MAY  2015 Click HERE for printer friendly version with images

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


Still haven't renewed your Society membership for 2015??
Don't miss out on a great year of events and much more!
To renew your membership electronically using either PayPal or a credit card,
click HERE or if you would rather renew by check, click HERE to download
and print a Membership Form.


Sunday Supper and Sunset
at the Lakeshore
Sunday, July 12th
from 6 PM until sunset
Hosted by Ellen & Richard Donovan
2641 Lakeshore Drive
(South of washout) $65 per person

Toast the summer at this lovely lake front home and garden. After a dinner served hot off the grill, sit on the shore to watch the sun set into Lake Michigan.

Tickets are selling fast. Just REPLY to this email to make your reservation and we will be in touch.

Small Plates, Small Talk
Thursday, July 16th, 11 am - 2 pm Hosted by Ken Carls
325 Water Street, Douglas
$100 per person
Tickets still available.

Dine Around dinner guests at the Red House, home of Ken Carls and Jim Schmiechen overlooking Wade's Bayou in Douglas, have come to count on sitting down to tasty fare around the big dining room table. This time guests will join Ken in the kitchen and watch what's going on as he prepares a selection of Red House favorites. Then guests will enjoy a "tapas style" luncheon as they sample the day's fare - and experience dishes they can add to their own cooking repertoire. Emphasis will be on fresh, seasonal, easy-to-make dishes for casual dining.

For reservations, REPLY to this email and we will be in touch.

Wildwood Progressive Dinner Party
Saturday, Sept. 19th, 6 - 9 pm
Hosted by Vito Masciopinto,
Susan & Mark Lauterbach,
Sarah Harris & Alex Fink
$100 per person
Only 3 tickets still available.

The event combines drinks, heavy appetizers, and desserts with a look inside three new modern homes and ending up on the roof top patio weather permitting (bring a coat!) on Wildwood Lane in a "progressive dinner" styled tour of homes.

Wildwood Lane, when completed, will be a development of 14 future modern lake houses, each committed to the preservation of the natural habitat and celebration of modern architecture. Come explore the uniqueness of each of the three completed homes while drinking and dining and experiencing the latest in modern living, sustainable technologies, and modular construction.

Inspiration comes from the experimental Case Study Houses by Charles and Ray Eames, Richard Neutra, Craig Ellwood, and Pierre Koenig. These houses blend the openness and simplicity of modern living with craft, durability, and sustainability to make them true modern lake houses.

For reservations, REPLY to this email and we will be in touch.

April Board Meeting Summary

l The Museum Exhibit Opening will include a special event for charter and life members and Exhibit Sponsors/Donors; past and present, which will take place prior to the general membership event.
l Beginning around May 1, the campaign to secure this year's Exhibit Sponsorship donations will begin. Sponsors/Donors will be recognized by a display inside the Museum.
l Board approval was given for purchase of an iPad and specialized stand which will become an electronic guestbook at the museum beginning at the opening this year. The equipment and software will enable follow up communications, membership and donation solicitations to our Museum visitors.
l Funds were approved for completion of improvements in the Peach Orchard section of the Back-in-Time Garden.
l 10 bistro tables and table cloths have been purchased for use at SDHS events and private rental events at the OSH.
l Next month, the Board will consider a written schedule for upgrading computers at the Old School House.
l In the coming months, the Board will consider alternatives to how the organization collects membership dues renewals. There is Board consensus that there are too many classifications of membership dues and that structure needs to be simplified and dues collected in a more direct manner.
l 27 applications have been received for the position of Director of the organization. A committee consisting of Sharon Kelly, Jim Schmiechen, Ed Kelly, Bill Hess, Fred Schmidt, Judi Vanderbeck, Ken Carls and Janie Flemming will review the applications, select those candidates who should be interviewed, conduct the interviews, and recommend a selection to the Board by the end of June.
l In December, Root Camp received a $3,000 grant from the Mignon Sherwood Delano Foundation in Allegan to fund scholarships for children who could not otherwise afford the tuition to attend the camp. The Root Camp Committee is actively searching for scholarship recipients and anyone who has a child in mind should contact Ruth Johnson.
l The SDHS Facebook page has been vastly upgraded through content provided by our departed Curator, Jarrett Zeman. "Likes" of the page have risen from 189 in January 2014 to over 600 today. Social media is an avenue that has been identified by the Board to attract younger members.
l Our Programming Committee is working with the SCA on some cooperative summer programs for kids.                 submitted by Sharon Kelly

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 Don Straube & Paul Zur Nieden, Fennville, MI

News from the Archives

It's been a busy time at the archives office. A number of people have contacted us recently about research that they are doing and needed information. Among them were two students from Aquinas College and a professor from New York who is inquiring about the agricultural history of our area. As I was researching these requests, I came across some data that I found most interesting. Old timers here know all about this but some of our recent members might not know how famous this area really is.

