Thursday, June 10, 2021

An Ancient Curse, a Mythical Battle, Native American Burial Grounds, and Bodies Left Behind- Haunted Flint

Many people have theories about why a place may be haunted.

The number one reason- someone died there. Others believe the death has to be sudden or traumatic to leave an imprint.

Some think that sometimes spirits simply don’t want to leave or that they get confused and can’t find their way through the veil.

In Haunted Flint we look to history to explain some of the haunting tales that swirl around local landmarks.

Did someone die in the building? Did they love their home so much they simply didn’t want to move on to the afterlife?

Curses and disturbed spirits are popular tropes for horror movies and ghost stories. Perhaps there is a reason those tropes are so popular, because disrespecting the dead can lead to disaster.

Flint is a relatively small city, but it is filled with ghostly tales, grisly murders, and odd urban legends.

The old built over a cemetery horror movie trope... in Flint it’s more than a story.

The Old Flint City Cemetery was moved in the 1950s. Around 1200 remains were re-interred at the Flint City Cemetery on Linden and Pasadena.

In 1958 the remaining residents of Old City Cemetery were reburied in Avondale along with 122 grave markers. Or were they?

Avondale by Ari Napolitano

In 1985 the remains of more than 24 bodies were found in the basement of the Holiday Inn Express at 1150 Longway Boulevard and I-475. They were eventually reburied at the Flint City Cemetery.

Holiday Inn Express by Joe Schipani

Rumors swirl that Albert J Koerts, who purchased the old cemetery property, just moved the grave markers to Avondale which means the remains of some of Flint's earliest residents may still be lost under Flint buildings and parking lots. Unfortunately Koerts is long dead and took that secret to his grave.

Those remains found under the hotel? Do they belong to grave markers in Avondale or do they belong in the Flint City Cemetery? 

Are spirits upset that their final resting place was disturbed? Do they care if their burial grounds are not properly labeled?

There's another common horror movie trope that occurred in real life right here in Flint...the old built over a Native American burial ground story.

Native remains and artifacts have been found in many locations throughout Flint.

There is a legend involving a Native American curse and a mythic battle between tribes. For years historians thought the battle was pure myth but discoveries of bones and artifacts in recent years has lead archaeologists to believe there might be truth to those old tales after all.

Those tales tell us that long ago these lands were inhabited by the Sauks.

The Chippewa coveted the Sauk hunting grounds. For many years they played with the idea of conquering the Sauk and taking their land. But the Chippewa dreaded the power and prowess of their enemies. Their ambition was kept in check until they could no longer control their desires. They joined forces with the Ottawa and devised a plan to attack from multiple angles under the cover of darkness.

It was a massacre. Very few Sauk survived. Those who did survive and escape are said to have placed a curse upon the land that was stolen from them.

For years the Chippewa and Ottawa did not live on the land but used it as joint hunting grounds. Many men never made it home. The hunters who did return were filled with frightening tales of being terrorized by the spirits of the murdered Sauks. They truly believed the land was cursed.

But eventually old fears were forgotten and settlements built. 

The tale of the battle and curse became a whispered legend. No one took it seriously.

In 1945, Native remains of at least nine individuals were removed from the Scoto Mounds in Genesee County.  The human remains were excavated from the mounds by the Genesee County Historical Society. In 1966 the collection of the Genesee County Historical Society was transferred to the newly opened Sloan Museum. In August 2019 The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe took possession of the remains and on August 22 held a Recommitment to the Earth ceremony followed by a Journey Feast to satisfy ancestral protocols.

In June 1962, more Native remains were uncovered by a road crew at M-15 and Bristol Road in Flint. In 2009, the remains of an adult and child, thought to be the same ones found in 1962, were found in storage at Mott Community College. MCC turned them over to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, who gave them a proper burial.

In 2008, skeletal remains found near Atwood Stadium at Stone Street and Third Avenue were determined to be Native American. Further excavation by archaeological teams determined that the remains were most likely Sauk from that bloody battle. In 2010, the remains of sixty-seven American Indian ancestors were laid to rest in a reburial at the same site. This site is now a registered archaeological zone. 

In June 2019 during the replacement of Flint’s water lines, construction crews were ordered to have an archaeologist on hand during any excavations in the area of the site. Upon investigation during the replacement of the lines it was discovered that 29 addresses within the zone were excavated without an archaeologist's supervision. The Archaeological Zone includes an area of the city bordered by Flushing Road and 5th Avenue to the north, Court Street to the south, Saginaw Street to the east, and DuPont Street to the west.

I'm curious...if any of the Native American remains found are actually Sauk and not Chippewa, how do the spirits of the murdered Sauk feel about being "properly buried" by the descendants of the tribe that slaughtered them? Do you think this will lead to more strange things in Flint?

Do you think the disrespect of the dead is one reason we have so many stories of hauntings in Flint? Do you think the curse is to blame for Flint's problems?

Haunted Flint 
Haunted America Series
by Roxanne Rhoads  and Joe Schipani 

Release Date: September 2, 2019

Publisher: The History Press

About the Book:

Home to ancient burial grounds, unsolved murders, economic depression and a water crisis, Flint emits an unholy energy rife with ghostly encounters. 

Colonel Thomas Stockton's ever-vigilant ghost keeps a watchful eye over his family home at Spring Grove, where guests occasionally hear the thump of his heavy boots. 

Restless spirits long separated from their graves lurk among the ancient stones at Avondale Cemetery. Carriage maker W.A. Paterson's spirit continuously wanders the halls of the Dryden Building, and something sinister and unnamed resides in a Knob Hill mansion waiting to prey on impressionable young men. 

Join authors Roxanne Rhoads and Joe Schipani on a chilling tour of Flint's most haunted locations.

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