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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

Greetings and who can believe it is almost November?? The leaves are golden and they remind us that Halloween cannot be far away. This reminds me that the November general membership meeting is one of our most exciting venues for a program --- the "Strange-But-True and Other Cemetery Tales" created by Kit Lane.

The ghosts from Taylor Cemetery will be walking in our midst and telling us of their lives. Meet first hand James "Jimmie" Haile. He and his first wife Martha came to the area around 1837. They had an impressive home on the lakeshore which is standing today.

There is Henry Hudson Hutchins who was the first settler in Ganges Township. He is descended from Henry Hudson who explored and gave his name to Hudson Bay!

Another is Robert Wolbrink from Ganges who was a member of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. Come join in the fun as we celebrate the lives of 27 "ghosts"!

Not to be forgotten is the October 28th annual chili supper in honor of our many volunteers! This event will be held at the Old School House beginning at 6 p.m. Our volunteers will enjoy chili and all of the trimmings along with liquid refreshments! We hope that many if not all of you can join us for this Thank You for your many hours of volunteering your time and efforts. Without the help you have provided over the past year our projects would not have been possible. You are the core of the success that the History Center and Pump House Museum have enjoyed as well as the garden, the walking tours, and all of the other numerous activities.

I wish you a colorful and happy fall season and hope to see you at the up-coming activities!
                                      submitted by Marsha Kontio



The SDHS Board members will again be hosting a chili supper to show their appreciation to all the SDHS members who have volunteered their time and efforts during the year for the Society's many programs and projects.

The event is on Sunday, October 28th at the Old School House beginning at 6 p.m. (following the Daffodil Trail bulb planting party). Look for an "e-blast" with more details coming soon.

If you will be attending, please RSVP by REPLYING to this email. If you are unable to attend, please accept the Board's thanks for your support of your Society this year.

Society's Monthly Meeting
Wednesday, November 14 at 7 pm
at the Old School House History Center

Strange-But-True and other Cemetery Tales

Join Kit, Marsha, and Chris on a photo and story tour through the nearby (and ancient) Taylor and Plummerville Cemeteries.

Refreshments to die for. At the History Center, November 14, 7:00 pm.

You won't want to miss this one!

You Can Be an Old School House
Daffodil Trail "Bulb Booster"!

For a donation of only $25 you can become an Old School House "Bulb Booster".

One thousand daffodils bulbs will be planted throughout the "Back-in-Time Garden". SDHS members, as well as the entire community, will be invited to support and participate in the bulb planting party on Sunday, October 28 at 5:00pm. (The planting party is just prior to the Society's annual Volunteer Thank You Chili Supper.)

The Old School House History Center Garden Committee plans to make the bulb planting an annual event, using different varieties of daffodils, to completely fill our garden with spring color and create a "Daffodil Trail".

Funds raised will be used for the purchase of the bulbs, planting supplies and general garden upkeep. Your donation can be made to remember or honor a friend or relative and is fully tax deductible.

There are three ways to become a Bulb Booster:
l 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.
l If you would like to pay by credit card (Visa or MasterCard), just REPLY to this email and we'll give you a call to get your credit card information.
l Access the Historical Society's website and click on the DONATE button on the website's home page upper left corner to pay by credit card or PayPal. Please indicate "Bulb Booster" in the "Add Instructions" section.

Donors will be recognized in the SDHS November Newsletter, at the Chili Supper and in an ad in a local newspaper.

Thank you for supporting the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society's Back-in-Time Garden.


The way to enrich your Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society experience is to participate!

People think that volunteering is for the benefit of others. That is just a byproduct of the personal fulfillment that you will receive for getting involved.

Volunteer opportunities abound. Some of the areas were we need help are:
l Hosts - at the Pump House Museum from May through October and at the Old School House History Center year round, Boathouse and Back in Time Garden
l Gardening - at the OSHHC and the Back-in-Time Garden
l Marketing logistics - distribution of rack cards, posters, Historical Chronicle newspaper and tent cards to local businesses. Envelope stuffing and other mailing activities, and folding of table tents 2x a year.
l Social functions - set-up, serving food and beverages, clean-up for Annual picnic, Member receptions, holiday party, monthly meetings and other such events.
l Member and community tours - walking tours, dune hikes, biking tours.
l Membership - recruiting and nurturing
l Historical functions - archiving, data management, support to art collection management and resource management
l Parade marchers

Please contact Ed Kelly at (until a volunteer coordinator comes forward) to express interest. The volunteer coordinator will work with the various chair persons to match volunteers with opportunities. We encourage your participation.

Root Beer Barrel Staves

The following volunteers spent countless hours the last several months sanding, repairing, varnishing and moving the 125 Root Beer Barrel staves in preparation for the barrel's revival. They all deserve a big "way to go" and thank you for their efforts. They are listed here in no particular order:

Bob Sapita, Glenn Spoerl, Dean Batchelor, Steve Hutchins, John Peters, Sharon Kelly, Chris Yoder, Dan Rastal, Julie Abel, Jacqueline Carey, Dick Lyons, Vic Bella, Judy Hillman, Sally Winthers, Erik Kirchert, Tom Slater, Denny Bouchie and husband and children and Al Lyon. Al was the lead man on this part of the project.

The finished staves are now resting quietly in a barn graciously provided by Charles Carlson. Stay tuned for the next exciting announcement!         submitted by Vic Bella

Volunteer Opportunity

A volunteer opportunity is available for someone who enjoys entering information into a computer, is interested in local history and likes working in a quiet secluded space. If this describes you, then contact Mary Voss about information regarding volunteering one half day or more a week in the archives department of the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society.

