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A group of SDHS members is collecting recipes for a book about history and food in Saugatuck, Douglas, and the surrounding area.

Do you have an old family favorite that belongs in our book?

Don't cry about it later, let us know now!

Preference for inclusion in the book will go to:
l Recipes that have a local connection
l Recipes that have a story
l Recipes that include pictures like a photo of the dish, of places/events where the dish was enjoyed, or of the dish's inventor.

We are also looking for (more) old menus, labels, newspaper clippings, photos or drawings of local restaurants, farms, picnickers, celebrations, etc, that will help tell the story of our area's special relationship with food. Please REPLY to this email or to Stacy Honson at


Four current seats on the Board of Directors will be up for election this year. Members with an interest in serving on the Board or who have suggestions for potential candidates should notify Vice President Jon Helmrich by February 1, 2011. The Nominating Committee of the Society will present a suggested slate for member's approval in April. You can reach Jon at 857-3574 or


Editors Note: "Glad You Asked" is a new column to answer questions that have been asked by Society members. Hopefully the information will be informative to all members.

Q. I noticed that if I want my SDHS monthly newsletter mailed to me it costs $20 in addition to my annual membership dues. Why is that?

A. The SDHS Board continues to look for ways to reduce administrative expenses so the Society can continue to fulfill its mission including producing award-winning exhibitions at the Museum, providing the community with the Old School House History Center, publishing books on local history, managing and enhancing the Society's website, presenting our extremely popular Tuesday Talks, Heritage Festival, monthly meetings and Heritage Preservation Awards.

Beginning in May, 2008 SDHS began publishing and disturbing the monthly newsletter via the internet. The e-newsletter version has saved the Society thousands of dollars in printing and mailing expenses. In 2010 the cost of the "hardcopy" version of the newsletter to only about 125 members cost over $3,600 or more than $20 per year for each member who received the newsletter via the mail. In fact, for some categories of membership, the cost of mailing the newsletter exceeds the cost of an annual membership!

We are asking our membership to help us control costs by either choosing to receive their newsletter via the internet or make a $20 donation to defray the cost of printing and mailing a "hardcopy" version of the newsletter. Your assistance is appreciated.

Q. I see that a number of events have been held at the Old School House that are not "official" SDHS sponsored events. Is there a fee for using the OSH facilities?

A. Yes. The Old School House has become a popular site for organizations and members of the community for meetings (City of the Village of Douglas and Shedd Aquarium), private parties, art exhibitions, classes and more. The Board has set a schedule of fees for use of the building for private events to cover the costs of overhead, utilities, equipment, etc.

If you, a friend or neighbor is interested in using the Old School House for an event, contact Steve Hutchins at for costs and availability.


We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since early last year:

Mary Kay & Mark Baker, Fennville, MI
John & Claudia Berry, Holland, MI
Brian Bosgraaf, Holland, MI
David & Sandi Boxer, Fennville, MI
George Brown & Gregg Kurek, Douglas, MI
Harvey Busscher, Fennville, MI
Ron & Sandy Collins, Grand Rapids, MI
Arlen & Karen Dangremond, Macatawa, MI
Jeff Dempsey & Jerry Resutek, Saugatuck, MI
William Dumbleton, Saugatuck, MI
Marion Frehsée, Walled Lake, MI
Lois Hobart, Chicago, IL
Tom & Vicke Horvath, Saugatuck, MI
John & Pat Huyge, Saugatuck, MI
Bonnie Kegley, Glen, IL
Rob & Kimberly Kegley, Glen, IL
Mariann Kennelly, Hometown, IL
Mary Kuhner, Columbus, OH
William & Jean Lawrence, Saugatuck, MI
Darin Leese & Frank Vandervort, Saugatuck, MI
Karen Kratky Lehrer, Irvine, CA
Maryjo Lemanski, Douglas, MI
Candice Lewis, Saugatuck, MI
Barbara & Richard Lucier, Saugatuck, MI
John & Kathy Mooradian, Saugatuck, MI
Don Olendorf, Fennville, MI
Bill Olendorf
John Parker, Naperville, IL
Matt & Cindy Peterson, Saugatuck, MI
Donald Ruyle, Holland, MI
Tim Spooner & Steve Masterson, Saugatuck, MI
Richard & Kathy Talsma, Saugatuck, MI
Diane & Charles Terry, Douglas, MI
Rob & Mary Waters, Saugatuck, MI
Bob & Nellie Zinkel, Homewood, IL

