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don't be left out in the cold - RENEW your membership and be
part of the greatest Historical Society on the lake shore.
Welcome from Jack Sheridan leader of the Society Family History
Group. The Group usually meets on the first and third Thursday of
every month at 3:30 in the Old School House. Group focus is on
building family trees by learning and utilizing web based digital
research techniques. Because of Turkey Season our next meeting is
not until next month on Thursday December 1. Please plan to join
us and see what we are all about.
This short feature will appear each month in the newsletter.
Members plan to tell you about their rewarding and always
exciting, family history discoveries. Here is this month’s blurb.
It was some thirteen years ago when a good friend told me that she
had discovered her great grandfather on the new Mormon Church
genealogical website! Hmmm, that sounded interesting to me and I
was soon learning to use my new computer to search the Mormon IGI
[International Genealogical Index] record database. It did not
take long before I began to discover long lost great grandparents.
My family tree was taking root!
In those days the IGI records were digitized but census records
were on microfilm. Today these records – and many, many more - are
digitized and available for study on line. And best of all, they
are a mere “mouse click” away.
Making things easier for me was the fact that most of my ancestors
came to this country way back. So their traces are easier to find
here in the USA. But if you have to search back to the "old
country" do not be discouraged, as that is very possible.
One of my EUREKA! moments came when after twelve
years of work, and ten generations, I connected to my Mayflower
ancestors. Building the family tree back to the Pilgrims 1620
landing was a long process, full of blind alleys, moments of
discouragement until finally – wow – it was worth every bit of
work and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I realize though, an amazing fact that keeps my head at normal
size. There are an estimated 30 million people in our country
today that are descended from the Mayflower passengers! I wonder
how large is the group of family history buffs, in that 30
million, who have managed to follow their family history trail
back in time to that little ship in Plymouth Harbor. A small
percentage I am sure, but it is not at all an impossible task and
what a neat challenge. A challenge just waiting for you to take it
Contributed by Jack Sheridan. Contact me at:
or 269 857-7144.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
We would like to welcome these new members who have joined the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society since the last newsletter.
l Mark Barrone,
l David & Marcia
Falconer, Nepean, Ontario, Canada
l Chuck Gustafson &
Maria Droz, Douglas, MI
l Michael, Ruth, Thea &
Jillian Johnson, Saugatuck, MI
l Stanley & Mary Mather,
St. Joseph, MI
WHAT YOU MISSED
On the closing day of the 2011 Museum Exhibit, a
BIG thank you
Chili Supper was held for the many Society volunteers at the
Old School House hosted by the Society Board of Directors.
DEC. 7, 1941 - "A DATE THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY ---"
The Commercial Record Announces We Are At War
Mary Olendorf remembers that when the attack
occurred on Pearl Harbor, she was a junior in a private girl's
school in Albany, New York:
"I was just petrified, it really jarred my life.
This was the first time anything had broken my bubble. I was a
"day hopper", a day student. We just lived five miles from the
school. The teacher came in and announced it. And then within a
year the boys I had known were all going to war and being killed.
It was another life I had never seen. After that we were rolling
bandages and planting Victory Gardens and all that. I was a war
bride too. Bill was in the Navy and he was headed for Japan when
the Atomic bomb was dropped, and they got half way over and then
the ships were all turned around".
Yvonne (Mokma) Koppenaal was in the kitchen of her
parent's home in Holland, when her mother told her that the
Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. She thinks she had just gotten
home from school, so it much have been Monday after the Sunday
attack. They learned later that one of her neighbors several
houses up the street, Robert Falcon, was in the Army and on-base
in Hawaii, and spent the attack on top of a roof with a machine
gun, firing at the enemy aircraft.
contributed by Chris Yoder
THE KREHBIEL - MEMORIES OF HENRY GLEASON
"Mr. Krehbiel 's studio was in a building on what
would be the north end of Ship 'N Shore. They moved the building
across the river. In the 20's there was a dining room out over the
water called the Pokagon Inn. And that was when Mrs. Ruley ran the
Beachway Hotel, and she had that dining room down there, and they
moved it across the river and set it on the piece of property
there, what would be the north end of Ship 'N Shore now, the south
side would have been the Tourist Home Hotel. Al Krehbiel had his
studio in there, because I used to model for him, pose for him and
some of his students, just a kid- ten years old or so."
The Krehbiel Studio, Water Street, Saugatuck
Mr. Krehbiel 's studio was referred to as the "A.K.
