MARCH  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.


Still haven't renewed your Society membership for 2012??
Don't miss out on a great year of Events and much more! RENEW NOW! Click

by Mike Economos

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, our community and I have lost a very special friend. Harold’s sudden death has left us with a void that will be hard to fill. Knowing Harold as I did, he would want us to not grieve for him, but rather, to carry on with our lives and keep a little bit of his legacy in our minds and hearts. When Harold was told of the seriousness of his illness, he never displayed bitterness or wanted any pity. When I visited him at the hospital and at the nursing home on the afternoon before he died, he was his usual, chipper self. He showed more strength than I can ever imagine having. Harold was a realist. That's one of his traits that I so admired.

Harold had a great interest in history, especially of the civil war. When the Society was starting a program for walking tours of Saugatuck, we both attended the classes. He was a natural for doing these tours. After a few years, he became in charge of the program. He so enjoyed meeting the people on the tours, and they could sense how proud he was of the community.

Volunteering was a part of his nature. He felt that the community gave much pleasure to him, and he had a need to return the favor. He became a member of the Saugatuck Planning and Zoning Commission. Harold was intelligent, thorough, and had a great sense of responsibility in serving on the Commission. He was a leader in updating the zoning laws in the city. Additionally he was an active member of the Knights of Columbus, Saugatuck-Douglas Art Club and the Friends of the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library.

Harold served on the Board of Directors of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society and for the past two and a half years ably served as president. This was an exciting and critical time for the Society. He oversaw the final funding for the Back in Time Gardens at the Old School House, the Silver Anniversary Celebration and fund raising, and the building of the exhibit for the Francis Life Boat and its funding. The Art Gallery opened and the Root Beer Stand was preserved. The Board endorsed a land use statement which was shared with the local governments. Harold was a consensus builder, had a great sense of humor and displayed his great passion for the Society while he served as president.

On a personal note, he was a true friend, who would give you the shirt off of his back. I never heard Harold say anything negative about anyone. He was a devoted husband and father, a man of faith, unpretentious, and generous. I will miss all the good times we spent together, and I will forever be grateful that he crossed my path. I am sure that there are many who feel the same way.


How the Home Folks Followed the War with Jim Schmiechen
7 p.m., Old School House History Center

Jim Schmiechen uses images and the little-known "Douglas Dope" wartime newsletter to examine the news that connected the local boys at the "front" with the folks at home during World War II.

War-time ration refreshments served.

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 Tim Straker & John Cannarsa, Saugatuck, MI (Silver Lifetime Members)
l Steve & Janice Williford and Ivy Gibson, Saugatuck, MI

The Board would also like to acknowledge Thelma Coghlin as an Honorary Silver Lifetime Member.


This painting made in 1949 by A. Sandas was recently donated to the Historical Society by Cynthia Sorensen. Does anyone know who she was or anything about her? Please REPLY TO THIS EMAIL or contact Mary Voss at or call 269.857.7901 The archives are located in the lower level of the Old Douglas School House and is open Monday afternoons.
                                           contributed by Mary Voss

Part Two - by Dale Marriott Williamson

My parents had the pool built. The pool was opened around 1927. It was the largest outdoor pool in the state of Michigan at that time. There was a photograph of the pool which hung in the Pavilion.

I don't remember a lot about the construction as I was only six years old when it was built and I'm sure they just kept me on the farm with my grandmother. When it was finally open, the building which had the changing rooms and so forth was that long building at the side of the pool, the front of the pool. There was a parking lot out there for people to park, and you came in and paid and went into the dressing room and changed your clothes and went out the other side of the dressing room to the pool. There was a side walk all the way around the pool.

Dale about 1929

I remember my grandmother painting the sign. I don't know where the design of the sign came from. I don't think my grandmother drew it, it wasn't the kind of art that she did, but I remember her painting the sign with the woman in the swim suit. She painted it in the yard of our home on Old Allegan Road. I think she painted more than one of the same sign. Her name was Carrie Stetson. She lived with us there. She came when my older brother was born, and she came to help take care of the baby. She was a widow and didn't have a cent, so there she stayed, much to my father's dismay. He didn't like that very much and it made awkwardness in the home. Anyway she stayed, and five years later I came along, and they needed her again, and she stayed for 14 years.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

The Big Pool Station Wagon would pick up people at the Parrish Drug Store and take them up to the pool. When we send you the picture of the station wagon, I think I'm inside and my brother is standing by. You'll see that there's a sign on the wagon,   in the picture,  that this is a swimming team that they were taking to Chicago to the Chicago Tribune Swimming Meet that was on the lake front in the water. At that event my brother, Robert William "Bud" Marriott, Jr., a very accomplished swimmer, at age 13 won the 13 year old prize - there were hundreds of kids in the age group, and he won the prize as the best swimmer of the bunch.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

