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


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

Sunday, December 14
at the Saugatuck Center for Arts
400 Culver Street, Saugatuck

Cocktails at 5:30 ~ Dinner at 6:30
Cash Bar
Cash, Checks, MasterCard & Visa
Credit Cards Accepted

In the spirit of holidays past, this year's party again celebrates the tradition of the community potluck.

Welcome from Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder, leaders of the Society Family History Group.

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.

Census information is invaluable in the research of family history. As outlined in the September 2014 newsletter, the general population census has been taken by the Federal government every ten years since 1790.

In addition to this general population, the Federal government has compiled a number of special censuses often at the same time:

• Mortality: conducted from 1850 to 1885. This census provides information about deaths during the twelve months prior to the regular census.
• Veterans: taken in 1840 and 1890. Contains interesting information concerning Civil War veterans including their widows.
• Slaves: Compiled in 1850 and 1860. Lists slave owners and the number of slaves they owned.
• Agricultural schedules: taken 1850 1860, 1870 and 1880. Provides farm data and names of the farmers.
• Manufacturing schedules: taken 1820, 1850 thru 1880. Information is on business and industries.
• Dependent and defective: taken in 1880. Information on the handicapped, paupers, and criminals.
• Indians: Taken in 1910. Indian schedules are found for for each county after regular schedules but are slightly different.
• Institutional listings: often follow the county population schedules and include jails, hospitals, poor houses, or asylums.
• Merchant Seamen: conducted on United States flag merchant vessels in 1930.
• Military and Naval Forces: conducted from 1900 to 1930 on ships and military bases. Usually found at the end of the population schedule.
• Social statistics: taken from 1850 to 1870, includes information about real estate, annual taxes, cemeteries, school statistics, libraries, newspapers, and churches.

Got questions on how to get going? That is what we are for! Call or email us and remember, the SDHS family history group's regular meeting schedule is the first and third Thursday of every month at the OSH.

Upcoming meetings are:
Thursday, November 20
Thursday, December 4
Thursday, December 18

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

Still 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 postal 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 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

The Baldhead Panoramas – One by One - Piece by Piece - 3

Two months ago I started a new HBC series of panoramic photographs taken from the top of Mt Baldhead. We are very fortunate to have photos from this great vantage point over a long time period. The photos do appear to span some fifty years, are accurately dated, and in most cases the photographer identified.

Other factors make them special. First, when the first photo was made in 1874, most of the town trees had been logged off and there were few to block the view. Second, the photographers used quality cameras with large glass plate negatives that were capable of capturing details. Though most of the glass plates are lost, the prints made from them faithfully contain the details. When scanned at high resolution, the images yield marvelous results.

In order for you to see a historical progression, I have selected a partial view of the town at one date and contrasted that with a view of the same area at a different date. The numbers on the images are the key to my brief comments about the images.

I have started with the earliest photo, taken in 1874, photographer unknown. This is contrasted with the same area shot in 1895. The photographer in 1895 was Miller Robinson, professional photographer and grandfather of Peggy Boyce.

21 – Corner of Water and Mary, kitty-corner from the Wicks Park
22 – Now the Wickwood – then a funeral parlor or store or?
23 – Now a parking lot adjoining what was Wilkins Hardware. These buildings burned ca 1897.
24 and 25 – Residences which are still there.
26 – Congregational church – the framework of this structure is still there inside.
27 – Site of the present Episcopal Church soon to be built.
28 – Saugatuck Union school built in 1868 and burned in 1896.
29 – The Republican flagpole [as opposed to the Democrat flag pole near the Village Hall]
30 – Now the City Square – note the six foot newly planted trees everywhere.
31 – Now the chain ferry landing – same spot of the 1874 chain ferry landing.
32 – Now the site of the Ship N Shore, this structure burned in 1959. It was a number of things but mostly the Tourist Home and the Mt. Baldhead hotel for fifty years.

Next month we have another panorama. Stay tuned!

This newsletter column is written by Jack Sheridan.

Old School House on Halloween Night

                             Photo courtesy of Jim Schmiechen

History Museum in the Fall

                           Photo courtesy of Richard Donovan

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

The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Booth at the Blue Star Antique Pavilion on the Blue Star Highway in Douglas has netted over $3,000 during its first year of operation to support Society programs and projects.

