HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE SOCIETY'S E-NEWS EDITOR
haven't renewed your Society membership for 2010, better do it now
or Santa may remove your address from the Newsletter list!
new 2010 calendars
Wednesday, February 10, Tell Your
Story ---You Are The Program, 7:00 PM, Old School House
Wednesday, March 10, Other Female
Artists of the Saugatuck-Douglas Area, 7:00 PM, Old
A list of possible artists to discuss could include: Olive
Williams, Mabel Wheelock, Minnie Harms Neebe, Elsa Ulbricht,
Dorothy Helmuth and Christiana Ackermann Hoerman. If you have
any information or images of works by the above mentioned
women artists, please contact Ken Kutzel evenings at
269.857.4475 or by email at
Wednesday, April 14, Annual
Heritage Preservation Awards, 7:00 PM, Old School House
At the Old School House
Haven't finished your Christmas Shopping? Well, the Society's Holiday Gift Shop
will be open this Saturday and Sunday, December 19th and
20th from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Old School
House, 130 Center Street in Douglas.
The shop's gift selection reflects pride in its community's heritage
with such items as the Society's popular books on area history,
framed prints of historical photos and maps from the Society's
archives, commemorative art notecard sets and coffee mugs, plus a
return of the unique Saugatuck-Douglas afghan throw in both blue and
multicolor formats. Some items will be available in colorful holiday
Proceeds will benefit the Society's many volunteer-driven programs.
Volunteers to help staff the shop are welcome; contact Jon Helmrich
at 857-3574 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Anthrop, Jon Helmrich, Stephen Mottram and Sharon Bauer look at
some of the items for sale at the Society's Holiday Gift Shop.
NEW FROM THE ARCHIVES
One of the great things about working at the archives is that I
never know what bit of history will cross my desk on a given day.
Recently I opened a box with items that were given to us by the
Allegan County Historical Society. Inside were all the business
records of the Saugatuck Douglas Arts and Crafts Company later known
as the River Guild. Items include the Certificate of Incorporation
signed in 1941, stock certificates, employment records and sadly a
long list of creditors who brought about the demise of the company
in 1949. The Petter and Button Galleries now occupy the former River
Guild building along Blue Star Highway
What happened to this promising organization and what brought it to
its end is part of the Saugatuck Douglas story. Who could tell us
There are many more stories here at the archives just waiting for
someone to discover them. There is a large backlog of items that
need to be entered into the computer database and help is
desperately needed. If you enjoy history and have some computer
skills this might be the opportunity you are looking for. We would
love to have more volunteers involved. Please contact me at
email@example.com if you would like more
information or better yet drop in at the OSH on Monday afternoons
from 1-4 p.m. - Mary Voss
Holiday Party A Huge Success
Vic Bella, Erik Kirchert, Sally Winthers and new members Bill & Jean
The food and drink was terrific. The tables were stunning. The SCA
setting was beautiful - and the 141 guests were lively and beautiful.
Stay tuned for more photos from the Holiday Party on the Society's
In this time of giving, please remember your Historical Society &
Museum. Please view the updated Old School House project
"prospectus" by clicking on the image above.
MAKING IT EASY!
We may bemoan the challenges of the digital age, but we also love
the connections and conveniences it has brought us. One such
convenience is the ability to make financial transactions over the
internet. And the Society is not behind the times in this regard! On
the front page, upper left hand corner, of the Society's
web site home
page is a "Donate" button.
Click on this button and you will be able to donate either by
credit card or, if you're really with the times, through PayPal.
Yes, it has been tried and it does work. Our thanks go to Erin
Wilkinson for researching and suggesting this feature, and to Fred
Schmidt for making it a reality. We love preserving the past, but we
are also in line with today's technology.
MAY FRANCIS HEATH MEMORIAL PLANS
The Memorial Committee which was chartered in the spring has been
developing its plans for not only a public memorial to Mrs. Heath,
but also for a number of related activities leading up to the 50th
anniversary of her death in 1961. In August 2010 we intend to place
a memorial marker in her memory in the Saugatuck Town Square. The
city council is currently coordinating details of this placement. A
second small marker will be placed beside the "Treaty Oak" on
Holland St., which she was instrumental in saving. Click
for a related story.
