NOTES FROM YOUR PRESIDENT
It's hard to believe that the summer of 2011 is drawing to a close.
The museum has had very good attendance in July and early August.
The walking tours are doing well, with many people from foreign
countries taking them this summer. The annual picnic was held at the
Mt. Baldhead Pavilion with some of the best food I have ever seen at
one of these events. Some of the recipes were from our new
publication "The Village Table". There was a contest for
those who brought food made from one of the recipes in the book. A
twenty five dollar gift certificate from the Butler Pantry was won
by Mary Kamman.
On a sad note I have to inform you that one of our Life Members has
passed away. Arlene Sherman passed away on Monday, August 15, 2011.
Arlene was a great supporter of your Historical Society being very
instrumental in getting the Pump House for our museum, and she was a
recipient of the Charles J. Lorenz Award in 1999.
The new Francis Life Boat House is moving along. We expect to have
the exhibit ready for the Heritage Tour in mid September. This will
be the end of another major project for your Society. Many
individuals have worked for years on restoring the life boat as well
as raising funds to provide a permanent home for this valuable piece
of local as well as national history. Your President Harold
UPDATE: SHIPWRECK-LIFESAVING EXHIBIT
What in the world is going on at the Old School House property?
It is the new home for Society’s restored 1854 U.S. Lifesaving
lifeboat (the Francis
"Gallinipper"), which includes an accompanying exhibit on Lake
Michigan shipwreck and lifesaving history. We looking at a full
completion target of sometime late September or early October.
Contractor Jason Dedic has the 'boathouse' framed up, the tin
roof is on, the boat will be moved in within days, and the
structure's plank siding will go on next.
Two large sliding
doors will welcome visitors into a 'class-room' size area that
will feature 6 large display panels that tell the story of
shipwrecks and lifesaving on the Great Lakes - with a giant
shipwreck mural as a back drop.
The writer/curator for the project is Jim Schmiechen, with
Kristi Mueller as the display designer - with organizational
help from Steve Hutchins and Fred Schmidt, and lighting help
from the architect, Nic Wilkens.
We promise you there will be nothing like it in Michigan. The
project is partly funded by the Society with a matching grant
($47,000) from the Museums For America program (a federal
program) and a part of the Society’s 'Back-In-Time' garden
project. We still are in need of funds to meet the match. So
just go to the
Society's web site and click on the Donate button to be
part of history.
ANYBODY SPEAK DUTCH?
We have been featured in AmericA magazine, one of the most
prominent publications in Europe - a beautiful six page spread. The
article is on Saugatuck-Douglas and the ghost town of Singapore
entitled "The Pompei Of The Great Lakes". Both the Society and Jim
Schmiechen are mentioned. Click
HERE for a copy of the article written in Dutch. If you can
translate some or all of the text into English, we'll include it in
next month's Society Newsletter, just REPLY to the email.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Penny Shuff,
l Chris & Eileen
Raphael, Saugatuck, MI
l Palmer Fey Family,
HARNESSING THE BEAN
Chicago Dance Master R. G. Huntinghouse (1861-1954) (see
Aug. 2010 SDHS Newsletters) was not just a great
terpsichorean, but also quite a wit. In 1931 he published a small
booklet entitled "Harnessing the Bean" which dealt with
neutralizing the aromatic and sonic after effects of a meal of
beans. The SDHS has a digital copy of this rare work. How did it
come to be written?
As the owner of a farm in Saugatuck at the northeast corner of
South Maple and Old Allegan,
"Each summer he takes a number of his children (members of his
dancing classes) to this farm for an outing. Beans seem to be the
popular food of these youngsters. The "morning after," while still
in their dugout, these kids began relating their experiences of
the night. The following are some of the expressions heard by the
writer: "Say, did you hear anything during the night?" "I'm afraid
I've been shell-shocked." I dreamt of a terrible bombardment."
"Gee, I've been gassed," etc., etc."
