Notes From Your President
With 100 degree temperatures behind us and more 90
degree weather on the way, I wish you all well!
On Wednesday, July 11, 2012; a beautiful evening
provided the backdrop for a special event! One hundred five persons
enjoyed the history of the circus as a preview to the miniature
circus displayed in the lower west room of the OSH. Bob Sapita was
the ringmaster for the evening and he gave a most touching and
heartfelt description of how his dad created the miniature pieces
and parts of this incredible display. It was last displayed in 2009.
Ken Carls served cookies (some chocolate) and punch
from the sunny front entrance of the Francis Life Boat. It was a
perfect end to a memorable evening. We thank Bob and Ken for their
contribution to this event! Also, in need of a thank you are Steve
Hutchins, Chad Mitchell, and Greg Farrand for the toting and hauling
of tables and chairs outside and again inside so all members were
comfortable throughout the evening.
The Annual Picnic is scheduled for next month. This
year it will be at the OSH on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 beginning at
6:00 p.m. arrive early if you wish to chat with friends and the
"nibbles" will begin at 6 with buffet open at 6:30. As always, bring
a dish to pass plus your own table service. We look forward to this
old event at a new location!
by Marsha Kontio
Society's Monthly Meeting
6:00 pm, Wednesday, August 8
at the Old School House History Center
The Don't Panic
Gather at the OSH garden and boathouse for the traditional SDHS
summertime good-food picnic with a garden treasure hunt. As always,
bring a dish to pass plus your own table service.
These fun and informal Talks continue at the
Old School House History Center in Douglas when the school bell
rings at 11 AM and run through the end of August.
4. July 24 Theater as History: The Red Barn Story by
John Huyge, sponsored by Candice Lewis and
Kathy & Frank Wilson,
BeachWay Resort & Hotel and
5. July 31 Re-Designing Douglas. Connecting People to a New
Douglas by Ryan Kilpatrick, sponsored by
Mary Olive's at Lakeview Lanes
6. August 7 Saved from a Slow Death: How Mom & Dad Saved
Saugatuck's Pump House by Jay Shorey
7. August 14 Art Collection Secrets: Stories from the SDHS Art
Archives by Ken Kutzel sponsored by Judy Oberholtzer
8. August 21 Look. See. Hear. How Does Our Garden Grow?
by Ruth Johnson, sponsored by Osman Flowers and Firs
9. August 28 Good Looking? The Art of Looking Good
by Maryjo Lemanski, sponsored by Jim & Janie Flemming
Welcome New Members
We would like to welcome the new members who has joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Deb Minton, Ada, MI
l Jim Zissis, Chicago,
l Jack & Julie Ridl,
Randall Higdon, Chicora artist visits Shipwreck Exhibit Site
Randall Higdon, artist of the original image of the Chicora 'lost at
sea' visited the Boathouse exhibition barn at the History Center on
July 2. He is pictured above with Kristi Mueller, the volunteer
graphic designer who converted the original 22"x48" painting into a
47ft x 9.5ft mural for the boathouse exhibition "Rowing them Safely
Home," along with Jim Schmiechen, exhibition curator-writer.
Randall Higdon is a well recognized Michigan artist with a
studio in Coloma, MI. The original painting was commissioned by the
Society in 2002 and is now in the possession of Andrew Plummer of
Douglas. The enlarged digitized image, with names of 100 shipwrecks,
was then produced by Agio Printing in Kalamazoo under the direction
of John Capotosto.
The architecturally interesting "Boatbarn" is open weekdays
from 11-4:30, Saturday from 11-2 and Sunday from noon-3.
Final "SDHS 101" Coming UP
If you are a new or former
member interested in learning the history of the Society and the
opportunities that it has to offer, come to the Old School House
on Saturday, July 28, at 10:00 a.m.
The meeting will last about an
hour, followed by refreshments and a chance for attendees, if they
wish, to volunteer their talents for one or more committees of the
Society. For more information or if you plan to attend, please
contact Nyla Hensley at 269-857-5704 or
With A Splash Of Rainbow
SDHS Young Scholars Promoting the White Run with a
Splash of Rainbow with Lauren Stanton of WZZM 13
What's better than viewing the
scenery that is Saugatuck and Douglas? Getting covered in color
with friends, family and the young scholars and the same time!
The Young Scholars program,
through the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (SCA) and the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society (SDHS), will be hosting
"White Run With A Splash Of Rainbow" on Saturday, August 18
starting at 9 am at the
Old School House on Center Street in downtown Douglas.
