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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"!

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


Jack Sheridan, editor of "Family Tree Tales" and "History by Camera' is a little out of sorts and will hopefully be back in the saddle next month. Feel free to send him a cheery email at

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 & Barbara Ludlow, Saugatuck, MI

Timothy Dring Visits Old School House

Timothy Dring, from New Jersey and President of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association, did a (casually arranged) stop by the OSH on Tuesday, October 1 to see our Francis life-saving boat (Gallinipper 1) and ended up staying for over an hour inspecting and photographing the boat.

His specialty is technical and design history of all rescue boats used by the United States Life-Saving Service and the early United States Coast Guard from the 1800s to present day.

He noted that the restoration work done by our team is excellent, the presentation of the boat in the boat-house setting and lifesaving/shipwreck display is "stunning," and confirms that this boat is indeed the oldest life-saving craft in America. The other one remaining Francis boat (in Ohio) does not equal this one in presentation.

He noted that the Smithsonian would love to have it and took quite a few photos of the boat. He said that most of this line of boat was eaten up by war-time needs for iron scrap, hence now so very rare.

I asked him if the boat should be placed on the National Register and he said absolutely and he would write the nomination for us. This would mean that we would have two National Register listings on the OSH property. I will feed him the data he needs. He was impressed by some of the early photos we have of it pre-restoration.

Only known period photograph of a Francis type (modified version) metallic surfboat, showing a crew located in the Chicago, IL area (photograph courtesy of James Claflin)

Click on the photo above for a paper written by Timothy Dring on the Francis Type Metallic Pulling Surfboats for Coastal Rescue.

The theme of the Society's Year-End Campaign was Oldest Life-saving Boat in America Lives Here. Click HERE for a copy of the appeal letter that was recently mailed to al members and prospective members. If you haven't already done so, please consider a year-end contribution to Keep History Alive Here. A copy of the Donor Reply Card can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

News from the Archives

Recent gifts to the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society include:

l Painting of Oval Beach By Peggy Boyce donated by same
l Painting of the Pumphouse Museum by Christa Wise donated by Peg Sanford

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

l Two paintings of the Harbor donated by Jill Pluger
l The script of the Ghosts of Plummerville donated by Kit Lane
l A number of nautical items donated by Ken and Nancy Brightwell
l A large collection of items donated by Ron Jillson pertaining to the Saugatuck Marina Vintage board games and cards donated by John Upton
l Two notebooks with a list of Saugatuck High School alumni 1891-1960 donated by Bradley Twait.

Did you know that the books that have been published by the Historical Society are available year around at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion. The Historical Society has a booth there. We also sell t-shirts, totes, postcards and notecards. These make great gifts!

There are still a number of The Village Table cookbooks available This unique award-winning cookbook includes historical facts of the area as well as delicious recipes from individuals and local establishments. If you don't already have yours, make sure you get one before they are all gone.

As part of our rent at the Antique Mall, we are required to volunteer to be on the floor just keeping an eye on things 8 hours a month. The time is divided into two 4 hours slots. This is actually a pleasant task as you meet so many nice people. If you enjoy antiques and would be interested in knowing more about volunteering your time occasionally, contact Mary Voss at or Ken Kutzel at 269.857.4475.
                                          submitted by Mary Voss

Have you sent in your reservation?
Don't delay - Space is limited

Click on the image above to download and print the invitation.

Sunday, December 15
at the Saugatuck Center for Arts
400 Culver Street, Saugatuck

Cocktails at 5:30 ~ Dinner at 6:30

Cash Bar ~ Fine Wines
Gifts for Holiday Giving
Cash, Checks, MasterCard & Visa
Credit Cards Accepted

In the spirit of holidays past, this year's holiday celebration once again brings back the tradition of the community potluck.

Ham entree & tableware will be provided.

What You Missed
Some photos from the Halloween Bash at the Old School House

Stephen Mottram and Jon Helmrich

Ken Carls and Janie Flemming

Jim Schmiechen

Kathy Klage

Garden Happenings

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
                    --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well it is time to put away all of our garden tools and dream of next year. It was a very successful season with the installation of Mt. Baldhead and the Architectural Station and the celebration of our very own Jim Schmeichen. Thanks to Jim and everyone on the landscape committee for putting in so much time and talent towards our beautiful space. Your talents do not go unnoticed! Although the planting has ceased, the planning has not. The committee will continue to meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month to brainstorm and dream about next year.

