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


MAY  2010

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Last chance to be listed in the 2010 Society Directory. If you haven't renewed your 2010 membership, better do it NOW or be left on the cutting room floor!


Mark your calendar
Wednesday, June 9, 7:00 pm at the north end of Oval Beach. A naturalist led walk in our Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area.


Come join other SDHS members as we celebrate our new natural area. I am planning to bring a picnic supper for our three naturalists, and suggest you also bring your picnic basket. We will start the walk at 7 PM from the north end of Oval Beach. As of May 17, the entrance fee is $6 if you do not have a beach pass, and members might want to carpool. You can park at Mt. Baldhead. I have asked our city council to allow SDHS members free admission for this one event . We will update you when we hear from the council. Any questions--- call Jane Underwood at 857-2268

Wednesday, July 14, 7:00 pm at the Old School House, A Tale of Two Weddings. Jim Hanson will tell how his family settled in the Saugatuck area 90 years ago.


Saturday, May 22: Museum Hosts' Orientation Training 10:00 AM at the Museum. If you are interested in being a host at the Museum this year, there's still time to volunteer. REPLY to this email or call Bill Hess at (269) 857-1081.
Saturday, May 29: Annual SDHS Members Museum Reception 5:30-8:30 PM at the Museum. Look for additional details soon.
Sunday, May 30: Museum Opens for the Season Noon-4:00 PM Daily through Labor Day. Weekends in September and October


Azalea and Rhododendron
Wonderland Garden Walk


On June 18, 1918, Mrs. Harry Morris of 660 Lake Street, Saugatuck, received an official telegram from the War Department that her son Charles had been killed in action on the battlefields of France. He was the first Saugatuck casualty of the "war to end all wars".

Charles Freshe in France, With His Mother's Gold Star

Private Charles J. Frehse was born in Chicago on Oct. 13, 1893. After his widowed mother married Saugatuck resident Harry Morris in 1907, he and his brother Russell came to Saugatuck to live. He attended Saugatuck schools for 5 years, was a member with his family of the Saugatuck Congregational Church, and played on the Local YMCA Baseball team.

May 1910 Local Y.M.C.A. Baseball Team - Back Row - Russell Frehse, Lyman Sailor, Charles J. Frehse, Earl Van Leun, Hazen Koning; Front Row - Van Rogers, Woodworth Naughtin, Robert Ruley, John Pear, George Sewers.

Charles enlisted on April 8, 1917, two days after Congress declared war on Germany. After 6 or 7 weeks of training at Port Royal, SC, he left for France as a member of the 45th Co, 5th Regt, US Marine Corps. The Frehse family has pictures which show Charles with his fellow marines at St. Nazaire, France (a major unloading point for troops) on Nov. 10 and 14th, 1917.

On June 18, 1918, his name was announced by the War Department as one of 45 servicemen killed in action in the fighting northwest of Chateau-Thierry at Belleau Wood. Charles died Jun. 6, 1918, and is buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France. The Commercial Record wrote at the time: "Thus is a gold star added to our service flag, and if the dead can know, it is certain that Charlie Frehse is proud that his star commemorates his supreme sacrifice."

The following year his mother, Lillian Frehse Morris, published this tribute to her lost son:

Somewhere in France, where duty led,
He fills a patriot grave;
The Lark sings high above his head
Only the lark knows the hallowed bed
Where lies my soldier brave.

Sacred the ground where my soldier sleeps
Who came at his country's call,
Onward the tide of battle sweeps;
Only the lark o'er his bosom weeps
Yet he gave to the world his all.


After the war, Lillian was to visit her son's grave in France with a group of Gold Star Mothers. She was a President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Bruner-Frehse Post (named after her son Charles) and remained active until she died at the age of 91 in 1964. Lillian rests in Riverside Cemetery with her husband Harry. On this Memorial Day, our thoughts and prayers go out to "Gold Star" mothers and families everywhere.    contributed by Chris Yoder

Thanks to Patti Kirk for the photos from the Morris-Frehse Collection, now in the SDHS Archives.

You are invited to
An Evening at Historic Kemah
Space is limited - Last Chance
Please reserve by May 21
Call (269) 857-5751

Danny Esterline, Mike Jones & Greg Trzybinski,
The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Board,
and the evening's sponsors invite you to attend

An Evening at Historic Kemah

A rare opportunity to tour one of Michigan's finest examples of American Arts & Crafts architecture and gardens, to benefit the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society and its programs, including the
Saugatuck Area Gay History Project

Cocktails & Hors d'oeuvres
June 5, 2010 | 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
$130 per person

Kemah | 633 Allegan Street | Saugatuck

Bud Baty & Max Matteson | Duane Brown & Kevin Martin | Ken Carls & Jim Schmiechen
Larry Dark & Vic Bella | Mark Davis | Jon Helmrich & Stephen Mottram | Steve Merouse & Mark Neidlinger

Original Design | 1906 | Thomas Eddy Tallmadge, architect

Re-Design | 1927-32 | Carl Hoerman, architect

 Restoration | 2001-Present | Danny Esterline, Greg Trzybinski, and Mike Jones, owners

Situated high on Allegan Hill overlooking Lake Kalamazoo, this finely restored 1906 Arts & Crafts cottage was re-designed in the 1920s by the important Saugatuck artist-architect Carl Hoerman. A splendid meeting of Arts & Crafts, Prairie Style, and Art Nouveau, with references to the English Cotswold style and Mr. Hoerman's own Bavarian roots, Kemah's architecture is complemented by museum-quality Mission furniture, art pottery, stained glass, and other appropriate appointments.

