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Ionia County Sebewa Recollector Items

Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 28 Number 2
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,
OCTOBER 1992, Volume 28, Number 2
Submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden Slowins:


DORIS PHILP, 74, widow of Clarence Philp (not Phillips!), mother of Richard, Linda & Russell, daughter of Eli Hissong & Dora York, daughter of Christina & Stephen York, son of Rhesa York.

LIONEL R. NORMINGTON, 79, widower of Lucille, father of Doris, Sandra, Lois, Robert, Dennis & Leon, son of Ray & Olive Hendrix Normington. He farmed on Clarksville Road in Sebewa, where Elias York raised his brood of girls.

LYNN DOOLITTLE, 86, born in Mulliken, began his teaching career at Sebewa Center School, ended as principal in the Dade County Florida School System. Leaves grandchildren & great-grandchildren.

THEO LENON, 92, son of Minnie & Barney Lenon, brother of Dorothy Hawkins, widower of Elizabeth Brake Amon, father of Richard Lenon and M. Joan Trezise. He was born in a log cabin on a small farm in Sunfield Township, graduated from Sunfield High School in 1918, served three months in the U. S. Navy in WWI, and three years in the Naval Reserves. He married Elizabeth in 1919 and came home to farm. In 1922 he began working for Smith Brothers Velte & Co. Elevator at their Sunfield branch, eventually became joint owner with several farmers & Smiths, and retired as Manager in 1979. He never lost his love of farming, and operated 700 acres in Sebewa Township on Tupper Lake Road now owned by Lyle & Don Cunningham. He served on the State Milk Commission and the State Agriculture Commission. He traveled in 75 countries of the world and was a popular speaker on his travels, as well as long-time author of a weekly newspaper column giving his out-spoken views on agriculture, politics, world affairs, and life in general. Our most vivid memory of him was going with our folks (Elizabeth was a first cousin to Crystal Brake Slowins) to his farm one evening during World War II. He was busy helping Dan Brovont milk the Jersey (or Guernsey?) cows, but stopped long enough to go with us to get 600 pounds of very scarce 2-12-6 fertilizer from his warehouse so we could plant six acres of wheat.

ARTHUR D. (TY) LOWREY, 81, husband of Helen, father of Brenton Lowrey & Jane Nelson, brother of Norton Lowrey, son of Myrtle Reed & (John) Carl Lowrey, son of Carrie G. Thomas & Ebenezer N. Lowrey, son of Jane McMullen & (Ebenezer) Norton Lowrey. The family had farmed in Berlin Township for four generations. E. Norton Sr. & Jane Lowrey farmed in Ohio, where she died, and after stopping off two years in Indiana, he came to Sec. 27 & 28 Berlin Township in 1858, and married a widow, Mary Hawley Thomas.
1. Archibald Lowrey, killed in the Battle of Stone River.
2. John C. Lowrey, also a Civil War Veteran.
3. Ebenezer N. Lowrey, born 1842, Civil War Veteran.
4. Sirona Lowrey, wife of James Musgrove, mother of Robert.
5. Jane (Jennie) Lowrey, wife of Nathan Hubbell of Saranac.

6. Abram (Pratt) Lowrey.
John C. Lowrey & wife Harriet farmed on the E ¼ SW ¼ Sec. 28 Berlin Township, on what is known as the George Cook farm today, as well as NW ¼ NW ¼ Sec. 27. Their daughter Bernice Jane was in the Eighth grade when Dan Slowinski was in the First Grade at Coon School. The teacher quit mid-year and the Board made Bernice Jane the teacher. She taught him well, because with only three years schooling, he read the Grand Rapids Herald from front to back every nite of his adult life. Later John & Harriet lived on Tupper Lake Street in Lake Odessa, second block west of Jordan Lake Avenue, in the house on the north side with a cement-block porch. They owned the block of store buildings that included Urtel’s General Store, and the block that included Elfstrom’s Shoe Store.

