We know Awesome Mitten readers love things that go bump in the night! Michigan is many things: beautiful, seasonal, diverse, agricultural, and full of delicious beer, food and people who make a difference. It also happens to be ridiculously creepy, and full of haunts and legends that eyewitnesses swear are real. Check out our existing series of Haunted MI with Part 1 by Claire Moore and Part 2 by Jennifer Hamilton to find more freakish fun around the Mitten. But for now, here are five haunted stories in Michigan I’ve found in the pursuit of scariness:
1. Bath School Massacre
Although rarely discussed, the mass murder at Bath School in 1927 is in fact the most deadly school massacre to date. Andrew Kehoe, a fifty-five year old farmer and school board member, vehemently opposed the upcoming millage that would raise taxes. When the millage passed, Kehoe’s farm was foreclosed upon. May 18th, 1927, Kehoe killed every animal on his farm, murdered his wife, burned his house down, and headed to the school, where he set off 500 pounds of dynamite. The initial blast killed dozens of students and teachers, and as the superintendent waved Kehoe over to help get the children out safely, Kehoe ignited another round when his rifle misfired, killing himself, the superintendent and eight more students. The final death toll was 44 with an additional 58 injured!
It was Richard Fritz’s 8th birthday that day, and he died almost exactly a year later from complications after the bombing. He was buried next to his sister Marjorie, age 10, at the Mt. Hope Cemetery without a headstone. Eighty-seven years later, the community rallied to ensure that all the children had headstones. And every year there are new matchbox cars that appear on every grave. No one has ever seen the cars delivered, but without fail, a friendly ghost has continued to leave tokens of childhood for these souls that passed too soon. Keep your eyes peeled for the arrival of Richard’s toy since he finally has a headstone to rest under.
2. Cole Adam’s House
Unfortunately, this haunt is now a private residence on Market St. in Detroit, but this doesn’t take away from its ghoulish history. In the early 1960s, Bill Cole-Adams and family moved into their home, excited to have upgraded into a better home. Bill worked the graveyard shift at the Cadillac plant, and set up a bed in a small room adjacent to the kitchen in order to sleep without interruption during the day. For the first few weeks, the bad smells and noises were shrugged off as parts of the house settling. But, after seeing an apparition of a decomposing woman in a blue dress and fur jacket multiple nights in a row, however, Bill decided to tough it out and sleep in the bedroom he shared with his wife. He blamed his unrest on stress and exhaustion. When his mother-in-law came for the birth of their newest child, they set up a small guest area in the same back room. She reported a rotten stench, consistent bad dreams and wailing noises. Their pets and their children wouldn’t go into the room and a second visitor left terrified after seeing the apparition of the decomposing woman staring at him. During the ghoul’s appearance to the second visitor, the rotting smell was so bad that it permeated the household for a few days. It was then that the Cole-Adams family began a new house search!
3. The Ada Witch at Findlay Cemetery
In the early 1800s in Ada, Michigan, an adulterous woman was followed by her husband as she went to meet her lover. As the story goes, her husband watched for proof of the cheating before he busted onto the scene to kill his wayward wife. After she was dead, he turned on the lover and they fought until both had fallen. Today, the woman’s ghost has been spotted in Seidman Park, where the murder supposedly occurred, Honey Creek Road, where her body was found, and Findlay Cemetery, where she was buried. As haunt historians have researched the story of the unfortunate woman, however, they have been unable to prove that any such murder occurred or that she is even buried at Findlay. No police report exists to corroborate the triple homicide, nor is there evidence explaining why her ghost is referred to as a witch. Maybe you should decide whose ghost is responsible for the bluish mists, shrieks, weeping, shoulder tapping and footsteps heard around that area. I dare you.
4. The Ghost of Elias Friske at Hell’s Bridge
When Rockford was first inhabited years ago, the surrounding woods and Rogue River were a source of resources and adventure for the people settling there. When children began going missing in the early 1800s though, the townspeople banded together in the church to split parents up into search parties. Old Elias Friske warned parents of the terrifying demons surrounding the town, and volunteered to stay behind with the remaining children while parents searched for their loved ones. As soon as the parents were out of town, Friske led his charges to the woods along the bank of the Rogue and brutally murdered them in the same place he had killed the others. As he was pitching their bodies off the newly built bridge, horrified parents came to the scene of the crime. Although Elias Friske pled for mercy and insisted it was demons who forced his hand, the townspeople hung him from the bridge that came to be known as Hell’s Bridge, and left his body there until the water wore away the rope holding him. Swimmers today have felt hands grab their ankles, and the devil’s laughter is said to echo on the bridge after dark!
5. Seul Choix Point Lighthouse
In 1895, the Seul Choix Lighthouse was dubbed by French fur traders as the “only choice” for a stopping point on the route through Lake Michigan. Joseph Townsend was the lighthouse keeper for years, and his brother James, a wealthy captain, would often make the journey to visit him. During a particularly dire visit, Captain Townsend fell ill and died in the lighthouse. His body was embalmed and held in the basement for weeks as the family waited for people paying their respects to make the journey to Gulliver. Reports of a lingering smell, footsteps up and down the lighthouse steps, and odd noises have kept visitors coming to the lighthouse for over a century now. Check out their museum from 10 AM to 6 PM seven days a week, or head that way October 25th and 26th, 2014 for the Haunted Lighthouse tour from 7 PM to 10 PM.
What haunted places in Michigan do you have to report?