Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween Oct. 31: spooky Dansville

When we moved to the farm in 2003 we didn't know about a certain local spooky story.

We had heard the true story of the Burning Bed, revealed to the world in a non-fiction book by Faith McNulty, and then made into a 1984 TV movie with Farrah Fawcett about Francine Hughes, the abused wife who set fire to her house in 1977, killing her husband, and getting away with it by "reason of insanity." I don't think she was insane, and I guess I'm glad she got away with it. I had seen the movie back in '84, but when we bought the farm I had to be reminded we were going to be living in the same town where the Burning Bed happened.

Well, one day after moving to the farm, I was browsing books at Schuler's, and there was a book of haunted stories from Michigan. Intrigued, I picked it up and leafed through, finding one from Dansville! The story goes like this (found here):

The Witch of Seven Gables Lane

"The adventurers who tread the back lane called Seven Gables near Dansville in Ingham County still sniff the air to see if they can smell the acrid, burning flesh of the witch who supposedly lived there in years past. . . .

. . . As the legend goes, local marauders locked the woman into her house, which was then set on fire. She perished in the flames, but the stories say she remains to wreak vengeance on those who still dare to venture near her property. . . .

. . . The place became such a teen mecca that a fence was erected to keep snoopers out of the area. The effort proved fruitless as thrill seekers still found their way back to the deceased woman's old place. But they didn't get away scot-free. It was said that the ghost would scream at trespassers and that the scream meant instant doom to its hearers if the premises weren't cleared immediately."

Every day on my country ride to town where I work, I used to drive by Seven Gables Road. It gave me the creeps, let me tell you, just seeing that name "Seven Gables" and remembering the story of that poor woman wreaking vengeance on anyone who goes near her property. But one day I worked up the courage to drive down Seven Gables Road and see if anything would happen. It is a very lonely, quiet dirt road with a few houses near the main road, but soon becomes abandoned and then a dead end. I parked my little Aveo and got out slowly with my camera. I looked across the fence where the house had been, toward the dead tree and cloud in the photo I took, above. Suddenly through the whispering wind someone yelled in the distance! It was a man's voice, not a woman's, but what did that matter! Heart thumping, I jumped in the car, turned it around and made dust fly as I tore back to the main road. I take a different route to work most of the time now, not that I'm afraid or anything. I just like driving through town.

One last eerie thing: Yesterday when I bravely changed my route to work again so I could stop and snap a photo of the Seven Gables Road sign, below, I was angling for a shot and suddenly there in the frame was "my tree" - the tree in my profile picture. I never noticed that it sits right at the foot of Seven Gables Road. You know I quickly scrambled back into my car this time too, my heart thumping again. Oh, and you know about The House of the Seven Gables too, right? Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel about a house haunted by witches and spirits? I mean, how much more spookiness do you want?

(I carved the two jack-o-lanterns in the photos, above, a couple years ago. I used to love carving different things every year when the kids were growing up. I remember doing Carebears one year. Unfortunately, my wrists are too weak to carve through that thick, hard pumpkin flesh now. Plus, we don't have kids at home any more, boohoo - BOO! hoo.)


Nautankey said...

Pretty eerie!!.More than eerie kinda freaky that youe didnt know the connection betweent the tree and seven gables.

The skeleton looks cute though :).Havent seen much of genuine halloween celebration o'er here except for some in pubs/clubs where they have halloween as the theme for the night..just another occassion to get drunk :)

My eeriest experience was when I met someone who was supposedly possessed by the spirit of her mom..was scary with the lady speaking in her mom's voice,dialect and body language..But now I realize its more of a psychological problem than spirit getting hold of her...:)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth I would have jumped back into my car and took off too... that must have been a jolt when you heard that voice...

do you suppose certain people get a kick out of freaking people out on Seven Gables Road?

What a great post and I loved discovering the origin of your "Tree".. It always looked almost surreal to me but there it is exact as it appears in its environment.. I really liked seeing it's context!!

