MAY  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.

The SDHS Board of Directors invites you to
the Historical Society's 2012 exhibition opening
of the Old School House
"Rowing them Safely Home Lifesaving and
Shipwrecks on Lake Michigan"
Introducing the Boathouse,
the Restored 1854 "Gallinipper" Lifeboat,
Shipwreck Stories, and the
Back-In-Time Gardens

Saturday, May 26
5:30 - 7:30

Old School House History Center
130 Center Street | Douglas

Shipwrecks, Scallywags & Heroes
An Exhibition

 at the Old School House History Center
daily thru June 15 from 11 am to 2 pm

Models and stories by Saugatuck Middle School Sixth Graders about Lake Michigan sailors, ships, and shipwrecks.

Photos by Jim Hayden, Holland Sentinel

Welcome New Member

We would like to welcome a new member who has joined the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.

l Thomas D. Slater, Saugatuck, MI

Was Douglas' "First Boy" a World Record Holder?

William Augustus May was born Dec. 9, 1850 in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania. The family moved to Chicago and after the death of his mother in 1854 and he came with his father and grandparents to Saugatuck Township in 1855. His grandfather, William F. Dutcher, was among the founders of the village of Douglas. William A. is often referred to as "the first boy of Douglas."

He had a varied career in business, and was also ordained a Baptist minister, William helped to found the North Baptist Association in New Jersey and served as its clerk for thirty years. Rev. May died in 1935 and he, his wife, and two sons are buried in the Douglas Cemetery. It is said that he wrote over 1,000 hymns and considerable poetry during his lifetime.

In addition to being "the first boy" of Douglas, it seems possible he may also have been a world record holder in another area.

The Lake Shore Commercial for February 22, 1878 reports:

"On Monday last we called at the residence of Mr. Wm. A. May of Douglas, and were shown a tape worm 40 feet in length of which he was relieved on Wednesday of last week and another 30 feet long removed from him last November making seventy feet of the worm removed from this gentleman. Mr. May has been unwell for some tome but we trust he will now recover."

This seems like a long tape-worm, but what is the record? An internet search finds this posting about the World Record:

"On September 5, 1991, doctors extracted 37 feet (continuous) of tapeworm from Sally Mae Wallace of Great Grits, Mississippi."

Wait a moment --- we checked and there is no Great Grits, MS! Neither does there appear to be a Sally Mae Wallace living in Mississippi!

From other spots on the web, however, we find:

"Tapeworms (cestodes) are segmented flat worms that range in size from 6 inches to 25 feet."

and elsewhere:

"The largest species of tapeworm is commonly called the fish tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium latum, since they are commonly contracted from eating fish. This devastating parasite has been recorded as reaching a length of 20 m (66 ft) in the internal organs of a human, and a length of 30 m in other hosts."

So if 66 ft is the real record, and you add the two lengths from Wm. A. May to get a total of 70 ft, he was indeed a world record holder!!! (While there are very nice scientific pen and ink portraits of this creature, in deference to the sensibilities of our readers we are not publishing one here. But it should be noted that at one time in the early part of the last century, tapeworm eggs were advertised for sale as a medical treatment for obesity.)           submitted by Chris Yoder


A summer internship program co-sponsored by the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (SCA) and Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society (SDHS), the "Young Scholars" program, is providing opportunities for college students and graduates to explore career potentials, expand their skills and build "real-world" experience aligned with their fields of study, while working on tourism-oriented community projects with mentoring by local professionals.

The program was initiated by Bill Underdown, sales consultant for Shoreline Realtors, who as part of the SCA volunteer team was honored as the 2010 recipient of the SCA's "Volunteer of the Year" award, recognizing his efforts in starting an SCA internship program connecting SCA to a variety of universities in Michigan and beyond. More recently he was named Central Michigan University's 2011 Intern Supervisor of the Year.

The Young Scholars kicked off their summer program in early May, meeting State Representative Bob Genetski for a word of encouragement.

Participants in the 2012 Young Scholars program (L to R): Mary Redford, Bill Underdown, Dustin Moore, Greg Farrand, Jordan Hathaway, Chad Mitchell, Bob Genetski, and Jim Schmiechen.

Five students from Central Michigan University have connected with the SDHS and SCA and are starting work on big projects:

Jordan Hathaway, from Zeeland, is targeting graduation in fall 2012 with a Bachelor's degree, major in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services, double minor in Event Management and Hospitality Services. His internship assignment concentrates on establishing the SDHS Old School House as an event hosting forum and designing fund raising events for the Young Scholars program.

Greg Farrand, from Colon, is targeting graduation in summer 2012 with a Bachelor's degree, major in Journalism. Farrand's internship assignment is working with local news outlets to document and record events hosted by the SDHS, SCA and the Young Scholars.

Dustin Moore, from Boyne City, is targeting graduation in summer 2012 with a Bachelor's degree, major in Entrepreneurship, minor in Business Administration. Moore's internship assignment consists of managing the SDHS Old School House as it's brand transforms and assisting the SCA with its green market initiative.

Mary Redford, from East Grand Rapids, is targeting graduation in 2013 with a Bachelor's degree, major in History, double minor in Art History and Museum Studies. Her internship assignment concentrates on exhibit design and artifact archive organization.

Chad Mitchell, from Troy, is targeting graduation in summer 2012 with a Bachelor's degree, major in Integrative Public Relations, minor in Psychology. Mitchell's internship assignment concentrates on social media development, merchandising coordination, and event promotion.
                                             submitted by Chad Mitchell

Please make them feel welcome as you see them around the Historical Society "campus".

