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



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Another summer season has ended and I want to thank all the volunteers that have made this an outstanding summer for the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.

The museum, our major summer project each year, is on its way to setting a new record for attendance. The Tuesday Talks continue to be extremely popular with over 800 in attendance. Over 150 people took the walking tours this July and August.

The Kemah fundraiser in June was a huge success. The Heritage Tour of Ox-Bow was very well attended, in spite of rain. Sally Winthers and Kristi Mueller and their committee, along with all the volunteers, gave our guests a once in a lifetime chance to see the Ox-Bow School of Arts and Artists' Residency. Thanks to Jason Kalajainen, Executive Director, the Ox-Bow Board of Directors and the Chicago Art Institute for allowing the Society this wonderful chance to show off one of the historical treasures of Saugatuck, and to see Ox-Bow as few people get to see it. It is100 years old and going strong.

The Old School House is almost complete on the inside and we have full use of all the rooms. Work has started on the outside gardens with the sprinklers completed in the front as well as grass seeding to take advantage of the fall growing season. The Society has received a $47,000 grant from the Museums For America for the Francis Life Boat Pavilion. This grant is a matching grant so your society will be raising monies over the next year to complete this important project.

Your society is looking forward to an active fall and winter. I hope you have sent your response in for Dining Around Town, a palatable fundraiser, being chaired by Judi Vanderbeck. It promises to be a very special evening. A "Thank You Chili Dinner" for all volunteers is scheduled for Sunday, October 31. A number of your board members will be coming in costume and there will be a pumpkin carving contest (and your president plans on winning). And in closing, remember to mark your calendar for our Christmas Party at the SCA on Sunday, December 5.
                               submitted by Harold Thieda


Mark your calendar

Wednesday, October 13, 7PM at Old School House. Annual Heritage Preservation Awards.
Wednesday, November10,  The Past, Present and Future??? of The Presbyterian Camps. More details in October


The Holland Sentinel, September 20, 2010

Nancy Budd & Dottie Lyon ringing the Old School
House Bell, Aug. 14, 2008

Holland, MI - Nancy Johnson Budd, age 88, of Holland, passed away peacefully August 23, 2010, after a brief illness. She was a resident of Freedom Village. Nancy was born and lived most of her life in Hinsdale, IL. She attended SMU and the University of Miami, received her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from
George Williams, and worked for Catholic Charities in the Chicago area. After retiring, Nancy moved to Holland to be closer to her favorite place, her summer cottage in Shorewood. She wrote and published histories of the Lakeshore Chapel in Douglas, Shorewood in Saugatuck and the Douglas Union School. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Colonial Dames.

Nancy was predeceased by her parents, Ernest and Elizabeth Johnson of Hinsdale, IL; niece, Nancy Mitchell; and nephew, Peter Mitchell. She is survived by her sister, Martha Mitchell of Holland and Saugatuck; son, Scott Redmon (Phyllis) of Southwest Harbor, ME; nephews, David Mitchell of Canyon, TX, and Mark Mitchell (Chriss) of Reno, NV; nieces, Alex Mitchell of Reno, NV, and Kelly Mitchell of Atlanta, GA.

Nancy wrote "I leave with the hope that my existence has been justified by having touched the lives of others in such a way that the scales are tipped by friendship, goodness, and love." She truly believed in and lived by "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". A memorial service will be at Lakeshore Chapel in Douglas next summer. She will be missed.


Greg Raymond, of Ecogardens (Chicago)
spent the holiday on a "bobcat" stripping turf.

Tyson VanDam, foreground, and Brian Johnson, of Winchel Irrigation (Grandville) bore beneath walkway and pull sprinkler system tubing through.

Labor Day week was a week of labor at The Old School House in Douglas. Outside, the yard was stripped of turf and rough-graded in preparation for lawn development, then a sprinkler irrigation system was installed, while inside the front entry, work began on a glass vestibule enclosure that incorporates etched panels recognizing the many donors whose contributions have supported the project to-date.

