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


MARCH  2010

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Still haven't renewed your Society membership for 2010?? We're starting to think about this year's Directory and want to be sure you're included and the Museum Opening Reception for members is just a few weeks away. Don't miss out on a great year of events.  RENEW NOW! Click HERE


Mark your calendar
Wednesday, April 14, Old School House Garden Project, 7:00 PM, Old School House

Come take a walk with landscape designer, Ruth A. Johnson, through the future gardens of the old School House. Learn about peach orchards, natural predator's habitats, schoolyard games of the past and much more. You bring your questions, she'll provide the answers. Discover our history one step at a time.


From March 1996 through October 2008, Kit Lane was the editor of the SDHS Newsletter. She usually added a special historical insert to each issue. The material in these inserts is a treasure trove of local history and remembrances. In addition to the writings of Kit Lane, Bill Kemperman, Helen Gage DeSoto, Jim Schmiechen, Jack Sheridan and many others, the inserts contain many historical letters and diary excerpts.

Chris Yoder has scanned and converted to digital text over 500 pages to prepare them for the SDHS web site. Jack Sheridan is incrementally helping to proof them and to add archival photos which enhance the articles. You can read these fine historical pieces now by clicking HERE

Kit Lane has also prepared a hard-copy set which is indexed and will be available for review at the Old School House research library.


William Chadbourne

Selina Whaley Chadbourne

William Chadbourne was born in Canada in 1811 and moved to New York when he was 19. He came to Michigan in the early 1830s and his obituary reports that he: "... was one of surveying party that laid out the town of Allegan. He helped build the first house and cut the first tree on the island."

He must have returned to New York as he married his wife Selina Whaley there at Attica in 1842. They lived in Attica until 1855 when they moved to Otsego. By 1870 they were in Saugatuck operating a hotel.

The 1870 Saugatuck Census shows William Chadbourne as a hotelkeeper, along with his wife Selina, children Hannah, Selina and Mark. Eleven boarders were living in their residence at that time. We don't know when they began their Saugatuck Hotel keeping, but do know from the Aug. 26, 1871 Lake Shore Commercial (Commercial Record) that the "Chadbourne House" in Saugatuck (apparently the name of his establishment) had "changed hands". The same issue tells that Chadbourne had "opened the Douglas House" on the southeast corner of Center and Washington in Douglas.

Douglas House

The Douglas House had been built in the 1860s by Jonathan Wade, and went through a series of owners and operators. In 1868, W. D. Roberts was the proprietor, G.C. Maxson in 1870, and when Chadbourne was there in 1871 the proprietor was John Ryan. We know that Jervis Kibby took charge of the Douglas House in 1874 at the age of 31 and operated the business for almost 40 years. Fred Schultz took over from Kibby in 1910 and operated it for about 30 years. The building burned in Feb. 1934, but a portion was saved and turned into a residence. Remnants are still in that block after being moved to the south and rebuilt again 3-4 years ago.

We do not know how long Chadbourne was associated with the Douglas House, but the Lake Shore Commercial of Mar 29, 1878 announced he had moved to Cheshire (Township in Allegan Co) "to take charge of a farm belong to his daughter"- apparently an older daughter who had married Covil Olney. Two other daughters married prominent Saugatuck businessmen. Hannah, in 1874, became the second wife of Francis Bogue Wallin, and Lina (Selina) (who opened a Saugatuck millinery business in 1879) in 1881 married Civilian M. Cook. William, his wife, and their son Mark are buried in the Mt. Home Cemetery in Otsego, MI. (Thanks to descendant Pat Claussen for the photos of Wm. & Selina and the SDHS Archives for the photo of the Douglas House).             submitted by Chris Yoder


March 10, 2010 SDHS Meeting at the OSH

SDHS members and guests were treated to a college level course in Saugatuck-Douglas Art History as Ken Kutzel shared humorous yet provocative tidbits on five women artists who spent time at Ox-Bow.

