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The Society lost a good friend with the passing of Bill Manifold. He helped establish the oral history program by being the camera man for the wonderful life stories of people in our community. He was always enthusiastic about capturing another person’s interesting life for posterity. He was never too busy and would stash cameras, (still and video) some tripods and big portable lights into his truck and set off for the next interview.

Bill had been doing this for many years before he and I teamed up for interviewing in the late nineties. Oral History was a big part of the Society's mission. After awhile we had so many films that the needed to be edited, preserved and in general cherished that these stories led to the development of the Technology group.

Bill was right there to share his great knowledge of photography and cameras. If the Society's cameras were busy he’d use his own equipment. Luckily, Erin Wilkinson and I managed to sit him down and capture the story of his special life. Thankfully, the CD is on the shelves at the OSH.

Bill was a deserved recipient of the 2003 Lorenz Award for his many years of outstanding service to our organization. He was a gentleman of the old school, always kind, interested in life around him and a positive but quiet force as a member of the SDHS.
                                      submitted by Judy Mauger

William H. (Bill) Manifold, age 89, of Saugatuck, passed away Sunday, December 5, 2010 at Hospice House of Holland.

Bill was born July 2, 1921 in Chicago, Illinois to William C. & Rose (Holstrom) Manifold. He was a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII. After the service, he started a photo studio, "Foto House" in Blue Island, Illinois. In 1951, he married Fran Scheidel and had 4 children. In 1962 the family moved to Saugatuck, where for 20 years they owned and operated Pottawattamie Beach on Goshorn Lake. He also worked at Harris Pie, General Electric, and 15 years in the Holland School system, where he retired in 1982 as Custodial and Maintenance Foreman. He was a long time member of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society and the Holland Coin Club. He was always learning and trying new things such as locksmithing, crafts, computers, even roller-blading in his 70’s.

Bill was preceded in death by his son Jim, sister Marjorie Long and brothers Chuck and Bob.

He is survived by Fran, children Alan & Lori Manifold, Peggy & Daryl Manifold-Petsch, John Manifold & Rob Zeller; grandchildren, Hollie Manifold, Alysa & John Hoffman; great grandchildren, Kammryn & Spencer; in-laws, nephews, nieces, and cousins.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, December 11 at Dykstra Funeral Homes-Saugatuck Chapel, 520 Lake Street.

To honor Bill's service in the Army Air Corp in World War II, internment will be near Memorial Weekend or on his birthday in July. Memorial donations may be sent to Hospice of Holland or the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.

For more stories on Bill's life, click HERE.



We are open this weekend December 18 & 19 from 1 to 5 PM for your last minute Holiday shopping.
Located at the Old School House, 130 Center Street, Douglas

Exclusive Museum Gifts

Society Books with special Holiday discounts
Historical Maps & Photographs
New Old School House Coffee Mugs
Afghans with Woven Historical Saugatuck-Douglas Sites
Saugatuck and Douglas Coaster Sets
Society Sweat Shirts and Beach Bags
Notecards and more surprises

Don't forget the special Partridge in a Peach Tree gift cards to support the School House garden project.

Come Visit and Enjoy!

For more information, please contact Jon Helmrich at or call (269) 857-3574.

Thank you for Holiday Shop support and assistance to Sisters in Ink and Trudi Engelbrecht, Van Wieren Hardware in Holland, Reaneee at Saugatuck Florist and Jane Osman


As of December 1 we have completed in-kind donation of the furnishings from Haworth. Recent items include a media cart for the OSH SuperMap computer, file cabinets for the main floor family history room and the office, and four flip top tables for the 2nd floor meeting room.

Previous items were the 50 stacking chairs with carts and furniture for the Tech Center, the archives, the office, and the family history room.

I would like to thank Nicolaas Wilkens, Mary Voss, and Bud Baty who were especially helpful throughout the furnishing process. Thanks to the generosity of the Haworth family, the Old School House has become a viable and stylish  research and meeting facility.
                                    submitted by Steve Hutchins


November 18, 2010

Saugatuck City Council
The City of the Village of Douglas City Council
The Saugatuck Township Board
The Laketown Township Board

 Dear Council Members, Board of Trustees

For the record and your reference, the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Board wishes to provide the various Council Members, Board Trustees with the Society's position regarding development within our communities.

