YOU ARE INVITED
ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30
The SDHS Board members will again be hosting a chili supper to show
their appreciation to all the SDHS members who have volunteered
their time and efforts during the year for the Society's many
programs and projects.
The event is on Sunday, October 30 at the Old School House beginning
at 6 PM. Look for an "e-blast" with more details coming soon.
If you will be attending, please RSVP by REPLYING to this email. If
you are unable to attend, please accept the Board's thanks for your
support of your Society this year.
SAVE THE DATE
The December Program is the Society's holiday gala, Sunday, December
4th - a lively evening of refreshments and food at the beautiful
Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Stay tuned for details.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Society's October Program, Visitors from Douglas Cemetery To
Bring Tales from the Crypt, featured interesting ghosts from the
Douglas Cemetery. Shown below are Steve Williford of Christmas Carol
fame as Scrooge (with Art Lane in the background) and our own Kit
A HERITAGE FESTIVAL INQUIRY
"Mr. Stillwell and her son Mike ran a hotel in the 60's and 70's
[The Casablanca, as shown in the photo above. Click on the photo
for a slightly higher resolution copy] on Butler Street.
Do you know what happened to them? Her former husband was Verne
Stilwell, a theater professor at Western Michigan University in
If so, REPLY to this email and we'll include it in next month's
newsletter. The contact for the inquiry is Craig Stilwell, 428
Kedzie Street, East Lansing. MI 48823 email is
---"and thank you for the memorable tour."
by Jim Schmiechen
Welcome! The Family History Group meets on the first and third
Thursday of every month at 3:30 in the Old School House. Group
focus is on building family trees by learning and utilizing
digital research techniques. Most research is based on the
utilization of digital resources - these resources are the many
data bases containing historical information that are accessed via
the internet. Some of them currently in use by the group are:
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, Ancestry.com, Family Search,
Rootsweb, Genweb, New England Historical and Genealogical Society,
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society website data bases are
reached by going to the
On-Line Research Center on the Society's web site. One
click leads to a page with listings for some fifty data bases that
contain local historical data - others are links that lead to
sites containing national and international data. All of this is
as close as a few clicks of the mouse. Try it!
There are mountains of historical information awaiting you out
there in the cyberworld. Learning to build your tree requires your
effort and lots of it - the Society cannot accomplish it for you.
But members of the Family History Group are gathered together to
support each other's effort. Our experience ranges from novice to
experienced and participation ranges from casual to dedicated.
So come and check it out! Our next meeting is Thursday October 20,
3:30 at the Old School House. Contact Jack Sheridan at
or call 857-7144 with questions.
This column will appear each month in the newsletter. Our members
plan to tell you about their exciting family tree discoveries.
submitted by Jack Sheridan
HALLOWEEN AT KEMAH - 1933
Names identified by Jane Bird Van Dis
and June Force Fox, July 2010: 1) Unknown, 2) Unknown, 3) Virginia
Hedglin, 4) Shirley Springer, 5) Unknown, 6) Unknown, 7) Jean
Laviollette, 8) Billy Springer, 9) Betty Powers, 10) Elaine Bird,
11) Maybe a Floto, 12)Joyce Force, 13) Vivian Powers, 14) Celia
Force, 15) June Force, 16) Jane Bird, 17) Rhea Jean Valleau, 18)
Ruth Newnham, 19)? A Kortkamp boy, 20) Unknown, 21) Felicity Fonger,
22) Katherine Jane Van Syckel, 23) Bill Van Syckel, 24) Unknown
Number 1 and 19 - both Kortkamp boys, one was Caedmon and the other
Click on the image for a higher resolution copy.
Costumes, games and special treats were the fare 78 years ago this
month, when twenty-five area children celebrated Halloween at Kemah
in 1933. The Commercial Record reported:
"The moon lent its image and a suitable squint in its wicked eye
with a dark feathered owl pecking at the other one. There were
dangling skeletons minus rattle, grinning pumpkins with broken teeth
in need of the dentist but otherwise uncommunicative, black cats
without a miau and nobody seemed afraid to cross their feline
Mrs. William J. Springer (Alys/Alice) and children Shirlee/Shirley
and Bill were the hosts for yet another special event for children
and their wonderful Pleasant Street home.
The Springers had purchased Kemah (an Indian word meaning "In The
Teeth Of The Winds") in June 1926 as a summer home from F. S.
Thompson and had major renovations done on it by their neighbor,
architect and artist Carl Hoerman. The Hoermans were to become fast
friends, traveling with the family on a trip through the Southwest
and through Europe.
Jane Bird Van Dis lived down the hill under Kemah and says she
remembers Shirley standing on the hill and calling out "Jane, Jane
Bird, come up and play". June Force Fox's mother worked for the
Springers at the house. She recalls that Shirley and Bill were in
school at Saugatuck at one time and that Mrs. Dodie Wilson was Alys
Springer's best friend in the area.
