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ARE WE READY FOR SNOW YET?     contributed by Chris Yoder

State of the Society

It is the beginning of a new year and the President gives a State of the Union and the Governor gives his State of the State and I will give you a State of the Society!

Have you driven by the History Center (OSH) recently?? The new drive is almost completed -- beautiful new pavers -- and indeed there is still some work to be done, but it is beautiful!!!

We are pleased to let you know that the Society received a MCACA grant (thanks to Sharon Kelly). This grant totals $12,000.00 and while it needs a matching fund, it is certainly a reason to cheer for all of the efforts you will hear more about this at a later date, but for now; CHEER!

The end of the year appeal letter brought in over $10,000. To those who spent their time and effort in creating this memorable and savable letter (I encourage you to put yours in a shoebox under your bed -- it is worth saving) Valerie Atkin, Jim Schmiechen, Ken Carls, and Fred Schmidt -- a huge Thank You for making this possible. To those of you who responded to this beautifully created letter, an even bigger Thank You (if that is possible)!

I feel the Society is experiencing a beautiful soaring in possibilities -- look at the garden and the volunteers interested in its success, look at our programs (there are fabulous programs scheduled for 2013). Enjoy the new web site which will be launching soon -- you will be amazed at all of the new visions surrounding your Historical Society. As you enjoy the new web site, remember to thank Jim Cook -- he has spent many hours making this possible.

Speaking of NEW -- you must look forward to the opening of the new Pump House Museum exhibit. I understand it is the MOST fabulous to date and will leave you speechless! The exhibit is on the Dunelands and we all know how special that area is to Saugatuck and Douglas. This exhibit will be reflective and special to everyone who views it but, you must wait until the end of May!! Enjoy the anticipation!

FYI The year of 2013 matches the year 1963 day and date! I remember it well. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his "I Have a Dream" speech at the end of August, the assassination of John F. Kennedy and watching on a black and white, small screen TV the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. Fifty years ago it felt that life might be ending. While it was a change, life has not ended and we are here to remember and reflect on the effects of that time. Only when you are seventy, can you look behind with reverence and ahead with optimism and joy!              
                                           submitted by Marsha Kontio

2013 Society Monthly Programs Announced
All programs at the Old School House History Center
except December

February 13: 6.30 pm. Michigan's Hottest Town. Procol Harem, Alice Cooper and Others Invade Saugatuck. by Mike Sweeney who introduces the new Historical Society music history project. Refreshments. Program sponsored by Laird & Virginia Stuart

March 13: Finding Your Lost Relatives by Jack Sheridan who brings you to the Society's Genealogy Program with some surprises about people you know and news about how the program works. Refreshments.

April 10: The Amazing Azalea & Rhododendron Show. Join with chief gardener, John Migas as he talks, walks and explains all about growing azaleas and rhododendrons at History Center Azalea Garden. Program sponsored by the Michigan Azalea Society. Bright refreshments.

May 8: How the Wow? Your Insiders Preview of the upcoming Dunelands exhibition by Jim Schmiechen, exhibit curator. And the Society's Annual Meeting & Awards Night. Wine & Cheese.

June 12: Our Local Farmland Forecast: A 2013 Crop Report and Some Ideas for Your Table by David Geen of Hungry Village Tours who talks us through the country with local growers about farm conditions and what to expect at this fall's markets.

July 10: Low-Key Genius: O.C. Simonds and his Pier Cove Simonds was one of America's most important landscapers - and had an enormous impact on our West Michigan. Meet the author, Barbara Gieger. Wine & cheese social time.

August 14: Eat Your Way to the Top Annual Picnic at the History Center. Celebrating the Garden's Mt. Baldhead Viewing Station. Note early starting time: 6:00

September 11: Now and Then: Great Lakes - Hot Topics Long time Great Lakes observer Patty Birkholz brings past and present views of our greatest local asset - the water. Swimmingly delicious deserts.

