JULY  2011

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Thirty-two Friends of the Barrel (including two roller-skating car-hops, a 1959 Retractable convertible courtesy of Ron and Mary Voss, two folks on bikes, one on a mini-scooter, four with sandwich boards, one wearing a barrel, and almost everyone wearing "Save the Barrel" T-Shirts) and four four-legged supporters were a big hit in the Saugatuck 4th of July Parade.

They passed out over 700 fliers about the barrel project. The Saugatuck-Douglas Rotary Club is the latest to "Save a Stave" (one of 120 staves in the outside wall of the barrel) by donating more than $150. (T-Shirts can still be ordered by contacting Chris Yoder at For more information, visit "Friends of the Barrel" on FACE BOOK.

Summer is here!

The Old School House is open
Monday-Friday, 1:00pm-3:00PM

Our summer intern, Maddie,
will be on hand to show you around.


The second and final informational session of this year will be held at the Old School House on Saturday, July 30, beginning at 10:00 a.m. "SDHS 101" is designed for new and former members who want to learn the history of the organization and the benefits that it has to offer. This is a great opportunity to meet members and officers of the Society, and receive a tour of the Old School House. If you plan to attend, please respond to Nyla Hensley at 269-857-5704 or


We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.

l Frank Sardone & Susan Fall, Fennville & Kalamazoo, MI


The February 2010 newsletter shared a photo of the Jacob Fox family taken in about 1855, which we said was one of the earliest pictures we have seen of local residents. Jacob Fox was born in Pennsylvania in 1807, died in Douglas in 1871 and is buried in the Douglas cemetery. His wife and family soon moved on to Florida. One hundred and forty years after his death, his g-g-g-granddaughter Kay Fox sent us a copy of the family photo. From the collection of May Francis Heath, we have a photograph of Saugatuck Founder William Gay Butler, who died in 1857, meaning the photo predated that time. Now, thanks to a family historian on "", we have another picture of a similar vintage.

Cephas Field (Sep. 17, 1785-Mar. 15, 1861)

In the 1850 census for Newark (later to be named Saugatuck), the very first persons listed were Cephas Field, Light Keeper, age 64, born in Massachusetts, and his wife Mehitable. Lake Michigan Lighthouse researcher Terry Pepper reports that Cephas was the 4th keeper of our Saugatuck Lighthouse, serving from June 5 1849 until he resigned April 15, 1853. He had been born in Deerfield, Massachusetts to Oliver Field and Ketura Hoyt in 1785. The Field Genealogy, 1901, by Franklin Clifton Pierce, reports at entry #1153:

"CEPHAS FIELD, son of Oliver and Keturah (Hoyt), b. in Deerfield, Mass., Sept. 17, 1785; he went with his father in 1795 to Phelps, N. Y.; in 1809 removed to Sodus, N. Y.; in 1810 returned to Phelps; in 1821 removed to Lyons, Wayne county; in 1823 returned to Sodus; in 1837 removed to Allegan, Mich., where he d. March 15, 1861. While in Sodus he was engaged in the manufacture of salt. Finding that unprofitable, he abandoned it. After his removal to Allegan, he was engaged in mercantile and transportation business. He enlisted early in the war of 1812, and served until peace was declared. He was at the burning of Black Rock and Buffalo by the British Dec. 30, 1813; at the capture of Fort Erie July 2, 1814; battle of Bridgewater July 5, 1814; Lundy's Lane July 25, 1814, and at the defense of Fort Erie, where the British commander, General Drummond, was killed, Aug. 15, 1814, and various skirmishes on the Canadian frontier. He d. March 15, 1861. He m., 1805, Elizabeth, dau. of John J. S. and Polly E. (Hawks) Taylor, of Phelps, b. in Deerfield, Mass., Aug. 1, 1784: d. in Allegan, Mich., Dec. 24, 1839. Res.  Sodus, N. Y."