When the father, William J. Springer (b. 1883), died on Feb. 10,
1941 at their Chicago home, Shirley was attending Columbia College
in Missouri, and Bill was a cadet at the Culver Military Academy in
Indiana. Wife Alys, who had been ill for some time, died tragically
from a heart attack in June of the same year, age 37. Both rest in
Saugatuck's Riverside Cemetery.
Alys (Brown) Springer at Kemah
Johnson Fox reported when he came home on leave from the war that he
had heard that Bill (William J. Springer Jr.) had been killed in an
explosion while loading ammunition. His name is included on the
"WWII West Coast Memorial" in San Francisco, CA with a date of May
7, 1944. Other sources place the tragedy at Hunter's Point, CA.
During their years in Saugatuck, the Springers made a decided impact
on the village, even though they were only part-time residents. Mel
Hershaw remembers Shirley driving around town in her car (a Lincoln
Zephyr, he thinks) with her pet sheep riding in the seat. Locals did
hear she had married, but no one seems to know anything further, or
recalls her coming back for a visit. With a birth of Sep. 12, 1924,
if Shirley were living, she would have just recently celebrated her
87th birthday. We cannot help but wonder what a wonder trove of
photos she might have from the family times in Saugatuck.
With a little internet effort, I managed to track down one of
Shirley's closest girl friends from Chicago, Joanne Boynton. She
reports that Shirley (or Shirlee, as she began to spell her name)
did marry and then divorced. Her second husband was Johnny Maines, a
rodeo circuit star, and there were no children. Shirlee herself,
always a dare-devil, joined in the rodeo activities and even rode
bulls. She had a farm around Palatine, Illinois and Joanne (who had
become Mrs. Edward Chrisman) would bring her kids so the family
could ride horses. Shirlee passed on some time ago. So it seems the
Springer Saugatuck memorabilia, if it even existed, is out of reach
contributed by Chris Yoder
TOM AND DOROTHY OTTO REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR
Dorothy Reddy Otto - I was ironing clothes when I heard
the news in my parent's home in East Lansing (and I was
ironing when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot ---
and I don't iron that often). It was just unbelievable that
anything like that would happen. The radio was on and I was
the first to tell everyone in the family, and they didn't
believe me. I was fourteen, and momma had just taught me to
iron and I wasn't very good, but I could do handkerchiefs
real good. I remember telling momma that I had just finished
the handkerchiefs but the Japanese had just ruined Pearl
Harbor. I remember Daddy sitting us down and telling us what
this all meant. I had an older sister who was married later to
a B-17 pilot, Fran Ferguson. He was shot down and spent
time in the German Camp at Buchenwald. He always contributed
to the Red Cross, because the Red Cross taught him how to
knit, and he said had he not been able to knit himself socks,
he would never have made it when they marched them between
Tom Otto - I was up in my bedroom in East
Lansing. We had a PA system in the house. We had six bedrooms,
and my dad announced on the PA system that we had been
attacked by the Japanese. I was ten years old. I had four
older brothers and they all went into the service and they all
made it back.
contributed by Chris Yoder
SILVER ANNIVERSARY CAMPAIGN UPDATE
The Society's Silver Anniversary Campaign kicked off in
September. All members have received our letter outlining the
three ways you can help us to sustain and grow our wonderful
efforts into the next 25 years.
To date, we have received over $10,000 in donations. The new
Silver Lifetime memberships are over half committed - we will
only have 25 of these special memberships. We will continue
our efforts to reach our goals: $25,000 to the operating fund,
25 Silver Lifetime members, and 25 members of the new Legacy
Circle (naming the Society in your wills and estate planning).
The campaign will continue into 2012, but we would love to
reach our goals by the end of this year. I know we can do this
with our committed and active members! Please take some time
to review the three pledge cards that were sent to you and
send them back to us as you plan your year-end giving. The
Society needs your support now more than ever.
We heartily thank the following who have already joined the
Silver Anniversary Campaign:
Valerie Atkin and Russ Pitts
George Brown and Gregg Kurek
James and Kat Cook
Tom and Donna Farrington
Bob and Bobbie Gaunt
Sarah Harris and Alex Fink
Jon Helmrich and Stephen Mottram
Bill Hess and Mike Mattern
Stacy Honson and Dick Bont
James G. Houser
Sona Kalousdian and Ira Lawrence
Edward J. Kelly
Marsha and Loren Kontio
Robert and Ruth Marx
David and Kristi Baker Mueller
Tom and Dorothy Otto
Sandra and Travis Randolph
Fred and Janet Schmidt
Dick and Marty Shaw
Harold and Sandra Thieda
Water Street Gallery
Douglas and Deborah West
Robert and Sally Weist
Sally Winthers and Erik Kirchert
If you need additional pledge cards or have misplaced them,
please REPLY to this email and we'll send you another mailing.
