Thursday, April 19, 2018


            “Let’s Talk About the Station & Those Who Served” 

As I spend time at the National Archives researching Michigan’s Lifesaving Stations, Lighthouses and those who served there, an idea came to me as I was reading through some new facts about another station I was working on. It was then, I decide the next station I would begin working on, I would try and thinking out of the box vs. in my usual format. Once I was comfortable with the choices I had made, I decided to go with a lifesaving station that I really didn’t know anything about. To be perfectly honest, this somewhat unknown Lake Michigan Lifesaving Station, those who once served there and a few of their personal stories really peaked my writing interest. I knew this story would be very different! At first finding information on: “Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station” was a challenge when it comes to digging up the history of this lifesaving station, but thanks Glenn Longacre, Archivist and his team at the National Archives in Chicago, Illinois that task became much easier. The next thing I need to figure out, is what really happened to some of the personnel that served there from 1886 up to the end of 1920 and why a couple of Keeper’s and one Surfman were discharged!

“I must admit; this story and the time I’ve spent researching this subject, has been one of my all-time favorite!”

Because of the complexity and boxes of information available on the station, I’ve decided there will be follow up story on: “Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station.” In Part II of that newspaper article, I will talk about some of the keeper’s, some of the tragic events, close calls that took place on or near Lake Michigan. I will also talk about, why the station was closed and what became of the property. With that said: “Let’s Talk About the Station and Those Who Served.”

Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station

Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station still stands on the south side of entrance to Lake Macatawa (Black Lake) harbor. The station is about eighth of a mile East of: “South Pier (Steel) Rear Range Light.” The lifesaving station name was changed many years ago. It’s now call: “Holland Lifeboat Station - Coast Guard Station No. #217.” The lifeboat station is situated in the: “Township of Macatawa Park, Ottawa County, Michigan.” Based on the documentation I’ve read through; the date of conveyance was listed as: “1884.” In 1885, Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station was built and put into operation by the: “United States Treasury Department.” In 1875, the land needed to construct the station was acquired and reacquired again in 1884. In January 1964, some land was turned over to General Services Administration (GSA). During the same timeframe the “GSA” transferred some additional land over to the United States Army, Corps of Engineers.

Author’s Note:

“Since 1872, the Holland Harbor Light also known as: “Big Red” has been guiding vessels along Lake Michigan. I will talk about the Lighthouse, Lifesaving Station & the General Services Administration (GSA) in next month’s follow up article”

Keeper’s – Family Life & Careers

Charles G. Morton – Migrates to U.S. & Family

Let’s talk a little about Charles Gould Morton. His birth year and where he came into the world was listed as: “1853, Ireland.” Their place of residency in 1886, was noted as: “Grand Haven, Michigan” and his occupation was listed as: “USLSS District Superintendent.” Within the 1900 U.S. Census it shows, Charles married Louisa Morton. The couple was blessed with two daughters’ Mabel Morton, Louisa Morton, two son’s Charles Morton and Grove Morton.

Morton’s Career – Keeper to District Superintendent

On the 28th day of April 1886, Charles (Chas) Gould Morton was appointed by the United States Lifesaving Service as the first: “Keeper” in charge of the: “Lifesaving Station” at Holland, Michigan. Here is where the time table of Morton’s career at: “Lifesaving Station” gets interesting. As I read through the station logbooks in the National Archives, Morton’s last entry as “Keeper” was on the 29th day of November 1898. At the time of his departure: “John Skinner” was appointed as: “Acting Keeper.” Charles G. Morton was promoted on the 3rd day of November 1898, to Superintendent of the Twelfth District United States Lifesaving Service.

Author’s Note:

“Morton’s promotion came on the 3rd day of November 1898, yet he didn’t make the move to his office in Grand Haven, Michigan until the 29th day of November 1898. Wonder what the delay was or was it his choice to wait?”

Charles (Chas) Gould Morton rate as “District Superintendent” was listed as: $2,200.00/year. Morton remained in that capacity until mid-June of 1914. Chas was replaced by Lieutenant Commander, August “Gus” Brynolf Lofberg (1869 – 1937), United States Revenue-Cutter Service.

