western.

   The second railroad came to Ionia from Lansing in 1869 via Danby, Portland, Stebbinsville, and Lyons.  The line extended to Howard City, reaching there in 1871.  The car shop for this line was in Ionia; it occupied 5 acres of ground, and employed 200 men in the round house, blacksmith shop, and machine shop to repair, rebuild, and construct cars.

   In 1872 this road merged with the Detroit Howell and Lansing becoming the Detroit, Lansing and Lake Michigan.  Soon again it merged with the Ionia, Stanton & Northern.  In 1899 in another merger it became the Detroit Grand Rapids and Western.  Only one year later the Pere Marquette R.R. Co. became the owner.  Chesapeake & Ohio took it over in 1929.

   The Railroad Act of 1856 provided that 6 sections of land for each mile of new track should be given to railroads to encourage their growth.


   In section 9 of Sebewa Township at the south part of the Creighton farm and near the old Tamarack Swamp is a mound of ground long ago dubbed “Partridge Knoll”.  Here on this high spot, stragglers in the long slow march northward were some 3 or 4 native white pine trees.  With trunks up to 3 feet in diameter and heights to 120 feet, these giants toppled years ago but fragments of their wood is still to be found there.

   Some 10,000 years ago the last gracial (glacial?) retreat began uncovering the land of its load of ice from the Ohio River north.  The first vegetation to take hold after the long, long freeze were small Arctic-type plants.  As Arctic conditions moved north, the birch, the willow and alder followed in their wake.  Still warmer conditions brought the spruces and firs to be followed by the white pine.  Warmer and favorable seasons brought the hardwoods and the trees we know, crowding the pines ever farther north.

   From our immediate area the tamaracks are gone, the white pine is gone and we question the fate of some other species.  On Henry Smith’s farm in section 19 is a remnant of a bulldozed stand of Paw Paw (or Papaw) trees.  Mrs. Mabel Williams, who was listed as being 11/12 of a year old in the 1880 census, recalls that the Paw Paw stand of trees was on that farm when her father owned it and she was a small girl.  Witch Hazel and Sassafras grow in section 24.  Sycamore is to be found in almost every woods but in small numbers with few, if any, seedlings.  We have been told the Sycamore has never made its way north of Grand River.

   If you question this account of northward moving varieties of plants and trees, dig down in the nearest bog and start “reading” the layers of vegetation found there from the bottom up.


   Christmas at Sebewa Center can never again be quite the same.  This year for the first time in nearly a century the school will not give the program that delighted the oldsters and Old Santa in the finale delighted the youngsters.

   The Santas have been many and varied, some clownish, some dignified, and some almost mute.  To the 5 year-old the style seemed not to matter after the suspense of waiting for the old Gent’s appearance.  The shower of gifts seemed to equalize them all.

   We recall hearing of a Santa episode when the church was quite new and behavior patterns for church manners were being formed.

   That year, Albert Meyers was Santa and the Gunn girls, to add variety and sparkle to the occasion, outfitted Ben Lowe as Mrs. Santa Claus to accompany him.

   Of course, Mrs. Santa drew lots of attention---shocked attention when she sat in a chair in Ben’s familiar cross-legged manner, displaying the lace edged panties the girls had playfully dressed her in.

   Mrs. Santa has been seen only in dramatic skits since then.

 #21 MERCURY VAPOR USER is Raymond Kenyon.


   In a new building on the south town line in Sebewa just east of the Sunfield Road is a new and important part of Hanna’s Locker Service of Sunfield.  It is the slaughter house and cooler storage of that business.

   Harold Hanna purchased the Phil Green Meat Market in 1937 and in 1947 changed the operation to meat processing and frozen locker storage.  At that time he was using the old slaughter house at the far end of East Main Street belonging to Fred Tran.   As business grew he needed better and larger facilities for animal slaughter.  In 1948 he remodeled the tool shed on his farm north of Sunfield to make a new slaughter house and cooler.

   This served very well until in recent years it has become evident that expanded business and the new State Meat Inspection Law would require bigger and better accomodations.  Harold owned 50 acres in Sebewa across the road from his home in Sunfield Township.  Here he set aside a 3-acres plot for the new slaughter house that was built last summer.