October 9: Tales from the Crypt: Visitors from the Ghostown of Plummerville (Ganges Township)  Led by Kit Lane and Marsha Kontio, a virtual tour by the Cemetery Actors Group. Refreshments to Die For.

November 13: Painting: the Town: Landscape, the Artist, and People by Ken Kutzel who brings stories from the Society's art collection.

December 1: Annual Society Holiday Dinner 6:00 pm. At the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Kick off the Holiday Season. Good cheer, Great Food, Good Friends.

If you would like to sponsor one of the Monthly Programs, please REPLY to this email. Sponsorships are $150.

Look for the 2013 Tuesday Talks weekly summer programs in an upcoming Newsletter. Sponsorships for the Tuesday Talks will also be accepted.

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. Next month meetings are Thursday February 7th and 21st, 3:30 in the Old School House. Please join us 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 Yoder and I researched family histories for nine of our fellow Saugatuck-Douglas Rotarians. It was a fun project and enjoyed by the participants. We spent a limited amount of time doing the research but managed to expand each of the family trees by 30-100 folks.

Among many other things, we verified that John B. Carey, who owned the luxurious Carey House Hotel in Wicheta, Kansas in the late 1800s, was the 2nd great grandfather of Jacqueline Carey. In 1900 the bar of this hotel was invaded by the hatchet-wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation one evening, who smashed mirrors and other mayhem such as throwing billiard balls at a suggestive painting on the wall.

We discovered that Pattie Rickett's ancestor was the sister of Edward Winslow, who was the second husband of my 10th great grandmother Sussana White in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621.

For the March 13 SDHS regular meeting I will be presenting a program entitled "Family Trees Have Deep Roots" about how to research family history. It will include the results of research we will do for three Society members.

We are looking for families where relatively little is known about the family tree. The family history does not have to be local. How about it? All you have to do is supply enough information to get us started. Please contact Jack Sheridan or Chris Yoder if you are interested in participating.

If you have 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.

Singapore 1869

In my opinion, this photo is number one in the SDHS collection. The site is historical, the details are magnificent, the year 1869, making the photo likely the earliest in our collection. The image comes from a first generation print [made from the original glass plate] which was given to Kit Lane by the Johnson family. The Johnson family is descended from Otis Russell Johnson owner of the mill in the foreground. O. R. Johnson, along with Francis Brown Stockbridge owned the mills in Singapore near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River.

The photo presents the only known detailed view of Singapore, the mills and the milling operation. Some observations are:

The brick wall in the foreground was probably the site of an earlier mill. The mill in operation looks to be fairly new. We know that at least two Singapore mills burned. Note the barrels lined up on the roof and the ladder making them accessible should the roof of this mill building catch afire. The mill machinery was steam powered as you might guess from the adjacent smokestack. Kit Lane believes the small building, center front, was a blacksmith shop. Next to it and beneath the building is a family posing [identity unknown].

Check out the lumber schooner O R Johnson at the wharf. She was a sleek, fast, three masted lumber schooner, owned by Johnson and Stockbridge, and running lumber to Chicago and bringing hides back.

The shute between the mill and the wharf had to be for bringing out sawed lumber. So the log on a wheeled cart was probably for the photo shoot only. But it does raise the question of how logs got from the river into the mill, hmmm? Maybe with this set up the logs were hauled over land after being cut to the north in the surrounding area.

Note the inactive mill building and the elevated skidways in the background. I am impressed by the high stacks of drying sawed lumber. How did the workers stack and unstack them?

Next month - lumber barons.

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 John & Vicki Mayer, Saugatuck, MI & West Dundee, IL
l Joan Donaldson & John Van Voorhees, Fennville, MI

Totem Pole

Ca. 1945 - provided by Ken Kutzel
Click on the picture for a slightly higher resolution copy
of the original photo

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!

