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


JULY  2010

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Mark your calendar

Mt. Baldhead Park

Wednesday, August 11, 6:00 pm at Mt. Baldhead Park
Mark your calendar for our annual picnic. Bring your best culinary creation, appetizer, salad, main dish, or dessert. Also bring a beverage and tableware. After a very good meal, we will have a quiz show with some great prizes!
September meeting to be announced.

Saturday, July 24, 5-8 pm, Still Life Oil Paintings by local artist Cindy Peterson

Cindy Peterson is a classical realism painter who specializes in still lifes. She earned a degree in retail management with a minor in art history from Michigan State University. Cindy began her career in the arts as a skilled printmaker who demonstrated a bold contemporary style. After a successful entry into the art world with printmaking, Cindy shifted her priorities to raising three daughters.

Cindy did, however, continue to kindle her passion for art via classes at the prestigious Ox-Bow Summer School of Art and through tutelage with several local artists. In early 2009, Cindy began studying with classical painter, Thimgan Hayden. Cindy became immediately intrigued by the discipline and human appeal of classical realism and then flourished as a classical realism painter. She discovered her true artistic voice by utilizing natural light, oils, and tools reminiscent of the Old Masters to create exacting representations of every day objects.

Fully emerged from her brief hiatus from the art world, Cindy continues to expand her portfolio in her Saugatuck, Michigan studio. Her work exemplifies her own distinctive style that utilizes soft lighting and brushstrokes, precise observation, simplicity, and visual clarity to inspire still life representations. Influences on her body of work include past masters Chardin and Vermeer, as well as contemporary painters Juliette Aristides and Jacob Collins. Cindy states that, "Above all, I strive for the purest simplicity and then the mystery revealed within it."


Mysteries, Memories & Old Tales
of Saugatuck & Douglas

Tuesday, July 27, Jack’s Photo Mysteries Game by Jack Sheridan sponsored by Ozman Flowers & Firs
Tuesday, August 3, Lost Saugatuck and Douglas Paintings Rediscovered by Ken Kutzel sponsored by Judy Oberholtzer
Tuesday, August 10, Saugatuck & Douglas Area Gay History: A Preview of the Video by Steve Croley & Bridget McCormack  sponsored by Saugatuck Brewing Company
Tuesday, August 17, The Persistence of the Picturesque in Landscape and Memory by E.W. Ross sponsored by James Brandess Studios & Gallery
Tuesday, August 24, Remembering Ox-Bow by Norm Deam sponsored by Button-Petter Gallery




Dixie's Tupperware Party
Starring Dixie Longate


WHERE:   Mason Street Warehouse, in the Bertha Krueger Reid Theatre at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts
WHEN:   8:00 p.m. Friday, July 23
TICKETS:   Available at the MSW office or by calling (269) 857-4898 or may be purchased on-line by clicking HERE.

If you already have tickets for a different date, contact the MSW Box Office at 269.857.4898 to exchange them for July 23, purchase some Tupperware and support the Society.


Saugatuck's Vic Bella and Judy Hillman win top
Historical Society honors.

Judy Hillman has received the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society's top-honor Charles J. Lorenz Award of Achievement for 2010 and Vic Bella has won the Society's Volunteer Of The Year Award. Both are residents of Saugatuck.

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".

Hillman's selection cited her talents and volunteer efforts as principal designer and design team leader for all eight of the Society's Museum exhibits since 2003, and as one of the key persons credited with establishing the Society’s Museum state-wide reputation for exhibition excellence. Her design work on the Society's Museum exhibits have twice received first-place awards from the Michigan Museum Association.

Trained in graphic arts at Western Michigan University, she later became Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Hope College, and has guided the design of books and promotional materials for Hope's De Pree Art Center. A member of the Saugatuck Historic District Commission, she also has served as photographic stylist for Herman Miller, a member of the Holland Area Arts Council, a trustee of the Holland Historical Trust.

The Volunteer Of The Year Award honors outstanding service to the Society during the past year. Candidates are nominated by standing committee chairs, with Board members excluded from eligibility, and winners are selected by majority vote of the Board.

Bella's selection cited his constant readiness to help with The Old School House renovation, Museum exhibit preparation, fund-raising promotions and numerous other Historical Society activities.

