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History Lives Here Text

The Other Francis Offspring


Patricia (Francis) Holmes of McFarland, Texas,recently wrote the historical society to obtain a copy of "Heroes,Rogues and Just Plain Folks. " She mentions that she is agranddaughter of Stephen Morrison Francis, the brother of May Francis Heath(who wrote a history of Saugatuck about 1930) and encloses the followingbiography of him. It was part of his obituary following his death November 4,1942, and was probably written by his author-sister.


Stephen Francis


Stephen Morrison Francis was born July 28, 1877, to John and Julia(Morrison) Francis at Saugatuck, Michigan, where he spent his boyhood daysliving the happy life of the small town bay, though when only sixteen he beganto use his spare time out of school working with his beloved grandfather,Stephen A. Morrison, for whom he was named and who at that time after retiringfrom his arduous work at his tanneries was devoting himself to small fruitfarming, owning some twenty-five acres of land on Allegan road in the village.These two Steves were very fond of one another andwere often known as "Old Steveand Little Steve," as day afterday they went to their gardens to work.

Then at the age of 17 young Steve, who was a senior in high school,received word from Chicago cousins offering him a job,and as work was scarce for young men in the village he accepted and for severalyears was an employee in the Walker & Ehrman Co.(now the Chicago Screw corporation). Later he became associated in the FederalFolding Box Co., which for the past 35 years he has owned and operated. Severalof his employees who began there with him are still in the plant; they wouldnever leave Steve though opportunities offered, for they not only served him,they loved him. Throughout his life he was honest, kindly, benevolent, thoughof a retiring, conservative nature, but always a true friend to those who knewhim.

He was married in 1908 to Catherine C. Bartelof Princeton, Wisconsin, and they had two sons, Earl, born 1910 and John, bornin 1915, and seven grandchildren: Catherine, barn 1933; Suzanne, 1936; Stephen,1939, John, 1940; Caroline, 1943, and Michael and Patricia, 1948.

For the past few years he had had a heart ailment but did not heed itswarnings- going to the factory each day until Sept. 22 when he collapsed in hisoffice and was taken to Oak Park Hospital. He sufferedgreatly and when on the night of Nov. 4 the release came, none could wish himback to suffer, though he will be sadly missed.

At the time of his death he still owned 15 acres of land (the old racetrack) in Saugatuck and had looked forward to soon retiring and coming here andbuilding a home under the old elm tree and spending his old age- he waited toolong.

Letter to a Friend

Sometimes a simple letter cangive a wonderful slice of an era. This short letter dated May 13, 1923, wasbrought to the museum recently by Mike and Marcia Raleigh of Indianapolis,Indiana, who picked it up in a Cincinnati, Ohio,antique store. The envelope bore the return address of the Fruit Growers StateBank and had a color picture that covered the entire non-address side showing aview of the town from Baldhead with the Georgian Bay boats North American andSouth American tied up near the Big Pavilion. The recipient was Miss Mary Hotrum of Allegan and the writer was Edna Boyce whosecareer at the bank, later Citizens Bank and Trust, still later Shoreline Bank,spanned more than 50 years.

Saugatuck, Mich. May 13, 1923

Dear Mary:


Thought I'd try to write youa few lines tonight before going to bed.

I intended to tell you when I saw you last Saturday how you folks wouldfind me when you came down. I'd bevery glad to have you come down next week Thursday night. It isn't likely you'll get here before I leave the bank and so follow the main street fiveblocks out from the bank. It's oneblock beyond where the paved road turns toward Holland and you turn to the right and it isthe second house on the left hand side of the road. It is a white house. That's about as near as I can tell you. I guessprobably you'll be able to find yourway into Saugatuck and the bank is right on the main street. I suppose you're still on fast time there, so by that you'll gain an hour in coming here.

There's nothing much goingon here week nights unless they should happen to begin their movies here dailyas the papers said they were to do later. They have just been open on Sat.nights until now and they have shows Sat and Sunday nights.

Miss Baker and I went to see "Freckles" Barry in "Penrod" last night and I thought it was nevergoing to end.

