The Weird Dark Secret of Ann Arbor’s Dixboro Ghost
The female ghost who walks these grounds - holding a candle and wearing a long gown - could well be the most famous, or creepiest, ghost in the Ann Arbor area. This is a bizarre, TRUE tale.....
According to dixboro.com, in 1835, a widowed mother from Canada, Martha Crawford, came to Michigan with her son to visit her sister, Ann. During the visit, Martha acquired a huge crush on Ann's brother-in-law, John...so much so, that the two almost immediately – and haphazardly - began planning to marry.
But there was a dark secret about John that prompted Ann to reveal the information to Martha. Upon hearing this unnerving information, Martha broke off the engagement...however, Ann's husband James warned her “if you DON'T marry John, you'll never make it back home alive!” Out of fear for her & her son's life, Martha wound up marrying John after all...and soon afterward, Ann passed away. Did John find out that Ann told Martha his dark secret and do away with her? READ ON.
Much to Martha's relief, John himself passed away in 1840 and a few months afterward, Martha began getting the same symptoms her sister Ann had before she died. Ann's husband James and Martha soon were squabbling over the rights to John's property & will. With the stress of all this legal hassle, Martha's health & mind were deteriorating quickly...which James took advantage of and got her declared incompetent.
Martha visited a doctor at the University of Michigan in 1845 in an attempt to end it all. She begged the doctor to bleed her to death and in exchange, she would reveal the secret about her late husband. She proceeded to tell the dark secret but the doctor lied afterward, saying he couldn't bleed her because of faulty lancets. Becoming hysterical, Martha began screaming “they're going to kill me!” and indeed, she did pass away not long afterward. Cause of death unknown, but officially noted as “ill-health.”
Later in 1845, the Issac Van Woert family moved into the house where Martha died and just days afterward began witnessing paranormal activity. Issac was quoted in the Ann Arbor press, "I put my hand on the window sill and looked in. I saw a woman with a candlestick in her hand in which was a candle burning. She held it in her left hand.....she wore a loose gown, had a white cloth around her head, her right hand clasped in her clothes near the waist. She was bent forward, her eyes large and much sunken, very pale indeed....she moved slowly across the floor until she entered the bedroom and the door closed. I then went up and opened the bedroom door and all was dark. I stepped forward and lighted a candle but saw no one, nor heard any noise, except just before I opened the bedroom door I thought I heard one of the bureau drawers open and shut.”
He claimed to have seen this spirit around ten-twelve times; each time, Issac claimed she spoke to him. Among the things he claimed she spoke were:
"He robbed me little by little, until they kilt me! They kilt me! Now he has got it all!"
"Oh, he did a awful thing to me."
"The time is coming. But, oh, their end! Their end! Their wicked end!"
After the last time she appeared, Issac & his family moved out.
Thanks to Issac's statements, the area residents demanded that Martha's body be dug up and examined. It was, and sure enough, it was discovered she had been poisoned to death. James had disappeared for good and was never seen in the area again. Did her own brother-in-law poison her? Probably, even though there was no concrete evidence.
After many more statements from Issac about more ghostly occurrences, newspapers from Ann Arbor to Detroit were reporting on the haunted house. Thanks to all the publicity, the house burned down sometime between 1860-1870, possibly by vandals/arsonists.
Okay...SO WHAT WAS THIS DARK SECRET ABOUT MARTHA'S HUSBAND? It was never revealed but locals think they figured it out.
On the site where the house stood, there was also a tavern with a well. One night, a peddler stopped to stay for the night but was missing by morning...all his goods, wagon and horse were still there but he was never found. It's believed that he was murdered and dumped in the well, which was filled in not long afterward by either John, James or both...they were suspected to be the ones who eliminated the peddler but there was never proof.
And if you listen carefully, on a chilly fall night, you can hear the sound of the peddler's bell...coming from nowhere.
Read much, much more detail about this at dixboro.com.
So where are these places?
The site of the house & tavern is right on the SW corner of Plymouth Rd and Cherry Hill Rd. Across the street to the east is the general store.
Pay 'em a visit and ask about the Dixboro Ghost.
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