"R.G., and his crew of thinkers got to work finding a way to
remove the cause of all these disturbances." And thus the book
began to be constructed.
Huntinghouse at Saugatuck Home
R.G. writes of the formation of "THE NOISELESS, ODORLESS, PERFUMED
AND MUSCIAL BEAN CO." with officers including: A. Low Rumble; Rose
Fragrance; R. U. Sniffing; O. Sweet O'Dore; and Violet Toots.
Capital "1,000,000 scents", organized with the aim "to produce
noiseless, odorless, perfumed and musical beans, and give the bean
something to live for, and make our life worth living too."
He goes on to write of many wonderful new species of bean he was
to breed on his farm, to include: musical bean; conversational
bean; lullaby bean; short-circuited bean; saxophone bean; non-skid
bean; and the sound-proof bean---
"A BOON TO GOLF PLAYERS"- "The sound-proof bean has been
especially cultivated to meet a demand for total abstinence of
noise during a game of golf. These beans, as we grow them on our
noiseless, aromatic and musical bean farm at Saugatuck, Mich.,
will entirely revolutionize the cultivation of beans. All old
fashion beans will now go into the discard."
---"On the experimental farm at Saugatuck, Mich., we are working
on a giant bean developed into a fog horn. This we plan to sell to
the government for signal stations."
---"With the introduction of the perfumed, or odorless bean, there
will be no further need of a hostess providing her guests with
clothes pins when entertaining at card parties, or other social
"Ungainly, and unattractive signs, formerly hanging over a dining
room table "eat beans at your own risk," can now be removed."
As a part of the forward to this booklet, local boy Charles Samuel
Dailey, then 26, penned a 13 stanza tribute entitled "Ode to R.G.
Huntinghouse", which ends:
So in loving tribute, we
Pay just homage thus,
To one who did so much for us,
A name, nay - not just that; but a man indeed.
So as we eat and toot so sweet and merrily,
Let us all give thanks to our R.G!
Dailey (1904-1949) had been born in the family home on Richmond
Road (Old Allegan now) moved with the family to Oregon, only to
return to live at "Slumber Bluff" (later to be called "Oak
Openings"). He was a 1923 graduate of Saugatuck High School (and
senior class president), went on to attend the Milwaukee School of
Engineering, and in 1925 began sailing the Great Lakes on the
steamer "Harvester". He was later to receive Captain papers.
A full copy of this scientific work of humor can be found on the
society web site by clicking
contributed by Chris Yoder
HAND DRAWN HOSE CART
At the Museum
Extract from the Display
Panel at the Museum
On October 9, 1871, Fennville
and Holland, Michigan burned to the ground, on the very same day
as the great fire in Chicago. Saugatuck was spared but the
citizenry were suddenly highly aware of the need for modern fire
Saugatuck's first fire
department had just been established in January of that same year.
After the Fennville/Holland/Chicago fires, Saugatuck purchased 200
pails that were distributed around town.
By 1881, the city's engine
company had 32 members with a hand pumper and hose cart. A photo,
circa 1910, shows the Saugatuck fire department posing with two
hose carts. Although horse-drawn hose carts existed, Saugatuck's
carts transported hose to a fire scene using only manpower.
For a complete look at the
Display Panel, click
HERE. Be patient, it will take a while to download.
A Series of Talks About People, Places and History
in Douglas and Saugatuck
August 30 The Douglas Root Beer Barrel: Good Times
and Highway Architecture, sponsored by Osman Flowers and
These fun and informal talks will take place on Tuesdays, 11am
at the Old School House History Center in Douglas. Free admission.
Saturday, September 17, 11 to 4
The 2011 Heritage Festival Home Tour celebrates the charming
village character of Douglas, Michigan. The buildings opened
for this special event are modest in size but ideal for
today’s "small is beautiful" design and living sensibilities -
and they range in time from the village's oldest (1851) to
stylishly contemporary. Together, they mirror the interesting
lives of the people who live in Douglas today. See the various
ways that historic structures have been preserved and
re-imagined for contemporary use. You’ll be delighted by the
sophistication and appeal of this West Michigan village.
