NOTES FROM YOUR PRESIDENT
Well, the weather has certainly changed! We were fortunate to have
gotten the cedar planks for the Francis Life Boat Pavilion completed
before the weather turned cooler. Thanks to the guys who did the
staining: Steve Hutchins, Al Lyon, Dick Lyons, Dean Batchelor, Bob
Sapita, Glenn Spoerl, Jim Muir, Chris Yoder and yours truly. These
stainers saved your Society a great deal of money by doing the work
themselves. Another example of volunteerism at work in your Society.
Although the building is not complete as of this writing, the life
boat itself is in the building and the art work for telling the
story of life saving in the local area is in production and should
be completed soon.
The Heritage Weekend was another successful fundraiser for the
Society. Thanks to all the hard work put in by those who came out on
a beautiful Saturday. We had many visitors from out of town who came
to take the walking tour as well as the trolley tour of the
lakeshore. I heard nothing but praise for the selection of homes and
commercial buildings on the tour. Thank you again to all the
Remember, your Society is based upon volunteers - so become one!
Dine Around 2011 is being chaired by Stacy Honson and Judi
Vanderbeck. If you did not attend last year you really missed a
great time. Ask anyone who attended one of these great dinners and
they would tell you what a fun event this was. Look for more
information elsewhere in this newsletter.
Lastly, society member Donald Ruyle, who enjoyed accompanying his
long time friend Ken Kutzel to the Tuesday Talks, passed away
recently. Your President Harold
BOAT IS IN THE BARN
In transit (Note the Welcome to Douglas) sign
Backing into the new boat house.
Muscling the boat into centered position.
ANYBODY SPEAK DUTCH?
Last month we featured an article from AmericA magazine, one of the most
prominent publications in Europe - a beautiful six page spread. The
article is on Saugatuck-Douglas and the ghost town of Singapore
entitled "The Pompeii Of The Great Lakes". Both the Society and Jim
Schmiechen are mentioned. Click
HERE for a copy of the article written in Dutch.
Thanks to Mr. E-J Ohler and Ms. D Saager-Ohler, friends of Arlene
Sherman's family, we now have the English translation. Click
HERE "The Pompeii Of The Great Lakes" in English.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Adaire & Mark Putnam, Saugatuck, MI
l Wayne Kidder,
All 125 individual staves of the old root beer barrel have been
stripped and sanded. She is now lead-based paint-free and ready to
roll. Fortunately, the Friends of the Barrel decided to hire an
abatement contractor rather than attempt it with volunteers. It
would have been an overwhelming task taking many weeks for several
folks to complete. The staves are now numbered for reinstallation
after being refinished. The next step is the careful
deconstruction of the building which is planned before bad
weather. Then the various components will be stored for the winter
and readied for finishing in the spring.
Like any project of this nature, it has taken longer than expected
to get to this stage. However, the delay has seemed to garner more
interest, enthusiasm, and eagerness to assist. You are encouraged
to visit the
Society's web page and
blog for more details.
Memorial staves with donor's name, although going fast, are still
available for $150 each. To become a Friend of the Barrel, order a
"Save the Barrel" shirt, donate or ask questions contact Chris
Yoder at email@example.com
or (269) 857-4327. The Friends of the Barrel are also on
contributed by Vic Bella
THE GLEASON NET SHED
This painting by Charles Vickery (1913-1998), noted painter of
ships and seascapes, is the only one we know of that depicts a
local Saugatuck scene. It is the building which formerly stood on
the site of the present day Gleason's store on Water Street.
Interviews with Henry Gleason on Aug - Sep 2011.
"This building was used as a net shed to keep the nets and other
fishing equipment. My grandfather bought that property in 1919.
The abstract shows that it had belonged to the Interurban Railway
Company. He built the building and fished out of it. My Grampa and
Dad had gill nets out in the lake. They also did cement mixing,
they did sidewalks and steps, and they even did the foundation for
the Big Pavilion.
