Article, "The American Red Cross in Ottawa County: 1940-1949" by Wallace K. Ewing, Ph.D.
The first significant Red Cross activity anywhere in the country took place in Michigan., subsequent to the great forest fires of 1881, which swept across the lower peninsula. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, raised $80,000 in cash and provisions, which Red Cross volunteers in the field distributed to affected families.
In the fall of 1909, the Red Cross was formally organized in Grand Haven and its first officers were elected. On May 10, 1917, the Ottawa County Chapter received its official charter signed by President Woodrow Wilson. The Chapter was divided into two branches, one with headquarters in Holland and the other located in Grand Haven.