1819 - 1908

by Sylvia Booth, G-G-Granddaughter in England, Nov. 2010

The life of Richard B. Newnham, a veteran of the civil war who settled in Saugatuck in the 1860's and that of his sons, Richard and Stephen have been well documented in publications and on the internet, giving details of their movements in England prior to starting their new lives in America, yet much of Richard's earlier life poses a mystery to me. Why? I believe Richard B Newnham and my great, great Grandfather, William Newnham, to be one and the same person. (Click HERE Newnham's American biography)

William Newnham disappeared from London in 1862 and Richard appeared in America in 1863.

William Newnham was born of the same parents as Richard, John Newnham and Lucy Linney and on the same day, May 24, 1819.

William Newnham married Hannah Harrison on the same day as Richard claims to have done so. William also had thirteen children with Hannah - all birth certificates name William as the father. Richard's children all had the same names and birth dates as William's - coincidence?

Richard tells the story that he was sent to his maternal Grandfather, Richard Linney, when he was ten years old to be taught the shoe trade. William was also sent to his maternal grandfather, Richard Linney to be taught the shoe trade.

Richard Linney was a Boot and shoe maker and Tavern keeper in Alton, Hampshire. However, not happy in this trade, Richard states that he became a police officer. Shortly after his marriage to Hannah Harrison, William Newnham became a police officer in Hannah's home town of Longton in Staffordshire. The 1841 census records Hannah's husband as William.

On March 5, 1844 William applied to join the London Police Force and being accepted joined them on December 26, 1844. On the 1851 Census the family are recorded in London and William had became a Station Sergeant with the City Police and rose to be an Inspector by the time he was discharged on November 11, 1858. Richard was also in the London Police Force.

It has not been mentioned previously in any of the reviews on the lives of Richard or his children but maybe if Richard was William he would wish to forget the episode in Scotland. William moved his family to Renfrewshire in Scotland in December of 1858 where William became Superintendent of Police in charge of 80 men. He is recorded as giving evidence to a parliamentary review on the drinking habits of the people living in his district in August 1859 and on the 1861 census William, Hannah and their four youngest children are living at 2 Orangefield Place, Greenock. The eldest two of their surviving children are not with them. John was training to be a gas fitter and in lodgings in Shoreditch. Charlotte Hannah (my Great Grandmother) was left in London, a border at St Margaret's charity school.

In 1862, a newspaper report which has come to light, alleged William Newnham, Police superintendent of Renfrewshire, was implicated in a case of Multiplepoinding. This is a Scottish legal term. The report claims that two of William's constables seized money on his behalf which did not belong to the person owing it, and a case was brought against him. Was he guilty of this crime or did he suffer an injustice? Could this have been the reason the family suddenly returned to London in 1862 and caused William Newnham to disappear?

A Richard B. Newnham establishes himself in America. Could this be our William? Hannah and her four youngest children certainly joined him there. They are on the passenger list of The Sir Robert Peel arriving 20 Feb 1867 (Hannah traveling as Eliza Newnham) however she appears to have reverted back to her own name on arrival. Stephen's story of the voyage is on the internet and from his account it was certainly his mother that accompanied him.

Children in England - Charlotte Newnham, Maternity Nurse and Mary (Newnham) Frost with Husband Peter
(Click on each image for a larger copy)

My Great Grandmother Charlotte Hannah did not see her parents again but letters passed between her sister Mary Ann's daughter Rose and Richard's grandson Stephen Linney Newnham. Also a copy of the newspaper cutting was among Mary Ann's effects reporting on Richard's letter from America to Queen Victoria with a photograph of himself, his daughter Maria and two grandchildren Laura and Lucy to tell her that he was born within an hour of her birth on 24th May 1819, and that his daughter and twin grandchildren were also born on the same day. This cannot be coincidence! American descendants have recorded that the royal household returned a photograph of four members of the royal family--of different generations--including the Queen herself, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the infant son of the last named.

Why did William change his name to Richard? Was he escaping persecution? It remains a mystery - maybe we will never know the answer!    submitted by Chris Yoder

Each dollar you donate now unlocks another!

