BY JESSICA VOSGERCHIAN
Published October 20, 2009
If hauntings are your guilty pleasure, “Ann Arbor Area Ghosts” is the book for you. We’ve picked out the highlights so you won’t have to be seen reading it.
Post-mortem apology on Ashley Street
It was 1972, the year of the first Hash Bash. Ann Arbor’s youths were going crazy for drugs, sex and rock and roll. But for an unfortunate few, drugs took precedent to tragic results.
This is awkward- what do you mean?
One 15-year-old girl learned that lesson in a house on Ashley Street, but not from her own abuse of drugs or even that of anyone living. While visiting some older guys who lived in the house, the girl passed on an offer to smoke weed. But despite being completely sober, she soon had the trip of her life.
Feeling a “strange, bone-chilling cold,” the girl went upstairs alone in an attempt to warm up. But she was petrified with fear when a wall seemed to start moving and an inexplicable black shadow made its way toward her. Downstairs, meanwhile, her friends called to her, — mystified as posters popped off the wall and formed a pile on the floor.
When the girl came downstairs, she saw a detailed vision of a man’s face came to her.
The others did not see the face, but they did hear the astounding message the girl delivered as if possessed by another force: “The drugs and addiction were my fault, and I accept responsibility for that, but I was not that way deep down inside. I want to apologize to everyone involved for what I had done.”
After the girl came to and described what she saw, the housemates explained that a few weeks earlier, before they had moved in, a previous resident matching her description had died from a heroin overdose. He had fallen into heavy drug use in the months before his death, and his erratic, threatening behavior which had led him to destroy relationships with erratic, threatening behavior. He had beat his girlfriend and once pulled a gun on her when he became paranoid that she was cheating on him.
Frightened exchange students on Miller Street
The residents of a house on Miller Street have never experienced anything paranormal in their home. Built in the 1970s, the house isn’t likely to be a hotbed for history’s lost souls. But two Japanese students who stayed there might beg to differ.
Two foreign exchange students lived with a family in the house on different occasions, but both experienced the same spine-tingling fright.
The first incident occurred in January 2005, when the guest student walked into his bedroom late at night to see a filmy apparition of an older man gasping for air on the bed. In January of the next year, another Japanese student had a similar encounter in the same room. The two students never met and did not know about their shared experiences.
Lying in bed late at night, the student saw a strange green glow out her window. When she closed her eyes, she heard someone wheezing and felt a figure lying aside her in the bed. When she opened her eyes, she saw the same suffering older man. The apparition disappeared, but later that night, the student saw the face of a woman with long hair on the bedroom wall and heard the shower run when no one was in it.
The students’ housemother said the apparition described seemed like the man the she had purchased the house from in 2003. The author of “Ann Arbor Area Ghosts,” Mimi Uptergrove, researched the original owner and found out he had died from an asthma attack shortly after moving out of the house. Uptergrove speculates in her book that the man’s energy might have left an imprint on the room from a time when he experienced poignant suffering, such as a past asthma attack. The sounds of the shower might have been an echo of the steam remedy the asthmatic man might have tried, she wrote.
Murder exposed in Dixboro
Paranormal activity isn’t new to the Ann Arbor area, according to documents from 1845 describing the post-mortem reappearance of one Martha Mulholland in nearby Dixboro.
Martha moved to Dixboro to join her sister Ann, who was married to an immigrant named James Mulholland. That same year, Martha married James’s brother, John. But the couples’ joy was cut short when Ann became bedridden with a mysterious illness that quickly killed her.
John followed his sister-in-law to the other side in 1840. And then, in 1845, widowed Martha died after being overcome by the same symptoms that killed her sister — severe stomach aches, strange dreams and delirium. After arguing for the right to Martha’s property, James became the sole proprietor of the family estate.
But a few weeks after Martha’s death, a newcomer to town found reason to suspect that Ann and Martha’s deaths weren’t natural. Isaac Van Woert, who filed a court affidavit detailing his experience in Dixboro, did not know about the mystery surrounding Martha’s death when he rented her house. But he soon took note after an apparition of Martha appeared to him and spoke about her demise.
“They robbed me little by little, until they kilt me! Now he has got it all,” the ghost told Van Woert, according to “Ann Arbor Area Ghosts.” “James, James, yes, James has got it at last, but it won’t do him long.”
The figure appeared to Van Woert
Is this the right spelling? You spelled it ‘woerst’ below and ‘woert’ the rest of the time…
nine times, sometimes fearfully foaming at the mouth, sometimes peacefully reconciling. Van Woert and his family moved from town after the apparition had chastised him for telling its secret.
“I wanted to tell a secret,” it said. “I thought I had.”
Local interest in Van Woert’s sworn statements about his ghostly visitations caused Martha’s body to be exhumed for an autopsy, which found that her death had been the result of “poisoning by unknown person(s).”
A ghost’s testimony wasn’t evidence enough to charge James Mulholland, but the enduring rumor ran him out of town.