Mr. Hoerman's 1920s clients were William Springer, a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and his wife, Alys, whose considerable interest in interior design and the arts contributed to Hoerman's vision for Kemah.

The Heritage Preservation Group is please to share its Strategic Plan for 2010-2011. The plan, which was built on former group members comments over the past few months, was unveiled to the Historical Society Board in April and to Society members at the annual meeting on May 12, 2010.

We are very pleased to share this plan, which provides a vision for future growth and a blueprint for using our resources wisely to build a new culture of preservation, sustainability and responsibility.

The plan was drafted over the course of several months this past winter and includes comments from board members, project sponsors, members, and Saugatuck Douglas citizens.

Chief elements of the plan include:
Revised Mission Statement. The Heritage Preservation Group revised mission statement reads, "invites the community to celebrate the local people, places, and events of our past and encourage a sustainable future through education, advocacy, and documentation."

Statement of Core Values. The plan articulates 4 core values, including putting the needs of environmental and cultural sustainability first in order to educate the community in the value of maintaining our history and bridging history with our community's future.

Identification of Three Focus Areas. The plan identities three focus areas where the Heritage Preservation intends to make a significant difference in the next 2-3 years:
1) Educate: Offer education to local schools, residents, businesses, and visitors about the benefits of using heritage preservation tools and resources;
2) Advocate: Advocate for the value of history in sustaining the cultural, natural, and built elements that ensure community continuity; and
3) Document: Document the area's heritage and provide openaccess to this information. Each focus area requires that the Heritage Preservation programs and initiatives work together to achieve common objectives and measurable targets.

Blueprint for Volunteer Participation. The plan creates and foster shared values that strengthen the quality of our programs and ensure volunteer participation. By setting priorities and providing a focus for the future, the plan helps our stakeholders, members, and volunteers plan for the future while also giving them the flexibility to determine and respond to the areas to which they are most interested,

The hard work begins now, as we turn this into a living document in which we work together to achieve important and measurable goals. If you would like to learn more about the Heritage Preservation Group, please contact Jeff Wilcox at jeff@jeffwilcox.com or by phone at (269) 857-4901. submitted by Cameron Campbell


A sneak peak at the new archives room in the lower level of the OSH that your donations made possible! The shelves are up, the boxes have been moved into the room. Now, volunteers are needed to help organize the new space and process both old and new acquisitions. Even a few hours a week are appreciated. Contact Mary Voss at archives@sdhistoricalsociety.org


Wood that has carried countless thousands of visitors up their long climb to the top of Mt. Baldhead soon will start a second life bringing visitors on The Old School House's "Back-In-Time Pathway" to the viewing station that looks out at and tells about our landmark dune.

During the recent construction of a new Mt. Baldhead stairway, a number of weathered but unworn side planks from the old stairway's structural framework were saved by the project's contractor Plaggemars Construction for the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society to use on the Old School House grounds.

Scott Plaggemars (left), of Holland's Plaggemars Construction, and Saugatuck Mayor Barry Johnson stand before the newly opened Mt. Baldhead stairway to show the old stairway's "282" sign, now destined for the Old School House project.

One of the learning stations at the Old School, House "Back-In-Time" path will focus on the history and significance of the Mount Baldhead dune, visible from a raised observation platform at the far northwest corner of the grounds.

A boardwalk approaching this platform is being designed to include a commemorative section using the salvaged planks, along with the "282" sign that was placed at the top of the old stairway to tell visitors how many stairs they climbed.    submitted by John Peters

May Heath Saves the Treaty Oak

One of the many "legends" of May Heath is the story of how she saved the Saugatuck Treaty Oak from being cut down by a crew of workmen.

The Treaty Oak still stands at the corner of Holland and Francis Streets in Saugatuck. It was the reputed site of an agreement between the local Indians and Saugatuck founder William Butler in the 1830s.

About 1896, May and Doc lived at the corner of Butler and Francis streets with their infant daughter Gladys. May had a good view out the kitchen window and saw the cutting crew coming down Holland, leaving stumps in their wake.

May grabbed up the baby and rushed out to defend this living bit of village history. She placed herself in front of the tree and would not let the men approach it. After several hours the workmen felt that the hungry infant would break the impasse. Surely she would go home to feed the child? To their great dismay, this prim Victorian lady proceeded to breast feed the child in that public place, announcing that she would not move for the rest of the day. The workmen knew they had been defeated and they departed. May had saved the tree for us to enjoy today.

Although her great-grandchildren had never heard the tale, May personally told the story to several people including former Allegan County Historical Society chair John Pahl. His audio recollection of May's tale can be heard on the SDHS web site by clicking HERE.                      submitted by Chris Yoder

(Artwork from the 2003 SDHS Museum Exhibit "Tales of the Villages")

The Dedication Ceremony for the May Francis Heath memorial in the town square is planned for Saturday, August 14, 2010. More details to follow. Your donations are still needed for the memorial and also an eventual small marker for the treaty oak. Make out your check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, marked for the "May Heath Memorial Fund". We are also still collecting photos of May, 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.


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 preparing for the 2010 exhibit 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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