A monthly "story of May Heath" will be prepared for the SDHS
Newsletter starting in January 2010, and other events anticipated
for the summer of 2011 include a special program and/or exhibit and
a new memorial edition of her 1930 book "Early Memories of
Saugatuck". Pledges are being accepted toward the memorial at this
time. If interested in working with this committee, or in making a
pledge, please contact: Chris Yoder (857-4327) or Marsha Kontio
submitted by Chris Yoder
MICHIGAN'S YOUNGEST POLICE CHIEF*
L. Colling, November, 2009
Russell Colling as Saugatuck's 21 Year
Old Police Chief, and 50 years later
In the late 1950's, the Village of Saugatuck was experiencing
a rapidly changing community environment. The commercial
fishing business was still strong, the Fruit Exchange,
American Twisting, and Harris Pie were for all appearances
thriving. The principal town economy of tourism was, however,
changing. An increase of the younger "party-type" of visitor
was beginning to overshadow the family environment. Also
during this time a major concern was the influx of motorcycle
groups and the beginning of a loosely organized gang type
influence in the community known as the "Rebels."
I was a police officer
in Saugatuck for the summer of 1957. I then returned to
Michigan State University in pursuit of a bachelor's degree in
Law Enforcement. In the spring of 1958 I received a call from
then Saugatuck Mayor Richard Hoffman, asking me to be a
candidate for the vacated office of Chief of Police. I began
serving as the Police Chief in April of that year. The Town
Council wanted a Police Department that was helpful and
friendly, but that would maintain a high level of safety for
the community. Promoting Saugatuck as a fun, family vacation
destination was a high priority.
In 1958 we had five
full-time police officers, including myself, and a host of
local part-time officers, which included among others, Jim
Boyce, Floyd Maycroft and Maury Herbert. The Allegan County
Sheriff's Department and the State Police provided significant
levels of patrol and back-up support for the town. Part of my
Michigan State training was with the State Police (South Haven
Post), so I was known to many of these fine State Police
Officers, which provided a basis for our interagency
cooperation and mutual support.
The following year
(1959) the police budget allowed for increasing the number of
full-time officers to seven positions, with an increased
number of part-time officers.
Part of the Saugatuck Force - Russell
Colling 3rd From Left
During the 1957-1959 summer
seasons, we employed less than half the number of police
officers as recommended nationally, at 1.5 officers per 1,000
persons. As it was, the town's economic base and government
infrastructure was taxed to the limit to be able to provide
adequate town services. Also to be expected, the weekends
would bring the largest influx of persons to the town. Many
nights the Pavilion bar capacity of 950 patrons and the Old
Crowe bar capacity of 350 patrons would be completely full by
early evening. Persons would line up at the doors waiting for
someone to leave so they would be permitted entry. The two
lines would extend backward until they merged into Water
Street. The town would often be grid locked by automobile
traffic, prompting us to block off the three entrances into
town from the highway (no interstate highway at that time),
allowing traffic to only exit. Persons seeking to enter the
town would often park their cars on both sides of the highway
and walk to the downtown area. Policing was a real challenge
with the numbers of people and the grid locked traffic. We
really didn't want to walk (or carry) an arrested person down
our streets to a lock up facility. There were two police
holding cells in the Public Works building, but there was no
one in attendance and no meal capability. In this respect,
prisoners had to be transported to the Sheriff's Office in
Allegan, which often required continuous round trips during a
single evening, even transporting three prisoners at a time by
a single officer. This time-consuming activity was drastically
reduced when I was successful in establishing night court on
Friday and Saturday nights (summer). Court was held upstairs
in the City Hall from around 9 PM until 2 AM each of the two
During these years, the
main police dispatch center was the front desk of the
Maplewood Hotel. A separate telephone (the Police number)
would be answered by the desk clerk on duty (who was
frequently hotel owner Bobbi McCray) as the Saugatuck Police
Department. The "dispatcher" was in contact with officers in
vehicles via two-way radio. In this era of time there was no
such thing as a radio that could be taken out of the police
car to be carried by a walking officer. When performing
walking patrol the officer was basically on his own until he
could get to a telephone or have someone, often a bystander,
make the call for needed police assistance. With the grid lock
of traffic, numbers of people, and frequent criminal activity,
it was imperative that a high percentage of police officer
duty was performed by foot patrol.
