UPSCALE SALE EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
Last weekend's first Upscale Sale was a
huge hit. The more than $7,000 (with more to come) profit will be
used for the Society's mission-related projects -- the Old School
House Discovery Center and the Saugatuck-Douglas Museum. The success
of the project was due to both the quality and quantity of donations
made by both Society and community members. Thanks to all our donors
for your support.
The Friday evening Preview Party and
Sale was a fun and successful event even though the weather did not
cooperate. Saturday's weather and crowd of shoppers were
outstanding. Special thanks to the great team who lead this project
- Vic Bella, Judy Anthrop, Janet Schmidt, Peg Sanford, John Peters,
Tony Vettori, Fred Schmidt, Nancy Woods, Steve Hutchins and Bill
Hess. A special call-out to Sally Winthers who developed the
graphics for the event.
● Wednesday, August 12,
Annual Potluck Picnic at Mt. Baldhead Park. Chips and dips at 6 PM,
dinner at 6:30. Please bring your best culinary creation for the
buffet table and your own tableware. After dinner we are going to
have a surprise! Any questions, call Jane at 857-2268.
Wednesday, September 9, 7 PM at the Old School House. Old Time
Cottage Life in the Saugatuck-Douglas area as remembered by some old
cottagers. Come and hear about the trials and joys of living in an
● Wednesday, October 14,
7 PM at the Old School House. Program to be announced.
Tuesday 'Til Noon talks
continue promptly at 11 AM every Tuesday through August at the Old
School House. The 2009 season focuses on "Summertime - A
Century of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore".
July 28 - The life and times of the Lake Park Trailer Camp along the
shore of Lake Michigan south of Pier Cove in Ganges Township is the
subject of a presentation by its founder, Harv Busscher.
Busscher, one of the area's best known
contractors and a fine story-teller, will relate how the camp grew
up out of an abandoned gravel pit business to become an interesting
summertime community with summer residents from all over the United
States (and beyond).
August 4 - Few people know as much of the history of Saugatuck's
Ox-Bow Summer School of Painting and the Arts than Judy Anthrop, the
author of a new book on Ox-Bow. This week Judy will tell about the
people who lived in the many artist and student cottages - and
shaped the structures to reflect their artistic whims and lives.
This is truly a set of 'inside'
stories. Some may recall several years ago when Judy, along with Kay
Smalley, presented a lively Tuesday Talk on the so-called sheriff of
Ox-Bow, Mary Kay Beatles.
August 11 - James Cook is a well-known professional photographer who
has captured the Lake Michigan shore and all facets of its human and
ecological life in spectacular form. Here he will use his camera to
show how photography allows us to look at our landscape in new ways
- indeed bringing up the fact that photography is a way for us to
form memory. See example below.
August 18 - Pete Mathews sketches out some of the highlights of one
of the area's most forgotten local industries, that of commercial
fishing, and how and why it went into decline in the decades
following World War Two - and how it was replaced by a new industry,
that of sport fishing. What were the conditions that led to this
change and who were its winners and losers? Mathews is the vice
president of the South Haven Maritime Museum.
August 25 - Bill Plium spent much of his 1950s childhood and then
teen and college years at Oval Beach as an observer of the social
life of this, one of Michigan's most famous beaches. His parents
were the originators of the beach’s concession business, first in a
small trailer built by his Dad and then in a series of beach houses.
In this enterprise, they invented a
food and drink menu that today is a virtual food history of the
1950s - as well witnessed the 'golden age' of Saugatuck's beach
life, complete with all sorts of characters [e.g. Grover Stout,
known as "Mayor of the Beach"] as well as the 1950s and 1960s when
the Oval Beach was invaded by teems of young people to make it
Michigan's Ft. Lauderdale.
NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
The Society recently acquired a signed May Heath painting. The date
on the back is 1956. Two other paintings, not signed, are also
possibly attributed to her.
submitted by Mary Voss
A note to our faithful volunteers:
It's hard to believe that more than half the year has already gone
by. Looking over the volunteer hours data I realized that many of
you have not been faithful in reporting your time. Please look over
your calendar and try to remember all the time and effort that you
have spent on behalf of the Society.
