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SAUGATUCK-DOUGLAS HISTORICAL SOCIETY | BOX 617 | DOUGLAS, MI 49406 | 269-857-5751 | www.sdhistoricalsociety.org



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Only 60% of the members have renewed their Society membership for 2010. Don't miss out on a great year of events ... RENEW NOW! Click HERE


Mark your new 2010 calendars
Wednesday, February 10, Tell Your Story ---You Are The Program, 7:00 PM, Old School House

Our Feb.10th meeting is going to be very informal! You are going to be the program. Most of our members are new to the area, and it will be interesting to hear how and why we have moved to the Saugatuck-Douglas area. I suspect we will hear some very good stories, and even a few tall tales. Bring any pictures you would like to show to the group. Also bring your friends and neighbors who might be interested in joining the Society. We will crank up the heat at the Old School House, and Alice Haight will have hot coffee and home baked goodies. It should be an informative and fun evening.
submitted by Jane Underwood

Wednesday, March 10, Other Female Artists of the Saugatuck-Douglas Area, 7:00 PM, Old School House

 We are especially looking for biographical information on Olive Williams, Mabel Wheelock and Minnie Harms Neebe as well as images of works by Olive Williams, Mabel Wheelock, Minnie Harms Neebe and Elsa Ulbricht. Contact Ken Kutzel evenings at 269.857.4475 or by email at kkutzel@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 14, Annual Heritage Preservation Awards, 7:00 PM, Old School House


Our 2009 exhibit cost $92,130 in professional services and materials - of this $79,125 was donated. As we look back to the popular "Summertime" exhibit of 2009, we call your attention to the professional services donated to the Museum in 2009 by the following - without which we could not remain as a 'free' museum. The list does not include our on-going non-paid professional research, writing and curatorial volunteers.

Affordable Tree Service & Landscaping, Holland [616-886-9399]
Hillman Associates, Saugatuck [269-857-7197]
Ken Carls Graphic Design, Douglas [kencarls.com]
Sally Withers Graphic Design, Saugatuck [616-928-7488]
Julie Abel Website Design, Saugatuck [www.jabberdesign.com]
Jarzembowski Home Builders, Holland [616-499-2013]
Lakehome Builders, Saugatuck [lakehomebuildersmi.com]
The Nines Gallery, Holland [theninesgallery.com]
Rick Vanderleek+Fairly Painless Design, Holland [fairlypainless.com]
Steve Teich, Interiors, Saugatuck [theteichgroup.com]
Secure ní Safe Security Systems, Fennville [630-701-8242]

Convey your thanks to the above - and extend them your patronage if your have the opportunity. The above does not include, of course, our amazing team of museum hosts which makes it all work so well.

Your support to the Historical Society is a way of saying thanks to all of these dedicated folks. We also extend "Museum Thanks" to the members of Saugatuck-Douglas area business members of SABA and the CVB for their efforts in promoting greater public awareness of the museum exhibition and the museum garden-outdoor exhibit.

We look forward to an even more spectacular 2010. Stay tuned. Jim Schmiechen, Museum Chair


City Hall and Environs - 1910 Sanborn Map

Henry Brady was a partner with his father, Lemuel, in Saugatuck's Brady Insurance Agency. Among the items he has contributed to the Society's archives are Sanborn Insurance maps which provide detail on the buildings in town in 1900, 1910, 1916, and 1928 (with a pasted update to 1953). The earliest issues of these maps are in the public domain and have been posted to the SDHS Online Research Center for some time. The Society has just received permission from the copyright holder to post the later years, and all of the Sanborn maps can now be seen on-line (Click HERE). Our thanks to Mr. Brady!

The Sanborn Company began making fire insurance maps in 1867. Insurance companies used them to determine the liability of a particular building through all the information included on the map; building material, proximity to other buildings and fire departments, the location of gas lines et cetera. The Saugatuck maps vary slightly in area covered between the different years, but each year includes the primary downtown area. The 1916 edition also presents a supplement for Camp Gray - Forward Movement, drawn on a 1 in to 50 ft scale. You can see the location and dimensions of all buildings as they existed at the time of the map.

