'Haunted Lansing': The Ghosts of Mid-Michigan Oct 11, 2018 20:11:45 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Oct 11, 2018 20:11:45 GMT -5
Haunted Lansing: The Ghosts of Mid-Michigan
LANSING, Mich. – Did a dying witch really curse Dansville’s Seven Gables Road, making it the most haunted stretch one can travel in Michigan? Is the ghost of Marion Turner, one of Lansing’s founding pioneers, haunting the stately Turner-Dodge House (above) that has stood on East North Street for 160 years? And what are the odds that spirits of inmates long gone are the culprits behind strange noises in Charlotte’s historic 1885 Eaton County Courthouse?
The Lansing area’s urban legends are a mix of fact and fiction, author Jenn Carpenter said and to better understand how they came to be you have to sort through both. Carpenter’s new book, Haunted Lansing, does just that. A self-professed true crime junkie, Carpenter has long held a fondness for the paranormal and in the book, she tackles the lore behind more than 20 local landmarks and infamous spots. Sometimes, she insisted, fact is just as fascinating as fiction.
Researching local ghost stories. Six years ago, Carpenter, 38, said history offered her family no answers when they experienced their own haunting. They had moved into a house just outside Grand Ledge and quickly became uneasy. Smoke detectors went off unexpectedly in the middle of the night and Carpenter heard voices. One morning human footprints were visible on the floor of her bedroom. “They looked like they would have been sticky or oily to touch them, but it wasn’t,” she recalled. The prints didn’t match those of anyone in her family.
Then she encountered something truly terrifying. “The bathroom was down this long hall, all by itself,” she continued. “I started to go down it one day and I saw footprint shadows on the other side of the door, so I thought my husband was in there. It was just the two of us home.” She called out: “You in there?” and a voice on the other side of the door said “Yeah.” Carpenter was sitting on a nearby bench waiting for her husband to open the bathroom door when he entered the house a few minutes later through the back door. He had been outside with their dogs for 20 minutes, she claimed.
During the five years her family’s lived in the home, Carpenter slept on the living room sofa more times than she could count and while several paranormal investigators acknowledged ghostly activity, there was nothing suspect about the property’s history. Nothing happened there that I could find,” Carpenter said. “There was something there and I have no idea what it was.”
The experience turned Carpenter into a believer, albeit a skeptical one. “If someone says, ‘Oh there’s a ghost in my house,’ my first question is, ‘Why?’” she explained. “‘What happened in your house?’ I believe in ghosts, but I’m also pretty skeptical, so I’m the first person to say, ‘No. That’s nothing.’”
Carpenter began researching and writing Haunted Lansing for Arcadia Publishing and The History Press last year, but she’s been sharing ghost stories since 2016 when she founded Demented Mitten Tours, offering group visits to infamous and historic properties around mid-Michigan. Only family and friends were in attendance during the first tour, but, after it was over, Carpenter knew she was onto something. Today Demented Mitten Tours sells out its events, making stops in a 34-passenger bus all over the area and always at night. Ticket-holders get a firsthand look at locations such as Seven Gables Road, which dead-ends into a gated state game preserve. They also learn the history of local landmarks, including, but not limited to, the Turner-Dodge House, the State Capitol, and the site of the 1927 bombing of Bath Consolidated School. Many of the stops on the tours are featured in Haunted Lansing.
A mix of facts and local lore. Barbara Loyer, event manager at the Turner-Dodge House declared unexplained happenings at the Lansing landmark “can be spooky sometimes,” but are never truly scary. “To be honest, the busier we get – and we are quite busy in recent years – the fewer things there are that make you go ‘Hmmmmmmmm?’” she wrote in an email. “There is just so much going on and – if you’ll forgive me – so many actual living people in the house!” People recount their ghost stories during a gathering at the house every October. “Ghost stories are absolutely part of the interest,” Loyer continued. “It’s rarely a week that goes by that someone doesn’t ask about ghost stories.” Haunted reputations that surround a property often start that way, she added, loosely based on fact.
The same can be said for Charlotte’s 1885 Eaton County Courthouse. The red brick structure is home to the Eaton County Courthouse Museum. Manager Julie Kimmer has experienced “creepy things” while working in the building, including unexplained noises but she insisted none of amount to much more than speculation. “I’m not scared here,” she claimed. “But I’ve witnessed things I can’t understand.” Ghost hunts at the courthouse are held every fall.
Both Turner-Dodge House and the 1885 Eaton County Courthouse have rich, dramatic histories that serve as back stories for the ghostly happenings reported at the sites, Carpenter said. “I just find that so interesting,” she added. “It’s amazing how that happens.”
Others offer the opposite – histories that conflict with local lore in spite of a spot’s haunted reputation. Case in point? Seven Gables Road. There’s no truth to the witch story, Carpenter claimed, but even she will admit to being frightened on some of her visits to the property. “I do not like Seven Gables at all,” she admitted. “It’s a stop on the tours. We go all the time. At first, it’s just this normal road and then you hit this kind of tunnel of trees. Then it turns into dirt road and no houses.” The road ends at a turn-around where a gate blocks cars from proceeding any further. “You can walk. But you can’t drive.”
Gary Gierke, a Mason resident who founded the Michigan Area Paranormal Society, said the history behind the infamous road doesn’t offer any insight into why people experience so many strange things there. “For some reason, there is a lot of paranormal activity out there,” Gierke claimed. “It never disappoints.”
According to the new author, the same can be said for Laingsburg’s Blood Cemetery, which earned a chapter in the book as well. Local lore suggests the couple who founded it were the victims of tragedy. The story is that Mr. Blood hacked Mrs. Blood to death with an axe before hanging himself from a tree on the property. In truth, there was a Dr. Blood, a chiropractor who accidentally cut off his own leg in a tree where Blood Cemetery is located today, Carpenter explained.
Other landmarks featured in Carpenter’s book have histories that pair well with their reputations, including the former site of Jewett Funeral Home, an 1855 mansion on South Jefferson Street, and the historic Stimson Hospital in Eaton Rapids. While lights, sounds and breezes are subject to opinion, history is concrete, the author declared. Haunted Lansing starts here, but provides plenty of spooky stories, too. “You may hear something on a recording, when all I hear is static,” she continued. “But the history, these things happened here, that’s less up for debate.”
To learn more about Demented Mitten Tours, go to www.dementedmittentours.com
Source: Rachel Greco, The Lansing State Journal, September 4, 2018.