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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.

Notes From Your President

Welcome to the Holidays! As always the Holiday Party was a welcome way to kick off the season and wish our friends the best for the holidays and life in 2013! It was a beautiful event created by Janet Schmidt and her team of expert party planners. The presentation of the desserts could not have been more beautifully staged --- unless it had been accompanied by a brass band!

On a personal note - the best part of the holidays are the memories of the past. Spending time with my Great Grandmother and her special gingerbread cookies frosted in white and pink occupy a lot of my memory space. The cookies were at least one quarter inch thick with a soft cake like center. I recall her rolling them out on the kitchen table (she had no kitchen counters) and making the frosting on the stove. She was born in 1862 and had seen the native Americans leave Logan County Ohio when she was in school and told me of the spotted ponies carrying some of the elderly. Her teacher told her that the event would be something to remember --- and she did!

I remember the holidays with my grandparents. Depending on weather, they would sometimes stay with us for a night or two and that always felt special. Mom would make oyster stew and we would bring out the decorations and make the house festive. The thought of these memories causes the air I breathe to become fragrant and I can feel the thrill I felt then.

My hope for everyone is that you too have such wonderful memories. It is the memories of this time of year that glues our senses in place and gives us a feeling of wellbeing and carries us into a new year. It is that past history that allows us to look forward with hope to the future.

I want to express my thank you to all for the help you have given in the past year. That is another new memory for future recollection and I send love and peace to all.                
                                           submitted by Marsha Kontio

A Society Loses Two Life Members & a Charter Member

Gary DeMond, receiving the Heritage Preservation Award in 2007, was a Life Member of the Society and key supporter of the Old School House. He died on November 19. For more on Gary's Lifestory, click HERE.

Barbara Crandell, a Life Member of the Society, was an amazing supporter of all the Society programs, rode the trolley almost every time it left from the Douglas Socials and attended all of the Tuesday talks. Barb died on November 20. For more on Barb's Lifestory, click HERE.

Jane Collins Allen, a Charter Member of the Society died on December 5 in St. Louis. Jane and her husband, Jerry spent summers at their beloved cottage in Douglas, Michigan, and Jane was often seen walking her dog along the shore. For more on Jane's Lifestory, click HERE.

The Society has truly lost three great members.

A BIG Thank You to the Old School House Daffodil Trail Bulb Boosters
Since the Last Newsletter

Philip & Susanne Beilfuss  In memory of Philip Wesley Beilfuss
Robert W. Kegley, Sr. In memory of Anna Kerr & Winnie Kerr Pearson
Mary Olendorf
  In memory of Philip Beilfuss

To date, $1850.00 has been donated to the Bulb Booster program. If you would like to become a Bulb Booster, send your check to SDHS, PO Box 617, Douglas, MI 49406. Please be sure to indicate if your donation is being made to remember or honor a friend or relative.

Stories About the Mt. Baldhead Holiday Star?

                          Michael L. Anderson Photography

Last month we asked for some stories and memories to share - here goes.

This isn't about the star, but may be interesting background. In 1970 I worked for Tommy Tittle who had a ship-to-shore radio business. His antenna was on top of the radar ball and it needed adjusting. I thought my job was to observe from the ground but he made go all the way up and into the ball. I'm afraid of heights. The radar screen was still there and he fired it up. What a feeling of the whoosh whoosh, narrowly missing me as I pressed my back into the outside edge. The sound of our voices was bounced around the inside of the ball. A once in a lifetime experience and once was enough.
                                     submitted by Katherine Wilcox

In 1987 to 1995 I lived in a little gray house on Water & Francis. At the time I was working in Van Buren County and when it became time to drive home, tired after work, I looked forward to spotting the star to guide me, keeping me awake, in prayer, blinking of eyes and deep breathing to stay awake. Upon arriving in Saugatuck, the STAR welcomed me home, and I spent some time in a pray of thanks. It didn't matter if it were lit or not, because I knew it meant home, safety, and warmth. Always a guide, in meditation, times of silence and serenity, traveling or not, it was the STAR of Bethlehem to me.
                                  submitted by Collette Snydacker

Volunteer Corner

Tired of gray, snowy (maybe), cold winter days? Come to the warmth of the Old School House on Monday afternoons to learn about and help with archiving and preserving our history.

Mary Voss is a wonderful teacher and coach. Volunteering will lift your spirits and help our Society. Contact Ed Kelly at 269-857-2843 for information and other volunteer opportunities.           submitted by Ed Kelly

Society Membership

The 2013 new member and membership renewal campaign will begin in January 2013. We need your help to encourage your friends to become or continue to be members of our fine organization.