Least known were OEW (Olive E. Williams) and Mabel Louise Wheelock (1887-1950). Christiana Ackermann Hoerman (1887-1986), although not as famous as her husband Carl Hoerman, painted with him. Her florals were stunningly composed. Minnie Harms Neebee’s (1873-1936) dashes of bright colors contrasted with Elsa Ulbricht's (1885-1980) dark and haunting views.

It was interesting to note possible Fursman connections among all five women. As more information is found and documented from local knowledge, the story of art in this area can be told. A study group is working to promote these artists and Ken has also established a fund for the restoration of donated art gifts.

Jane Underwood reminded all of upcoming programs:
April 14 Ruth Johnson will speak on the OSH Gardens
May 12 Annual Meeting, Awards and Installation
June 9 Stroll the Denison Property
                                         submitted by Jane Osman



The lucky winner in the SDHS Cocktail/Dinner Cruise raffle was Peter Alman of Douglas. The afternoon or evening cruise (between Memorial Day and September 30) on the vintage Chris-Craft Mahagra includes cocktails and dinner catered by Butch's of Holland.

Bonnie Keller generously donated the cruise, which was originally donated by Matt & Cindy Peterson. All proceeds will benefit the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.


Invading Saugatuck: What are these folks lining up for?

A Heads Up From the Museum

Check out these two opportunities:
For the upcoming museum exhibition "A Place Called Ox-Bow", we are looking for photographs, memorabilia, recollections relative to your connections to the Ox-Bow School of Painting of Saugatuck. Give curator Jim Schmiechen a call on 269-414-9199 or 269-857-5605 or send an email at  James.Schmiechen@cmich.edu
Join the fun and learning experience as a 2010 Exhibition host by calling Jim (see above) or Bill Hess at 269-857-1081 or email at wwh71@comcast.net

SDHS 101

Plans for this year's "SDHS 101" sessions are already in progress, with the first session planned for Saturday, May 1st, at the Old School House, beginning at 10:00 a.m. New, former and current members are welcome!

Additional programs will be held on July 31st and September 11th. The meetings are designed to learn about the history of our award-winning organization and the opportunities that it has to offer. This is a wonderful chance to meet our new members and discover talents that can benefit the Society. If you have any questions or plan to attend, contact Nyla Hensley at (269) 857-5704 or by email at noteablenyla@yahoo.com

May Heath and the Saugatuck High School Alumni Association


The June 8, 1894 Lake Shore Commercial (Commercial Record) announced that the graduates of Saugatuck High School had formed an Alumni Association! The president was Minnie Breuckman, the vice president was 21-year-old May Francis Heath, G. B. Pride the secretary and Mrs. M. Robinson the treasurer. May was to remain active in this group for the remainder of her life.

When the Alumni Banquet was held in 1899, May hosted it in her own home, with "covers laid for fifty" people. She was selected as the association president for the following year. A copy of the 33rd anniversary program from 1926 shows her son Francis (aka "Ted") Heath was the group's president, but by that time the banquet had migrated to the Hotel Butler.

In 1958, when they celebrated the 65th Annual Banquet, there were 120 in attendance. At that time May celebrated the end of her 40th year as alumni association secretary, and president Bud Edgcomb presented her with "a corsage of orchids as a tribute to her years of loving labor for the Alumni."

The1958 news article covering this event reported:

"Nearly 1,000 graduates have received diplomas from Saugatuck high school, and more that 50 per cent have gone on to higher education, which is quite unusual for a town the size of Saugatuck."

Officers selected that year included Jerry Bale as president; Larry Jones vice president; Mrs. Heath as secretary; and Henry Brady as treasurer.

Surprisingly enough, SDHS photo historian Jack Sheridan was unable to find any photos in the archives of SHS Alumni Association Activities. Can any of our readers supply some?         submitted by Chris Yoder

Donations toward the May Francis Heath memorial may be made out to "The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society" marked for "the May Heath Memorial Fund." We are still collecting photos of May, of her paintings, and personal recollections from people who knew her. Contact Chris Yoder, cyoder@tds.net or  269-857-4327 or Marsha Kontio 616-566-1239.


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 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
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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