The young scholars (Jordan
Hathaway, Chad Mitchell, Dustin Moore, Mary Redford and Greg
Farrand), while interning for the 2012 summer, are hoping to
create funding through the colorful walk/run event for future
interns to participate in the Young Scholars program.
"We believe this event will be a
great way to combine the arts of the Saugatuck-Douglas community
and the Young Scholars program," Moore said. "The internship
program offers a lot of great experience for college students in
any field they're going into."
The festivities don't stop with
the race, however. Show off your colorful new outfit while
enjoying food, drinks, music and some amazing silent auction
For more information, contact
Jordan Hathaway at 616-283-6441 or
News From the Archives
Some recent donations to the
l Bridgewalk T-shirts
(2003 & 2004) - Cynthia Sorensen
l "Ox Bow School of
Painting" wood sign - Jane Van Dis
l Three drawings by
John Peterson - Judy Oberholtzer
l Wooden plaque with
image of the Chicora - Ron Spengler
l Various toys and
other items from 1960-1980s for the locker display - Kim Enders
l Framed oil painting
of a young boy by John Polka - Ken Kutzel
l Photographs of the
Frances Lifeboat - George Worthington
l Ox Bow catalogs and
other materials - Mike Van Ark
A big thank you to these people
for adding the above items to our collection. They all help us to
better tell the story of our community.
We also continue to receive into
the collection, outstanding works of art, produced by local
artists, many who went on to fame elsewhere. We invite you to
visit the Art Gallery on the second floor of the Old School House
during our regular daily open hours this summer. submitted by
Mary Voss, archives & Ken Kutzel, art collection manager
Welcome from Jack Sheridan leader of the Society Family History
Group. The Group
meeting schedule is the
first and third Thursday of every month (except July and August
this year). Our next
meeting is September 6th
at 3:30 in the Old School House.
Please join us this fall to see what we are all about and most
importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools
available for family research.
standing offer to members:
information on a person that you want to find and we will find
them for you in
the U. S. Census,
maybe even a Canadian or a British census.
In April 2012 the 1940 United
States census data was released. The US census has been taken
every ten years since 1790. By law each census cannot be released
for public viewing for 72 years after it is taken. The 1940 census
has a lot of pages – some 3.8 million.
has completed indexing twenty five states including Michigan. They
are offering free access to the census; click
And thanks to Chris Yoder one
of the leaders of our technical team, you can easily browse the
1940 local census. 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. Click
HERE to take a look.
Each month in this column
discovery is called a
Here is a EUREKA! moment experienced by many
older veterans of family history research.
Censuses are invaluable research tools. Until about ten years ago
the details of the United States census were generally available
on microfilm only. Each one was indexed in large books - requiring
one or more books for each census. The standard method of
U. S. Census was to travel to a large library or family research
center, search the tiny print of the index volumes, locate the
proper roll of microfilm, and feed it through a cranky microfilm
viewer - all in all, a very slow and labor intensive project. To
search differing geographical areas and commonly appearing
surnames was a real job!
But just wait! To the rescue came digital scanning technology. And
the internet. And the ability to search all the U. S. censuses in
a wink of the eye. A first session with a personal computer
searching millions of pages census data is truly a
To see the detailed hand written record made as the enumerator
(census taker) interviewed members of your family is a fascinating
experience. If you have not seen a scanned census page, I suggest
that you check one out by going to the SDHS web site or to
Ancestry.com (see info above).
Contact me at:
or (269) 857-7144.
Don't Miss It - Exhibit Open Thru Sunday, July
The vanishing story of American traveling circuses, told with an
audiovisual presentation and a highly detailed 10 x 20-ft.
sound-animated model circus layout, will highlight the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society's exhibit through Sunday, July
22. The exhibit, located in the Old School House History Center, 130
Center Street, Douglas, is open weekdays 11 am to 4:30 pm, Saturdays
11 am to 2 pm,, Sundays noon to 3 pm and is free to the public
The working model is an authentic ¼ inch-to-the-foot scale model
representing the three-ring tent circuses that traveled the United
States through the first half of the 20th century. Based on the 1936
Al G. Barnes Circus, it features a performing Big Top, Tent,
Menagerie Tent with animals, Side-Show Tent, Dining Tent, and
Back-Lot, where performers and animals prepared for the shows.
Around the periphery it also depicts a moving street parade of
wagons and performers typical of the era.
The layout's Big Top Performance Tent features mechanized acts in
each of the rings, depicting a performing lion, a tight-rope walker,
trapeze artists and balancing acts. Also seen are Butterfly Girls on
spinning ropes, clowns, various other performers and a seated
HERE for some great photos taken by Jim Hayden of the
Holland Sentinel and
HERE for video of the exhibit.
