UPCOMING EVENTS OF INTEREST
Opening April 29 Through June 20
EXHIBIT Saugatuck Center for the
Arts, Exhibit Gallery "PIE. From Michigan Orchards to the
American Dinner Table and a Factory for the Arts." This exhibit
follows the village economy and the history of fruit growing, fruit
export, and the adaptive re-use of old pie factory into a major art
center. An SDHS exhibit in collaboration with the Saugatuck Center
For the Arts
Wednesday, May 11
ANNUAL MEETING 7pm at the
Old School House History Center
Saturday, May 14
SDHS 101 10am Old School
Sunday, May 15
ANNIVERSARY PARTY 2pm at
the Old School House, celebrating the Historical Society's 25th Year - with the dedication of
the "new" Union school as History Center and the first public
viewing of the OSH Garden and Back-In-Time Walkway. Event will
include the official opening of the SDHS Art Gallery.
Opening May 15 Through July 1
OLD SCHOOL HOUSE HISTORY
CENTER EXHIBITION Exhibit of model "village places" built by
students from Saugatuck-Douglas school's fifth and sixth grades. The
student teams build models of "village places" as a way of
documenting and understanding "village life." At the Old School
House History Center, Douglas.
Thursday-Saturday, May 19-21
MICHIGAN HISTORIC PRESERVATION
NETWORK 31ST ANNUAL STATEWIDE PRESERVATION CONFERENCE
"Just Add Water: The influence of Michigan's lakes, rivers,
ponds and streams on its culture and architecture" is the theme
of the 2011 Michigan Historic Preservation Network Annual Conference
- to be held in Saugatuck & Douglas with the SCA and the SDHS as
conference hosts. Public invited.
The MHPN is Michigan's largest non-profit
organization dedicated to recognizing and preserving Michigan's
cultural and architectural heritage. Each spring the Network
sponsors the state's largest annual preservation conference -
offering a wide number of interesting sessions relating to the
conference theme. The Conference Keynote speaker will be the Mayor
of Grand Rapids, a well known advocate for architectural and land
Thursday, May 19
MHPN "TWILIGHT WALKING TOUR"
WINE AND CHEESE RECEPTION 6:30pm to 8:00pm at the
Saturday, May 21
MUSEUM HOSTS' ORIENTATION Saugatuck-Douglas Museum
Saturday, May 28
SDHS MEMBERS MUSEUM EXHIBITION
RECEPTION 5:00pm-7:00pm at the Saugatuck-Douglas Museum
Opening May 28 through October 30
Museum Through October 30 "A Village Patchwork: Tales of Everyday
Life in Saugatuck-Douglas." Photographs, artifacts and text
uncover the mysteries and stories of daily life in the Saugatuck
Sale Donations - Donation collection for the July's Upscale Sale
will begin in May. Look for more information coming soon.
Hosts - If you are interested in being a volunteer host at the
Saugatuck-Douglas Museum this season, please
Still trying to locate a few Charter Members of the Society. If
you know the whereabouts of below, please REPLY to this
submitted by Marsha Kontio
Mrs. Berkley Jones
J. E. Nachod III
and Lynda Petty
"SDHS 101" COMING UP
first informational session for new members and interested former
members will be held on Saturday, May 14, at the Old School House in
Douglas, beginning at 10 a.m.
attending, you will discover facts, history, and opportunities that
our great organization possesses. For more information contact Nyla
or phone 269-857-5704.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
Robert and Ruth Marx, Saugatuck
Ed Demeter and the Seabee
Like a photograph come to life, the scene and the sound are etched
in my memory. 1954 or so, I often stood on the Sheridan dock at the
street end of Griffith Street. Behind me [now Coghlin Park] was the
Fruit Exchange, and to my left the Sewers fish shanty and beyond, up
the river bank, the Ed-Mar Hotel.