Author’s Note:

            “In 1914, August “Gus” Lofberg’s Assistant District Inspector was listed as: Captain Frederick J. Haake, U.S. Revenue-Cutter Service, 500 Federal Building, Chicago, Illinois.”

Adam N. Weckler – My Family Life

            Adam N. Weckler was born in St. Joseph, Michigan on the 16th of December 1860. His father Peter John Weckler Sr. (1823 – 1903) and his mother Louisa A. (Esalhorst) Weckler (1825 – 1912) welcome him into their lives with open arms. On the 26th day of July 1887, Adam and Isabel (Robertson) Weckler were married in Holland, Michigan. Isabel birth date was listed as the 23rd day of March 1862. During their marriage the couple had seven children: Leone, Rebecca Leone, Harvey A., Harry A., Charles A. and Edward Dale Henderson.

Author’s Note:
         “Adam E. Weckler passed away on the 7th day of February 1901, at the tender age of seventh months & one day.”

In 1901, the Weckler’s were living in: “Ludington, Mason County, Michigan.” Prior to his son’s Edward Dale Weckler’s birth in 1904, the family must have moved to: “Charlotte, Eaton County, Michigan.” From 1910 to sometime before 1920, the family residence was listed as: “Geneva, Van Buren County, Michigan” and his occupation was listed as: “Polisher” in a piano factory. From 1920, till his death in 1950, Adam and his family lived in: “Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan.” 
His occupation while working in Lansing was listed as: “Varnisher” in an auto factory. On the 30th day of August 1950, Adam N. Weckler passes way in: “Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan” at the age of eighty-nine. The following morning, his remains were transported from Lansing, Michigan and laid to rest in Lakeview Cemetery located in South Haven, Michigan.

Adam N. Weckler – Surfman to Keeper

In 1897, Adam N. Weckler was a: “Surfman” serving with other surfmen at South Haven Lifesaving Station. His rate was listed as: “$65.00/year.” On the 1st day of January 1899, Adam N. Weckler was appointed by the United States Lifesaving Service as the second: “Keeper” in charge of the: “Lifesaving Station” at Holland Michigan. Based on the station logbooks, Weckler took over as: “Keeper” on the 7th day of January 1899. As I read through the: “Station Wreck Reports” I found Weckler’s last entry listed as the: 6th day of August 1900. What makes this significant is Weckler last logbook entry was dated the: 5th day of September 1900. His service record shows on the 14th day of August 1900, he was transferred to Station Ludington. So, which one of those records are correct or was Weckler waiting on his replacement?

Author’s Note:
         “In 1900, Adam’s occupation was listed as: “Steamship Captain.” It also states, he was living on Holland Township, West Side, Ottawa County, Michigan. The information I found was listed in his family tree. Make you wonder, who’s record is correct?”

Weckler’s Discharged – Ludington USLSS

On the 16th day of October 1905, the Washington Post published an article titled: Quarreled with His Crew, “Keeper of Ludington, Michigan Lifesaving Station Dismissed!” Based on what I read, the incident took placed the day before the article was published by the newspaper. The article sights Adam N. Weckler “Keeper” responsible for Ludington Lifesaving Station. It also states Weckler was in his present position for the past five years. The newspaper article also stated he will be missed. So, what caused the United States Treasury Department and the United States Lifesaving Service Twelfth District office to remove him from duty? Well it seems Keeper Weckler and his seven surfmen had a bitter quarrel about two months ago that caused all the surfmen to: “Resign.” The reason that was given for their sudden resignation was stated as: “They weren’t being treated fairly.” The Twelfth Lifesaving Station District launched an investigation into this matter and based on their findings, the only course of action was to: “Discharge” Keeper Adam N. Weckler.

