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History Lives Here Text



(The lateWilliam Erby Smith, an early member of the Saugatuck-Douglas HistoricalSociety, developed a lakeshore subdivision which he named Waukena. Thefollowing is from a speech delivered by present Society member Jerry Hill at a2005 Waukena picnic. Mark Smith is dill's brother.)


"Waukena"is Potawatomi for "forest by the water."


With MarkSmith's help we're going back to 1910 to help us understand the background ofWaukena. By the way, Mark wasn't born yet.


Mark's dadwho was a real estate agent in Chicago had been diagnosed with a nervousbreakdown. His doctor said go up north - go to the woods - and the Smiths camehere, bought 24 acres and built a house.


Theirfriends thought, "They're crazy. They've moved to the end of theworld."


To get tothe end of the world they would drive all day using the section lines east andthen north until they arrive. they always took two spare tires as the dirtroads were rough.


The originalhouse was across from Van Til's and next door was a rectory which still stands.Occasionally the Catholic priest rode with the Smiths from Chicago. On one suchtrip during prohibition they brought a barrel of booze. The priest sat withrobes covering it hoping no one would challenge a priest.


The Smithswould come early summer and stay until school started. Mark's dad wouldsometimes arrive in South Haven on the Goodrich Steamship Line.


The familypumped their own water and used kerosene lamps for light. The Smiths werepopular with their farmer neighbors:


Mr. Mosherfilled their milk pail.

Mr. Struleestuffed tires with hay to save buying inner tubes,

Dr. Brunsonperformed an emergency appendectomy on Bill on the kitchen table.


Bill spendone fall at age eight or nine attending the Darling School on 118thStreet. Mr. Smith would take the entire class to Saugatuck for ice cream in hislarge touring car, a highlight of the school year. As they entered Saugatuckthey passed the Potawatomi settlement where the Indians sold arts and crafts.


In the early1900's the Pier cove piers were busy with mail boats and provision boatscorning and going to Chicago carrying fruit and lumber. At this time Fennvillewas a tough town catering to men with money.


Mark's first personal memory was a longtrip stopping in St. Joseph where they stayed in a relative's funeral home.


After WorldWar II brother Bill started buying land. He'd approach a farmer and say:


"I'dlake to buy some land." "We won't need a realtor." "I'llwrite a check, NOW."


Bill waspopular with the farmers.


The present Smith home on Lake Michiganwas built in 1948 and Bill and Mark helped George Harrington build it.


This is astory of Bill and Mark's love of this land. In addition to Waukena Bill had alove affair with the town of Glenn. If Bill heard of a building about to betorn down, he'd buy it instead. Mark told me Bill had more plans for Glenn -but he ran out of time.