Thank you Mary Voss, Ken Kutzel and Cynthia Sorensen

News from the Archives

Recent Additions the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society Collection

Two contemporary paintings, two etchings by Carl Hoerman, Saugatuck postcards and a large group of photographs of the Saugatuck area, donated by Chris Spencer.

Six glass mugs used at the Root Beer Barrel, donated by Sue Capillo.

Blueprint of the proposed waterworks for Douglas made in early 1900 by John Alvord – donated by Josephine Clark.

A memoir of five generations of Varco family members and their stay at a Saugatuck cottage – donated by Sarina Renaldi

A fold-out map of the Saugatuck Douglas area – donated by Kathy McMahon.

Two photographs of Douglas School classes, 1943 & 1944 - donated by Lynn Wicks.

Photo date April 20, 1944
Click on the image for a slightly higher resolution copy.

Photograph of Ann and John Diepenhorst standing in front of their fish market on Culver Street – donated by Pat Diepenhorst.

A Letter From
May Heath's Aunt

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy.

Saugatuck Dec16, 1866

Dear Cousin,
You will have to excuse me for writing with a lead pencil, father have gone away and can’t get eny ink. He has just come but never mixed it. It is all the same in dusteh. Ella Nichols is dead. She was only sick 2 or 3 days. She suffered a good deal. We have two boarders, Emma Whitbeck & Costain. The tug come yesterday from St Jo to take the peopples across but they could not do it because it was froze over so they sent the tug back. George Harris & Collier keeps the drug store now. We have got it filled up very full , more than it was when you was there. Our new school hous is getting a long nicely. They will have it done so they can have school in it. I guess I shall not go. I am taking Music lessons of Mrs. Densmore. She has a larg class & is doing well. She is better at that than she is at teaching. Ma says she will come over there & keep boarding hous if you will board with her. Julie and I have got us some furs now we can put on style. Well I have told you all the news & I will close. Write soon. Jessie Morrison, Saugatuck.

This letter, written by May Heath's Aunt Jessie (then age 15) in 1866, was offered on eBay for its numismatic value. It had made its way to Londonderry, NH at time of sale. It will be contributed to the SDHS archives for safekeeping.

Jessie was writing to her cousin Harold C. Weeks, of Allegan, son of her mother's sister. Mr. Weeks was then working in Chicago. He is buried in the Oakwood cemetery, Allegan. She refers to the death of Ella Nichols, which took place Dec. 14. Ella, age 18, was the daughter of Stephen D. Nichols and rests in Riverside cemetery. Thomas Collier, apothecary, born in England, was a veteran of the Civil War. He died at the age of 29, in 1871, and rests in the Douglas cemetery.

Jessie Morrison was born Oct. 23, 1851 to Stephen A. and Mary E. Peckham Morrison. She married Thornton W. Leland in 1875, and died in 1911. Her sister Julia was May Heath's mother. Jessie's only living child, son Lee Leland, managed the Leland Lodge (the old Morrison home) on the corner across from the Saugatuck City Hall ("and then it burned down").       contributed by Chris Yoder

What You Missed!

The Society's Halloween Bash at the Old School House History Center was just a ton of flat-out fun. Creative costumes and decorations, fabulous food and drink, and then just a few steps out the door to watch the incomparable Douglas Adult Halloween Parade. If you missed it, you missed a terrific time. Watch for it again next year.

                             Photos courtesy of Elliott Sturm

What You Also Missed!

                      Photo courtesy of Marsha Kontio

At the October Monthly Program, Michael Sampson Sweeney, local artist/musician/writer and founding member of the Society reminisced about the 1959-60-61 Saugatuck Jazz Festivals and 1968-69 Saugatuck Pop Festivals that spread the community's fame as "Michigan's Hottest Town". The presentation was brought to life with music, images, and audience remembrances.

Society's Online Bookstore Open for Holiday Shopping

Thanks to Jim Cook, the Society's online bookstore is open for your Holiday shopping pleasure. Just click on the image above and start shopping.