Peter Jensen – Holland & South Haven USLSS

On the 14th day of August 1900, Peter Jensen was appointed by the United States Lifesaving Service as the third: “Keeper” in charge of the: “Lifesaving Station” at Holland Michigan. He arrived at Holland Station on the 6th day of September 1900. Based on the Wreck Report, dated the 11th day of September 1900, Jensen and his surfmen were put to the test. (I will talk about what happened and how the Jensen, his surfmen handle the events that unfolded that day) On the 27th day of February 1903, he was transferred to Station South Haven. His rate at both stations was listed as: “$900.00/year.” Jensen remained at South Haven until the 9th day of March 1905, when he was transferred to the Evanston, Illinois Station. His annual rate at Evanston Station remained the same.

Author’s Note:

            “After spending some time looking for information about Peter Jensen, the only items that appear on Ancestry was his two United States Register of Civil Naval Service (1863 to 1959). I also found Peter’s birthplace was listed as Denmark.”

Chauncey D. Pool – Family Life

On the 31st day of March 1862, Chauncey Duane Pool was born in the State of Wisconsin. At the time of Chauncey’s birth his father, Miles D. Pool, was twenty-six years old and his mother, Emma (Fairchild) Pool, was also twenty-six. Chauncey’s brother Victor Arthur Pool came into the world on the 27th day of April 1868.

The city of his brother’s birth was listed as Sheboygan, Wisconsin. At the time of his brother birth, Chauncey age was listed as six years old. The 1880 U.S Federal Census, listed Chauncey Pool as: “Married Head of the Household” living in Sheboygan, Michigan and his son’s name was listed as: “Wilson.” On the 12th day of September 1885, Chauncey D. Pool age twenty-three, married Isabel (Gregwer) Pool in Pentwater, Michigan. Sometime in 1890, Chauncey age thirty-eight, married Frederica (Fredericki) Pool in Pentwater, Michigan. A year after the couple was married, they welcome into the world their son: “George O. Pool.” The 1910 U.S. Census, has Chauncey’s occupation listed as a: “Confectioner” in a: “Retail Store.” It also states, Chauncey was forty-eight years old and he was the: “Owner/Operator” of that store located in Pentwater, Michigan. On his son’s Chauncey Miles Pool’s draft card, it lists his occupation as: “Small Retail Store” located in Pentwater, Michigan. On the 27th day of September 1932, Chauncey D. Pool at the age of seventy married Edna (Williams) Pool in Ludington, Michigan. Chauncey’s occupation was listed as: “Saw Manufacturer.” Edna age was listed as fifty-three years old and at the time of their marriage she was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their marriage certificate was signed by: “W. Maylan Jones a Methodist Episcopal Minister.”

Author’s Note:

            “I found an unusual record in Grand Traverse Business District, page 341. It listed Chauncey D. Pool name under: “Bowling Alleys” and his address was listed as: “157 East Front. Seems rather odd?”

Based on every one of the U.S. Federal Census I read through, all of them listed Chauncey Duane Pool was living in Pentwater, Oceana County, Michigan from 1880 through 1897. In the U.S. Census dated the 1st day of April 1940, Chauncy was listed as: “Married Head of the Household.”

Author’s Note:

            “On the 25th day of March 1950, Victor Arthur Pool passed away in Harbor Springs, Michigan.” At the time of his brother’s passing Chauncey was eighty-seven years of age.”

Chauncey D. Pool – Government Appointments

Sometime around 1897 or earlier, Chauncey D. Pool was a: “Surfman” stationed at Pentwater Lifesaving Station, located in Pentwater Township, Oceane County, Michigan. His rate as a: “Surfman” was noted as: $65.00/year. On the 28th day of February 1903, Chauncey Duane Pool was appointed by the United States Lifesaving Service to the position of: “Keeper” responsible for Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station. He was the fourth keeper appointed to Holland Station.
On the 28th day of February 1903, Chauncey arrived and took charge of Holland Lifesaving Station. Based on station logbook entries, here are the names of the surfmen that served under Keeper Chauncey D. Pool in 1906:

o   Robert C. Smith – Surfman No. 1
o   Jacob Oscar Johnson – Surfman No. 2
o   John E. Roberts – Surfman No. 3
o   Larry VandewBerg – Surfman No. 4
o   Francis A. Cady – Surfman No. 5
o   William Woldring – Surfman No. 6
o   Robert Voss – Surfman No. 7

Author’s Note:

“Before we move on, let me give you a quick setup on what the weather conditions were between the 20th day of November through the 26th day of November and how quickly conditions changed near Holland Harbor, Michigan.”

