APRIL  2012

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As part of the Society's Silver Anniversary Campaign, the Society Newsletters are being underwritten by a generous donation from Frances Vorys, a Society Life member.


Are you one of the few stragglers who have not renewed your Society membership for 2012?? RENEW NOW! Click HERE


The deadline for the return of ballots for the annual election of Society Board members has passed. I'm happy to report that the new Board members are:
l Valerie Atkin - Vice President
l Sharon Bauer - Secretary
l Steve Hutchins
l Ed Kelly
l Sharon Kelly
l Ryan Kilpatrick
l Bill Underdown
l Judi Vanderbeck
l Renee Zita

There will be a brief swearing in ceremony at the start of the May 9th Monthly Meeting.

Also on the ballot was an amendment to increase the Board from 11 seats to a maximum of 15 seats which also passed.

In addition, Marsha Kontio, a current Board member, has agreed to serve as interim President for the remaining one year term of Harold Thieda.


Shipwrecks, Scallywags & Heroes
- An Exhibition

6:30 p.m., Old School House History Center

Saugatuck Middle School Sixth Graders tell Lake Michigan stories through words, artwork, and model building. Join in this "exhibition opening" and reception hosted by Wendy Colsen's 6th Grade Language Arts Class. Massive desserts. Note early starting time.

The exhibit continues until June at the Old School House History Center.

This year's collaborative project between the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society and Saugatuck Public Schools - Shipwrecks, Scallywags, and Heroes - will open at the Old School House on May 9. There will be a special private showing that evening for Historical Society members, students, families, and school personnel.

Gavin & Trey use the Internet to research the 1965 Super Sport II

This year, sixth grade students worked with Language Arts Teacher Wendy Colsen to write historical fiction pieces involving mysteries surrounding shipwrecks from the Saugatuck-Douglas area. After researching the historical events from books and Internet sources, local historian and author Kit Lane visited the students and was interviewed for further information. The stories were then written as journal entries of unfolding events.

Alyssa, Marlaina and Jessica work together to gather information about the sinking of the Alpena of 1880.

Local artist Michelle Maicki volunteered time to work with students on illustrating their projects where she taught them aspects of drawing such as perspective, color, and shading. The students then built models of their topic that will also be on display as well.

Saturday, May 12
4 to 8 pm
Lakeview Lanes, Douglas

Who's on your team?

Gather your 5-player teams for an evening of laugher and cheers.

The 2012 Party Time Bowl-a-Rama will award prizes for best cheering section, best costumes, player with the most sponsors, player with the most pledges, etc. You don't have to be champion bowler, just a good sport!

Reserve your lane now by REPLYING TO THIS EMAIL or emailing Judi Vanderbeck at


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

l Dan & Sandy Jo Shanahan, Douglas, MI
l Bruce & Marilyn Starring, Saugatuck, MI
l Renee Zita & Ed Ryan, Douglas, MI
l Todd Smith, Saugatuck, MI & Austin, TX
l Pat & Pam Murphy, Douglas, MI



The first informational session for new members and interested former members will be held on Saturday, April 28th, at the Old School House History Center, beginning at 10 am.

Attendees will learn facts, history, and about the volunteering opportunities that the Society offers. For more information contact Nyla Hensley at 269-857-5704 or by email at


You can help ensure the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical can continue to "Keep History Alive Here" by remembering SDHS in your estate planning.

There are a number of options for making a charitable gift to the Society. You can give a cash gift or a percentage of your estate, name the SDHS as the beneficiary of an IRA or insurance policy, give stocks, bonds and shares of mutual funds, set-up a charitable remainder trust or gift a piece or collection of local art.

You can also make an "unrestricted gift" or a "restricted gift" that could be used only to benefit a specific Society activity. For example, your gift could be restricted for use to fund Museum exhibits, Tech Center, the Old School House garden, the Society’s art collection, etc.

Your estate planner can tell you which of the many options is best for you and your family.

If you have any questions about including SDHS in estate planning, REPLY to this email or contact Bill Hess at 269.857.1081,


The SDHS has been chosen as a finalist this year in the grant award process for West Shore Aware.  We are seeking a gift of $7,000 from Aware to be used in the 2013 museum exhibition: Dunelands: Drifting Sand. Nature, Man, and Buried Secrets. The exhibit will use an exciting 900+ sq. ft. display area with text/maps/digital images to tell of a 200-year battle between nature and man over the control of thousands of acres of Saugatuck-Douglas area dunelands.

Ballots will be sent in early May to West Shore Aware members.  If you are a member, please be sure to return your ballots with a vote for the Dunelands project. A key component of the exhibit will be the areas history with diversity and inclusion.  Our submission to Aware cited the following:
Beginning in the 1890s, GLBT people found our dunelands a secret place to challenge conventional cultural and sexual standards. Individual identity was fulfilled - and for many Saugatuck became a place synonymous with "freedom."

