Barbara Eddy Crandell

Interviewed 9-5-08 at Beech-Hurst in Douglas

John & Charlaine Shack


Barbara was waiting on the porch for our appointment as we arrived and graciously introduced us to her family’s historic home and archives.  Her appearance, energy and mental acuity belied her 85 years.  She had several legal pad sheets prepared for our interview which she used sparingly.  With candor and humor Barbara shared an outline of her family history and a tour of the Beech Hurst farmhouse and grounds.


Scott Eddy, Barbara’s grandfather, was born in 1843 in upstate New York.  In 1844 the family moved to Indiana via covered wagon and Erie Canal boat. There are several pieces of furniture in the Beech Hurst house that were brought with on this journey, including a spinning flax wheel and small cabinet.  Subsequently, Scott served in the Civil War, later began a farm and married Henrietta, his first wife who tragically died in 1888 while trying to extinguish a fire.  Four years later Scott married Lillian Grimes, a teacher 20 years his junior (see” Lillian Grimes Eddy” by Esther P. Eddy (1997) and the Esther Eddy video recorded at Beech Hurst for more fascinating early family detail).


At the time Lillian was teaching and later served as principal of the high school in Wayne, Michigan. She had teaching degrees from Michigan Normal College (Eastern Michigan University) at a time when women rarely completed high school. The couple moved to Ganges where Scott ran a general store and served as town postmaster. They built a house to the south of the store and gave birth to two boys, Raymond (1895) and Benjamin (1897).


During an economic depression the upper floor of the general store was used as a private school where Lillian taught some Ganges high school graduates who could not afford to go to college because of the economic hard times, including Eugene Brunson, Lee and Harrison Hutchins, and Neil Goodrich all three of whom went on to achieve notoriety. In 1906, after Scott retired, and sold the store to Orin Wolbrink (see Janet Wolbrink’s story), they purchased a parcel of land in Douglas which Lillian called Beech-Hurst for its stand of old beech trees.  From 1906-1911, Lillian was the principal of the old schoolhouse in Douglas where she also taught Latin and math.  In 1906 she purchased Beech Hurst with her own money at a time when women very rarely did this.  However, she had to pay a significantly higher interest rate on the mortgage than a male borrower would have been charged.


Between 1911 and 1933 when Lillian retired, Beech-Hurst was primarily a summer home for the Eddy family. In 1913 Lillian moved with her two boys to Ypsilanti, Michigan to complete her A.B. in Pedagogy.  In 1918 she went to Washington to work for the Office of Veteran’s Affairs and in 1922 she moved again to Grand Rapids to become the Chief Budget Clerk for the Veterans Administration.   Scott died in 1930.


In 1933 Lillian had the beech trees on her Beech-Hurst property evaluated and treated to strengthen their survival.  She was not a homemaker but rather a scholar who read voraciously, wrote manuscripts (two published) and introduced her grandchildren to literature by reading Charles Dickens’s works among others to them around the cottage fireplace.  Beech-Hurst house was, and still is, filled with books and interesting historical artifacts.  Despite its present museum appearance, the house has a very warm and inviting feel.  Barbara described the numerous ways in which Grandmother Lillian had influenced the lives of two generations of children directly and indirectly especially with her interest in natural history, classical literature, and as a model of achievement, independence and common-sense.


Meanwhile, Benjamin and Raymond married sisters, Esther and Barbara Paton of Ann Arbor, Michigan where Ben graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Engineering in 1923.


When Lillian died in 1955, Esther and Benjamin Eddy took over the management of the Beech-Hurst property from their home in Ann Arbor.  They had five children:


--Elizabeth who married Louis Plummer in 1946; children Louis, Elizabeth, Andrew

--Barbara who married John S. Crandell in 1944; children John, Joan

--Joan who married Richard Brigham in 1947; children Ann (d.1978), David, Richard

--Joyce who married Sanford Plummer in 1948; children Benjamin, Marde, Keith



In 2006, six generations of this branch of the very large Eddy family celebrated 100 years of family ownership of Beech-Hurst. They shared years of photos and stories.  It’s typical for extended family members to converge on Beech Hurst once or twice a year to paint, repair, garden and clean.  When various family members use the house, the deal is to leave it as it was found.  A large family photo album shows views of the Beech-Hurst house going back over 100 years and group family photos which appear to have been taken each year for many years, providing an opportunity to track the growth of family members.