We look forward to hearing from you becoming a part of the
Society's Silver Anniversary Campaign.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Harvey & Judy Van Dam, Saugatuck, MI
& Chicago, IL
l Michael Metty & Mary
l Christopher Dietrich,
A Salute To Our Veterans
7:00 PM on Wednesday, November 9
at the Old School House
Click on the image for a higher
Photo of returning vets (World
War II) in 1946, organizing the Jones-Woodall Post 6134 of the
Veterans of Foreign Wars, in the lower level of the River
Guild building on Blue Star Highway, now the Button Gallery.
Individuals include Gene Lundgren, Jack Campbell, Buster
Purchase, Vic Culver, Sonny Alexander, Bob Stafford
(Commander), and Ev Bekken.
In recognition of the traditional American veterans month, the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society presents a program on
local men who went off to war to serve their community - and
After an historical view of Veterans Day (originally Armistice
Day) by Jeff Wilcox (a Vietnam war vet), the program will
follow in two parts - one, a presentation by Senator Patty
Birkholz (now the governor's Director of the Office of the
Great Lakes) who will talk about her book-survey of
Saugatuck-Douglas area World War II veterans, and the second a
"round-table talk" by local veterans: Gerald Bekken
representing the World War II, Dean Batchelor, the Korean War,
Dave Harthorn the Vietnam War, and Zach Pedric
Refreshments will be served. submitted by Jim
DINE AROUND 2011
Ken Carls prepping for 2 back to back (Friday and Saturday) Dine
Around dinners - total of 26 guests.
Friday at the home of Ken Carls and Jim Schmiechen
Curtis and Mary Kamman
Janie and Jim Fleming
Shirley and Larry Akins
Don and Ruth Wendell
Mary Kay and Mark Baker
Richard and Kathy Talsma
Saturday at the home of Ken Carls and Jim Schmiechen
Janet and Fred Schmidt
Jerry Carpency and Doug Turner
Herb Bills and Scott Morrow
Phil Sabatini & Mark Wilson
Chris Seidel & Mike Mulcahy
Saturday at the home of Travis and Sandra Randolph
Herk and Christa Wise
Sally Winthers and Erik Kuchert
Dawn and George Schumann
Saturday at the home of Mike and Katherine Economos
Harold and Sandra Thieda
Peter and Martha Hanson
Steve Masterson and Tim Spooner
Marilyn and Dean Batchelor
Saturday at the home of Arnold Shafer
Sunny Hill and Maury Decoster
Wayne Nestander and Merle Malmquist
Judi and Howard Vanderbeck
Saturday at the home of Steve Teich
Mike Van Meter and Judy Hillman
David Colwell and Mary Ann Quick
Janeen and Glenn Fowler
A BIG THANK YOU to all the hosts, their helpers and dinner
guests for a wonderful evening of good food and fun
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
Placida and Theo
There is a rule that prudent lawyers follow: Never ask a witness a
question unless you already know the answer! Should have remembered
that before displaying a photo of the vessel Placida in last month's
newsletter. I had begun research to determine the history of the
vessel and was confident that it was the yacht pictured in other
photos in our archives.
Wrong dog breath!
Turns out that vessel here [bottom] in the winter of 1929-30 was the
Theo not the Placida pictured last month [upper]. A close look
establishes the fact that the Placida is larger with more portholes
The Placida has an unusual history. She was built in Bath, Maine in
1930 and probably visited Saugatuck in the early 1930s, as we have
photos of her entering the piers and at anchor in Kalamazoo Lake. At
the beginning of WWII she was acquired by the U.S. Navy and
converted to a patrol boat and submarine chaser, seeing wartime
service along our Atlantic coast and surviving the war. Wonder what
happened to her after the war?
The Theo was owned by a Frank Parrish [probably a part time
resident] and was brought here in November 1929 to have deck work
done over the winter. Hence the temporary wooden roof. The November
22, Commercial Record contained a paragraph:
The steam yacht, Theo, owned by Frank Parrish, is in the harbor
being laid up for the winter. All the upper works of the boat are
being housed in so the winter storms will not affect the fine
finish, and the work is being done by local men. It is fortunate to
have this work come to Saugatuck at a time when so many of our
people are idle and as our harbor is a good one for winter storage
it is hoped that this boat’s stay here will be the fore runner of
many more to come.
There is another photo of the Theo docked near the ferry landing in
the summer, likely about 1932. The identity of the owner Frank
Parrish is a mystery. He does not appear to be of the Parrish family
that owned the drugstore for many years. The vessels have similar
lines and I suspect they have a common heritage. Does this story
ring a bell with any of you history buffs?
The photo below is a topic for discussion for more than one reason.
Find out more next month.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.