Our grant request includes a funding justification and request for $7,000. The Historical Society's revenue stream is very limited. We depend on members, friends, and community support for upkeep and production of costly but always free exhibits and programs at its History Museum & Old School House History Center. An Aware partnership is important in demonstrating our interaction with our community.

Please remember to vote in May if you are a member of West Shore Aware.


"Training Walks" will be held on Saturday, April 28 and Wednesday May 16 at 2:00 pm beginning at the traffic light in beautiful downtown Saugatuck.

If you are interested in learning and sharing the history of Saugatuck with others, please contact Marsha Kontio at or call Marsha at 616-566-1239.


For the past two falls, a volunteer planting brigade has placed bulbs at the graves of local "orphans". We've noted that the new bulbs, fighting their way through decades of hard packed soil, arrive late. The bulbs from two years ago, however, had loosened the earth last year and arrived right on schedule with their cousins in area gardens. Thanks again to HUNTREE for donating about a quarter of each year's bulbs, and thanks to our bulb planters.        submitted by Chris Yoder


Getting ready to march with the Save the Barrel crowd in the 4th of July Parade? You'll want to have your t-shirts on hand. We still have some available in stock and will be placing a spring order before long, so your needs for sizes and colors can be accommodated. Normal unisex sizes: S, M, L and XL - $20; XXL and XXXL - $22. To have a shirt mailed, allow $5 for postage and handling. Special order shirt stocks may also be accommodated. Contact: Chris Yoder, or phone: 857-4327.


As an outgrowth of last November's Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society monthly program "A Salute To Our Veterans", an ad hoc committee of local volunteers is organizing a community-wide Armed Forces Day Luncheon, to be held from 11:30am - 1:00pm,  Saturday, May 19, 2012 at the Saugatuck Masonic Lodge, 3150 Blue Star Highway.  This "First Annual Saugatuck-Douglas Area Armed Forces Day Luncheon" will, they hope, begin a local tradition for the entire community to honor those who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces.


SDHS historian Kit Lane will be the featured speaker with "Lincoln's Ready-Made Soldiers: Saugatuck Area Men in the Civil War". The luncheon menu by Blue Star Meats will be pulled pork, cole slaw, baked beans, fresh cut fruits and lemonade. Coffee will also be available, and desert supplied by the Ladies' Coffee Group.

The SDHS Board has endorsed this event and agreed to publicize it. Tickets ARE NOW AVAILABLE for $13 at the Pump House Gym in Saugatuck, 6429 Blue Star Highway. This is a community event for both Vets and non-vets. Veterans will eat free, but must get a ticket to plan on seating. As a special treat, "The Star of Saugatuck" has organized an afternoon cruise at 3pm that same afternoon (19 May) with free seating for veterans who attend the luncheon, their guest (spouse or partner) and any children still living at home (of the vet). Veteran cruise tickets must be picked up at the luncheon at time of check-in and will be limited to those who attend the luncheon.

For information contact Judy Mauger at 616-283-6958 or Chris Yoder at 269-857-4327.


At the Memorial Service for Harold on Saturday, March 31 at St Peter's Catholic Church, his daughter Nichole gave a beautiful eulogy that is being shared with those who were not able to attend.

Over the past few weeks, many people have shared memories of my dad, and Mom and I have been overwhelmed by the wonderful things people have said. Today, it is my honor to stand here and share memories of my dad, through the eyes of a daughter.

Everyone loved Harold. Clearly, if you look around this church, there's plenty of evidence of that. Many of my North Carolina friends who read the obituary, but had never met him, commented that he seemed like an active, intelligent, and warm-hearted man. Well, if we were able to capture that in an obituary, then you know it was 1,000 times truer in real life. Even during his final days, he always put other people first, and wanted to help in any way he could. Dad's main concern was not that he was ill, or that there were things he was going to leave behind unfinished, but how Mom and I were going to cope without him. He never once complained or asked, "Why me?" He accepted things as they were and made the best of it. Even the Holland Hospital ICU staff loved him - my guess is probably not many patients get a kiss goodbye from their nurse when they leave.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Dad. Mom worked in the evenings, so Dad was my caretaker at night. He would get on the floor and play endless games of Chutes 'n' Ladders or Candy Land with me, and read with me in the evenings before bed. Reading was a passion of his, and we shared a love of books. We did not share a love of math, however, but he patiently helped with what felt to me like endless hours of math homework, too. We would visit our friends Muriel and Bill Rioux up the street, or he would bring me with him while he worked on restoring antique cars with another neighbor, Ron Durno. He would take me to get ice cream - his favorite was pistachio, mine was chocolate - and he'd wipe my face clean with the handkerchief he always carried in his pocket. He volunteered as my soccer coach when I was really young, and later as a band parent when I was in the high school marching band. Some Sundays, he would get up early and bring home freshly baked donuts to have before church. One of the last meals Dad had was a donut my uncle Geoff brought up from Chicago, and Mom joked, "The man did always like baked goods."