Joe VanderPloeg, foreground, and son Duane, of Lakeshore Glass & Metals (Zeeland) align etched-glass donor wall panel.

SDHS 101

Reminder - The final SDHS 101 session for this year has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 25. It will be held at the Old School House, beginning at 10 a.m., lasting about an hour.

New and former members are invited to attend and discover how valuable our Society and its history are to our community. If you plan to attend, email noteablenyla@yahoo.com or call 269-857-5704.

Saugatuck Douglas Art Club Calendars since 1966

In 1965, Claire Allen of the Saugatuck Douglas Art Club had an idea. The Club would produce an annual calendar, featuring black and white drawings of local scenes by local artists, and this would help generate funds for the Art Club’s activities.

From the 1973 calendar by Jane Van Dis

That first calendar (for the year 1966) had a calendar page (and drawing) for each half-month, for a total of 25 drawings. Among the contributors that first year were Allen, Ruth Turner, Alyce Bartz, Fred Stearns, Peggy Boyce, Pauly Brockington, and Jane Van Dis.

Forty-four years later, the Art Club still is publishing its annual calendar. At $6 a copy, it doesn’t generate a great deal of revenue for the Club, but members still annually produce their calendar pictures, preserving aspects of the local scene, some homely, some spectacular, just like our community. The 2011 calendar, available now at several local stores, features a cover by Collette Snydacker and calendar drawings by Boyce, Brockington and Van Dis, among others.

This year, we set out to record the history of the calendars. We had to gather up copies of all the years and scan a digital copy of each calendar drawing. Jack Sheridan of the Historical Society had digitized some of the calendars some years back. Peggy Boyce made her (nearly) complete file of the calendars available for the copying, and the ones Peggy didn’t have, Jane Van Dis found. A review of popular themes and favorite artists was presented by Peggy at an Art Club meeting in June.

A total of 791 drawings have been published in the calendars since 1966. Drawings have been duplicated, however, either accidentally, or intentionally. Peggy Boyce, long time calendar chair, has taken to writing the month of publication on the back of the originals when she gives them back to the artists, to try to avoid the accidental duplications. Intentional duplications include the 1986 calendar which showed a "best of" selection for the calendar's twentieth anniversary. The number of unique drawings published, through 2011, is 752.

Among the artists who contributed the most drawings through the years are Sylvia Randolph with 59, Jane Van Dis with 54, Peggy Boyce with 52, Cathie Moore with 45, and Pauly Brockington with 44. Among specific subjects, the most popularly depicted include Peterson Mill (14 drawings), various views of Butler Street (13 drawings), Mount Baldhead (10 drawings), the SS Keewatin (10 drawings), and West Shore Golf Course, Oval Beach, and Pier Cover (each with 8 drawings). Of course, there are a lot of drawings of the Lake, or of the river, or of woods, or of farms, as well.

What did we learn from a review of how a group of local artists saw our familiar landscape over the years? The area has changed. In the early years some of the most picturesque scenes that artists tried to render were the activities around boat building and fishing - including boat building yards and reels of fishing nets. Today's artist is more than likely depicting a view of Kalamazoo Lake that might include condo buildings in the background. It's a pleasure too to look at some of the landmarks we no longer have - the Pavilion, the Britton House, or even the root beer barrel - as the artist saw them in an earlier year. Some things they drew don't change though - the edge of Mount Baldhead against the sky, or the broad sweep of the Lake opposite the dunes along the coast, as viewed from Oval Beach.                 submitted by Jim Hanson

A SERIES - May Heath: Business Woman

Ferry Store about 1920

Perhaps because as a girl she had to delay her education to help support an impoverished family, May was a very hard worker and thrived in the business arena. She once wrote "When asked if I had a hobby, I replied 'Yes I have two, Business and Writing, both of which I really love.'"

