JUNE  2014

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


Don't want to miss this one!
Limited tickets available

Saturday, July 19, 2014
11:00 A.M.
Behind the Scenes in the
Red House Kitchen
$85 per person

Guests at the Red House - the Douglas home of Ken Carls and Jim Schmiechen - count on tasty fare around the big dining room table.

This time, join Ken in the kitchen and observe as he prepares a selection of Red House favorites. Enjoy a "small plates" luncheon of the day's fare - and experience dishes to add to your own cooking repertoire. Emphasis will be on fresh, seasonal, easy-to-make dishes for casual dining.

At his best, Ken Carls from above at the Red House.

To reserve your spot for this Dine Around event, REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming Dine Around events.

Saturday, September 20 - 7:00 P.M.
Cocktails at the Historic Riley-
Slack-Ellis House
$50 per person

This is a unique opportunity for SDHS Dine Around guests to get a glimpse inside the well-preserved Riley-Slack-Ellis House, built ca. 1880 by carpenter and joiner Thomas A. Riley. Join hosts Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and her husband Steven Croley for a cocktail party in their historic home.

Riley was killed in the Civil War, and his widow, Fidelia, continued to live in the house after she married another Civil War veteran, Anthony Slack. Subsequently, their daughter, married to Claude Ellis, a lake ship's captain, continued to occupy the house, thus keeping it in the same family for generations.

Saturday, October 4 - 6:00 PM
An evening at DollyBrook Resort
$50 per person

DollyBrook Resort is a 2011 Heritage Preservation Award winner and a must see for everyone. Park once and stroll the nine cottages at your own pace. Each cottage will serve cocktails and one of the following: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, or Dessert. Mix and mingle with friends and enjoy each cottage's fabulously unique decor featuring local artifacts and antique. The cottages will be hosted by different members of the SDHS doing the cooking and serving up the cocktails. Make this event a "must do" on your list of fall activities.

Saturday, October 25 - 7:30 PM
Halloween Bash
at the Old School House
$50 per person

The annual Halloween party has become a favorite for many members and friends of the Society. This year's party will be hosted by Sharon Kelly and Janie Flemming. Don your costume (or not) and come to the Old School House for drinks and dinner preceding the fantastic Douglas Halloween Parade.

If you would like to reserve your spot for one of these upcoming Dine Around events, REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch.

More 2014 events to be
announced soon ---

2014 Historical Chronicle

The new Historical Chronicle has been printed and is available around town including at the Pump House Museum and the Old School House. Pick up your copy and happy summer reading.

Upcoming 2014 Monthly Programs

Click on an image to see a higher resolution copy or wait for the post card coming to a mail box near you.

Notes From the Gallery

Recently we received two very interesting mid-century prints done by Ox Bow artists/teachers. Alice and Mike Mason were active at the art colony in the 1950s where they worked as print makers.

"Cat Lost in the Woods", a print by Mike Mason, is a brightly colored study in abstraction. It was probably done out at Ox Bow during one of the Summers when he worked there.

"In the Deep Woods" by Alice Mason, is a more traditional exploration of the landscape, with its mushrooms and natural colors. This print was exhibited in 1955 at the Chicago Institute.

Both of these wonderful works were given to the Society by Chris Spencer and Charles Aschbrenner of Holland.

It is great to be able to add mid-century pieces to our collection that help us to understand what was going on in the local art world in the period after World War 2 when modernism was becoming mainstream.

Thank you Chris and Charles for the gift!
                               submitted by Ken Kutzel

Third Graders Visit OSH Lifeboat Display

Tour guide Jim Schmiechen had them first pound on the boat and had them identify the material, and then guess why iron?--- then figure out what is inside of the sealed compartments on each end. Yes, air.

However, they guessed that the big wave hitting the Chicora on the mural was 100 feet!

Then off to view the totem and the Mt Baldhead viewing station. Now we know it will hold 33 kids and 6 adults at one time.

Holland public school 3rd graders at Douglas History Center (Old School House) toured the shipwreck/life saving boat barn viewing the oldest U. S life saving boat in America. An all iron boat which was brought to Saugatuck in 1854.

Looking for a fun volunteer opportunity? The SDHS program group is looking for persons interested in being a tour guide for the History Center, Back-In-Time Garden and Boathouse. Scripts available. Contact Jim Schmiechen or 269-414-9199.
                    submitted by Jim Schmiechen

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

Thursday, June 19
Thursday, July 10 [due to July 4 holiday]
Thursday, July 24

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

The major tool we utilize is access to ANCESTRY.COM. The size and number of their databases is staggering. Of greatest value - information found in their databases can be easily attached to your family tree.

