Merlene Richardson Photo Collection

Merlene is a direct descendent, the great great granddaughter, of two South Manitou Island pioneer families.

The George Conrad Hutzler and George Haas families emigrated from Bavaria, both eventually arriving on the island during the 1860's. Both were encouraged to come to the island by George Johann Hutzler, who had arrived in 1853. The Haas family were friends of the Hutzler's. "Conrad" was George Johann's half-brother. These were the first of the four German immigrant families who eventually became the backbone of the island's farming community.

Merlene's father, August VanderWagen [1], was a Surfman in the US Lifesaving Service, assigned to the Lifesaving Station on South Manitou Island during 1926 and 1927.


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[1] In Gerald Crowner's book "The South Manitou Story", Augie VanderWagen is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Al VanderWagen", but other times correctly called "Van", which was his usual nickname. Crowner was writing from memory over fifty years later. He did, in fact, have a fellow surfman who was probably called "Al"; Alfred Anderson, and may have further been understandbly confused by the fact that Merlene's grandfather, one of Crowner's first island aquaintances, was also named "August".