History of Peach Growing Along the Lakeshore

Early settlers to Saugatuck and Douglas began setting out fruit trees to supply their home needs as soon as they had a clearing. In fact as early as 1800, local historian, May Heath writes that there was a peach orchard of 200 trees along the south bank of the Kalamazoo River about a mile east of Douglas. Although it was known as the "Indian Peach Orchard" it was probably planted by early fur traders as the trees were planted in rows and the Indians never planted that way.

In 1839 Harrison Hutchinson was one of the first to bring peach trees to the lakeshore, quickly followed by more. (Fruit trees did especially well along the coast of Lake Michigan because the cold winds off the Lake delayed blossom time. Early frosts further in-land often killed delicate blossoms, decimating an entire crop.) Early on there was no foreign market and the peaches and other fruits were peddled locally to families and mill hands.

As early as 1870 the peach industry in St. Joe had gained headway and Mr. McCormick, Hutchins and Loomis went to investigate. They came back well pleased and the following year each set 1,000 trees of a variety of peaches. This was the first start of raising peaches with a commercial aim in mind. As the fruit ripened it was sold to buyers who bought it on the trees and hired harvesters to pick the fruit. Prices ran at $1 a peck net on the Chicago market. According to reports gathered at the close of the 1879 season over 600,000 peach trees yielded an estimated 3,000,000 baskets of fruit. This report included those portions of Allegan and Van Buren Counties bordering Lake Michigan. In Saugatuck alone, 1200 acres were set to peach-trees and over 400 acres were in full bearing.

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

One of the principal growers, William Corner, was born in Devon, England in 1819. He purchased one hundred acres in the township of Saugatuck in 1852, and by 1880 had 6,000 bearing trees on one of the most attractive farms in the township. The drawing below is of his farm from the 1880 History of Allegan and Barry Counties with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches.

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

To be continued next month.
                           submitted by Mary Voss

Find A Grave Web Site
A Wonderful Tool for One and All

In the March 2015 Newsletter we had an article about Sophia Goucher, who claimed to have been 107 years old at the time of her death. Whether she was really that old is very much open to question, but she certainly presented an interesting story.

As a part of the research into her life, one of the references located was her grave record in Find A Grave. Sophia is buried in the Poplar Hill Cemetery, Monterey Center, Allegan County, Michigan. Among the many services offered by this web site is the ability to ask that someone take a photo of the actual gravestone at a plot and then to post it with the person's record. The Find A Grave system will share the request with a number of volunteers living near the cemetery. The request remains open until action is taken to close it . . . for example, either providing the photo or reporting that no stone can be found on the burial plot. The person who created the grave record for Sophia in 2013 goes by the pseudonym "Scout". She was also the person who went back to the cemetery with a camera in hand and uploaded the following photo on May 10, 2015 to satisfy my photo request.

Sophia Goucher, Born Oct. 22, 1783, Died Dec. 31, 1897
Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

This wonderful photo not only adds to our story by confirming that (even in death) her claim of 107 years lives on, but it also gives us a claimed month, day and year of birth - Oct. 22, 1783 (a date which we did not have before).

"Scout" is a very active Find A Grave participant. On her profile page we can see that she has created 128,636 individual memorial records. She has been a member of the Find A Grave community for 7 years, 7 months and 10 days and has added an average of 508 memorials each week. She has posted 147,158 photos to varying records and has taken 917 photos of gravestones in reply to requests, like the one I made for Sophia. "Scout" is by no means unique. There are over 121 million grave records in Find A Grave, and the number grows each day. These are predominantly (but not exclusively) American cemeteries, to include military cemeteries overseas. It is very likely that deceased parents, grandparents, and great grandparents of each one of you readers can be found through a search on Find A Grave.