Well, of course he did: working for Pepperidge Farm for 30 years will do that. These days, it is rare for someone to work for a company for their entire career, but Dad did. When people would ask me what my dad did there, my answer would be something like, "He is in charge of figuring out how much of what product needs to be made by when at what plant and how much it is going to cost to do it." As a planning manager, Dad spent a lot of time forecasting, but unlike the weatherman, he couldn't be wrong all of the time. He was good at what he did, he loved his job, and he loved the people he worked with. Dean Solowin, the man Dad carpooled with for over 20 years, you'll hear from next. Towards the end of their time riding together, Pepperidge Farm even gave Daddy and Dean their own parking space with a sign that said so. Dad obviously used to brag about me a lot, because whenever I would visit the office, his coworkers would congratulate me on whatever latest achievement I had. I once asked him, "Do you walk into people's offices and say, 'Guess what Nichole did?'" He also would not allow Oreo cookies in the house, because they were made by the competition, and was disappointed when he saw the bread in my refrigerator was not Pepperidge Farm's. He blamed me for the low price of Campbell Soup's stock.

Dad loved his MG, and drove us in many of the town parades. He would take me with him to car shows on the weekends, and I was the only kid I knew who could tell you the difference between a Studebaker and a Packard. He once tried to teach me how to drive the MG when I was in high school, and that was a disaster. I kept popping the clutch and killing the engine when putting it in first gear. Most men would be freaking out that their daughter was going to ruin the transmission, but he just said, "Just start it in second gear." He was pleased when I told him I wanted to keep his Corvette. And typical of my dad, he said, "I’ve been saving my allowance for a new cover for it - have Mom give you the money so you can buy it."

Yes, Dad got a weekly allowance. He saved it in a metal band-aid container, and would often buy Mom presents from the money he saved. I never once had to advise my dad on an appropriate gift for Mom - he knew what she liked and wanted, because he knew everything about her. Mom was his high school sweetheart, and they were together for over 50 years, 47 as a married couple. They met at a New Year's party as juniors in high school, which was fortuitous since they went to a high school with over 5,000 students, and never had a class together. From what I've been told, it was love at first sight, and there was never any doubt they would be together until death did them part. Well, Dad may be gone, but their love for each other will always remain the same. It was rare to see my mom without my dad when they were out and about. But even if my dad is not here in body, he will always be with us in our hearts. Saugatuck will not be the same without him, no matter which side of the river you are standing on. The residential side has lost a family member, friend, neighbor, and president of the Historical Society. The town side will miss him at the post office, in city meetings, at Knights of Columbus pancake breakfasts and poker games, and in giving tours of the town he loved, and that loved him back.

My dad was "one of the good guys." The only time he yelled was when the Chicago Bears or the Michigan State Spartans were doing something stupid, and he never left the toilet seat up. He knew everything - Mom said we didn't need an encyclopedia or Google, because we had him, yet he was never know-it-all in his knowledge. He could read it, hear it, or do it once, and remember it forever. He loved Civil War history, shopping for clothes, Mom's cooking, genealogy, playing computer solitaire, watching the waves with Mom at Oval Beach, talking with others, and learning new things. He looked out for feral cats named Ed, ancient basset hounds, small children, elderly people, friends, and family. He was kind and generous, passionate and compassionate. Several of my friends said they remembered my Dad as always smiling.

Of course, I could stand up here much longer and say more about my dad, but I’d like to end with a quote from another friend of mine, who said, "Your dad really walked his talk by giving himself and his time to those he loved and the causes near and dear to his heart. Now that he's resting in peace at last, we can honestly say that your Dad used his time on this earth well, and that he made his life's journey a worthwhile and charitable one." Mom and I thank you for coming today.

May Parents of Students
June Nancy Woods, Jolene Jackson & Laura Latulippe
July Ken Carls
August No Cookies - Picnic
September Janeen Fowler
October Merle Malmquist & Paula Schultz
November OPEN - REPLY TO THIS EMAIL if you can help out.
December No Cookies - Holiday Party

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.


This image has been widely viewed but never positively identified. It is widely claimed that this is a Singapore dwelling being buried by the shifting sands of time. Another story is that travelers walking the beach from Holland were overtaken by cold darkness, used the attic for shelter, and started a fire which consumed the building remnants. So according to this account, the last trace of Singapore disappeared in an effort to warm these distressed vagabonds.

