Artist's Cottage Open House
Sunday, May 3rd from 2 - 4 PM
730 N. Maple St., Saugatuck
Hosted by John & Debby Topliff
$20 per person
Young flowering hydrangea tree at the Topliff's front door greets
visitors approaching along a walkway around the garage/studio in
What nicer way to melt into spring than enjoying
the first Sunday afternoon in May exploring the home and grounds
of Debby and John Topliff, at the next event in our sixth year of
"Dine Around The Village Table" home-tour dinner or cocktail party
Located at 730 North Maple Street, the Topliff
property is an array of visual treats as well as a bit of an
intellectual excursion. Set in five acres on a steep wooded bluff
overlooking Goshorn Creek and Peterson Nature Preserve, the
original 1970s house has been completely reworked into a
contemporary home that "feels like a glass box", bringing the
This rambling main house, the Topliff's family home
since 2002, features a lovely courtyard entrance and is
beautifully appointed with family antiques and collections of art.
Not to be missed are a number of the owner’s paintings -- large
and colorful biblical narratives -- in the outlying studio
connected to the garage.
Along a short pathway beyond the house, the
property includes a charming 1940s cabin of vertical log exterior
and pine plank interior. The structure, which the Topliffs saved
from demolition in 2007, was one of several factory-built "kit"
houses constructed alongside nearby Goshorn Lake just after WWII.
It was methodically dismantled, packed up and moved to the Topliff
property, keeping its general layout and adding interesting bits
of cottage furniture and antiques. Reassembled here, it very
nicely whispers “cottage,” including a sleeping loft and an
Beyond the cabin, Debby created a meditation
labyrinth based on an ancient 7-fold pattern. After the labyrinth
the path leads through the woods to a large raised-bed garden.
Behind the house a set of stairs leads down into the ravine where
a corduroy path winds over the wetlands to the shallow creek.
(Bring your mucky boots if you want to explore further.)
Debby is an artist, writer and teacher with a
passion for finding creative ways to express her faith. She
recently published And the World Became Color. Exploring the
Bible with Paper, Pen, and Paint (2015). Along with her
biblical teaching, she offers classes on essential oils and a
dance form of tai chi. John, who has a Doctor of Ministry degree,
is newly retired from his career in publishing. In 2012-2013 the
couple spent a “gap” year in St. Andrews, Scotland where Debby
studied at the University and John worked via Skype and enjoyed
the famous links. They make their cabin available for personal and
small-group days away and lead-guided retreats.
The date is May 3, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.; wine and
cheese will be served. With all food and beverages donated, this
event's guest charge of $20 per person will fully support the
Historical Society's volunteer-based programs and activities,
including exhibitions at its Pump House Museum in Saugatuck, Old
School House History Center and "Back-In-Time Garden Pathway" in
phone 269.857.5751 or e-mail
Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder, leaders
of the Society Family History Group.
Please visit us to see what we are all about and
most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools
available for family history research.
Using DNA as an aid in family history research has
come into wide use and no doubt it is the wave of the future. Last
month in this column I began a brief and hopefully,
understandable, explanation of this complex subject [Please reread
last month’s column].
I am participating in the Ancestry.com autosomal
DNA program. I have submitted my DNA - a tube of spit and $99 - to
Ancestry. My DNA is compared to all other samples received, both
past and present. As Ancestry identifies potentially matching
samples they notify the submitters. Most submitters are part of an
Ancestry.com tree created by them or a family member.
For example, below is a page received by myself and
the owner of the cccook21 tree showing match details. Robinson
Chilcote and Amy Heathcote are my fifth great grandparents and
lived in the mid 1700s near Baltimore, Maryland. Robinson Chilcote
died in the Revolutionary War.
The left hand column ends with yours truly. The
right hand column ends with cccook21 - a cousin that I can then
contact by email. The revelation of our actual identities is left
to us as desired.