His involvement with Saugatuck began with vacationing and sailing here in the 1960s, and after retiring from a 30-year career in public education -- most recently as Director of Counseling and Guidance for the Brandywine Public School System in Niles, Michigan -- he built his home here in 2000. Bella also volunteers as a Disaster Action Team member for the Allegan County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and is a member of the Saugatuck Historic District Commission.


Winifred Cummings

Among several items recently received in the archives is a 1890s autograph book which belonged to Winifred Cummings Walker (1873-1960), wife of beloved Saugatuck doctor Robert J. Walker. It includes 35 inscriptions by her friends from the late 1880s and early 90s (including the young May Francis (Heath) and members of the 1891-92 Saugatuck Union School Class). Young minds turned poetic as they looked forward to life's promise. Examples include:

"Always be truthful, and mind your Ma"
Mae Martel, Douglas Union School, Dec. 16, 1890

 "Passing through life's field of action,
Lest we part before its end,
Take within your modest volume,
This memento from a friend."
Lena Randall, Jan, 17, 1889

"Of all the glorious pictures,
That hang on memory's wall,
There is one of a band of school girls,
That seemeth the best of all."
Florence Beebe, Douglas, 1/14/91

"The past is a dream,
The present a strife,
The future a mystery,
Such is life."
Cora Hollister, South Haven, Mar. 31, 1892

"I wish you health,
I wish you wealth,
I wish you gold in store,
I wish you heaven after death,
What can I wish you more?"
Nellie Seastrum, May 1, 1888

Click HERE to see the full autograph book (and links to biographical information on some of the students)
                                       submitted by Chris Yoder


On Saturday, August 14, 2010, at 1pm, a memorial plaque will be dedicated to honor Saugatuck historian May Francis Heath (1873-1961). The ceremony will be held in the town square and all three of Mrs. Heath's great-grandchildren will be present. Let's have a good turn-out as we honor Mrs. Heath for her invaluable work in preserving and celebrating the history of Saugatuck!

In Honor of Our Storyteller

~ ~ ~
Saugatuck Historian
● Teacher ● Artist ● Civic Leader



Wednesday, July 14 at the Old School House
A Tale of Two Wedding

Jim Hanson presents his family story.
Photo courtesy Chris Yoder.

Eugene J. Hanson and Dorothy L. Audette, August 1940.
Photo courtesy Jim Hanson

Every seat in the Old School House's meeting room was filled for Jim Hanson's "A Tale Of Two Weddings". This extensively-researched family history told the story of his grandparent's and parent's love affair with the Saugatuck area, starting with Harry and "Nettie" Hanson Saugatuck honeymoon in 1910.

Highlights from Jim Hanson's presentation included a beautiful selection of vintage family photos, tales of ancestral Norwegian woman crossing the Atlantic alone, an investment in turkey chicks that took to the trees, and a turtle soup that not even the pigs would touch.

Are you interested in learning more about your family history? Contact Jack Sheridan at 269.857.7144


Our sincere apologies for listing the wrong cell phone number for Secure n Safe, LLC in this year's Society Directory Sponsor Ad. The correct cell phone number is shown below. Please make the correction in your copy of the Directory.


The Society would like to thank the following companies and individuals for their generous gifts and donations to the Society's programs. Your support of these companies would be greatly appreciated.

2010 Tuesday Talk Sponsors
Button-Petter Gallery (sponsor of two Tuesday Talks)
Clearbrook Golf Club & Restaurants
Harbor Duck Adventures
Jane & Al Osman, Osman's Flowers & Firs
Judy Oberholtzer
Saugatuck Brewing Company
James Brandess Studios & Gallery

SDHS Membership Directory Sponsors
Thanks again to the all the advertisers in your 2010 Membership Directory - individuals, businesses and SDHS's marketing partners (Saugatuck/Douglas Business Association - SABA, Mason Street Warehouse and the Saugatuck Center for the Arts).

Lakeshore Lodging, Saugatuck, 866.795.9454 for providing lawn mowing and snow plowing services for the Old School House History Center.

Secure n Safe, commercial and residential alarm systems, 616.405.0635 or 269.561.2305 for donation and on-going service of both the Museum and Old School House alarm systems.