The completely walkable tour includes access to 12 unique
sites in Douglas. For an additional $5, tour goers can opt for
a Trolley Tour of the lakeshore. This 40-minute, narrated tour
will include the charming 1904 Arts and Crafts lakeshore
chapel. Tours, conducted by Dr. Jim Schmiechen, depart the Old
School House at 1, 2, and 3 pm.
An introductory talk by Marsha Kontio will give visitors the
context and background to get the most out of the tours. Talks
presented at the Old School House at 11 am and 1 pm.
Due to the private nature of the homes, tour tickets will be
limited. Advance tickets are available by calling Fred Schmidt
at 269-857-1620 or
Info@SDHistoricalSociety.org. Day-of-tour ticket sales
will be at the Old School House, 130 Center Street, Douglas
HERE to be the first to see the details of the The
Heritage Tour Menu.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
The B & L in Her Grave
It was the summer of 1956. I slowed the Sheridan family dinghy, took
aim with my Kodak Pony 828, and snapped this photo. She lay there,
in a grave of water and mud just off shore somewhere close to where
the Keewatin is moored today. Her presence enhanced the harbor scene
for artists and lovers of local ambience. I don’t remember the year
she was first abandoned but Kit Lane says in her book Built on
the Banks of the Kalamazoo it was about 1953. Her name was
the B & L - the initals of owners Bertha and Lew Gotham. She was
fifty one feet long with a fourteen foot beam.
The B & L was built for the Gotham family by Hank Perkins in 1931
and launched from his little shipyard which was located on Lake
Street in Saugatuck. Initially she was steam powered but in 1935 a
Kahlenberg diesel was installed. Lew and sons Sam and Fred used her
to fish lake trout by long line and hook.
About 1941 the Gothams built an all metal fish tug, the ill-fated
Gotham, and powered it with the Kahlenberg from the B & L. They then
sold the B & L to Chuck Diepenhorst who fished with her until the
early 50s. Finally he sold her to Albert Guilfoil. Albert leased her
out but the lessee damaged the hull and she sank. Her bones are
still there in the mud, sad end to a bit of our history.
Regarding the picture below, some of you drive by here every day - where could it be? Tune in next month.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
NEWS FROM THE ARCHIVES
The above two photos were
recently donated to the collection by Mr. Frank Zellens of Minerva,
Ohio. In 1940 when he was 5 years old, his family spent a year in
Grand Junction where his father worked for an oil company. These
photos were taken on a day outing to Saugatuck.
This photograph was recently among a batch of pictures that were
donated by the Saugatuck Township Fire District along with a fire
suit belonging to Bert Van Dis and a Hand Drawn Hose Cart from the
Does anyone recognize the beauties in the photo? If you know,
please e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 269-857-7901.
A huge word of appreciation to Cynthia Sorensen who has been
volunteering in the archives regularly on Monday afternoons.
Cynthia has been a great help in sorting though our backlog of
un-accessioned (cataloged and acknowledged) donated items that
have been in storage in the bank basement.
Also a big thank you to Jennifer Fisher, our summer intern who
brought our computer records up to date. Every bit of help is so
appreciated. If anyone wants information about volunteering in the
archives, you can find me in the archives office in the lower
level of the school house on Monday afternoons. (except Aug. 29.)
I'd be happy to talk to you.
Mary Voss - volunteer archivist/collections
WHERE WERE YOU ON DECEMBER 7, 1941?
Jane Bird Van Dis
"The winter that the war began,
my Dad was working in Battle Creek. I was in college at Western, and
we were traveling between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. We had gone
there for the weekend and we were in my father's car on the way to
my uncle John Bird's house when it came over the radio. What a
shock. From then on it was war and more war, and we had to learn to
live with it." Seventy Years ago this December. Send your Pearl
Harbor memories to Chris Yoder,
email@example.com or call 857-4327.