October welcomes in cold nights, cider and spicy aromas like cinnamon and cloves. It’s also the best time for ghostly yarns. So, “when the frost is on the punkin,” as poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote, what better time to hunker down with a cushy throw and — in the spirit of the season — a book of spooky tales?
When it comes to goosebump-worthy reads, there are several West Michigan ghost stories able to rival even the best the famed city of Salem has to offer. Here’s a list to check out this season.
“Spooky Michigan: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore” by S.E. Schlosser
Maybe the best-known Grand Rapids-area ghost story is that of the Ada Witch, said to haunt Ada’s Findlay Cemetery where she — supposedly an adulterous wife murdered by her husband in the mid-to-late 1800s — is said to be interred. This book includes a section on the Ada Witch, making this of particular interest to those who live — or grew up — in West Michigan, where the story has been circulating for over 100 years.
“Ghosts and Legends of Michigan’s West Coast” by Amberrose Hammond
Sure to be a favorite ghostly read for West Michiganders, this collection of paranormal tales includes area folklore, including a chapter on the legendary Melon Heads.
Other area hauntings include well-known venues such as Saugatuck’s Felt Mansion and the Grand Theatre in Grand Haven, said to be haunted by a former custodian. Famed former Muskegon lumber baron and philanthropist Charles Hackley, whose former Victorian-era home is a favorite attraction today, also is the subject of one of the stories in this compilation of ghosts and legends.
“Ghosts of Grand Rapids” by Nicole Bray and Robert Du Shane, with Julie Rathshack
This one is centered solely around Grand Rapids ghosts, including the legendary hauntings of the former Michigan Bell building in downtown, St. Cecilia Music Center, the former Pantlind Hotel — now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel — and Aquinas College’s Holmdene Hall. The haunted accounts here include layers of rich, local history.
“Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses” by Dianna Higgs Stampfler
Published in 2019, “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses” is chock full of wonderful tales of haunted lighthouses throughout the Great Lakes State. With stories of hauntings from Marquette to Port Huron and from Whitehall to Bay City — there are 13 lighthouses with reported paranormal activity in this collection — this book offers great Halloween-time reading, as well as plenty of Michigan history.
“Haunted Travels of Michigan” by Kathleen Tedsen and Beverlee Rydel
This book is the culmination of extensive research and paranormal investigation by authors Tedsen and Rydel. Like “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses,” the ghost stories garnish an entrée of Michigan history. Yet, one unique aspect of this collection of tales is an interactive experience available on the internet, providing readers the opportunity to experience a paranormal investigation themselves.