Thursday, October 24, 2013

The legend of the Ada Witch

Sorry I haven't been posting regularly for the past week or so. I've been a bit under the weather, but I'm starting to feel better, so I'm back with the first in a series of articles about "creepy Michigan things"---legends, crimes, paranormal activities, etc. It's my homage to Halloween---just a week away!

As far as I'm concerned, the main reason Halloween exists
 is to make dogs dress up in costumes.

I used to live in Grand Rapids, and everyone there knows the story of the Ada Witch. (Ada is a township located a few miles east of GR.) The short version is this: During the 1800s, a young married woman was having an affair, and met up with her honey at a woods near what is now Findlay Cemetery, on 2 Mile Road. The woman's husband found out about the tryst, and caught the couple in the act. Furious, he killed his wife, then turned his attention to her lover. The two men struggled, but were evenly matched, and eventually both died from injuries they sustained during the fight.

Now, according to legend, during the full moon, the woman's ghost haunts Findlay Cemetery and areas surrounding it, including the nearby woods, Seidman Park, and Honey Creek Avenue. She's described as being either a beautiful girl dressed in white, or a disfigured woman bearing the injuries inflicted by her husband. Visitors to the cemetery also claim to have seen eerie mists and orbs, as well as heard the sounds of fighting---presumably the battle between the cuckolded husband and his wife's lover. Other creepy occurrences have been reported---the sounds of footsteps, weeping, and screams, as well as the feeling of being tapped on the shoulder.

Drawing of the "Ada Witch"

Nowhere in the legend does it say that the woman was, in fact, a witch, so I'm not sure how her nickname developed. Likewise, historical records don't provide any information regarding an incident in which three people died in the woods near Ada in the 19th century, so, to my mind, the story is highly suspect. Findlay Cemetery does contain a gravestone where people leave trinkets, presuming it to be the final resting place of the "Ada Witch." That gravestone belongs to Sarah McMillan, a young woman who died in 1870. However, McMillan died of typhoid, not from a midnight struggle with her husband, so she is definitely not the witchy woman of legend.

I love hearing and reading about paranormal activity, but I'm also a bit of a skeptic, so, for me, the Ada Witch is nothing more than a legend that has made visits to Findlay Cemetery a bit more exciting for those who want to believe. That said, there's no way you'd find me in Findlay Cemetery at night during a full moon. Or at night any other time of the month, for that matter. A dog wearing a Halloween costume is spooky enough for me.

For more information:

Several websites about the Ada Witch exist. Just do a Google search for "Ada Witch," and you'll find information about the legend, as well as stories and photos from people who claim to have seen her ghost.

Check out the book "Haunted Houses of Grand Rapids," by Gary Eberle, which contains a chapter on the Ada Witch. The book is twenty years old, but has a lot of interesting stories about supposed haunted places in Grand Rapids and surrounding areas. I own this book, but haven't read it in a while, so I might have to break it out for another "creepy read" before Halloween.

"Ghosts of Grand Rapids" by Nicole Bray, Robert DuShane, and Julie Rathsack is another book that contains information about the Ada Witch. It was published just this past summer, and though I don't own it, I'm looking forward to reading it.

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