Over the years Ester and Benjamin’s children and grandchildren moved back to the Saugatuck-Douglas area, purchasing property of their own.  Barbara estimates that the extended family currently own nine properties in the Saugatuck-Douglas area, many along Lakeshore Drive.


Barbara took us on a detailed tour of the house pointing out furniture and objects of interest. The house “library” contains an amazing number of artifacts from and about the Eddy family including several historical accounts. Sister Joan Brigham’s son David compiled a bound six volume set of family stories and history.  Nearby is the Beech-Hurst Heritage Cookbook created for the 100 years of ownership Beech-Hurst family celebration, a compendium of old family recipes with a second volume in preparation. This room also contains much of Grandmother Lillian’s book collection including some signed copies, century old elementary school reading and math texts.  Many old family photos told the story of some of the family roots. Especially interesting among the displayed photos were those of Grandfather Scott and his brother taken during the Civil War as well as Scott’s postwar Federal Army discharge certificate.


Next we visited “Grandma” Eddy’s dark wood paneled bedroom (referred to as the “Civil War Room”). It’s a tiny room by today’s bedroom standards with a small fireplace, her rocking chair and numerous other artifacts of interest, such as the rocking chair used by Grandmother Lillian and her original flax spinning wheel.  An old horsehair trunk near the fireplace traveled from New York with Grandfather Scott.  Apparent in this room is the early “post and hole” cloth-insulated electrical wiring on the outside of the ceiling and walls that was added when primary lighting went from kerosene lanterns to electric lights.


Upstairs are two cozy bedrooms containing very old twin-sized spindle beds, one of which is reputed to have been slept in by Al Capone, but presumably not at Beech Hurst.  The dresser used by Grandmother Lillian is located in the front bedroom.


Barbara took us for a walk outside to see the barn, which provided sleeping rooms on the second floor, housed old machinery. Mostly she described the very old and beautiful stand of beech trees around the property.  Grandmother Lillian had these trees serviced by foresters in the 1930s to help keep them healthy.  Since then high winds, lightening strikes and boring insects have taken their toll on some of the trees, but the stand is largely still intact.










This is a Synopsis of the video and audio record of the Eddy sisters’and first cousin Patricia Woods’ early recollections of summer life on the Beech Hurst farm.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Eddy Plummer was unable to attend.



The setting for this animated conversation between three Eddy sisters and their first cousin, Pat, was the dining room of the Beech Hurst house.  From left to right sat Pat, Barbara, Joan, and Joyce as they appear in the videos.  Two video camcorders and an audio recorder were used for this significant event to obtain a complete and reliable record.


Pat Paton Woods began the introductions by explaining that she is the only first cousin of the Eddy sisters who has spent 78 summers in Douglas, with most of her early years spent at Beech Hurst.  She’s the only child of Raymond Grimes, the Eddy sister’s uncle. She’s also the youngest of the participants with memories of trailing behind her older Eddy “sisters” and called their parent’s “Mum and Dad”.  When school was out for the summer, Pat would be put on a bus from Detroit to Saugatuck to join her “sisters”.


Barbara Eddy Crandell is the second oldest of the surviving Eddy sisters and counts 85 years of summering at Beech Hurst and the surrounding area.  She tends to be viewed respectfully as the “fact checker” among the sisters.


Joan Eddy Brigham, the third sister, had the next highest record of 84 years spent in the area.  She spoke of how her summers at Beech Hurst significantly influenced her world views and personal development because of her freedom to explore nature in a place that was the “heart of the family”.  Joan was the naturalist among the sisters with an active interest in the trees on the property and birding everywhere.  She was instrumental in having a large maple tree on the property become Tree #833 in the Michigan Champion Tree record.


Joyce Eddy Plummer counts summering at Beech Hurst for 83 years including the year of her mother’s pregnancy.  She may be the best story teller of the sisters, with Barbara and Joan adjusting her stories for facts along the way.  It seems she’s had many solo adventures in the dunes which made for great stories.


It became clear that the sisters share a friendly sibling rivalry with humor and in-family quips. It also became evident that all four women are independent and sharp-witted thinkers who had a very special attachment to each other, this place and the adults who significantly helped to shape their identities.


Joan reported her earliest recollection of Beech Hurst to be the song of the house wren outside her bedroom window which created her sense of the area.  It was the natural environment, the flora and fauna of Beech Hurst that most impacted her early memories.


