JULY  2008

  Click HERE for printer friendly version


Wednesday, August 13
, Annual Potluck Picnic at Mt. Baldhead Park.

Mt. Baldhead Park

Chips and dips at 6 p.m., dinner at 6:30. Please bring your best culinary creation for the buffet table and your own tableware. After dinner we are going to have a quiz with some really great prizes! Any questions--call Jane at 857-2268

Wednesday, September 10, at 7 p.m.,  Official Opening of the Old School House. We will have an opportunity to tour the building and learn how we will be able to use the facilities of this new learning center.

Wednesday, October 8 at 7 p.m. at Saugatuck High School. Tall tales told by a ship's captain.


July 22 - Ellen Sprouls with "Capturing Moments in Time; The Viewer as Interpreter."

July 29 - Kay Norton Smalley with "John Warner Norton: Early Saugatuck Artist Makes It Big."

August 5 - Don Olendorf with 'Bill Olendorf: Saugatuck and Ox-Bow Create an Artist."

August 12 - James Schmiechen with "May Francis Heath: Artist and Storyteller."

The Tuesdays 'til Noon program begins at 11 a.m. at the museum in the south gallery. Seating is limited so come early. The program ends promptly at noon when the museum opens for the day.


It has been a busy period since the new board was sworn in. We have accomplished a major task of one of the goals set before us. We had determined which At-Large Board members will be the liaisons for the various functions (committees) within the Society. We handed out a copy of the list at the July 9 meeting and the list is printed in this issue of the newsletter. I will ask that the list be posted to the website for continual reference.

Those who attended the monthly meeting were treated to the stories and images of John Thomas, son of infamous Ev Thomas, as he described life growing up in Douglas. In addition, John and his brother, Mike, presented the Society a Civil War sword that belonged to Major William Dunn of Ganges. This special artifact will now become part of the SDHS archival collection. We are grateful to the Thomas family for this historic donation. It was also nice to see several of our long time residents at the meeting; Demi Demerest, Henry Gleason, Terry Thomas, Bev Nieusma, Nancy Nieusma Burch and Sheri Fox Stahl to name a few. I hope to see more local participation at the events and programs offered by the Society. They are some of our living historians.

We have enjoyed listening to all of your feedback and suggestions as to how to continue to grow the Society and to ensure we present the correct focus. I recently returned from an architectural study tour and met with several officers of other historical societies to obtain their views on involvement in their communities. I found it both enlightening and reassuring that the SDHS purpose and mission are similar. We truly are a premier organization with valued members and volunteers.

I encourage you to visit our website often as we continue to look at ways to expand and strengthen our communication so that you have current and accurate information. I am pleased to be a part of this special organization.

Best regards, Kathy Sturm


June 11, 2008, SCA Auditorium
State Senator Patty Birkholz gave an introductory tribute to Burr Tillstrom followed by Dr. Joel Sternberg of Xavier University of Chicago. Dr. Sternberg traced Burr's life (1917 - 1985) through slides, film clips and delightful tales of Kukla, Fran and Ollie. No microphone forced Jon Helmrich to move and Bill Hess to second that our business meeting be postponed.

July 8, 2008, High School Media Center
Sixty-plus attended as John Thomas, son of Everard Thomas (1912-2002) shared the July program "Thomas Family - A Century of Memories." Via his enthusiasm, humor, great stories and visual presentation John proved his statement, "I am my father's son!" He concluded by introducing his brother, Jim, and nephew, Eric, who assisted him in donating an 1865 Civil War sword to the Society. Jane Underwood, whose father and Ev were great friends, presented John Thomas with a hard-cover edition of the Society's new book.

President Kathy Sturm called the business meeting or order at 8:05 p.m. for these announcements:

1. Committee liaison assignments are in place to strengthen SDHS communications.
2. Lakeview Bowling Fundraiser netted $4,196.86 for the OSH.
3. 2008 SDHS Directory has been mailed.
4. September 20, 2008 is the correct date for the Heritage Home Tour.
5. OSH bell clapper has been purchased for $1,200.00 (unbudgeted).
6. Jim Schmiechen's Historic Site Inventory Project is now on our website. (Click HERE)
7. Reiteration of the SDHS Purpose and Mission as printed in our by-laws.

At 8:14 Mike Economos moved, Ken Carls seconded that the meeting be adjourned.


