Notes From Your President
Who could guess that we would still be wearing
mufflers in the middle of April? The daffodils are on hold or at
least growing slowly and the woodland animals seem to be ravenous.
Our April General Membership meeting, which was to be about our
beautiful Back-In-Time Garden, had to be postponed until May due to
the slow spring and all of the rain. So, Jon Helmrich and Chelsea
Duby from WGVU made a presentation on the Michigan Hometown Stories
that will be produced this coming year. The stories are about YOU,
so you need to think about sharing your Saugatuck/Douglas
experiences --- why did you choose to come here; are you one of the
unusual individuals that was born here. Feel free to let me, Jon or
any member of the Board know if you would like to share your story
and we will be happy to chat with you.
The May General Membership Meeting will also give a
brief overview of the Museum exhibit that will open the end of May
and there will also be a brief meeting with a "change of guard" in
officers and new board members. This meeting will be followed with
wine and cheese provided by Renee Zita.
You might also like to visit the Blue Star Antique
Mall --- we now have our very own little space with the books of the
Society available plus other goodies! Ken Kutzel and Mary Voss have
been working to make this possible, so stop and see what they have
Congratulations to Peg Sanford for being honored as
Saugatuck's Citizen of the Year! We feel fortunate to have you as a
Charter Member of the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society and we
thank you for your many good deeds!
Happy spring to all --- enjoy!
submitted by Marsha Kontio
2013 Society Monthly Programs
At the Old School House History
May 8: The Amazing Azalea & Rhododendron Show. Join with
chief gardener, John Migas as he talks, walks and explains all about
growing azaleas and rhododendrons at History Center Azalea Garden.
Program sponsored by the Michigan Azalea
Society. Bright refreshments.
Secrets for successful growing of azaleas and rhododendrons in our
area will be revealed in the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society
program on Wednesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. in the Old School House
History Center, 130 Center Street, Douglas.
Presenter John Migas, founder of Woodlands Nursery in Saugatuck Twp
and key figure in establishing the floral plantings along The Old
School House Back-In-Time Pathway, will show and discuss varieties
that grow well here. He also will talk about propagation of these
plants by taking cuttings and raising them in the home. After the
indoor presentation, Migas will guide a tour through the
Back-In-Time garden and answer questions. His SDHS program is
sponsored by Michigan Azalea Society.
Migas, originally a carpenter by trade, bought a home here in 1985
and met neighbor Charlie Mann, a renowned landscape architect who
introduced him to the world of azaleas and rhodos, prompting the
start of Woodlands Nursery and a new career carrying on Mann's work.
His nursery primarily supplies professional landscapers and retail
June 12: Our Local Farmland Forecast: A 2013 Crop Report and Some
Ideas for Your Table by David Geen of Hungry Village Tours who
talks us through the country with local growers about farm
conditions and what to expect at this fall's markets.
July 10: Low-Key Genius: O.C. Simonds and his Pier Cove
Simonds was one of America's most important landscapers - and had an
enormous impact on our West Michigan. Meet the author, Barbara
Gieger. Wine & cheese social time.
August 14: Eat Your Way to the Top Annual Picnic at the
History Center. Celebrating the Garden's Mt. Baldhead Viewing
Station. Note early starting time: 6:00
September 11: Now and Then: Great Lakes - Hot Topics Long
time Great Lakes observer Patty Birkholz brings past and present
views of our greatest local asset - the water. Swimmingly delicious
October 9: Tales from the Crypt: Visitors from the Ghostown of
Plummerville (Ganges Township) Led by Kit Lane and Marsha
Kontio, a virtual tour by the Cemetery Actors Group. Refreshments to
November 13: Painting: the Town: Landscape, the Artist, and
People by Ken Kutzel who brings stories from the Society's art
December 1: Annual Society Holiday Dinner 6:00 pm. At the
Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Kick off the Holiday Season. Good
cheer, Great Food, Good Friends.
If you would like to sponsor one of the Monthly Programs, please
REPLY to this email. Sponsorships are $150.
Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society
Family History Group. Our meeting schedule is the first and third
Thursday of every month. Upcoming meetings are:
Thursday, April 18
Thursday, May 2
Thursday, May 16
The time and place are always 3:30 in the Old School House
Please join us to see what we are all about and most importantly,
share "lessons learned" about the many tools available for family
The last two months I have told you about my Ancestry.com DNA
analysis. I am getting a steady feedback of 10-20 possible matches
each week. The project computers continually match my sample with
each new DNA sample added to the data base. When there is a
possible match based on the comparison, the system notifies me and
provides matching surnames from the matchee's tree and my tree.
The probability matches are rated from low to high. I can then
look at the details of the matching tree.
So far I have confirmed many matches and have some valuable clues
that I am researching. I am particularly interested in my surname,
Sheridan because I do not know where my fourth great grandfather
Joseph came from. Sheridan is a traditional Irish name. I think he
was born in Massachusetts about 1754 but then a stonewall. So far
I have a few Sheridan DNA matches that lead back to Pennsylvania
in the 1700s but these trees go no further. No EUREKA!
moment to report yet. Stay tuned
You may go to Ancestry.com to get information on the DNA project.
The price has just been lowered to $110. Call or email me with
If you have always wanted to learn more about your family history,
but have not known where and how to begin, 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 volunteers to SDHS Family
History Box 617 Douglas, Michigan 49406, or email a copy to either
Give us time for an initial assessment. We will soon be back to
you with readily found data and with suggestions on the next steps
to take. Future further help is always available from the Family
History group. The only requirement is membership in the SDHS.
Your family history does not have to have any connection to the
Still wondering? Questions/comments/advice/needs: Contact me at:
or 269 857-7144 . Chris is in Arizona for another month, so I
am the guy on the cold seat!
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
A Historical Fly Over
Thanks to Photoshop, this month we can make a quick fly over of this
very historical area. The old river channel has been imagineered and
grafted to the new channel circa 1990. What a beautiful, interesting
and historical area it is. I have added comments, keyed to the
image, that come to mind without me doing bunch of research. Click
on the image above for a higher resolution copy showing the numbered
highlights below. Enjoy!
 The original channel piers were built in 1870 -1873. Note that
the south pier extended all the way to Shriverís Bend, the site of
Oxbow. By 1916 drifting sand covered the old river mouth. We see the
snaggled remnants today.
 Site of the 1859 lighthouse which was destroyed by a tornado in
1956. The Deam cottage now there was built over the foundation in
the early 1960s.
 Site of Fishtown, where homes and shanties used by commercial
fisherman were located prior to drifting sand closing off lake
 Site of the Shriver homestead. The family farmed, fished and
later had a hotel which though much changed, is the large building
that is now the anchor structure at Oxbow.
 Talmadge woods area, which is owned by the City of Saugatuck and
open to the public.
 The "Crows Nest" a high dune and great vantage point, which can
be reached by path from Oxbow.
 A channel through an area somewhat navigable by boat during high
water periods. My grandfather, lighthouse keeper from 1909 to 1915,
reported dynamiting in the area to keep a small channel open.
 The area called the "Basin" was the original channel of the
river. Drifting sand covered the old waterway after the new channel
rerouted the river. This area was a popular bathing beach in 1900 -
 The so called "Dug Road" passed through here on the way to Lake
Michigan. It exists in part today just west of the Pine Trails Camp
but ends at the McClendon - Denison property line.
 The "new cut" or new channel was dug in 1905-06 to improve
navigation on the winding river and reduce dredging necessary to
keep the channel open. This reroute eventually created the Oxbow
Lagoon we know today.
 The site of Singapore. Early settlers built a sawmill here in
the 1830s and the last mill closed in 1875. Many of the houses were
moved into town by rolling them on logs over the frozen river.
 The long building was the Broward Marine factory where very
large aluminum hulled luxury yachts were built in the 1980s and
 Site of the Cook mansion built by David Cook about 1920. The
Cook family acquired numerous parcels of land in the area to create
what is known today as the McClendon property. Part of that area -
between the old and new piers and west of the Oxbow Lagoon - is now
the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area which is owned by the City of
Next month our view will be of a lower variety.