Click on the image for a higher resolution copy
This page is nice but most of the matches require
that I dig in and go through the other tree to find a connection
if there is one. About 5-10% of the reported potential matches
yield a connection. The value of this exercise is that it often
enables me to add data to my knowledge base and that can lead to
tree additions. Also I can easily make email contact with my many
distant - and no so distant - newly discovered cousins.
Ancestry.com now has a growing data base derived
from analyzing about a half million submittals and their program
results are evolving as their data base grows and DNA research
Stay tuned - more next month.
Got questions on how to get going? Questions on
DNA? That is what we are for! Call or email us and remember, the
SDHS family history group’s regular meeting schedule is the first
and third Thursday of every month at the OSH.
[Note the schedule for next month varies from the
Upcoming meetings are:
Thursday, March 19
Thursday, April 16
Thursday, April 30
Remember, your family history does not have to have
any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area !!!
Still not sure how to get going? Let us provide a
helpful jump start by recording what you know about your parents,
grandparents, and great grandparents and send it along for a
review by Chris Yoder or myself. The snail mail address is SDHS
Family History, Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406, or email a copy
to either firstname.lastname@example.org
We will soon be back to you with readily found data
and with suggestions on the next steps to take. Further help is
readily available from the Family History group. Again, the only
requirement is membership in the SDHS.
Mayflower ancestor, Revolutionary War vet, great
grandparents? Still wondering? Questions/comments/advice/needs -
contact Jack Sheridan at
269 857-7144 or Chris Yoder at
This newsletter column is produced by Jack
Don't Forget to
It's that time of year to vote for
the election of new Society Board members for 2015. Please click
HERE to download and print your copy of the Official Ballot.
Ballots must be returned by US Mail to SDHS, Box 617, Douglas, MI
49406 and postmarked no later than April 18, 2015.
Panoramas – One by One - Piece by Piece - 7
Click on the picture for a
higher resolution copy.
Be patient, it may take a while to download.
Last September I started a new HBC series of
panoramic photographs taken from the top of Mt Baldhead. We
history buffs are fortunate to have photos from this great
vantage point over a long time period. The photos appearing
span some fifty years, are accurately dated, and in most cases
the photographer identified.
Other factors make these photos special. First,
earlier photos had few mature trees to block the view. Second,
the photographers used quality cameras with large glass plate
negatives that were capable of capturing details. Though most
of the glass plates are lost, the prints made from them,
faithfully contain the details. When scanned at high
resolution, the images yield marvelous results.
In December we had full photos of 1895 and 1906
without comment, last month was the the middle of 1895 and
1896. This month is the south third of 1895 and 1906.
The 1906 photographer is unknown but may have
been Herman Simonson.
The numbers are keyed to my comments about
points of interest.
20 - Roscoe Funk home built before 1874 -
restoration completed recently
21 - Good Goods today - built ca 1880 - remodeled extensively
in 1910 - B & B for many years
22 - Building history unknown - probably same structure is the
one there today
23 – Kilwins today - built as the Odd Fellows Lodge in 1879 -
has had many uses
24 – City Hall built 1880
25 – Drawbridge built 1870 - replaced by swing bridge 1903 -
current bridge built 1936
26 - Basket factory started in the 1870s burned in 1926
27– The Butler today - grist mill built 1893- converted to a
hotel - upper floors removed ca 1973
28– Big Pavilion site - next door to the north is the Lake
29 – Coral Gables annex today - built as store in 1873
This newsletter column is written by Jack Sheridan.
Michigan Hometown Stories:
Saugatuck-Douglas to Premiere
at 7 PM on May 8 at SCA
Media/Grand Rapids will bring the one-hour documentary Michigan
Hometown Stories to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts on Friday,
May 8 at 7 PM for its world premiere before airing on WGVU/PBS-Channel
35 in June.
Hometown Stories: Saugatuck-Douglas is being produced with a
cooperative partnership with the Saugatuck Douglas Historical
Society. Due to a generous matching grant from the Pleasant T.
Rowland Foundation last November and additional gifts received from
members of the community, the project will be completed as a full
one-hour program. The scripting and editing have begun in advance of
the May premiere here in Saugatuck.