Starting with this month's Newsletter, we will send a hard copy via US Mail as usual plus an electronic "E-News" version to those members who have given us their email addresses. We hope you will enjoy this new way of staying informed with the latest Society news. In addition to the "E-News," look for event reminders and other timely notices in your email inbox.

If you would like to receive Society news electronically and have not given us your email address, just REPLY to this email and we'll add your name to the email list, or go to the Society's website and click on the "Subscribe" icon. For those who elect to receive their newsletter electronically, we will discontinue their hard copy mailing starting with the August newsletter unless we hear from you. It's your choice - just let us know by REPLYING to this email, by phone at 269-857-5751 or US mail at SDHS, Box 617, Douglas, MI 49406.


Four new publications loaded with insights about life in the early days of our community have been released recently by the Society.

History by Camera: Saugatuck & Douglas Photographs 1870-1970, published in May, offers rare historical views, many of which appear pristine to the readers' eyes, a good trick considering that they are up to 138 years old. Author/photo editor Jack Sheridan and graphic designer Rick Vanderleek - both Society fixtures - are responsible for this professional work.

Rick Vanderleek and Jack Sheridan
Rick Vanderleek & Jack Sheridan at the Museum's July 13th
History by Camera: Saugatuck & Douglas Photographs 1870-1970 Book Signing

Jack browsed endlessly through the archives to come up with 233 "stop and stare" photos and maps. Many of the images are new to our collection in the last three years. Rick burned much midnight oil after practicing his daytime designing profession in advertising. Rob Carey provided professional advice and moral support. The book is available in soft cover, $30, and numbered hardbound, $100. The hardcover edition has been hand-crafted as usual by the Lincoln Book Bindery and is of superb quality. Call Rob Carey, 857-2478, to reserve your number or REPLY to this email.

Early Memories of Saugatuck, Michigan 1830 to 1930, by May Francis Heath, which was originally published about 1929, is newly reprinted by the Society. Mrs. Heath's book has long been looked as one of the most valuable resources on local history. It has been out of print for several decades and owners of the original editions cherish them. There have been reports of eBay and auction purchases for as much as $60.

Early Memories of Saugatuck, Michigan

The new edition is a 6 x 9 inch paperback version which reproduces the contents of the original publication including the woodcut illustrations of Carl Hoerman.

It was created by a team of Society volunteers including Rob Carey, editor; Mary Lyons,   document   retrieval;

Jack Sheridan tech support, and Kit Lane, who added a 30-page index that was not in the original version. It is available in paperback only for $18.95 at the museum or click HERE to order directly over the internet.

History of Western Allegan County, Michigan

History of Western Allegan County, Michigan, the heavyweight of this publication bonanza, reawakens a resource originally published by Curtis Media Corporation in 1988 and thought to be out-of-print until some original-run books (shrink-wrapped no less)
were discovered in a Texas book warehouse by Society volunteer Chris Yoder. All copies were purchased by the Society. Known locally as "The Big Black Book", this hardcover 9 x 12 inch tome is 1.5" thick and contains 537 pages, comprising about 20 percent local history and 80 percent western Allegan County family history vignettes, a total of 921. Kit Lane, project director for Curtis Media, wrote much of the history portion and helped families compile their family history data. The result is a timeless and invaluable reference book full of photos and local family lore. The book is hardcover only for $70. REPLY to this email if you would like to order a copy.

13 Moments in Time: The Artist as Storyteller

13 Moments in Time: The Artist as Storyteller, a portfolio including 5 x 7 inch color reproductions of all 13 artworks featured in this year's exhibit, with a short biography of the artist and other information about the scene on the back, all collected into a miniature artist's portfolio. Available at
the museum for $20 or REPLY to this email to order a copy.

In addition the museum still has in stock about half of the previously published Society books including Painting the Town: A History of Art in Saugatuck and Douglas, by Kit Lane which accompanied the 1997 exhibit, and Raising the Roof: A History of the Buildings and Architecture in the Saugatuck and Douglas Area (revised edition) by James Schmiechen which was published in 2006, and others. Click HERE for information and how to order your copies.


A liaison is not a Committee Chair.
w Communications - co-liaisons Ken Carls & Bill Hess
w Development - Nancy Woods
w Facilities - co-liaisons Steve Hutchins & Ed Kelly
w Membership/Volunteers - co-liaisons Ed Kelly & to be named
w Merchandising - Steve Hutchins
w Nominating - Harold Thieda
w Programming - Ken Carls
w Social - Nancy Woods & Judi Vanderbeck
w Technology - Mary Voss


As a part of the efforts to document local families, we have been collecting and posting data to the SDHS "On-Line Research Center" We have: Interment records from Riverside (3,448), Douglas (1,772), Taylor (1,033), and Plummerville (260) cemeteries; 1,958 photos of gravestones, as well as over 7,000 obituaries from the Commercial Record, 1868 to 1959. Thanks to Charles Hancock for his work at Taylor and to Pam Aalderink at Riverside.

If you have families in these cemeteries, you can help by contributing information which can be posted with these to include photos or biographies. Digital photos can be uploaded to the grave record by anyone with internet access. Contact Chris Yoder at if you need to have photos scanned or have a biography you'd like to see on-line.

Thanks, Chris Yoder


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
Sustaining $75
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: Kit Lane, PO Box 250, Douglas MI 49406 or email

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


Growing Up in the Community.
by Kathy Tisdale Sturm

Since I am a volunteer, not only as your president, but at the Society's museum, Mary Voss, chief recorder of volunteer hours, asked that I share some of my memories of growing up in the area as part of a focus on our volunteers. Thank you for asking.

I have had the privilege of living near Pier Cove, Fennville and in Douglas as a child. As an adult add Saugatuck and now Saugatuck Township. I moved here in 1959 with my parents, Sue and Jerry Tisdale, along with my younger brother, Dennis, and sister, Peggy. My dad worked for the State of Michigan and with the new I-196 being built he was transferred here from Lansing to be part of the maintenance crew for the "new" highway. I must say I wasn't too happy to learn that the road we lived on did not come with sidewalks for roller skating, but that dissipated very quickly when we learned that the Big Lake was a short walking distance away.

At that time we lived on the Lakeshore next to the County Park. After my youngest sister, Tris, was born we moved to a house on US-31 near 126th Ave for a few years and we attended St. Peter's School downtown Douglas. We moved into Douglas (town) in 1964. Our house was sited where the Petter sculpture garden is now located at the corner of Main and Douglas streets, the building was later destroyed by fire, after we had moved.

Our yard was the collecting point for the downtown kids as opposed to the uptown kids; Center Street was the dividing point. We would play ball together, ride our bikes, fish, slide down the hill behind the house on sleds and saucers in the winter and cardboard boxes in the summer. The hill was too steep to mow, so my mother invented this option to keep the yard "tidy".

A funny story I will share. We moved into town just before my birthday and as was and still is the custom you go to the Post Office for the mail. It was my turn so that I could collect my birthday cards. When I arrived at Center Street I was amazed to find that flags lined both sides of the street. My Grandpa Pratt had always told me it was just for my birthday, and I couldn't figure out how they knew it was my birthday, so I retrieved the mail and my cards and proceeded to walk down the middle of Center Street back toward Main Street to celebrate my day. Jerry Bekken, then a clerk at the Post Office, noticed the new kid walking in the street and came running out the front door to tell me to get out of the street, one it was not safe and even more so because Tom Gifford was due to drive by soon. Remember Tom and Maggie Gifford? Another story for another time.

I attended Saugatuck High School from the 6th to the 12th grades. My mother began working at the high school when I was a junior. Most kids would have hated that situation. I didn't - my mother is one of my best friends. Some of the special advantages of living in a very small community I enjoyed, and there were some I didn't enjoy. During my teen years Douglas and Saugatuck observed many short term transitions as they tried to define themselves after the loss of the Big Pavilion. Many different groups tried to make their mark and the citizens tried to help them decide if they would fit. We had the bikers and the hippies who enjoyed a free lifestyle and the rock concerts. One morning during the weekend concert out at Pottawatamie Beach we had no less than 20 riders sleeping in our backyard. At the time I worked part-time at the "new" hospital as an emergency room clerk. That was quite an education in and of itself.

Saugatuck was always hopping and Douglas with its quiet streets would just sit back and watch and continue unchanged. You knew who lived in every house, which also meant that your every movement was reported to the neighbors and your parents. As a teen that was very boring compared to what was happening across the river in Saugatuck.

At the exhibit at the museum there is a Greyhound sign. It hung for many years on Kit Lane's side porch on Spring Street. (I used to babysit for the Lane kids when they first moved to town). Then, when I was in high school, several of us tried to convince the Greyhound Bus Line to resume stops in Douglas, but this time in front of the Lane's house as there was an official sign there. We never did convince them it was a good idea. I could probably go on and on about life in Douglas, but I will give you this small taste.