"In 1917, I moved the Heath Shop (Now the Ferry Store) across the river and had a wonderful lucrative summer business for six years- Mr. Heath having the Boat Business across the river on the village side. " The Commercial Record of June 7, 1917 reported "A concession has been opened in the Heath boat house at the west side of the ferry landing". May's little account book shows the opening of "The Little Handy Shop" on June 1st, and her first day sales were $1.80. First year sales totaled- $1856. That year the shop closed on Sept. 16th. In October it was reported that August Pfaff had completed an addition "to Mrs. D. A. Heath's store in Baldhead Park". Sales in 1918 totaled- $3,129; in 1919- $5,808; and in 1920- $7,623.

The Commercial Record in Jun 3, 1921 reported that Mrs. Heath had rented the Heath Shop to Henry Baker for the summer. No sales records are logged into May's little book for that year. In 1922, however, she lists sales May-Sept of $4,895.

Nothing is shown for 1923. In the Mar. 7, 1924 Commercial Record it was announced that the Heath Real Estate and Exchange Agency had been formed and that their offices were on the second floor of the Heath block, over Bird's drug store.

May writes "We sold out --- and opened a Real Estate office and we had a most successful business for 25 years selling the town over and over again" until the death of her husband Doc 1947.

She apparently did not slow down in "selling the town over and over again", for on her birthday May 13, 1949, she wrote that she was "ambitious (?crazy) to sell real estate" and that she was "working on my 3rd sale this year - pretty good for an old woman of 76".

Have you seen the Art Poles at the 2010 Historical Society Museum Exhibit?
Click HERE for details.


Saturday, September 18 Heritage Festival

Despite two spells of rain, the Ox-Bow tour volunteers pulled together to make the event a success.

Volunteer guide Dick Lucier (with folded umbrella tucked under his arm) gathers his tour group. John Sanford (in yellow rain slicker) can be seen in the distance.

Tour goers observed sculptor Jill Lareaux (of the Peachbelt Studio in Fennville) at work. Rain forced the artist to take shelter in the Ox-Bow Inn's North porch.

Jim Birkes (far left) recounts tales of the "Sheriff of Ox-Bow" for tour goers.

Jane Underwood (above) told the story of the Norton Cottage while Kay Smalley was busily guiding groups around the Ox-Bow campus.

Vic Bella and Judy Hillman on a coffee break outside the new Metternich Lodge. Schuil Coffee provided coffee, Clearbrook Golf Club & Restaurants provided a massive tray of fresh fruit and cheese, and Vander Veens Dutch Store provided cookies to recharge both tour goers and volunteers. Joanne Gilliam baked 300 "Happy Birthday Ox-Bow" cupcakes.

Tour goers learn about the Burials that are scattered across Ox-Bow.

Patti Birkes (left, in navy raincoat) tells about the Ceramics studio. Note the index cards in Patti's hand. Every one of the tour's site hosts made a special effort to give informative and entertaining presentations.

Cloudy skies; bright spirits. Tour goers and tour volunteers took the rainy weather in stride.

THANK YOU to all the volunteers who made the 2010 Heritage Festival Ox-Bow Tour a success --- Kristi Baker-Mueller, Charlie Terry, Fran VanHowe, Judy Anthrop, Bill Hess, Fred Schmidt, Steve Hutchins, Alyssa Fisher, John Peters, Judi Vanderbeck, Howard Vanderbeck, Mort VanHowe, Kathy Sturm, Dottie Lyon and Ed Kelly. Tour Guides: Kay Smalley, Sandra Thieda, Priscilla Lynch, Jim Searing, Marylynn Webster, Brenda Chambers, George Schumann, Barbara Lucier, Dick Lucier, Mary Pat Carollo and Tony Carollo. Site Hosts: John Sanford, Harold Thieda, Peg Sanford, Dawn Schumann, Jim Birkes, Jim Schmiechen, Jane Underwood, Kathleen Markland, Vic Bella, Mike Van Meter, Judy Hillman, Randy Chambers and Patty Birkes. Crow’s Nest Hike Guides: James Cook, Kat Cook and Linda Charvat. Plein Air Artists: Holly Leo, Dawn Stafford, Jill Lareaux, David Baker, Roy Brown and Sheryl Drenth

and to the event sponsors:
Bill Underdown, Shoreline Realtors
Button-Petter Gallery
Vander Veen's Dutch Store
Water Street Gallery
Hidden Garden Cottages & Suites
International Home
Janie and Jim Flemming
Janet and Fred Schmidt
Serendipity B&B
Sweetwater Sailing
                                      Submitted by Sally Winthers

Enter for your chance to win a dinner for eight (you and seven friends, age 21 and over) at Saugatuck's historic Park House Inn, planned for late autumn on a mutually agreeable weekend.