Were you involved with the Pub Party and Bowling fund raiser? How
about the recent successful Upscale Garage Sale? Are you now, or
were you earlier this year, part of a planning committee for the
Museum exhibit or the Old School House pathway project? All those
hours count up. Grant awarding organizations look at those hours to
determine the interest the community has in supporting a museum.
Just an estimate is fine, most of our memories are pretty short when
it comes to giving away our time. Please send those hours to
PS: All the volunteer hosting hours at the museum are turned in by
Bill Hess so those don't need to be sent in.
Since I am now taking on more duties in the Archives Department I am
looking for a volunteer who would be willing to take over the task
of recording hours. It can easily be done from your home computer.
Contact me, Mary Voss, at
for more information.
submitted by Mary Voss
MUSEUM ATTENDANCE CONTINUES RECORD PACE
Visitors from all over the US and the world - England, Germany,
Vietnam, Sweden, the Bahamas, to name a few - are experiencing
"Summertime" at the Saugatuck-Douglas Museum. Attendance is up over
40% this year. All components of this year's exhibit are being
praised. Kids specially love the "Summertime Post Office" where they
can make their own post cards. Some young artists send their
creations to friends and relatives back home, while others post it
at the Museum as a reminder of their visit. Super Map continues to
be a crowd pleaser, as well.
If you haven't volunteered to be a host at the Museum, consider it.
Its a fun, rewarding experience to meet the many interesting
visitors and add to your knowledge of the area's history. Contact
Bill Hess at (269) 857-1081 or by e-mail at
learn how to sign-up
LITTLE BIG TOP
Sunday, July 5, 2009 Holland Sentinel written by Jim Hayden. Bob and
Kay Sapita are members of the Society
Outside the big top of the Al G. Barnes Circus, the band wagon,
pulled by eight horses, slowly slides by.
Under the canvas, the Girl Scouts stare, transfixed by the lion
walking the tightrope.
Trapeze artists swing to the top of the tent. There is no fear
because the safety net is taut.
Bob Sapita knows - the Douglas man tied the tiny ropes himself. And
his dad built the big top scene from the ground up.
Now hundreds of people will get to see the miniature circus world at
the Circus Model Builders International convention in Peru, Ind., at
the end of the month.
"This is American history," said Kay Sapita, Bob's wife. "This is
recreated from pictures, photos, newspaper articles. It's all based
Bob had the one-quarter-inch scale model of a 1930s circus spread
out on its 10-foot-by-20-foot platform in his garage last week,
checking out a million details, from the chain driving the parade to
the motors twirling the acrobats.
The miniature world started with that love of detail. Bob's father,
John, began building model circus wagons in the 1940s. The elder
Sapita, who retired from Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania as an
engineer, was not a circus performer but grew up near circus
grounds. He applied his eye for mechanical detail to building scale
models of circus wagons. John was inducted into the Circus Model
Builder's Hall of Fame in recognition of his skill as a model
"Dad was building with these kits, but the kits were just a little
off scale," Kay said about her father-in-law's early hobby. So, he
scrapped the kits and started building from scratch.
The to-scale red wagons in the display are alive with details such
as metal racks on the side of the vehicle that held table tops and
individually painted spokes in the wheels.
His favorite circus wagons came from the Barnes show. "The Al G.
Barnes were very rugged wagons. He liked that," said Bob, a retired
Before his death in 2002, John had built more than 500 wagons
representing several circuses, carnivals and wild west shows.
John's attention to accuracy permeates the large display. His son, a
circus fan but, he laughs, not a fanatic, points to hidden
craftsmanship with a flair of a P.T. Barnum.
"This is how the roustabouts lived in a flea-infested bed," Bob said
as he lifted the roof off a circus rail car.
He pointed to the miniature map on the rail car wall and the slot
machine tucked away in a corner of the car.
Farther down, posters entice townies to visit the bearded lady and
watch the sword swallower - and, yes, the sword moves.
