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



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Haven't signed up yet? Not to worry. Just click HERE to download and print a 2010 Holiday Potluck Reservation Card. Fill in the information requested and send it to SDHS, PO Box 617, Douglas, MI 49406



We are open the three Saturdays & Sundays in December from 1 to 5 PM
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

Come Visit and Enjoy!

For more information or to volunteer to help work in the shop, please contact Jon Helmrich at jon@ibctv.info or call (269) 857-3574.


You've heard of bartenders and goal-tenders. We need a nametag-tender.

The Society has a long and beloved history of providing nametags at meetings and events. But without a little supervision, this tradition could fade away.

Would anyone be interested in being the Tender of the Nametags?

Responsibilities are limited to arriving early to monthly meetings and events to assist members in finding their nametags. You do NOT need to know everyone's name. After the meeting or event, you'll spend a few minutes helping members get their tags back into their file boxes safely.

For more information, REPLY to this email contact Sally Winthers at swinthers@frontier.com

Don't be a chicken tender.
Be the SDHS nametag-tender!


Share those special ornaments that are no longer making it to the tree!!

Donate to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society and help us raise money to continue special projects!

Other Vintage Holiday decorations also welcome.

For more information REPLY to this email or contact Marsha Kontio at (616) 566-1239.

Visit the Holiday Gift Shop at the OSH in December and share in the memories or purchase a vintage ornament for 2010.


In preparation for the 2011 exhibit, a team of society members is compiling stories about food in Saugatuck, Douglas and the surrounding villages. Can you help us?

We are looking for recollections about the following topics:

If your family arrived in this area in the settlement days, stories about how they hunted, farmed or prepared food.
Stories about the local fishing, farming, and fruit-growing industries.
Information about foods served on local farms. How families got by during the Depression and the War years. What foods did people preserve? What did kids eat for lunch? What was a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Memories of local sweet treats.
Tales of camping and picnicking. What was served at the camps?
What special foods appeared at parties, social gatherings, and celebrations?
Stories about local restaurants and food-related businesses.

We need images too! Menus, labels, newspaper clippings, photos or drawings of local restaurants, farms, picnickers, celebrations, etc, will all help tell the story of our area’s special relationship with food.

Please send your recollections (or questions) to Sally Winthers at swinthers@frontier.com or call (269) 543-2112.


There are many "orphans" in our local cemeteries with no one to care for them. As a special project, we will be planting daffodils at the stones of a dozen (or more) of these folks whose family have either moved away or died out.

Three people have already been selected, Elmer ("Whistling Bill") Haselgren (1869-1932) and Isabella G. Hull (1829-1902) at Riverside and Jacob Fox (1807-1871) at Douglas.

If you have suggestions for another nine lonely graves to get bulbs, contact Chris Yoder at 857-4327, email cyoder@tds.net. Interments can be viewed through the On-line Research Center on the SDHS web site.

Whistling Bill







Last year's very successful (and fun) Upscale Sale will be back in July 2011. 

This is a reminder to set aside those great items you wish to donate for the sale.  As last year, the sale will feature high-quality items such as antiques, framed art, collectables, jewelry, small-scale furniture, toys and games, housewares and small appliances.  Donation collection will begin next May.

Donating is a great way to support the Society and receive a tax deduction too!

For additional information or questions about what items you can donate, call (269) 857-5751.


Warner P. Sutton was a Saugatuck citizen with a noteworthy diplomatic career. According to May Heath's book:

"Warner P. Sutton was born Oct. 16, 1849. His father, Luther Sutton, and mother, Priscilla Jane Bancroft, of Hartford, Conn., both came of pioneer stock, and settled in Michigan in 1830.

"As a young man Mr. Sutton taught school in Watervliet and Ludington. In 1875 he came to Saugatuck as superintendent of the schools, where he taught three years and graduated the first class in 1878, and that year through his friend, Senator Thomas White Ferry, he received appointment as Consular Agent at Matamoros, Mexico; he later became Consul and then Consul General at Nuevo Laredo. Mexico, serving in these offices for fifteen years, 1878 to 1893, during the terms of Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland and Harrison.

"During the Spanish-American War he served under General Miles in Porto Rico after which he retired, living in Saugatuck at his home "The Beeches". Soon, however, he became an invalid from a stroke and he and Mrs. Sutton went to Madison,, Ohio, where in 1913 he died."

His daughter Ethel Felice Sutton Kimball, wrote biographical sketches about both parents and the SDHS has obtained copies from the Madison Ohio Historical Society. In a 1969 text on her father, Edith wrote of their summer vacations in Saugatuck from Mexico:

"Then, via Chicago and Alton to Chicago; and there by boat across Lake Michigan to a port near Saugatuck and our home, "The Beeches." Papa had bought this place when he was teaching there. He kept it always. It was a place of happiness. Two huge beech trees, said to be two hundred years old, were in the front.