Beatrice Jane Lowrey married Jack Aungst and had daughters Jennie & Eva. Eva married Dan Austin and their daughter Beulah married Oren Daniels and became mother of Larry, Dallas, Gary, & Margene.

Ebenezer N. Lowrey was 16 years old when his father moved to Michigan and had attended school in Ohio & Indiana. He was engaged in farming at the outbreak of the Civil War and promptly enlisted in Company B, Sixteenth Regiment, Michigan Infantry Volunteers. He was wounded at Cold Harbor and Gettysburg, thirteen times in all, and carried the Cold Harbor bullet in his body all his life. After the war he came back to the farm and married his step-mother’s daughter, Carrie G. Thomas. They farmed on the NE1/4 Sec. 28 & SE1/4 NW1/4 Sec. 28 & SW1/4 NW11/4 Sec. 27, 240 acres in all, where they built a beautiful VanderHeyden ivory brick Victorian-Italianate home in 1892. Their son Carl sold this estate to Walter Reed in the 1950s and the present owners, Bill & Ruth Allen, have replaced the house with a modern ranch-type. They were active in the G. A. R. & Women’s Relief Corp, the Berlin Center Methodist Church, the Republican Party and the School Board.
1. Frances Lowrey, died at one month.
2. Willard Lowrey, a civil engineer in British Columbia.
3. John Carl Lowrey, farmer in Berlin Township.
4. Richard Roy Lowrey, farmer in Boston Township.
5. Cecil C. Lowrey, died young.
6. Harvey H. Lowrey, born 1878, Ionia County School Commissioner and later Superintendent of Inkster Consolidated Schools.
7. Ed. N. Lowrey, born 1880, Sheriff of Ionia County.
8. Earl E. Lowrey, farmer on the home place in Berlin Township.
9. Hazel J. Lowrey, a teacher.

ABRAM PRATT LOWREY farmed the original homestead of Norton & Mary Lowrey, being the SE1/4 Sec. 28 Berlin, where he was born and his son Charles N. Lowrey was born, and Charles’ daughter Phyllis Shellenbarger (Mrs. Claud) was born, and her son was born. The farm is well beyond its centennial year.

ROY B. LINEBAUGH, 69, son of Ida Matoon & J. Calvin Linebaugh, son of William J. & Polly Linebaugh. He was brother of Gertrude Trierweiler, Carl, Howard & William Linebaugh. William J. & Polly Linebaugh owned and farmed 160 acres on south side of Portland Rd. second farm east of Mellstead Rd, Sec. 33 & 34 Orange, now part of the Riley Sandborn estate, near Kilmartin School. Polly lived in retirement above one of the stores on Kent Street in Portland.
1. Frank Linebaugh.
2. Lafayette Linebaugh.
3. Roy Linebaugh.
4. John Calvin Linebaugh.
5. Faye Linebaugh, married a Riker.
6. Bert Linebaugh.
7. Chester Linebaugh.
8. Floyd Linebaugh, married a Reed.
9. Tillie Linebaugh, married Ray Elvert.
10. Mertie Linebaugh.

Frank Linebaugh was a teacher, farmer & orchardist on Emery Road 160 acres at SW ¼ Sec. 8 Danby, and retired to the large house on NW corner of Lincoln & Bridge Streets in Portland, where he was Village Assessor. He was married twice, to Adams sisters. The first was mother of his daughters and the second raised them. He was the father of Gladys Hill & Emma (Tiny) Saline.

Lafayette (Lafe) Linebaugh owned a 270 acre farm on Goodwin Road, Sec. 11 & 14 Orange Township, was married to Addie, and famous for their large Sugar Bush. Their only child, Webster, succeeded them on the farm but died young. He left five daughters: Margaret Janes, Virginia Ferris, Jean Kuhlman, Patricia Thomas & Judy Huynh, plus a son James.

Roy Linebaugh married Beulah Sears and farmed on the Sam Gibbs farm at E ½ SE ¼ Sec. 13 Orange, now known as the Morris & William Shattuck farm. He died young and she remarried to Kelly and lived on SW corner of Lincoln & Hill Streets in Portland. Roy was father of John Linebaugh, the plumber, and of Dorothy Gibbs Estep. John was father of Joyce McCrumb, Robert & another daughter. Dorothy was mother of Priscilla (Percy) Gibbs Estep Iler Harden, and another daughter.