My Dad and Grandfather had a fishing tug and they docked at that.
My grandfather lived down on Lake Street, and he and his wife
would move upstairs in the building in the summer time - there was
no heat up there and of course they could not live there in the
winter. I don't know if they rented the house or not, probably
did. Their house on Lake was two doors from Dykstra's parking lot
on that same side of the street; it was right next to Bird Center.
They probably had a cook stove at least in the upper floor (which
explains the pipe in the one picture). In later years the water
came up so high and the footings settled and it kind of got in
My mother and Dad ran a row boat rental, which would have been
during the war, say 1942-43. The small boat with the cabin on it
was built by my family and named the "Heinie", it was named after
me, Henry - it's a nick-name for Henry. It was sunk there and we
eventually destroyed it, probably in the 1960s."
"There was a smaller ice house to the north of it, separated by
about ten feet distance. The side walls of the ice house were
concrete about 6 feet high poured cement, on top were boards,
about 2 by 6's, and between the studs was sawdust poured in for
insulation. The whole building was full of sawdust. They used to
saw ice out in the river, it would be about 4 to 5 feet thick in
the winter time, and they would cut it with ice saws (we've still
got some), and they'd push it up a ramp there with a pipe pole,
and they'd use it all summer to ship fish in, and sell a little
bit to people with an ice box. There were a lot of willow trees
planted around there to shade the ice house in the summer.
My wife and I bought the property in about 1965. We took down the
boathouse around 1965-66 and built the store.
How and when Charles Vickery would have painted the building is a
mystery. The photograph of the net shed presented above is cropped
from a larger one which has been dated as about 1942, because a
section of the fishing tug "Goshorn" was visible in the picture
(it sank in Dec. 1943). The stove pipe, seen in the photograph, is
missing in the painting, and also missing in a believed later
photo by Bill Simmons. Henry's grandfather and namesake died in
1943, and it's reasonable to think that sometime after he was no
longer a summertime resident of the upper floor, the pipe could
have fallen away without being replaced.
Vickery's talent was evident very early. The late Saugatuck
resident Phyllis Pamperien Yoder, sat beside him in High School
art class at Lyons Township High School in Lagrange, Illinois, and
said it was quite intimidating to see his work and compare it to
her own. His official biographies report:
Vickery once said that the early years found him along the shores
of Lake Michigan living in a tent and eating peanut butter
sandwiches. “Many hours and many years were spent in all kinds of
weather studying wave actions and the color of sky and water.
In the 1950s, Vickery became closely associated with the W.
Russell Button Galleries, and even today his works can be found in
the Button Gallery in Douglas.
contributed by Chris Yoder
2011 HERITAGE PRESERVATION AWARDS
Cottages at Dolly Brook Family Resort
2088 66th Street
The Keag Family, owners
231 Grand Street
Saugatuck Angela Pastorelli and Sven Roenspiess, owners
Preservation of the Historic Built Environment
444 Mary Street
Bill Camp and Paul Butcher, owners
10 Wall Street
Floyd Fleming, owner
160 Union Street
Patrick Mannix and Dan McCloskey, owners
Chapel at Shore Acres
6597 138th Street
Friends of the Felt Estate
Pat Hoezee Meyer, Director
Old State Bank
Linda and Russ Barnes, owners
810 Allegan Street
John Newland, owner
Honor and Respect
149 Main Street
Thomas McCloughan, owner
336 Hoffman Street
Arlene Edgcomb, owner
555 Spear Street
Jim Sellman and David Balas, owners
Heritage Preservation Leadership
for sustained commitment to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Society, the Saugatuck Historic District Commission and her
private design clients.
SILVER ANNIVERSARY CAMPAIGN
Look for a letter in your mailbox soon on the Society's Silver
We have three campaign goals for this year:
l Raise 25,000 dollars
for operating funds.
l Enroll 25 Silver
l Commit 25 new Legacy
The entire SDHS Board has taken the lead by choosing one or
more avenues of support. Keep History
Alive Here by joining us in this important
Happy Silver Anniversary to all of our treasured members.
