Posted tagged ‘Bishop Baraga’

The Introduction to “Haunted Marquette”

December 5, 2017

In case you’re not yet intrigued enough by my new book Haunted Marquette, here’s the introduction to the book:

Introduction: The Ghosts of Marquette

Let me begin by stating that I have never seen a ghost. I cannot personally say for sure whether they exist or not. I do, however, know several people whom I believe to be reliable and honest who claim to have seen one. And for this book, I interviewed many people who struck me as both completely sincere and having a hard time grappling with the possibility that they had seen a ghost.

“Haunted Marquette” highlights more than forty places in Marquette that may be haunted.

My interest in the supernatural has always been strong ever since I was a young boy fascinated with Dracula. For my doctoral dissertation, I wrote about nineteenth century Gothic novels, exploring how we use the supernatural as a metaphor for our real world difficulties and concerns. But there is more than metaphor to the supernatural. There are many things we simply cannot explain. As humans, we remain both the most intelligent species on this planet and largely clueless about the universe’s many mysteries.

I do not intend this book to provide any answers as to whether or not ghosts exist. It is a question that is impossible for me to answer and remains open to debate. I will simply provide the evidence of those I interviewed, and I will relate the stories I have gathered from other people—in many cases, stories that have been passed down in Marquette’s history and cannot always be verified, although I have tried my best to document sources and suggest what the truth behind a story might be. Some of the stories have clearly been made up for reasons I cannot fathom other than to shock, entertain, or possibly trick the gullible. Others I believe are very likely true.

As someone deeply in love with Marquette and its history, I have often wondered what it must have been like to have lived during Marquette’s early years. What I wouldn’t do to be able to spend just one day walking around Marquette, perhaps circa 1865, so I could talk to Peter White, Chief Kawbawgam, Bishop Baraga, Amos Harlow, and some of my own ancestors—what I wouldn’t give to know these people personally and to see what Marquette was like then.

We have not yet perfected the ability to time travel, but wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could do the next best thing and communicate with those who came before us? The concept of ghosts suggests that some of the dead may also wish to communicate with us. It opens up a whole new realm of possibility for what we might term Marquette’s history. What might we learn if the ghosts of Marquette’s past could tell us what that past was like?

The same is true of any place, for ghosts are found all over the planet. Therefore, I do not think there is anything particularly special about the ghost stories I have compiled about Marquette compared to stories from other cities. I will admit, however, that I never expected to find enough stories to write a whole book on the subject. And I do think Marquette’s history itself is remarkable, so while it may not explain why so many ghosts apparently choose to remain here, a little summary of Marquette’s history may help us better understand whom its ghosts are.

Long before Europeans came to what would become known as Iron Bay and the city of Marquette, the Ojibwa had settled this land. They had their own legends, religion, and beliefs that included various supernatural spirits. While some of these stories were recorded, notably at the end of the nineteenth century by Marquette resident Homer Kidder, who interviewed Chief Charles Kawbawgam, his wife Charlotte, and his brother-in-law, Jacques LePete, for what would later be published as the book Ojibwa Narratives, they do not specifically qualify as what we would term ghost stories today. Native Americans believed in human spirits that could remain behind after a person’s death, but none of these stories associated with the Marquette area appear to have come down to us.

All the stories I have traced surround people of European descent who began settling in the area predominantly in the 1840s and after. In 1844, iron ore was discovered west of Marquette in what is today the city of Negaunee. A port on Lake Superior was needed so that the iron ore could be shipped to cities like Buffalo and Cleveland where it could be turned into steel; as a result, Marquette began in 1849 as a harbor town from which to ship the ore. Amos Harlow, the town founder, came from Worcester, Massachusetts, to establish the town as an agent for the Marquette Iron Company. Originally, he named the city Worcester after his hometown, but the tradition that Father Jacques Marquette, the seventeenth century Jesuit missionary, had visited the area was already strong among ship captains, and so, eventually, Marquette became the city’s permanent name.

Over the succeeding decades, the small harbor town grew until by the late nineteenth century, it became known as the Queen City of the North. That growth continued at a much slower rate throughout the twentieth century. Today, Marquette is a small but bustling city of just over twenty-thousand people, the largest city in Upper Michigan, and one known nationally as one of the most desirable cities to live in and a popular biking and winter sports destination.

Despite Marquette’s prosperity, however, life here has not always been easy. People have died in cave-ins in the nearby mines; they have died in logging accidents in the nearby woods; they have drowned in Lake Superior or been lost in shipwrecks. They have worked hard to tear the iron from the ground, to survive through brutal winters, and to feed themselves during difficult economic times. And like anywhere else, they have loved and married and had children, and they have fought and argued with one another, been greedy, lied, cheated, committed adultery, and even occasionally committed murder. Any degree of tragedy, passion, anger, or accident could cause a ghost to linger and haunt a place or other people because of unfinished business or a guilty conscience over past misdeeds. Therefore, it is not surprising that Marquette, like every other place where humans have settled, has its fair share of ghosts.