WGVU's head of
production, Phil Lane, and Society members Jon Helmrich and Stephen
Mottram are working together to write, edit, and produce the
program. The special documentary will focus on the history, people,
art, diversity, and strong community involvement in preservation,
conservation, and love of our wonderful, rich, and beautiful
Over 30 people were
interviewed and over 40 hours were taped all around the area from
the Crow's Nest to the Old School House and in and around dozens of
our businesses, lodgings, and galleries – even on the Star of
Saugatuck and Dune Schooners.
Mark your calendar
on May 8 at the SCA. You can view the list of donors (and still
contribute to the project) at
michiganhometownstories.org. There is also a teaser to watch
showing some of the footage captured for use in the program.
submitted by Jon Helmrich
Welcome New Members
We would like to welcome the following new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
Mary Lou Graham, Douglas, MI
Dan & Kelli Heneghan, Douglas, MI
Kate McCarthy, Saugatuck, MI
Robert Palmer, Saugatuck, MI
Dan Ryan & Michael Riemke, Douglas, MI
John Migas, Saugatuck, MI 49453
John Winsor Noonan, 84
John Noonan, a long time member
of the Society, passed away on February 24. Click
HERE for more details.
Jim Schmiechen recalled that John Noonan was an
amazing friend of the Museum. For many years he was the Museum
co-chair in charge facilities and operations. He was a big
guy, smart and successful businessman with huge hart and an
almost boyish sense of humor. We were lucky to have
worked with him.
Henry Richard Van Singel, 88
Henry Van Singel, a long time member
of the Society, passed away in on March 8. Click
HERE for more details.
Ken Carls recalled that Henry was, among other
things, responsible for getting the Saugatuck paint palette
neon sign saved from the junk heap, restored, and placed back
at the entrance to town. Also Henry was an advocate for SDHS getting and
maintaining tenancy at the Pump House.
One of Henry's favorite sayings, "A day away
from Saugatuck is a day wasted."
Zeman Moves On
Jarrett Zeman, our new Museum Specialist intern since
last August has moved on. He will be preparing artifacts for display
in Mississippi's two newest museums, the Mississippi Museum of
History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
He will also be contributing to the museum's new
artifact blog, A Sense of Place. He also is looking forward
to consulting for local history organizations in Mississippi, using
the many skills he learned in Saugatuck to help other museums reach
the interpretive potential of SDHS. We all wish you much success.
Mardi Gras Pre-Parade Party Dine
Arthur Ashley, Pre-Parade Party Host
Judi Vanderbeck, Sally Winthers and Ellen Donovan
Stacy Honson and Dick Bont
Sally Winthers and Vic Bella
And a good time was had by all
submitted by Sally Winthers
What You Missed
On Wednesday, March 11, Jack Sheridan, the Society's
photo archivist, presented a selection of postcards culled from the
Society's archives. Carrying messages from vacationers and residents
alike over more than a century, the cards also served to promote the
area's attractions far and wide.
If you are interested in viewing the complete
HERE. Be patient, the file will take a while to
Mark Your Calendar
2015 Monthly Programs and Tuesday Talks
If you would like
to sponsor one of the Monthly Programs, please
REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch. Sponsorships are $150
Saugatuck's Big Pool and Other Water Stories: A Preview
of the 2015-16 Museum Exhibition presented by Jim
sponsored by Lynne Snyder
May 13, Rosebay
Nursery Field Trip
History of Coral Gables
sponsored by Jolene Jackson & Lonnie Hannaford
Field Trip to
sponsored by Monty Collins & Jerry Dark
August 12, Society
Picnic at the Old School House
Commercial & Recreational
Fire, Storm and
Ice: Shipwrecks sponsored by the
Star of Saugatuck, Marilyn & Bruce Starring
December 13, Holiday
If you would like
to sponsor one of the Tuesday Talks, please
REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch. Sponsorships are $150
and Howard Rochte
7, Blue Star Trail
14, Drone Photography of River and
21, Bee Keeping
28, Perimeter: Photo Talk by Author Kevin Miyazaki
4, Peach Belt School
11, Invasive Species: On Land and Water
18, Water and Art (watercolor painting?)