Both Lakeshore Lodging and Secure n Safe are advertisers in the 2010 SDHS Membership Directory.


The second "SDHS 101" session of the year is coming up and is a great chance for new members and interested former members to learn about the Society and the opportunities that it has to offer. There will also be a discussion of this year's exhibit that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Ox-Bow.

The session will be held on Saturday, July 31, at the Old School House beginning at 10:00 a.m. If you are able to attend, please call Nyla Hensley at 269-857-5704 or email noteablenyla@yahoo.com


Volunteers are needed to guide visitors on the Society's summer Walking Tours. You don't need to be an expert, but you must enjoy interacting with visitors who are interested in local history.

Thank you all for participating and providing your opinions, feedback and comments regarding the recent poll sent to you. We would like to share the results with you at this time.

Questions 1: Which programs are of interest and would you like to be actively involved or continue to remain involved?
Museum Exhibit 80.6%
Heritage Weekend 69.4%
Annual Museum Opening Party 58.3%
Monthly Meetings 52.8%
OSH Programs 33.3%
All others 25.0%

Several comments ask what is OSH? It is the Old School House History Center located in Douglas across from the Library.

Question 2: Which programs/events should be top priority? The percentages are from the category "A must".

Walking Tours 83.0%
Heritage Preservation Weekend 82.9%
OSH Programs 81.0%
"About It" Series 56.7%
Trolley Tours 51.0%
"How To" Guide 44.8%
Heritage Preservation Boat Tour 29.4%

Question 3: Of the programs listed which are you willing to be involved in or presently are involved in as a volunteer.

Heritage Preservation Weekend Home Tour

    On the day 51.6%
    Part of planning 9.7%
    Coordinate planning 6.5%
    Start to finish 3.2%
    Participate only 29.0%

Heritage Preservation Boat Tour

    On the day 15.8%
    Part of planning 10.5%
    Participate only 73.7%

Walking Tours

    On the day 20.0%
    Part of planning 6.7%
    Participate only 73.3%

"How To" Guide

    Part of planning 10.0%
    Start to finish 20.0%
    Participate only 60.0%

"About It" Series

    On the day 10.0%
    Part of planning 10.0%
    Start to finish 20.0%
    Participate only 60.0%

OSH Programs

    On the day 23.1%
    Part of planning 7.7%
    Guide the planning 15.4%
    Participate only 53.8%

Question 4: What is the preferred way to get information to you and contact you?

Email 90.9%
Newsletter 38.6%
Telephone 20.0%
SDHS Web Site 25.0%
Snail Mail 13.6%
Facebook 4.5%

All who left their contact information on the survey will be contacted and we thank all of you for your participation and continued support of SDHS. A discussion with the SDHS Board to discuss the next steps is in order.

The Heritage Preservation Group


Mix it up with the Society's Facebook community. Click on

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May Heath and the Saugatuck Centennial of 1930 - Eighty Years Ago This Month

May at the 1930 Centennial Ball

Local residents of mature years may remember the Saugatuck "centennial" of 1968 and the Douglas "centennial" of 1970, which commemorated the formal incorporation of each city. Posters from these events can still be found at the Douglas antique mall.

Forty years earlier, on July 14-15-16, 1930, there was a first centennial. This one celebrated the settlement of the community by William Butler, who arrived here in the fall of 1829. May Heath was General Chairman of the 1930 centennial committee. She instigated the celebration, orchestrated the many events, and even wrote a 228 page local history which was published in time for the celebrations.

In November 1929, May had attended the Van Buren County Centennial in Paw Paw, MI to get ideas for a Saugatuck celebration. On Feb 14, 1930, the Commercial Record reported on a public meeting in the village hall, during which May Heath "was chosen chairman of the meeting and also chairman of the Centennial organization, a wise choice, since she will inspire the whole corps of assistants by her own enthusiasm. She was also given power to appoint all the committees and the several committee chairmen will form an executive committee to formulate and promote a working plan." The July dates were selected to align with the annual Jackson Park (Chicago) Yacht Club regatta on 15 July.