In addition to their vast store of data, they continue to grow and improve their business. A recent innovation enables the linkage of Family Tree Maker software that you own at home with software and data bases on the web site. This means that your at home family tree may be automatically updated with the same tree built by you on the website. Please come to a meeting to see how this works.

Remember, your family history does not have to have any connection to the Saugatuck-Douglas area !!!

Not sure how to get going? Let us provide a helpful jump start by recording 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

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

Mayflower ancestor, Revolutionary War vet, great grandparents? Still wondering?

Questions/comments/advice/needs - contact 269 857-7144 Chris Yoder 269 857-4327.

This newsletter column is produced by Jack Sheridan

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy

Saugatuck, the Weekend Getaway

Fifteen years into the twentieth century, the Big Pavilion was on a run - built at the right time, in the right place, an awesome dance hall with big city orchestras, brand new electric lighting (colors even), and most importantly, eager customers looking for a good time. For a small admission charge gawkers and hopeful wallflowers could watch from seats behind the railing. Dancers bought tickets for eight cents each or seven for fifty cents. Deac Weed and Frederick Limouze - managers, part owners and masters of ceremony - ran the operation and the dance floor with an iron hand.

Unattached males and females in particular were subjected to strict house rules of decorum. Dancing partners had to maintain a "proper" distance. Buttoned suit coats were a requirement. On busy nights, the length of each dance was monitored by Weed with a stopwatch. Innovative and new entertainment schemes were devised. Theme dances and parties were favorites. Prizes were plentiful for winners. On the floor in front of the stage were painted numbers used at special dances. When the music stopped dancers would rush - ala musical chairs - to get a number. Popular parties were the annual Farm and Barn Party, Mardi Gras night, Ticklish Party (feather ticklers for all) and the Pajama Party.

Chicago was a boat ride away and did they ride! What a way to find a sweetheart. Early on the Crawford Line and then the Indiana Transportation Company ran a regular schedule and docked next to the Big Pavilion. At first they came by boat and later by bus and car. The weekend in Saugatuck was a getaway institution that would last for fifty years.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy

This newsletter column is written by Jack Sheridan.

Dr. Edward Stanley Drew

Dr. Edward Stanley Drew, a member of the Society, passed away recently.

Click HERE for more details.

Welcome New Members

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

l Bridget McCormack, Ann Arbor, MI
l Gary Binns & Gary Moredock, Fennville, MI
l Robert & Laura Godfrey, Saugatuck, MI
l Susan & Thomas Burgin, Saugatuck, MI
l Tim Shea, Champaign, IL & Douglas, MI
l Katherine Cangelosi, Grand Rapids & Douglas, MI
l Linda & Matthew McWebb, Saugatuck, MI

and the following members have upgraded to
Life Membership

l Mark Davis & Nate Keag

Drone Takes Off

Starting this Sunday, June 22, a new ten minute drone video survey will accompany the Dunelands exhibit at the History Museum.

The drone and video were created by Jeff Zita for the museum exhibition team. Jeff is the son of Society Board member, Renee Zita.                                            provided by Jim Schmiechen

A Note from Marsha Kontio, 2013 Lorenz Award Recipient

I would like to thank the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society for the honor of receiving the Charles J. Lorenz Award.

Usually I can come up with a word or two or at least something to say --- I honestly was speechless! I wish I had been able to say how much this award means to me.

First, I knew and was friends with Charles Lorenz and his knowledge of the history of this area was priceless; second, it has been my honor to be able to share this history that I love and receive such a wonderful recognition. Thank You!

Also, thank you to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society for the beautiful receptions held this past Saturday for the opening of the Pump House Museum and the Old School House Learning Center Exhibit. While they planned wonderfully for foods and beverages, they planned most elegantly for the beautiful afternoon and evening weather. Great Job!

I feel so honored to be a member of such an outstanding organization!

What You Missed!
The Season Opening Party at the Old School House
Saturday, May 24

2014 Tuesday Talks

Click on an image to see a higher resolution copy or wait for the post card coming to a mail box near you.

Garden Happenings

"A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust."       --- Gertrude Jekyll

What beautiful weather to start off our summer and boy, do our gardens like it! The Museum's garden is spectacular and the Old School House is standing just a little straighter because she looks so pretty! Thanks to all the volunteers who are and will be helping out this summer. We are very grateful. Please check out the new art poles and information signs at the Museum. It is additions like these, that make our places special and definitely a destination spot.