25, Ship Building in Saugatuck
sponsored by the Star of Saugatuck, Marilyn &
is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!'"
--- Robin Williams
And what a party it will be! With the river starting
to flow again and the big lake letting go of her blanket of ice, we
are all anxiously awaiting the most wonderful time of year . . .
Springtime! Although our garden still looks like she is fast asleep,
we know better and the Landscape Committee is looking forward to
scheduling our spring clean-up. Starting with our annual Azalea
Society clean up on April 25th thanks to John Migas, all
are invited to help make our garden, once again, beautiful.
The March meeting was very productive with many ideas
in the works. We are planning a pruning/ fertilizing seminar after
the rhododendrons and azaleas finish blooming. This seminar will
accomplish two things: One . . . it will teach others how to care
for their plants and Two . . .it will clean up our own garden after
the blooming season. We will provide more information next month.
Also, our library might be helping us install our own
"Little Free Library" for our young and young at heart visitors. We
are putting a design and proposal together for the library board.
Many thanks to Miss Ingrid, who approached us with the idea and will
be presenting it to the library board on our behalf. Let's keep our
fingers crossed for this possible addition to our garden.
We are also laying out our Children's Garden and are
in need of two galvanized tanks, of sort, to grow a raised sensory
garden. If anyone has a couple of vessels they would like to share
with us, please free to contact Ruth Johnson at
Root Camp's registration is now on-line,
thanks to Jim Cook. He was so patient with our committee and we
truly appreciate it. Our line up for teachers this year is amazing.
Our campers will be learning about and from our own Village
Puppeteers - Michael Schwabe and Larry Basgall, Tom Anthrop and his wisdom on being a Tin Man, Captain
Jim Schmeichen, Michael Pcolinski and his wonderful bees and a not
so scary Alligator Sanctuary. Our campers will also be learning
about Morse Code, churning butter, the properties of H2O
and much more.
Our camp will be held June 22-25 with two sessions
available, one from 9-12 and the other from 1-4. Many thanks to our
sponsors the Mignon Sherwood DeLano Foundation, the Holland
Horticulture Club and Shoreline Realtors for their support.
Please go to our SDHS webpage and sign up your little
ones. Also remember we have 20 scholarships available, so if you
know of someone please contact Ruth Johnson so ALL kids can go to
Until next month,
The Landscape and Root Camp Committees
Society to Hire
First Full-Time Employee and Director
This summer, the Society will hire a qualified
professional Director. (Click
HERE for the Position Announcement, which has been posted to
professional museum, history and non-profit recruiting sites across
We have achieved remarkable things through the
efforts of our hard-working Board and 100+ dedicated volunteers and
those roles will not change. But, we have evolved to the point that
we need professional management on a day-to-day basis.
Our vision is to be a premier Michigan attraction
built on an unparalleled collection and innovative visitor-centered
experiences, employing the highest standards of scholarship and
stewardship. We believe we are the best small history organization
in the State of Michigan. Professional management will help us
solidify and reinforce that position.
We have already received more than a dozen
applications for the position and more arrive daily. If you know of
someone who is qualified and interested in the position, please
direct him/her to the link above. We look forward to introducing you
to our new Director soon.
submitted by Sharon Kelly, Board President
Charles J. Lorenz Award Nominations
The Lorenz Award was established
by the Society in 1997 to honor the memory of Charles Lorenz, who
gave generously of his time, talent, money and energy in the
formation and development of this organization.
Winners are selected each year by
a special Society committee, recognizing distinguished leadership in
fulfilling the Historical Society's mission to "help the community
understand its past and use its history to shape its future and
preserve its quality of life".
to download and print a Charles J. Lorenz Nomination Form which
includes the names of previous winners
Our Oldest Allegan County
On Jan. 14, 1898, the Commercial Record printed the
Who was this lady? Where did she come from and was
she really 107 at death? I've wondered about her for many years. A
Feb. 2015 email from g-g-g-g-grandson Gregory Earl Snyder from
Lansing and Crystal, MI provided the impetus (and some assistance)
to "fill in some blanks" on Sophia.
