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


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.


Dine Around Events:
A Delicious Series of Dinners and Parties

to support the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society
From gourmet dinners in exclusive homes to casual cocktail parties, these culinary events feature great food and great times for a great cause.

2nd Annual Halloween Rooftop Bash
Saturday, October 26, 2013 | 7:30 pm
Tickets $40 per person
Hosted by Judi & Howard Vanderbeck
and Janie & Jim Flemming
On the Rooftop, 150 Center Street, Douglas

High spirits and dinner hot off the grill with Douglas Halloween parade viewing at 10 PM.


Comfortable Fall Feast with Steve Teich
Saturday, November 16, 2013 | 6:30 pm
Tickets $85 per person
Hosted by Steve Teich
178 West Shore Court, Douglas

Cocktails and a hearty dinner for eight in the newly transformed home of designer Steve Teich.


Dollybrook Musical Chairs Progressive Dinner
Saturday, January 11, 2014 | 6:30 pm
Tickets $75 per person
Hosted by The Keag Family, Dollybrook Family Resort
2076 66th Street, Fennville

Park once and enjoy small plate dining as you walk to each of the nine unique cottages at Dollybrook Resort. The natural beauty and charming, eclectic decor of this property will brighten your January.


Only a limited number of reservations are being accepted. For a reservation, REPLY to this email or call 269-857-5751 or email and we'll be in touch.

Thanks to your support we finished second in the Allegan County Community Foundation's ArtsAlive competition. Because of our second place finish, we were awarded a $4,000 bonus. This support is essential for our all volunteer organization. THANK YOU!

2013 Society Monthly Programs
At the Old School House History Center

November 13: Painting the Town: Landscape, the Artist, and People by Ken Kutzel who brings stories from the Society's art collection. Sponsored by Arthur Frederick, Button-Petter Gallery.

Thanks to Valerie Atkin, Ed Kelly, Sharon Kelly, Marsha Kontio and Renee Zita for providing delicious refreshments for our Monthly Meetings.

Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder leaders of the Society Family History Group. Our meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month. Upcoming meetings are:

Thursday, November 7
Thursday, November 14

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

Last month I described steps needed to begin recording and exploring your family tree. If you missed that, here it is again. If you have not started yet - remember it is a long winter - and get going now!

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 me for advice on what to get – the cost is low.
4] 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 cause you will be getting it.
5] Talk to 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 grandparents. You will be doing well to eventually identify 20-30%.
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 encouraging.
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 muttering EUREKA!

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 blossoms and buds on bare branches of my tree, but so far no EUREKA! moment on the Sheridan branch.

Very interesting development in that has redefined my ethnicity from primarily Scandinavia to primarily British Isles and Irish. This fits closely to the 5000+ people in my tree. Going back back before 1200 AD yields the Scandinavia ethnicity.

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

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy

The photo is a classic – the characters are on the left Jay Myers, who ran the ferry for many years, and Doc Heath. The story setting is the same spot and the tale was passed on by my father James Sheridan, who worked as a ferryman in the late 1920s. Whenever I see the photo I think of this story.

The men in the story are real Saugatuck people. Gubby Gleason ran a beach launch for many years, Whistling’ Bill was well known as a downtown bench sitter, and Red Bolton, a Chicago gangster who eventually died in a broad daylight shootout in the city, had a cottage in Douglas, and his mother lived on the hill in Saugatuck.

Gumwood Tale

One summer morning in 1926, not long after the sun had streaked the eastern sky with the first warning light and brought the warm July night to an end, three men who had been prompted to rise from their beds with the dawn, gathered together, as was the habit of such men, on rickety chairs in front of the ferry shanty.

Red Bolton had come there not because he sought company or conversation, but because as usual, his bad stomach and the snoring of Mrs. Bolton sent him roaming at daybreak. Elmer Haselgren, known as Whistling Bill, whether it was early or late, was there due to a desire of company. The third man was Gubby Gleason, an ambitious and gregarious soul, a spinner of tall tales, who loved an audience. On a nearby bench lounged the ferryman, young Jim Sheridan, winding up the last stretch of his ferryman night shift.

A gray pot of coffee seeped on the one burner kerosene stove. The talk was garrulous, in keeping with the hour and the mood of men who had not yet breakfasted. The ferryman Sheridan was silent as befitted a fellow in the presence of his elders. This day a discussion grew about the qualities of various woods. It was agreed that there were few species of trees which produced anything as excellent for most purposes as the white pine. There was a lesser mutual point of view concerning certain types of oak, cedar, mahogany and redwood. The short-comings of yellow pine, spruce and cypress were debated.

Eventually speculations were offered over which was the most useless wood.

"Now you take gumwood," said Gubby. "A more worthless type of stuff was never grooved. A feller gave me a batch of it one time and I figgered I might make out with it if l could get the job done and painted before a heavy dew fell on it." He paused and shook his head as he contemplated this unforgivable error in judgment on his part. "Lordy, how it does warp!"