OCTOBER MEETING PROGRAM
Visitors from Douglas Cemetery
To Bring Tales from the Crypt
In keeping with the season, the October 12th
meeting at the Old School House, will feature a visit by some
of the more interesting ghosts from the Douglas Cemetery. The
founding families will be represented with Lucinda Dutcher,
and her Civil War hero son, George; Robert McDonald, Frank
Wade, the first white child born in Douglas; and William A.
May, the first boy of Douglas.
With the help of our technical people who have photographed
their tombstones so they will feel at home, there will be a
parade of citizens from the distant, and not so distant past.
Even a visitor from California.
What Douglas man arrived in Allegan County the day after his
birth in a shoebox? Why is a pair of tombstones in the Douglas
Cemetery some of the most photographed in the state? Learn
about the woes of the Haubenreisser family, the fall and
rescue of Alice's angel and why a Prentice son lived for four
years in his own little house in the backyard of his parents'
house in Douglas.
How do these people speak after all these years? You might say
they have ghost writers.
submitted by Kit Lane
Back by popular demand --- and expanded!
Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15
Tables across Saugatuck
and Douglas will be set for
of sumptuous food and lively conversation.
Due to an overwhelming demand, the 2011 dine around will offer
seatings on Friday and Saturday evening.
Your invitation will arrive via email soon.
Please respond promptly to confirm your seats.
Interested in hosting a dine-around evening?
Contact Judi Vanderbeck
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
You Know the Corner
If corners could talk this one was has a history to tell. Today it
is the four-way stop corner at the intersection of Center and Ferry
Streets in Douglas – lots of traffic but not much excitement.
For a slice of history we can turn the clock back to paint a mental
picture of what was there about 1935. This restaurant and gas
station were on the northeast corner. Across Center Street was
another gas station - a Shell station. Across Ferry from the Shell
station on the southwest corner was the Village of Douglas water
tower. Across Center on the northwest corner was the West Shore golf
course clubhouse. The clubhouse building is there today.
This image and others from his family collection were provided by
Phil Quade - his father Lewis had the gas station at the time of
this photo. Lewis also drove a truck for the Cook Oil Co which was a
fuel distribution business. Another of the Quade photos shows motor
scooters for rent, a side business operated from the station.
The restaurant portion of this building sits on the corner today.
Now empty, it had been remodeled to be a sales showroom for the West
Shore real estate development. A guess is that the gas station
portion on the right in the photo is still there also but has been
moved to face Center Street.
For next month - the handsome vessel is a genuine history mystery.
NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
The archives were recently
given a number of photographs relating to the Saugatuck Fire
Department. These three photos above show the evolution of the types
of equipment that were being used throughout the years.
The top photo ca. 1908 shows
the fire hose carts used before an engine was purchased. One of
these carts is on display at the Pump House Museum.
The middle photo shows the
brand new 1923 fire truck.
The bottom photo taken in 1966
is of Engine #2. It shows it being used to water the flowers at Oval
A big thanks to the Saugatuck
Township Fire Department and to Cynthia Sorensen for their recent
donations to the Historical Society of these photos.
Mary Voss - volunteer archivist/collections
WHERE WERE YOU ON DECEMBER 7, 1941?
Al Pshea was in the service at
the Naval Station in Newport, Rhode Island when the news of the
attack on Pearl Harbor reached him and his fellow enlistees. He says
"we had just gone through training and we were waiting for
assignment in different positions. I had enlisted at Kalamazoo in
October. Mainly I decided to go into the Navy because I knew I'd
have my bed with me, I'd have a warm meal with me, and I'd have my
medical care with me, and I'd always been interested in the sea. My
great grandfather had been a whaler and I had been in the Sea
Scouts. I joined the Galliniper in 1936 and was with her until I
went into the service in 1941. Charlie Gilman was the skipper and I
ended up being First Mate, and Cliff Dengler was second mate, Bob
Peel was one of the crew members." (In the early 1950s, Al was to be
one of the managers of the Douglas Root Beer Barrel!).