Our "Back-In-Time Garden" will be the host to a number of events this summer; from Chamber music, to a kid's camp, to a venue for a wedding. It will be a busy place. It was nice to see a class of third graders from Holland enjoying both our garden and our very own Jim Schmeichen and to see so many volunteers sign up to provide tours or answer questions. Thank you. Our garden is doing exactly what the Landscape Committee had envisioned for it. In addition to our beautiful orchard fence - thanks to John Migas - we will continue to add new things to our garden, so be on the lookout for them.

The Root Camp committee is anxiously counting down the days until camp. Our first camp is filling up nicely, but we still have room for a couple more kids. The July session is open so sign them up. Please check us out on our web page and if you want, we still need sponsors. Click on the Root Camp logo below for more details. Many, many, many thanks to those who have sponsored us already.

Until next month, The Landscape and Root Camp Committees

Where Did Bradley Road Get Its Name?
                               submitted by Chris Yoder

Bradley Road in Saugatuck is a dead end street which runs for several hundred yards behind the blue Masonic Lodge building, beginning at the three way corner with South Maple and Blue Star. A few days after hosting two score SDHS members in a walk through his beautiful blooming azalea nursery at the end of Bradley, John Migas asked the question "Where did the street name come from?" With the help of some old county Atlases and Ron Clark, whose family used to live at the end of the road, we've been able to piece together an answer.

1864 Atlas

The earliest county Atlas at hand is one from 1864. It shows no road present, but that where Bradley Road has come to be is the north/south boundary of two plotted sections. On the south side the property is owned by T. P. Sheldon and Mrs. Judson; to the north, by J. G. Butler and Mrs. C. Reed. Butler was the son of Saugatuck founder William Butler; Mrs. Judson seems to be the widow of early settler Elnathan Judson who built the Judson-Heath House which still stands at the corner of Francis and Butler in Saugatuck; Shelton may have been the wealthy Kalamazoo agriculturalist of the same name, shown there in the 1870 census; and Mrs. Reed, not known.


By the 1895 census, the road appears clearly and runs back as far as the W.S. Bradley property, the house of which sits on the south side of the line, with his 12 acres of land to the north. One structure appears slightly east of the Bradley home, on 33 acres owned by D. C. Chrissey (sic- Crissy), and another west at the intersection with South Maple (linked to acreage owned by Herbert Palzer to the north. The "W. Nysson" who owned property on both north and south of the road (between the Palzer and Bradley/Crissy land) seems to be the Albert W. Nysson, who began farming here in 1873 and continued until selling his farm in 1900.

What do we know about "W. S. Bradley"? He is buried at Riverside cemetery and his obituary tells us quite a bit. William Stuart Bradley was born in 1857 in Philadelphia. His father died by the early 1860s and his mother, Sarah Stuart Bradley, married Thomas Donald. The family came to Saugatuck in 1869 and appears in the 1870 census. Both of the Donalds rest in Riverside Cemetery. The first home built was destroyed by fire, but another was constructed on the same site in 1871, and William lived there 56 years until his death. William was to become a maritime engineer. In 1884, he married Margaret Ann "Maggie" Zietsch, and they were to have three children: son George H., daughters Mrs. A. J. Force and Mrs. C. H. Sekell. Although his mother and step father seem to have been members of All Saints' Episcopal Church, William's obituary reports that he was a devoted supporter of the Christian Science Church.

1913 Atlas

By the 1913 census, we see several changes. Herbert Palzer's children, Jacob and Mary Palzer Updike (the late Ralph Cartwright's grandmother) owned his property and an additional Palzer house appears on the south side of the road further to the east. The Nysson property had been purchased by Frank G. and Cynthia Hayes (to become known as "the Hayes Farm").

Hayes Farm Sign - Phyllis and Elizabeth Pamperien at left

By 1913, the Crissy family had moved into Saugatuck and sold their Bradley Road acreage to the wife of Joseph Beaumont Jones, a Chicago insurance man who had been born in Douglas, Isle of Man, England, in 1849. Jones's great grandson Ron Clark reports "The point in the River where the Jones's lived was at one time long ago known as St. Pierre Point as it was a spot where a trapper of that name had his territory. As a result, "the farm," which was I am sure one of Saugatuck's first bed and breakfasts, was known as "St. Pierre Farm."