Some people have theorized that Upper Michigan has a large number of ghosts compared to other areas because of some special energy source in the land, perhaps resulting from the rich mineral deposits of iron, copper, gold, and silver. Others believe that ghosts have an affinity for water, so the Great Lakes have caused a larger number of ghosts to manifest here than in most other regions. I have to dismiss both of these ideas because, although I was surprised by how many ghost stories I found in Marquette, I am sure the number of ghosts in larger cities like San Francisco and New York far surpasses the number in Marquette. Furthermore, ghost stories appear to exist in every culture and in every country in the world. I don’t think Marquette is somehow special because of the number of its ghosts.

But I do think Marquette’s ghosts are special. They are another link for us to our past, and each of them has a story to tell, just like each person does, and each of those stories matters. Perhaps some of these ghosts do not rest because they are still waiting for someone to tell their stories, to witness that they, too, lived significant lives. Perhaps we can give them some comfort and help them rest by hearing their stories, trying to get at the truth of those stories, or just witnessing that yes, they do exist, and they are as real as we are.

At the beginning of this book I quote the great eighteenth century British author Dr. Samuel Johnson. Another great British author, Thomas Carlyle, wrote in the nineteenth century of Dr. Johnson:

Again, could any thing be more miraculous than an actual authentic Ghost? The English Johnson longed, all his life, to see one; but could not, though he went to Cock Lane, and thence to the church-vaults, and tapped on coffins. Foolish Doctor! Did he never, with the mind’s eye as well as with the body’s, look round him into that full tide of human Life he so loved; did he never so much as look into Himself? The good Doctor was a Ghost, as actual and authentic as heart could wish; well nigh a million of Ghosts were travelling the streets by his side. Once more I say, sweep away the illusion of Time; compress the three-score years into three minutes: what else was he, what else are we? Are we not Spirits, shaped into a body, into an Appearance; and that fade away again into air, and Invisibility? This is no metaphor, it is a simple scientific fact.

Carlyle wrote this passage in his famous book Sartor Resartus in a chapter titled “Natural Supernaturalism.” According to Carlyle, the supernatural is natural, and we ourselves are ghosts just like those who may appear to us—we are just ghosts in fleshly form while they are fleshless. By this definition, I believe we can see ghosts as our human brothers and sisters, our ancestors, too, so perhaps it is time that rather than fear them, we embrace them. They are no more “the other” than people of another race or culture. We are all human—even if we are not all still in human form.

In these pages, we will get to know our ghostly brothers and sisters. We will meet some spirits who were the victims of tragic and sudden deaths. We will meet people who have had surprising paranormal experiences they never expected, and we will also meet paranormal investigators and mediums who purposely search for ghosts or have had ghosts choose to contact them. Hopefully, all these stories will help us individually make up our minds about ghosts and broaden our understanding of them.

I ask my readers to peruse these pages with open minds. Ultimately, I did not write this book to scare anyone—if I wanted to do that, I would have written a horror novel. Admittedly, some of the stories are a bit scary. Others are very entertaining, and still others contain many unanswered questions. I hope my readers will read them with the intent to understand our existence a little better, perhaps to come to new spiritual understandings of the afterlife, and, ultimately, to admit to the wonder that is the mystery of life—a mystery we all share in, even as we have yet to solve it.

Haunted Marquette is available at www.MarquetteFiction.com.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is a seventh generation resident of Marquette, Michigan. He is the author of Haunted Marquette, My Marquette, The Marquette Trilogy, and numerous other novels and nonfiction books. You can visit Tyler at www.MarquetteFiction.com

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Visiting Sault Sainte Marie

July 4, 2017

Few cities are more closely connected to Marquette’s history than Sault Sainte Marie. Just as Negaunee and Ishpeming play a key role in Marquette’s history because they are the source of the iron ore shipped out of Marquette’s harbor, so the Sault is where the ore has to pass through the locks to reach its destination in the major cities on the lower Great Lakes. As a result, in 1855, the Sault locks began construction under the guidance of Charles Harvey, who would also found Marquette’s neighboring city, Harvey, Michigan.

Sault Sainte Marie’s history is long and fascinating. Marquette is not even half as old since it was founded in 1849, while the Sault dates to 1688 when Father Jacques Marquette established a mission there, making it the first permanent European settlement in Michigan. The Sault remained a significant gathering place for the Chippewa (Ojibwa) whom Father Marquette came to convert to Christianity throughout the eighteenth century, but its real history begins in the nineteenth.