Designed by Joseph Francis and produced at the same shipyards as the later famous Civil War Ironclads, the Society's restored 1854 "Gallinipper" is one of only two surviving examples of what became America’s most famous nineteenth-century lifesaving boat. To house this historic vessel, the Society has designed a permanent exhibit, Rowing Them Safely Home: Shipwrecks and Lifesaving on the Great Lakes, to become a prominent feature of Gardens and Back In Time Pathway at The Old School House History Center.

The Society has been awarded a $47,000 federal grant for this project, but in order to accept the grant, we must match the grant with an equal amount in private donations. The grant, with the match, will provide $94,000 needed to complete this project. A big "thank you" to all who have already responded with a contribution - but we still need help in fulfilling the match requirement.

Join your fellow members and friends of the Society and become a stakeholder in this important preservation project. Please consider making a gift today. Your gift will automatically be doubled because it will unlock an equal amount in grant funds!

It's easy! Click HERE to choose your level of contribution and return the donation card with your check or credit card information to SDHS, Lifesaving Boat Project, PO Box 617, Douglas, MI 49406. You can also donate using PayPal - just go to the Society's web site and click on the Donate button. Thank you in advance for your support.


Barrel ca 1952

The Barrel was recently saved from demolition by a group of preservationists ("Friends of the Barrel") of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. The Society obtained the structure and the Friends have a plan in place to move it (deconstruct) and eventually restore it to its original glory - hopefully to a place in Douglas where it can remain the 'icon' it was during the mid-century day's when the fast-food 'drive-in' culture and fast-food "highway architecture" was at its height. In addition to the Historical Society, the Friends received support from the Douglas City Council. No funds are being solicited or accepted at this time. The group is looking for a workspace.

Please add your name to the Friends of the Barrel by contacting Judy Hillman, 


The Barrel was built in the early 1950s by Joe Decker and Harold Kelly. They built it in Joe's back yard in Flint, disassembled it and brought it to Douglas on a flatbed for reconstruction. They operated it for several years before selling it to the Earl McVoy. The McVoys operated it into the 1960s when George and JoAnn Gallas bought it and operated it for several years, then selling it to Woodrow Wilson.

During the McVoy ownership, a miniature golf course was added to the west side. The Barrel became a favorite for root beer, burgers, and foot-long hot dogs (forty cents), and root beer floats (twenty cents). It closed sometime around 1977. Originally without the exterior iron bands (see photo above), the barrel was of varnished wood planks ("stays"), with a number of exterior lights on stem-like poles that cast the light downward onto the structure. Read the memories of those who worked there at the Barrel Blog.


The "Barrel Story" is still being written. Send your reminiscences/Barrel Stories to Chris Yoder at, phone 269-857-4327 or writing them yourself into the Society's blog - just click HERE.

PHOTOGRAPHS of the Barrel are very rare. If you have photos to share, email or call Chris Yoder at, phone 269-857-4327

 JOIN the Barrel reconstruction/Preservation group. Contact Judy Hillman ,Brent Birkholz,Duane Brown or Chuck Carlson


Jack Sheridan (left) joined fellow local historians Jim Schmiechen, Dick Lyons and others Dec. 2 leading teacher Mike Shaw's Saugatuck High School advanced-placement language and composition class in instruction and explorations as part of a class museum project.

Students that morning visited Saugatuck City Hall to investigate local lore (about mutinous sailor graves), the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Museum to deconstruct an exhibit, a Tower Marine warehouse (to see restoration of the Gallinipper, one of two remaining iron surfboats in the United States), the Old School House/Discovery Center (where the Gallinipper exhibit will be on permanent display beginning next August) and - oh yeah - their chilliest venue: Oval Beach and the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, where Sheridan discussed the old harbor, shipwrecks and his grand-father George's 1909-14 tenure as Saugatuck's last lighthouse keeper.

Schmiechen, a retired Central Michigan University history professor, will be curator of the exhibit. Local historian Kit Lane is scheduled to talk with students this week about Great Lakes shipwrecks.

Eventually, Shaw said, students will research, write and record audio clips of text (downloadable as phone apps) that may be incorporated in the outdoor display. They will write on the invention, origin and restoration of the Gallinipper, the Great Lakes Lifesaving Service (a precursor to the Coast Guard), Lake Michigan shipwrecks, Great Lakes shipping between 1860 and 1905, and a fictionalized narrative about a shipwreck and rescue off the shores of Saugatuck.