Studio." Thanks to Jack Sheridan for compiling this comparative
view of the building as a restaurant (on the west shore), and
later as a studio (on the east side of the river) .
One of the memories recorded by visitors to the
1998 exhibit "Heroes, Rogues and Just Plain Folks" was by
her son Stu Ruley who tells of his mother operating the Holiday
Hill and Beachway back in the teens. Mrs. Ruley baked donuts and
Stu and his brother, David, carried them dawn the hill in a
laundry basket to the Ferry Store (Mae Heath's Store). Mrs. Ruley
received 10 cents per dozen for them.
Albert Henry Krehbiel (1873 - 1945), was an
American artist who was born in Denmark, Iowa and who taught,
lived and worked for many years in Chicago. His entry on Wikipedia
"Krehbiel was a member of the faculty at The Art
Institute of Chicago for 39 years and at the Armour Institute of
Technology (later Illinois Institute of Technology after merging
with the Lewis Institute) for 32 years. In 1926, he helped pioneer
the Chicago Art Institute Summer School of Painting (later named
Ox-Bow) in Saugatuck, Michigan, where he spent most of his
remaining summers teaching and painting. In 1934, Krehbiel opened
his own summer school of art in Saugatuck called the AK Studio.
When able to break away from his students, he would capture the
surrounding rolling hills and the Kalamazoo River in oil,
watercolor, and pastel. He would often visit Saugatuck in winters
to portray the area in its vast and billowing cover of snow."
Krehbiel in his AK School. Saugatuck, Michigan, 1940.
contributed by Chris Yoder
SOCIETY'S LIFEBOAT & SHIPWRECK DISPLAY NEARS COMPLETION
Project director Jim Schmiechen with Agio
Imaging production team finishing installing mural based on
painting by Michigan artist Randal Higdon and mural design by
Kristi Mueller - with addition of names of 100 lake Michigan
shipwrecks being pulled into the waters. The ship is the
Chicora which was wrecked in January of 1895. The waves are to
Many members and friends have already had a sneak preview of
the society's famed Gallinipper lifesaving boat of 1854 in its
new home with the long-anticipated lifesaving-shipwreck
display, which includes a 47-foot mural of the shipwreck of
the Chicora in 1895.
This permanent display, "Rowing them Safely Home", was
conceptualized, written, and designed by Kristi Mueller and
Jim Schmiechen - with help from Mr. Shaw's Advanced Placement
English class, artist Randall Higdon of Coloma, and John
Capotosto of Agio Imaging. A part of the display tells the
interesting story of the boat's rescue and restoration by a
team of Society volunteers.
Thanks go out to the donors of the Society's garden-lifeboat
fund. The mural production was underwritten by a special gift
from WGVU television. The display includes 9 beautiful and
interesting (and large) display panels that tell the story of
lifesaving and shipwreck on Lake Michigan. The total display
was also supported by a grant from the Institute of Library
and Museum Services Museums for America program.
Jim Schmiechen says "I have had the thrill of seeing over 15
spectacular SDHS history displays go up, but this one
absolutely sent me over the top." A formal opening of the
boathouse display is being planned for spring of 2012 - at
which time the smart phone 'apps' accompanying the panel
stories will be operative.
Nellie Mueller, Thea Johnson, and Henry Mueller
inspect the "Gallinipper" in front of the mural of the Chicora
at the Lifeboat display.
WGVU ANNOUNCES MICHIGAN HOMETOWN STORIES DOCUMENTARIES
WGVU announces the launch of a new series of documentaries
focusing on the communities in West and Southwest Michigan
titled Michigan Hometown Stories. WGVU has partnered
with The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society to produce the
first in the series of documentaries, Michigan Hometown
Every Michigan city and town has stories to tell-stories that offer
unique and intriguing glimpses into Michigan’s past. Stories like
these are the focus of a new television series called Michigan
Hometown Stories, produced by WGVU. Michigan Hometown Stories will
focus on Michigan history, one community at a time, bringing the
history of those places to life for West and Southwest Michigan and
While geography lays the first stone of destiny, people build on
that foundation, creating communities where lives become connected
to place. Michigan Hometown Stories are stories of our hometowns,
and how they’ve made Michigan what it is today.
"The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is thrilled to be one of
the key endorsers of the first Michigan Hometown Stories with WGVU.
Our staff, volunteers, and expansive archive on local history will
be integral to making the documentary project a success for WGVU and
West Michigan. It is a real honor to bring the rich and exciting
history of Saugatuck and Douglas to the public television audience.