Bill nodded supportive agreement and even Red nodded in the affirmative.

"I was just about to nail up the last plank," Gubby continued, "when the dad-blasted piece slipped out of my hand and bounced into the river. Right there, I shoulda knowed enough to let her go but I fished her out and slung her up on the bank. Well, the sun was hot, yes sir, it was mighty hot. A minute or two later I took a look at her and I'll be dog-boned if l didn’t see her quiver from end to end!"

The speaker looked with speculation at his audience as if to measure credence, or the lack of it, in the faces around him. As usual, Bolton was expressionless, except he stroked his gut with a gnarled hand. The ferryman winced slightly. Whistling Bill scratched an area between his legs and leaned forward in eager anticipation of the denouncement of this tale. Satisfied with the reception, Gubby returned to his story.

"Then I come right over by that plank and I watched her like a hawk. The next thing I see was that one of the edges was a startin' to curl. She curled up and up until that cussed board started a lookin' like a stripe on a barber pole."

Red Bolton cleared his throat as if to speak, while a faint grimace crossed his face, but then he settled back in his chair without committing himself.

Gubby's voice rose a bit, "And then - wham - she flopped clean over on her other side!"

The ferryman turned away smiling and spat toward the river.

"You're right," said whistling Bill with satisfaction, "that gumwood ain't worth nothing."

Next month you will hear the details and solution of a true history mystery.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
submitted by

What You Missed
A Roan and Black Evening Dine Around

Cocktails in the new Blue Star Highway home of John Newland and Doug McIntosh followed by dinner for 12 downstairs in the Roan and Black Gallery.

If you haven't seen their new Gallery, please stop by at 3315 Blue Star Highway, Saugatuck. The Gallery is open Sunday & Monday from 11 to 5 and Thursday thru Saturday from  11 to 7

You Are Invited


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 27 at the Old School House beginning at 6 PM. 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.
                                                    submitted by Bill Hess

Nancy Mundinger

Nancy Mundinger of Downers Grove, IL and a long time member of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society passed away September 25th. She was born September 21, 1938 in Wheaton, Illinois and is survived by her husband, Fred; a son Fred Mundinger III, (Megan) and three grandchildren.

We Have Graveside Daffodils To Plant
Any Volunteers?

Once again, we will be planting daffodils in Riverside, Douglas and Taylor Cemeteries on the graves of selected "orphans" (people who either had no surviving family, or whose family has long ago left the area - our annual "DDDD project" - Dozen Daffodils for the Dearly Departed).

If you would like to join the planting crew, give your name to Chris Yoder at email: or phone 269 857-4327.

Do your Holiday shopping early at the Society's booth in the Antique Mall

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Booth at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion on the Blue Star Highway in Douglas has been a great success!

Stop in to see the display of Society books and other great items! All proceeds go for Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society projects. Check us out soon!

Another Edgcomb Autograph Book


Morgan Edgcomb (1877-1964), the son of William Edgcomb and Ellen Greenhalgh, was born in Muskegon and came to Saugatuck as a boy of seven. He sailed the Great Lakes for more than 50 years, serving on the Alabama, the North America and the South America, all ships of the Georgian Bay Line. For many years he was ship Captain. He retired in 1947. Thanks to Susan Edgcomb Dickens of Tempe, AZ for sharing her family materials. Theses have been scanned and are now part of the digital "Edgcomb Collection" at the SDHS.

Like his sister Nellie, who was featured in last month's newsletter, he followed the Victorian fad of having an autograph book, filled with short sentiments and words of wisdom by his friends. Some of these are as follows:

It begins "Morgan Edgcomb, Saugatuck, Allegan Co., Mich, 1887"

Friend Morgan, Apr. 28, 1889
When You are Blind
And cannot see
Put on your specks
And think of me.
-James Brown

(James Brown served as Saugatuck village clerk for 11 years and Township clerk for over 20 years. He was the father of Bea Finch. He died in 1948 and rests in Riverside Cemetery. Robert Krause owns a sled which has his name on it.)

To Morgan
Think of me and all my wishes,
When I am home and washing dishes,
Estelle Tedman, Jan. 26, 1886

To Morgan
Never trouble trouble
Till Trouble troubles you
Your friend, Henry Schnobel, Feb. 9, 87

(Henry was to work as a Master Plumber in Chicago until retirement. He was a member of the Congregational Church, died in 1960 and is buried at Riverside Cemetery)

Dear Morgan
Remember me when far far off
Where woodchucks die of whooping cough
Yours truly, Willie Dunton, Jan 31, 1887

(Willard P. Dunton died in 1962 in Portland Oregon)

To Morgan
This album is a golden spot
In which to write Forget me not
From your friend and school mate
Bertie Pride, Feb 8, 1887

