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Dear SDHS Members,

This has been one heck of a winter. It is now time for us to stop hibernating at bit and come together for a party. The Annual Pub Party is in full swing and is a great time for the entire community to get reacquainted. The date is March 14 and it will be at Coral Gables thanks to our friends Mike and Ruth Johnson and Theresa Lee. They have promised to take good care of us again this year. We are pleased that we did not have to raise the price from last year. How's that for trying to stimulate the economy?

Tickets for the dinner and raffle are available for purchase. $25 gets you dinner and 1 chance to go to Las Vegas. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased; 1 for $10 or 3 for $25. You can stop by Respite in Douglas or Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck; they have tickets available for purchase. If you are out of town you can call us at 269 857 5751 and purchase your tickets over the phone.

We do not want you to miss out on the opportunity to listen to the snowstorm stories, have some good food and drink and don't forget the chance to further test your luck of the Irish in Las Vegas. We are receiving some really good items for both the silent and live auction and remember all the proceeds will go to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.

Some of our members have come forward to let me know that volunteers are ready and willing to help. The only challenge is that I am not able to call you, as I do not know who you are. So, if you could call me or send me an email to let me know what you have volunteered your services for in the past and wish to do so again this year, know that we are most grateful and welcome the help. I can be reached at 269 561 2305 or email  Thank you in advance for all of your help.

The other item that I need to mention is the Old School House. The Board is working very hard to find financial resources to finish the lower level in time to have it open to the public sometime this summer. We are at a standstill at the moment. Some of it is due to the economic situation and that foundations are looking at causes that are more human service oriented. We need to pull together once again and get this project completed. I hope you will be able to help in some way to finish this project.

The sun is shining as I write this letter, so there is hope that warmer temperatures are in the near future. I have learned how to steer the snow blower in 5 inches of heavy snow and hope I don't have to use it again until next year.

All of you Snowbirds, I hope you are enjoying your time away and we look forward to your return and seeing your nice tanned faces.

See you all at the Pub Party --- I am looking forward to it.

Best regards, Kathy Sturm


Wednesday, March 11, 7 PM at the Saugatuck High School, The Life and Art of Cora Bliss Taylor
Wednesday, April 8, 7 PM, location to be determined, Annual Heritage Awards
Wednesday, May 13, 7 PM, location to be announced, Annual Meeting

March meeting to feature the Life and Work of Cora Bliss Taylor

Cora Bliss Taylor

We will continue our tradition of exploring the life of notable area women as we celebrate the life and work of Cora Bliss Taylor. Nancy Beebe, art researcher and appraiser (and student of Mrs. Taylor) will discuss Cora's work and place in the American art world.

Over her more than 50 years of teaching in Saugatuck, Mrs. Taylor inspired thousands of young people, and we are asking them to come and share their experiences at the Taylor Art School. We also are asking her patrons to bring in their paintings to show to the audience.

Any questions, call Jane Underwood at 269-857-2268.


Last year's exhibit comes down ---

Steve Teich, Vic Bella & Sam Farnsworth dismantle the 2008 Museum Exhibit

and "Summertime" is on its way ---

Saugatuck Yacht Club dock with Mom helping kids into sailboat.

Jack Rasdall holding fish on stringer.

Who is this shop clerk and what is the name of the store?

The exhibit, that is. Check out these photos - only three of hundreds we are considering for inclusion in the museum's exhibition--2009. We know that the fisherman is Jack Rasdall and it will be included in a special section of fishing photos, so get your fishing photos to us (preferably with a bit of narrative with it). The other is of the Saugatuck Yacht Club dock - but who is the mom helping her kids onto the boat? - and one of a Saugatuck clerk at his counter (after all, "summertime" was heavy-duty work time for local residents).

Photos? Slides? Home movies? Water Ski? Restaurant menu? Your museum exhibition "study group" of about 10 people is busy gathering objects, photographs, conceptualizing, designing, and writing for Part One of a two-year (2009-2010) exhibit on the history of summertime and leisure in the Saugatuck and Douglas area - opening Memorial Day weekend.

We are receiving word of a good number of new photos and materials to be gathered in - some pretty unique stuff including Cora Bliss Taylor's lawn chair (from the 50s?), a water pitcher claimed to be from Al Capone's boat when docked in Saugatuck, lots of beach and vacation photos - even an artist drawing of an arrest made in Saugatuck during the wild 1950s college-kids invasion, and a photo of the Big Pavilion burning - but (most important) just some interesting every-day summertime life documentation: people having fun and living it up. Does anyone have photos from the 1960 Saugatuck Jazz Festival - the one that featured Dave Brubeck? We would also like to hear the story of the hotel or motel or cottage you stayed in during your first visit to Saugatuck. What sort of work were you employed in that catered to summertime visitors? What else?