Kay and Bob Sapita getting the exhibit ready.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
THE AVALON - continued
June issues of this newsletter containing photos of the
Avalon and the view of it perched atop a high ridge overlooking
This month's photo is an interior shot, taken by Herman Simonson
about 1907, not long after the Avalon was built. The footings for
this fireplace are still visible on the site.
As told last month: "William Harbert was a successful attorney in
Chicago. He founded the law firm of Harbert and Daley which
specialized in right of way work for railroads in the period
1880-1910. As a personal investment, he bought a great amount of
land in the Saugatuck area, including a large parcel surrounding the
Avalon location. [his wife] Elizabeth Boynton was a PhD, a
successful writer and was very highly regarded for her leadership
activities in the National Woman Suffrage movement."
The Harberts were close to the group that established the Forward
Movement camp (now the Church Camp). They built the Avalon for their
daughter Corrine in 1905. No doubt it was used by them and another
daughter, Boynton, at least until they moved to California about
According to Bill Frederick, great grandson of Boynton, the parents
died in California in the 1920s. Although very well off, Corrine was
not attuned to financial management and neglected to pay property
taxes due on the Avalon property. So it went to the Village for back
taxes sometime around 1930. I suspect that the structure was not
properly maintained and may have collapsed --- but the details of
the Avalon's fate remains a history mystery for the present.
This is beach weather - what is more appropriate than an Oval scene
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
Sewers Net Shed
(On Bridge Street)
Early on the morning of July 1, 2012, the Fire
Department burned down the old Rube Sewers net shed on Bridge
Street, and then went out and had breakfast. The shed was originally
built by Rueben ("Rube") Sewers during WWII after he split from
business with his twin brother Frank. According to his nephew, Bud,
the building had been rebuilt or modified over the years. It was,
however, intact until the roof collapsed from the heavy snow in the
winter of 2010-11.
BEFORE AND AFTER
ROOF COLLAPSES (Taken Feb 2011)
AFTER THE BURN (Taken 1 July 2012)
Bud (Erwin) Sewers, in a 26 Jan 2011 interview said:
"It was what they called a net shed, worked on nets,
Demmy Demerest used to work in that building. You repaired the nets
and put them on reels and you packed them into boxes and put them on
the boat and then guys threw out the cork line and the lead line and
another guy steered and you set the nets. These nets would be used
out in Lake Michigan for perch and white fish and herring and stuff
like that. Nets were stored there over the winter."
"My Dad and my uncle got into a fight so one had to
buy the other out, so my Dad bought my uncle out. So he had to move.
He didn't have any place to go but next door and he rented from
Harris Pie, just the dock and the shed to take care of the fish, but
he had no place for his nets so he built that over across the
highway (on Bridge St). This all happened while I was in the service
during the war. When I came home it was all news to me that they had
split up. I guess they went to the lawyer and he thought my Dad
didn't have enough money to buy them out because he just got into
what they call the trap net business, but he did have enough."
My uncle, at that time, he had a new boat
built in Holland, the Joanne, and he already had that and was
in business by the time I got home from the war."
Frank and Reuben Sewers
Demmy Demerest reports that he worked in that
building for 17 years ending in 1965. He recalls that the original
buildings were about three times larger than what was there at the
"They did all kinds of work, make new nets and
repair the old and store. But there was another building down there
beside that one that they kept the trap nets in. They used it for
storage. There were net reels all the way around that building -
probably ten or twelve reels. The first buildings burned, the 23 of
Jan (he doesn't recall the year) - and Rube built things back after
the fire. There was also a smoke house down there to smoke fish. I
know because I set the smoke house on fire and burned that down
myself. Got the fire too hot. We tried to have the nets out of the
lake and the shore work all done for spring by the 10th of January.
The cement block part of the building was used as an ice house."
contributed by Chris Yoder
Monthly Meeting Refreshment Providers
No Cookies - Picnic
Merle Malmquist & Paula Schultz
OPEN - REPLY TO THIS EMAIL
if you can
No Cookies - Holiday Party
The Morning Grind with Young
Scholar Greg Farrand
Young Scholar, Greg Farrand (center) works with Mike Johnson
(left) every Saturday morning from 7:30 to 9:00 AM on The Morning
Grind broadcast from The Annex in downtown Saugatuck on 92.7 FM.
Here he appears with Butch Jones (right) formerly of Saugatuck and
now head football coach of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats.