Click HERE for printer friendly version with images


Again this year, the Society Newsletters are being underwritten by a generous donation from Frances Vorys, a Society Life member.

Here's a Great Way to Beat the January "Blahs"!
Tickets still available!
For reservations, phone 269.857.5751
or e-mail

Plan now to brighten your Saturday afternoon on January 11, enjoying a "Musical Chairs" progressive dinner at nearby DollyBrook Family Resort. DollyBrook, a 2011 Heritage Preservation Award winner, is reserving all nine of its unique rental cottages specially for this event. Doors will open at 3pm. We'll enjoy drinks and a six-course meal in small-plate fashion as we stroll from cottage to cottage, each one differently designed and decorated featuring artifacts from local antique shops.

This initiates the Society's fifth annual "Dine Around The Village Table" series of dinner or cocktail party fundraisers. With all food and beverages donated by event hosts, this event's guest charge of $75 per person will fully support the Historical Society's volunteer-based programs and activities including exhibitions at its Pump House Museum in Saugatuck, Old School House History Center and "Back-In-Time Garden Pathway" in Douglas. For reservations, phone 269.857.5751 or e-mail Seating is limited so early reservations are recommended.

Each cottage will be hosted by and provisioned with specialties of different SDHS members: Kathy and John Mooradian; Sharon Kelly with Ken Carls; Janie and Jim Flemming; Marsha and Loren Kontio; Renee Zita and Ed Ryan; Steve Mottram and Jon Helmrich; Bill Underdown and David Geen; Judi and Howard Vanderbeck; Sharon and Robin Bauer.

DollyBrook owners Kim and Jim Keag will be our special guests, on hand to tell you more about their resort. Its cozy cottages are beautifully situated in 40 acres of woodland countryside in Ganges, less than 10 minutes drive from Saugatuck and Douglas, on 66th Street just south of 121st Ave. For more about DollyBrook cottages, grounds and history, visit


Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society Family History Group. Our regular meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month. Upcoming meetings are [note change to Wednesday for the next meeting]:

Wednesday December 18
Thursday January 9

Please join us to see what we are all about and most importantly, share "lessons learned" about the many tools available for family research.

This fall I listed eight steps I recommend to begin recording and exploring your family tree. If you missed them, here they are again.

1] Vow to spend enough time on this project to get comfortable with the basic process. You will reach a point of reasonable competence quite quickly. Giving it a few hours a week is a good start.
2] Learn how/continue to easily browse the internet. Actually on line research is a wonderful way to learn and gain experience to become comfortable with the internet.
3] Obtain a software program for building family trees and install on your computer. Call us for advice on what to get – the cost is low.
4] Discuss and gather personal data from relatives and family members. The bare minimum such as name, year of birth/death and relationship is fine. Do not fret if you don’t have all the information because you will learn how to easily get it in the near future.
5] Find relatives who have already done the some of the above so that you can copy what they have already discovered and save yourself work. There is plenty to discover – remember, in ten generations you have 4092 grandparent ancestors. You will be doing well to eventually identify 20-30% of these people. One of the real pleasures of this research is coming together with others who have a common interest. These folks might be close family or distant cousins.
6] Record the data on your computer using your new family tree software program. Like magic the software prompts for the data and organizes it as accumulated. The learning curve here is short and the results are very rewarding.
7] Join the SDHS family history group for “how to and what to do” support. We have subscriptions to many subscriber only web sites. You can build a tree on We advise you for free. The only requirement is that you be a SDHS member.
8] Start thinking EUREKA! with every new factoid discovery!

I must stress that your family history does not have to have any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area !!!

If you need a really painless jump start - record what you know about your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and send it along for a review by Chris Yoder or myself. The snail mail address is SDHS Family History Box 617 Douglas, Michigan 49406, or email a copy to either or Give us time for an initial assessment.

We will soon be back to you with readily found data and with suggestions on the next steps to take. Further help is always available from the Family History group. Again, the only requirement is membership in the SDHS.

I have told you about the DNA project. I submitted a sample last year and have been getting about 20 match reports each week. This has helped me grow buds and blossoms on bare branches of my tree. During the last month I have made contact with previously unknown-undiscovered Sheridans. It looks like our common ancestor is Joseph Sheridan born 1754 and I hope to use DNA to verify. Stay tuned.

Still wondering? Questions/comments/advice/needs - contact 269 857-7144 Chris Yoder 269 857-4327

This newsletter column is written by Jack Sheridan

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy

Saugatuck Interurban Happening

Most viewing this scene will not recognize the location. Don't fret, you have me to guide you and to explain the photo. From downtown Saugatuck, head north on Butler Street to Francis, turn right and go one block, then turn left at the four way stop onto Holland, go one block and turn right on Simonson Drive. Here the street curves and then edges the Peterson Preserve for fifty yards. Stop there and look to the north and slightly west for you are at the spot where the photographer, Herman Simonson, set up his camera and recorded this scene.