Policing in Saugatuck
during those years was truly different than today. We did not
have the Miranda law at that time (advising arrested persons
of their rights before interviewing them), vehicle search laws
were more permissive, and parents supported both the schools
and the police. The Justice of the Peace officials rendered a
quick and sure resolution for the town's law enforcement
When I reflect on some of
my police experiences during the time I served Saugatuck, a
variety of mundane, scary, and unique events emerges from my
Climbing the endless stairs to Mt. Baldhead (location of
the old radar tower) to put out fires, break up fights,
and assist ill or injured tourists.
the request of the State Police, we frequently manned a
"road block" at the Kalamazoo River Bridge in the rain,
sleet, snow, and freezing temperature, but we did manage
to apprehend some really bad persons.
Being called out of bed at 3 AM to respond to a vehicle
running into a parked cement mixer-the car was gone but
he had left his license plate hanging on the mixer as he
had apparently backed away. Guess who I in turn got to
wake up! He said he had been sleeping as I observed
steam and smoke pouring from the engine of his not too
well hidden car.
Horrible fatal automobile accidents.
Assisting distraught parents find their missing
late night raid on illegal after hours selling of
alcohol in a residence with about 200 partygoers at the
Too many suicides.
The pregnant woman who told me I'd better step on it
getting her to the hospital or she would deliver in the
back seat of my patrol car - I stepped on it.
man sitting at the restaurant breakfast counter with a
concealed weapon. After asking him to put his hands in
the air he produced his FBI credentials.
These, among other
Saugatuck experiences were instrumental in preparing me for my
future careers and goals. These included completion of my
Masters Degree at Michigan State University, college
professor, Titan missile security, hospital administrator, and
my long-lasting engagement in the hospital security field that
resulted in my publishing of five college textbooks along the
My family and I return on a
frequent basis as just another tourist family enjoying the
wonderful environment, activities, and residents of Saugatuck.
* Russell Colling was
appointed Chief on April 1, 1958, two days before his 22nd
birthday, after having served as a regular officer in town the
year before. At 21 years of age, he remains the youngest Chief
not only in Saugatuck, but in the history of the state. He was
22 when he subsequently applied for and was granted membership
in the Michigan Police Chief Association. This article has
been synopsized for SDHS Newsletter for the sake of space. To
see the full article, click
by Jack Sheridan
(Click on an image for the answer)
HISTORY: Ca 1893 Between
Douglas and Fennville, the James Wark farm had a good crop.
MYSTERY: What was the crop?
HISTORY: Ca 1938 Located
near two busy roads, this operation does a great business.
MYSTERY: What is the business?
HISTORY: Ca 1955 A busy
Saturday race day.
MYSTERY: What is going on here?
HISTORY: The government
vessel General Meade is entering the harbor.
MYSTERY: What was her mission and when?
ABOUT THE SOCIETY
To become a member or renew your membership select from the
Send check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society to:
PO Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406. You can also click
HERE for a Society Membership Application.
Send items for the newsletter to: Fred Schmidt, PO Box
617, Douglas MI
49406 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSEUM AND TECH CENTER
The Saugatuck-Historical Museum is located in the
historic Pump House at the foot of Mt. Baldhead on the west bank of
the Kalamazoo River. The
Museum's 2009 exhibit
"Summertime: A Century of
Leisure at the Lake Michigan
The Museum is
now closed and will reopen May 31, 2010. Click
to learn more about the Museum and view images of the 2009 exhibit.
The Society's Technology Center has moved to the Old
Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900 (temporarily disconnected)
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901