   Bert Houghton of the Houghton Beef Packers of Orange Township was actively interested in making the new slaughter house the best and most efficient of its kind.  Mr. Houghton had the experience of building his own slaughter house and had spent considerable time in studying the construction of others about the state.  So it was with his friendly help and guidance that the new building took shape.  So nearly as possible it conforms to the Federal Meat Inspection laws.

   The building is set well back from the road, is of concrete block construction with dimensions of 42’ by 52’.  Twenty by thirty feet of this is taken up by the coolers.  The chill room is powered by a 5-horsepowercompressor.  After the animal heat is removed from the meat it is moved to the larger holding cooler that needs only a 3-horsepower compressor to maintain the 34 temperature for curing.  The Sebewa cooler will store 200 quarters of beef and another 100 quarters can be stored in the Sunfield cooler.  A large 3-compartment septic tank and dry well take care of the waste.  The first compartment must be pumped and cleaned once a year.  A separate septic tank is used for the toilet system.

   The big part of the business is still custom processing for farmers but recently the biggest increase in the business has been in selling halves and quarters of processed and frozen meat to people in the cities and villages of the area who store the meat in their home freezers.  Prospects seem good for increasing the sale of meats to the home freezer owners.

   The weekly kill of animals is more than thirty—some 20 cattle and 10 hogs.  Of these, a quarter of the cattle and half of the hogs are purchased while the rest are custom slaughter animals.  Theo Lenon’s Sebewa Beef Farm supplies some of the beef animals and Kyle Stambaugh raises some of the porters.  When necessary, purchases are made at the Charlotte Livestock Auction.  Traditionally some animals are bought from the 4-H Stock Shows.  Butcher Frank Vyverberg also works at the Snyder Packing Company at Fowler.

   Helping with the cutting, and freezing at the Sunfield location are Nancy Taylor for 19 years, Laura Steward for 16 years, and Mildred Ward for 5 years.  Others in the work at Sunfield are Kathy Platte, Janice Baumgardner, Sonia Davis (Harold’s daughter), and Fay Gragg.


   Com. at the SE cor. Of E 1/2 of SW ¼ of Sec 24 Town 5 N. of Range 6 West thence running north on the east line of the above described land 160 rods to the quarter post; thence west to the Sebewa Creek; thence up Stoney Creek to the Saw Mill deeded by said Albert Thompson and Amy Thompson to Pierce G. Cook, thence following boundary line of said deed to said P. G. Cook embracing the Mill Yard belonging to said Saw Mill, thence following the windings of Said Stoney Creek up and in a westerly direction south to the road between sections 24 & 25 in said township; thence east on the line of said road 110 rods to the place of beginning containing in all about 100 acres be the same more or less.

   This property description given in 1860 seems to hold the answer to the question that arises when you hike down Stoney Creek to Sebewa Creek.  At the location given for the saw mill and mill yard there is still to be found an embankment of stones on either side of the creek that would indicate the location of a dam.  The time of the saw mill operation there is beyond the memory of anybody now living and we have not found any one who recalls even hearing about it.  (the dictionary says “stony)

   The Collingham sawmill on Sebewa Creek near the cemetery went out with the spring flood of 1886.  Ben Probasco and others can recall the remains of the building there with a heavy long-toothed vertical saw that slowly worked its way through the length of a log.  At our open house, Clyde Thuma displayed the cast iron water gate that controlled the flow of water to the wheel.  Clyde found the gate in the creek when he was poking about in the creek at the dam site.

   Anybody for archeological exploration at the site of the Pierce G. Cook saw mill?  Mr. Cook was the father of Charles Cook and thus grandfather to Karl, Charles and Clifton Cook and Mrs. Mabel Williams.


   Your bulletin calls to mind a story of the Sebewa Indians that my mother (Jennie Lyda Weippert) used to tell.

   Some years before she was married she boarded with the Andrew Weippert family and taught the “High” school.

   One day a young Indian came to the mill for meal and offered baskets in return.  So my mother and now my aunt, Hannah Weippert Sayer, were delegated to go along with him for baskets.

