Most Jacksonians know the famous local ghost story about “Little Mary”. It’s been talked about, reported, embellished, re-told, and brought up every Halloween by locals, reporters, paranormal investigators, etc. etc.

But surprise! This is NOT about Little Mary McNaughton…this is about her grandfather, Moses. We’ll briefly get to Little Mary later.

Moses Archibald McNaughton was born January 4, 1813 in Argyle, New York. He migrated to Michigan in 1841 and became one of Jackson’s early pioneers. He kept busy by working as a doctor, railroad man, and real estate developer. A founding member of the Republican Party, Moses was the first person to oversee the first official Republican Party meeting. He also was a state senator, Mayor of Jackson for one year (1866-1867), fought against slavery, and owned one gold mine and five silver mines. He owned a huge section of land along Cooper Street (north of I-94), helped build several Michigan railroads, and sat on the board of the Jackson Bonanza Mining Company, among many other accomplishments.

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He married his second wife, Mary Turner in 1848 and they sprouted four children: Archie, Charles, Mary, and Robert.

For those who have visited McNaughton Cemetery in the past, you know about the tall marble monument standing way in the back section where Little Mary’s grave marker is. Moses bought a large plot that was in the (then-named) Oaks Cemetery and had that thirty-foot tall monument imported from Scotland to mark the spot for the entire McNaughton family.

With all the above-mentioned success, you can imagine what a wealthy man Moses was. He therefore built a mansion on West Trail Street on top of a hill, with underground tunnels that were believed to help runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad (not proven).

It was Moses’ son Robert who married Elizabeth Potter, the two of them becoming parents of Little Mary J. McNaughton. Little Mary was born on September 5, 1884 in Jackson and died at the age of seven on July 18, 1892 in Brighton. She was buried in the Oaks (now McNaughton) Cemetery. If you want to re-read the legendary ‘Little Mary’ ghost story, you can do so here.

Naturally, Little Mary’s death had a tremendous effect on the whole family, breaking the heart of Grandpa Moses. With all his money, he must have felt there was something he could have done. Moses himself passed away in Jackson nine years later, in January 1901 at age 88. He, along with many other members of the McNaughton family, are buried back in the secluded, private section of the cemetery within the thick woods.

The Grandfather of "Little Mary" - Moses McNaughton


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