Notes From Your President
The Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society has a new
website!! It is beautiful so please take a look. It is the product
of James Cook and has taken him many hours of dedicated work and
effort to accomplish -- so when you see him be sure to thank him for
his efforts. Kristi Mueller provided the art work and deserves
recognition in this effort as well. This is such an exciting
accomplishment for the Society and has literally been years in the
planning. I would say "JOB WELL DONE"!
Mike Sweeney gave a presentation on the music and
musicians of Saugatuck in the 1950's and 1960's on February 13th
for the General Membership Meeting. It is a topic that I am sure
everyone will want to explore in more depth and Mike can again share
in this important part of Saugatuck-Douglas History. He has many
posters of the era plus other memorabilia. Thank you to Mike for
sharing his time and knowledge with us.
I am beginning to feel we are on our slide into
Spring! It is almost the end of February and can the robins and
daffodils be far behind? Remember what happened this past fall in
the Back-In-Time Garden? Those King Alfreds will be greeting the
morning sun unflinchingly to remind us of their presence and to add
to our joy of spring!
submitted by Marsha Kontio
The Society's New Web Site
Thanks to the hard work of web designer Jim Cook and
graphics designer Kristi Mueller, the Society's new web site is now
live. Click on the home page image above and let us know what you
think. Just REPLY to this email with your comments.
2013 Society Monthly Programs
At the Old School House History
March 13: Finding Your Lost Relatives by Jack Sheridan who
brings you to the Society's Genealogy Program with some surprises
about people you know and news about how the program works.
April 10: 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.
May 8: How the Wow? Your Insiders Preview of the upcoming
Dunelands exhibition by Jim Schmiechen, exhibit curator. And the
Society's Annual Meeting & Awards Night. Wine & Cheese.
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.
Look for the 2013 Tuesday Talks weekly summer programs in an
upcoming Newsletter. Sponsorships for the Tuesday Talks will also be
Do You Remember When ---
Turn on your speakers, get out your dancing shoes
HERE for some fun remembrances. If you would like to share
some stories about where you were when the scenes in the video
were made, please REPLY to this email.
Extra! Extra! Breaking
SDHS Historical Chronicle Expanding to 12 Pages for 2013 Edition!
Last year's paper sold out. This year, we're
adding four more pages. As always, SDHS members get first dibs on
this new advertising space.
If you'd like to reach some 20,000 area visitors
this summer, reserve your spot before March 1, 2013. For more
information, view the
rate card PDF or contact Sally
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. Next month meetings are Thursday March 7th
and 21st, 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 research.
In this column I often talk about family history
discoveries. Such a discovery is called a EUREKA!
moment. Here is my latest EUREKA! moment, well sort
of eureka anyway.
Last week I received the results of an analysis of my DNA,
submitted a month earlier to Ancestry.com. Unlike other tests,
which only test the Y-chromosome or Mitochondrial DNA, this new
AncestryDNA analysis uses an autosomal analysis that surveys a
person’s genome [genetic information] at over 700,000 points. The
test is gender neutral. Men and women are tested in the same way
for the same number of locations providing the same level of
detail in the results. This procedure enables a comparison of a
person’s DNA sample to DNA samples from all over the world, and
the analysis results reveal an individuals genetic ethnicity.
Looking at the results, if not a EUREKA! moment, it
was a surprise! Based on fifteen years of family history research
and 4300 folks in my tree, I thought I was descended mostly from
mid European and British Isles stock. That turns out not to be
There it was in front of me:
Sweden, Norway, Denmark 66%
Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Malta 22%
Turkey, Caucuses, Persia 9%
And I do not have one genuine Scandinavian name in my family tree!
How could this be? Stay tuned to find out next month.
For the March 13 SDHS regular monthly meeting I will be presenting
a program entitled "Family Trees Have Deep
Roots" about how to research family history. The program
will include more on DNA as well as a brief overview of research
we are currently doing for the presentation on the families of
SDHS members Betty White, Charles Hancock and Marsha Kontio.
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
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 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
Still wondering? Questions/comments/advice/needs: Contact me at:
or 269 857-7144 . Chris is in Arizona for a few months so I am the
guy on the cold seat!
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
Historical Big Hitters in Singapore
Blood is thicker than water . . . it is not what you know - it
is who you know . . . it's a small world. The lives of Otis Russell
Johnson and Francis Brown Stockbridge bring these sayings to mind.
These men were born in Maine and came together in Saugatuck and in
Singapore forty years later, probably not by accident.
They were quite a pair and key players in the history of Saugatuck.