If you wish to make your membership payment in this tax year, feel free to click HERE for a 2013 renewal form.

The Dine Around The Village Table events have been very successful/fun and continue into next year. As an incentive to encourage more Lifetime Memberships, we are including two invitations to attend "The Magnificent Trilogy" progressive cocktail party at three spectacular Kalamazoo River homes on April 28th. This has a value of $200 plus all the fun.

Lets make this a record breaking year for SDHS membership!         submitted by Ed Kelly

Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society Family History Group. The Group meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month. Our next meeting is January 10, 2013 which due to the holiday, is the second Thursday of next year. The time is 3:30 in the Old School House. Please join us next year to see what we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools available for family research.

In this column I talk about family history discoveries. Such a discovery is called a EUREKA! moment. This past month Chris and I have been researching family histories for ten of our fellow Saugatuck-Douglas Rotarians. This has been a fun project and we are looking forward to sharing a number of our friends EUREKA! moments when they see our results! I am sure we will be gaining some new members who want to continue with our research.

Have you always wanted to learn more about your family history, but have not known where and how to begin? Here is a suggestion. Our SDHS Family History group wants to help you. A starting point is to record what you know about your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and send it along for a review by our volunteers.

If you are reading this newsletter on-line, you can print off these blank family history data forms. Click on one for your mother and another for your father.

Next fill out what you know and snail-mail the forms to SDHS Family History, Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406, or scan and email a copy to either or Give us time for an initial assessment. We will soon be back to you with whatever can be readily found and with suggestions on the next steps to take to learn more. Future further help is always available from the Family History group. Your family history does not have to have any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area.

If you aren't on the internet, call Chris Yoder [269 857-4327] or Jack Sheridan [269 857-1744] and we'll get a work sheet to you.

In April 2012 the 1940 United States census data was released. has now completed indexing the entire census. They are offering free access to the census. Just click HERE.

If you prefer, you may easily browse the local 1940 census results. 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. Take a look by clicking HERE.

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

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

Down at the Mouth

Taken from the large dune flanking Mt. Baldhead on the south side of the old channel, this photo of the Kalamazoo River mouth is marvelous and one of my favorites. It is the first known photo of the lighthouse, fishtown and the new pier. It can be dated accurately as 1870-71 because the river pier and the Lake Michigan south pier are complete but the north lake pier has not been started. Many of the fishtown dwellings appear to be newly built and there are a number of two masted fishing boats at the docks - signs of prosperity!

There is snow on the ground but no ice on the river so the time was late fall or in the spring after ice out. I conclude from this photo that fisherman probably lived in fishtown full time, though fishing must have been a challenge in the winter months.

There is no record of the photo's origins or of the photographer, but I have some guesses. 1870 was early in the development of commercial photography and Mr. Photographer was probably a professional who came here to make the first ever photographic record of the area. It is likely on that trip this same man took the photos of Singapore and the new 1870 bridge seen here last month. In addition, in our collection are two other photos of the area between Singapore and the mouth that may have been taken about the same time.

Next month --- lumber was king.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

                            submitted by

Welcome New Members

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

l Cathy Martel, Douglas, MI
l Don & Vicki Ort, Saugatuck, MI
l Peggy (Maggie) Fitzpatrick, Fennville, MI

Cameras are Rolling --- Letís Keep Them Rolling!

I am excited to report that production for WGVU Public Media's Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/ Douglas began on Saturday, December 7. WGVUís production crew worked with Jon Helmrich and Stephen Mottram to record the first interviews for the TV program with Jeff Wilcox, Judy Anthrop, and Judy Oberholzter. More interviews will be done in January..

The first phase of production is possible due to a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. Funding for the entire production is still only at 50%. We have a way to go to be able to produce the entire hour which will air on PBS stations. Lead donations have been made by Thelma Coghlin and Pat Sax.

Please consider making a year-end donation to the Michigan Hometown Story project. Every gift will help us to bring our own local history and our story to the public. And remember, when the entire budget is raised, the Society will receive $30,000 from WGVU for our cooperation, access to the archives, and for the assistance of members including Jim Schmiechen and Kit Lane to tell our story!