   They were given cucumbers from the garden and Grandmother gave them cookies to take along.

   The Indian youth showed quite disdain for their clumsy effort at climbing a rail fence, when he only touched the top rail and sprang over it, sack and all.

   They sat down on the ground while the Indian women finished their baskets (and the men ate all the cookies and cucumbers, rind and all).  While they sat there two small Indian boys started to swing behind them, using the girl’s backs to push themselves.

   Mother thought that many white mothers could have learned a lesson on discipline from them.  No words were spoken but two squaws got up, grabbed a lad and gave him a resounding spat on the spot nature intended and went silently back to her work.

   As a child I remember seeing the basket; I wish I had it now.

                                                                     Loreta Weippert Jewell


Back in the 1920’s Fred Mauren, the elder, in the Portland Review promoted a column he called “Member When”.  Several of the oldtimers of that day furnished stories.  A frequent contributor was George A. Dow of Northwest Danby.  From a scrapbook kept by his daughter, Mrs. Kate Kelly, of Portland we have this story on pioneer living:

   ‘Member When log houses were built by the early pioneers?  I lived in six different log cabins with my parents when I was a boy and we had a hard time to get along.   I know the whole story from the cord bed to the trundle bed, also from the crude manner of lighting with candle-wicking attached to a button.  Sides and ends of the cord beds were homemade affairs, equipped with casters, so they could be slid under the ordinary bed when not in use.

   We had no gasoline or kerosene in those days and there was no way of getting rid of bed bugs though we used hot water with which to fight them.  I will defy any woman, even now, to get rid of them in a log house.  There was no happiness in the life I lived in those days.

   Part of my life I would like to live over, but not in those log houses.  My father went to war in 1861 and left Mother and us six children without means of support.  I was 12 years old then.  We had a yoke of oxen and it took the combined efforts of my brother and myself to put the yoke on them.  George A. Dow.

   Mr. Dow was also the father of Mrs. Thomas Downing (Florence Dow) of West Sebewa.

   Not many Sebewa residents can claim birth in a log cabin.  However, Mrs. Fern Olry, who sold the Olry centennial farm to Grayden and Anne Slowins, was born in a Sebewa log house.  The house stood near the Goddard Schoolhouse on the Reva Cook farm.


   Sebewa family names have not always suited the people who held them.  Over a period of many years, some of the names in one way or another have changed.

Erdman was Earthmon,

Sexton was Seckstone,

Tran was Trann,

Gierman was Giermann,

Carr was Kartuski,

Slowins was Slowinski,

Heintzelman or Heintzleman (take your choice)

   Also Harvey Benschoter, after attending law school and studying genealogy of the family, decided VanBenschoten was the proper name.      


March 18, 1885.  Last Monday morning Edward Probert of Sebewa was swinging a self-cocking .32 caliber revolver over his right shoulder, when it accidentally went off while he had the revolver pointing backwards, shooting his wife in the head, immediately back of the left ear, the bullet going down in the neck, and coming out in the middle of the same, making a rather dangerous scalp wound.  Dr. Alton was called in and in a short time dressed the wound, and at this writing, indications are that Mrs. Probert will soon recover.


   Quite a little excitement was apparent among our citizens last Thursday forenoon when it became known that Constable Clark had arrested Edward Probert, on complaint of George Thorp, for the attempted murder of his wife, instead of an accidental shooting as we stated in our last issue.

   Justice Porter and George Nichols, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, drove out to the residence of Probert Thursday forenoon and took Mrs. Probert’s testimony, which was to be used in case of her death from the aforesaid wounds.

   Probert was arraigned before Esquire Porter Thursday afternoon and held for bail in the sum of $1,000 for his appearance for examination April 7, which was promptly furnished by his brother, Silas, and father.

   Saturday he was rearrested in Ionia on Complaint of William Grover, father of Mrs. Probert, under a charge somewhat different from the previous one, which was nolle proesqui; and this time he was required to give $3,000 for his appearance on the 7th of the next month, his father and brother promptly going the necessary bail.