Historic Preface
Saugatuck's Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo River coastal district, including its old and new harbor areas, is an area of roughly 2,000 acres of relatively undisturbed dunes and woodlands which holds a large area of interconnected and identified sites of particular historic and ecological significance.  These sites tell a number of important stories in Michigan and American history, all of which center on the many interactions, over centuries of time, between mankind and the natural environment.  Some of the sites presently contain structures while on others only historic records remain.  Many of the ecological assets of the area remain in their natural state.  Because each site is part of a larger historic space, this collection of sites should be regarded as a single lakeshore historical and ecological entity whereby the sites have full meaning only as a unified whole.

Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Policy on Development
The mission of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is "to provide leadership in enabling the community-at-large to connect with and understand the past, to preserve the quality of community life, and to respect and use the area's history to shape its future."

Accordingly there are a number of historic features in the Saugatuck-Douglas area, both natural and manmade, that the Society believes must be protected and preserved.

While recognizing that development contributes to the economic vitality of our community, its value must be balanced against the economic and social value of our historic landscape.  Thus, it is imperative that all development be approached in such a way as to respect both our human and natural history.

The built environments of our towns and the natural lands, vistas, and historic and archeological sites of the Lake Michigan lakeshore and along the Kalamazoo River are irreplaceable assets.  They are vital to the quality of the community's cultural life as well as its economy.  The Society asserts that any development that devalues the historic townscape, landscape or view sheds, or diminishes our ability to understand or commemorate our varied history, should be considered a “taking” from the people of the region.

The Society urges local, state and federal governments to recognize the significance of these unique historical assets and to protect them from development or activities that would alter the areas character or appearance.

The choices we make today have long-lasting repercussions by which history will judge us.  We must act wisely and with commitment to provide future generations with a strong and meaningful heritage.


The Board of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society
Harold W. Thieda, President


A group of dedicated volunteers for the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, led by James Schmiechen, has designed a lasting tribute for the Gallinipper worthy of its historical importance. The permanent exhibit, Rowing Them Safely Home: Shipwrecks and Lifesaving on the Great Lakes, will be a prominent feature of The Old School House History Center gardens and Back In Time Pathway. It will function as a significant point of interest for the communities, a learning station for generations of school children, and a stunning backdrop for future public and private events in the garden.

The Society has been awarded a federal grant from Museums for America of $47,000 for the construction of the exhibit. In order to accept the grant, the Society must provide a match in private donations - every dollar you donate unlocks another dollar. Please consider becoming a stakeholder in this important project by making a gift.

Click HERE, choose your level of contribution and return the donation card with your check or credit card information to SDHS, Lifesaving Boat Project, PO Box 617, Douglas, MI 49406.

A young boy in Boston named Joseph Francis built his first boat when he was twelve years old. By age fifteen Francis had built the best performing lifesaving boat then known. At twenty-seven, he designed wood lifesaving boats for U. S. Navy warships. Eventually, he designed a revolutionary new kind of boat - a lifeboat completely made from corrugated metal; one that could survive the worst storms and break through deep ice. This metallic boat had large air chambers and a pointed bow and stern, allowing the boat to be rowed forward from either end.

Francis's boat became the standard and was produced at the same shipyards as the later Civil War Ironclads. It soon became the regulation lifeboat on every American ocean-going ship, including the Lusitania, and was used at coastal lifesaving stations, including those on the Great Lakes. Ultimately, the "Francis" lifeboat became the most important lifeboat in American history.

The Saugatuck "Francis" boat arrived at the Saugatuck lighthouse site in 1854 as one of twenty-three provided by the U. S. government to various sites on the Lake Michigan shore. Over time it was left to languish on the lakeshore when in the 1930s it was rediscovered in the lighthouse keeper’s shed, half buried in sand. The boat was then restored by the local Sea Scouts and named Gallinipper, the Indian name for "giant mosquito". Subsequently, without continuing care, it fell once again into disrepair. The boat was finally restored in 2005-2006 by the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.

As one of two remaining Francis boats in America, the Saugatuck boat will soon rest as a memorial to the work of Joseph Francis and the many brave lifesavers of the Great Lakes - and to the many sailors who risked life and fortune during the golden age of Great Lakes transport. The Gallinipper will finally have the home it deserves.