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 - an
l Fran & Mort Van Howe,
l Dan & Barbara Witt,
l Nancy Plantinga,
l Jerry Carpency & Doug
Turner, Saugatuck, MI
l Bob & Kathy Kubasiak,
l John & Linda Axe,
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
l Wally Peterson & Mike
Tischleder, Chicago, IL
l Dave & Janice Varney,
South Haven, MI
l Ray & Joyce Horath.
l Marcia A. Sikora,
l Joel & Patricia
Hoitenga, Fennville, MI
And members who renewed their membership as Life Members.
l Michael Van Meter &
l Bill Underdown &
SDHS 101 Session Coming Up
The first of two orientation
sessions for new and interested former members will be held on
Saturday, April 27th, at the Old School House in Douglas,
beginning at 5:00 p.m. If you are interested and plan to attend,
please contact Nyla Hensley at
or call 269-857-5704. A response by April 22nd would be
Nancy Van Benthuysen
Nancy Van Benthuysen, a Life
Member of the Society, passed away recently in Missouri. Click
HERE for more details.
Set aside a couple of days this
summer to help keep our garden weed free. A training session will be
held on Tuesday, May 14th at 10 AM at the OSH by the
Landscape Committee to provide information and scheduling of
maintenance shifts available.
Please contact Ruth Johnson at
or 616-218-0086, if you have any questions.
Dining Around The Village
Two spring home-tour parties, extending the Saugatuck/ Douglas
Historical Society's "Dining Around the Village Table" fund-raising
series begun last fall, are accepting reservations for Sunday,
April 28 and Friday, May 3, both at 5-8pm.
With all food and beverages donated by event hosts, guest charges
will support the Historical Society's volunteer-based programs and
activities including exhibitions at its Pump House Museum in
Saugatuck and its Old School House History Center / "Back-In-Time
Garden Pathway" in Douglas. For information and reservations, phone
269.857.5751 or e-mail
The April 28 "Magnificent Trilogy" tour weaves a progressive
cocktail party through three very different homes set side-by-side
along the Kalamazoo River immediately north of Saugatuck, with views
overlooking Tallmadge Woods. Tickets at $100 per person allow guests
to roam from home to home on their own, upstairs and downstairs and
in between, enjoying beer, wine and a variety of appetizers served
at each house. Volunteer Society docents will be on hand to greet
guests and help show off each home.
● 3438 Riverside Drive -- This stone-and-cedar-shingle home of Skip
Schipper and John Seros reflects the Eastern Seashore "salt-box"
motif with classically detailed interiors finished out by the owners
and complemented by eclectic furniture and artwork.
● 3440 Riverside Drive -- A two-story Greek Revival design owned by
Monty Collins & Jerry Dark reveals totally redesigned interior
spaces with transitional decor and a new addition.
● 3442 Riverside Drive -- An airy, contemporary-style gem, this home
of Sandra & Travis Randolph has been totally rebuilt to encompass
four levels of living with 360-degree views.
The May 3 gathering, "A Toast to the Dunelands", visits the 1860s
barn home of Ken Tornvall at 540 Campbell Road, on Saugatuck's
"peninsula side" just west of Park Street near the Chain Ferry
landing. Once a "classic" Michigan barn in Eaton Rapids, MI, it was
meticulously dismantled there and reassembled on a hilltop-ridge
farm site here. Now a custom-designed residence, it integrates
massive hand-hewn oak beams with the clear modern elements of slate,
glass, stone and steel.
Guest charge of $50 per person brings guests into a Mexican theme,
with Margaritas flowing as well as beer and wine, and lots of
south-of-the-border food. Co-sponsored by SDHS members Howard and
Judi Vanderbeck and Renee Zita, the event also will feature a brief
talk and champagne toast introducing the SDHS Museum's upcoming "Dunelands"
exhibit, presented by Museum Curator Jim Schmiechen.
The Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society is a not-for-profit,
volunteer-driven organization with membership open to all and a
mission "to provide leadership in enabling the community to connect
with and understand its past, to preserve the quality of community
life and to use the area's history to shape its future." For more
information about the Society, its Old School House History Center,
Pump House Museum and volunteer opportunities, visit
A Recent New Addition
30, 2013 - 1 to 5 pm
Celebration of the Arts
TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE!
Come stroll the gardens and
grounds of BJ Silverstone expansive property on Lake Michigan. Tour
her home and a nearby 100 year old log cabin. Enjoy Plein Air
artists working on site, two cabaret shows, art auction, cocktails,
appetizers and lots of fun.
Tickets: $40 per person.