   Mrs. Probert claims to have been ill treated by Probert and on Sunday decided to leave him. She began packing up on Monday morning and the shooting occurred about 8 o’clock.  There was no one present but the man and woman.  The bullet, evidently from a .32 caliber revolver, struck her just back of the left ear, passed around the skull, coming out of the middle of her neck.  As it did not penetrate the skull it is not necessarily dangerous.

   Mrs. Probert claims that she was in the act of taking down a dress from a nail, preparatory to her packing up.  Her husband stepped up behind her and shot her purposely, as she believes, and afterwards refused to call assistance until she consented to call the matter an accident.

   Mr. Probert claims the shooting was an accident; that he had been cleaning out his revolver, had loaded it and was examining its action.  It was a self-cocking revolver.  He was standing sideways to his wife when the revolver went off, shooting his wife in the neck.  He immediately ran to the neighbors for assistance, sent for the doctor and for his wife’s father and mother.

   Mrs. Probert was taken to her father’s house in this place (Portland) last Saturday, a distance of seven miles.  She is now improving slowly.

   In the meantime our citizens should not be too hasty in expressing their opinions in this unfortunate affair, and to remember a person is always innocent until proved guilty. 


   All of our readers are, no doubt, familiar with the particulars of this somewhat interesting case, as we published the facts in regard thereto three weeks ago, we will therefore commence the case with the examination before Esquire Porter, in the Opera House, it being thought advisable to hold court in that place, in order to accommodate the large crowds that had assembled to witness the case.  Clarence Cole represented the respondent, and Prosecuting Attorney Ellis, the people.  At three o’clock Wednesday afternoon the court was called to order by Justice Parker, and Mrs. Thula Probert, wife of Edward L. Probert, the defendant, took the stand:

   Mrs. Thula Probert, being sworn, said:  Reside in Portland, age 23 years; wife of Edward L. Probert; was married one year ago last October in Minneapolis, Minnesota; came to Portland the next night after I was married; went back to Ohio in March following; lived there until August, before moving back.  Had no difficulty until just before we came out.  I did not agree to come to Michigan to live, so we separated; I went to my father’s; we had no hard words when we separated.  Quarrel started on account of my folks and his folks.  He did not seem to like my folks.  Don’t know what the quarrel was about the Sunday before the 16th.  He wanted to have my mother decide whether we should live together, I did not, because if she had decided we would live apart, he would always blame her for it.  The quarrel started Sunday about his dog; he was always bragging about him; one day I told him he should not do so, when he swore and said it was none of my business, and I told him it was as I was his wife.  On the 16th day of March was in Sebewa, Ionia County, was at the same place on the 15th, had words of difficulty with the respondent on the latter day; had words of difficulty prior to that time; on Sabbath before had trouble; told respondent I would not stay with him and quarrel much longer; this happened between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning.  On the night of the 15th stayed by myself upstairs was not in the habit of occupying separate rooms.  Was visiting at Charlie Mattews’ Friday night before; he drew me there and back on a hand sled.  On the morning of the 16th got up at 7 o’clock; husband was at the barn; had breakfast together that morning; at breakfast he wanted to know if I was going home; said I was; after I had finished my work commenced to pack up my clothes; went upstairs after some things, when I came down I saw him coming from the barn; I then went upstairs again and was folding some things on the bed when he came in and started upstairs; did not see him but heard him; I said I would be down in a minute and he turned and went down; I came down with some books in my hand and other things on my left are.  He stood by the bedroom door.  Live on the south side of the road, going east coming down stairs, bedroom on north side of the house; passed by him in the bedroom with my things and laid them on the bed; he came in and wanted me to stay; I said there was no use talking, I was going home; went out into the other room just about center; he then came up to me as he often did, as I supposed, to urge me to stay, and put his left hand in his overcoat pocket as I supposed, to take his handkerchief out, instead of that he drew out his revolver and raised it at me with his left hand and had his right arm part way around me; (he is left handed); I said “Oh, Heavens!  What are you going to do, are you going to kill me?”  He said no; I walked away from him and said “You should not be using such things as those.  He came up closer to me and partly laughed.  He said he would rather see me in a coffin than married to another man; I told him he had better wait until I separated from him, before he talked that way; I was frightened; I then went back to the bedroom; he was standing at the stove at that time.  The bed stood at the northeast corner at the right hand side of the door, going in, head to the west; there was two feet space at the foot of the bed; I reached up and took down a dress skirt and laid it on the bed; I saw him standing in front of the bed.  The nails were at the foot of the bed in the corner of the room; then I turned back and took down another skirt, got on tip toes before I could reach it; as I was reaching up the second time he took hold my left arm and right hand and before I could turn around he shot me; I could not see his motive as I was not around enough; when the ball struck me I swayed over—it struck me an inch and a half behind the left ear; think he let go of me when the ball struck me.  I then turned to come out back of the bed; he stood at the foot of the bed, standing still; did not see revolver when I turned as I passed him; think the revolver carried seven cartridges, would know if I saw it, don’t know whether it was a self cocker or not; he put his arm around me as I started to come out and I think I said “Let me go”.  He had his right arm around me then as I said let me go; he said “You never shall go” and raised his revolver with his left hand and pointed it downwards at me; I was pushing his left arm down with my right hand as we were standing in front of the bed; I said “If you won’t shoot me, I will stay”; we both turned around and he brought his back to the door; he then let me go, and put his revolver in his pocket; I grabbed for the door, he came up to me and put his arm partly around me and I backed away from him; don’t remember what I said at that time; I was frightened and as I reached away from him he raised the revolver and I said “Are you going to shoot yourself?”  He said he was not going to shoot anybody; he then asked me if I could live with him.  I asked him if he would go and get somebody to come, he did not seem to want to answer and I begged him to go.  I was bleeding freely; I told I wanted him to go get somebody before I went crazy; he did not answer me and I started for the door and got it part way open and was partly out when he pulled me back into the house, and then he said if I would call it an accident.  He then went after Mrs. Bailey, was gone about 15 minutes; I thought the bullet was in my neck and wanted to know for sure.  I then came out of the bedroom and went out into the sitting room and walked back and forth, the respondent came back; I was near the stove and as I started to turn he was behind and pulled my hair over the wound.  I said “What are you doing?”.  He said he was only cutting off the hair; cut it off with a pair of shears; don’t know what he done with the hair.  My hair was long, came down below my waist in a braid, since that time I cut it off.  Mrs. Bailey came about that time and I walked away from him.  I heard no report when he shot me, but burned hair.  Mrs. Bailey came and she got him to go after Mrs. Thorp.  I told Mrs. Bailey all about how it happened after the respondent had gone after Mrs. Thorp.  Afterwards said that he was very sorry that I was shot—if he was not a man he could cry.  On Tuesday before he was arrested he came up to the bed, knelt down and said “Thula, spare me!”  Four weeks prior to this time we had quite a rumpus and I told him if we had any more words I should go home.  He always carried a revolver; said he would take care of it.  He did not unbraid my hair; only cut loose hair at sides.  Did not tell Mrs. Thorp anything about how the shooting happened.  Made an affidavit when I was sick on Thursday and it was taken down in writing by Mr. Porter and another gentleman.  (End of Mrs. Probert’s testimony).

Mrs. Lydia Bailey—Sworn said:  I reside in Sebewa; lived there nine or ten years; have known Mr. Probert only since he moved into this neighborhood.  Saw Mr. Probert on March 16.  He came to my house at 9 o’clock A.M. and said “Mrs. Bailey, go up to my house quick;” I said “what is the matter?”  He said he had shot his wife.  I told him I would go over as soon as I could change my clothes; he said “Mrs. Bailey, don’t stop to change your dress, she won’t notice your dress, she is almost dead now.”  When I got there I took off my shawl and asked him to find me a cloth for a bandage.  I said “Mr. Probert, what shall we do?”  He said he did not know and asked me what to do; I said I did not know as I was never placed in that kind of a position before; then I told him to go after Mrs. Thorp as she knew more about such things than I did; he hesitated for a minute and then started.  As soon as he got away Mrs. Probert said “Oh, Mrs. Bailey, I want to tell you something.”  I said “what is it, Mrs. Probert, don’t you and your husband live happily together?”  She said “We were going to separate this morning and he shot me.  I started to come over to your house after he shot me and got out of the door when he….pulled me back and I insisted on his coming; he said “If you will agree to tell her we were fooling, I will go”.  I think she told me he drew the revolver twice on her afterwards.  She said “Don’t say nothing—keep it smothered.”  She was taking on wonderfully when I arrived there; Mr. Probert seemed very sober but did not have him come near her.  I did not hear him make any expressions of sorrow to her.  He made no explanations about it only that he said he wished it had been himself instead of her.  I put the bandage on her head; he was making the bed.  I told my husband Mrs. Probert’s story as soon as he came home from town; I also told Mr. Grover; I told this to Mr. Grover on Tuesday at my home.  (End of Mrs. Bailey’s testimony). 