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

Records often will include biographical details, gravestone and family photos, and links to the graves of spouse, parents, siblings, and children. In our area, a very thorough survey has been conducted by SDHS volunteers of the Riverside Cemetery in Saugatuck; The Douglas Cemetery; in Laketown Township - Gibson Cemetery; and in Ganges Township- Taylor, Plummerville, Loomis and Hutchins Cemeteries. The extensive photo records of the Historical Society have been used to post portraits of many of these locals, and the collected obituaries from the Commercial Record have allowed us to provide detailed historical information on our local citizens of the past. All of this is available over the internet to a world-wide audience at the click of a finger. Find A Grave provides this same capability to one and all, without any charge for the user. An example of one local record from the Riverside Cemetery is shown below as an example:

Click on the image for a higher resolution copy.

For a short-cut to the local cemetery links (and many other information resources), see the SDHS On-Line Research Center.
                       submitted by Chris Yoder

Charter Members, Life Members, and Sponsors
are cordially invited to a
of the 2015 Museum Exhibition
prior to the annual Members' Reception

Private Reception | 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Membersí Reception | 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum
Park Street at Mt. Baldhead Park

For your convenience, please park at DeMondís parking
lot and take the free shuttle to the Museum.

This year's all-new exhibition at the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum, opening for the season on Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 24, Noon to 4 p.m., presents multiple stories of how the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan have shaped and reshaped our areaís way of living, working, relaxing and thinking since the mid-1800s.

The Museum occupies the historic Saugatuck Pumphouse at 735 Park Street, in a scenic garden setting along the west shore of the Kalamazoo River at Mt. Baldhead Park, a short walk north from the Saugatuck Chain Ferry's west-bank landing. Open daily through Labor Day, Noon to 4 p.m. -- then with same hours every Saturday and Sunday through the last Sunday in October -- its admission and nearby parking are free.

"Water . . . A River, A Lake, A Place Called Saugatuck-Douglas" engages visitors' imaginations to accompany five travelers, each at different points in time, sharing the experience, discovery and sometimes danger of their adventures along our waterways. Their trips unfold in maps, pictures, narratives and artifacts, plus "side stories" that add interesting cultural perspectives, all set before a vast composite mural of more than 200 historical archive photos that help visualize those earlier times.

In Trip #1, the viewer assumes the role of reporter for an eastern newspaper traveling downriver by dugout canoe in the mid-1800s with Ottawa trader "Flying Cloud Woman", seeking the village of Singapore and its fabled "Astor Hotel". The "Astor" turns out to be a humorously named simple boarding house for arriving settlers instead of the imagined grandeur conjured up by naming it after wealthy fur-trading magnate John Jacob Astor.

Trip #2 casts the viewer as a mid-1800s logger hired by Saugatuck timber entrepreneur Frank Geer in winter to cut and haul logs over the frozen river to a riverbank "rollway". With the spring thaw comes the dangerous job of rafting a log flotilla downriver, thwarting log "rustlers", and distributing the timber among five lumber mills in Douglas, Saugatuck and Singapore . . . a process that cost the life of one of Saugatuck's prominent early citizens.

With Trip #3, the viewer becomes a crew member on the steamer McVea, one of more than 200 ships built in Saugatuck, making an overnight "fruit run" taking peaches and passengers to Chicago in 1893. The McVea stops at Pier Cove and picks up a musician and a famous architect who become interesting travel companions.

Trip #4 brings the viewer to Saugatuck from Chicago by tourist excursion ship in 1919 as a teenage girl accompanying school children to summer camp as one of their camp counselors. Among the campers she encounters a youngster destined to become one of America's most famous aviators.

On Trip #5, the viewer is a photographer riding along on a local commercial fishing run pursuing sturgeon and whitefish, reflecting on that industry's1890-1950 boom and bust. The trip highlights a key Great Lakes innovation of that era, the enclosed "fishing tug" designed to handle rough weather and allow pre-processing the catch for faster, fresher delivery upon returning to port.

After the final trip station, visitors will find a "sticky-note feedback wall" presenting a series of questions related to contemporary concerns about water, and inviting expression of personal viewpoints or suggestions by posting sticky-note responses. Nearby, three display stations feature a review of water quality comparing lake, river, rain and tap water; a collection of rare antique fishing lures; and for visitors of all ages, a fish-identification game.