Johnson was born in Augusta, Maine in 1815. His father, an
entrepreneurial New England shoe manufacturer died on a sales trip
to New Orleans when son Otis was seven. Raised by an uncle, he
apprenticed seven years to be a tanner and started tanning and
making shoes in Maine. In 1845, bitten by the "go West young man"
bug he moved to Chicago and joined in a partnership with Andrew
Shelton Wells. They started a shoe and leather business under the
firm name of Wells & Johnson. Two years later he moved to Coldwater,
Michigan and soon after that to Plummerville where for five years he
operated a tannery.
Surrounded by a great pine forest, he realized a better opportunity
was in the lumber business and about 1850 he bought the Spencer mill
[where Coghlin Park is today] again with his Chicago partner Andrew
Wells. In addition to the mill, the two had a large mercantile store
located where the Saugatuck City Hall is today. Three years later he
married Emily Wells, eighteen years his junior and the daughter of
his partner. In the next twenty six years they had six children,
four boys and two girls.
By 1859 Johnson had another partner, Francis Stockbridge, and
together they bought and built new mills in Singapore which operated
for some fifteen years. During this time the Chicago fire and other
disastrous fires of 1871 occurred. Much of the lumber for the
rebuild came from the Singapore mills.
By 1874 the prime white pine forest in the Kalamazoo River watershed
had been harvested so the Singapore mill was dismantled and moved
north to St Ignace, Michigan.
At that time the Johnson family moved to Racine, Wisconsin where the
Johnson lumber business continued and there in 1895 Otis Russell
Johnson died. His sons and their children eventually engaged in the
same business on the west coast.
Francis Brown Stockbridge was born in Bath, Maine in 1826, just
thirty miles south of where Otis Johnson was born. Russell was
Johnson’s middle name. And the maiden name of Stockbridge’s mother,
Eliza was Russell. Hmmm, logic leads me to believe that the two
families were related but I have not yet been able to find any
information or identify the parents of Mrs. Eliza Russell
[Stockbridge]. How about a little help from any readers of this
Francis Stockbridge's father was a Boston physician, Dr. John
Stockbridge, and Francis grew up in Boston. After schooling through
twelve grades, he clerked at a wholesale mercantile house in Boston.
He was a young when he moved to Chicago and opened a lumber yard in
1847. In 1851 he moved to Saugatuck, where he continued in the
mercantile and lumber business.
In 1863 he married Elizabeth Arnold of Saugatuck, a schoolteacher
and sister of George Thomas Arnold, an Allegan County and Kalamazoo
lumberman who founded the Arnold Boat Line which still exists
providing ferry service to Mackinac Island. In 1869 Stockbridge was
elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives and in 1871 a
member of the Michigan State Senate. He moved his residence to
Kalamazoo in the 1870s.
In 1882, Stockbridge purchased land which became the site of the
famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. He arranged financing and
sold the land to the two railroads and shipping company that
provided service to the island at the time. Together, they formed
the Mackinac Island Hotel Company, which then built the Grand Hotel
Francis Stockbridge was a very successful politician, besides holding
Michigan offices, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1884
and in 1890. His business ventures in lumber and timber lands were
no less successful. A most notable career which really got its start
in Saugatuck and Singapore. He died in 1894 at the age of sixty
Next month we look at the Singapore area half a century later. Stay
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 Ken Boire & Dave
Reinke, Saugatuck, MI
l Keith & Lori Hayward,
Totem Pole Article
Cynthia Sorensen submitted the
following correction to the Totem Pole article in last month's
Debbie Hoffman was Dick
Hoffman's wife not his daughter and Dick Hoffman's first boat was
the Island Queen.
You Can Become Part of
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
You can follow in the steps of
Saugatuck "beloved ferryman" Jay Myers. In 1907 Jay took over the
important job of ferryman on the Chain Ferry. Jay endeared himself
to the populace of the area because of his devoted ferry work and
his good humor. The "beloved ferryman" died in 1928 and was
honored with a stone bench at the west shore ferry landing.
The City of Saugatuck is now
looking for three new Chain Ferry Captains. Currently the U. S
Coast Guard requires the Chain Ferry have a licensed captained on
board at all time.
To become licensed, captains
must have a Transportation Worker Identification Card from the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, know first aid and CPR, pass
a physical and be subject to drug testing on a year-round basis.
The City will pay for all costs associated with obtaining the
Ferry Captains are scheduled to
supervise the ferry crank for about 30 hours per week during the
period from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. This is a
If you are interested in
learning more about how you can become a part of Saugatuck history
like Jay Myers, please REPLY to this email.
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.