Ed Kelly has informed us that we will be moving one Gerber bird house and one pillar. They are old and expensive to move/restore, so thank you for making the effort to bring local history into our garden.

A gentle reminder that Mike Economos needs help next year at the museum. Contact him at, if you would like to be part of the maintenance team.

We are in need of a used bee hive. Please contact Ruth Johnson at, if you have a hive to spare.

Tis the season to be thinking of giving. Why not give a piece of our garden to your loved ones? It will keep your hard- earned money local and will help to keep our garden green.

The landscape committee would like to wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

See you next month, The Landscape Committee

1880 History of Allegan and Barry Counties On-Line

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

Thanks to the efforts of James Faasen, we have added a wonderful version of the Saugatuck-Douglas portion of the 1880 HISTORY OF ALLEGAN AND BARRY COUNTIES by Johnson Crisfield to the SDHS On-Line Research web pages.

Working with the original text, James has added photos from the Society archives, links to biographical data about individuals, and various personal research notes.

Thanks again, James, for your scholarly investigations and your wonderful creation! Find the links to this valuable resource by clicking HERE.        submitted by Chris Yoder

Movies Come to Saugatuck, 1897

Photo from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University Library Collection

An entertainment, new in the locality, the Magniscope "Living Pictures" machine comes to Upham's Opera House, Saugatuck, June 25, 1897. Described in the Lake Shore Commercial as "an astonishing spectacle to those who view it for the first time" and is being used combined by a graphophnoe [sic.?] "a talking machine of the greatest power and distinctness."

Probably an undertaking by local photographer Miller Robinson, whose shop was on Butler Street at the village square. Upham's Opera House was located on Hoffman Street, at Grand, on the hill. [LSC, 6-25-1897]
                                       submitted by Jim Schmiechen

The Korean Conflict
by Arnold H. Shafer, Douglas

In 1953 I graduated from Miami University in Oxford Ohio and was drafted into the United States Navy. I reported to the Great Lakes Training Center north of Chicago for basic training. From here I was sent to Quarter Master school in Bainbridge, MD. This was to learn celestial and dead reckoning navigation, Signal flags and international Morse code which is a series of dots and dashes for each letter in the alphabet sent by flashing lights or a telegraph key. After this training, I was assigned to the destroyer U.S. Gatling DD671 in Newport, RI. It was a WWII ship that had just returned from around the world and was to get ready for combat. It was named after the man who invented the automatic machine gun. Newport was the home of the destroyers 6th Fleet North Atlantic Patrol. Destroyers were designed as an anti-submarine ship to hunt and destroy subs and protect larger ships, i. e. cruisers and aircraft carriers. They were referred to as “tin cans”. They are fast and maneuverable and heavily armed. They have two 5 inch shell gun turrets fore and aft, five torpedoes, antiaircraft Pom Pom guns, and depth charges for e and aft. They are very rough riding. Our first exercises were operating with our submarines, based off the coast of New London, CT, their home. This was mostly firing torpedoes and sonar detection. We actually chased a Russian sub out of there and we all laughed as they would not answer our calls. They knew they were not supposed to be where they were. We continued to train in the North Atlantic until they thought we were ready for Korea. The hard part of the exercises was that we would have to retrieve these fish (torpedoes) arm and refuel them and fire them again.

U.S.S. Gatling, complements of Wikipedia

As we were now ready to leave, hurricane Carol was tracking toward Rhode Island. We were tied up with three other ships in bay when it hit. The sky went dark, the wind ripped up the water and the rain started. It sounded like a siren going off. Because we were tied together, we were like an accordion. Four inch hawsers (mooring cable) broke as fast as we could double them up. We were banging back and forth, and even putting mattresses between the ships. We were all trying to hang on and get below. I was on the bridge when we broke loose. We started up the engine and the gyro compass was spinning around and you could not see to go anywhere, only tread water. It finally passed and hit the town, causing considerable damage. We lost all the outside rigging and life boats and had a large dent in the side. It was a very frightening storm and we were thankful to survive. The next day we were told to proceed to the Boston Navy Yard for repairs. The only ship that went aground was the one used in the movie the book "The
Caine Mutiny". They replaced the rigging, gave us new lifeboats and took a look at the dent in the side and said "we do not have to fix it, you will be ok, and now get out of here".