The Jones Family and their Farmhouse
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy)

Joseph Beaumont Jones was to die in 1918, but his family continued to own their property into the early 1960s, when their house was torn down to make room for the Interstate Highway.

Marion and Elizabeth Jones, photo taken by my grandmother, Lilian Pamperien the summer before the house was torn down.
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy)

Ronald Clark recalls that conflict was to develop between Joseph’s widow and the Bradleys.

"My grandmother used to tell a story that at one time a Bradley child broke his or her arm and the family who, because of their religious beliefs, refused to take the child to a doctor. My great grandmother became so distressed seeing the child with a twisted arm that was not healing straight that she took the child to a doctor herself to have the arm set without the consent of the mother or father. This caused great friction between the Bradleys and my great grandmother but the child's arm healed straight."

The Bradley Home as it appears today
(Click on the image for a higher resolution copy)

William Stuart Bradley died Jan. 28, 1928 after a 6 day bout with pneumonia. His death certificate was signed by Dr. R. J. Walker who recorded that, true to his beliefs, no doctor had been called. His widow Maggie was to live another 38 years, passing away in Contra Costa County, California, Jan. 8, 1956.

The westernmost property on Bradley has been sub-divided many times, including in the mid 1990s when what is now Heron Bay bought and developed the southern portion of the Hayes property from their Parker grandchildren. Today, much of the old Crissy/Jones property is contained within the boundaries of River Bluff Park on Old Allegan Road.

See you at the Dunelands Museum Exhibit

Faces of the Society from the Season's Opening Parties
Thanks to Marsha Kontio for the great photos


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

New Historical Society Museum Exhibit Celebrates Area's Duneland Treasure

This year's all-new exhibition at the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Museum, open for the season daily from noon to 4pm, offers a multifaceted look at the Kalamazoo River duneland and its archeological, historical, environmental, social and recreational significance, in contrasting tales of change and permanence.

Titled "Dunelands: Footprints on the Sand", the exhibition celebrates our piece of the world's largest freshwater dunes system in the world, according to Museum Curator Dr. James Schmiechen. "It's a marvelous collaboration of restless beaches, rolling forests and ravines, hidden streams, ponds and marshland habitats," he says. "This exhibition tells of how they came to be, how human activity has changed them and how people have changed in response to them, while giving special attention to historic sites scattered across the area and how history has set the stage for today's vibrant local community."

Researched and written by Schmiechen, and designed by Society volunteers Judy Hillman and Sally Winthers, the exhibition pulls together an array of photographs, artifacts and stories, set before a sweeping 50 x 10ft. mural dunescape captured by local photographer James Cook, intended to visually transport the viewer outdoors.

Informative wall panels weave text and graphics together to view the dunes from three different perspectives: The Preservationist's Notebook surveys 12 nearby "critical dune" sites with an eye toward "best use" protection of the natural environment while allowing appropriate public access; The Photographer's Notebook presents aerial views of local shoreline geography by Chicago photographer Bill Werme, documenting changes resulting from both natural and human causes; The Archeologist & Historian's Notebook, recalls the late 1800s "lumber rush" that disregarded nature, creating millionaires but sentencing the village of Singapore to its ultimate burial by shifting dunes.

Another series of wall panels presents a compilation of photos taken along dune trails, accompanied by hiker quotes revealing personal impressions and expressing thoughts inspired by their duneland experiences.

Centerpiece of the exhibition is a simulated "Dunelands Trail", marked by trail-stop signposts showing and describing a variety of sites encountered on an imagined hike through the dunes, including: Dune Rides; Goshorn Lake & Dune; New Harbor & Basin; Old Harbor & Lighthouse; Fishtown; Oxbow Art School & Lagoon; Pier Cove; The Oval; Mt. Baldhead; and Lake Shore Chapel.

Hovering above it all is "Beachcomber's Folly" a whimsical-while-thought-provoking hanging sculpture by Saugatuck artist Ted Reyda. The colorful composition was meticulously assembled from thousands of items that were washed up on local beaches and collected by Reyda over more than 20 years. Below, Reyda transforms other types of manmade flotsam into spherical standing artworks. In their own playful way, all serve to raise serious questions about human carelessness regarding our environment and disregard for protecting nature's gifts. Museum guests will find themselves silently drawn to interact with Reyda's art by identifying its components...sometimes obvious, sometimes not.

