This paper was written by Regna Randolph, daughter ofLoring E. and Nell (VanLeeuwen) Randolph, for a
"A rural community is that form of associationmaintained between the people and their institutions, in a local area in whichthey live on dispersed farmsteads and in a village which is the center of theircommon activities." Saugatuck is such a community.
Saugatuck is a village of 650 people, incorporated in 1868,at the inner bend of the Kalamazoo river about a mile upstream of where theriver empties into Lake Michigan on the Eastern shore. The people comprisingthis village are of Dutch (
The age pyramid would correspond quite closely to anynatural group. There are many "old maids," but these are balanced bya like number of bachelors. These groups reside here because, admittedly,"It is cheap." Children frequently go away to school but the majorityreturn to the community. Saugatuck's early population (1872) was 500. Today ithas expanded by only 150 people.
The village is 12 miles from
Saugatuck has a modern telephone system reaching and servingvillage and farm people alike. Its newspaper the Commercial Record, has a goodvolume of weekly sales (800) and finds little competition from the
Economically, the people depend in a major way upon theresort trade. The farmers have given up their dependency upon fruit trees, andhave transferred to growing produce saleable to the resorters and, within thelast three years, to poultry raising. The great timberlands that once were hereare now depleted. Dependence is upon natural resources, that is, Saugatucksells its beauty and natural facilities such as swimming, beaches, and favorableclimate to the summer resident.
The town has one industry, a twisting factory, and twocrafts: there is one expert boat builder, Carl Bird, and another of the youngtown boys for the last five years has turned out bowls, bracelets, buttons,lamps, etc, out of wood still to be found along the lake dunes.
Saugatuck has one lawyer, two doctors (one old, one young)and one banker. Of these, the banker is the only man who has much authorityor leadership. He is a leader because he wields immense control over thefinancial conditions of the populace because many of the farmers must borrowmoney in the spring, which must be paid back when they harvest in thefall. The banker himself does not act superior, but his wife, and hisdaughter under the mother's influence, are the only "snobs" in thevillage.
Saugatuck itself gives reason for a community survey merelybecause it is a well-organized rural community. However, a more importantreason is because it is a farm-non-farm area which shows no signs of conflict.On the contrary, friendly relations are proudly recognized.
ORGANIZATION OF THE SAUGATUCK COMMUNITY
The friendly relations are easily observed by anyone whoknows the community. The farmers supply all the produce for the village that ispossible, the storekeepers buy neighboring farmers' commodities in preferenceto outsiders. Too, when the farmer sells door-to-door in the village he is notmade to feel inferior, but is made to feel to be a friendly cooperator. Manyfarmers have modernized their homes to "catch" the traveling publicfor short stops. This has given the farmer a feeling of equality, for often afarm home is as nice, or nicer, than a non-farm home. The village also approvesof this, for it helps to hold business for the village entrepreneurs. Farmersand villagers both connive to encourage the resort business. The sign at thevillage limits: "
The resorters offered another opportunity for amiableinterchange between farmer and non-farmer. The resort traveler gave rise to anantique area. There are, in the summer, about seven antique shops in operation.The dealers hold old fashioned Dutch Kaffee Klatches with farm women. The farmwomen can go into neighbor's homes to buy antiques reasonably and they thensell them or trade them to the dealers. Prices are monopolized at theseafternoon coffees. Some of the non-farm women are not mere procurers, but are,themselves, sellers. This relationship too, has done much toward equanimity.
Both, too, provide recreation for the resorter. The farmershelp, manually, if not pecuniarily, to see that shuffleboards, sailboat raceprizes, baseball diamonds, swimming facilities, and all the other amusementsare furnished.
However, upon isolating the community from the resortinfluence, we find this brotherly relation is not broken, but is bound eventighter than an economic cause could bind. Many clubs exist in Saugatuck: theWoman's Club, the Tuesday Club, The Methodist Ladies Aid, the Past MatronsClub, the Book-Knit Club, the Busy Bee Club, the Kaffee Klatch, the Music Club,the Music History Club, the Eastern Star and the Rebekah Lodge.
The Woman's Club is considered the most select. Hence, ifthere were an differentiation or feeling of superiority on the part of thevillage women, this club would have very few farm women, for membership is byinvitation. Of 68 permanent resident members, 24 are farm women. Theother clubs, too, have a large proportion of non-village women. Due to this,there are no farm clubs. There is no Grange, no cooperatives. The village clubssatisfy this need.
For the farm men, too, this is true. The men come into theMasonic Lodge, and the American Legion and the Pokagon Club which holds adulteducational classes after Wednesday night dinners.
Saturday night finds the barbershop, the grocery and thestreet corners crowded with farm and village men, hobnobbing while the women shop.
The village too, offers something cultural to the farmwoman. Musicales, plays, book reviews are given regularly. The social calendaris well-organized. Each week is planned and there are no weeks in whichsomething is not happening. The clubs, of course, meet regularly, theout-of-the-ordinary affairs are planned for Saturday and Sunday when all canattend without deserting their own special group. The club attendance does notnoticeably fluctuate with the seasons. In the winter they go to clubs for recreation,in the summer they go to further their plans to make Saugatuck a successthrough the resort season. All the clubs cooperate together during the summeron bazaars, card parties, art fetes and exhibits, parades and dinners. This wayno one has to neglect one of his clubs for another and bigger results arepossible. The Woman's Club owns their own building and often loans theauditorium to other clubs.
