HAUNTED MICHIGAN: McCourtie Park’s ‘Lady in Blue’
I've mentioned this historic Michigan spot before and it's worth re-living from time to time.....but before I get to the 'haunted' stuff, lemme tell ya a brief little bit about this guy, W.H.L. McCourtie:
He was a wealthy oil man who settled in Somerset Center, south of Jackson. He hired Mexican folk artists to sculpt 17 bridges out of concrete – to look like they were made of cut-down trees. He had two large birdhouses built, with little chambers inside for the birds to wander around in, like a house with rooms and hallways…..humans cannot see inside these houses.
McCourtie had an underground lodge, garage & rathskellar where he entertained luminaries such as Henry Ford and gangsters that included Al Capone with all-night poker parties. This underground area is said to have been a speakeasy during the Prohibition years, where bootleggers & mobsters would stop off to sell - and buy - bootlegged liquor on their route to & from Chicago and Detroit. Makes sense, since it's right along Michigan's historical & legendary US-12. It was the PERFECT place for these people to stop...it had a bar, a vault, a fireplace...a great escape place to stop off for a little R&R. Not only that, but it's said that there are underground tunnels that were once used for the Underground Railroad, that made perfect escape routes for anyone duckin' the law.
In 1933, 61-year-old McCourtie passed away in a Battle Creek sanitarium, where he had been confined for six months, leaving behind quite a legacy.
The haunted part comes from “The Lady In Blue” – a female apparition that is sometimes seen wandering around the grounds at night wearing an 1850-ish long, blue gown (some say black). During night-time hours, she's been seen strolling thru the park in old 1800's clothing and floating over the concrete bridges - in complete, deathly silence - and eventually disappearing. On other evenings, her footsteps can be heard, as her unseen figure crunches over dead, dry leaves and sticks. One rumor says she’s the spirit of a runaway slave who made use of the tunnels that were part of the Underground Railroad…the identity of who she once was remains unknown.
Whether you believe the ghost legend or not, this is one of Michigan’s Historical Sites and a place you should check out – if you haven’t already. It's a fascinating story and a very cool place to take the family for picnics and outings (in the daytime, of course…you don’t want the "Lady In Blue” frightening your family) and ADMISSION IS FREE.
And by the way, about the ghost…..about ten years ago I actually DID hear it one night after 10pm. There were very audible footsteps, crunching brittle branches on the ground...the noise was about only three feet in front of me and nothing was visible, even with shining my flashlight all around me. Needless to say, I was OUTTA there…(see where this happened in the photo gallery below).
Read much, much more on W.H.L. McCourtie, see vintage pictures and more in a terrific mlive article by CLICKING HERE.
SEE ALL THE PICTURES TAKEN AT McCOURTIE PARK IN THE GALLERY ABOVE.