I recently visited Sault Sainte Marie for a book fair at Island Books and Crafts where I got to spend time with ten of my fellow Michigan authors. I also used this trip as an opportunity to see the sites and do some research for an upcoming book I plan to write.

China from Ireland owned by the Johnstons.

One of the places I visited were the historic homes on the waterfront. The first of these homes belonged to John Johnston, an Irishman who settled in the Sault in 1796 as a fur trader. Johnston married Oshahguscodaywayquay, the daughter of a local Chippewa chief. She took the English name Susan and went to live in Johnston’s home but all her life she retained her Native clothing and she would only speak her native tongue, although she understood French and English. She and Johnston would raise a family of four sons and four daughters.

Johnston, being British, sided with the British in the War of 1812, leading a group of men from the Sault to Mackinac Island to aid the British. In retaliation, the Americans went to the Sault and burned down his home as well as the Northwest Fur Company offices. After the war, Johnston tried to receive compensation, but since the Sault became American territory and he had fought against them, he never received compensation. Not surprisingly, he also never applied for American citizenship.

Dining room of the Johnston home.

The Chippewa were not pleased by the Americans moving into the Sault and were planning to attack General Cass who was sent to Fort Brady to claim it for the Americans. He took down the last British flag to fly on American soil there. Fortunately, Susan Johnston was wiser than the Chippewa men and she persuaded them not to attack the Americans, thus saving many lives on both sides. Cass, who would later become Governor of Michigan, always afterwards said he owed her his life.

Spinning wheel in the Johnston home.

The Johnston’s daughter, Jane, was highly educated and made trips to Europe with her father. When Henry Schoolcraft came to the Sault as the Indian agent, he became familiar with the Johnston family and eventually married Jane. Schoolcraft had a job to do in treating with the Chippewa, but Susan Johnston took him under her wing, making him sympathetic and interested in the Chippewa and their culture. Schoolcraft would eventually write down many of the stories he heard from his wife Jane about the legends of Hiawatha, a book that would influence Longfellow’s famous poem of the same name.

Henry Schoolcraft’s Office

Of course, Bishop Baraga also resided in the Sault and would have known the Johnstons and Schoolcrafts. Baraga had come to Upper Michigan as a missionary to the Native Americans from his native Slovenia. He became known as the snowshoe priest because he would travel across the Upper Peninsula and even into Wisconsin and Minnesota by snowshoe to preach the gospel. After many years of missionary work, he was appointed the first Bishop of the Marquette diocese. The diocese’s see was Sault Sainte Marie, and there a house was built for Baraga which he called his palace since he had long slept in rude little huts or lived with fellow priests, but now he had his own house. He resided there for only two years, 1864-1866, before it was decided to move the see to Marquette as a more central location for the diocese. Baraga would die in Marquette in 1868 and be buried there in St. Peter’s Cathedral.

The Bishop Baraga Home as viewed from the Tower of History.

Overall, Sault Sainte Marie is full of history. There are many other museums to visit including the Valley Ship Museum, the Tower of History, the River History Museum, the Chippewa Historical Society, and the campus of Lake Superior State University, built where once Fort Brady stood.

I’m sure I’ll be making many more trips to this place where three Great Lakes meet and history is very much part of the present.

St. Mary’s Church as viewed from the Tower of History. This church is on the same property where the proto-cathedral stood – the first cathedral of the Diocese of Marquette before the see was moved to Marquette and St. Peter’s Cathedral there.

View of the Saint Mary’s River taken from the Tower of History

Interior of the Baraga Home

Interior of the Baraga Home

Ten-Year Anniversary Edition Released of Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

April 21, 2016

Marquette, MI, April 20, 2016—In 2006, local author Tyler R. Tichelaar published his first novel, Iron Pioneers, which was soon followed by two sequels, The Queen City and Superior Heritage to complete The Marquette Trilogy. Now Tichelaar is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this first novel by reprinting it with a new color cover, an interior historic map of Marquette, and a new preface “Creating a Literature for Upper Michigan.”

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

“It felt like the ten-year anniversary of my first book was a reason to celebrate,” said Tichelaar. “And Iron Pioneers remains my bestselling book to this day, but I was never happy with the brown cover, which was chosen by my publisher at the time. I initially envisioned a gold cover, so I’ve chosen that, which seemed appropriate for an anniversary edition.”

