Notes From Your President
Welcome to the Holidays! As always the Holiday Party
was a welcome way to kick off the season and wish our friends the
best for the holidays and life in 2013! It was a beautiful event
created by Janet Schmidt and her team of expert party planners. The
presentation of the desserts could not have been more beautifully
staged --- unless it had been accompanied by a brass band!
On a personal note - the best part of the holidays
are the memories of the past. Spending time with my Great
Grandmother and her special gingerbread cookies frosted in white and
pink occupy a lot of my memory space. The cookies were at least one
quarter inch thick with a soft cake like center. I recall her
rolling them out on the kitchen table (she had no kitchen counters)
and making the frosting on the stove. She was born in 1862 and had
seen the native Americans leave Logan County Ohio when she was in
school and told me of the spotted ponies carrying some of the
elderly. Her teacher told her that the event would be something to
remember --- and she did!
I remember the holidays with my grandparents.
Depending on weather, they would sometimes stay with us for a night
or two and that always felt special. Mom would make oyster stew and
we would bring out the decorations and make the house festive. The
thought of these memories causes the air I breathe to become
fragrant and I can feel the thrill I felt then.
My hope for everyone is that you too have such
wonderful memories. It is the memories of this time of year that
glues our senses in place and gives us a feeling of wellbeing and
carries us into a new year. It is that past history that allows us
to look forward with hope to the future.
I want to express my thank you to all for the help
you have given in the past year. That is another new memory for
future recollection and I send love and peace to all.
by Marsha Kontio
A Society Loses Two Life Members & a Charter Member
Gary DeMond, receiving the Heritage Preservation Award in 2007, was
a Life Member of the Society and key supporter of the Old School
House. He died on November 19. For more on Gary's Lifestory, click
Barbara Crandell, a Life Member of the Society, was an amazing
supporter of all the Society programs, rode the trolley almost every
time it left from the Douglas Socials and attended all of the
Tuesday talks. Barb died on November 20. For more on Barb's
Jane Collins Allen, a Charter Member of the Society died on December
5 in St. Louis. Jane and her husband, Jerry spent summers at their
beloved cottage in Douglas, Michigan, and Jane was often seen
walking her dog along the shore. For more on Jane's Lifestory, click
The Society has truly lost three great members.
A BIG Thank You to the Old School House Daffodil
Trail Bulb Boosters
Since the Last Newsletter
Philip & Susanne Beilfuss In memory of Philip Wesley Beilfuss
Robert W. Kegley, Sr. In memory of Anna Kerr & Winnie
Mary Olendorf In memory of Philip Beilfuss
date, $1850.00 has been donated to the Bulb Booster program. If
you would like to become a Bulb Booster, send your check to SDHS, PO Box 617, Douglas,
MI 49406. Please be sure to indicate if your donation is being made
to remember or honor a friend or relative.
Stories About the Mt. Baldhead Holiday Star?
Michael L. Anderson Photography
Last month we asked for some stories and memories to share - here
This isn't about the star, but may be interesting background. In
1970 I worked for Tommy Tittle who had a ship-to-shore radio
business. His antenna was on top of the radar ball and it needed
adjusting. I thought my job was to observe from the ground but he
made go all the way up and into the ball. I'm afraid of heights.
The radar screen was still there and he fired it up. What a
feeling of the whoosh whoosh, narrowly missing me as I pressed my
back into the outside edge. The sound of our voices was bounced
around the inside of the ball. A once in a lifetime experience and
once was enough.
submitted by Katherine Wilcox
1987 to 1995 I lived in a little gray house on Water & Francis. At
the time I was working in Van Buren County and when it became time
to drive home, tired after work, I looked forward to spotting the
star to guide me, keeping me awake, in prayer, blinking of eyes
and deep breathing to stay awake. Upon arriving in Saugatuck, the
STAR welcomed me home, and I spent some time in a pray of thanks.
