Ghost stories

By Jackie Stark

Live in Marquette long enough, and you’re sure to hear stories of hauntings around town. The eerie sound of children laughing inside the former Holy Family Orphanage, ghostly specters in the rooms at the Landmark Inn, apparitions inside the cemeteries in Marquette.

Up until now, those stories were passed on through oral tradition, one person to the next. Now, however, those stories have been immortalized in Marquette author Tyler Tichelaar’s newest tome, Haunted Marquette.

Each story has been researched by Tichelaar, with a fair few stories debunked as being highly unlikely or not possible.

“I wanted to say, ‘Here’s the evidence. You decide,’” Tichelaar said.

Though, the book does have its share of stories that could be true. Either way, readers are sure to find stories that make their hair stand on end.

Take, for example, the famed haunting at Northern Michigan University’s Thomas Fine Arts building, where it’s rumored a janitor died in an elevator. Experiencing odd happenings with the TFA elevator has become as much a rite of passage for NMU students as jumping off of Black Rocks or hiking up Hogback.

Though it’s called Haunted Marquette, the book itself is not necessarily about things that go bump in the night.

In the book, Tichelaar tells the story of the McNeil home, where a woman named Kathy said she and her family lived with four specters for years. Kathy said at first the experiences frightened her, but then she came to love the ghosts as part of her daily life. Tichelaar said he, too, ultimately found it more of a comforting story than anything else.

“I think Kathy’s experience was amazing,” Tichelaar wrote in the book, “and despite how scary it initially was for her, part of me feels like we should all be so fortunate.”

That’s the beauty of the book. It’s true that it’s about haunted places in Marquette, but it’s also a book about history and human connection.

“There’s so many people that feel devastated at the loss of a loved one and wish that they could connect with them,” Tichelaar said. “It’s kind of a spiritual thing.”

Before he wrote the book, Tichelaar said he was on the skeptical side when it came to ghost stories. But it turns out, so were many of the people he spoke with—that is, until something unexplainable happened to them.

“Most of them said, ‘You know, I never experienced ghosts before; I didn’t believe in ghosts before, but this happened to me and I just can’t explain it,’” Tichelaar said. “They just seemed very sincere about what they experienced.”

Each chapter in the book is named after the place that is said to be haunted, with subtitles like, “Beware the ghost who likes to play with chainsaws,” “Do the ghosts of gangsters haunt one of Marquette’s most notorious business locations?” and “Some ghosts just don’t like wrinkled pants.”

You’ll have to read the book to find out what places Tichelaar is referring to.

The book contains stories from public areas, like buildings on Northern Michigan University’s campus; cemeteries and churches; private residences scattered throughout Marquette, mostly on the historic East Side; and private businesses that are open to the public, making it possible for anyone to have a ghostly encounter.

Tichelaar will give a presentation at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 11, at the Marquette Regional History Center, where he will tell stories from his book and sign copies for those wishing to purchase one.

The history center was instrumental in facilitating much of Tichelaar’s exhaustive research into each story he was told, or discovered.

“I was over at the history center’s research library every Saturday for months,” Tichelaar said. “I tried to get to the truth.”

To say “thank you,” a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Haunted Marquette at the October 11 reading will be given to the center.

Following the reading, the book will be available wherever Tichelaar’s books are currently sold.

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