In any case, call (Vic Bella at 857-3600 or the SDHS Tech Center, 857-7901) or write Jim Schmiechen at to tell us about your 'summertime' stuff - anything dating up to about 1990 or so. Also, give a shout if you would like to join this exhibition study/construction group.

Jim Schmiechen


Pub Party

The Pub Party, one of the premier social events for 2009, will be held at Coral Gables on Saturday, March 14 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm

6:30 - cash bar and viewing of silent auction items and 7:30 - dinner and live auction follows dinner.

This year the vacation raffle winner will be able to try the luck of the Irish in fabulous Las Vegas! Airfare, three nights of hotel accommodations on The Strip and airport transfers for two are included in the trip. (The trip must be completed by December 15, 2009 and other rules and restrictions will apply.) One raffle ticket is included with each Pub Party ticket. Additional raffle tickets are $10 or 3 for $25.

Items for the auctions include vacation getaways, original artwork, offerings from local retailers and restaurants, and even services like a home security system or home decorating consultation. As in the past, there will be many, many bargains for the discerning bidder!

Tickets to the Pub Party are $25 per person. The last date to purchase Pub Party tickets is March 6. Raffle tickets can be purchased up to March 14.

You can purchase Pub Party and raffle tickets now by calling (269) 857-5751. (Credit Cards accepted for phone orders.) Tickets are also available at Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck or the Respite Coffee Shop in Douglas.

How You Can Support the Pub Party

The Pub Party is the NUMBER ONE fundraising event for the Society. You can help in its success in many ways.

Attend: When you attend the Pub Party you can help the Society by buying 50-50 raffle tickets and participating in the auctions.
Buy Raffle Tickets: Even if you can't attend the party, you can buy raffle tickets for the trip to Las Vegas. Raffle tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25. You can order raffle tickets by phone and pay with a credit card by calling (269) 857-5751.
Donate: A significant amount of the funds raised for the Society at the Pub Party are the result of the silent and live auctions. Items are still being accepted for the auctions. If you have a special item - art, antique, condo stay, garden party, gift certificate, etc. -- you can donate items for the auction, please respond to this e-mail or call (269) 857-5751. Not only are you helping the Society, but your donation is tax deductible too!
You can help defray a portion of the party’s expenses by making a donation of cash or merchandise to help underwrite the event. All underwriters will be recognized in an upcoming Newsletter.
Volunteer: A large number of volunteers are needed to make the Pub Party a success.

If you would like to information about volunteering or are interested in helping underwrite the party, respond to this e-mail or call (269) 857-5751.

Pub Party Pub Party Pub Party Pub Party Pub Party


Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Society Meeting

President Kathy Sturm welcomed all at 7:00 with the following announcements:
Pub Party - Judy Mauger enlisted help for Saturday, March 14, 2009. Tickets are $25.00 for the 6:00 p.m. dinner at Coral Gables. Bring your friends for fun, food, auction items and a trip to Las Vegas!
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected Saugatuck-Douglas as one of the top dozen United States distinctive destinations! K. Sturm read a thank you letter to the Society from Douglas Mayor Matt Balmer.
Nancy Woods' recent visit to Washington D.C. found National Endowment for the Humanities Program Officer Andrea Anderson greatly impressed by our SDHS Tech Center, its research and records!

Jane Underwood thanked Martha Boetcher, Jack Sheridan and Chris Yoder for sharing their expertise verbally and on screen in our program entitled GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH 101.

Our digital revolution allows access to records of the territorial and federal census, taxes, cemeteries, church, court, family history, land, military etc. All three urged us to be brave and use the SDHS website, heritage quest,, Michigan e Library and other possibilities. Sources are legion!                                  Jane Osman


How many trees are there in town for which it can be said "so-and-so planted this tree". Perhaps in private yards, people may know who planted a tree 10, 20 or 30 years ago. But what about a tree which has been growing at curbside at 311 Water Street in Saugatuck for over 100 years?

Thanks to Stanley Mather of St. Joe, Michigan, we know that about 1907, his father Dan Willard Mather. dug up a sapling on the side of Mount Baldy, came down the hill and rowed back across the river to plant it in front of what had been his grandfather's feed store (now the Boardwalk Café at 311 Water St.).