"It takes a lot of time to set up," Bob added. The display is
already back in storage for the trip to Indiana. The Sapitas are
hoping to display the circus locally in the future. They have lived
in Douglas for three years. Kay is a retired church organist/music
Another "SDHS 101" is coming up! New members, as well as former
members, are invited to attend an informational meeting concerning
the Society's history, programs, and opportunities for volunteering.
The session will be held at the Old School House Discovery Center at
10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 22nd. If you plan to participate,
please call Nyla Hensley at email
or call 269-857-5704.
ANCESTRY.COM AT THE LIBRARY
The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library is pleased to offer the
Ancestry database to patrons researching genealogy or local history.
Ancestry is the largest online genealogy resource available with
over 4000 complete databases and 4 billion names from the US and
around the world. In addition, Ancestry includes census data of
maps, military, immigration, DAR records and slave stories with new
content entered every week.
The Ancestry subscription requires that access be limited to
in-Library patrons, but the service is available to all. Patrons can
use library terminals, including wireless, for complete access to
the database. Staff at the Library is on hand to assist access. Stop
by and check it out.
The Library is located at the corner of Mixer and Center Streets in
Douglas just across from the Old School House. Hours are M-Th 10-8,
Fr 10-6, Sa 10-2, Su 1-4
SAUGATUCK WOMAN MARRIED TO
The Oct. 12, 1894 issue of the Commercial Record reported a claim
that a former Saugatuck resident was the first wife of the late
financier and “Robber Barron” Jay Gould (1836-1892). Sarah Ann Brown
had lived in Saugatuck in a small cottage by the ferry about 1880-82
under the name of Mrs. Youngpeter. She supposedly was briefly
married as a young girl to Mr. Gould, with the product being a
daughter, born after a divorce and never revealed to Mr. Gould.
Sarah Ann Angell
It took a couple years for the issue to reach the courts. An 1897
New York Times article gives details of an affidavit by the reputed
daughter's husband, J. F. Pierce, a printer, coal miner and populist
politician of Rock Springs, Wyoming:
"My wife is the oldest and only legitimate child of the late Jay
Gould. Her mother was Sarah Ann Brown of Rouse's Point, Clinton
County, N.Y. She was married to Jay Gould on May 16, 1853, in New
York City. It was a child marriage, Jay Gould lacking a few days of
eighteen years of age, and Miss Brown being only a little past
fifteen years. The child, now Mrs. Pierce, was born when her mother
was only a little past sixteen years of age. Mr. Gould and his wife
were incompatible, and separated before the birth of the girl on
Feb. 15, 1854.” Pierce goes on to tell how the mother returned to
Rouse's Point, calling herself "Mrs. Brown", but being a Catholic,
never applied for a divorce. After Gould's marriage in 1856, Sarah
Ann gave the baby over for adoption to a family named Morton. In
1866 the Mortons moved to Hamilton, MO. Pierce writes. "The
grandmother of my wife, I understand, is still living, her home
being in Saugatuck, Michigan."
The April. 9, 1897 issue of the Commercial Record reports:
"Attorneys for the heirs of Mary (Sarah) Ann (Brown) Angell, who
claims to have been the lawful wife of the late Jay Gould, have been
here several times during the past winter, trying to secure evidence
from her relatives to use in the pending law suit in which they
endeavor to secure a share of the Gould estate. The woman lived here
several years ago and has relatives at this place and at Douglas.”
Involved in pushing this claim and in seeking money from the Gould
estate was a Mrs. Cody of Denver, CO. Mrs. Angell eventually changed
her story and denied her marriage to Gould, but Mrs. Cody was
charged with blackmail and convicted in 1899.
The Commercial Record article of 1894 lists local relatives of Miss
Sarah Ann Brown Angell as J. H. Brown of Saugatuck (1830 Rouses
Point, NY-1910 Saugatuck) and Mrs. A. W. (Frances Brown) Walker
(1846-1924 Douglas). These two were the children of Mrs. Emily Brown
(1818 Rouse’s Point, NY-1900 Saugatuck), who we can assume was the
grandmother of Mrs. Pierce.
submitted by Chris Yoder
July 4th 2009 was the 100th birthday of the
opening of the Big Pavilion