Winter housing is needed for interns (both seniors, one male and one female) from Central Michigan University in the Saugatuck/Douglas area. Would make great house sitters while working to support programs for the Saugatuck Douglas Historic Society and Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

Please respond to Bill Underdown who is coordinating this program for the Society and the SCA at or call Bill at 313- 824-2000.



Joy Muehlenbeck, Jackie Ladwein, and Charlie Hancock

The day after Thanksgiving, a group of volunteers braved sub-freezing temperature to plant daffodil bulbs at the graves of folk with no one to care for them in the area. Original plans to plant a dozen bulbs at a dozen graves was expanded, when HUNTREE donated 18 dozen more bulbs, bring the total plots involved to 30. Joy Muehlenbeck, Jackie Ladwein, Doreen and Nathan Tubergen, Charlie Hancock and Chris Yoder planted daffodils at grave plots in Saugatuck's Riverside cemetery, Douglas, and the Taylor cemetery south of town.

People were selected who either have no living descendants, or whose family has moved away. Some were prominent like: Saugatuck founder William Gay Butler (1799-1857); William (1883-1941) and Alys (1904-1941) Springer- 1930s owners of "Kemah"; and Minnie Breuckman (1869-1934), who donated her home to the Saugatuck Woman's Club.

Lesser known folks honored included: Hotel porter Elmer Haselgren ("Whistling Bill") (1869-1939); Isabella Hull (1829-1902)- A first cousin of Vice President Adlai Stevenson who died at the poor farm; Bird Center resort owners Thomas Benton (1860-1929) and Marie (1861-1949) Dates; and Jessie Viets (1885-1978)- Sea Captain's daughter and "Sweet maiden lady" who "didn't have much, but what she did she gave to others". Last but not least was the unmarked grave of Benjamin John Waugon (c1898-1933) - a "grandson of Chief Pokagon, whose father Leopold deeded to the US Government over 1 million acres of land on which Chicago now stands." Click HERE for the full list.   submitted by Chris Yoder


Warner P. Sutton and wife Lois Andrus Sutton, had one son White, and three daughters, Saida, Ethel and Enid. White received a law degree and went to practice in Hawaii where his brother-in-law William Whitney (Saida's husband) was a judge. Enid married W. F. Swan. Ethel, author of the biographical sketches about her parents, married Carl R. Kimball, Madison, Ohio, who served as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.

Continued from Ethel Sutton Kimball's biographical sketch:

"In Saugatuck, the Bird family were our near neighbors and good friends. White was most friendly with Harry and Carl Bird, and in very recent years Carl has written some incidents that he recalled about Papa. They are very natural, and I quote;
"I doubt you will remember the incident as well as I. I have remembered it because I think it is as fine an example of diplomacy and the use of English as I
have heard. Two years, at
 least, he and Dad and you and I would go upriver (Kalamazoo river) with a flatboat on a wagon. Floating down, we would camp a couple of nights.

"One camp we struck near a farm owned by an old character by the name of Jeff Boyle. Jeff seldom saw anybody, so he came over to visit us and was full of talk, punctuated by a lot of swear words.

"I forgot to mention that we always had an extra person; and this trip it was Wilfred Lindsay, the Congregational minister, a Canadian and as fine-looking a man and personality as I ever knew.

"Most men would have said, 'This man is a preacher, so you had better cut it out.' But your father said, 'Mr. Boyle, this gentleman we have with us is a Minister of God, so the rest of us have refrained from swearing while he is here.' This did not hurt anybody and filled the bill."

Another note from Carl Bird:
"Dad sent me over to ask your Dad if he wanted to go 'upriver' another season.
'No. I have found that the greatest pleasure comes in making out the list of things needed. So, I have decided to make out the list and stay at home."'