While nibbling hors d’oeuvres, sipping featured wines from Fenn Valley Vineyards and feasting on a three-course harvest dinner, you’ll learn about the Inn, built in 1857 by the locally prominent Moore family, its special connection to Ox-Bow, and all the rest of its colorful past.

If you choose to stay overnight to experience the beauty of fall in Saugatuck, special room rates will be available. Coffee and ghost stories, however, will be on the house.

Drawing will be held Wednesday, October 13th at 7 pm at the Old School House History Center in Douglas, Michigan. To obtain Raffle Tickets, just REPLY to this email and we'll send them out to you.


Saturday, October 9
An evening of tasty fun and palatable fundraising

You are invited to experience a special evening of dining! Enjoy cocktails [at 6:00] and a fabulous dinner [at 7:00] at one of nine venues. Then come together [at 9:00] with other diners at the Old School House for coffee & dessert.

9 Homes | 10 Seats at the Table | $85
You Choose the Venue | Click HERE for details

Sunday, October 31 - Volunteers Thank You Chili Supper

All Society volunteers and their guests are invited to the annual Volunteers Thank You Chili Supper. This event gives the SDHS Board the opportunity to recognize all the time and effort our many volunteers give to the Society. More details to come.


Elizabeth Pamperien with two turtle friends, 1931 ©

In this 1931 photo taken from the side yard of her family cottage at the south end of Maple Street, 12 year old Elizabeth Pamperien of LaGrange, IL, holds a baby painted turtle in each hand. By the time these babies reached maturity, the old bridge in the background had been replaced by "The New Bridge", and "the turtle pond" had come into existence. The painted turtle was declared the state reptile of Michigan in 1995 (bet you didn't know that, did you?).

In the April 2010 newsletter, we published a photo of "The Turtle Pond" at the north west corner of the "new Bridge". Readers were asked to send in their memories. Here is some of the input received.

From Kit Lane: "I hope you are aware that the existence of Turtle Pond dates only from the new highway in 1936. Prior to that there was a long low stationary bridge from the Saugatuck side of the river to the island (where the East Shore Condominiums sit today) the road went across the island, and then there was a bridge over the water to the Douglas side. It was first a lift bridge and in 1903 or so was replaced by the swing bridge. "When the new highway was built by Lamb Inc in 1936 they filled around the island to make it bigger, and then built the causeway replacing the long bridge on the Saugatuck side leaving the depression that caused that part of the river to be commemorated in Turtle Pond.

"It IS aptly named, more than once I have discovered a turtle trying to cross the highway to open river and had to help him along before he got smushed. You seldom see anyone fishing there."

"Before the village started building an ice rink every winter it was often used for ice skating and the Lions Club even built a little shelter house about 1970."

From Art Lane: "One day in about the 1970s I was driving from Douglas to Saugatuck and spotted a big turtle ambling across the Blue Star bridge in medium traffic. "In front of me, a gray Porsche stopped on the bridge. As the other cars stopped or slowed down, the driver got out, picked up the turtle, and carried it to the bank of Turtle pond. Then he got back in his Porsche and drove on."

From Marsha Kontio: "When the condos were built there was a big to-do in the paper about the threat to turtle pond. Until then, I didn't even know it existed."

From R J Peterson: He owned turtle pond at one time and it had been a dumping ground for the city, a "real trash bin". There were refrigerators and other trash in it. At one point he had a permit to fill it in, but ended up not doing so. When he sold it to the people who built the condos there was a lot of public outcry. One fellow even lay down in front of a truck. He reports that there is storm drainage into it from the uphill side of Lake St, and at the other end, drainage which runs out between the condos to the river.