J. Calvin Linebaugh was a teacher, principal, Ionia County School Commissioner before Harvey Lowrey. He had a small farm in Orange, where Wright-Way Carpet Store is now, and was married to Ida Matoon. Their children were Gertrude, Roy GB., Carl, Howard, William.

SYDNEY J. BROWN, 91, son of John & Annie Pierce Brown, widower of Mildred Evans Pierce, father of Gladys Brown Spitzley. He was born in Cornwall, England, came to this country as a young man, farmed, operated S. J. Brown Livestock Trucking and retired as manager of Michigan Livestock Exchange in Portland. This family ties into the Evans Family History (Volume 24, NO. 1, 2, 3, 5) and the Spitzley Family History (Volume 27 – No. 4).

Gladys married William Joseph Spitzley, son of William Mathias (Hardware Bill) Spitzley. Their son William Jr. is at least William the Fifth. One of the pallbearers is their daughter, Patricia Spitzley. We encourage this trend, and plan to have all women pallbearers. Third child is Elizabeth Spitzley Hart.

MISSING AND PRESUMED DEAD: CATHERINE & RAYMOND SEARS, SON OF JOHNANNA & WALLACE SEARS, SON OF EDNA & ROY SEARS, SON OF WILMONT SEARS, are missing and presumed dead. They left their home in Kalamazoo on July 18, boarded a rented plane at Battle Creek, piloted by Tom Lammon, along with Mrs. Lammon. They planned to visit brother John at Beaver Island, who pilots his own plane and has a home there.
They took off about 9-10:00 AM and last made radar & radio contact about 12 noon over the water north of Traverse City. They asked permission to drop below the clouds, but the supposed cloud was really a fog bank and extended down to the water. Two weeks later a wheel & fiberglass parts were found just offshore up the coast from Harbor Springs, between Cross Village and Good Hart. They leave two little daughters. Wallace Sears is our Secretary/Treasurer. His address is 11501 S. Sunfield Hwy., Portland, MI 48875.

MEMORIES by Fred Wiselogle (continued)
In 1906 Flo’s grandfather, Tom Leak, a prosperous Sebewa farmer took her on a trip to England to renew acquaintances with relatives living in Grismby. Though I can’t recall ever meeting Tom, I can remember a later recital by my mother of that trip……
Some of you will recall that back in 1981 Phil and Doreen Borman, of Grmsby, England, entertained the Historical Society, then meeting in the Page Building, with a set of movies taken around Grimbsby by Phil. Here’s the background to that visit: Ten years before that my father forwarded an old postcard sent in 1907 by Flo to her uncle, a Ben Wall in Grimsby. My mother had retained it all those years and then my father had kept it after she passed away. Marveling at that, I decided almost as a joke on my father to determine whether any relatives of the Leaks were still living in Grimsby. So – in 1971 – I sent off a letter to Ben Wall’s address of 1907; the recipient, obviously bewildered, forwarded my request to the local paper and they published it.
And a niece of Ben’s, one Gertrude Borman, who as a young girl of 10 had met my mother during their visit to Grimsby back in 1906, spotted the article and responded. It was her son, Phil, with his wife, Doreen, who returned the visit of my mother some 75 years later – and we have corresponded ever since.

Now, back to the early nineteen hundreds. Florence left Bippley and went on to teach school in Springport. It was there that she met Andy, who by now had changed jobs and was an assistant freight agent for the Michigan Central Railroad at the depot in Albion. They were married in the Sebewa Baptist Church in July, 1911. Reverend Dick Cross assures me that the church still retains the records of their wedding.

I was born in Albion on my father’s birthday, May 18, 1912. My mother claims she heard the noon whistle during my arrival – though it certainly was not daylight savings time: why, it wasn’t even eastern standard time for Michigan was then in the Central Time zone – keeping up with Chicago.