Storm Irrupts and Questionable Working Conditions

On the 20th day of November 1906, Chauncey report it was raining, the seas were: “Light” and the temperature outside the station was listed as: “34 deg. F.” The crew didn’t drill that day because of the rainy conditions. On the 21st day of November 1906, Chauncey stated again it was raining, the surf was light through the day, but in the evening hours the seas changed to: “Very High,” the winds were listed as: “Storm” and the temperature outside the station was listed between: “34 deg. F.& 40 deg. F.” Surfman, Robert C. Smith was on: “Liberty” starting at Noon and would report back to duty until the 22nd day of November at: “Noon.” The remainder of the station crew spent the morning hours drilling.

The contractor who was responsible for the work being done on the: “New Breakwater” was: “Bennett & Schnorbach Company. They were under the supervision of several: “United States Government Inspectors and D. C. Wickham, Assistant to Superintendent of Construction.” During the early morning hours, rain was falling, and the winds were listed as brisk. Based on the incident report there was a: “Rain Falling” which interrupted the work being done on the breakwater. Around 12:00 noon, the weather broke, and the winds subsided. Five workers were dispatched on a launch towards the new breakwater. Once the men arrived at the breakwater, they were instructed to keep working on the wall of the new breakwater. Between 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. the winds shifted from northeast to the southwest. Within a few minutes gale force winds began to howl and the rain that was still falling increase to a heavy down pour. The seas also changed dramatically. There were white cap waves now crashing over the new breakwater. The five men from “Bennett & Schnorbach Company,” found themselves in danger of being swept off the breakwater.

Author’s Note:
            “I will talk more about this incident and what happen to the men working on new breakwater in my follow up article.”

Investigation - Four Men Drowned

On weeks the 21st day of November 1906, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Department, Leslie Mortier Shaw (1848 - 1932), “Dismissed” Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station Keeper Chauncey D. Pool and Surfman Jacob O. Johnson from the United States Lifesaving Service. So, what caused the United States Secretary of the Treasury to take this action?
If we believe the actions taken against Pool and Johnson, and why they were dismissed by the Treasury Department, then how is it that Chauncey D. Pool and Johnson still at the station just prior to the end of 1906?

Author’s Note:
            In my follow-up article, I will help you understand Chauncey’s thoughts on what he saw, what his surfmen did on the day the incident happened and what took place days later.”

Per the station logbook entries, the investigation by Assistant Inspector, First Lieutenant James G. Ballinger began on the morning of the 27th day of November and finished on the afternoon of the 28th day of November 1906.

Washington Post’s View

Based on the information provided in the: “1906 - Washington Post” the United States Lifesaving Service Twelfth District, Assistant Inspector, First Lieutenant James G. Ballinger conducted a full investigation on how and why four men drowned in: “Holland Harbor?” Ballinger’s report clearly stated Keeper Pool, Surfman Johnson and the other surfmen failed to put forth sufficient effort to save those four men from drowning. In his report, Inspector James G. Ballinger determined based on the testimony of everyone he interviewed, all four men could have been: “Saved” if the lifesaving crew continued their attempts to save each of them. Ballinger’s final statement on this matter was, he found the Holland lifesaving crew’s efforts as: “Unpardonable.”

Author’s Note:

“U.S. Lifesaving Service Twelfth District Inspector First Lieutenant James G. Ballinger, was with the United States Revenue-Cutter Service. His office was listed as: 500 Federal Building, Chicago, Illinois. He reported to Inspector of the Twelfth District, Charles Gould Morton, in Grand Haven, Michigan.”