First heard were the clicks of the rotating prop, then cylinders
fired, then loud revs with a tinny rattle, finally prop wash across
the water. The Ed-Mar Seabee would taxi by me along the shoreline
toward the Pavilion. Through the open gull wing door I could see
pilot Ed Demeter at the controls. Fascinated, I would skip through
the lumber yard to stand next to the Hotel Butler on the Yacht Club
In front of the big red dancehall, Ed would make a wide U-turn and
close the door. Pausing for an engine check rev and checking for
boat traffic he would shove the throttle full forward. With a
gutteral roar, the Seabee hull would at first, push at lot of water,
then as momentum increased she would surge to the surface, then
skittering along the surface to the "step", Ed would aim her toward
the Douglas corner of the lake. At this point I would hold my
breath, sure that the Seabee and Ed would not clear the bridge, much
less the street lights stanchions above the railings.
But, as always, I was able to raise my fist in delight and relief as
in the last hundred yards the Seabee would climb steeply and trundle
into the blue yonder!
Best I can tell Ed's plane was a Republic Aviation RC-3 Seabee
manufactured after the war and designed to carry four passengers at
a cruising speed of around a 100 mph. Because of limited use - a
flight or two each week - I suspect that Ed flew her mostly for fun
rather than profit.
Edward Demeter and his wife Marie are a history mystery. Limited
sleuthing leads me to believe that he was born in Chicago around
1910. In the 1930 census Ed may have been living and working in a
Chicago hotel owned by his father. In the 1940s we know he came to
Saugatuck and bought the Buerle Hotel which logically was renamed
the Ed-Mar. The business survived, maybe prospered, for a decade. In
the early 1960s he sold the Ed-Mar to Toad Davis and the place
became the Blue Tempo. What happened to Ed, Marie and the Seabee?
The May photo features another character of Saugatuck in the 1950s.
Here he is with members of his entourage!
submitted by Jack Sheridan
REV. ALEXANDER THOMSON
MINISTER AND POET
When he died in Saugatuck of liver and pancreatic cancer March
10, 1914, Alexander Thomson had led a full life. Born in 1844 in
Aberdeen, Scotland, he and his family sailed to Canada in 1856.
In 1864 he came to the U.S., serving briefly in the Civil War to
obtain his citizenship. In his twenties he taught school, first
near Allegan, Michigan, and later in Wheaton, Illinois, where he
also attended Wheaton
College. Feeling a call to the ministry, he was ordained in the
Congregational church on Oct. 21, 1887. He began his service at
Bartlett, Illinois, and was in active ministry for 21 years,
both in Illinois and Wisconsin. He first married Laura Jane
Holt, who died leaving three children, Mabel, Laura and
Alexander Jr. His second wife also died young. While pastoring a
northern Wisconsin church he met and married a young teacher,
Jeanette Harris, by whom he had another daughter, Jeanette.
Mabel was to marry Saugatuck boy J. A. Falconer, later a
Congressman from Washington State.
His obituary remarks that he had first come to Saugatuck 28 years
before (c1876) and spent a portion of his time here ever since,
eventually making it his permanent home. As early as the 1889
assessment record, it shows that Alexander owned 28 acres of land
downstream from Saugatuck on the east bank of the Kalamazoo River.
This property was called "Slumber Bluff" and was left to his wife
Jeanette. From 1923 to 1950, Jeanette and two friends from Chicago
operated this property as "Oak Openings" camp. Jeanette died in 1956
and is buried at Riverside beside her husband.
The Jan. 20, 1950 issue of the Commercial Record announces the
donation to the library of the book "Selected Poems of Alexander
Thomson" which had been compiled by his son Alexander. Daughter
Mabel Thomson Falconer wrote "Alexander Thomson wrote poetry from
early manhood. It seems that there never was a period of his life
when he did not express his thoughts and his emotions by means of
verse. His poems were quite widely published in various papers and
localities, and especially in "The Christian Cynosure," Chicago,
Illinois, which paper was his best literary friend." (No, the book
is no longer in the library holdings, but we have found a copy for
the future SDHS research library.)
REV. ALEXANDER THOMSON MINISTER AND POET
The following poem from the book first
appeared in the Feb 7, 1908 Commercial-Record:
WINTER NIGHT IN SAUGATUCK
Old Baldhead lifts his golden crown above the forest bare
The stars are like a silver swarm in deep blue fields of air,
And Night bows to the Living God, a worshiper at prayer.