It didn't matter if it were lit or not, because I knew it meant
home, safety, and warmth. Always a guide, in meditation, times of
silence and serenity, traveling or not, it was the STAR of
Bethlehem to me.
submitted by Collette Snydacker
Tired of gray, snowy (maybe), cold winter days? Come to the warmth
of the Old School House on Monday afternoons to learn about and help
with archiving and preserving our history.
Mary Voss is a wonderful teacher and coach. Volunteering will lift
your spirits and help our Society. Contact Ed Kelly at 269-857-2843
for information and other volunteer opportunities. submitted
by Ed Kelly
The 2013 new member and membership renewal campaign will begin in
January 2013. We need your help to encourage your friends to become
or continue to be members of our fine organization.
If you wish to make your membership payment in this tax year, feel
free to click
HERE for a 2013 renewal form.
The Dine Around The Village Table events have been very
successful/fun and continue into next year. As an incentive to
encourage more Lifetime Memberships, we are including two
invitations to attend "The Magnificent Trilogy" progressive
cocktail party at three spectacular Kalamazoo River homes on April
28th. This has a value of $200 plus all the fun.
Lets make this a record breaking year for SDHS membership!
submitted by Ed Kelly
Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society
Family History Group. The Group meeting schedule is the first and
third Thursday of every month. Our next meeting is January 10,
2013 which due to the holiday, is the second Thursday of next
year. The time is 3:30 in the Old School House. Please join us
next year to see what we are all about and most importantly, share
"lessons learned" about the many tools available for family
In this column I talk about family history discoveries. Such
a discovery is called a EUREKA! moment. This past
month Chris and I have been researching family histories for ten
of our fellow Saugatuck-Douglas Rotarians. This has been a fun
project and we are looking forward to sharing a number of our
friends EUREKA! moments when they see our results! I
am sure we will be gaining some new members who want to continue
with our research.
Have you always wanted to learn more about your family history,
but have not known where and how to begin? Here is a suggestion.
Our SDHS Family History group wants to help you. A starting point
is to record what you know about your parents, grandparents, and
great grandparents and send it along for a review by our
If you are reading this newsletter on-line, you can print off
these blank family history data forms. Click on one for your
mother and another for your
Next fill out what you know and snail-mail the forms to SDHS
Family History, Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406, or scan and
email a copy to either
Give us time for an initial assessment. We will soon be back to
you with whatever can be readily found and with suggestions on the
next steps to take to learn more. Future further help is always
available from the Family History group. Your family history does
not have to have any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area.
If you aren't on the internet, call Chris Yoder [269 857-4327] or
Jack Sheridan [269 857-1744] and we'll get a work sheet to you.
In April 2012
the 1940 United States census data was released. Ancestry.com has
now completed indexing the entire census. They are offering free
access to the census. Just click
prefer, you may easily browse the local 1940 census results. We
have placed a copy of the census for Douglas (11 pages), Saugatuck
(16 pages) and Saugatuck Twp (19 pages) on the SDHS web site. Take
a look by clicking
Contact me at:
or (269) 857-7144.
Click on the picture
for a higher resolution copy.
Down at the Mouth
Taken from the large dune flanking Mt. Baldhead on the south side of
the old channel, this photo of the Kalamazoo River mouth is
marvelous and one of my favorites. It is the first known photo of
the lighthouse, fishtown and the new pier. It can be dated
accurately as 1870-71 because the river pier and the Lake Michigan
south pier are complete but the north lake pier has not been
started. Many of the fishtown dwellings appear to be newly built and
there are a number of two masted fishing boats at the docks - signs
There is snow on the ground but no ice on the river so the time was
late fall or in the spring after ice out. I conclude from this photo
that fisherman probably lived in fishtown full time, though fishing
must have been a challenge in the winter months.
