Haunted Place: Fort Mackinac
Fort Mackinac is part of Mackinac Island State Park.
The name of the island, Mackinac, was derived from Indians who first called it Mish-la-mack-in-naw, which loosely means "great turtle." They thought it looked like one because of the rock formations and cliffs.
Revolutionary War era - 19th century Fort Mackinac is located on Mackinac Island, just up the hill from city center on the cliffs, above Marquette Park, situated just right of the downtown center. It's vantage point offers a glorious view of the town and harbor area.
Mackinac Island itself is found at the base of Michigan's upper peninsula near the Straits of Mackinac, about twenty minutes by ferry from the mainland Michigan city of Ignace, which is just off Interstate 75 roadway. MAP
On our 2007 road trip, Tom and I took the ferry over to Mackinac Island, where no cars are allowed, and people travel by bike or horse drawn carriage and of course by foot! It is like traveling back in time, as one wanders around the quaint downtown section. We huffed up Fort Road, past the lovely park, and continued on up the serious stone steps to Fort Mackinac's impressive gates, entering by way of North Sally Port, really stepping back in time!
Actors dressed in soldier's uniforms and ladies dressed in appropriate attire of an officer's wife, walk around and periodically act out a scene of past history, or shoot off the guns, located along the walls of the fort. When we were there, a court martial was reenacted on the grassy, rectangular quad in the middle of the fort, which is surrounded by buildings.
Other actors give talks to visiting tourists on a schedule, and the troops are reviewed by stern officers.
The buildings made of stone and wood were beautifully renovated and restored by the Michigan state park system, and have many interesting exhibits inside.
The Guard House and Jail - Includes memorabilia, jail cells and the infamous black hole jail dungeon.
Hospital - Has a fascinating exhibit with a projected image of a 19th century doctor, based on a diary, explaining how he treated an unusual case concerning a broken bone, the symptoms of an unknown disease and another illness. An image of a modern doctor then appears, and tells the audience how the treatment of the broken bone was treated correctly, and how the doctor did as well as anyone today in treating the unknown disease & illness, which are just as fatal today as they were yesterday.
The Officer's Hill's Quarters - Have on display a typical living area and furniture of higher echelon officers and their families, in two story apartments.
The Officer's Stone Quarters - Now houses activities/hands on exhibits & toys for visiting children and a tea room for people who are hungry.
Fort Administrative buildings were home to the Post Headquarters and The Quartermaster's Storehouse, which has on display all sorts of items of interest for the 19th century soldier, including clay pipes.
On the other side of the grassy quad is the two story Soldier's Barracks as they looked in 1859, including a portion of this building dedicated to portraying a soldier's life in the 1800s. The Wood Quarters sold beer, tobacco and a few luxuries available.
Fort Mackinac is a restored military fort which came into existence in 1779, an inspiration of British commander, Patrick Sinclair. Three years after the beginnings of construction, the fort was to be handed over to the United States, according to a treaty, but the then commander, Captain Robinson, wasn't ready to do so just yet, and refused to leave. Robinson did stop construction, and let the fort deteriorate a little. This was only the beginning of troubles concerning this fort.
The fort was finally completed after 1796, when another treaty forced the British to give the fort back to American forces, who not only had to finish building it, but also had to repair what was already built! However, the British came back during the War of 1812. With the help of the local Indians, the British launched a surprise attack from a hill above Fort Mackinac, complete with canons. They had no trouble defeating the 60, unprepared American soldiers.
Five American ships tried to attack the fort by sea, but their canon range fell short. They tried a ground assault which resulted in defeat, with 51 wounded and 13 dead. Finally, a three American gunboat blockade was tried, but that resulted in the British taking control of all three ships! The fort finally was given back to the Americans in 1814 via a treaty.
It remained an American held fort until 1895, though it didn't see any more action. It was used as a prison for confederate sympathizers during the Civil War. It was decommissioned in 1895, and the living left, but the restless entities stayed behind.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Fort Mackinac is considered to be one the most promising locations on the island to experience paranormal activity.
The dungeon, which is called the Black Hole and located in the Guard house, took at least one life.
Though the level of medical care was pretty good for the times, some men died of their medical problems or injuries, sometimes because effective treatments weren't invented yet, for such things as Typhoid Fever, Consumption (TB), heart disease and inflammation of the lung.
Two children, Josiah and Isabel Cowles, died in infancy, at 5 months and 1 year, during the time their officer father was stationed here and living with his family in the two story apartment. Their mother deeply mourned their passing, never quite recovering completely.
Over the years, thirteen other children of varying ages also died here, and are buried at the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery.
Private Felix Pleave killed himself in 1843.
Three fife/piper players died in their service at the fort, in 1811, 1819 and 1850.
In the soldier's mess hall, a soldier named Hugh Flin was shot and killed by fellow soldier, James Brown, who was hung on the gallows for this incident. Some say this was an accidental shooting, but others felt it was murder because of a disagreement
It is thought that this execution, the only one of its kind which took place here, happened on a portable gallows set up in the Rifle Range, now known as the Rifle Range Trail area, just outside of Fort Mackinac.
The Guard House - The only jail available in the fort until 1828.
Cold spots exist in the guard house, even in hot weather, which usually points to an entity or two still serving sentences. They suddenly are felt and there is no reasonable explanation for the sudden drop in temperature.
Pictures have been taken which show orbs hanging out in this guard house.
Sensitive people have felt an energy aura of sadness and picked up on the smell of death and sickness.
When visitor's take pictures, sometimes an entity shows up, by materializing various limbs, such as a leg, showing a sense of humor for chuckles at the expense of the living, which is something a young man would do! (General Wayne Inn, Devil's Den in Gettysburg, Kolb Ridge Court)
Officer Hills Apartment Quarters
The crying of under-the-weather babies is heard, and motion sensors are tripped after hours. Furniture is moved and lights are seen at night inside by staff on the outside. The Cowles children are still crying from their maladies, and their mother stands by helplessly watching them suffer and die because the doctor couldn't cure them in that century. The entity of their mother is seen weeping at their grave site in the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery.
Officer's Stone Quarters
After the fort closes for tourists, the toys used by visiting children in the Officer's Stone Quarters are put away. The next morning, the toys are out on the floor, laying about like children have been playing with them.
NORTH Sally Port Entrance Gate and Wall
The distinct sound of some unseen entity practicing his fife/piper can be heard on foggy/misty mornings.
An apparition of an entity dressed in uniform may also be spotted walking up and down the walkway located on the inside of the fort wall.
Rifle Range Trail - Is the trail located between Fort Holmes and Fort Mackinac.
An unseen entity follows people using the trail. This same entity likes to step on the back of people's shoes for chuckles, and sometimes even appears as a full apparition of a young soldier, dressed in uniform. It is thought that this is the entity of James Brown, still trying to convince others that he didn't really mean to murder the other man; perhaps just wanted to scare the fellow.
A big yes is in order.
Many entities still linger here for a variety of reasons: Were not ready to die, have regrets and sorrows, restless because of the kind of death they had, or just looking for understanding.
udmercy.edu/news * interment.net
Historic Mackinac Island: Visitors Guide
Original text by Eugene t. Peterson
Mackinac State Historic Parks
HAUNTS OF MACKINAC: Ghost Stories, Legends & Tragic Tales of Mackinac Island
by Todd Clements
pages 110-115 & page 67
House of Hawthorne Publishing