Floating above it all is a fanciful "school" of fish, created by local artists Ted Reyda and Sally Winthers, representing the species currently inhabiting our area's lakes and rivers.

This year's exhibition also introduces a new digital sign-in station for visitors, to better reflect the geographical range of distant visitors and enable them to request e-mail updates on Museum and other Historical Society activities.

Design team credits for the new exhibition include: James Schmiechen, curator-writer; Judy Hillman, designer; Ken Carls, Kay Reckley and Sally Winthers, graphic designers; Vic Bella and Ted Reyda, displays; Steve Teich, layout; Jarret Zeman, consultant; Jack Sheridan and Kit Lane, story consultants; and Sam Fitzpatrick, intern.

We Need YOU!
To Be a Museum Volunteer Host This Season

We will have 182 two hour hosting shifts to fill at the Pump House Museum this season. With only a little over 30 Society members volunteering to help fill those openings so far, we need your help to ensure our award winning Museum is fully staffed for the year.

Hosting is easy. You choose which day and time you would like to host. You will be given one-on-one training or can "shadow" an experienced host. Additionally, we have developed simplified training materials for your use.

If you are interested or have questions about being a volunteer host, just REPLY to this email or call Bill Hess at 269-857-1081

2015 Museum Exhibit Sponsors

A big thank you to all our Museum Exhibit Sponsors.

Sturgeon - $2,000
Jim Sellman - Shoreline Realtors, The Estate of Adrian Vincent
Coho - $1,000
Janie & Jim Flemming, Ross Hanley, Greg & Carol Josefowicz, Sharon Kelly, Bud Baty & Max Matteson, Keith Walker, Doug & Deb West, Renee Zita & Ed Ryan
Whitefish - $500
Larry & Shirley Akins, Patty Birkholz, Ken Carls, Floyd Fleming, Bill Hess & Mike Mattern, Steve Hutchins, Ed Kelly, Lynn McClure, Judy Oberholtzer, Susan Reck, Frances Vorys, Todd & Liz Warnock, Bob & Sally Weist
Lake Trout - $250
Amazwi Contemporary Art, Valerie Atkin, Robin & Sharon Bauer, Timber Bluff, Richard & Ellen Donovan, Rob Golub & Dede Dupre, Jon Helmrich & Stephen Mottram, George Brown & Gregg Kurek, Candice Lewis, Jim & Priscilla Lynch, Robert Palmer, Dr. Steve Debbink & Greg Plowe, Mark Randall & Chris Saldivar, Dan & Sandy Jo Shanahan, Tracey Shafroth, Star of Saugatuck, John Cannarsa & Tim Straker, Tim Wood
Yellow Perch - $100
Jim & Kat Cook, Jonathan Schreuer & Gary Kott, Christina Lewis, Chris & Eileen Raphael, John & Peg Sanford, Fred & Janet Schmidt, George & Dawn Schumann, Leslie Thompson, Howard & Judi Vanderbeck

Mark Your Calendar
2015 Monthly Programs and Tuesday Talks

If you would like to sponsor one of the Monthly Programs, please REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch. Sponsorships are $150


l June 10, Coral Gables: The People Behind the Place sponsored by Jolene Jackson & Lonnie Hannaford
l July 8, A Field Trip to the Mildred A. Peterson Nature Preserve and the Interurban Trail sponsored by Monty Collins & Jerry Dark
l August 12, Society Picnic at the Old School House
l August 13, Civil War Reenactors Program
                Looking for a sponsor

September 9,
Fishing: Commercial & Recreational sponsored by Howard & Paula Schultz
l October 14, Crane's Orchard Field Trip
                Looking for a sponsor

l November 11, Fire, Storm and Ice: Shipwrecks sponsored by the Star of Saugatuck, Marilyn & Bruce Starring
l December 13, Holiday Party

If you would like to sponsor one of the Tuesday Talks, please REPLY to this email and we'll be in touch. Sponsorships are $150

