NOTES FROM YOUR PRESIDENT
Summer is here and your Historical Society is busy as usual. We are
looking for volunteers for the Museum, Walking Tours, and soon "The
Barrel". Museum and Walking Tour volunteers get to meet the nicest
people, tell them about our Society and local history and answer the
most often asked question: "Where is the best place to eat ?" Please
contact Bill Hess for the Museum and yours truly for the Walking
Tours. Additional volunteer help is need at the Old School House in
Douglas. It is open from 1 to 3 pm Monday through Friday, with the
help of Maddie Granrud, one of our summer interns. She would love to
have some help with our visitors. The four interns we have this
summer, Madelyn Granrud, Patrick Pozinzinki, Patrick Pawlak and
Jennifer Fisher have been a big help in the Museum and OSH as well
as working in programming and archives. They are getting to many
projects that we have wanted to do for a long time but have not
found the time to do so.
The garden project is coming along. We expect to have the Francis
Life Boat building done by August 31, along with the walkways, the
Mt. Baldhead observation deck and most of the plantings in the
various gardens. Some planting will have to wait till later in the
fall or even next spring. The determining factor will be what is
best for the plants.
Something new. We are going to try to keep our members informed when
we learn of the passing of one of our members. The Society has over
400 members from coast to coast and many do not see the local papers
for such announcements. We will try to include those announcements
when we can but since the newsletter only comes out once a month it
may not be the fastest way of reporting this information. The first
of these we are reporting on are Fitz Coughlin Jr., Julie Kelly and
Marjorie Sorensen. Fitz passed away in late January. He, along with
his wife Thelma, was a major supporter of the Old School House and
the gardens. Julie Kelly was also a supporter of the Old School
House. She and Ed donated the glass donor walls at the entrance to
the Old School House. She passed away in mid May. Marjorie Sorensen
was a long time member and supporter of our Society. Marge passed
away on June 16.
Our July 13th program meeting sponsored by Arlene
Sherman, "From Fishing Tug, to Net, to Market and Fry Pan,' with
intern Patrick Pawlak, will include a fish fry dinner at the
WayPoint Restaurant in Douglas. I'm really looking forward to that!
Hope to see you there. Your President Harold Thieda
Summer is here!
The Old School House is open
Our summer intern, Maddie,
will be on hand to show you around.
BILL HESS AND MARY VOSS WIN TOP ANNUAL HONORS FROM SOCIETY
Saugatuck's Bill Hess has received the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Society's top-honor Charles J. Lorenz Award of Achievement for 2011
and Mary Voss, Holland, has won the Society's Volunteer Of The Year
Lorenz Award was established by the Society in 1997 to honor the
memory of Charles Lorenz, who gave generously of his time, talent,
money and energy in the formation and development of this
organization. Winners are selected each year by a special Society
committee, recognizing distinguished leadership in fulfilling the
Historical Society's mission to "help the community understand its
past and use its history to shape its future and preserve its
quality of life".
was cited for his efforts over the past five years in recruiting,
training, scheduling and managing the Society's volunteers at its
Pump House Museum, initiating its "Upscale Sale" to benefit the Old
School House project, chairing and arranging catering for various
special events, and serving his second term on the Society's Board
Saugatuck resident since 2004, after more than two decades of owning
and visiting a vacation cottage here during his career with
Montgomery Ward in Chicago, Hess also is completing his second term
on the Saugatuck City Council, where he serves as Mayor Pro Tem.
Volunteer Of The Year Award honors outstanding service to the
Society during the past year. Candidates are nominated by standing
committee chairs, with current Board members excluded from
eligibility, and winners are selected by majority vote of the Board.
Voss's selection for this award recognizes her continuing
contributions as the Society's archivist and records keeper. She
joined SDHS shortly after she and husband Ron purchased a cottage on
Lake Michigan near Pier Cove in 1999. Then recently retired as an
administrative assistant and wanting to keep current on computer
technology, she volunteered to help in Society's Technical Center
and started with scanning old photos and historical issues of the
Commercial Record. Drawing upon previous work experience at the
Holland Museum, she began computerizing SDHS archival information,
donation records and volunteer hours. She also was an SDHS Board
member for three years.
GLAD YOU ASKED
"Glad You Asked" is a new column to answer
questions that have been asked by Society members. Hopefully the
information will be informative to all members.
Q. I understand it was decided not a
produce a new Members Directory this year. Why is that?
A. Yes, you are correct . A Members
Directory will not be produced for 2011. There are a number of
The Directory cost about $1,000 to print and mail each year. For the
last two years SDHS has obtained directory sponsors to offset the
expenses involved with production and mailing. This year there were
not an enough sponsors to cover the costs.