We value our relationship with the WGVU team and look forward to
working with them to make this exciting a project a success." Jon
Helmrich, Vice President, Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society.
"We are pleased to launch our Michigan Hometown History Series with
our friends in Saugatuck and Douglas. The enthusiastic response of
our partners from the Saugatuck /Douglas Historical Society and
other community groups make it a perfect fit to kick-off this
service. We look forward to sharing the rich history and captivating
stories that the Saugatuck/Douglas area has to offer" says Ken
Kolbe, Assistant General Manager, WGVU Public Media.
Michigan Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/Douglas
is a partnership between WGVU Public Media, Saugatuck/Douglas
Historical Society, Saugatuck/Douglas Business Association,
Saugatuck/Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau, Saugatuck Public
Schools, International Broadcast Communications, and the Saugatuck
Center for the Arts.
Don't forget to attend the launch Michigan
Hometown Stories: Saugatuck/Douglas at the Saugatuck Center for the
Arts on Thursday, November 17 starting at 6 pm.
BARREL HAS GONE TO A NEW WORK SITE FOR RESTORATION
Brent Birkholz, Jim Schmiechen, Vic Bella and Duane
stand at the site of the Root Beer Barrel which has been
moved to winter storage for restoration.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
The Bridge and The Bridges
I often think of this photo as I drive from Saugatuck to Douglas
over this causeway, looking out on the river and down on the turtle
pond and condos perched on what was once the road. The sandsucker in
the photo lying out on the water was a monster machine that sucked
silt off the river bottom and pumped it through floating pipe to
create much of the fill you see. The structures on the right are the
Twin Gables Hotel – still with us today.
Seventy five years later, now we drive on top of the causeway and
sit on it while awaiting the green light to cross on the single lane
to Douglas due to the bridge rebuilding. A good time to remember the
Depending on how you define bridges there have been a number of them
between Saugatuck and Douglas. The first was located in Saugatuck
where the chain ferry crosses now. The next was fifty yards north of
where it is today and of course the present freeway bridge to the
southeast. The photo was taken in the summer of 1936 and at that
time this causeway was the biggest fill project in the whole State.
The new bridge was under construction to the left and not visible in
this photo. The bridge and causeway replaced the 1901 bridge that
was actually two bridges. On the Saugatuck side and visible in this
photo is a steel truss bridge. Small boats could pass beneath it but
the water was probably shallow. Then there was a causeway of maybe a
hundred yards leading to the main bridge which was a swing bridge
over the deep channel. It was about seventy feet in length and
pivoted on a piling in the middle of the channel. It was opened with
a geared lever powered by an attendant who lived in a house next to
In 1869 there was nothing but the river flowing around and through
the Clipson Bayou. Then bridge building began in 1870. The photo
below will be discussed next month --- stay tuned.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution copy.
FACES AND VOICES
FROM THE PAST
Do you know that the SDHS has over 170 oral histories available as
digital recordings? These video interviews were done as long ago as
the mid 1990's and have all been converted to digital media. Many of
the subjects are no longer with us, like: Sylvia Randolph, Pauline
Reiser, Garth Wilson. Bea Finch, Johnson Fox, and Carl Wicks. Their
faces and voices, however, remain behind and continue to tell their
stories. Click HERE to view a full index.
These oral histories can be viewed at the Old School House. And if
you are interested in a copy, they are available on DVD ($5 for
members, and $10 for non-members). For information contact Judy
Mauger at: 616-283-6958.
ANOTHER PEARL HARBOR MEMORY
1944 photo of Stanley Mather
Stanley Mather of St. Joe Michigan (descendant of
the Saugatuck Mather family) recalls: "I was going to college at
Michigan State. That weekend I was invited down to Notre Dame to a
football game. My friend Bob McGargle had a brother going to school
there. We ate among the ball players and I recall that I had to look
up to see their faces, they were humongous. As we were driving back
to East Lansing, it came across the radio that Pearl Harbor had been
attacked." He and his brother both were later drafted. His brother
Howard flew B-29s "over the Hump" in India. Howard died on Tinian
Island in an air crash in 1945, one month before the bomb went off
and his remains rest in the family plot at Saugatuck's Riverside
cemetery. Howard had been in the same squadron as the Enola Gay.
Stanley's wife Mary had gone out to the family ranch in Eastern
Colorado with her Dad. She also heard the news over the car radio
while driving back from Colorado.
contributed by Chris Yoder