Other property research references currently available at the "SDHS Online Research Center" include:

1) Selected Saugatuck-Douglas Tax Records ranging from 1880 to 1915
2) Over 900 clippings from the Commercial Record ranging from 1868 through 1903 which relate to buildings being built, added to, torn down or burned down.
3) Other maps including links to city and township plot maps. submitted by Chris Yoder


1950s Saugatuck Policeman Now Sgt At Arms of the US House

In the last newsletter, former Saugatuck Chief of Police Russell Colling wrote about policing in the late 1950s. In his full article, he writes about one of his departmental initiatives:

"A rather unorthodox police activity was performed by the officers themselves, who formed a loose animal shelter type of program. A role of the town police was that of animal wardens and these officers often had the very unpleasant duty of putting the animals to "sleep". What developed was that in many cases the officers would temporarily care for the animal at their homes while they sought the owner or could get someone to "adopt" the animal. A good many animals found new homes. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) learned of this work and presented the department with an honorable mention award."

Officers Livingood, Piatt and Vaneter 

Livingood Today

Each of these officers went on to distinguished careers away from Saugatuck. Wilson "Bill" Livingood had a 33 year career with the U. S. Secret Service, serving at the side of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, and with Richard Nixon in China. He retired after rising to become a top administrator with the Service, and in 1995 was appointed Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives, an office he still holds. Robert Piatt went on to become an executive with State Farm Insurance. Dr. Clifford Van Meter became the Director of the Illinois Police Training Institute at Champaign-Urbana, then in retirement an instructor at Grand Valley State. Dr. Van Meter has since passed on. 
                                          submitted by Chris Yoder



The days are getting shorter and itís time to start planning for the summer season.

You and nine friends could be the lucky winners in the SDHS Cocktail/Dinner Cruise raffle. The afternoon or evening cruise (between Memorial Day and September 30) on the vintage Chris-Craft Mahagra includes cocktails and dinner catered by Butchís of Holland. The raffle drawing will be held at this yearís Pub Party at Coral Gables on Saturday, March 13.

Tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25. Hereís an idea, join with a group of friends and buy the tickets as a group! Hereís where you can purchase tickets:

Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck
Respite in Douglas
At the next two monthly SDHS meetings
By phone - 269 857-5751*
By clicking HERE and then on the "Donate" button*

* You can pay with a credit card if you purchase tickets by phone or on-line.

Bonnie Keller generously donated the cruise, which was originally donated by Matt and Cindy Peterson. All proceeds benefit the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Rules, restrictions and scheduling information is available by calling 269 857-5751.


The Old School House has a new, official name. The Board approved a proposal to designate the building as the "Old School House HISTORY Center" The new name better reflects the purpose and use of the facility.


Robin and Sharon Bauer

We've added a new feature to the Society's web site - Faces of the Society. Click HERE to see those who attended and had a great time at the Holiday Party at the SCA. If you can help identify some of the Mystery Guests, please REPLY to this email and let us know who they are. Thanks and stay tuned for more Faces


Granddaughter of the Man Who Named Saugatuck


It was natural for May Francis Heath to become Saugatuck's first historian. Her grandparents, Stephen A. and Mary Peckham Morrison, were among the first settlers and a "living history" of the town. Morrison had been born in Vermont in 1815 and trained as a tanner. When he arrived in the 1830s there were only 4 other white families in the whole of Saugatuck Township and there were no roads or other marks of civilization.

Morrison bought out the Johonnett and Crosby tanning interests, built a frame house near the tannery, and continually lived in Saugatuck for the next 70 of his 90 years. In his 1907 History of Allegan County, Michigan, Dr. Henry F. Thomas writes: "During the latter thirties, Singapore overshadowed Saugatuck as a commercial center. At one time it was said that the place was almost abandoned of all inhabitants except S. A. Morrison and family." He was a great friend of Saugatuck founder William G. Butler (1799-1857) and when the Butler monument was installed in Riverside Cemetery in 1892, Morrison hosted Butlerís son who came from St. Louis for the dedication.