If you can make a donation or have ideas on potential sponsors and supporters, please contact either Chelsea Dubey at WGVU or Jon Helmrich. You can reach Chelsea at or 616-331-6782 and Jon at or 269-857-3574. You may mail checks to WGVU, 301 Fulton Street West, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Write Michigan Hometown Stories in the memo line. When completed, the program will air throughout Michigan and neighboring states for several years.
                                                  submitted by Jon Helmrich

Totem Pole

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society became the recipient of a reminder of our tourist destination status when longtime resident Henry Gleason recently donated an old sign shaped like a totem pole. Many of the old timers remember when it stood about 15 feet tall at the south entrance to Saugatuck on Lake Street. Word has it that it was built by Deb Hoffman, daughter of Dick Hoffman, the original owner of the Queen of Saugatuck, in the mid-50s. Thanks Henry!

Bruce and Marilyn Starring delivered the old treasure to Arnie Shafer's shop where he and Howard Vanderbeck will be restoring it for eventual placement in the History Center Garden.

The Society is seeking more information and any photos of the totem pole for its archives. Please REPLY to this email or contact Mary Voss at or (269) 543-4858 if you can help.           submitted by Vic Bella

A Christmas Mystery - May Heath Painting Found in England

Glenne-Marie Ross contacted us from England to ask about a painting she has recently acquired, signed "May Heath" and titled "For Sale Des-Res"'. She purchased it the village of Shevington, near Wigan, Lancashire. She wondered about its history and how it may have arrived in Britain.

The signature matches that which May used on the other paintings and the style matches her own. The cottage pictured is not of a design we'd see in Michigan, and Ms. Ross agrees the scene "seems stereotypically 'English' Chocolate box", especially with the choice of flowers (red and white poppies, a daisy, clover, foxglove and Queen Anne's lace).

Reading through May's diary from her one trip to Europe with her art teacher, I see no time spent working on paintings, but it's possible she did some sketches or took photos for future use.

May actively painted in Saugatuck as well as during her annual "snow bird" visits to Florida - where she studied under her art teacher. The secret to this painting may yet be found in one of her many diaries, copies of which are in the SDHS digital archives. Ms. Ross was to keep the painting at her stall at Bygone Times nr Chorley Antique Mall, but has brought the painting home for now.              contributed by Chris Yoder

Memories of the Holiday Party

Janie Flemming and Pat Sax

Dottie and Al Lyon

Judy Hillman and Mike Van Meter

Ed Kelly and Jill Beach

Memories from Soup's On with Stephen and Jon

Stephen Mottram & Jon Helmrich - Soup's On

David Geen & Bill Underdown

Jolene Jackson, Lonnie Hannaford, Howard & Judi Vanderbeck

Don't Miss the Upcoming Dining Around Events

From gourmet dinners in exclusive homes to casual cocktail parties, these culinary events all feature great food and great times for a great cause.

Dining Around the Village Table is a series of culinary events that celebrate everything delicious in the Saugatuck-Douglas area. 100% of tickets sales fund the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society and are tax deductible.

Tickets for events are assigned first come, first served. To reserve your place, call 269-857-5751 or REPLY to this email. Reservations and pre-payment are required for all events.

Don't delay, tickets for these events will go quickly

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 5 to 7pm
Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler
(Let the Good Times Roll)

Stacy Honson and Stephen Mottram will be serving up classic New Orleans' fare as a warm up to the Douglas Mardi Gras parade. The location will be Mark Neidlinger's unique Crow Cottage, perfectly located just off Center Street.

Tickets: $40 per person.
Hosted by Mark Neidlinger
31 Spring St, Douglas, MI 49406

Sunday, April 28, 2013 - 5 to 8pm
The Magnificent Trilogy

A progressive cocktail party and home tour of three magnificent homes on the Kalamazoo River.

Tickets:  $100 per person.
Hosted by Monty Collins and Jerry Dark, Sandra and Travis Randolph, Skip Schipper and John Seros
3440 - 3442 Riverside Drive, Saugatuck, MI 49453

Friday, May 3, 2013 - 5 to 8pm
A Toast to the Dunelands

Ken Tornvall will host a kick off party for the 2013 SDHS Museum exhibit opening at his home: an amazing restoration of a classic Michigan barn.

Tickets: $50 per person.
Hosted by Ken Tornvall
540 Campbell, Saugatuck

Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 11:30am
Always on a Sunday Brunch

Katherine and Mike Economos will host a Sunday Brunch at their home on the dunes overlooking the Kalamazoo River. Expect charming gardens, fabulous views and a delicious meal.

Tickets: $50 per person
Hosted by Catherine and Mike Economos
716 Park St., Saugatuck, MI 49453

George Hames

George Hames

George Hames (1835-1917) was born in Rochester, NY in 1835, moved to Battle Creek with his parents the next year, and was left an orphan there when he was eleven. He came to Saugatuck as a carpenter to help build the Saugatuck House in 1856 and remained here the rest of his life. On Nov. 14, 1859, he married Miss Martha Barnes (1836-1924) and they lived sixty years as man and wife. Shortly after they were married he built the house in which they lived until his death, which is located at 346 Griffith St in Saugatuck. Hames was an expert boat builder and worked in the Saugatuck shipyards as well as those in Green Bay. He also built many homes in Saugatuck, Douglas and at Old Singapore.