First of all I'll tell you about the building that was next to the pool where you would walk in to pay your way, there was a little office there and to the right were the changing room and to the left were two bedrooms, one was my parents and my brother's and mine. And the other was the lifeguard's room. The family and the lifeguards would stay overnight. The swimming suits, the guys wore trunks, maybe there were tops at the beginning. The older folks went in their clothes. They didn't swim. My father and mother didn't swim, it wasn't that they didn't know how, I don't think my mother knew how to swim, my father did, but he was too busy to go swimming, he was running the cash drawer. There were changing rooms separate for men and women. The women's changing room was on the pool side and the men's was on the back. We must have had a shower in each. We had a pan of chemical water to step into, and every one stepped in it before they got in the pool.

The pool was two feet deep around the edge. It was like a saucer and it sloped down to four feet around a deep hole in the middle where the diving was going on. There were two diving stands, one on each side of the deep hole, and there were these metal things embedded in the floor of the pool that came up four feet and then a rope through a "T" on the top of the posts was spread around to mark off the deep hole. There was a big slide at the end of the deep hole and you came down it very fast into the deep whole.

The life guards would pull people out but I don't think we had any serious accidents. We did have one guy that tried to come down that slide, it's very high and you climbed up this long, long ladder and it sloped, and one guy I think he had something to drink or something, he tried to come down the slide standing up and he fell and hit his head on one of those steel pipes that carried the rope around the deep hole. We had to have a doctor take care of him, it didn't kill him. I don't remember the life guards having to save a lot of people. I don't remember a lot of that. But they were very vigilant; there was always a life guard, usually two, but always at least one, overlooking the deep part of the pool.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

At the other end that building that I was telling you about, you'd come in and turn to the right and then the dressing room go out the other side and on to the sidewalk but also there, was a refreshment place. And my mother used to make hot dogs and dip ice cream, and there was a window on the outside of the building which opened down and made a sort of a shelf. They sold pop and candy bars. I remember I used to get into the candy bars.

The candy case was where you paid admission. It cost 10 cents to get into the pool. That's a good bargain.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

We always emptied the pool in the fall and there would be cracks in it. I remember seeing the tar marks on the bottom of the pool where the holes were mended. On the other side of the pool from where you'd come in and where the long building is, directly across the pool from that was another building, and it was the filter bed. And the water went out of the pool from in bottom of the deep hole into a pipe; maybe more than one, I don't remember that. And it was sent over to the filter beds. And in the top of the filter beds were long pipes with holes in them, and the water came out through those holes and went up in the air and was aerated and it came down below the pipes to the gravel and sand beds and was filtered. So it was cleansed with the air and sunshine and came down and was filtered through this stuff. And it went back into the pool in a big 4 to 6 inch in diameter pipes back into the pool and that ran all the time. The water was being cleaned and brought back under ground, and you can see in the pictures of the pool where it came back into the pool.

Circa 1935 Swim Team - I see Johnson Fox.
Who Else Can You Name?
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

We moved to Chicago when I was in fourth grade, but the pool continued to operate in the summer. It was finally closed about 1935.  When we lost the pool and the farm in the depression, that all happened at once and we were allowed to keep 20 acres which include the house and the pear grove. The rest had to be sold for taxes. And of course the pool had to be closed, and we went over a number of years later and the pool had been filed in with dirt and covered over. That was a heart-breaker, I'll tell you.


Dale Marriott Williamson, celebrated her 90th birthday last year, shortly after giving the interview which is the basis for this article. She lives in Maple Valley, WA with her daughter and son-in-law Nancy and David Gregory. We want to thank her for her story and for sharing a wonderful collection of family photos which are now a part of the SDHS digital archives.
                                               submitted by Chris Yoder


You can find the Society's Programming and Member Activities Schedule for 2012 by CLICKING HERE. You can also access the most current calendar from the Society's website.


These fun and informal programs will continue on Wednesday, March 14th. A schedule with topics and speakers is shown below. For only $125 you can SPONSOR A MONTHLY PROGRAM! You will be acknowledged as a sponsor of the program on the press release, the Society's website, newsletter and at the Program. Just REPLY to this email and let us know which Program you would like to help sponsor and we'll take care of the rest.

Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society
2012 Monthly Program Schedule
Sin, War, Base-Ball, Shipwrecks, Circus & More

l APRIL 11: How the Home Folks Followed the War. 7 p.m., Old School House History Center. Jim Schmiechen uses images and the little-known "Douglas Dope" wartime newsletter to examine the news that connected the local boys at the "front" with the folks at home during World War Two. War-time ration refreshments served.
l MAY 9: Shipwrecks, Heroes, & Scallywags - 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 Old School House History Center.
l JUNE 13: Michigan’s Titanic: The Mysteries of the Wreck of the Steamship Chicora. 7:30 p.m., The Boathouse at the Old School House History Center. Join us in the Old School House garden as Kit Lane presents the disaster story and the attempt to find its remains. Shipboard refreshments. The Annual Meeting/Report by the SDHS Board precedes this program at 7 o’clock.
l JULY 11: The Circus Comes to Douglas. 7:00 p.m., Old School House History Center. Our summer spectacular. Learn about the history of the old-time circus and hear SDHS member Bob Sapita tell how this amazing model circus was built - complete with sound and animation that will leave you spell bound. Circus time refreshments. The Circus will be on display at the OSH until July 23. (Travis & Sandra Randolph as well as Karen Lehrer of Irvine, CA have already agreed to be sponsors of this program)

From the Sunday, July 5, 2009 Holland Sentinel written by Jim Hayden. Bob and Kay Sapita are members of the Society

l AUGUST 8: The 'Don't Panic' Shipwreck Picnic. 6:00 p.m., Old School House History Center Garden Gather at the OSH garden and boathouse for the traditional SDHS summertime good-food picnic - with a garden treasure hunt.
SEPTEMBER 12: Take Me Out to the Ball Game - and buy me a Hot Dog. 6:00 p.m., Old School House History Center Courtyard. Meet the Douglas Dutcher Team and hear the story of base-ball in Douglas through the years. On the School House courtyard. Beer and Hot Dogs. (Sharon Kelly has already agreed to be a sponsor of this program)
l OCTOBER 10: Strange-But-True and other Cemetery Tales. 7:00 p.m., Old School House History Center. Join Kit, Marsha, and Chris on a photo and story tour through the nearby (and ancient) Taylor and Plummerville Cemeteries. Refreshments to die for.
l November14: Houses Talking. 7:00 p.m., Old School House History Center. A wine and cheese reception as the backdrop for an instructive view of area building renovation-preservation stories - and meet the 2012 Heritage Award Winners.
l December 2: The Society's Annual Jolly Holiday Dinner Party. 6:00 p.m., Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Begin the holiday season with your fellow SDHS members. Good cheer, great food, and a special story presentation.

Pick your program and become a sponsor. Just REPLY to this email.


The Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society has been asked to become involved in pressing for a resolution to the lawsuits filed by Singapore Dunes LLC against the Saugatuck Township regarding zoning. It is not the role of the Historical Society to take sides in disputes or to tell involved parties how to execute their roles.

In March 2010, the Historical Society published a position paper regarding any and all development in the tri-community area stating, "The Society asserts that any development that devalues the historic townscape, landscape, or view sheds, or diminishes our ability to understand or commemorate our varied history, should be considered a 'taking' from the people of the region."

This continues to be the society's position and is consistent with the court's opinion ( Judge Maloney ) that any resolution should be the result of public hearings and be "fair, adequate, and reasonable, as well as consistent with the public interest." It would be assumed that any resolution would therefore coincide with established zoning rules and procedures.

Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society
Position Paper on Development
March 17, 2010

Historic Preface:
Saugatuck's Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo River coastal district, including its old and new harbor areas, is an area of roughly 2,000 acres of relatively undisturbed dunes and woodlands which holds a large area of interconnected and identified sites of particular historic and ecological significance.  These sites tell a number of important stories in Michigan and American history, all of which center on the many interactions, over centuries of time, between mankind and the natural environment. Some of the sites presently contain structures while on others only historic records remain. Many of the ecological assets of the area remain in their natural state. Because each site is part of a larger historic space, this collection of sites should be regarded as a single lakeshore historic and ecological entity whereby the sites have full meaning only as a unified whole.

SDHS Policy on Development:
The mission of the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society is "to provide leadership in enabling the community-at-large to connect with and understand its past, to preserve the quality of community life, and to respect and use the area's history to shape its future."

Accordingly there are a number of historic features in the Saugatuck-Douglas area, both natural and manmade, that the Society believes must be protected and preserved.

While recognizing that development contributes to the economic vitality of our community, its value must be balanced against the economic and social value of our historic landscape. Thus, it is imperative that all development be approached in such a way as to respect both our human and natural history.

The built environments of our towns and the natural lands, vistas, and historic and archeological sites of the Lake Michigan lakeshore and along the Kalamazoo River are irreplaceable assets. They are vital to the quality of the community's cultural life as well as to its economy. The Society asserts that any development that devalues the historic townscape, landscape, or view sheds, or diminishes our ability to understand or commemorate our varied history, should be considered a "taking" from the people of the region.