Garden Happenings

"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year."
                      --- Emily Dickinson

November truly is a wicked month. Thank goodness our gardens are all put away for the year! Right? O.K., some of you may still be working on your leaves; but, what to do with the millions of leaves still present in your landscapes? Here are a few suggestions:

Top Ten Things to Do with your Fallen Leaves
#10 Mow over them a few times for good organic matter.
# 9 Spread as a protective mulch.
# 8 Use them for the many arts and craft projects on-line.
# 7 Add to your compost bin.
# 6 Have a bonfire, simply for the smell of it where permitted.
# 5 Make leaf mold - an all leaf compost much beloved by English gardeners.
# 4 Donate them to your city compost pile.
# 3 Store root vegetables between them.
# 2 Use them as a weed barrier for spring plantings.
# 1 Create a BIG pile for kids, dogs and your neighbors to play in!

Oh! Are we headed for an exciting Root Camp next year. Our committee had its organizational meeting the other day and amazing ideas were suggested.

Please mark your kids, grand-kids, nieces, nephews and friends calendars for June 22-25. Hopefully this year, we will have on-line registration for easy sign-up.

We would like to wish all of you and your loved ones a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Until next month,
The Garden and Root Camp Committees

Misplaced and now LOST

Burgundy basket . . . generous in size and strong. Left behind after a meeting and now lost. If found, please contact Marsha Kontio 616-566-1239.

South Haven Cub Scouts Visit Lifeboat Display

                             Photo courtesy of Jim Schmiechen

WGVU Receives Matching Gift for Michigan Hometown Stories Project

WGVU Public Media has announced that the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation has awarded a $10,000 matching grant to help raise the remaining funding needed to complete the documentary; Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/Douglas.

Every Michigan city has stories to tell – stories that offer unique and intriguing glimpses into Michigan's past. Stories like these are the focus of a new television series called Michigan Hometown Stories, produced by WGVU.

Michigan Hometown Stories will focus on Michigan history, one community at a time, bringing the history of those places to life for West and Southwest Michigan and beyond.

The first of several planned programs is entitled; Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/Douglas.
                               submitted by Jon Helmrich

Bulb Planters Do Their Work

On Oct. 26th a hearty crew of workers planted several hundred daffodil bulbs at the graves of local "orphans" at Riverside and Douglas Cemeteries. Next spring, these will join those from previous years in brightening the spring display.

Anna, Maria and Christian Roa

Plots were selected for people either with no family or none still living in this area.

Riverside Cemetery

Thomas Donald and Sarah Stuart Donald - He was born 1806 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Immigrated to America in 1851, to Michigan 1st in 1857, Pa in 1861, and again to MI in 1869. She b. 1816 Ireland and was the mother of William Bradley (after whom Bradley Road in Saugatuck was named) (See the July 2014 newsletter article)

William Blair - William became a sailor on the Great Lakes where he worked with two brothers, Orlando and Frances Perkins. Through this relationship, he met their sister, Ladora C. Perkins. William and Ladora were married in 1860, in Ohio. Served in the Civil War. According to his enlistment papers, he was five foot, nine inches tall with brown eyes, dark hair and dark complexion. The Blairs moved from Ohio to Saugatuck, Michigan just prior to his death. William died of consumption (tuberculosis) on July 16, 1870 in Saugatuck, Michigan. He was 36 years old.

Lysander Jacobs - (Jun., 1831- Dec. 16, 1882) - Lysander P Jacobs son of Aaron C Jacobs and Lucy Trask. Lysander was born about Jun 1831 in Ohio, USA. He died on 15 Dec 1882 in Greenville, Allegan, Michigan, USA. Third husband of Ladora Perkins.

Frank B Hayden- died age 24 in 1882 of consumption. He was a guest of the Kingsley family at time of death. Marker is a cement tree trunk.

Saburna G. (Woodworth) (1875-1949) and Joseph Zwemer (1879-1945) She the daughter of Wm Woodworth and Mary Miller. He was the son of Adrian Zwemer and was an insurance man and also involved in real estate.

Adrian (1835-1909) and Lanegje (Knoll) Zwemer- They came with VanRaalte from Netherlands in 1847. In 1860, the Wallin tannery was established, Zwemers moved to Saugatuck Township where he opened a carpenter shop. When the tannery business ceased the family moved to Saugatuck where Mr. Zwemer carried on a business for many years of moving and remodeling buildings.