Sketch from the Allegan Gazetter
The Commercial Record of Aug. 31, 1894 includes the
following information about Sophia:
"Mrs. Goucher was born in lower Canada in 1789 and at an early
age she moved to Estavelut, New York state. From there she went to
Clarksville, O., where at the age of 17 she married a Mr. Town, who
died shortly after. A few years later she married Henry Gall of the
same place, and soon after she with her husband moved to Allegan
county. Later she married Mr. Goucher of Watson township, this
county, who died some twenty years ago. Mrs. Goucher has been
through a great many hardships and a good deal of sickness, having
twice passed into a trace and was laid out for deaf, but at the
present date she is able to be around the house, and, considering
her age, she is comparatively a well woman. During her married life
she gave birth to eight children, four by her first husband and four
by her second husband. Her ancestors were all people that lived to a
ripe old age. Her grandfather, John Wesley McWarren, does at the
remarkable age of 107 years.” (An Allegan Gazette article after her
death says in one of the trances she went to heaven and clearly
remembered what she saw there)."
Digging back through the records on-line (Heritage
Quest available through the Michigan e-Library on the SD Library web
site) , we see the 1830 census records for Clarksfield, Huron Co, OH
which list a
Harry Town age 20-30
Female age 20-30
Female under 5 years
The Towns are listed directly beside two Hendricks
families, the senior of which is "A.D. Hendricks", age 60-70 and
female 50-69. This is the only "Town" in Clarksfield, so this seems
certain to be Sophia and her first husband. In a Huron County
listing of pioneers, one "Abraham Day Hendricks" is shown as an
early settler of New London, OH (Greg Snyder indicated his name was
really "Abram Dayton Hendricks" and confirms he was Sophia's
A listing of Huron Co, OH Marriage records (on the
Huron Co., Ohio GENWEB) shows CALL, Ira . . . TOWER(sic), Sophia,
Mrs. . . . 11 Jan 1834
Not a Henry, as the 1894 article claims, and
not Gall, but rather Call, but clearly this record
identifies the marriage of the widow Sophia.
No sign yet in the 1840 census, but in 1850 we find:
Home in 1850: Independence, Warren, Indiana Household Members:
Name and Age
Ira Caul 60 b. MI
Sophia Caul 54 b. OH
Mary J Caul 19 b. OH
Abigal Caul 13 b. OH
Sarah Caul 9 b. IN
Harvey Caul 5 b. IN
George Caul 3 b. IN
The children's names match those known, but the
youngest ones seem questionable for a 54 year old Sophia?
In the 1860 census we see a "Mary" Call living in
Allegan County with John Gouhare:
Name: Mary Call
Age in 1860: 50
Birth Year: abt 1810
Home in 1860: Watson, Allegan, Michigan
Post Office: Proctor
Household Members: Name and Age
John Gouhare 60
George Gouhare 15
Mary Call 50
Allegan County marriage records show that SOPHIA CALL
and JOHN GOUCHER were married on 05 OCT 1860
The census of 1870 shows:
Name: Sophie Gancher
Age in 1870: 67
Birth Year: abt 1803
Birthplace: Canada East
Home in 1870: Watson, Allegan, Michigan
Post Office: Martin Corners
Name and Age
John Gancher 70 b. CT
Sophie Gancher 67 b. Canada East
Albertus Gancher 23 b. MI
George Call 25 b. IN
Can't find her in the 1880 census and the 1890 census
was destroyed in a fire. A pension application, signed with her "X",
in which she applied for a survivor’s pension based on the Civil War
service of her son George W. Call, helps fill in the blanks.
