One of Sebewaing’s most prominent citizens, John C. Liken (1832-1920) came here in 1865 from New York State where he owned a cooperage. Lured by Michigan’s bountiful forests, he opened stave and sawmills in Sebewaing, Unionville, Akron, and Fairgrove. His firm, John C. Liken and Company, dealt in a variety of commodities that the company’s fleet of ships transported to Bay City and markets in New York. In 1874 Liken built a downtown commercial block with four store-fronts. The town’s first telephone line, installed in 1883, connected the store with Liken’s flour mill and depot, and in 1901 the company received a ten-year contract for supplying the town with electric power generated at the mill. In 1913 Liken’s son-in-law Richard Martini took over the business.Sebewaing businessman John C. Liken built five houses, one for each of his children. Constructed in 1890-95, in the fashionable Stick Style, this house remains the only historically intact structure associated with Liken, one of Sebewaing’s most prominent citizens. Liken intended this house for his daughter Mary and his son-in-law and business partner, Richard Martini, but the Martinis never lived here. Instead, their oldest child John C. Martini (1878-1974) moved into the house with his wife, Tillie Kemp, in 1909. John C. Liken retired in 1913, leaving control of the business to the Martinis. Richard became president and John succeeded him. The Liken and Martini families were integral to Sebewaing’s development.
Plaque via Michigan History Center