General sponsors: Carolyn Richards
and Howard Rochte

l July 7, Trailblazing: Bringing the Blue Star Trail to Saugatuck-Douglas
l July 14, Drone Photography of River and Lake sponsored by Sharon Kelly
l July 21, Bee Keeping sponsored by Osman Flowers & Firs
l July 28, Kalamazoo River Sturgeon Habitat Restoration Project
                Looking for a sponsor
l August 4, Peach Belt School
                Looking for a sponsor
l August 11, Invasive Species: On Land and Water sponsored by Harbor Duck Adventures Co., Brent Birkholz
l August 18, The Art of Water sponsored by Ken Carls
l August 25, Extreme Yachts and Classic Boat Restoration - Macatawa Bay Boat Works sponsored by the Star of Saugatuck, Marilyn & Bruce Starring

Garden Happenings
"If you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need." --- Marcus Tullius Ciceroe

We have the garden and soon, fingers crossed, we will have the library . . .the "Little Free Library" that is.

Thanks to the Rotary Club and Ingrid Boyers who are working on funding this project. This "library" will be in the shape of the Big Pavilion, with thanks going to our own talented John Migas who is constructing it. It is a library that will be placed in the garden next to our Eeyore bench in the Children's area. It will be filled with books and magazines for kids and adults to read and keep. What a fun addition this will be to our garden.

The Pollinator Habitat is coming to life. In our Peach Orchard, sections of sod were removed and planted elsewhere. In its place will be perennials that have flowers our pollinators can feast upon.

Also, a no-mow grass seed was installed which will do two things: One - it will provide a look and feel of a real orchard and Two - it will protect our trees from the weed whips and lawnmowers. We are sure our maintenance crew from Lakeshore Lodging will really appreciate this!

Many thanks to the National Azalea Foundation, John Migas and all who helped spread the mulch on April 25th. Mulch not only makes our garden beautiful, it is beneficial to the plants during our hot times of summer.

Don't forget on Saturday, June 20th, we will have a Broad leaf Evergreens pruning seminar. Learn how to take care of these beauties after they are finished blooming. The seminar starts at 10 am and donations will be appreciated.

Root Camp is getting itself ready for our second ever camp. It will happen during the week of June 22-25. We will have two sessions during this week, one from 9-12 and the second one will be from 1-4. Both sessions will have the same curriculum and what a curriculum it is! We will have lessons on the shipwrecks of Lake Michigan, the skill of being a Tinsman, our own Village Puppeteers, an alligator sanctuary, and a backpack full of science experiments, thanks to the amazing donation from our own Bee Man, Michael Pcolinsky.

Please go to the SDHS website for easy on-line registration. We need your help in distributing our scholarships from the generous Mignon Sherwood Delano Foundation grant. If you know of any children that could use a full scholarship to Root Camp, please contact Ruth Johnson at 616-218-0086 or One last thing, many thanks to Gary Medler for a generous donation to the SDHS in sponsoring Root Camp and other programs in our Society.

Until next month,
The Landscape and Root Camp Committees

Thomas Dale Wolterink, 74

Tom Wolterink, a member of the Society, passed away on April 25. Click HERE for more details.


Continue The Garden Experience!

John Migas leads a Garden Walk for the Society last year
Click on the image for a higher resolution copy

For those who may have missed the May program for SDHS at Rosebay Nursery, there is another opportunity to stroll through a mass of azaleas and rhododendron when John Migas opens his Woodlands Nursery to guests for a Garden walk on Tuesday, May 26th at 7 pm.

The nursery is located at 6541 Bradley Road in Saugatuck (behind the blue Masonic Lodge building off of the Blue Star Highway). John, a past President of the Azalea Society of America, has been an active participant in development and maintenance of the "Back-In-Time Garden" at the Old School House. In case of sprinkles, bring your umbrella. For questions, contact Chris Yoder at 616-212-3443.
                               submitted by Chris Yoder


To become a member or renew your membership select from the following categories:

Individual $50
Household $70
Premium $300
Corporate $500
Life $1,000
Senior (65+) $30
Senior Household $45

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 will open for the season on Sunday, May 24 and will be open daily from noon until 4 PM through Labor Day. After Labor Day, it will be open from noon until 4 PM on weekends in September and October. Click HERE to learn more about the Museum and recent past exhibits.

The Old School House History Center and Lifeboat Display is located at 130 Center Street in Douglas. For group tours, 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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