Martha and George Hames in 1908

George and Martha had seven children: Allie, the oldest son, was drowned at the pier as a young man; daughter Allie died in childhood; two sons died in infancy; son George lived in Chicago; Mattie married Edward Lewis Dale and moved to Newago, MI; and daughter Ada married Charles Edwin Houtkamp of Milwaukee and later Holland, MI.

Ada's father-in-law Adrian Houtkamp had been an editor of the Saugatuck Commercial Record. In her history of the Commercial Record, Kit Lane writes:

In April of 1882 the paper was sold to Adrian Houtkamp, In 1885 Charles Winslow, a former editor, returned to Michigan and started a newspaper in Douglas called the Weekly Record. Editor Houtkamp was incensed and wrote in the January 1, 1886 issue:

"Three years and nine months ago I bought the Lake Shore Commercial. I have owned it longer than any other person. It having been clearly demonstrated in the past two years that there is no possible show for a man with a family -- let him live ever so economical -- to make more than a bare living in the printing business here, the publisher has concluded to shut up shop and go where his labor will pay him." The paper was not published for two weeks, the only issues missed in more than a century of its existence.

George died Dec. 8, 1917, from the effects of a 15 foot fall off a ladder which had occurred two days prior. He experienced a scalp wound from which he did not recover.

The Hames were charter members of the Congregational church, which was located directly south of their Griffith Street home. When the church was first built and struggled with financing, Mr. Hames was very active in obtaining subscriptions to clear the debt. She remained active in the church until finally giving up their Saugatuck home after the death of her husband. At that time she went to live with her daughter Mattie in Newago. Before her marriage Mattie had been organist for the Congregational church choir. Martha died Dec. 4, 1924, after many years of deteriorating health. Both George and Martha are buried in the Riverside Cemetery.

The Hames home looks today very much as it did 100 years ago.

346 Griffith Street- Then and Now- Front View
346 Griffith Street- Then and Now- Back View
Click on any of the images for a higher resolution copy

The old photos are from the Hames Collection of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Several years ago, a gentleman from Spring Lake Michigan started to sell a collection of photos he purchased at an estate sale. We identified the family, contacted him, and he allowed us to scan the collection for our digital archives. He also donated some of the originals to the Society.       submitted by Chris Yoder

Mt. Baldhead Station Update

Some good things take some good time to come about. Due to the brilliant construction and design work by John Migas (and the Garden Committee) the Mt. Baldhead viewing station at the History Center garden is completed and ready for your viewing use.

As one of the six Back-In-Time garden pathway story stations, it still has the "story" to be installed and some sort of paint or stain work to be done.

The purpose of the deck is to give garden visitors a direct view of Mt. Baldhead in the distance complete with a bit of history of the this famous sand dune.

Spring planting of many dozen azaleas and rhododendron bushes will surround the deck.

Jim Schmiechen and Kristi Mueller are shouting loudly about how the very interesting way the "story" will be laid out on the deck. The garden's story-stop idea follows the highly successful "learning stations" we placed along the Museum waterfront pathway in the late 1990s and are viewed by tens of thousands of visitors each year. This takes the garden project another step toward completion. More to come.
                                        submitted by Jim Schmiechen

 Mt. Baldhead Holiday Star

Brent Van Oss, Brent Birkholz and Brendt Sheridan

The Holiday Star atop Mt. Baldhead being replaced with a new star being built by students from Saugatuck High School under the direction of Brent, Brent, and Brendt. The "old" star had reached total deterioration after being a replaced a few years back from the original star. The original star was first placed on Mt. Baldhead by the writer-photographer Bill Simmons in the 1950s. The original ceramic bulb receptacles will be placed in the Society's archives.        contributed by Jim Schmiechen

Monthly Meeting Refreshments Needed

Cookies and sweets are needed for the 2013 Wednesday General Membership Meetings except for January, August and December.

Please contact Marsha Kontio at or 616-566-1239 if you can help out.

Thanks from the Cookie Monster.


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 2012 exhibit was titled:

The Museum is now closed. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and view images of this year's exhibit.

The Old School House History Center and Lifeboat Display at 130 Center Street in Douglas is open to visitors by appointment. Please REPLY to this email or call 269 857-5751.

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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