"The Beeches" (now the Beechwood Inn) on Pleasant Street

"The house was on a high bluff overlooking the Kalamazoo Lake with the bridge to Douglas. At the shore of the lake, we kept our boats moored at a little dock: a small motorboat, a St. Lawrence skiff, and a canoe.

"In these boats, we would ride down the winding Kalamazoo River several miles to Lake Michigan. Some of us would walk through the woods and over Bald Head (the highest sand dune). On these walks, we had our lessons in knowing trees and shrubs and plants -- all new to us.

"The summer in Saugatuck was something to dream about when we were in Mexico, and a joyful time to live when we were there. Strawberries, every kind of berry, apples, pears, peaches, and grapes -- no other fruit could compare with the Saugatuck fruit. And in Mexico, looking forward to the trip, the Saugatuck fruit grew larger and more beautiful.

"One event occurred about twice in the summer during the Saugatuck vacations. It stands out above the many other delightful days. Papa would say: "Today I will cook a beefsteak for you!" That was just the beginning: First, we had to go down the hill to the village to Fritz Walz's Butcher Shop. Then Papa went into the cooler, where he selected just the piece that he wanted; then he supervised the cutting and trimming. And we all went back up the hill with our "prize steak."

"It took all of us to wait on Papa: one to get the "spider" (frying pan), another to get one tool, another to bring the seasoning. It was a real production. At last the steak was perfectly cooked and on the platter. The rest of the dinner might be overcooked or cold by that time, but the steak, that was the star we had all anticipated."

"Mama enjoyed cooking, something she never did in Mexico. She had a natural talent. Everything tasted good. We were taught to eat all kinds of food. If we didn't like it, at least we ate a little; and we learned to like most foods."

"In Saugatuck, the Sutton relatives came from Hartford for a visit, also the Andrus families, and many friends. The house was always full and lively. In later years, our college friends came. And there were many interests: fishing, swimming, boating, picnics, etc. It was a happy place to be and to remember."

 (to be continued in the December Newsletter)
                         --- submitted by Chris Yoder

May Heath goes to Florida

Today it's very common for Michiganders to go to Florida or Arizona for the winter. We even have a name for them, "Snowbirds". One hundred years ago, this experience was a rare one.

The November 3, 1905 Commercial Record reported: "Mrs. John Francis and Mrs. D. A. Heath and children, also Ernest Crowe expect to leave Monday for Eustis, Florida, to spend the winter. A large party has been organized by Capt. Coates to make this trip the most of whom will go from Benton Harbor but all in the same special car." Capt. Coates, a long-time Great Lakes ship captain, was May's brother-in-law, having married Doc's sister Florence. They were not the first locals to winter in Florida. Both the A. B. Taylors and the Miller Robinsons had done so.

May wrote a long letter back to her Saugatuck friends which appeared in the Commercial Record, March 2, 1906. She commented on the ideal weather, the cordial locals who had welcomed "people from nearly every state in the Union", and "the many excursions, picnics, fish-frys, home parties and etc.".

A "great freeze" had hit the area in 1895, and May writes about the "grand old places, large 15 and 30 room houses, which were simply deserted, the owners taking what they could and fleeing for the North, for the freeze fell heavily upon this part of Florida. In one night the thermometer fell fifty degrees and thousands of orange groves were ruined ---"

"But Florida is beginning to boom" she writes, and tells of the old places being bought "for a song" by Northerners. One example was a place that had just sold for $800, with 300 acres of land, some timbered, and a large hotel built as a sanitarium at a cost of $90,000.

May was to spend many winters in Florida, keeping an active club life of art and bridge. Each year, she entertained a host of fellow Saugatuck citizens, many of whom were also now among the "Snow-birds". May's final stay in 1961 was in Palm Beach, and among her visitors was Ethel (Sutton) Kimball (daughter of Warner P. Sutton) who had been one of the eight girls who served at her wedding reception, 66 years before.

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: 1967 - Two Hondas on a visit all the way from Yipsilanti. The riders stopped for a photo and a cold drink.
MYSTERY: Can you identify the location?

HISTORY: ca 1920 A totem pole is raised.
MYSTERY: Can you identify the location?


HISTORY: ca 1920 A handy place to stay on the hill in Saugatuck. On Mary and ? it is a home today.
MYSTERY: Do you know the corner?


HISTORY: ca 1910 The bridge and the old swimming hole.
MYSTERY: Do you know the spot?


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 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 info@sdhistoricalsociety.org or call us at 269-857-5751.
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