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History Lives Here Text

At the same time that the Saugatuck-DouglasHistorical Society's historical museum seeks to display and interpret areahistory in the annual exhibit, we have a continuing mission to collect history.This is a sampling of what has been offered by museum visitors during the pastseason


Reverend J. Rice Taylor


J. RiceTaylor was born October 3, 1818, in Cambria, Niagara County, New York. The J isfor Joash. He went to Theological Seminary at Kenyon College in Gambler, Ohio.He married Henrietta Leonard in 1845 in Knox County, Ohio (Mt. Vernon andGambler). Henrietta was from Amsterdam, Holland. Five children were born to J.Rice and Henrietta. One died at about one year of age.


J. Riceserved at St. Paul's Episcopal church in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, an Episcopal churchin Allegan, Allegan County, Michigan, an Episcopal church in Atlantic City, NewJersey and at several other churches.


J. RiceTaylor died in Saugatuck, Michigan, in June 1900. His body was sent to Gambier,Ohio, and is buried in the Rosse Chapel Cemetery, along with his wife andinfant son. Henrietta Taylor died in 1858 in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.


One son,Alfred Blake Taylor, Sr., migrated to Santa Monica, California. The other son,William Wordsworth Taylor, was an Episcopal minister. William married AnnieLongshore, possibly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. William and Annie Taylorboth died in Upper Merlon, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 1935.


The twodaughters of J. Rice and Henrietta also went to Santa Monica, California, wherethey lived the rest of their lives.


Information furnished by Sharyn and LynnBrackets during a visit to the museum, July 4, 2004. The Rev. J. Rice Taylorwas the founder of All Saints' Episcopal Church, Saugatuck. His son, Alfred,founded the first bank in Saugatuck, later called Fruit Growers State Bank.


Burr and the Gang Go on for Cyril Ritchard


A visitoralso added to the story of Burr Tillstrom, noting that in the late 1970sTillstrom and some of the other Kuklapolitans took over for the British actorCyril Ritchard in a production of "Side by Side by Sondheim" whichwas at the Water Tower Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Ritchard died unexpectedlyin the middle of the run and Tillstrom, with Kukla and his other puppets, tookover the role of emcee.

Big Pavilion Tales from the Bar Boy

Museumvisitor Robert Story of Iowa worked at the Big Pavilion in the summers of 1956and 1957. He was a bar boy at The Dock and an usher in the theater (with noparticular uniform) where the movies changed nightly.


Heremembers the smell, mildly moldy and musty, probably because it was built outover the water.


JohnConstantine, one of the owners was always in trouble with the feds about liquorviolations.


Oneof Robert's jobs as bar boy was to go down in the basement of the Big Pavilionwhere there was a big barrel of empty bottles and break the necks off thebottles so that Constantine couldn't be accused of refilling them.


Hisgrandfather, Bill Story, managed The Dock. The grandfather was retired fromWestern Union and came back from California every summer to manage The Dock.His grandmother, Hazel Story, sat near the ballroom floor and sold tickets, andmay also have collected them.


JohnConstantine was a like a little Mafia guy. He liked to smoke cigars. When heleft the Pavilion for an errand he would say, "I'm going to run across theriver." They thought that he might actually "run across theriver." Notice that his initials are "J.C."


One ofRobert Story's best friends in town was Richie Stehle, whose father, Jerry,played the drums with the band. During part of his stay in Saugatuck he playedon a local baseball team. He later played semi-pro ball.


The Saugatuck Nies Family


After theCivil War Jan Nies started a hardware store in partnership with John Koning. Helater left Saugatuck and started Nies Hardware in Holland.


Jan's son,Ray Nies, burned down the last standing structure in Singapore. Some timearound 1900 Ray and his brother hiked from the Holland pier to the Saugatuckpier in November. A blizzard forced them to seek shelter in the only visiblestructure, the top floor of a two story building in Singapore. During the nightthey made a fire to keep warm and went to sleep. They woke up to find theirshelter ablaze. They escaped and hiked back to Holland in the blizzard.


Jim Johnson Grand Rapids