In the 1950s Ruth Robbins Monteith put together a record book of early Michigan Land Grants which reports:
"Caphas FIELD age 69 of Newark, Allegan Co., Mich, applied for an additional Land Grant of 80A (acres) for service in the War of 1812. He had previously had a Land Grand of 40A. "He was a Musician in Capt. James REESE Co., Lt. Ralph WOOD in the Artillery Regt. commanded by Col. Walter GRIEVES in the War of 1812. He was drafted at Phelps Town, NY June 10, 1812 and was honorably discharged at Sodus point, NY Aug. 10, 1812. Was also in the Co. commanded by Capt. Jenks PULLEN Col. Elias CORTS Regt. of Militia from Aug. 31 or Sept. 1, 1814 to Nov. 10, 1814. He received a warrant for 40A No. 97872 and on Mar. 20, 1855 he applied for 80A more."

We know of nine children that Cephas had by his first wife Elizabeth Taylor, who he married in 1805. She died in 1839 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan. The 1860 census shows him living in Allegan with second wife Mehitable Jones, where his oldest son Wells Field (1807-1890) also lived. Cephas died in 1861 and his widow in 1871. Both rest in the family plot at Oakwood.

                                                contributed by Chris Yoder

A Series of Talks About People, Places and History in Douglas and Saugatuck

1. July 26 Lost & Found: Great Saugatuck Area Art Discoveries by Ken Kutzel, sponsored by Judy Oberholtzer
2. August 2 The People Who Built All Saints' Church, Saugatuck by Father Cory Stoppel, sponsored by Bob & Bobbie Gaunt
3. August 9 In the Path of the Great Tornado of 1956: Saugatuck's Lighthouse - and more - Destroyed, sponsored by Terry Burns
4. August 16 Indian Joe's Dugout Canoe of 1844 and Native American Canoe Making sponsored by Kubiak Gallery
5. August 23 Looking at Paintings and Finding Self  by Mary Jo Lemanski, sponsored by Water Street Gallery
6. August 30 The Douglas Root Beer Barrel: Good Times and Highway Architecture, sponsored by Osman Flowers and Firs

These fun and informal talks will take place on Tuesdays, 11am at the Old School House History Center in Douglas. Free admission. Click HERE to download and print a schedule poster in your choice of color for your frig.

Wednesday, August 10 SDHS Annual Picnic "Food as History" on the lawn of the Old School House History Center.


The Village Table A Delicious History of Food in the Saugatuck-Douglas Area
By Stacy Honson and Kit Lane

is available at the Saugatuck-Douglas Museum and can be ordered online by clicking HERE.

If you love Saugatuck, or you love food, you’ll love this unique book. All proceed benefit the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Soft cover books are $35. Limited-edition* (hand bound) hard cover books are $125.

*Attention book collectors: Only eleven limited-edition copies of The Village Table remain. To reserve yours, please email Sally at

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

Folks On the Ferry 1908

I enjoyed digging into the people history of this scene. The date was probably summer 1908 and the subjects were posing for what turned out to be a great shot. Herman Simonson had his camera set up on the east bank ferry dock. Since the skating rink is not seen in the background it was prior to 1909.

My memory of Allie Dagget is clear. Here, he is the wagon driver without a doubt, the same Allie Dagget who had a taxi service that I remember well from the 1950s. Born in 1878 he died in 1966 and is buried in Saugatuck.

A little sleuthing through the 1910 census led to Ivan Arends. Fifteen years old and the son of Seaton Arends who in the census, listed his occupation as a drayman - freight. The Arends family lived one house away from Timothy and Ellen Daggett.

They had one son, Ross Phelps born in 1893 - in 1908 Ross would have been age fifteen, about right for the young man cranking the ferry. This is the Ross Phelps that I knew when he had a hardware store on Butler Street [across from today's Phil’s Restaurant] in the 1940s and 50s. By then he had developed an awesome beer gut that was barely restrained by large britches and red suspenders!