Hosted by BJ Silverstone
2450 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville
Tuesday Talks are arranged by the SDHS Program Group. Direct
questions and or suggestions for 2014 to Jim Schmiechen at
l July 2: Mike Sweeney, Michiganís Hottest Town. Procol Harem,
Alice Cooper, and others invade Saugatuck.
l July 9: Elizabeth Chodos, Ox-Bow: Living In Sand For Over 100
l July 16: Kimberly Hall, Climate Change and West Michigan.
l July 23: April Scholtz, The Secret life of the Blanding Frog
and Other Duneland Nature Stories
l July 30: Ken Kutzel & Dave Ball, Saugatuck and Douglas Art
Discoveries & the Art of Restoration
l August 6: The State Park Hikers, To the Dunes: Photos Stories
from A State Park Hiking Group.
l August 13: Mary Jo Lemanski, Looking at Dune Formation as
l August 20: Jack Sheridan, Beach Stories: Low Water, High
Water and Beach Life
l August 27: Kit Lane, Goshorn Lake. Is it really bottomless?
If you would like to sponsor one of the Tuesday Talks, please
REPLY to this email. Sponsorships are $150.
Re-Painting the Totem
Judi and Howard Vanderbeck along with Leslie Thompson
re-painting the Totem. Plans are to install it in the Old School
Douglas Garden Club Plant Sale at Old School House on Saturday, May
The Saugatuck Douglas Garden Club
is pleased to announce its annual plant sale on Saturday May 18 from
10:00 to 2:00 at the Old School House. We are very excited to have
our sale at the Old School House this year and hope that you will
come and support us.
Proceeds from this sale benefit
our scholarship program which is given to a high school senior from
Saugatuck High School and/or Fennville High School who meet our
requirements of majoring in the Horticultural Sciences in college.
The garden club also contributes to Christian Neighbors, Frederik
Meijer Gardens, Grace Health Facility, the Old School House gardens
and annual flower beautifications in the cities of Saugatuck and
Douglas. We are also Horticultural Consultants for the city of
The sale will include beautiful
hanging baskets, flats of annuals, many geraniums and perennials. In
fact, the perennials come from our own members yards so they are
tried and true. We will also have our members there to answer your
So mark your calendars for
Saturday, May 18 and join us for a fun day. submitted by Jane
New Writing Group Formed
Alert! An Informal New Writing Group is Formed.
Do you remember the old Tara
lounge and restaurant? How about the motorcycle invasions? What was
Oval Beach life like when you were younger?
A new "Writing Group" has been
formed and invites anyone who wishes to discuss and write your
recollections about times past in the Saugatuck and Douglas areas.
Meets at the History Center (Old
School House) at 3:30 on the first and third Thursday of each month.
Call Jane VanDis, 269-857-4263; or Peggy Boyce, 259-857-2735 for
Monthly Meeting Refreshments Needed
|We've killed the cookie monster!!! We will now need volunteers to
provide wine and cheese for the 2013 Wednesday General Membership
Meetings except for August and December.
Ruth Wendell from Chicago, who loves the newsletter, indicated
that they would be in Saugatuck for the May meeting (or at least are
hoping to be here) and she wanted to bring wine or cheese for the
September meeting. It sounded like she would team with Merle
Please contact Marsha Kontio at
or 616-566-1239 if you can help out. Thanks.
Spring is here. So says the
calendar! Although we have volunteer needs all year, Spring and
Summer are when the need (and fun) are most prevalent.
Let us know where you can
Art Collection and Gallery Management
Old School House Hosting
And more ---
Call or email Ed Kelly with your
area of interest. 269-857-2843 or
Social Media Project
We are living in the 21st
century; therefore, social media is not rare anymore but instead
very recognized in today's world. The Saugatuck Douglas Historical
Society may be about the history of our area, but that does not mean
that they have to live in the past.
With that said, the SDHS has
brought together a team of high schoolers from Saugatuck High School
to update Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and begin to progress in
the world of technology.
Jenna Chambers, Andrew Wobith,
Cheyenne Lubben, and Ashton Greene (shown from left to right above)
all have individual tasks that they are assigned to do. But along
with those, they will be busy updating the social media websites so
that the SDHS can become more widely known as a business, and that
people can start to realize what the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Society is all about.
submitted by Cheyenne Lubben