The next month, the paper announced Mrs. Heath was writing "a history of the early days of Saugatuck" and she solicited input from readers. In April, the name became "Saugatuck Centennial and Homecoming" as an emphasis was being given to the return of former residents to the festivities. Chairs were appointed for the following committees: Publicity; Program-Speakers; Program-Music; Band Music; Exhibits; Evening Water Carnival-Boat Races-Venetian Night Parade; Indian Relics; Parade Arrangements; Marking Landmarks; Flower Exhibit; Posters; Float Suggestions; Old Time Pictures; Art Exhibit.

A "Centennial Open Forum" began appearing in the Commercial Record in early April in which Mrs. Heath shared plans, letters from former residents, poems and other items of interest each week leading up to the celebrations. Over 2000 pamphlets were distributed in Chicago at the Motor Boat Show, post cards were available from the Commercial Record office to send announcements to friends and family, and local students competed to produce posters advertising the pending events. The program announced was:

MONDAY, July 14, Morning: Reception and registration, pioneer exhibits and antiques each day at the Village Hall, art exhibit. Afternoon: Columbine Garden Club flower show, ball game between local team and Riordan Drugs. Evening: Old-time costume ball at Big Pavilion. At the old fashion ball, Mrs. Heath was presented with a corsage by Saugatuck mayor Dr. H. Kreager.

TUESDAY, July 15, 10 a.m.: Big Parade of progress; 2 p.m.: Water Carnival, yacht and other races; 7:30 p.m.: Venetian Night parade; 9 p.m.: Fireworks. Fifty-seven floats were registered in the parade.

May Heath on the Heath Float

WEDNESDAY, July 16, Morning: Motor trips; dedication of Jay D. Myers memorial and memorial to old Indian burying ground; 1:30 p.m.: Speaking by prominent statesmen and a musical program at Big Pavilion; 3:00 p.m.: Baseball between the local and House of David teams.

The Monuments Today--Myers, Left; Indian Burial, Right

Florence Brittain, granddaughter of Jay D. Myers (for 21 years the captain of the chain ferry), unveiled his memorial bench; and twelve-year-old Johnson Fox, a member of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians, unveiled the memorial boulder. After college, Florence moved away, married, and died in Florida in 1992. Johnson Fox, after college and military service, lived out his life in Saugatuck and died here in 2009 at the age of 90.

Dr. Frank W. Greiner, who came from Seattle, WA to attend the centennial, wrote: "There are many people who aspire to public leadership with the thought of either honor, profit or position; but of self aggrandizement in some form, Mrs. Heath works with no such thoughts; with her it is simply to bring about the object sought, the good and pleasure of all. To the people of Saugatuck I want to say you are peculiarly fortunate to have her as a citizen. Boost her as she boosted this centennial. She deserves a big place in your hearts."

Honor her, and what she did for the village she loved, by attending the dedication ceremony on August 14, 2010, 1pm, in the Saugatuck Public Square.            submitted by Chris Yoder

For more information about the 1930 Centennial, see the newspaper clipping section of the May Heath Memorial Project window at the SDHS web site. The Pathe Newsreel people were scheduled to film the events, but they had equipment problems in Kalamazoo and returned to Detroit. Do you have any photos in your attic of these celebrations?

Donations are still welcome, for memorial, an eventual small marker for the Treaty Oak, and other programs through Sept. 2011. Make out checks to "The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society" marked for "the May Heath Memorial Fund." We are also still collecting photos of May, of her paintings, and personal recollections from people who knew her. Contact Chris Yoder, cyoder@tds.net (269) 857-4327 or Marsha Kontio (616) 566-1239.

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

HISTORY: Right there in the middle of Kalamazoo Lake. Hard to imagine today.
MYSTERY: What was the dogs name?

HISTORY: An early photo of the scene of Saugatuck's biggest food fight.
MYSTERY: What can you recall?


HISTORY: A busy spot in the history of Saugatuck.
MYSTERY: Where is it?


HISTORY: Looks like it might have been in Shorewood ca 1910.
MYSTERY: A true mystery.


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 2010 exhibit is titled:

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

The Museum is open daily from noon to 4 pm through Labor Day and on weekends during September and October. 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 info@sdhistoricalsociety.org or call us at 269-857-5751.
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