Robert W. Alton sworn says:  Resided in Portland seven years; my profession is that of a practicioner of medicine for about seven years as graduate; received my diploma from the medical department of the State University of Michigan, I was called upon to attend Mrs. Probert March 15, 1885.  Was called on about ten o’clock and arrived about 11:30 A.M., found Mrs. Probert in a good deal of excitement, pacing the floor back and forth, and from herself or somebody present, learned that she had been shot.  Called for warm water to warm my hands, as it was very cold.  While so doing inquired some particulars.  I then began to look for the ball, had wrapping removed, and found the wound had been done up in flour.  Mrs. Probert then began to feel somewhat faint and I concluded it was best for her to go to bed, and asked all the men to retire from the room, and had the patient put to bed in the sitting room.  I then administered chloroform, and after lathering the hair with a brush shaved the hair off; the hair had been cut off with a pair of shears evidently.  Then commenced to probe for the ball, and while so doing it was handed to me; after some probing was unable to find the course of ball, and then stripped the patient to perhaps the middle of the waist to look for place of exodus of the bullet; was then unable to find course, then inquired of Mr. Probert and others in regard to position while shooting.  After examining the head I finally came upon the exodus of the ball.  I then gave a favorable prognosis of the case, injected the wound with a solution of carbolic acid, ordered carbolic lotions applied; gave morphine and returned.  The case progressed favorably from that time until one week ago last Friday I dismissed the patient.  There was nothing peculiar about the wound, there was a dark zone about it as is usual about a gunshot wound.  Discovered no powder at that time; found powder two or three days afterwards.  I inquired of the respondent as to how it was done two or three days after my first visit to the house; asked him if he would let me know where he and his wife stood at the time of the shooting and he took me in the bedroom where it occurred and showed me where he stood and about where his wife stood.  He stood against the door with revolver in hand and his wife stood behind the bed between the bed and the wall, when the revolver went off with the known result; he said he was oiling it preparatory to going hunting; (the doctor here showed how he held the revolver.  He did not say how his wife stood; did not know what she was doing; he said he didn’t have the pistol to let me see it.  Hair was clipped away from the wound about the size of a silver dollar, there were two or three grains of powder around the wound; didn’t notice any burnt hair about the wound; could not tell from the appearance of the wound how far the pistol was from wound; could not tell from the appearance of the wound how far the pistol was from it when fired; received an intimation that the shooting was not accidental Wednesday morning, I think, can’t tell from whom.  The motive in asking positions etc. was to get additional testimony in the case, if one should arise; didn’t make any minute of what he told me; ball entered behind the left ear, took a downward and inward course for two inches, then turned and made an upward and outward course and pressed out at the base of the skull, coming out about three or four inches from where it entered.  Was present part of the time when deposition was taken, which was on Thursday; as near as I can remember it was as follows:  “There had been more or less quarreling in the last three weeks, that a quarrel had occurred a day previous—on Saturday, I think—and she told Mr. Probert that if they quarreled any more she would leave him; Saturday one did occur and Monday Morning she began to pack her things preparatory to going home.  I think she was upstairs at the time and he called her to come down and asked her what she was doing and she said she was preparing to go home and she went into the bedroom and commenced taking her things when he asked her if there was anything that would induce her to stay; she said there wasn’t; more words followed and he flourished the revolver at her and then put it back into his pocket and she went on preparing to go home; finally when she was taking down one of her skirts from a nail on the wall, he took hold of her left arm with his right hand and with his left hand shot her.  He asked her again if she would stay, and she said yes, if you don’t shoot me again, she then called for help, and asked him to get somebody before she lost consciousness; he said he would if she would agree to call it an accident; she did not remember if she agreed or not, but at all events she said, go! go!  He then went after Mrs. Bailey, she being lame, it took her some time to reach there.  In the meantime Probert came back, took a pair of shears and cut the hair off; she supposing he meant some new violence said “don’t, don’t; he said I am merely cutting the hair off the wound.  Mrs. Bailey then came and applied flour to the wound to stop the hemorrhage, evidently.”  This is about all I know about it.  I think he asked her to stay---that he could not live without her.  I meant to experiment before this time to see how far powder would be thrown from the shell of the revolver without burning, I have not had time.  I know a bullet travels faster than sound.  I think Mr. Probert gave me the ball—think he said his cousin, Mr. Youngs, found it.