We have found that the directory does not change significantly from
year to year. There is a surplus of 80 directories from last year so
there is an adequate supply to send to new members. A listing of new
members since the 2010 directory was printed is available to anyone
who wishes to have a copy.
The SDHS Board continues to look for ways to reduce expenses in
order to ensure that the Society has the funds available to continue
to support our mission-based projects and programs. The annual
printing of a Members Directory was not cost effective. The on-going
plan is to print Members Directories every two years.
Q. I want to support SDHS by making
a donation to the Upscale Sale. What can I donate?
A. Honestly, we are not very picky. We
want your curiosities, oddities, treasures, the "OMG what is THAT"
gift from Aunt Martha, art, antiques, small scale furniture,
housewares, small appliances, and typical garage sale stuff.
We would like you to KEEP the clothes off your (or anyone else's)
back, your old Philco TV. Naugahyde sectional, Betamax, stuff you
think belongs in the trash and the like.
And remember, we will gladly give you a receipt to take a tax
deduction for your donation.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Bridget McCormack,
Ann Arbor, MI
l Keith Walker,
Donations & Sponsorships
Books & Mdse (Net)
Exhibit & Programs
Membership & Communications
If you have any questions on the above, please contact the
Society's Treasurer, Stacy Honson at
REV. THOMSON WRITES OF SAUGATUCK FOLKLORE
April 2011 newsletter, we shared a number of poems by the
Reverend Alexander Thomson (1844-1914). In the Commercial Record
of Nov. 29, 1907, Thomson recorded in poetry what he was told to
be a true event of almost forty years before. Thomson introduced
his poem by describing how the romance of history adds to the
charm of Saugatuck:
Saugatuck is indeed one of
the beautiful spots of nature. I have seen the lift of the
mountains awful in their sublimity; I have looked at the roaring
foam white rivers that rush among the passes and valleys; I have
seen the white ocean like stretch of the prairies; but for quiet
and restful beauty I have never seen the equal of Saugatuck.
But the interest in a place grows as it becomes associated with
the history and romance of mankind. It is not the mountain lakes
and heather of themselves that draws thousands of visitors to the
highlands of Scotland every year, but Rob Roy, Scott, Wallace and
Bruce. The treasures of history and romance increase the charm a
hundred fold. So with our pretty little village of Saugatuck and
its environment. Let us surround it with history, song and
romance. This poem is a story substantially as I heard it from an
old citizen of Saugatuck now residing in Two Rivers, Wis.
Thomson tells of post-Civil War Saugatuck, where an argument
between a southern sympathizer and a Michigan native led to a
shooting, and to a narrowly averted lynching--- with a local
minister as the hero of the day:
A "Hot Spur" from the southern land
Came northward till he
The forest walled, and sawdust streets.
Of "Booming" Saugatuck.
Then men were free with fist and tongue,
And he who had the better
In wordy wars might hope to be,
King of the pine woods
In these old days when the place was new
The Metled Hot Spur of
Managed to find a job to do
But could not manage his
Proud of spirit he could not brook
The bantering word, or
Of the pine wood boys who found delight
In rousting the ire of
the southern knight.
Hot he whose temper's a run way steed,
Is likely to find e're
his day is done,
He may have to pay in his flesh and blood,
Full tale for his wild
There came a day when his southern ire
Like steel from a flint
struck fiercest fire,
In a trice his pistol was out and then,
Down in the dust lay one
of our men.
Down by the river the village jail
(A queer old shant) had
And there subdued and quiet and pale
The man with the pistol
ended his race.
For well he knew that a storm was brewing
That a judge would sit on his saving and doing
A judge that never sat on
Whose law was his passion, the stern Judge Lynch.
He came that night with his many tongues
Wild of heart and of
He gave his decree from the vere start
In the brief and terrible
Nor neither the jail nor the man inside
Had favor with that
Of men, and they cried: "Down with him forever
The jail and the jail
bird into the river."
Strong hands took hold of the ramshackle thing
And soon on the tide it
had floated that day
When the village preacher through the crowd
Quickly and manfully made
The boys all liked him, for well they knew
Here was a man who was
strong and true,
Afraid of none and to all a friend,
Here was a man that the
Lord did send.
The stumps stood thick and he climbed on one,
This was his pulpit for
"Boys" he said and the crowd was still
"Boys" will you blacken
your hearts with crime?
The law has been broken, will you again
Break in upon Orders fair
And shatter the law that was made to be
A refuge and bulwark for
you and me?
Our comrade is down but the hand of the state
Has gripped the felon
that struck the blow
And not till he pays the very last mite
Will the iron hand of the
law let go
O men and brothers let us beware
How the garment of order
we rudely tare,
And let in upon us the law that comes
With the crack of the
rile and roll of the drum.