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

Don't Miss The Society's Mardi Gras Parade Night Dinner Party


A Mardi Gras parade night dinner party and home tour presented as a fund-raiser for the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society is accepting reservations for Tuesday, February 12. The 5-7pm event is hosted by Mark Neidlinger at his downtown-Douglas "Crow Cottage" at 31 Spring Street and a half-block walk from the start of that evening's parade. Mardi Gras attire is optional and welcomed.

"Crow Cottage" at 31 Spring Street, Douglas

The event celebrates the holiday and parade with a New Orleans-style dinner of jambalaya, cornbread and drinks served up by SDHS volunteers Stacy Honson and Stephen Mottram. It continues this year's portion of the Society's third annual "Dine Around The Village Table" series of home-tour gatherings initiated last September, with more events planned through June.

Built in 2007, Crow Cottage is a small, contemporary, open-plan, owner-designed house snugged onto a very narrow lot near the middle of the village. It features interesting wood finishes and use of concrete block, an upper sitting porch with fireplace, and an enclosed garden that leads to an even smaller guest house behind.

With all food and beverages donated by event hosts, the evening's guest charge of $40 per person will 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

Next up on
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

Monthly Meeting Refreshments Needed

We've killed the cookie monster!!! We will now need volunteers to provide wine and cheese for the 2013 Wednesday General Membership Meetings except for August and December.

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

The Young Scholars Program

Anna VanderJagt, a 2012 Society Young Scholar

I think the most important aspect of the Society's Young Scholars Intern program is forming an opportunity to create the desired experience.

I remember in the interview process, (way back in January, 2012), Bill Underdown told me that this internship would be whatever I make of it. Those words stuck with me as I set goals for what I wanted to accomplish in my time working in the archives for the Society and later with Water Street Gallery.

The setting of Saugatuck and Douglas constructs such an ambiance for Art Majors to draw from a diverse range of sources, get involved with a strong local art scene and meet awesome people along the way. I feel very fortunate for the ongoing support from the people that I've worked with.

Thank you so much! Best, Anna VanderJagt

Anna, our former intern, is now at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. If you would like to donate to the Society's 2013 Young Scholars Intern program, please go to the Society's web site and click on the Donate button on the upper left of the home page. Be sure to include a note about your donation in the Message Line. Thanks, Bill Underdown

Charles J. Lorenz Award Nominations

The Lorenz Award was established by the Society in 1997 to honor the memory of Charles Lorenz, who gave generously of his time, talent, money and energy in the formation and development of this organization.

Winners are selected each year by a special Society committee, recognizing distinguished leadership in fulfilling the Historical Society's mission to "help the community understand its past and use its history to shape its future and preserve its quality of life".

Click HERE to download and print a Charles J. Lorenz Nomination Form which includes the names of previous winners.

News From The Archives

Butler Street Snow Scene

This photo above was recently forwarded to the archives by the Saugatuck High School. It shows a group of High School Cheerleaders from 1946. Cynthia Sorensen did some investigative work and found that the girls are: (right to left) Phyllis Kingsley, Joyce Hacklander Busscher, Mary Ellen Koch, and Betty Campbell.

News from the Past
Thursday, December 12, 1912 The newly organized businessmen association of Saugatuck and Douglas is behind the movement to establish an electric railway between Fennville and the lake towns and the cost has been estimated at $100,000.

They hope to get Allegan sufficiently interested to eventually get the line extended to the county seat. (Holland Sentinel files)

Upon further investigation by SDHS archives staff, an article in the December 13,1912 Commercial Record titled, "Allegan Rallies to Rail Project while Fennville Slumbers" lists the men who were named to assume permanent control of the project as E.H. House, E.L. Leland, and W.R. Takken. Other men were placed on a traffic committee.

Question: What happened to these plans? Was the electric railroad ever built? Click HERE for a copy of the article. Why not investigate this further. Copies of the Commercial Record are available on line through the Society website. Start looking under "The Commercial Record"  highlight 1913. The group's next meeting was to be January 9, 1913. Be sure to report back to us if you find out what happened. Contact us at
                                                       submitted by Mary Voss


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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