I don’t recall much of my life in Albion as we moved some 2-3 years later to a rented house ($10 a month) at 410 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lansing – within easy walking distance of the railroad passenger depot there. You see my father had been promoted, jumping over his boss, to be the Lansing passenger agent for the Michigan Central Railroad.

I began my schooling (kindergarten) by walking north across Michigan Avenue to Clinton School on the east side of Pennsylvania Avenue. I can still recall a few events of those early days. My parents took me to a vaudeville show in a theater on Michigan Avenue across the then terrifying bridge over the Grand River – scary because the roadway was open mesh through which one could see the river below while walking across. I thought the chorus girls beautiful when they sang – and in that respect I haven’t changed a bit over the years; my folks took me one evening to see a human fly climb to the top of the Capitol Building. We all gasped in relief when he reached the top. And I can remember an early Christmas at home. The tree was decorated with lighted candles, of course – and around the base my father had installed a track on which operated a battery-powered electric train set – running around the tree. I was probably 3 or 4 years old at the time and I’m not sure my father ever let me play with the train alone!

In 1917 Dad was promoted to passenger agent for the Michigan Central Railroad in Ann Arbor, and so we moved to a modern 3-story house on 403 Church Street – directly across from the main University campus. This was the first house that my parents ever owned and I suppose cost them in the range of $2,500. I can recall a family gathering when we learned of the armistice celebrating the end of the First World War.

Our house in Ann Arbor was very modern for 1917; why, we had lighting fixtures in every room that could be operated either with gas or electricity. Apparently, the builders couldn’t foresee just which form of lighting would endure so they gave us a choice. We had a gas stove in the kitchen; of course every burner had to be lighted with a match. We had an icebox and city water – but we also had a hand pump leading to a cistern – and we pumped up cistern water for all of our washing. Oh, to be sure, it was pretty brown – but it was soft; at least bar soap would lather in it.

Milk was delivered daily from a horse drawn wagon. We had no garage; the corner lot was too small. But then we didn’t need one; we didn’t have a car.

I can’t recall how we paid our electric bills. But I do remember that we paid our gas bills with cash. Indeed, with coin. There was a gas meter in the basement containing a slot that accepted quarters. And when, in the course of preparing a meal, the stove suddenly shut off, my mother knew that she had to locate a quarter. Go down stairs and insert it in the meter- and presto, the gas was back on again, perhaps for another couple of weeks. Our bathroom had an instant heater for bath water; it was mounted high over the tub and one lighted the heater, turned on the water and presto – hot water drained into the tub for one’s bath. One shut the gas off, then got in the tub. Oh, the agony if the main gas supply shut off just as one started to fill the tub!

We had a great furnace in the basement. And right next to it the coal bin. Our furnace was modern – in the sense that we had all the needed controls in the living room. My mother was the thermostat. The control consisted of a horizontal arm pivoted in the center with two chains leading from the ends down through holes in the floor to the furnace. One end was connected to the draft door in the front of and below the firepot of the furnace. The other end was connected to a damper door behind the furnace opening into the chimney. If it got too hot – one opened the damper, letting cold air directly into the chimney, reducing the draft and thereby cutting down on the air going over the burning coals.

When it got too cold the lever was reversed, closing the damper and opening the draft door to permit more air to pass over the burning coals. It was beautiful, simple and straightforward – and required no connection to an electric socket, not even any batteries. Of course if one didn’t go down every four hours to stoke the furnace with more coal – why, raising the draft door was quite futile.

A few years later my father was promoted again and now worked in Detroit, in that once magnificent Depot there. But we never left Ann Arbor. Commuting to Detroit was a snap. Many passenger trains ran every day between Detroit and Chicago with frequent stops along the way. My father, of course, had a pass to travel without cost on any railroad in the United States and there was a street car line in Ann Arbor going from our house right to the depot.