The Society urges local, state, and federal governments to recognize the significance of these unique historic assets and to protect them from development or activities that would alter the area's character or appearance.

The choices we make today have long-lasting repercussions by which history will judge us. We must act wisely and with commitment to provide future generations with a strong and meaningful heritage.


Looking for a way to connect with our local history while having the opportunity to meet people from all over the world? Volunteer to be a host at the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum this year.

To be a Museum Host all you will need to do is:
l Volunteer for at least 1 (but hopefully more) 2 hour shift during this year's season. The Museum is open Noon to 4 p.m. daily, Sunday, May 27 to Labor Day and Saturdays and Sundays in September and October.
l Attend a 1 hour volunteer orientation session for new Hosts on Saturday, May 19. (Hosts from prior years are invited to attend for a "refresher".)

If you are interested or have question about being a volunteer host REPLY TO THIS EMAIL or call Bill Hess at 269.857.1081. You will enjoy being a host and you'll get to meet a lot of nice people. It's 2 hours well spent!

SDHS 101

Just a Reminder --- The first of two "SDHS 101" sessions will be held on Saturday, April 28th, at the Old School House beginning at 10:00 AM. New and former members are invited to attend this meeting which features facts, history, and information about the Society.   contributed by Nyla Hensley

Tell your story to 20,000 visitors!

In May, the SDHS will print an 8-page broadsheet newspaper, in the style of an 1890's newspaper, that will tell our stories to area visitors.

If you advertise in the Historical Chronicle, you'll reach 20,000 affluent and savvy "cultural/heritage travelers" and also fund Society programming.

Ad rates start at $88. It's a steal for an attractive publication that will be distributed to 20,000 visitors all summer long.

Ad sales have begun! Join the Butler Pantry, The Star of Saugatuck, Scooter's Café  & Pizzeria and Everyday People Café  in supporting this Society fundraiser. Custom ad design is included. The DEADLINE to advertise is Monday, April 9!

Click here for a RATE CARD with ALL the details or email Sally at for more information.

April Peg Sanford
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.


Why all the effort for such a bridge? The Goshorn floating bridge history mystery is revealed this month.

Check out the Goggle Earth aerial insert. On the lower left is the location of the intersection containing the Dune Rides building. A turn off the Blue Star onto 65th Street leads to the south shore of Goshorn Lake and the site of the south end of the Goshorn bridge. Herman Simonson stood there to take the photo. His father Simon Simonson owned a farm on the site. Directly north across the lake, the other end reached the shore.

Now drive around the lake - left on 64th Street at the Burger King and then another left on Island Lake Road. Follow it to the junction of 65th Street and the Lake public landing. Think of the effort that was saved, especially in the old days, driving a horse and wagon on a rutted sandy road at three miles an hour!

The bridge was first built about 1867 and then rebuilt many times. About 1904 it went out of use except for foot traffic and fishing. It was finally dismantled in 1915. Some of the timbers salvaged were 12x12s, sixty feet long beams and were used to build the Fred Reimink barn in Ganges.

Knowing that wood waterlogs if not painted and dried out occasionally, I understand why the bridge needed frequent rebuilding. Actually about half the bridge nearest shore rested on the bottom while the middle half floated in water up to 25 feet deep. Water was reported to slosh liberally through the bridge decking during the summer while ice provided a slippery surface in the winter!

The April photo is familiar except for some color and some explanation!

I thank Kit Lane for the bridge information in her book GOSHORN LAKE REMEMBERED and highly recommend it for the history of this wonderful little lake.

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. Next month, the meetings are April 5 and April 19. 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's one of mine:

My great great grandmother Mary Steward was born in 1820. She married my great grandfather Abraham Oberlin in 1840. One of Mary Steward's great-granddaughters, my mother's sister, Lucile Oberlin was born in 1901. I knew Aunt Lucile well and have many photos of her and my mother and their parents. Lucile had no family resemblance to others in the family. Hmmmm ... I often wondered?

While there are many photos of Lucile's family, unfortunately the family had no photos of Mary and Abraham and only a few of their generation. That is, until I discovered and contacted an Oberlin fourth cousin. She had a photo of Mary and promptly emailed it to me. EUREKA!

Mary Steward 1820-1891

Lucile Oberlin 1901-1987

Contact me at: or 269 857-7144.


In the next few days, you will receive a ballot for the 2012 Board election. Ballots will come via e-mail and by postal mail to those who receive the hardcopy of the Society's monthly newsletter. We have a large slate of board nominees this year as well as an Amendment to the By-Laws to increase the maximum size of the Board. Please return your ballots as soon as you can. Board members will be sworn in at the May membership meeting.           contributed by Jon Helmrich


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 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

If you would like to contact us with comments, please email us at or call us at 269-857-5751.
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