The fire story may be based on fact, but I doubt the building so burned was this structure. It appears that the building imaged here was built by a Mr. J. Hamel who owned a parcel of property just north of the channel from 1913 until the late 1920s. Kit Lane relates that she was told that this photo was snapped by Russell Force in 1918 with a small camera and pasted in his scrapbook. Mr. Force identified the building as having been the property of Mr. Hamel.

However, it is also possible that this structure was built by a member of the Cook family. The Cooks had a large extended family that built cottages along the river and could have built this cottage just north of the channel, overlooking the lake. Photos taken about 1910 show wooden stairs up the side of a sand dune adjoining the channel. They undoubtedly led to a dwelling on top of or just north of the dune.

Beginning in the late 1890s, the Cooks purchased much of the property both north and south of the channel. They held the property until the entire parcel was sold first to David Bennett about 1940, then to Frank Denison, and finally to the present owner, Aubrey McClendon.

My colorization of the original image brings a touch of life to this scene of death by sand!

I have a personal involvement in the ferry as it appears here – stay tuned!

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

                            submitted by


Welcome from Jack Sheridan leader of the Society Family History Group. The Group meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at 3:30 in the Old School House. Our next meeting is April 19th. Next month, the meetings are May 3 and May 17. Please join us to see what we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools available for family research.

Our offer to members is open: Send us information on a person and we will find them for you [if possible, if not, send us another person] in the U. S. Census.

Each month in this column we tell you about a rewarding family history discovery. A family history discovery is called a EUREKA! moment. Here is one from our last meeting:

On Monday April 2, 2012, the 1940 United States census data was released. The US census has been taken every ten years since 1790. By law each census cannot be released for 72 years after it is taken. The 1940 census has a lot of pages - some 3.8 million. But by our Thursday meeting that week we were  able to view the 46 pages of the Saugatuck, Douglas and Saugatuck Township on line at

It was  eerie to browse through familiar names of family, friends and neighbors, family by family. Wow, details, street by street, clear images, easily read, a trip on our personal  time machine. Goose bumps. A EUREKA! moment

Now the real work starts for organizations such as - that are racing to make the census available on line. Handwritten census pages will be converted  to computer searchable text. Line by line the millions of pages are being made ready for us to easily search, study, ponder and discover!

But, thanks to Chris Yoder and our crack technical team, you can browse the 1940 local census today! We have placed a copy of the census for Douglas (11 pages), Saugatuck (16 pages) and Saugatuck Twp (19 pages) on the SDHS web site. By clicking HERE, it  can be accessed through the SDHS "On-Line Research Center".

In our meeting this, Thursday we will further explore how to understand and access all the nationwide un-indexed census images.

Questions/comments: Contact me at: or (269) 857-7144.


Capt. Walter D. Hamilton

Thanks to Sharyn Brackett of Cerritos, California for sharing this photo of her husband's ancestor Capt. Walter D. Hamilton, taken in late 1915 or early 1916, not long before his death.


He was born in Ogdensburg, N. Y., Feb. 8, 1862.  He was a public school graduate, and acquired a nautical education in the Wilson school of Chicago. At 16, he became a sailor on the Great Lakes, an officer at 21, and at 25 went to work for the Spaulding Lumber Company, sailing in the summer and superintending repairs on the boats in the winters. Spaulding was purchased in 1894 by Edward Hines Lumber and by 1900 when Hines formed a Marine Department, Capt. Hamilton was appointed Shore Captain and Superintendent of its fleet of Steamers and barges, a position he held for 15 years. In 1915 he organized Hamilton Transportation Company, purchasing the fleet from Hines. He also owned the Hamilton Lumber and Coal Company of Saugatuck. He was Secretary and Treasurer of the Lake Lumber Carriers Association, for many years, and was Grand Secretary of the Ship Master Association and served a term as the Grand President of that group.


He married Mae E. Thompson in Chicago Dec. 25, 1889, and together they had six children who survived them. Daughter Ida Mae married Alfred Blake Taylor Jr. on 14 Oct 1911 in Saugatuck, MI at All Saints' Episcopal Church. A. B. Taylor was the grandson of Episcopalian minister Rev. J. Rice and Henrietta (Leonard) Taylor, and a son of A. B. Taylor who came to Saugatuck in 1868 in the employ of H. D. Moore.


Capt. Hamilton purchased his home in Douglas at the Terrace Farm in 1909, and became active in local affairs. His obituary says "it was through his efforts that the Crawford Transportation Company and the Indiana Transportation Company, were induced to run steamers between this place and Chicago".


At the time of his death on a train en-route to Buffalo, NY, he was a 32nd degree Mason, and an Elk. He had intended to sell his boats and enjoy retirement in his Douglas home. He and his wife both rest in the Douglas Cemetery.
                                                     submitted by Chris Yoder


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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 was titled:

The Museum is now closed. 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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