Morrison held the office of County Treasurer and was Supervisor for more than twenty. President Martin Van Buren appointed him the third postmaster of the village in 1842 and he held that position until President Grantís administration. When the village Post Office was first established it was he who suggested that they call it "Saugatuck", an Indian word meaning "mouth of river".

Morrison built a new tannery building on the river bank between Butler and Griffith streets. He conducted an extensive and successful business for sixty years, retiring about 1892, and was active in community affairs until his final days. His residence, built in 1857, was on the north east corner of Butler and Culver, directly across the street from the town hall. It burned down in 1978.

Stephen married the Singapore schoolteacher, Mary Elizabeth Peckham, in 1842. It was she who told stories to May when she was very young about the experiences she had as a pioneer, with few around except Indians. She may have actually set the seed for May's interest in Saugatuck history.

May was a young mother in her early 30s when her grandfather died, and her interest in his stories of the early days is apparent. She inherited his many papers, diaries, and photo albums, as well as his dedication to the town of Saugatuck.

As we approach the golden anniversary of the death of Saugatuck Historian May Francis Heath (MFH) in September of 1961, the MFH Memorial Committee will be preparing monthly articles for the newsletter to highlight aspects of her history. Anyone interested in contributing to her public memorial is invited to contact Chris Yoder, cyoder@tds.net 857-4327 or Marsha Kontio (616) 566-1239.

Up and down Mt. Baldhead


February 10 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
March 10 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
March 13 Saturday Annual Pub Party
April 14 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center - Heritage Preservation Awards
May 1 Saturday SDHS 101 Training at the OSH History Center
May 12 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center - Installation of Board & Officers/Annual Awards
May 22 Saturday New Museum Hosts Orientation
May 29 Saturday Members' Museum Opening Reception
May 30 Sunday Museum Opens for Season
June 2 Wednesday SABA Museum Reception
June 5 Saturday An Evening at Historic Kemah - Fund Raising Event
June 9 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
June 10 Thursday Bowl-A-Rama at Lakeview Lanes
July 6 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
July 13 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
July 14 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
July 20 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
July 27 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
July 31 Saturday SDHS 101 Training at the OSH History Center
August 3 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
August 10 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
August11 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
August 17 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
August 24 Tuesday Tuesday Talk at the Old School House History Center
September 6 Monday Labor Day - Last Daily Opening for Museum
September 8 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
September 11 Saturday SDHS 101 Training at the OSH History Center
September 18 Saturday Heritage Festival + Gala Fund Raising Event
October 13 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
October 28 Sunday Museum Closes for Season, Volunteers' Thank You Dinner
November 10 Wednesday Monthly Program at the Old School House History Center
December 5 Sunday Holiday Party

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

HISTORY: The Morris Shoe Store occupied the front of Dr. Walker's building and office.
MYSTERY: What is the location?

HISTORY: Dr. Walker served the community for nearly fifty years. He lived in this fine residence.
MYSTERY: Name the Saugatuck corner that is still blessed by this structure?


HISTORY: The building was built originally in the 1870s and enlarged in 1902.
MYSTERY: What has it been used for?


HISTORY: 1930  May Heath and Louise Crawford pose on costume at the Pavilion party.
MYSTERY: What was the occasion?

HISTORY: 1955 - A brand new Mrs. Connie Deam in a historic photo.
MYSTERY: What is going on here?


To become a member or renew your membership select from the following categories:

Individual $30
Household $50
Corporate $150
Historian $250
Life $500
Senior (65+) $20
Senior Household $35
Student $5

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 info@sdhistoricalsociety.org


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 2009 exhibit was titled:

"Summertime: A Century of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore"

The Museum is now closed and will reopen Sunday, May 30, 2010. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and view images of the 2009 exhibit.

The Society's Technology Center has moved to the Old School House.

Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900 (temporarily disconnected)
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901

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