Now I have to check out your links.. thanks!!

Anet said...

Ooooo! that's spooky indeed.
Autumn bought me the book Weird Michigan last year for my birthday. I remember this story!
That is so strange your tree is right next to the street sign.
I double dog dare you to go to the property at night with a flash light and explore, you can even take Don with you! Hehehehe! (just kidding, don't do it!)
All small towns have their spooky tales, I lived in Reed City for a short time, someone was murdered in the basement of the hardware store and the murderer was never found. In my husband home town, Morrice, MI there's a ghost of a little girl in the old candy store downtown!

carl h. sr. said...

What an artist and storyteller you are Ruth!
The witch pumpkin is my favorite.

Loring Wirbel said...

Now I'm a-scared. Glad we only have bears and evangelicals around here, all the ghosts seem to frequent Manitou Springs.

Ruth said...

Nautankey, I was saying to my husband this morning that I wondered how many countries celebrate Halloween now. It's fun to dress up in costumes, so maybe that's an excuse too, not just getting drunk. :)

Your story reminds me of "The Exorcist" - yikes!

Oh the cute skeleton was on someone's front porch in the neighborhood where I work. I think the second pic of it makes it look like a gingerbread man cookie.

Ruth said...

Hey Gwen, I wondered about that too, are there people hanging around that property with nothing better to do than scare old ladies like me. It was sooo freaky, and I am prone to being afraid anyway, although I recently have gotten over it, thank goodness. But I grew up being afraid of being alone in the dark.

Yes, "my tree" has changed a little in almost 3 years when I compare the two images. But it's definitely still recognizably crooked and happens to be just recently bare again now. I took the profile pic Feb. 26, 2006.

Ruth said...

Anet, as I said to Gwen, I have recently overcome much of the fears I had my whole life. But I wonder if I could meet your challenge! Wow, that would be sooo freaky. The thing I felt in this case, with this road and property, was that it felt scary in an evil way. And I don't really even believe in that! No doubt it was psychological, as Nautankey said about his story.

What you say about Reed City and Morrice makes me think maybe we humans need this kind of legend to give ourselves depth and meaning - and give teenagers something to enterain themselves!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Carl! I can't take artistic credit for the witch or the "BOO!" They were both in a template book for carving jack-o-lanterns! But I wish I could show you some I did over the years, usually whatever the kids collected, like Carebears and Rainbow Brite characters.

Ruth said...

Loring, how funny. Yes indeed.

Strangely, growing up I was not afraid of the real dangers around (like murderers, wild animals, etc.). I was afraid of the unseen spooks.

Sandy said...

Wow, so interesting to read you today and love the photos. That guy on the porch swing, ha!!! And wow, I love seeing/hearing where you took the photo of the tree you use on your profile pic.

And....great banner!!!

Ruth said...

Sandy! Thank you, thank you and thank you.

Babs (Beetle) said...

Oh my! That gave me the willies ha ha! Mo said she'd have liked to be a fly on the wall when you heard the shout ha ha!

Sharon said...

What a great Halloween post........especially that your tree lives right there!

Ruth said...

Hi, Babs! Mo woulda seen me act like a fool, hehe.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sharon, thank you!

Don said...

Latest third grade jokes, told to me in the library, by miss scarlet, with the lead pipe:

Why was the skeleton afraid to cross the road?

He didn't have the guts.


Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?

No, they eat the fingers separately...


What did one ghost say to the other ghost?

"Do you believe in people?"

Ginnie said...

LOL at Don! HAHAHAHAHA! I love it.

Oh my, Ruth. I had no idea you were in such a place as that! I laughed at first, thinking of you making dust fly with your car. Then I got creeped out! YES, I believe in ghosts!!! :|

Ruth said...

Don, hahahahaha.

Can I be in your class?

Ruth said...