(Gilbert Pride was the son of Edward S. Pride and Laura Bird, daughter of Henry Bird. His father opened a furniture store, cabinet shop and also undertaking parlors, continuing the business until 1897 when he sold and converted his place of business into a summer hotel, calling it The Maplewood, which remains today. Gilbert died in 1953 in Patton, California and is buried at Riverside Cemetery)

Dear friend Morgan, Feb 2, 1887
Think of me long
Think of me ever
Think of the fun we've had together.
Your friend Lanus Zwemer

(Lanus Zwemer was the son of Adrian Zwemer who came from Holland with the Van Raalte colony in 1847. Lanus became an electrical engineer working in Ohio. He died in 1944 and both Morgan Edgcomb and James Brown were among his pall bearers when he was interred at Riverside Cemetery.

Friend Morgan
Away, away, in the dark blue sea
Blow your nose and think of me.
Your friend John Cummings, Jan 26, 1887

(John was the son of Capt. Dennis Cummings and sailed with his father on the steamers Kalamazoo and Saugatuck. Later he sailed on the Goodrich lines before engaging in commercial pursuits in Chicago. He died there in 1921 at a hotel dinner table, aged 44, and is buried at Riverside Cemetery).

Friend Morgan
My pen is broke and my ink is blunt
And my hand shakes like a puppy dog tail.
Frank Schnobel, Feb 2 1887

(Frank, a brother of Henry, went to Chicago for employment in about 1891. He lived, married, and died there in 1944, at which time his body was returned for burial at Riverside Cemetery. Friends Morgan Edgcomb and James Brown were among the pall bearers).
                                          submitted by Chris Yoder

1830's Bureau of Land Management Data Added To SDHS On-Line Research Center

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy

Thanks to the efforts of property researcher extraordinaire James Faasen, early land records from the Bureau of Land Records are now available on line. This includes a wonderful area map showing the initial land grants. Click HERE to visit the "Maps" section on our Online Research Center. 
                                                 submitted by Chris Yoder

Welcome New Members

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

l Rod Aiken & Lynn McClure, Saugatuck, MI
l Michael E. Rash & John H. McElwee, Douglas, MI
l Sheryll Van Portfleet, Saugatuck, MI
l Ellen Carnahan & Bill Daniels, Chicago, IL
l Michael Van Genechten & Judy McCabe, Grand Rapids, MI

Garden Happenings

"Well, it's a marvelous night for a Moondance
with the stars up above in your eyes
a fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies."
                   --- Van Morrison, Moondance

October is a month of blazing color, moon-filled nights and spooky winds. It is also the month we say good bye to the flowers that filled our gardens with amazing color all summer long. But remember, even though the petals are gone, the seed pods are not. They can be a delicious meal for our feathered friends. Please be kind and keep some of the pods on your flowers in your own garden. Lee will do the same in ours.

The birds and the bees are hot topics at the monthly garden meetings! First the birds --- the Gerber bird houses that is. We want to thank Judy Anthrop for taking the time to research companies to move the houses to the garden. Thoughts and ideas are being passed around as to how we can move these beauties. They will be a great addition to our garden. Thanks to all working on this project.

Now come the bees!

The Garden Committee wants to bring awareness to our visitors about these amazing little creatures. We would like to bring a hive into the children's area. No, not a working hive, but one that children of all ages can take apart and put back together. Rumor has it there are a number of bee people in our own little Society. If so, can someone possibly donate an old hive --- or better yet help us set up an area with information about bees and their hives. Anyone interested please contact Ruth Johnson at and we can work on it this winter. Please and Thanks!

We noticed some of our giants are not doing so well in our garden. Although most of our trees are suffering with a dead branch or two, one of our beauties needs to come down. Please know that it bothers us just as much as it bothers you.

Christmas is right around the corner, unlike Walmart, Target, K-Mart and the rest of the huge stores, you can give a gift to your loved ones and help out our garden. Gift cards will be available for you to purchase or better yet how about one our beautiful benches complete with gift wrapping and name tags!

Please remember daffodils will not be installed this fall. We will have another bulb party in 2014 to add to our Daffodil Trail

Volunteer Opportunities. Our little Garden Gnome recently saw Cynthia Sorensen wiping the history boards at the museum on a very blustery morning. Now that is dedication. Thanks to all of you and everything you do to make our gardens beautiful. Come out, come out wherever you are --- that one amazing gardener that will help Mike at the museum next year. I heard the pay wasn't great, but the rewards are amazing. If interested please contact Mike Economos at

Also we would like to name the plants in our garden next spring and need someone that is quick on the keyboard. We will provide you with a list and materials and all you have to do is type in the names and apply to stake. Really simple and a ton of fun! Please contact Ruth Johnson if you are that person.

See you next month, The Garden Committee


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 2013 exhibit is titled:

The Museum will be open this weekend, the last weekend in October, from noon to 4 pm and then will be 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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