Once they warm up, that is. (Article and photo by Scott Sullivan from the December 9, 2010 Commercial Record.)

Calling all you "History Mystery" addicts - this is the first edition of a brand new photo feature that will appear in the SDHS newsletter. The History by Camera column will feature an interesting image each month. On the first month of appearance, the image will be unidentified.

The same image will appear again the following month and in the second month it will include commentary and a short history relative to the photo.

In addition to the previous months image, each newsletter [starting in February] will also include a new photo. So each issue will contain two photos, one with history and another to be identified in the subsequent month.

I want to hear from you readers with your knowledge, comments and questions. To make it easy to get the dialogue going, simply REPLY to this email.

Occasionally, I am prone to handing out a clue. For this gentleman: He was born in another state at the turn of the century.  submitted by Jack Sheridan


At the encouragement of Peg Sanford, the old SDHS Newsletters from Sep 1987 to Apr 2008 can now be read on-line. The Historical inserts were uploaded some time back, and these are now supplemented with the administrative portions for each issue. Click HERE for an index of the old newsletters.
                                           submitted by Chris Yoder


The SDHS Family History group, headed up by Jack Sheridan, continues to meet at the Old School House on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 4 pm. A special presentation is scheduled for Thursday, January 20th  at 4 pm by Chris Yoder on DNA testing and how it supports family history research. For more information contact Jack Sheridan, 269-857-7144, or email Jack at


For the last four year Collette Snydacker has been the volunteer responsible for keeping SDHS computer membership records. Responsibilities included updating changes, printing mailing labels and member name badges.

Collette has relocated from the area to be near her family in Illinois.

The SDHS membership records "torch" has been passed to the capable hands of Mary Lyons who has taken over for Collette.

Thanks Colette!

May Heath and the Homes named "Heathcote"

May Francis Heath was born in a home on Butler street across from her grandparents Morrison. The building at 134 Butler was later to become known as "The Elms" hotel, named for the Elm tree in front which May wrote her grandfather planted when she was born. At the time of her marriage to Doc Anderson Heath in 1895, she went to live in the home of his widowed mother at 607 Butler Street. In Oct. 1903 the Commercial Record talks about Doc moving the family to his farm on "the State Road", but by 1907, when Doc built the "Heath Block" at 306 Butler, the young family moved into the rooms above the Bird Drug Store.

A special move came when they built their home up on the hill at 336 Hoffman Street in 1929. It was to be called "Heathcote", which means "Heath's cottage" in Scottish. There they lived for the next 16 years. The home became a center for family and community social activities. Eventually the aging Heaths were finding a two story home and the steep hill to the village getting a bit much. On Jan. 8, 1946 they bought a one story home at 525 Butler from Norma Blaine for $6500. Apr. 18, 1946 they sold the home on Hoffman to Bud and Ruth Edgcomb for $9000. They moved into the Blaine home on Apr. 27, 1946. The "Heathcote" sign quickly went up. Doc died there Feb. 9, 1947. May was to live in this home until her death in 1961.

336 Hoffman Street

525 Butler Street

Great Grandson Bill Bleeker writes: "After the depression May said there should always be a house in Saugatuck named Heathcote for "wayward souls" in the family. I guess I'm the last wayward soul left. During the depression my grandfather and family had to live in Heathcote until he could find a job which took a couple of years. May did not want any member of the family, down on their luck, to be homeless. My cousin Lucille also stayed with May during that time. She gave a small (very small) trust to pay for up-keep of the house after she died."

Bill's grandparents Ted and Frances Heath lived in the Butler street home until 1980, then passed it on to their daughter Ann Bleeker and her husband. In 1994 it came to Bill. Bill and his wife Barb sold it in 2005 and bought the Crawford-Hungerford home at 404 Griffith Street. Bill writes "I felt a lot of guilt, but then my cousin Lisa said 'Nanan probably would of sold a long time ago.' " The "Heathcote" sign is still up in Saugatuck, now on Griffith Street --- the tradition continues

Bill Bleeker and the Heathcote Sign

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 269-857-4327 or Marsha Kontio at 616-566-1239.


To become a member or renew your membership select from the following categories:

Individual $30
Household $50
Premium $250
Corporate $500
Life $1,000
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


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 or call us at 269-857-5751.
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