Another note from Carl Bird:
"Here is one more story about your father which should be set down to show something of the man he was.
"He had a fine sense of humor, a fine command of English, and loved the few friends he allowed himself to make.
"He sent my Dad a wrack of antlers from a Mexican buck. Dad had a man at the 'yard' (shipyard) make a beautiful walnut shield on which the antlers were mounted, with a few coat-hooks, and hung it in the hall of the 'big house' as a hat-and-coat rack.
"When your Dad came up from Mexico, Dad led him into the front hall to show him the result, with me, the small boy, trailing along behind. After they had admired and discussed the piece, Dad finally asked him, 'Did you shoot the deer?' 'Oh yes, I shot the deer. I paid a Mexican fifty cents for the privilege of saying that I shot him.'
"I have since thought that the short personal contact I had with your father, at an early, impressionable age, had a great influence on my own personality.
"He was gentle and had a soft voice, but behind it all was the command and authority of the schoolmaster which he had been."

 "At an Alumni Banquet, there was an alumna of that first high school class which Papa taught in Saugatuck; she must have been very old; she paid tribute to Professor Sutton using almost the same words that are in Carl Bird's letter -- "His gentle manner, his voice, and his complete command." The full text of Ethel's sketches can be found at the SDHS web site at: Warner Sutton and Lois Sutton.
                                             submitted by Chris Yoder

May Heath - Song Writer

On May 25th of that year, 146 Saugatuck High School Alumni sang her song "Alumni" written for that occasion, to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne". It was published in the Commercial Record on May 31st.

Much better known is the song she copyrighted and had published by the Word Music Publishing Corp., New York on Sept. 1, 1921. The music for her "Saugatuck Song" was written by George Graff, Jr. (1886-1973) author of the lyrics to "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling".

In July, 1928, Saugatuck native William Tisdale, then a cadet at the Naval Academy, wrote to the Commercial Record: "We arrived at New York this morning, and was at a dance in Newport, RI last week where they played "Saugatuck". I immediately thought of Mrs. Heath and the old chain ferry store."       contributed by Chris Yoder

May Frances Heath loved to write. She wrote her book on the history of Saugatuck; she served for 17 years as the local correspondent for the Grand Rapids Press-resigning from this role in March 1940; she took correspondence courses on writing to hone her skills. She also wrote at least three songs heralding the town she loved. The first we know of was written for the Woman's Club and sung at the club meeting 18 Jan 1907 which was held at the home of May's Aunt Jessie Leland. The tune is the old favorite "Beulah Land". If you are reading the on-line edition of this newsletter, have a speaker on your computer and software that plays a ".mid" file, you can hear the music by clicking here


 1st stanza
There is a pretty town I know,
Where the waters of the Kalamazoo flow,
There rest and peace await each one,
Who from the city's strife may run

Oh Saugatuck, dear Saugatuck!
Nestled among the woodside hills,
I love to gaze on azure sky,
And climb the Baldhead mount so high,
And view the village, quaint and pure,
Oh Saugatuck, yes Saugatuck.

 2nd stanza
Here drives we take to the great lake,
The toils and cares of life we shake,
When in the shady walls we roam,
Or build our castles on the loam.


This series on Saugatuck Historian May Francis Heath (MFH) will continue until the 50th anniversary of her death in September, 2011. The MFH Study Group continues to seek information, documents, photographs of May, her paintings, and personal recollections of Mrs. Heath. If you have any to share contact: Chris Yoder at 857-4327 or Marsha Kontio at 616-566-1239.

by Jack Sheridan
(Click on an image for the answer)

HISTORY: Remnants of an old wharf suddenly surface.
MYSTERY: Where was this photo taken?

HISTORY: These portraits were made here in the 1920s.
MYSTERY: Who are these women?


HISTORY: A hotel here was named for the trees..
MYSTERY: What was the name?


HISTORY: The DPW and the power clean up after a 1944 storm.
MYSTERY: Name the location.


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Send check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society to: PO Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406. You can also click HERE for a Society Membership Application.

Send items for the newsletter to: Fred Schmidt, PO Box 617, Douglas MI 49406 or email


The Saugatuck-Historical Museum is located in the historic Pump House at the foot of Mt. Baldhead on the west bank of the Kalamazoo River. The Museum's 2010 exhibit was titled:

"A Place Called Ox-Bow: 100 Years of Connecting Art, Nature, and People"

The Museum is now closed and will reopen in May 2011 with a new exhibit. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and view images of the 2010 exhibit.

The Society's Technology Center is located in the lower level of the Old School House History Center at 130 Center Street in downtown Douglas.

Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901

If you would like to contact us with comments, please email us at or call us at 269-857-5751.
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