Ha, Boots, you made me laugh, picturing you laughing, then getting a freaked out look on your face - hahahahaha! :D

"I see dead people . . . " oooooooooooo!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth, tell Don to tell his class.. that I loved their jokes!!! so cute!!!

Peter said...

So happy I found this other blog of yours! The only problem is that there is so much to see - I spent a lot of time and visited all the family sites (what a family!), listened to your son playing the guitar (bravo!), even voted (for Obama) together with 87% of foreigners... No problem, I will be back!

Ruth said...

I told him to tell them, Gwen. :)

Ruth said...

You go, Peter!! I think you deserve a special award, like honorary member of the family! (Only if that would be an honor, though. It would for us.)

Yay on Obama, and yay about my son (I agree, he's the best guitarist around).

Yay, Peter!

Bob Johnson said...

Ruth what an awesome post!! love the stories and the images, your tree image wow, very spooky, the one pic with the dead tree and the clouds I initially thought the clouds were the Moon, almost died from excitement,lol, don't you think the clouds look like a big half Moon? awesome pic regardless.

Ruth said...

It does! I didn't notice it, Bob. But then I'm not quite the moon worshipper you are. But it does look like a mondo harvest moon. Cool.

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

Hee Ruth,
Found you! Yeeeh! I was wonderingwhere 'elsewhere" was so I clicked and there it was, I was wondering who would post something about Haloween... Here in Holland we won't celebrate this but an USA neighbour came home with a tunck filled with "that orange fruit" (punpkins?) So I asked her, "if whe was celebrating Haloween" Yes yes she answered. I still don't really know the meaning but I love the "spooky" stuffs haha Happy Haloween!

Do You wanna see more of my Travel SKY-impressions of Portugal? I posted more nice overlooks, please come and visit my blog.

Greetings JoAnn's eyes/Holland
Happy weekend!

Peter said...

Honorary member of your family! That's a real honor! Thanks! Nice Halloween and nice weekend!

Ruth said...

Hi, JoAnn! I'm glad you found me here, from flying. Oh dear, Halloween has strange roots in paganism and Christianity's reaction to it. Here is the wiki site for it. Maybe you can read in Dutch there too. In my own history here in the U.S., we have our children dress up in costumes as witches, ghosts and skeletons (or princesses and pirates too, anything really) and go door to door begging for candy, threatening a bad trick if candy isn't given. Strange, huh?

Ruth said...

So shall I call you "Uncle Peter" from now on? You are retired after all. :)

photowannabe said...

I'm not sure if my comment went through or not. If it did, I won't repeat myself, if not for now I'll just say hi.

photowannabe said...

Thanks for getting back to me on the post Ruth. I think I have gotten everything straightened out now.
Now I am back to looking at your post again. Sometimes the computer and I just don't see eye to eye.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog thru your husbands by searching for chicken info & lo & behold we appear to be neighbors. We moved to our farm in Dansville in 2006 from Metro Detroit. We have also been restoring old barns & I got my first chickens this spring. I never even heard of Dansville untill 2003. I enjoy both of your blogs very much & just wanted to say Hi.

Ruth said...

Hi Sue, I'm glad you got that figured out! Computers can be stubbornly confusing. So glad you came by.

Ruth said...

Hi Barb! Wow, that's quite amazing!

You're restoring barns? Oh man. Don and our nephew started working on ours this year, so much to be done to a 100-year-old barn. It's expensive too.

And chickens! We have such a blast with ours and are enjoying their eggs. I hope you're enjoying yours too. I'm glad you introduced yourself!

Moi said...

awlright you managed to sacre moi!!!!! and i dont want you doing any "seven gables project" (like blair witch project)...., please.

Ruth said...

Haha, Moi! Great idea, but no, I couldn't handle it either!

Anonymous said...








eda said...



Nina Kroupa said...

I was just there last night with my friends and nothing happened at all it was silent. For me it wasn't so bad but, however, I was a bit freaked out but, I could feel there was something there. It was a little odd.