The man in the background, no doubt the regular ferry cranker-deckhand who for the photo stepped back permitting the other characters to get the camera's attention. His name was Garrett Vreeland. Born in New Jersey in 1840, he was a latecomer to the community in 1900. I was able to find a family tree on He was named after his grandfather and his Vreeland [Vrieland] ancestors go back to the very earliest Dutch settlers in the American colonies. He died in 1915 and is buried in Saugatuck.

Jay Myers [his name is often misspelled Meyers] is, as usual, the star of the photograph. Jay always has a twinkle in the eye and a pipe between the teeth. Born 1856 in New York, he came to Saugatuck in the 1860s to work as a lumberman and millwright. In 1907 he took over the important job of ferryman. Jay endeared himself to the populace of the area because of his devoted ferry work and his good humor. The "beloved ferryman" died in 1928 and was honored with a stone bench at the west shore ferry landing.

Stop at the ferry landing, sit on the bench and recall this scene of 103 years ago!

Next month tune in for a nearby shipwreck story.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

                            submitted by


Bud Sewers in his First Car- A $45 1928 Ford Roadster

Bud Sewers in the Service

Bud Sewers reports, "I was at the Oval Beech when I heard." He had a $45 car, but no radio --- "that was a luxury I couldn't afford --- Someone had a radio. The guy who used to own the car, Dale Van Leeuwen, he saw me coming and jumped out and flagged me down and said 'The Japs just bombed Pearl Harbor'. I said Oh oh --- Oh oh --- that's you and me who are going to go." (and they both did).

Send your Pearl Harbor memories to Chris Yoder, or call 857-4327.
                                                 contributed by Chris Yoder

May Heath and the Saugatuck-Douglas
Historical Society

May Heath at the Dedication of the Singapore Memorial (John Pahl at far left)

The Commercial Record reported on Oct. 10, 1957 that May Heath had been the hostess the previous Friday (Oct. 4th) to "an embryo Saugatuck Historical Society". The meeting was attended by Mrs. Marion Bale, Mrs. Ruth Waugh, Harry Newnham, and William Simmons. It would be 19 years before today's "Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society would be established (1986), but even in the late 50s, some of our local citizenry had the right idea, with encouragement from May.

About the same time, John Pahl, founder of the Allegan County Historical Society, was fighting a battle with the County Board to keep the Civil War Veteran's Memorial from being moved off the town square. He says that May was the only recognized historian in the county at that time and he thought that if he could enlist her to write a letter, it might generate public support. He had never met her before, but came to Saugatuck to explain the situation.

She was immediately supportive. He told her "Mrs. Heath, we may have to fight to keep that statue there" and she said "I'm always ready to fight for local history". She wrote letters to all the county papers and others began writing letters, and soon the County Board acceded to public opinion.

Later, in July of 1958, when the Singapore memorial was dedicated in front of the Saugatuck Village Hall, May was joined by Mr. Pahl and also by W. B. (Bud) Edgcomb, then President of the "Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society", who presided over the ceremony. What became of this group?

Kit Lane writes:
"Apparently in the 1960s there was an effort led by May Heath. The project died with May apparently' there was no shadow of it when I arrived in 1967. In 1976 the Bicentennial Committee, who had directed the bicentennial activities, including building the bandstand, a fair, etc. thought it might be a good idea to continue the group as an historical society. I seem to recall that there were even a few meetings, but no one wanted to head it up and it died.

Then Chuck Lorenz and a few others got a bee in their bonnet. That effort was not an instant success either, but Chuck gritted his teeth and held on until the project could stand by itself."

May would certainly be proud of what the SDHS has accomplished today, and don't you know she's watching down on us right now with a big smile on her face!                                                                       contributed by Chris Yoder

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-Douglas Historical Society History 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 2011 exhibit is titled:

The Museum is open daily from noon to 4pm through August and weekends in September and October with the 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

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