The infamous “Michigan Relics” are believed by many to be the product of an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Michigan resident James Scotford in 1890. Later in the early 1900s a disgraced former Secretary of State, Daniel S. Soper joined forces with Scotford. Soper had been in office for one year in 1891 and was forced to resign after he was accused of embezzlement.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the country was enamored with the history of Native Americans. Archaeological digs were springing up in numerous locations around the country – some successful, some not. This particular dig in Wayne County was both; at least it appeared to be successful until questions arose about the authenticity of the findings.

In 1890, Scotford claimed to have discovered a treasure trove of old relics in the woods in Wayne County's Palmer Park (near his home) that proved there had been ancient settlements in the area. These objects were made of clay, copper, slate, and stone, etched with writings and hieroglyphics that were translated to mean nothing but gibberish…..and once Soper became involved in the early 1900s, they incredibly kept finding more and more objects. Scotford stuck to his guns, claiming these were authentic – but even in the years to come family members came forward and told how Soper and Scotford made the “relics” themselves. The two men both passed away in the 1920s, still attempting to get the masses to believe their findings were real historic artifacts. After they died, no other ‘relics’ were ever found.

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There are a few people who believe the relics are real. Alma College’s archives contain some of these ‘artifacts’.

Now a question: What makes the “experts” think these are fakes? First off, these objects were claimed to be thousands of years old. Being made of clay, when they were tested by authorities, the ‘relics’ turned to mud. If they were real, why hadn’t they turned to mud over the past few thousand years, knowing how wet and stormy Michigan weather can get? According to, the ‘relics’ had “the exact dimensions and characteristics of milled and precisely cut slate roofing tile, like that produced in Detroit near Scotford’s residence.”

Where did these things go? Some are in museums, others were purchased by collectors. Fakes or not, this legendary Michigan tale of possible forgery still gives these items some historical & collectable worth. Photos of some of these 'relics' are seen below.

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