   MRS. ANDIE THORP—Sworn, says:  Live in Sebewa, west of Mr. Probert’s place about 50 or 60 rods.  I remember the 16th of March last.  Went to Mr. Probert’s that day; went with Mr. Probert and Will Luscher; started before Mr. Probert came; Will Luscher told my husband and he told me.  I told my husband to drive down there at once; met Mr. Probert at Mr. Bailey’s barn; which was about 25 or 30 rods from Probert’s; Mr. Probert went back with me; as we were driving along Mr. Probert looked up and said “Mrs. Thorp, is this you?”  I said it is; he said “I have shot my wife, and I wish you would go over there.”  I said that’s just where I am going and asked him how she was; he said she was dying as fast as she could, and that she could not live long; I said “Oh my!  Oh my!  How did it happen?”  He said I don’t know.  I could not tell you and after I saw what I had done, I had a mind to shoot myself and she said don’t for they will take you for a self murderer; that was all the conversation we had till we got home.  I went in the front door and said what can I do for Mrs. Probert?  She said I don’t know as any one can do anything for me.  The fire was out and I built it up.  Mrs. Probert was in the house walking around at this time.  I then made a tumbler of camphor sling.  There was nothing said between Mr. & Mrs. Probert about the matter.  Mr. Probert fixed the cane seated rocking chair with pillows and said “Thula dear, come and sit down in this chair; and she said “No”; I asked Mrs. Bailey what she had to put on the wound to stop the bleeding and she said nothing and then we put some flour on.  After a while Mrs. Youngs asked her to sit down in a chair, but she said “No, that chair does not belong to me”.  They hardly spoke that day; he offered to assist her in walking one time when she was feeling bad.  Mrs. Probert said nothing about the case to me.

   GEORGE THORP—Sworn says:  reside in Sebewa; husband of last witness; it is 80 rods from my house to Mr. Probert’s, straight across, and 40 or 50 from Mr. Bailey’s to Mr. Probert’s; I was at Mr. Probert’s on March 16; was there about five minutes after my wife got there; I was there most of the time until Mr. Grover got there; had some conversation with the respondent about shooting, when I first got there.  He said “Mr. Thorp, I have shot my wife”; I said “For God’s sake Ed, how did it happen; he said “I don’t know, we were fooling”; I asked him how large a revolver it was and he said a .32 short; he did not show me where it happened.

   HENRY P. YOUNG—Sworn says:  reside in Sebewa; am a farmer; am acquainted with the respondent; he is no relation of mine; my wife’s cousin; I was at his place on March 16; had some conversation concerning the manner in which the shooting was done.  He met me at the door when I went there; he said “I have shot my wife”.  I said “How did it happen?”  That was all that was said at that time and I went into the house, not knowing that there was any woman there except his; had conversation with him in bedroom on that day while looking for the ball; he went in bedroom first and I followed; he then closed the door, I then asked him where he stood when the revolver went off; also where his wife stood, he stepped to where he thought he stood and said his wife stood at the foot of the bed; he stood in front of the bureau two or three feet, facing the northeast’ he did not tell me how he held the revolver, he was giving me the directions as to where to look for the ball.  The ball would have to go to the northeast to hit his wife, she was standing five or six feet from him; I stepped to the foot of the bed to see if I could find the mark on the wall where the ball hit; looked on the floor at the foot of the bed and found it, about half the width of the bed to the northeast corner, and picked it up and said “Here is a bullet, but don’t know whether it is the right one or not”; Probert said it was the one as he only shot once.  I handed the bullet to him.  I had no more conversation with him.