Her Sable robe becomes her well, brooched by the crescent moon,
Whose radiance falls with shimmering light on every golden dune
And gives a mournful glory to the frozen wild lagoon.
The fisher now has housed his lines, and drawn his boat ashore
And 'gainst the Winter's icy blast has fastened well the door.
The Great Lake beats against its beach with long and muffled roar.
Night holds her solitary reign yet with her own sweet grace
The snow flower on the window pane her artist hands will trace,
And if she has a frozen heart, all kindly is her face.
--- Alexander Thomson
Other poems in the Commercial Record include: "Applegates Trolley",
7/10/1908; "June", 6/19/1908; "The Tocsin", 5/1/1908; "Devil's
Pack", 4/24/1908; "Three Wagons", 4/9/1909; "Xmas 1909", 12/24/1909;
"Morning and Evening of A Good Life" -a farewell read to Rev. and
Mrs. F. W. Bush of Douglas, on their move to Hopkins, Michigan-
1/7/1910; an untitled poem on the hunting death of William Brittain,
2/4/1910; "The Veteran In The Dentist's Office", 4/8/1910; "Xmas
Greeting", 12/23/1910; and "The Middleman"- 1/31/1913.
The Rev. Thomson's obituary speaks of the inspirational way in which
he faced his final painful days. The following was written shortly
after his doctor had told him his illness would be fatal:
Not like the dog to his kennel,
Not like the ox to his stall,
Not like the horse to his stable
When the night begins to fall:
But I look for the beams of gladness
To break through the clouds of pain:
I wait for the call of the master
And his sunshine after the rain.
For additional poems by Rev. Thomson, see the expanded version of
this article on the
contributed by Chris Yoder
MEMORIES OF MAY FRANCIS HEATH:
May Heath's "Early Memories of Saugatuck"
The Saugatuck Centennial of 1930 drove May
Francis Heath to complete and publish her long planned
book of Saugatuck history. She wrote in the Preface:
"For a number of years, in fact ever
since my girlhood days, has a plan been living in my mind
whereby someday I would attempt to write, or rather
compile, the many bits of early Saugatuck history which
have come to me through the associations of the years, all
pertaining to its early settlement---"
"For much of my information I am
indebted to letters and clippings written in the day when
the woods were lonely and the paleface had few neighbors
except the Red man; some of my sketches are written on
torn scraps of paper, showing not only the scarcity of
paper, but the pioneer spirit of thrift as well.
Interesting accounts were often told to me by my
grandfather Morrison as we drove through the country and
along the old lakeshore road.---"
Her selection as General Chairman of the
Centennial was testimony to May's reputation as a local
historian. After many months working and writing, her
diary records on May 11th "Work all day on my
book. Even Doc Proof Reads" and the 12th "Go to
Grand Rapids - Eerdmans (publisher), with my book to
publish. Here's hoping". The next day (the 13th)
was her 57th birthday. Her books arrived from
the publisher on 27 June 1930, and the first ten of them
sold the following day.
early article in the SDHS newsletter outlines the
five editions which were published in May's lifetime and
describes how to tell the difference between them: 1930,
1946, 1947, 1953, and undated (with a photo added of
William G. Butler). Most recently, the many hours of
effort by Rob Carey and Mary Lyons allowed the SDHS to
reissue this wonderful volume in 2008.
As one of the final acts of the May Heath
Study Group, and in commemoration of the Golden
Anniversary of her death in Sept. 1961, a "Memorial
Edition" is being prepared which we hope will be available
in time for the 2011 museum opening. It will contain a
special introduction by May's three great-grandchildren
and a collection of family photographs.
This article is part of a series on Saugatuck Historian
May Francis Heath (MFH). The MFH Study Group continues to
seek information, documents, photographs of May, her
paintings, and personal recollections of Mrs. Heath. If
you have any to share contact: Chris Yoder at 269-857-4327
or Marsha Kontio at 616-566-1239.