From Jack Sheridan: "A pond in that location was kind of mysterious in the first place. As I remember the turtle pond there were few trees and bushes surrounding it - so there it was - this pond below the roads and sidewalks in a very unlikely place. The logs on the edge were clustered with turtles sunning that would scuttle into the water upon approach. The waters were a murky brown. I wish we could find a photo that captures the turtle pond essence."
                                            submitted by Chris Yoder

  The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)-Complements Wikipedia


The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is pleased to announce a major funding grant of $47,000 from the Museums For America (a federal program) fund. The Society's grant proposal was one of 178 projects (of 510 applicants) selected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, under its 2010 "Museums For America" program. The project, a permanent exhibit "Rowing them Safely Home" (described below) will become a major feature of the Society's Old School House "History Center" garden pathway that spreads over the 1.3 acre property of the new Center's site. The reviewers of the project commented that the Society has a proven track record of producing quality programs and that the project "will have lasting results and enable --- community understanding of their coastal history and heritage." Further, it was noted that the project will provide an added destination for the local tourism market. The proposal was written by James Schmiechen, chair of the Society's History Museum at Mt. Baldhead, Saugatuck. The Society is required to match this amount. The estimated total cost of the project is approximately $102,000.

"Rowing Them Safely Home: Shipwrecks and Lifesaving On the Great Lakes"

Concept Drawing for the Exhibit | Brian Alexander, exhibition designer/fabricator

The Project: "Rowing Them Safely Home: Shipwrecks and Lifesaving On the Great Lakes"
Using one of America's famous lifesaving boats, the 'Francis' surf boat of 1854, as its principal showpiece, the exhibit tells the story of how people in two 19th century Lake Michigan port villages, Saugatuck and Douglas, wrestled with the extreme dangers of Great Lakes schooner and steamship transport - upon which the local agricultural economy almost exclusively depended. Workers in lake transport jobs were subject to great dangers because mush transport followed fall harvesting - hence at the very time when the lakes were subject to great storms, extreme cold, and ice flow. This "experience driven" exhibit asks visitors to weigh issues such as risk-taking against issues of security and profit - all within the context of the limited job choices most people faced.

The exhibit story then focuses on how, in the 1850s, the New Yorker, Joseph Francis, invented a revolutionary new lifesaving mechanism - the 26-foot "Francis" lifesaving boat - constructed by the Novelty Iron Works Company (NY), the same builders of the Civil War-era ironclad, the Monitor. In 1854 the Saugatuck lighthouse keeper took delivery of a Francis lifesaving boat as one of 48 placed in service along the Great Lakes shoreline. The exhibit features this craft and includes images, text, and an interactive video presentation of shipwrecks in the Saugatuck area. The story ends with accounts of how in the 1940s the boat became a local Sea Scouts craft before it was restored by a group of volunteers for the SDHS between 2003 and 2006. Locally it was known as one of two (in succession) Sea Scouts crafts named "Gallinipper". Today it is one of only two "Francis" boats known to be remaining in America.

Production: Project concept and direction under James Schmiechen, Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society board member and chairperson of the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum at Mt. Baldhead Park, Saugatuck. A design team, headed by Douglas resident and well-known Michigan metals sculptor Brian Alexander will implement the design.

The Setting. With an opening date of September 1, 2011, and enclosed in an exhibit shell, the Shipwrecks and Lifesaving exhibition will be the crown jewel of the "Back-In-Time" (BIT) pathway of the Old School House History Center, Douglas, that takes visitors to 6 outdoor sites - each of which tells a story about one defining aspect of local history. The pathway project received start-up funding ($23,265) from a National Park Service Preserve America grant (2008-2010) and is currently considered by the SDHS as its highest priority activity. Sections of the pathway are under construction and the lifeboat will be positioned at the east entry to the garden.