There is no record of the photo's origins or of the photographer,
but I have some guesses. 1870 was early in the development of
commercial photography and Mr. Photographer was probably a
professional who came here to make the first ever photographic
record of the area. It is likely on that trip this same man took the
photos of Singapore and the new 1870 bridge seen here last month. In
addition, in our collection are two other photos of the area between
Singapore and the mouth that may have been taken about the same
Next month --- lumber was king.
Click on the picture
for a higher resolution copy.
Welcome New Members
We would like to welcome the new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Cathy Martel,
l Don & Vicki Ort, Saugatuck, MI
l Peggy (Maggie)
Cameras are Rolling --- Letís Keep Them Rolling!
I am excited to report that production for WGVU Public Media's
Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/ Douglas began on
Saturday, December 7. WGVUís production crew worked with Jon
Helmrich and Stephen Mottram to record the first interviews for the
TV program with Jeff Wilcox, Judy Anthrop, and Judy Oberholzter.
More interviews will be done in January..
The first phase of production is possible due to a grant from the
Michigan Humanities Council. Funding for the entire production is
still only at 50%. We have a way to go to be able to produce the
entire hour which will air on PBS stations. Lead donations have been
made by Thelma Coghlin and Pat Sax.
Please consider making a year-end donation to the Michigan Hometown
Story project. Every gift will help us to bring our own local
history and our story to the public. And remember, when the entire
budget is raised, the Society will receive $30,000 from WGVU for our
cooperation, access to the archives, and for the assistance of
members including Jim Schmiechen and Kit Lane to tell our story!
If you can make a donation or have ideas on potential sponsors and
supporters, please contact either Chelsea Dubey at WGVU or Jon
Helmrich. You can reach Chelsea at
616-331-6782 and Jon at
email@example.com or 269-857-3574. You may mail checks to WGVU,
301 Fulton Street West, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Write Michigan
Hometown Stories in the memo line. When completed, the program will
air throughout Michigan and neighboring states for several years.
submitted by Jon Helmrich
The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Society became the recipient of a reminder of our tourist
destination status when longtime resident Henry Gleason recently
donated an old sign shaped like a totem pole. Many of the old
timers remember when it stood about 15 feet tall at the south
entrance to Saugatuck on Lake Street. Word has it that it was
built by Deb Hoffman, daughter of Dick Hoffman, the original owner
of the Queen of Saugatuck, in the mid-50s. Thanks Henry!
Bruce and Marilyn Starring
delivered the old treasure to Arnie Shafer's shop where he and
Howard Vanderbeck will be restoring it for eventual placement in
the History Center Garden.
The Society is seeking more
information and any photos of the totem pole for its archives.
Please REPLY to this email or contact Mary Voss at
(269) 543-4858 if you can help.
submitted by Vic Bella
A Christmas Mystery -
May Heath Painting Found in England
Glenne-Marie Ross contacted us
from England to ask about a painting she has recently acquired,
signed "May Heath" and titled "For Sale Des-Res"'. She purchased
it the village of Shevington, near Wigan, Lancashire. She wondered
about its history and how it may have arrived in Britain.
The signature matches that which
May used on the other paintings and the style matches her own. The
cottage pictured is not of a design we'd see in Michigan, and Ms.
Ross agrees the scene "seems stereotypically 'English' Chocolate
box", especially with the choice of flowers (red and white
poppies, a daisy, clover, foxglove and Queen Anne's lace).
Reading through May's diary from
her one trip to Europe with her art teacher, I see no time spent
working on paintings, but it's possible she did some sketches or
took photos for future use.
May actively painted in
Saugatuck as well as during her annual "snow bird" visits to
Florida - where she studied under her art teacher. The secret to
this painting may yet be found in one of her many diaries, copies
of which are in the SDHS digital archives. Ms. Ross was to keep
the painting at her stall at Bygone Times nr Chorley Antique Mall
http://bygonetimes.co.uk, but has brought the painting
home for now.
contributed by Chris Yoder