Contact Mary at or stop in at the Archives office on Monday afternoons. Please use the basement stairway and knock on the door if it is locked.
                                 submitted by Mary Voss

Welcome from Jack Sheridan leader of the Society Family History Group. The Group meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month. Our next meeting is October 18th at 3:30 in the Old School House. Please join us this fall to see what we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools available for family research.

Each month in this column I talk about a family history discovery. Such a discovery is called a EUREKA! moment. One type of EUREKA! is the moment we realize we have become eager to learn more about our family history. Our family history becomes in our mind, like a good book. We cannot wait to turn the next page, read the next chapter, ponder outcomes.

Who were these people? This fascination usually comes after successes like discovering the maiden name of a great grandmother, an 1880s family photo, a flood of info from a distant relative, etc. For many it comes with the mastery of how to create a family tree on their PC. The pieces of a giant puzzle begin to come together.

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.

What You Missed!

At the Society's October Monthly Meeting, we celebrated Heritage Night 2012. One of the Heritage Preservation Awards in the Restoration category was announced for the Mill Worker House, pre-1864, shown above. The home is located at 10 Wall Street in Douglas and is owned by Floyd Fleming. The contractor was Mark Newhof and architect was Josephine Berault.

Click HERE for the complete graphic presentation including all of the awards. The presentation was given by Jim Schmiechen and Jeff Wilcox.


This beautiful structure on the NW corner of Mary and St. Joseph Street in Saugatuck was once home to one of our most prominent local couples. Look for their story in our next newsletter.

ASHTON circa 1925
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

ASHTON today
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

Book your reservation NOW for the Society's Annual Holiday Party. Reservations required. Click HERE to print your Reservation Card.

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 5 to 8pm
Wine Tasting Party with Renee

Raise a glass, or two, or three with host Renee Zita. The event will be co-hosted by Tom McCarthy showcasing several different wines from the Wine Seller in Saugatuck.

Tickets: $50 per person.
Hosted by Renee Zita and Ed Ryan
3023 Harbor Road, Douglas, MI 49406

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013 - 7pm
Red House Repast

Ken Carls and Jim Schmiechen will host a sumptuous meal at the Red House, overlooking the Douglas Bayou. Act fast to get in on this one since these dinners always fill quickly.

Tickets:  $125 per person.
Hosted by Ken Carls and Jim Schmeichen
325 Water 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

Welcome New Members

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

l Michael O'Connor, Douglas & Grand Rapids, MI
l Jennifer Pope & Rakesh Madhava Saugatuck, MI

Click on the picture for a complete montage of photos on Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo River water level

Water and Mud Over the Years

Seven years ago I created the montage you can view by clicking the image above. The focus was the ever changing level of Lake Michigan. Research reveals that the water levels in Lake Michigan between 1922 and 2012 have had a maximum variation of close to seven feet. The high was 583 feet [above sea level] and the low 576 feet.

For a detailed look at Lake Michigan water levels, click HERE to go to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory web site.

The level in September this year averaged 577 feet. So no doubt, Lake Michigan is at an extreme low and therefore so is the river. Recognize that there is some slight deviation between Lake Michigan level and the level of the river due to rainfall in the Kalamazoo River watershed and the opening and closing of the Allegan dam.

Today while crossing the Blue Star bridge I could see clearly visible islands of mud in the middle of Kalamazoo Lake! Hmmm --- has the river bottom filled up or the water level gone down? Of course, the answer to that question is a bit of both. Common sense says that the river bottom fills when sediment is deposited where the river widens and the current slows. That accumulating sediment has gradually filled the lake. The only question is when will most of the lake, except a narrow channel, becomes a swampy wetland. The conclusion is - to maintain Kalamazoo Lake it must again be dredged.

Looking back in time, a panorama photo taken from Baldhead in 1929 shows islands larger than those seen today. What saved Kalamazoo Lake then was the bridge project of 1936. The lake was dredged then to an unknown depth, probably at least three or four feet, because bottom material was needed for fill to create the bridge approaches.

More next month ...

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.

                            submitted by

Veteran's Corner Launched

A "Veteran's Corner" has been launched on the SDHS "On-line Research Center". So far, this beginning salute to area veteran's includes: access to the available issues of "The Dope" - the World War II newsletter published in Douglas and mailed to our men and women in service around the world; the veteran lists for Saugatuck and Ganges Township cemeteries which are used by the townships to mark the graves of our deceased vets each Memorial Day; and a link to the Saugatuck-Douglas Area Armed Forces Day Luncheon Facebook page. Send in your suggestions of how to expand this resource to  or call Chris at 857-4327.

Dope Issues Anyone?

Thanks, in large part, to local WWII vet Gerald Bekken, we have a good collection of issues of "The Dope", but we do need a number of them to make the collection complete. Any other Veteran's out there (or their families) who might be able to help fill in the missing issues?

We need issues: 1-5, 7-15, 33, 35, 37-38, 40, 42-43, 45 and up. If you have any of these we can copy for the archives, please contact: Chris Yoder at or call 857-4327.


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 is titled:

The Museum is open weekends from noon to 4 pm through October 28. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and view images of the exhibit.

The Old School House History Center and Lifeboat Display at 130 Center Street in Douglas will be open daily through the summer from 11:30 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday; 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday and Noon to 3 pm on Sunday.

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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