After this drowning incident, General Superintendent, Sumner Increase Kimball recommended, on the 27th day of December 1906, Keeper Chauncey Duane Pool and Surfman Jacob Oscar Johnson who at that time thought their duties didn’t require either of them to risk their lives were: “Discharged,” from the United States Lifesaving Service. Furthermore, I will issue some instructions that no member of the Holland Station crew who were on duty at the time of the disaster should be permitted again to enlist at the Holland (Macatawa) Station and any further employment with the U.S. Lifesaving Services is: “Inadvisable.” The station logbook clearly states, Pool was requested by the General Superintendent in Washington DC to leave the station on the: “27th day of December 1906 at 5:00 p.m.” George W. McKenzie took over as the: “Acting Keeper.” On the 31st day of January 1907, McKenzie was told he would be replaced by Jacob Van Weelden.

Jacob Van Weelden – U.S. Federal Census (1880 - 1922)

The story of the Van Weelden’s starts off in the Netherlands, Holland, with the Jacob’s father Klass Van Weelden and his mother Margaret Ellen Van Weelden who were: “Dutch” and living in Holland. Based on his family’s lineage, his father’s occupation was listed as a: “Sailor.”
Somewhere after the 1860 Federal U.S. Census, the Van Weelden migrated from Holland to the United States. During July of 1865, the couple welcomes Jacob Van Weelden into the world. The couple at the time of his birth were living in: “Grand Haven. Michigan” on Elliott Street with his sister and three younger brothers. At the age of fourteen, Jacob occupation was listed as: “Sailor.” I guess you could say, he was following in his father’s footsteps. On the 31st day of December 1890, Jacob (Jake) Van Weelden age thirty-four and Jennie Magdalene Zwemer age thirty were married in Grand Haven, Michigan. During their marriage the couple was blessed with two children a daughter: “Margaret Ellen” and a son: “John Carlyle.” Their address while living in Grand Haven, Michigan was as listed as: “East Side River Street.” Jacob’s occupation at the time of his marriage was listed as: “Surfman” at Grand Haven Lifesaving Station. The 1920 Federal U.S. Census records list, Jennie now forty-nine years old and her son John age sixteen, living in Holland, Michigan. Her occupation was noted as: “Housekeeper.” Jacob at that time was fifty-three years old.

Author’s Note:

            “Jacob’s time at Grand Haven Lifesaving Station was listed as: “Four Months.”

Jacob (Jake) Van Weelden – 1907 Appointment

On the 11th day of January 1907, Jacob (Jake) Van Weelden was appointed by the United States Lifesaving Service as the fifth: “Keeper” in charge of the: “Lifesaving Station” at Holland, Michigan. On the 31st day of January 1907, at: “Midnight” Jacob took over Holland Station.

Author’s Note:

“The 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census’s listed Jacob’s occupation as: “Captain USLSS, Holland, Michigan.”

The final station logbooks held in the National Archives entry I found for Keeper Weelden was dated the 28th day of November 1922. On the 19th day of October 1924, at the age of fifty-eight, Jacob Van Weelden passes away in Cook County, Illinois. His remains were brought back and laid to rest in Holland, Michigan. His occupation at the time of his passing was listed as: “Retired Coast Guard.”

Author’s Final Thoughts

My final thoughts on “Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station” comes from researching the area in/around Holland & Macatawa Michigan. It also includes my overall review of archival records, photographs which included the history of the lifesaving-lifeboat station and those who served there and their families early beginning’s. I’m not convinced all the data originally provided to me and what I looked at online was completely accurate, what I’m sure of is the information in the Wreck Reports and the Station Logbook located in the National Archives are the accounts from those who served! As I stated in the beginning of this story, there will be a follow-up to Part-I in next months: “Great Lakes Pilot Newspaper.”

If you would like to learn more about “Holland (Macatawa) Lifesaving Station,” or other lifesaving stations and lighthouses along the “Great Lakes” come checkout my Google Blog called: “Great Lakes Lighthouse Historian” or my Google Website called: “Great Lakes Historian.”

Thursday, December 7, 2017

New Kindle Edition

Great Lakes Keepers, Surfmen & Coast Guardsmen: “Discuss Their Military Careers, Heroics & Tragedies” Kindle Edition $7.99

Paperback Edition $12.99

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