Design: "Rowing Them Safely Home" has been designed to be an experience driven display, including the following components:

The Francis lifesaving boat and support artifacts
A multi-sensory "you are there" audio-visual backdrop for the storm and wreck
A "launch site" context for the boat

Covering approximately 1,200 sq. ft, the display is based on a system of display panels, which provide a front window and 3-panel display that wrap around the Francis boat (see concept drawing above). The panels are made of translucent Lexan and carry text and images relating to shipwreck and lifesaving history. One panel (approx. 26' x 11') is a large shipwreck image. The Lexan material allows diffused natural light to illuminate the images; additional artificial lighting adds a "special effects" visual experience at certain points along the narrative. An elevated boardwalk provides viewers with circulation and access alongside the boat, which rests on castors on a simulated beach. The designer-fabricator is Brian Alexander, an experienced Michigan exhibit builder and sculptor who specializes in metal and plastic material displays.

Project Activities: The project will consist of preparing and implementing the following artifacts, information, and activities that are associated with the display:

1. The restored Francis lifesaving boat, the "Gallinipper" (currently in storage).
2. "You Are There" computer presentation. The display will include an interactive electronic slide show based on the Society's archival shipwreck images and with the theme "Dangers, Risks and Opportunities" on the Great Lakes during the golden era of schooner and steamship travel - with text.
3. "You Are There" voices - reporting of happenings at a shipwreck site and the history of the lifeboat by way of user-based IVR (Interactive Voice Response) System - or "APP" - so that visitors will use their own cellphone (or borrow one from the History Center to listen to the narrative. (This component is being considered for development by Mr. Mike Shaw's class at Saugatuck High School.)
4. Related lifesaving and boat equipment (oars, life vests, ropes and etc.).
5. "The Francis boat restoration story" - with an IVR recording by the team of volunteers who worked 3 years on the research, documentation, and restoration of the craft.
6. Computer-based recording "Talkback" opportunity for visitors to register their information and thoughts on "risks and opportunities" during this lost age of Great Lakes travel.
7. A 3-fold (8.5 x 11) information take-away pamphlet on the history of the Francis-Gallinipper boat.
8. Development of school curriculum "Shipwrecks and Lifesaving in the Saugatuck Area". (for use by High School English Advance Placement Classes, 2009-2010), developed jointly by Dr. James Schmiechen, Museum Chair and Mr. Michael Shaw, Saugatuck High School teacher.
9. Specifications for seasonal maintenance logistics and schedule (provided by designer). Display and artifact upkeep to be maintained by SDHS.

Overall Goals and Desired Outcomes: The project activities above have been designed to fulfill the SDHS and Museum capacity building goals to engage a growing membership and develop deeper community understanding of coastal history and heritage tourism. Desired outcomes are as follows:
Educational Mission | To more fully realize the potential and purpose of the Old School House property to advance the SDHS educational mission by using its largest and finest artifact, the Francis lifesaving boat, to engage a variety of audiences around the dangers and benefits of port-village life in the golden age of Great Lakes sail and steamship travel.
Economic Growth | To serve as an economic development catalyst for Michigan’s and the Saugatuck-Douglas area’s critical tourism industry.
User Centered Feedback | To continue building the local lifesaving story by engaging exhibit visitors in a web based 'blog' where they contribute new information.
User Interpretation: Talkback | Encourage visitor thinking about historical change and "environmental time". The display text/images/IVR "voices" will ask the visitor to consider situations relative to 19th century "risk decisions" about work, travel, and opportunities related to schooners and steamships. e.g., "Talkback" questions might include:

"Would you subject yourself to the risks of work as a deck hand on a dangerous wintertime steamship delivery of flour from Douglas to Chicago - for a trip wage that would support your family for one week?"
"How many hours did it take your steamboat to make the night voyage across the lake in average weather conditions from the port of Douglas to the Chicago fruit market in October of 1880?"
"Why is a storm environment on Lake Michigan often more dangerous than that on the Atlantic Ocean?"


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 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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