Sometime before 1860, husband Ira had abandoned her
and she went to be a housekeeper for elderly farmer John Goucher. We
see her as "Mary Call" in the 1860 census, and in October of that
year she and Mr. Goucher are married. Son George enlisted in Co. A,
4th Michigan Cavalry Volunteers on Oct. 31, 1863 and served until
July 1, 1865. George suffered from TB and is shown living with the
Goucher's in the 1870 census. He died of that disease on Nov. 26,
1870. Sophia's application for a dependant mother's pension was
approved March 14, 1890 for $12 per month despite the fact that she
had included several falsehoods in the documents. Sixty-four pages
of documentation show Sophia claiming to be 100 years old, first
saying she never married Mr. Goucher and then admitting in the face
of other evidence that she had illegally done so, but claimed she
never consummated the marriage. Mr. Goucher died in the mid 1870s
and she went to live with one of her daughters. One of those giving
testimony was Francis Norton, a farmer near Otsego, who not only
confirmed that Ira Call was still living after Sophia's marriage to
Mr. Goucher, but that he returned to the area during the war years
and stayed at his house for two months, before returning to Illinois
where he died sometime after the war.
In addition to the son George who died, we know what
happened to two of her daughters. Polly Town Jarvis White (Oct. 22,
1830-Jul. 11, 1899) is buried in Mountain Home Cemetery in Otsego,
MI. Abigail Call Hawkins Dunn Helsel died in the Chicago area in
So was she really 107 at death? It seems likely that
this age of 100 was claimed in 1890 to make her case for the pension
a bit more appealing. The 1830 census shows her between 20-30 years
of age and with only one child. If she really married at 17 a likely
birth year for her would have been closer to 1810, which matches her
stated age when she was housekeeping for Mr. Goucher in 1860, and a
youngest child born at age 41 seems much more likely than age 51.
It would appear she was probably closer to 88 than
107 but the story was surely more appealing the way she told it.
(NOTE: Descendant Greg Snyder is the VP of the
Crystal Township Historical Society (Montcalm County) and the
primary writer for and editor of their quarterly newsletter.)
submitted by Chris Yoder
Fresh from Facebook
What do the Civil
War, a steamship and the circumnavigation of the globe have in
common? They're all a part of the exciting life of local citizen
George N. Dutcher.
Dutcher was the son
of Douglas co-founder William Dutcher, and had a spirited military
career in Company I of the Fifth Michigan Calvary during the Civil
War. Dutcher fought at Gettysburg and was wounded at the Battle of
Brandy Station, Virginia. After reassignment to the Invalid Corps,
Dutcher served as a prison guard at Camp Douglas in Chicago, where
we was commended for exposing schemes of the Knights of the Golden
Circle, a group of pro-slavery northerners.
After mustering out
of the Army, he continued to serve the Union cause as a railway
engineer in Southern Illinois. He took the first train of the North
Missouri Railway to Jefferson City, where Confederate Major General
Sterling Price captured him, and led Dutcher through the streets
along with other captives wearing only his underwear and a rope
around his neck --- on his way to be hanged.
escaped from his captors, and served as an engineer of a riverboat
after the war. However, he soon suffered ill health as a result of
his wounds, and when he was invited to serve on a whaling vessel
bound for the Azore Islands, Dutcher accepted. He eventually
circumnavigated the globe, making stops in such places as India,
Australia and the Isthmus of Panama. Dutcher documented his global
journey in a diary owned by the History Center.
Illustration of George N. Dutcher, undated.
For more exciting
stories of famous locals and other great new content, "like" us on
A brass bell
made in the image of Becky Sharp (from the film, Vanity Fair)
cast by the Valleau Studio of Saugatuck , 1976. Donated by Carl
Jennings and Larry Gammons
An oil on canvas
painting 16"x12" of Goshorn Lake by Frank Kreusch donated by Ken
An oil on canvas
board painting 16"x20" of Hibiscus by May Francis Heath 1953.
Donated by Chris Spencer and Charles Aschbrenner.
May Heath was well
known for her love of Saugatuck history. The Historical Society has
re-prints of her book, Early Memories of Saugatuck Michigan
1830-1930 for sale at their booth in the Saugatuck Antique
Ration Coupon books donated by Dave Mauger.
goblets used at the Tara Restaurant donated by Ken Carls
submitted by Mary Voss