Dan W's grandfather Dan (1817-1905) arrived in Saugatuck on April 12, 1884 on the steamer Taylor, and that same day made his first sale from the feed store of 100 pounds of oil meal to Joseph P. Shea. Dan was an active member of the Congregational Church and served for many years as Saugatuck Village Clerk.

The Mathers are direct descendants of the Rev. Richard Mather (1596-1669) of Massachusetts who came to this country in 1638. Thru the marriage of Dan Mather (1817-1905) and Anna Cushman (1819-1901), a Mayflower descendant, Stanley is now a member of the General Society of Mayflower descendants.

Mather Feed Store Before the Tree
Mather Feed Store
Before the Tree

Dan W. Mather
Dan W.

Although the Mather family moved from Saugatuck many years ago, they still make an annual visit to decorate the four generations of graves in the family plot at Riverside Cemetery and to "check on Dad's tree".   
submitted by Chris Yoder


Don't forget to send in your volunteer hours by REPLYING to this email or sending them to Mary Voss at


As of Valentine's Day, 226 of the Society's individual and household members have renewed their membership for 2009. We thank those who have renewed. 2009 is going to be a banner year for you Society. Come join the fun.
Ed Kelly for the Membership Committee  

by Jack Sheridan

The history of the Francis boat is quite a yarn. The Francis boat was delivered about 150 years ago to the U. S. Kalamazoo Harbor Lighthouse when Timothy S. Coates was the keeper (1853-1860). He signed the delivery papers a century and a half ago! Research of the records of the U. S. Life-Saving Service shows that the U. S. Government purchased and delivered a total of 48 of these boats to Great Lakes locations about 1854.

These boats were the brain child of inventor Joseph Francis. The Francis boat was a real innovation because the hull was fabricated in pieces from thin steel metal sheets that were form-shaped in a large hydraulic press. The finished parts were then coated with molten tin and then zinc and riveted together. Due to the unique material, an early form of galvanized metal, today the hull is nearly as sound as when it came out of the press some 150 years ago. Advantages were light weight and low maintenance but the boats cost $475 - twice what the earnings of average worker at that time. But the price did not deter the Government from buying the boats for lifeboats and to outfit lifesaving and lighthouse locations.

Fast forward in time to the winter of 1930-31. The lighthouse had been decommissioned since 1915, John Bird was a Sea Scout and the younger brother of Carl Bird, local boat builder. John later related that the boat was dug from the sand near the old Saugatuck lighthouse by John, Carl, and Bert Van Dis. With the help of the local Sea Scouts, they skidded her across the ice on the old harbor lagoon and transported her by sleigh to Carl’s shop. There, new woodwork and a centerboard were installed converting the former lifeboat to a sailboat. Captain Leonard Britton named her the Gallinipper (meaning giant mosquito) and she was presented to the local Sea Scout troop who at that time were an active group and thrilled to have the boat. However she was not the most responsive of sailboats and gradually faded into obscurity. For twenty years, John and Carl had plans to restore her that never quite got going.

The Francis Boat Under Restoration

Fast forward again to 1996. Bob Johnson and Bob Simonds threatened, pushed and pleaded with the SDHS to restore the Gallinipper! Finally in 2003 funds were set aside and the crew of Dick Lyons, Dean Batchelor, Dave Mauger and Al Lyon began work. "R.J." Peterson contributed heated space and critical support at Tower Marina. The project was finished early in the spring of 2006 and was unveiled at the opening of the society's museum in May.
submitted by Jack Sheridan

by Jack Sheridan
(Click on an image for the answer)

HISTORY: It was July 4, 1939 and all the high rollers were out.

HISTORY: The apples wee picked and now
off to market ca 1920.
MYSTERY: Name the three streets meeting
at this corner.

HISTORY: The Phelps livery was a handy
spot to launch an end a successful
fishing trip.
MYSTERY: Name the location.

HISTORY: Ca 1925 here being used as a beach taxi, this sturdy work boat was later rebuilt into a fishing tug for the Sewers family.
MYSTERY: Her name was the
William _________?


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

Individual $25
Household $45
Senior (65+) $18
Senior Household $30
Student $5
Corporate $150
Life, Individual $300
Life, Household $500

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-Historical Museum is located in the historic Pump House at the foot of Mt. Baldhead on the west bank of the Kalamazoo River. The Museum is currently closed and will open Memorial Day weekend 2009 with a new exhibit tentatively titled:

"Summertime: One Hundred Years of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore"

The Society's Technology Center is open Monday from 1 to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon and Wednesday 9 a.m. to noon.

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

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