What was going on here?

Stop and think – take a guess!

Look in the background. See the trestle, hmmmm?

OK, the date is the summer of 1913. The trestle ran along North Street between [what is now] the Blue Star Highway and to the top of the hill a block east of Holland Street. The Interurban was being rerouted, the new route would gently curve south off of North Street to intersect and follow what is now Simonson Drive and then back to the original route west on Lucy to Water Street.

A couple developments spurred this change. Most importantly, more electric power had become available to drive bigger motors and bigger cars, including heavier freight only cars.

In 1899 the trestle was built because underpowered electric motors could not drive cars up the North Street grade. In addition the old route had sharp corners at North-Holland and Holland Lucy that called for lower speeds. And I suspect the trestle probably required expensive rebuilding to carry the heavier traffic.

Today you can walk along the grade you see being built here. Park on Simonson drive and walk the path to North Street.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy

A book is being written including the Interurban history – there is more to come including a presentation at the SDHS monthly meeting on February 12, 2014.
                                             submitted by Jack Sheridan

Welcome New Members

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

l Greg Plowe & Steve Debbink, Saugatuck, MI
l Gregory Frey & Patrick Coyle, Saugatuck, MI
l Chris Eppel, Douglas, MI
l John Thomas, Saugatuck and Douglas, MI
l Carol Segrist, Saugatuck, MI

News from the Archives
50 Years Ago this Month.

From a 1963 article in the Holland Sentinel: A series of pilings ranging from 60 to 90 feet in depth will support the 560 foot bridge crossing the Kalamazoo River on I-196 at Douglas. Half of the 500 tons of steel girders from the Gary plant of American Bridge Division, United States Steel Corporation at Gary, Ind., have been erected. The remainder of the steel will be erected this summer. It will be completed by July 1964, when traffic will be able to travel from the Indiana border to Holland on the I-96 freeway. This is one of three bridges being erected in the Douglas-Saugatuck area of I-196.

Help Wanted: The crew working in the archives office would like to find someone who is proficient in Windows 7 and Adobe Lightroom for some computer assistance. Call Mary Voss at 269.857.7901 (Monday afternoons) or e-mail the archives office at

The Archives are located in the lower level of the Old School House (use lower staircase) and are open on Mondays 1-5 p.m.                            submitted by Mary Voss

Renew Your 2014 Membership On-Line
and get ready for an exciting line-up of programs for 2014

The Society's Programming Committee has met to develop the schedule for the 2014 Monthly Programs and Tuesday Talks.

While a number of the presentations are still being finalized, Society members can look forward to programs

l On the history of the Interurban
l A tour of the Felt Mansion
l A field trip to Joan Donaldson's historic Pleasant Hill farm
l And another character-filled cemetery tour.

If you haven't renewed your SDHS membership for 2014, do it today so you can enjoy the Society's outstanding 2014 programming.

Now its easy to renew your membership on-line. Just click HERE.

Please remember the Society in your year-end giving. Your contributions allow for upkeep of our historical treasures, new exhibits, creative programming, and events that keep us all connected. Just click HERE. to renew your membership and contribute to Keeping History Alive Here

Garden Happenings

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.'
                                              ~Clement Clarke Moore

Ahhhh! Tis the season. Tis the season when all is quiet in our gardens. Tis the season when there is little life above the soil, but much life below it. Tis the season where snow covers our land like a soft down blanket. Tis the season when our days are short and our nights are long. Tis the season when our waters freeze like a sheet of glass. Tis the season of giving . . . of loving . . . of sharing. Embrace this season. Enjoy this season. We, the Landscape Committee want to wish all of you and your loved ones a very blessed and happy Holiday season.

See you next year,
The Landscape Committee

A Dozen Daffodils for the Dearly Departed (D4) - 2013

Jackie Ladwein, Joy Muhlenbeck, Maria Roa, and Chris Yoder braved a drizzle which turned to snowflakes to plant daffodils at nineteen "orphan" plots in the Riverside and Douglas cemeteries. The gravesites belong to people who either have no surviving descendants, or whose families have moved away from the area.

Douglas Cemetery

Little Mary Sleeps

Mary Reid (d Dec 8m 1867, age 12 y 11m 8d) daughter of W. and S. Reid

Jonas S. Crouse (1824-1899) - Born in Stillwater, NJ, he learned the carpenter trade, working in WI, MN, and MO before coming to Douglas in 1860. For the last 20 years of his life he served on the Douglas Village Board either as President or Trustee, earning the title "Watchdog of the Treasury" for opposing extravagant waste of the peoples’ money (would there were more such as he).