The Might Ship Keewatin

Click HERE for a cute You Tube video on The Mighty Ship Keewatin discovered by Janet Schmidt. There is great music so turn on your speakers.

Society's Monthly Meeting
7:30 pm, Wednesday, June 13
In the Boathouse at the Old School House History Center

Michigan's Titanic: The Mysteries of the Wreck of the Steamship Chicora

Join us as Kit Lane presents the disaster story and the attempt to find its remains. Shipboard refreshments.

A mural of the sinking of the Chicora in 1895 lines the wall of the new Boathouse at the Old School House History Center.
Jim Hayden, Holland Sentinel staff

Monthly Meeting Refreshment Providers
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

Harry Walker loading passengers ca 1952
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.


"Watch your step," I would stand and offer my hand to boarding females. Males were expected to maintain footing on their own without prompting. Collecting the fare of ten cents would wait until we reached the opposite side of the river. A tray with separate compartments for change and bills hung on the hull just beneath the oar lock. My bench seat was just forward of center, in front of me was another bench seat. On both ends of the utilitarian square-ended sixteen foot scow were double wide seats that doubled as decks, which besides being sat upon, provided some protection from an occasional large wave. A full load amounted to nine adult passengers, three per seat. In addition, small children were allowed at no charge. Amusing to recall now in this day of regulation, the fact that life preservers were neither provided or required!

The ferry location has always been where it is located today. The large chain ferry capable of carrying cars was lost to history by 1949 but the passengers only ferry lives on. In 1956 there were two summer ferrymen, actually boys aged eighteen, who operated the rowed ferry in two shifts, from eight in the morning until midnight, every day of the week. The evening shift started at four and ended at midnight. The same guy then started the day and worked until four in the afternoon. This was followed by a twenty four hour break which provided time-off for important teenage activities!

My partner in 1956 was Stan and he was from Fennville - or maybe Ganges. I never got to know him, (we worked and played at opposite times) and unfortunately I have forgotten his last name. He had a 1949 Hudson Hornet which I borrowed on occasion. The Hudson was cool, low-slung, and just the thing for going to the Starlight drive-in movie. Stan if you read this, please give me a shout!

Rowing the ferry was a unique experience. The pay was not bad - fifty bucks a week in cash. Of course, it was a perfect job for muscle building and girl meeting. It could be very hard work - on sunny weekends rowing was practically non-stop, while rainy days were great for easy chair relaxing in the 8x8 ferry shack, reading and listening to Elvis. The Mt. Baldhead Hotel was next door (seen in the photo background) and the porch was perfect for ping pong and flirting with the dining room waitresses! The west side landing was in front of the Ferry Store.

And there was minimal supervision from the owner, Mr. Flack, whose only duty was to come by every few days to pick up accumulated receipts.

Labor Day came soon enough and I headed off to college --- memories are made of this.

Next month I will reveal a bit of the Avalon mystery - 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 meetings are June 7th and June 21st. 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 standing offer to members: Send us information on a person and we will find them for you in the U. S. Census, maybe even a Canadian or English census.

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 public viewing for 72 years after it is taken. The 1940 census has a lot of pages some 3.8 million and will take professional workers many months to index completely.

But, thanks to Chris Yoder one of the leaders of our 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. Just click HERE to view the 1940 census on the Society's web site.

Each month in this column I talk about about a family history discovery. Such a discovery is called a eureka moment. Here is one from the family history group recent experience:

Sherry Smith Coupe is an active researcher in our family history group. She has a number of very old family history records passed down in the Smith family. One is a journal containing a large number of interesting names and dates, including the name Kellogg. Some of the people were known to her, but most were a puzzle until --- EUREKA!

Browsing the database, she discovered a published family history entitled Kelloggs in the Old World and New. The book was published in 1903 and traced the history of "Lieutenant" Joseph Kellogg who was born in Harwich, England in 1626. He came to the Colonies as a young man. The book details many of his descendants and family history down to and including Sherry's known Smith ancestors. She can now identify many of the names from the family journal and how they fit into her family tree.

It appears that this branch of the Kellogg family also ties into the Battle Creek Kellogg family of cereal fame. Joseph had 20 children with two wives and fourteen children who reached maturity. So she now has seven or eight generations of branches to explore!

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

From the Archives
100 Years ago in Saugatuck

By unanimous vote of the Village Board of Saugatuck, the electric light ordinance was passed and Saugatuck will soon be equipped with one of the best lighting plants in the state. The village is to take 70 sixty-candle power lights for which they will pay $14.30 per month or $1,000 a year for all.

Corner of Main and Water Streets, Saugatuck

M.J. Biehsdorf of Chicago has leased a strip of ground from D.F. Ludwig on Water Street at Saugatuck and proposes to erect an open-air theater before the opening of the season. The work will be started about June 1 and it will be one of the largest and finest airdromes in the Midwest.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy and to get a better look at the piano beneath the screen.

Note: this was taken from the pages of the Holland City News and the Holland Sentinel.         submitted by Mary Voss


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

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Senior (65+) $20
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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 2012 exhibit is titled:

Starting May 26, the Museum will be open daily from noon until 4 pm through Labor Day and then on weekends from noon to 4 pm through October 28. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and view images of the 2010 exhibit.

The Old School House History Center and Lifeboat Display at 130 Center Street in Douglas will be open daily through the summer from 11 am to 2 pm.

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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