“Fire! Fire!” There was no sign of a blaze, no acrid smell of smoke, but in the confusion, crowd members panicked and rushed toward a stairwell that led to the front door. As the first guests hurried down the narrow passageway, dozens, then hundreds, of people clamored after them. The force of all those bodies sent the first guests to the floor.
As William Treadwell sat behind his desk at People’s Bank in Hudson, a small community in southern Michigan’s Lenawee County, he mulled over the opportunity that presented itself. It was January 1864, and area governments were depositing huge amounts of money, the proceeds of year-end taxes their citizens had paid the previous month.
Drawn to the Robison home by a woman who lived near the family, and who called complaining about an ungodly smell, Bliss stepped up to the log-cabin-style residence. No one had seen the Robisons for several weeks, but family members had told acquaintances that they were planning a trip out of town, so their absences hadn’t alarmed anyone.
For decades, people have gathered every year on the night of November 21 at the Reynolds Cemetery in Jackson, Michigan, hoping to see the reunion of two lost souls. Gathering might not be as common as it once was in the past, as creepy neighbors with shot guns and the police are a few of the factors that keep the curious ghost hunters away from the cemetery these days. So be warned.
In the late 1800’s, farmers and laymen alike were migrating to different areas of Michigan and claiming their newly acquired parcels of land. These common folk were unaware of the amazing discoveries that would soon be unearthed from the many ancient mounds that dotted the landscape. Farmers destroyed many of the mounds while preparing their lands for crops. In the meantime, other citizens were digging into the mounds out of pure curiosity.
Alexis St. Martin lived one of the weirdest lives on record. Not only was he unfortunate enough to have part of his stomach blown off during an accidental shooting on Mackinac Island in 1822, he also spent the next ten years as guinea pig to a doctor who, among other things, dangled bits of food into St. Martin’s unhealed wound to study the effects of digestion, a process that wasn’t well understood at the time.
For three days in September 1881, a fire ravaged much of the Thumb area in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The blaze decimated towns throughout four counties, and shot so much ash into the air that people in New England observed yellow skies and experienced twilight levels of darkness at noon. The Thumb Fire ultimately burned more than one million acres and took the lives of 282 people.
For about 125 years, eight painted figures have stared down at visitors from inside the state capital dome; for most of those years, no one knew exactly who had painted them. The figures, known as the muses, each represent a different means (i.e., agriculture, art, astronomy/science, commerce, education, industry, justice, and law) through which Michigan citizens can prosper and brighten the state’s future.