Emily Blanchard Brown (1818-1900) Born in Rouse's Point, NY came to Michigan in 1876 with her children.

Fabian Snay (1810-1876) – He and wife lie in unmarked graves. Reportedly helped Louis Campau set up an Indian fur trading post on the banks of the Grand River in 1826 which is now Grand Rapids, MI. Served in the Black Hawk War. He married a Native American and fished the waters in and around Lake Michigan. His sons also lived off fishing and navigating western Michigan waterways.

Gerod Alonzo Pratt (1810-1872) Born Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, Married Mary Celestia Grover of Windsor, OH. Had their home in Pier Cove, Ganges Twp

Anna Belle Curran (d. 1869 age 7) Daughter of Archibald Curran and Jane Reid.

Berton & Homer Wiley (both died 1873)- Sons of Hon. David W. Wiley (after whom Wiley Road was named). Their father was born in Ohio, and came to Michigan with his parents in 1852. In 1860 he bought a half interest in 100 acres of land near Douglas. His partner was B. S. Williams of Kalamazoo. They set out a large peach orchard in 1867 and in 1874 shipped 15,000 baskets of peaches.

Earnest Miller(1894-1906)- Son of Charles Miller and Anna Atto.

Chris P. Carston (1898-1965) - Chris Carsten was born in Chicago, IL and baptized Stanley Paul Jaszkowski. He and his siblings changed the surname to Carsten sometime between 1910 and 1920 and, apparently he also changed his given name from Stanley to Chris. He was a veteran of WWII.

William Godfrey Rickert (b &d 1926) Born prematurely to William Rickert and Anna E Godfrey. Lived one day.

Riverside Cemetery

"Timmie" Coates

Timmie Coates died 1873, age 3, son of Capt Lintsford B Coates and Alice Nichols Coates. Capt. Coates came to the village in 1844 and in 1866 built and sailed the ship "O.R. Johnson".

Carl, Christina and Rowland Hoerman - Famed local artists Carl and Christiana Hoermen rest with their baby and only child Rowland (d. 1908). With the present-day Hoerman family recently selling the Chalet on Pleasant Street and moving to New Hampshire, the Hoermans are now among our local "orphans".

Elisha Tracy (1810-1899) - Born in Pennsylvania, he moved to Michigan in 1833, settling in Allegan County.

Samuel Petheram (1839-1896) - Born in Lympsham, Somerset, England. Came to Canada, then later to Michigan. He was a shoemaker in Holland and Saugatuck.

Catherine Reif Pfaff (1838-1903) - Katherine Reif born in Coblenz, Germany and married to August Pfaff, a carpenter. They arrived in America on 4th of July, 1867, living in Chicago for 21 years before moving to Saugatuck.

Cynthia Bulloch Ward (1836-1905) - Born in Booneville, MO and married Wm. H. Ward, moving in 1869 to Chicago. Came to Saugatuck for many years as a resorter before moving here. Died three weeks after the move.

James Francis (1869-1909) - Born in Port Morrison, Cape Breton, N.S., James Francis was on a tug employed as a lineman when he drowned in the drainage canal near Chicago. He was found 12 miles away after 5 days.

Carlton (1859-1864) and Mary Ann (1862-1864) Clipson - Children of Samuel and Susan Mason Clipson - Samuel was a brewer of beer in Saugatuck, Michigan. The ice-house is now Twin Gables Bed and Breakfast, which is on the Michigan Historic Registry. He also was also a farmer, and had his farm south of Douglas.

Flora E. Dunton - Died of lung fever, age 19 yrs in 1878. On the one year anniversary of her death in 1879, a remembrance was published in the Lake Shore Commercial which included a poem composed by Saugatuck historian May Heath’s grandmother, Mary E. Morrison).

Catherina Geerst Helbach and infant son (d. 1877 age 38) died after childbirth of 6th child- wife of Matthias Helbach who is buried at the Pearl Cemetery, Fennville.
                                           submitted by Chris Yoder

A lovely picture of the Society's Museum at night photographed by Society member Elliott Sturm.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy. Be patient, it's a large file but worth the wait.

Last minute Holiday Shopping
Stop in at the Society's booth in the Blue Star Highway Antique Mall

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Booth at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion on the Blue Star Highway in Douglas has

 netted close to $1,000

to support Society programs and projects.

Thank you Mary Voss, Ken Kutzel and Cynthia Sorensen


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 is now closed until next Memorial Day weekend. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and recent past exhibits.

The Old School House History Center and Lifeboat Display, located at 130 Center Street in Douglas, is open to visitors by appointment. Please contact Steve Hutchins at 616-801-3735 or by email at

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.
We appreciate the opportunity to send you the Society's news and events information. If for any reason you wish not to receive
additional notices, please click on the "UNSUBSCRIBE" option below.