James Bamford (1797-1873) Born in England, came to US about 1850. His daughter Martha married George Hutty and the family is buried at Riverside.

Matilda B. Moffat (1825-1885) - beloved wife of W. S. Moffat.

Ralph Platt Smith – (1893-1893) Child of Rev Ed Smith and Mary Kingsley Smith (see Oct. 2014 SDHS Newsletter).

Douglas Cemetery

Newton Belgium (? - 1952) one armed wood carver, who died when hit by a car while crossing the Blue Star Highway not far from the Center Street intersection.

Hershel (1891-1957) and Mildred (Murphy) Konold – He was a WWI veteran and trained as an architect. During WWII he edited the war time Douglas newsletter "The Dope", distributed to our service members around the world.

Pollock D. and Emma and Maud Konold – Hershel’s father , mother and stepmother.

Grace K Gjesdahl (1895 - 1980) - Sister of Hershel Konold.

Flora K. Konold Philipp (1899 - 1991) - Sister of Hershel Konold.

Dewitt (1834-1902) and Laura Seaver Hinman (1837-1935). He is recorded as having been a gardener, born in New York.

Nellie Cochran Romig ( -1934) –Daughter of Dewitt Hinman, her husband Arthur Cochran, ( - 1916) and children Baby Cochran (?- 1892), Laura Cochran (1884-1903)

Frank (1853 - 1947) and Lizzie Etta Hutchinson Wade (1855 - 1939) - he was the first white child born in Douglas.

In addition, a donation from HUNTREE allowed the placement of bulbs around the Civil War memorial at the Taylor Cemetery south of town on Blue Star Highway.   contributed by Chris Yoder

John Shack Interviews James Brandess

Jim Brandess met me for a SDHS oral history on a cold January day in his Butler Street studio. Together with Marley, his sociable dog, we talked amid his paintings to record his personal and professional history.

A man of few surplus words, Jim managed to summarize his life in about 25 minutes. He grew up in Highland Park, Illinois where he attended grade and high school. Early he was interested in design, architecture, and creating pictures of people. Jim was accepted in the architecture program at Illinois Institute of Technology, but he rejected this opportunity. He entered Columbia College in Chicago to study photography, but he disliked dealing with the developer chemicals. This was followed by a stint at the Harrington College of Design a few blocks away. Finally, Jim crossed Michigan Avenue and entered the Chicago Art Institute’s School of Art and found his way to its Ox Bow summer school.

Jim's painting interest in landscape was encouraged by a watercolorist on the faculty who urged him to paint nature scenes outside by showing him how to appreciate the space ground as well as the figure when painting trees and other flora. He recalled finding interesting stands of trees on Chicago's lakefront to paint in diverse weather conditions.

A critical turning point in his life was when The Chicago Art Institute offered him a maintenance job at Ox Bow that included his tuition, room and board for a summer. Here he met and was influenced by numerous master artists, including Ed Paschke. It may have been Paschke's principles of abstraction and expressionism that particularly influenced Jim’s work. The Ox Bow lagoon and environs provided vast amounts natural subject matter with amazing changing colors to serve his painting needs for many years. He graduated from the Art Institute in 1989. Portraits of Saugatuck personalities comprise another favorite subject for his work. He has done a 300 item Saugatuck portrait collection exhibit.

After a work-study experience on Brooklyn NY, Jim returned permanently to Saugatuck. His local studio environment began in a cozy space above the Butler Pantry. In the early 1990’s, he purchased the Post Office building on Butler Street which it now serves as his studio and gallery. Jim has created a very versatile retail business for his excellent reproductions. He can be seen working in his studio from the sidewalk as an enticement to enter for a look at his range of works that include many applications of his oil work's digital reproductions.

In addition to his artistic and business activity, Jim for many years has been a regular reading tutor for the Saugatuck Elementary School's LIFT (Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology) program.                
                                                                                                John Shack, January 10, 2011


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 Museum is open this weekend from noon to 4 pm and then will be closed for the season. 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 4 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.

The Society's Archives office is located in the lower level of the Old School House and is open for research on Monday afternoons 1-4 p.m. Use the back stairway for easy access. Archives office phone number is 269-857-7901. E-mail:

Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901

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