From here we went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for gunnery practice. There is a fueling station, a supply depot, and a target range at the end of the island. They first day they flew a plane over towing a sleeve and we were to fire our guns at it. We just got started and the pilot radioed down to the bridge and said “Hey you guys, I am pulling this not pushing it . I guess our guys were leading a little too close for his comfort. Then on the next day we had shore bombardment at land targets and they told us “we had better leave before we hurt somebody. We were all glad of that and could not wait to get the cotton out of our ears and hear again. They never gave our scores, I guess they didn’t want to offend us but in a way they already did. The next day we took on more ammunition, fuel and stores. Because of the size of our crew, most of the jobs require all hands to take part. The next day we finally sailed off to meet up with the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Coral Sea to escort her to the Mediterranean Sea. We practiced General Quarters (ready for battle) drills, our different formations around the carrier, flight operations, and getting us to operate together. About half way over we got word that there was a possible treaty in the making but we did not know if and when. We also knew that we would continue to have day and night flight operations as protection during the withdrawing of our troops.

Operating with aircraft carriers can be good and bad. First the good. There is more security, daily mail, fresh stores, current movies, and cigarettes at 80 cents a carton. However, even the smoking light was only lit once a day outside for 20 minutes. The packs were good for tipping. The navy is smoke free today. The bad, due to the size, weight and stabilizers, the carrier can crash thru moderate to heavy seas with little pitching or rolling. To launch the planes you travel between 30and 35 knots into the wind. The aircraft are down below with their wings folded and come up to the brick by elevator. The wings are then unfolded and placed in line behind a catapult. The pilot salutes the deck when he is ready and is thrust into the air at 150 mph and then he flies it. One destroyer is off the fantail to rescue any man overboard or a launch failure which does happen and the pilot ejects himself out. The others are out front and on the sides, changing formations around the carrier and guarding against submarines. Thus they must go faster. Depending on the ocean, you are pitching and rolling and trying to hang on. Then you slow down and wait for mission accomplished and their return. There are many wave-offs if the approach is not exactly right, they go around again. This is always a tense moment and cheers and clapped hands always accompany it when the hook on a cable catches them just before a safety net out before the coning tower. We called these landings "controlled crashes".

Traveling at 20 knots as lot of fuel is used. We would burn 1000 gallons per hour. During WWII a number of destroyers rolled over because they were low on fuel and lost their ballast. Because of this we were required to maintain 80% fuel on board. Even with this I saw our clinometer that measures the angle of a roll go up to 42 degrees. The carrier supplys the refueling while moving at sea. The captain gives the orders as you go along side and two hoses are attached fore and aft. The condition of the sea and the pressure changes between the two ships makes it difficult to maintain the proper course and distance. Too close and you are afraid of bouncing off the side, and too far out and the hoses release and oil spills out on the deck and crew. The helmsman is part of the QMs duties. You learn this by doing it. It is a feel of the ships reaction to the rudder and advising the captain. If the sea is a little choppy it is a tense operation for all hands.

There is a Navy Regulation that states "when a small boy gets along side a big boy he shall wear whites and the big boy shall provide music". Can you imagine doing this in a white suit; what was he smoking? In reality they get a stained white Tee shirt. We however get a 4 piece band that played two stanzas of "Anchors Away" as we cast off. The crew always had some colorful language for this operation at night when we had to get out of bed.

It took almost two weeks to cross the Atlantic. We made our first good will stop at Lisboa Portugal and had a very friendly and diplomatic visit and they were so glad we stopped. From there we went to Barcelona Spain which was our first and last docking for fuel. A full two tanks would be 156,000 gallons. President Franco was their leader and he rolled out the red carpet for us. The carrier crew and the destroyers were invited to dinner at people’s homes, and afternoon bull fights were held for us.

As a result of this the brass on the Coral Sea decided to put on an air show for them. We had a rehearsal the day before on a very nice day. After several formation flyovers Ensign Tucker went into a high dive and never pulled out. We all saw where he went down and went right to the area and found nothing. We searched all over the rest of the day and until dark and never found an oil slick. It was terrible to see and truly saddened everyone and dampened our wonderful welcome. The show went on. The next day we were told there was a big turnout. I don’t know if they knew what happened that day but I am sure they were told after we left. I could not imagine how the other pilots could fly the next day.