Augmenting the Historical Society's exhibits is a video display created by the Saugatuck High School students of art teacher Christa Wise, inspired by the work of British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, known for combining natural materials such as twigs, stone, thorns, mud and pinecones into temporary in-situ constructions that weather the elements and return to nature.

After watching "Rivers and Tides", a 2001 documentary featuring Goldsworthy at work, the class set out to Oval Beach and the dunes to create site-specific sculpture and land-art using whatever they found. Their short video, in the style of "Rivers and Tides", documents the students' efforts to follow in Goldsworthy's footsteps, in the process discovering (in the words of one student) "how difficult it is to even begin to approach the quality of his work".

--- Award-Winning Books Highlighted ---

Continuing the Society's tradition of offering books created to accompany exhibits past and present, the Museum's south gallery gift shop this year highlights two of its most popular award winners -- The Village Table: A Delicious History of Food in the Saugatuck-Douglas Area; and Off The Record...the unpublished photographs of Bill Simmons.

The Village Table, authored by Society volunteers Kit Lane and Stacy Honson with graphic design by Sally Winthers, won a 2012 Leadership In History Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). It celebrates the Saugatuck-Douglas area by exploring its food: what the settlers found, what was fished, what was gathered and grown, what each wave of newcomers brought, what the restaurants served to visitors, and what we eat today. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the food scene and concludes with a selection of menus and recipes that favor locally-available ingredients.

Cues for the recipes came from history, and some less-palatable historical dishes, like the infamously dry Johnnycake (a cornmeal flatbread), are served up with a modern twist such as delicious cornbread French toast. Local restaurants and businesses contributed the recipes in chapter seven “On the Menu.” The final chapter “Cooking Local” presents a wide range of family favorites from Historical Society members. This 144-page book, richly illustrated in color with lay-flat binding, also features separate historical and culinary indexes.

Off The Record, written by James Schmiechen with help from Society volunteers Kit Lane and Jack Sheridan, and designed by Ken Carls, received a Historical Society of Michigan Award of Merit in 2001. It offers a fascinating pictorial history of Saugatuck in the'40s and '50s seen through the eyes and camera of an insatiable photographer whose skills ran the gamut from art photography to photojournalism. Simmons (1891-1966), worked for The Chicago Evening Post and Time-Life, Inc., later was editor of The Commercial Record for 10 years in mid-century. He left a collection of some 3000 unpublished photos, mostly negatives, shot in and around Saugatuck from 1941 to 1961.

SDHS received the long-lost collection in 1998, and discovered that its images witness the changing geography of the waterfront and village streetscape while connecting us with life in the mid-1900s in an unusual way. Unlike most photographers, Simmons was not interested in getting people to pose, preferring to catch them off-guard, being themselves, in conversation, at play, absorbed in thought or responding to events around them. As a result, his work shows how ordinary people interacted with each other, the village they lived in and the land they lived on.

The 157 photos selected for this book represent many hours of research and writing by many SDHS volunteers, as well as the townspeople they interviewed, plus extensive efforts in printing old negatives, digitizing photos, and pulling it all together into book form.

--- Interactive Map Tells Stories ---

The south gallery also features the Society's popular "SuperMap" -- a 6-foot high, 12-foot wide illustrated color wall map of the Saugatuck-Douglas area with an interactive computer display to provide a virtual tour through these historic villages, highlighting significant people, places and events of both past and present. Map artwork, created by Holland artist-cartographer Mark Cook based on Historical Society research, recalls the entertaining illustration/poster maps of the 1940-50 era, combining street layouts with stylized sketches and notes.

The map offers Museum visitors an engaging way to soak up the story of the Saugatuck-Douglas area. As many as 70 map-highlighted references are keyed by number to let visitors select and learn about sites of interest by calling up information, narratives and images using several video/interactive touch-screen terminals near the map. The screens also offer topical "interactive programs" such as History of Hotels/Boarding Houses; History of Boatbuilding and Boat Builders; Buildings and Architecture; Artists and Painting; Local Biographies; History of Saugatuck-Douglas Schools; 13 Tales of the Villages and A Video History of Saugatuck and Douglas.

In addition, the terminals allow public access to the Historical Society's digitized archives of historical photos, pages of The Commercial Record dating back to 1868, the Saugatuck-Douglas Building Survey and more.

Article and photos submitted by John Peters. Click on any photo for a higher resolution copy.

The Museum is open daily from noon to 4 pm through Labor then on weekends in September and October from noon to 4 pm. 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 Thursday through Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM. For group tours or to schedule another period, 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


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