On occasion, Dad would take me in to see his office in Detroit – open 24 hours a day and always filled with clerks selling tickets to a never ending stream of passengers. There I first saw mechanical adding machines, with numbers set on the perimeters of wheels and a handle, going kerchunk, kerchunk, to make the additions. Oh, how I wanted to bring one home to help out in my school work. But even more breathtaking was a similar mechanical machine; masterful ingenuity that would multiply two numbers. It was called a Comptometer and I felt that this was the absolute ultimate as far as calculating numbers was concerned.

By 1924 my parents felt sufficiently comfortable, financially, to afford a car – a second hand model T Ford coupe, complete with vase inside to hold flowers. It cost $450. Now for the first time we were really mobile and could, almost every weekend, visit my grandparents in Springport and in Lake Odessa. Indeed, my mother and I sometimes spent a week with Fred and Maggie Yager on Sixth Avenue.

I’ll never forget the rigidity of my grandmother’s work schedule. Monday was wash day; Tuesday was ironing day. And here I witnessed a technology problem. Maggie did her ironing in the kitchen using ssad irons – heavy cast metal, pointed at both ends, heated on the cooktop of the wood-fueled kitchen range. When the metal was suitably hot, she latched on to it with a wooden handle, turned around and quickly ironed as many clothes as she could before it got too chilly. Meantime another sad iron was heating up; Maggie deftly returned the cooled iron to the stove, picked up the new heated one and resumed her weekly chore.
But change intervened. The village of Lake Odessa had electricity and new, electric powered irons suddenly became popular. Every housewife on Sixth Avenue bought one. The problem was that Consumers Power, and to us that meant Forrest Branch, couldn’t supply enough power to Sixth Avenue to let everybody iron at the same time. The voltage went down and the irons just wouldn’t heat. The solution: why, my grandmother just got up earlier in the morning to beat the rush. For her, Tuesdays began long before daybreak.

When I graduated from University High School in Ann Arbor in 1928 I had no problem deciding where to go to college. After all, the University of Michigan campus was right across the street from our home. I went there – for eight years, getting a bachelor’s degree in 1932, a master’s degree in 1934 and ending up in 1936 with a Doctorate of Science, majoring in organic chemistry. And all that time I lived at home.

Now chemistry is a laboratory science and one does experiments. These have to be quantitative, just like making ice cream or baking bread. So we had to weigh ingredients, record the weights – do things to the mixture and weigh the end result again. We ended up with a lot of numbers and these had to be put into formulas and calculated. All this involved multiplication and division of multi-digit numbers – a long and painful exercise.

But, thank goodness, someone had come along to ease our anguish. He had invented logarithms………so, in the thirties all scientists used logarithms to do their multiplications and divisions. We looked down at the few souls who insisted on doing long division and multiplication of multi-digit numbers. How smug and superior we felt!

My mother and father had an understanding in Ann Arbor that any money she earned was hers to use to furnish our house. So we took in roomers – always college students – Tom Gilson, Cary Peabody, Dave and later George Smith – all from Lake Odessa and then others whom I did not know. One that I still recall, a crippled polio victim, Gordon Sindecuse, later became a famous dentist in Kalamazoo and recently contributed a few million dollars to the University in appreciation of his education there. As far as I know he is still alive, and comfortable in the Tampa, Florida area.

So with the room rent money, my mother outfitted our house with extravagances – pictures, sofas, console phonographs crank wound, of course. There was dining room furniture, a baby grand piano, a violin for me. Of course I had to take lessons @ 50 cents an hour; alas, I did not become an accomplished musician.

In the twenties radio suddenly became a fad – and the “in” thing to do was to build your own; commercial sets just weren’t available. One needed an outside aerial – a plain wire stretched between two poles mounted along the length of the roof and brought into the dining room by a lead in wire. Then there was a ground wire soldered to the incoming water pipe and also brought up from the basement to complete the circuitry. My father – as did everyone in our neighborhood – built our own set. He started with a Quaker Oatmeal box around which was strung plain copper wire closely spaced with great care. A cross piece with a contact…………(TO BE CONTINUED)



Last update November 15, 2013