Spiritualism was alive and well in Michigan back in the 1800s through the 1900s. Spiritualists, psychics, mediums, mind readers, and clairvoyants popped up in most every major Michigan city…and in particular, Battle Creek.

It wasn’t just a case of the living wanting to communicate with the dead – it was also believed that those who passed on wanted to communicate with their still-living family members.

Spiritualism peaked between 1840 and 1920. In an article on Second Wave Media, Jody Owens of the Battle Creek Historical Society says “The two big spiritualist centers in the country were Battle Creek and Buffalo, New York…..spirit mediums were sought after because there were so many lives lost in the Civil War and in World War I and their loved ones were desperate to find ways to communicate with them from beyond the grave.”

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In March 1877 fifty spiritualists from all over the country came to Battle Creek in order to celebrate Modern Spiritualism’s 29th anniversary. In 1881 Goguac Lake was the location for the Annual Spiritualist Camp Meeting. Jody says, “Battle Creek was appealing because we were right in the middle between Chicago and Detroit and there were all of these religious groups growing up around here.”

Spiritualist Dr. James Peebles joined forces with Battle Creek Quakers and founded a village called Harmonia as a Utopian community. Harmonia is now a ghost town – dust in the wind – and was located in Fort Custer Industrial Park on land now occupied by the Denso facility.

Mrs. William Walling was a popular Battle Creek spiritualist who held séances out of her house. For fifty cents, she would summon up a dead relative for you to speak with. Or so customers thought. She was busted when a customer wanted to shake hands with a ghost – a hand emerged from a cabinet, the man grabbed the hand, pulled, and out came Mrs. Walling. That was it for her career.

Grand Ledge and Lake Lansing were other Michigan hot spots for Spiritualism, and you can check out their stories at those two links.

Spiritualists and Fortune Tellers of Michigan


The Ghost Town & Cemetery of Shackhuddle

The Ghost Town of Highwood

Ghost Town of Peacock

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