Hauntingly Historic Schoolcraft

A gravestone in the Schoolcraft cemetery.

By Bill Christiansen

Ghosts. Witches. Wizards. Vampires. A figure in Schoolcraft’s past wrote about these eerie things. Spirit rappings. Trumpet seances. Materializations. Messages from beyond. These things allegedly happened much closer to home than you may have thought possible.

Starting on September 30, Deb Christiansen will be conducting guided tours through Schoolcraft Township Cemetery where you will have the opportunity to learn some secrets of Schoolcraft’s past.

Deb and I attended the Michigan History Conference last spring and learned that other Michigan towns were doing cemetery walks in October. When I saw the look on Deb’s face, I knew she was going to come back and make a similar event happen for Schoolcraft.

“I started digging – figuratively of course – and discovered October has historical significance for Schoolcraft. We became the first town in Kalamazoo County on October 5, 1831.” said Deb Christiansen.

“The Red Brick Tea Room on Hayward Street (formally known as the Ladies Library building) was dedicated in 1896.” Deb compiled a list of 12 souls which will remain top secret until the tours begin. “Only a select few know the identities on the list,” Deb said, “and they have been sworn to secrecy. Virginia Mongreig at the Schoolcraft Township is one. She generously gave me access to information about the cemetery. Keith Gunnett, the Schoolcraft Village Council President, is another. His support of the project has been so valuable.”

There will be eight tours on four consecutive Saturdays starting September 30. Each Saturday will have two tours, one at 1 p.m. the second at 4 p.m. Each tour will run about an hour and a half and is limited to 16 people. Cost is $20 per person in advance and $25 the day of the tour. Funds raised from the tours will go to three of Schoolcraft’s invaluable resources: the Schoolcraft Library, the Ladies’ Library Association of Schoolcraft and the Schoolcraft Historical Society.

This is a walking tour and involves moderate walking. There are no stairs and the paths are wide and flat, but there will be a lot of standing. So please take this under consideration when purchasing your tickets. Tours will happen rain or shine, unless it’s deemed too dangerous. In the case of a funeral, tours will be rescheduled. This is an active cemetery and respectful conduct is expected.

This will not be your standard Halloween haunted house type tour. “We don’t plan to have people jump out from behind gravestones or touch you on the shoulders or whisper in your ears behind your back,” Deb said, “but we can’t predict what you personally will see, hear, or feel.”
The cemetery tours will be only part of the October celebration. Check the website and Facebook page for upcoming events and activities. Ticket information is available at pureschoolcraft.org and facebook.com/hauntinglyhistoricschoolcraft/.

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