Jane Bird Van Dis
Sorry Jane Bird Van Dis: The caption was missing on her photo
with her Pearl Harbor memories last month. It should have looked
Gather up your Pearl Harbor memories, or those of
older family members and friends and send them along: Chris
Yoder at email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 857-4327, or mail at: 551 S.
Maple St., Saugatuck, MI 49453 .
SECOND ANNUAL DDDD COMING UP
Dorcas Ballard Storms (1782 - 1872) - Taylor Cemetery
The second annual "Dozen Daffodils for the Dearly Departed" planting
event will be coming up soon. This is when we identify a number of
"orphans" at area cemeteries and volunteers plant bulbs to give a
bit of spring-time bloom to the resting places for these.
Demi Demerest, Pat Denner and Vic Bella at the July Monthly Meeting
"From Fishing Tug, to Net, to Market and Fry Pan"
Saugatuck City Manager explains why he picked this piece of art to
show at the August 23 Tuesday Talk "Looking at Paintings and
Finding Self" led by Maryjo Lemanski (holding the piece of art)
of Water Street Gallery
photos courtesy of Jim Schmiechen
MEMORIES OF MAY FRANCIS HEATH:
FINAL IN A SERIES
The Passing of May Francis Heath
May Francis Heath passed away 50 years ago this month as she
was getting ready to go the Congregational Church. She was
found sitting at her writing desk, still in the family home of
From the touching obituary written by her granddaughter Bette
"It was early Sunday morning --- Sept. 10, 1961.
The village of Saugatuck was going about its Sunday business
--- women rinsing breakfast dishes, men reading Sunday
newspapers, dogs ambling lazily up the street, stretching in
the early sun, church bells singing up on the hill. There was
nothing unusual about it. Life had gone on like this for years
in the village. Peaceful. Quiet. But one thing happened on
that early morning to cast a shadow on the village, the
county, the community. A long shadow whose fingers reached out
to touch every thinking, feeling person --- May Francis Heath
"May Francis Heath. Born May 13, 1873, daughter of John
Francis and Julia Morrison, Saugatuck pioneers. Village
historian, writer, artist, clubwoman, churchwoman, mother,
grandmother, great-grandmother, counselor and friend to all,
business partner, devoted wife of the late Doc Anderson Heath.
But does this compilation of facts tell the true story. The
real story of this wonderful woman who worked for all of her
88 years toward the goal of human love and kindness?
"She was a fair-complexioned, blue-eyed sparkling lady with
a soft firm voive, a laugh as contagious as measles, a
charming smile and chin that quivered when she made up her
mind to do something. She never talked about things --- she
did things. Up to the very last hour, when she was dressing
for church on Sunday morning and kept another appointment
For the complete obituary, click
As the May Heath Memorial Committee winds up its almost two
years of effort, I'd like to thank the members (Marsha Kontio,
Peg Sanford, Jack Sheridan, Mary Lyons, Sally Winthers, and
Jim Schmeichen) as well as the many who contributed to the
I'd also like to thank the great-grandchildren of Mrs.
Heath (Bill Bleeker, Lisa Nash, and Jim Diaz) for sharing a
wealth of family photos and original documents. Copies of this
material will be placed as the "Heath-Morrison Collection" in
the SDHS digital archives (over 3 GB, 65 folders, 6,000 files,
with an added 1,300 newspaper clippings). For a project
Mrs. Heath was one of those selected to be included in the
1998 SDHS Museum Exhibit "Heroes, Rogues and Just Plain
Folks". Our own present day premier historian Kit Lane wrote
about her at that time:
"I never met May Francis Heath but the more I hear and
write about her, and find things she has written, I am
convinced that Saugatuck would have been a much poorer place
without her. She helped mold the community's sense of
We agree whole-heartedly. contributed by Chris