As we continued into the Med Sea we were surrounded by Communism. The break walls off the coast of France said "Go Home Americans" in red. From here on we always anchored out and took small boats ashore. While we were there we had joint operations with our joint allies - England, Spain, Italy, France and Greece. We had completed a flag signal drill with the British and they sent to message "Splice the Main Brace". We could not find this in our signal book, no one on the bridge knew, and the radio shack did not know. So we answered "We don't have any". The answered "Sorry". We finally found out from an "Old Salt" it meant "break out a portion of rum to all hands". The Brits are very good sailors and fun to operate with.

The differences in language made this the impossible dream. Thankfully for all the right reasons, peace was declared and we were to join up with the carrier U.S.S. Lake Champlain, and cruiser U.S.S. Des Moines and provide protection of these ships during the evacuations and return to the U.S.A. We were very happy to hear this, it lifted our spirits and gave us a second wind as we were all very tired, homesick, and sea sick in more ways than one. Our operations were successful and we were coming home. We had been gone for about 7 months. We all got some R&R and there were some discharges. We brought back four pilots who thought they would get home faster with us and they sat on deck and were sea sick all the way back. They said they did not know how we could stand it. We said "how can you stand your crash landings on the carrier". They said it was better than being on land. So hail to the Marines and the Army. This tells you that no matter what branch of the service you are in, it's all about war and war is insane.

After some leave and maintenance to the ship, the navy was informed by Ecuador that Peruvian soldiers were massing on its borders as they were preparing for their independence day celebration and were asking for help. Because we were available we were sent down to the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean. In route we stopped on the equator for a customary mutiny by the Pollywogs, those that never crossed, and the Shellbacks, those who had crossed. It was about half and half. It is a Navy customary crossing ceremony kept as a known secret and a story in itself. It is a day long event. We then proceeded to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We fired a 21 gun salute with our biggest guns with blanks that echoed in the mountains and we piped their officials on board. The carrier U.S.S. Roosevelt provided some fly overs and the Peru rebels retreated in a hurry we were told. We marched (walked) in their parade that day. We continued to operate with the carrier there until they told us to return. I did have the helm back through the canal at the captain's request but with a Panama pilot. This is the only time the captain releases his command. It takes about eight hours to go through, including the locks at each end. This is a very interesting thing to do and you are with other ships. In the locks you can relax, but the rest of the passage you have to concentrate. After this we returned straight home. After a few days in port, I received my honorable discharge along with some others. I saluted the quarter deck, walked down the gang plank, and waved to my friends goodbye, as my two years were up. Some kissed the ground.


I think we have the finest military in the world then and now. I visited today's destroyers at Navy Pier in Chicago and they are entirely different ships, with guided missiles, unmanned aircraft, drones, and advances electrical equipment.

This November they christened a new state of the art aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Gerald Ford. When fitted out it will go to the South China Sea, the largest at 1,148,000 square miles.

A model of it will be at the Ford museum in Grand Rapids. Contrary to what has been said, the navy does not need more ships, just replacements. For those who would like to take a Mediterranean cruise, go, you will enjoy it. The Navy will always be in that Sea to protect you.

Top 10 Questions and Answers

1. Everyone gets sea sick, but not at the same time and it goes away.
2. Yes, the French Navy does have wine with dinner at sea.
3. Sometimes you don't eat, and sometimes you can't.
4. You sleep in triple bunks with three lockers under the first. Go figure.
5. There is a movie every night, weather permitting. A gun turret is turned sideways for a screen.
6. No pets allowed, only monkeys, parrots, mice and gerbils.
7. Salt water showers, when you run out of water, are not good.
8. Breakfast: Tang, green powdered scrambled eggs, spam, powdered milk and sometimes fired rotten potatoes. Black coffee.
9. Fun: We stop and go swimming - clothes or now clothes - a life boat is lowered with an M1 rifle in case of sharks.
10. Pay day every two weeks, cash or posted. Why?

Arnold Shafer, a member of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, worked in engineering and sales for 44 years for the National Casting Co.

He and his wife lived in Chicago for over 30 years. They heard good things about Saugatuck and came up one Thanksgiving weekend. They saw the downtown and thought it was a movie set. They bought an Arts and Crafts cottage on Elizabeth St. and worked on it until 1994 and then in 2000 bought the barn at 429 Union St., Douglas where he now resides.

His wife Gretchen has passed on. Both of their houses here have been on the Society’s historical walks

Editorial note: As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ending of the Korean War, we would like to collect the memories of those who served. If you have a story to tell, contact Chris Yoder, 857-4327, email


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.
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