   H. M. GROVER Sworn, says:  I reside in Portland; came here last fall, the respondent is my son-in-law.  Went to his place on the 16th day of March last; was at his place when ball was found; first saw ball in Mr. Probert’s hand; he gave it to the doctor; doctor gave it back to him; Probert then gave it to me.  “Witness here produced bullet.)  I asked him if he would go in the bedroom and show me how they both stood at the time it happened; think it was Monday or Tuesday afternoon, am not certain; he said his wife stood at the foot of the bed, he stood about half way between the bed and the wall on the north side of the house about two feet from the bureau, facing the door; he said he had the revolver in his right hand thrown over his shoulder; did not say anything more in the bedroom.  He could not have shot the woman at the foot of the bed standing as he said but he never made any other explanation.  He met us at the corner of the house and said “I think I have killed my wife.”  Never had much difficulty with the respondent; never said that I would kill him if he crossed my path or words to that effect.  He did not show any reluctance in showing me how the shooting occurred in the bedroom.  I have seen the revolver a great many times; it was a .32 caliber 7-shooter; do not think it was a self cocker.

   The testimony being all in, the case was then adjourned to April 17 to give the defense the time to look up the law and get their plea ready.

   April 29, 1885.  Edward Probert was bound over to circuit court last Thursday by Esquire Porter, under a bail of $4,000, which was furnished by his brothers.  No additional testimony was taken and no arguments were made on either side.  Frank Davis, of Lowell, looked after the interests of the respondent in the absence of Mr. Cole.

   May 6, 1885.  James Johnson has rented the farm where the Probert shooting was done.

   May 13, 1885.  The case of the People vs. Probert came up in circuit court in Ionia last week when the defendant  plead not guilty.  On motion of the defense the case was put over to the next term of court.

   THE PROBERT CASE came to a sudden end when Mrs. Probert refused to press charges and testify against her husband, the defendant.  No other mention of the family is to be found in the later issues of THE PORTLAND OBSERVER.  Presumably they lived happily ever after.


Sebewa has long been a township of farmers and only occasionally has provided the economic base for non-farm incomes.  When high line electricity became available in the 1930’s it seemed that every farm building had become a potential factory.  In the almost 30 years for the possibility to develop, only Lyle Ingall, living on Goddard Road just south of Tupper Lake Road, has such a full time business. 

In 1954, Lyle built a cement block building to house some machinery that would give him part time work when he could arrange to subcontract requiring a screw machine operation.  He had previously worked at Lundberg Screw Products Company in Lansing and at Michigan Magnetics in Vermontville.  By December of 1957 he had given up outside employment and started full time in his Ingall Machine Products. 

Now he uses 30 horse power to process as much as 200,000 pounds of steel a year making small parts (all less than one pound) for the auto industry.  If you drive Corvair, Pontiac, Ford, G.M.C. transportation, the chances are good that some of his products are with you.  At peak times he has as many as three part time helpers including sons Dan and David. 

Besides subcontracts for Lake Odessa Machine Products Co., The Brown Corporation, The Bliss Company, and Hastings Manufacturing Company, Lyle produces a line of boating accessories sold under the trade name of La-Ko Marine accessories.  Included is an oar holder, a patented item, for holding oars securely in a boat while it is being transported.  He developed this gadget after breaking his windshield from carrying oars inside his car……Dan Ingalls lives nearby and farms 625 acres of crops (corn and beans this year) in Sebewa and Sunfield Townships.  David is Assistant to the Registrar of Senior Analyst in Curriculum Research at Michigan State University.  Mrs. Lyle Ingall teaches at the Coon School in Berlin Township.”

   From THE SEBEWA RECOLLECTOR, Robert W. Gierman, Editor, R 1, Portland, Michigan  48875      


Last update February 18, 2013