From: May Heath Saugatuck Book

Early Memories of Saugatuck, Michigan : 1830-1930
Author: Heath, May Francis
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids, Mich: 1930


One of the veterans of long lake service is still living in Saugatuck, Capt. W. G. Phelps who came to the village in 1868, at which time the two steamers, Aunt Betsy and Helen Marr, were running on the Kalamazoo between Saugatuck and Allegan and river traffic was rather important.

Captain Phelps is the oldest son of Sampson H. and Sarah A. Phelps, being one of five children, Addie, Lafayette, Laphelia, Minnie and George was born in New York in 1849. He began sailing at the age of sixteen on a tramp schooner on the lakes.

The first three winters in Michigan he worked in the lumber woods, then began teaching school winters which he continued to do for 28 years, in the Loomis, Fennville, Ganges Union, Glenn, Douglas and Saugatuck schools.

He sailed summers and as he says, "Sailed all kinds of boats in all kinds of places" and in 1901 he became a 'landlubber' and bought the grist mill, converting it into Hotel Butler, so named for Saugatuck's first white settler. He and Mrs. Phelps most successfully operated the hotel for twenty-one years when they sold and bought a pretty home overlooking Kalamazoo lake, where life is comfortable and easy.

Mrs. Phelps was, before her marriage in 1877, Miss Mary Doming and she and the Captain were married by Rev. J. F. Taylor at the Congregational parsonage.

They have two children, Mrs. Pearl Brown of Newark, N. J. and Ross R. Phelps of Saugatuck.