We have said they loved him and knew him a man
Noble and fearless as man
And he stilled their passions, as long before
His master had stilled
the heaving sea,
In silent groups they slipped away,
Till alone he stood in
the shadows gray
Thankful and thoughtful alone stood he
A knight of the Lord's
contributed by Chris Yoder
A Series of Talks About People, Places and History
in Douglas and Saugatuck
1. July 5 The Mysteries of the Lost Village of Singapore
by Jim Schmiechen, sponsored by
2. July 12 Indian Joe's Dugout Canoe of 1844 and Native
American Canoe Making, sponsored
3. July 19 A Century of Camps and Camping at the
Lakeshore by Jane Underwood & Jennifer Schuham, sponsored by
Sellman, Shoreline Realtors
4. July 26 Lost & Found: Great Saugatuck Area Art
Discoveries by Ken Kutzel, sponsored by Judy Oberholtzer
5. August 2 The People Who Built All Saints' Church, Saugatuck
by Father Cory Stoppel, sponsored by Bob & Bobbie Gaunt
6. August 9 In the Path of the Great Tornado of 1956:
Saugatuck's Lighthouse - and more - Destroyed, sponsored by
7. August 16 Fire, Murder, and Robbery by Jack
Sheridan, sponsored by the
8. August 23 Looking at Paintings and Finding Self
by Mary Jo Lemanski, sponsored by
9. August 30 The Douglas Root Beer Barrel: Good Times
and Highway Architecture, sponsored by Osman Flowers and
These fun and informal talks will take place on Tuesdays, 11am
at the Old School House History Center in Douglas. Free admission. Click
HERE to download and print a schedule poster
in your choice of color for your frig.
Wednesday, July 13 Monthly Meeting sponsored by Arlene
Sherman, "From Fishing Tug, to Net, to Market and Fry Pan."
A visit to historic fish shanties/docks and slideshow and fish
dinner at WayPoint Restaurant in Douglas. Mark your calendar
and stay tuned for more details.
Too much clutter making you
Donate those treasures to the Upscale Sale.
Your charitable contribution will be tax deductible, you'll help the
Society cover its operating expenses, and you'll gain some priceless
HERE for a flyer with all the details. The donation dates
Saturdays, 9am - noon except July 2, Tuesdays, 4 - 6pm and Mondays
to Fridays, 1 - 3pm.
Can't move it yourself? Call Vic Bella at
269-857-3600 to arrange for a handsome man to pick up your items.
Upscale Sales' New Option
Don't Want to Give it Away? Consign it!
you have a special treasure that you don't want to give away, but
won't mind parting with for cash, the Upscale Sales' new consignment
sale is right up your alley.
Its easier than eBay and both you and SDHS benefit!
Here's how it works:
You select up to three
items that you would like to sell on consignment (minimum selling
prince is $250) at the Upscale Sale. The preview sale is Friday,
July 15 and the sale is July 16.
HERE to get a copy of the "Consignment Sales Agreement"
form. Mail the completed form as indicated.
Deliver your items to the Old School House during the specified
Upscale Sale staff will have your items on display during the sale.
your item(s) sell at the Upscale Sale you will receive 60% of the
selling price and SDHS will receive 40%. (You and SDHS pay MI sales
Upscale Sale staff will notify you if the consigned goods were or
were not sold.
- If your item(s) were not
sold, you will need to pick them
later than Friday, July 22.
- If your item was sold, SDHS
will mail you a check for
equal to 60% of the selling price (less MI
no later than Friday, July 29, 2011.
have any questions, REPLY to this email and an Upscale Sale
committee member you get in touch with you.
MAKES A GREAT GIFT!
The Village Table A Delicious History of Food in the
By Stacy Honson and Kit Lane
is available at the Saugatuck-Douglas Museum and can be
ordered online by clicking
If you love Saugatuck, or you love food, you’ll love this
unique book. All proceed benefit the Saugatuck-Douglas
Historical Society. Soft cover books are $35. Limited-edition*
(hand bound) hard cover books are $125.
*Attention book collectors: Only eleven limited-edition
copies of The Village Table remain. To reserve yours,
please email Sally at
Otis Russell Johnson
The feature photo shows that Otis Russell Johnson was a strikingly
handsome man. From a study of his accomplishments, I conclude that
he was also a determined hard worker. Of solid Yankee stock O. R.
was born in Maine in 1815. He was the son of a tanner - shoemaker
and apprenticed in the same trade. He came west to Coldwater,
Michigan about 1845 and to the Saugatuck area two years later. About
1847 he built a tannery on Goshorn Creek in Dingleville. He also
established a tannery in Plummerville and was a partner in a general
store in downtown Saugatuck.