The churches of course sponsor the Ladies Aids which in theminds of the people are "clubs." There are four churches: the FirstCongregational, the Methodist, the Christian Scientist, and the All SaintsEpiscopal. It is noticeable that there is no Catholic church. These is entirelydue to the stable, unchanging Dutch population. The churches, together, have326 members, the majority (93) attending the
Of the membership of the four churches 37 percent are farmpeople. One sign of the churches' farm membership is the fact that there are NOsurrounding rural churches. A community will erect a church whether they canafford it or not, if the need is felt, but evidently this need was not felt inthis rural area.
The farm population also figure greatly in the high schoolcensus. Of 222 school children, the majority (120) are farm children this is tohe explained in that the farmers have more children as a rule and also in thatthe type of farming is not one for which to keep children at home to help, and,too, because the farm people encourage "schooling" up to graduation.
Out of this area 18 young men and women of which eight arefarm children are at present attending colleges. The school is on a Universityaccredited list. Twelve of these attend the
There is no P.T.A. One was established a year ago but died anatural death. No need was felt for it A system of adult education sponsoredby the Kellogg Foundation is given at the high school. On the school boar are abanker, a drug store proprietor, a Justice of the Peace and two farmers.
Excellent library facilities are offered in the way of 3,000books and a large study room. The books are available to farm women and overduefines are waived for them. Books are more circulated o the villagepeople. However, once a book is in the hands of a farm woman it may be loanedarid reloaned by her, before it is returned to the library.
The farm and non-farm groups work together to furnishrecreation and to sponsor community events. The harbor is kept open forvisiting vessels, a beach, tennis and shuffleboard courts, Venetian Nights(decorated boat parades) , a dance pavilion, sailing races, model boatbuilding, baseball diamonds, the Sea Scouts, an annual Christmas tree in theVillage Square, a week long Art Pageant, the planting of many Iris - all backedby the community. The fire department, too, is a community enterprise. It is avolunteer organization. when the bell rings all the men close-by in the village"hop on." The department will answer any call, village or farm.
Here at the mouth of the river was an ideal place forsettlement. There were good pine stands all about and into the interior. therewas a fast moving stream for booming the logs down from the interior and such aplace would make a convenient, easily accessible shipping cart. Then, too, thetopography resembled the
In 1837 a hotel, the Astor House, was built and wasconsidered the finest hotel in the state. A bank which issued its own money wasestablished in 1838; a general store, Carters, came into hems. . Then asthe forest was cut over and as (dams were built upstream for paper mills andlighting plants it became harder to get the available trees downstream.
TRANSITIONS IN SAUGATUCK
After this grouped moved to Saugatuck it became apparentthat tine ills would no longer afford support for the entire population. Mr.Candle, a lawyer, saw this surplus of labor and the possibility that wereopening op for the fruit farmer arid he set out many acres of peach saplings.The rest of the community were soon to follow. The people split into twogroups: those who ere to farm and those who would offer services to thesepeople the business men. Being of Dutch descent these people lived in town ,going cut to harm their land each day.
The mill ran until 1884 and by this time the orchards wereproducing. The fruit business required transportation. . . Water transport wasthe answer. One of the captain of the fruit boats, Captain McVea, was botheredby the waste of coming hack without any carqo. The solution was to bringpassengers back on the return trip. Soon others imitated. This answered theneed of the middle class in
The state road, M-11, when built in 1917 wiped out all boattransportation. Now other farmers inland could compete in the markets which,with road transportation they were closer too, and to which they couldconsequently offer their produce cheaper.
At this time the fruit business lost all except the harderworking farmers. The nature state was erode, the timber was gone, the fieldswere infertile. The smart farmers began fertilizing the soil rotating grasscrops; the other farmers mortgaged their land, harvesting subsistence crops.
M-11 was changed to US. 31 in 1924 and carried traveldirectly through Saugatuck. As transportation and roads were improved Saugatuckexperienced a resort boom. A great dance pavilion was built, beaches werecommercialized and advertised, hotels, tourist rooms, everything, responded tothis resort wave trade.
Since about 1935 the art colonies have begun to replace thestrictly resort atmosphere. Four fine schools, the Greason, the AlfredKrehbiel,
U. S . 31 was rerouted two years ago and now outs offSaugatuck. Since then the town has rallied to reorganize around the resort-artistcombinations. A fine harbor is offered to yachts, swimming accommodations withone of the finest beaches (The Oval), free shuffleboard and tennis courts, artexhibits, pageants, dances musicales - all these things are offered to attractthe traveler.
Saugatuck has gone from a pioneer lumber town throughgradual growth to modern industry. Only one occupation has remained constant:the fishing industry and the associated boat building.
Through all of these stages the farm and non-farm peoplehave been affected, yet each had adjusted to the other and kept friendlyrelationships.
BACKGROUND MAKES FOR FRIENDLY RELATIONS
As can be seen from the history, much of this wellintegrated ecology is a result of the two groups arising out of the sameculture. The parents of each of these groups were originally from
The group was a compact group broadly speaking, and a commonresponsibility was felt. Here was not a clash of interests but rather one bodyof interest all aimed at success, of making this settlement a harmoniouspermanent community. The occupational and economical interest were all aimed atthis one larger goal. The people were fighting for the same things and helpingeach other get there.