Unlocking Michigan’s Haunted History
Founded in 1837, Michigan’s rich history is full of facts and folklore. In the book, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses, radio broadcaster and veteran author Dianna Stampfler, brings its otherworldly tales to life.
For most people, the idea of trapped spirits and evil entities is off-putting. But Stampfler relishes in their untold stories and reveals she’s had mostly pleasant encounters. “I do believe that those things are out there. But thankfully, in my world … I don’t get that,” she said. “It’s friendly apparitions. It’s disembodied voices and footsteps. It’s calm things.”
The first time Stampfler felt a paranormal presence was five years ago at Schuler’s Restaurant in Marshall, MI. The longstanding building previously operated as a hotel and housed multiple guestrooms. “I went to bed one night and … I hear this bellowing laugh down the hall. I kind of got up and made sure the door was locked,” she revealed. “It did throw me off, because I was there alone.”
The next morning Stampfler asked the staff about the noise. One of them casually responded, “Oh, that must’ve been Albert.” As in Albert Schuler, the business’s founder, who had been rumored to haunt that area. Stampfler wasn’t traumatized by the experience. In fact, she went back to business as usual. “He didn’t bother me … It’s not like I didn’t sleep that night. It was fine.”
On the latest episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, he and Stampfler unlock hidden folklore surrounding Michigan’s most notable sites.
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Did you know Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state? Due to the sheer volume, they’ve proven to be a popular stomping ground for free spirits. “We’ve got over 120 [lighthouses] … about 40 of those have some type of ghost story attached to them,” revealed Stampfler. “Some of them very, very minor, some of them are very elaborate. I have 13 of them in the book.”
Where do these ghosts come from? The consensus is that most were former lighthouse keepers. “In South Haven, Donahue served 35 years as a one-legged lighthouse keeper, and still haunts the house there today. In Whitehall, Captain Bill Robinson served 45 years and died at the light. He and his wife are both residents of that.”
Lingering spirits are often described as souls that were unable to transcend the living plane. But Stampfler doesn’t see it that way. “I think some may be,” she said. “But I think you also have a choice. You think when you’re going out, what was the best year of my life? Because that’s the one I want to go back to. That’s the one I want to stay in for eternity.”
In the book, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses, Stampfler also explores the cultural impact of publicized lore. For example: Paranormal tourism has become one of the fastest growing sectors across the globe. Increased interest can be linked to popular shows on networks like The Travel, SyFy and History Channels.
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Photo credit: skym4k3r