But his big money success was the lumber business. He partnered with
Frank B. Stockbridge – the future U. S. Senator – in the lumber
milling business. They owned mills located in Saugatuck and in
Singapore. Because of the 1870s calamitous fires, the business
boomed. Their three lumbers schooners ran full time on the Lake.
Johnson and Stockbridge finally ran out of trees in 1875 when they
dismantled and moved the last Singapore mill to St. Ignace.
O. R. Johnson married Emily Wells of Saugatuck in 1853 and they had
six children. He built a large home on the corner of Mason and
Griffith [now the Chemical Bank site] and he was one of the founders
of the Saugatuck Episcopal Church.
With the end of Michigan timber, Johnson moved to Racine, Wisconsin
where he continued in the lumber business. In addition, he and his
sons invested in western timber and the family is well known in
California. He died in Racine in 1895.
The scene below may be familiar – how many of the characters do you
know? Find out more next month.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
NOTES FROM THE GALLERY
Historical Society Acquires First Sylvia Randolph Painting
(Click on the painting for a higher resolution copy.)
Barb Crandell, a
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society member has generously donated a
watercolor painting by Sylvia Randolph. It is the first piece by
Sylvia to join the Historical Society's permanent art collection.
This warm autumn image of the Saugatuck-Douglas area is a beautiful
example of Sylvia's later work. The painting is hanging with the
current exhibition of the Saugatuck-Douglas Art Collection in the
upstairs gallery at the Old School House in Douglas. The gallery and
Old School House building will be open for public viewing
Monday-Friday from 1-3PM through Labor Day.
The Art Project has established
a goal to restore and "stabilize" a large portion of the extensive
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society collection. A budget has been
drafted to determine that we need to raise approximately $4,000 to
stabilize the entire collection. Many of the projects involve only
minor repairs to the artwork, some with the price tag as little as
$50. You have the opportunity to participate in the restoration of
our collection by sponsoring one or more artworks. As sponsorships
are acquired work can begin on specific items. We are hoping to have
the entire collection restored within the next year.
For more information or if
would like to donate, please contact Ken Kutzel at (269) 857-4475.
Thank you, Ken Kutzel Madelyn
REV. J. RICE TAYLOR
The "knight of the Lord's own
chivalry" was the Rev. J. Rice Taylor of the Saugatuck Episcopal
Church. Kit Lane writes about this episode in her book The Day the
Elephant Died. Walter Philbrooks, a book keeper for local sawmill
operator O. R. Johnson, had an argument with Charley Boyle of Rabbit
River, chased him from his office, and shot him. The "rest of the
story" is not exactly as the poem would have it. The initial
newspaper report which appeared July 23, 1870 in the Lake Shore
Commercial (now Commercial Record) indicates that Rev. Taylor talked
to the angry crowd "without seeming to gain much besides abuse".
After a while, the men dispersed by themselves and the deputies of
the law took the prisoner out of town to the Allegan jail to await
trial. Boyle, originally thought to be fatally wounded, survived.
While the local newspaper beat the drums against Philbrooks, the
Allegan paper, at the urging of "reputable citizens of Saugatuck"
(likely his employer Johnson), tried to "set the record straight".
Claims had been made that Philbrooks was a Rebel soldier and killed
many Yanks, that he had been a secretary to Jeff Davis himself, and
that he raised a Rebel flag on the Saugatuck Liberty pole. All was
denied, only admitted was that he had been a clerk in the
Confederate Treasury Department in Richmond. Following a trial,
during which the "alleged victim" Boyle proved an unconvincing
witness, the judge dismissed the case. Claims were persistent that
local money interests had influenced the result.
O. R. Johnson moved his family
to Racine, Wisconsin in 1876, but what became of Walter Philbrook?
In his 1902 work The Hamlin Family (Available on Google
Books) Henry Franklin Andrews writes:
Walter Philbrook was born
July 1836 in Winthrop, ME. He lived in Mobile, Alabama before the
civil war. He was a bank teller and a bookkeeper. He served in a
Mobile, Alabama regiment of the Confederate Army. He was wounded in
the right shoulder at Shiloh. Saugatuck, Allegan County, MI,
1866-79. Walter Philbrook and Abby Ladd were married 16 Sep. 1875 in
Bangor, ME. Independent in politics. For years he was in an asylum
for softening of the brain. He died 27 Apr. 1888 in St. Louis, MO.
Rev. Taylor, it seems, was a
less than effective "knight of chivalry," but he did try. And Walter
Philbrook saw more action in Confederate service than just as a
"Clerk in the Confederate Treasury." Not quite in the league of a
Big Blue Ox and a giant woodsman, but a nice tale anyway. We would
all do well to remember Thomson's words when he said of Saugatuck:
"Let us surround it with
history, song and romance."
contributed by Chris Yoder