It seems as if I had been on the go ever since I got up this morning. Iwent to the store for milk, came back and then went down again to church, afterdinner, some friends of Miss Baker'scame down and we went for a long ride out to Jenison and Macatawaand back again. It seemed that everybody was out today. There seemed so manycars on the road. After we got back, Miss Baker and I went for a long walk andby the time I got back I thought I was about dead. I don't walk enough during the week so that whenI take a long walk I notice it more, but I'll probably get used to it before long.

Howdid you like the snow storm? Some snow, wasn't it? Baldhead has sure been popular today. There have been people upon it all day.

Wellthere's nothing else to write of, Ihope to see you folks then a week from Thursday night.

With love Edna


Edna Boyce would have been 20years old when she wrote this letter and apparently was living in the home ofMiss Baker, even in 1923 single women did not simply "get anapartment." The directions to the Baker house reflectthe turns in the road to Holland that were present prior to the building of thesweeping curve during the road construction of 1935-36. The movie theater atthe Big Pavilion was sometimes open weekends in May and September, but duringthe summer was open daily, with a daily change of feature. Edna'sSunday afternoon drive took them to JenisonPark on the southwestern edge of Lake Macatawa where there was anelectric amusement park, and to the summer cottage settlement of Macatawa nearby. Snow occasionally occurs, but is rare, inSaugatuck in May


From thefiles of the Commercial Record:


October 19, 1906 "C. E.Bird is planning to get some squirrels for theschool yard. In a good many cities and villages squirrels have nests in thetrees and are protected. "

May 19, 1907 "Asquirrel has built her nest in the Floto cottage andwas there happy caring for her family of 3 little ones till she had too manyvisitors and 2 of the young died. She took the other one away. "

Squirrels in the area today are so numerous that many consider them ahealth hazard and a nuisance. These paragraphs describe a time when they hadbeen so seriously hunted that steps were taken to import them so children mightwatch their antics as they cavorted around the school yard. There has alwaysbeen at least two large species of squirrels in the area, the Fox Squirrel withreddish-gray fur and the black phase of the Gray Squirrel. As recently as 20years ago the Fox Squirrel was dominant, but as trees in the villages grow toforest size the more aggressive Gray Squirrel is beginning to outnumber itsslightly larger cousin.


The Prosperity of a Former Saugatuckian.


The following information concerning the business achievements of G. T.Arnold, formerly postmaster and merchantat this place, is taken from the Daily Resorter;

"Who owns this Island,anyway ? " asked a resorter a day or two ago, of aMackinac gentleman.

"Well, " replied Mr, Blank, "the United States government is supposedto, but that man Geo. Arnold is getting a corner on the durnedthing, and is getting it fast. The government may hold on to that fort for atime, but I'll bet Arnold will get the rest. Fourteen years agoor thereabouts, Geo. T. Arnold and L. B. Coats came here with a fishing tug anda ton of hustle apiece. They rented a little shed on the further dock and wentin for blood. First thing the people knew they had the dock, and it wasn't many years before they had the other one.Then Arnold got ambitious and bought out Coats, so that now every boat thatruns in to Mackinac Island paysdockage at Arnold's dock, or elselands some other place.It wouldn't take him ten minutes a day to run two docks, and he branched out piecemeal into a score of other occupations. In thefirst place he's agent for everysteam boat line that runs a boat through the Straits; and that isn't all; he owns a whole line by himself, andas neat a trio of boats as lands at the Island, viz., the T. S. Faxton, the Minnie M., and the Chas. West, and, by the way,that Chas. West is carryingmore people to the Snows everydaythan could walk there in two months if the Straits should dry up. The other tworun to the Soo.

"Does he own the Straits.Well, no not quite, and I guess it wouldn't do any harm if he did, for he's one of the most genial, accommodating men you ever saw. If he everdoes get control of the lakes, he would let anyone use 'em that wanted to."

This complimentary article aboutformer Saugatuck postmaster George T. Arnold was reprinted from the MackinacIsland newspaper by the September 1, 1893, issue of the Lake ShoreCommercial