Barbara described hikes to Mount Baldhead with a bag of food (tomatoes, oranges, and hunks of dark chocolate) and a tin cup for water. Grandmother Lillian sent her huge Great Dane (whom Joyce recalls riding on these hikes) along for security.  In general, walking everywhere consumed much of the summer in those days.  Mail was picked up twice a day in downtown Douglas, shopping for food was a frequent walk, walking in to Saugatuck to the Pavilion for dancing or movies was a very frequent event in their early teens.  These memories brought on many winks and chortles as family secrets neared exposure.


Pat recalled swinging on the old “Indian Rope” over a sandy blowout on the south side of Mt. Baldhead.  This reminded the group of the actual Indian presence and myth in the area.  The Eddy girls remembered teasing Pat about the Mt. Baldhead “Indian” which frightened her.  The Indian they referred to was actually a Native American who was imported from a western state by the Saugatuck Chamber of Commerce for tourists.  They recalled a story by their mother of when a local Pottawatomie Indian was seen peering into a Beech Hurst house window when the women were there alone and they threatened to let the Great Dane out.  This story was followed with sheepish disclaimers of any real threat.  Joyce related a story of going to the Mt Baldhead area with the family dog and meeting a group of local Indians cooking food in a hollow tree and being invited to eat.  Her sisters accused her of mixing fact and fantasy, but the memory had to come from some experience.


Recalling the Bekkan family farm across the street from Beech Hurst brought back many happy memories.  The Bekkan’s had a large roadside fruit and vegetable stand at Ferry and Blue Star Highway in which the girls would play with the Bekkan daughters.  Exposure to horses, cows, chickens, the dairy process and the welcoming family provided a great appreciation and education. Fruit pies from that stand were a special treat, especially those made by a good friend of their mother’s who lived at Beech Hurst for ten years, providing support and wisdom to the girls.


Most interesting was the group’s discussion of life during the Great Depression of 1929 when their mother was able to support them on the five dollars a week she received from teaching Sunday school and a small pension of their father’s.  Despite periods when they ate three meals of oatmeal or potatoes, life never seemed desperate.


The question was raised about the “Underground Railroad” hidden floor legend about the Beech Hurst house.  There’s a trap door in the floor of the house that at one time opened to a cement cistern large enough to hold several people.  The cistern had been used to capture rain water for use in the house.  The problem is that Beech Hurst was built in 1868-70, after the Civil War.  The Underground Railroad operated from about 1830-1861. It’s pathway was generally through East and Central Michigan.


The Pavilion was central to the Eddy’s teenage summers. They recalled the rows of pleasure boats rafted along the river side of the building and the many bands which played there.


The family’s Pierce- Arrow convertible, named the “Green Hornet”, with a straight 8 aluminum engine, and wing side windows.  The girls, when reaching age 14, were able to drive this car around the area and attract the attention of local boys.


A musical aunt who was a choir director taught the girls to sing and apparently arranged and taught them to sing Sibelius’sFinlandia”.  Our session ended with the group singing a few bars of this music together.  There is no question that another good and memorable time was had by the four Eddy “sisters” who really know how to enjoy themselves.


(See the two videos of this event.  The digital version captures the final part of the session where the Eddy sisters sing and a short second file where they each name and describe their own children and grandchildren)







More Beech Hurst photos:  Beech Hurst house in early 1900s; Family cookbook; Eddy's Pierce-Arrow auto driven by Barbara age 16; Another collection of Eddy family history albums.




More Beech Hurst photos:  Lillian Eddy's rocker and flax spinning wheel; Lillian Eddy's bed in the "Civil War" room, Volumes of Eddy History.





These pictures are part of the Eddy sister piece.  I'll send the manuscript next.  The first two shots are from left: Pat Woods (1st cousin of the Eddys), Barbara Eddy Crandell, Joan Eddy Brigham, Joyce Eddy Plummer... taken in the Beech Hurst dining room. The third photo is of Barbara in the Beech Hurst study with family artifacts.


I have two video recordings of the event.  I used the new digital for the first time and backed it with the DV Cam.  The digital worked better and allowed me to record for over 70 minutes to the end of the session.  It works like a charm, once the process is learned.  I'll do a few more video sessions and then bring in the card...are we ready for loading videos?