I moved away to attend college, got married and raised a wonderful son with the values I was raised with and from the experiences learned living in Douglas and Saugatuck just a beautiful view away. Speaking of which, the view of Saugatuck from the south end of the bridge is the view I saw each day from my bedroom window. That is a very special memory for me.

I am back and enjoying life here, with my family. Thomas Wolfe was wrong, you can come home again.

Thank you for letting me ramble. We have continual calls out for those who are willing to recollect what the area was like in earlier days, both as written pieces for the newsletter and for the various other types of oral history the society collects.

We have worked at this project for some time and received input from most of Saugatuck's oldest residents. We have recollections from many who are no longer with us. HOWEVER, there is a distressing paucity of accounts from the 1950s, 1960sand 1970s. I know to many of us that seems like just yesterday, but it is already a half a century away and getting farther away every day. History is a continuous story. If you can, help us fill in the gaps, please write something for the newsletter, or the historical library now forming in our new Discovery Center, or contact John and Charlaine Shack and arrange to do an oral history. Please. - Kit Lane, newsletter editor.

Lillian Grimes Eddy

Lillian Isabel Grimes was born to Solomon Moore and Phebe (Hathaway Nichols) Grimes, March 23, 1863, in Galesburg, Michigan. She spent her early school years at Little Prairie Ronde with Grandmother Hathaway. The Solomon Grimes family moved from Galesburg to Allegan where Solomon owned a shoe store. As a child, Lillian often accompanied her father on trips to Saugatuck, passing the home called Beech-Hurst en route. She always exclaimed over the magnificent beech trees and determined that one day that beautiful place would be hers.

Lillian graduated from Allegan High School in 1879, the high school's first graduating class. In the early spring of that year Solomon Grimes sold his store and bought property on the Ganges lakeshore near where Plummerville Creek crosses Lakeshore Drive. There he developed a fruit farm, including a number of apple varieties for which he was quite well known. He was often in touch with Luther Burbank.

Lillian moved to Ganges, took the teachers' exam and was hired to teach for that 1879-80 school year. At the end of one year she went to Ypsilanti Normal, where she covered two years of work in one and received her Life Certificate. In the fall of 1881 she was hired to teach math and Latin at the South Haven High School. After two years she went to teach at Fowler. Her next teaching position was at the Three Rivers Seminary, a boarding school for boys and girls. After two years, Lillian wished to continue her education and finished in one year her Bachelor of Pedagogy at Michigan State Normal College in Ypsilanti. With her new degree she was hired as principal of the Wayne High School. She remained at the job until her marriage in 1894 to Scott Wilmoth Eddy. At that time he was postmaster of Ganges and ran the general store. Here their two sons, Raymond Grimes and Benjamin Hathaway were born.

One year the peach crop failed. there were a half-dozen young people scheduled to go off to college that year but since peaches were the chief income for the farmers, parents could ill afford the expense of sending them away. Lillian was asked her if she would have a school for these young people so that they would not waste that year of education. She converted the upper floor of the store to a school and taught there for two years and many received college credit due to her efforts. Among these young people were two Hutchins boys. Harry graduated from Purdue University with a degree in electrical engineering. Lee received degrees from the Michigan Agricultural College and Johns Hopkins University and served as a translator and bacteriologist during World War I, before a career with the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. specializing in plant disease. Eugene Brunson was also one of Lillian's students. He followed his father into the practice of medicine and said he would never have made it through medical school if it had not been for her fine Latin instruction.

After Scott sold the store to the Wolbrink brothers and retired in 1906, Lillian's life-long wish came true. She purchased Beech-Hurst. In 1906 was hired at the Douglas school teaching high school Latin and math. A 1908 contract recently discovered in the family home (see below) notes that she received $25 for "one half day each day". She was later principal. In 1914 she earned a BA degree. From 1922 to 1933, when she retired at the age of 70, she worked for the Veterans Administration. Lillian Grimes Eddy died April 5, 1955, at the age of 92.

Lillian and Scott's son, Benjamin, married Esther Paton, and had five daughters, four of them present or past members of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society: Elizabeth "Betsy" Eddy Plummer, Barbara Eddy Crandall, Joan Eddy Brigham, and Joyce Eddy Plummer.

If you would like to contact us with comments, please email us at or call us at 269-857-5751.
We appreciate the opportunity to send you the Society's news and events information. If for any reason you wish not to receive
additional notices, please click on the "UNSUBSCRIBE" option below.