Tichelaar first had the idea to write novels set in Marquette back in 1987 when he began writing his first book, eventually published in 2009 as The Only Thing That Lasts. But it was in 1999, when he was living in Kalamazoo, earning his Ph.D. in Literature, and homesick for the U.P., that he had the idea to write a novel that covered the scope of Marquette’s history. “It was Marquette’s sesquicentennial year,” he said, “and I felt it was time to tell Marquette’s story in a new way that highlighted its significant role in American history.” Tichelaar planned to write one novel, but the more research he did, the larger it grew, until it eventually became a trilogy. “It was seven years from conception to publication,” said Tichelaar, “but nearly 600,000 words and countless drafts later, I found it all worth it when people began reading The Marquette Trilogy.”

The plot of Iron Pioneers begins with a prologue about Father Marquette coming to the Marquette area. It then moves ahead to 1849 when Marquette was founded. It follows several fictional families through the early pioneer years, the Civil War, the fire of 1868, and the growth of Marquette. Numerous historical people, including Bishop Baraga and Peter White, are featured in the story. The story concludes in 1897 with the celebrations surrounding the Father Marquette statue’s unveiling. The successive books in the trilogy continue the story of Marquette’s history up to the sesquicentennial celebrations in 1999. “I wanted readers to feel they were stepping back in time to meet Marquette’s pioneers and to come away appreciating the sacrifices they made and the courage they showed when the settled here,” said Tichelaar.

Tichelaar has been very pleased with his readers’ responses to Iron Pioneers and his other books. “People tell me that they look at Marquette differently after they read my books. They notice old buildings, wonder about the people who once lived or worked there, and want to learn more about them. Tichelaar also noted that when he began writing Iron Pioneers, there was a lack of adult fiction set in Upper Michigan. Since then, the number of U.P. writers has exploded. “Today we can be proud that we have a vibrant and diverse U.P. literature,” said Tichelaar. “We have novels, history books, and poetry. I know of over one hundred U.P. writers all doing their part to capture the essence of our life here. I am proud to be one of the pioneers of that movement, and I intend to write many more books for the people who love this place and call it home.”

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (ISBN 9780979179006, Marquette Fiction, 2016) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.MarquetteFiction.com. Review copies available upon request.

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Happy Birthday, Bishop Frederic Baraga

June 28, 2010

I can think of no better way to kick off my new blog than by celebrating Bishop Frederic Baraga’s birthday on June 29th.

Frederic Baraga was an integral figure in early Marquette and the Great Lakes region in general. Below is the passage in my upcoming book My Marquette, which includes a passage where Bishop Baraga is described in my novel Iron Pioneers.

            Bishop Baraga had been born in 1797 to a wealthy family in Slovenia, part of the Austrian empire. When Baraga entered the priesthood, he could have received a comfortable livelihood for the remainder of his days. Instead, at the age of thirty-three, he followed the Lord’s call to go to America. After four months in Cincinnati where he worked as a missionary and learned English, he traveled to Arbre Croche in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to serve the Ottawa Indians. Lower Michigan had many missionaries, so Baraga soon felt called to spread the Word of God to the Chippewa of the Upper Peninsula. In 1837, he traveled to La Pointe, the first missionary to visit there since Father Marquette nearly two centuries before. Then he traveled on in 1843 to Keweenaw Bay to found another mission in L’Anse. After that, he never failed as a true missionary, constantly moving from one community to another; he preached and established congregations throughout the peninsula, often helping to build birchbark churches with his own hands; he converted the locals and said masses for them, then moved on to find new converts, but always he returned to help each congregation grow in its faith. When he made a trip to Europe, he found himself a celebrity; he held audiences with the pope, dined with royalty, and became the most talked about man on the continent, but his visit and all the attention it gave him only made him homesick for the natives of Michigan who needed him. He loved the Chippewa so much, he learned their language and wrote their first dictionary and a large collection of religious and moral instructions for them. After years of self-sacrificing dedication, he humbly accepted the title of Bishop in 1853 in Sault Sainte Marie. The title did not alter his determination; he continued to preach, to walk or snowshoe through all types of weather from one parish to the next, to spread God’s love to His people, now both the Chippewa and the white settlers who had arrived because of the iron ore. Upper Michigan’s fierce weather had worn his face until he came to resemble the natives; some said this change was a mark of his saintliness. Now this great man had decided to honor Marquette, centrally located and named for Baraga’s missionary predecessor, by building his cathedral there. — Iron Pioneers

 Bishop Frederic Baraga visited Marquette many times following the city’s founding in 1849. Then in 1864, with his laying of the cornerstone in Marquette for St. Peter’s Cathedral, the center of the new Upper Michigan Diocese was transferred from Sault Sainte Marie to Marquette as a more central location. Bishop Baraga soon after moved to Marquette and settled in this brick home just a couple of blocks south from the new cathedral, where he would live until his death in 1868.

Bishop Baraga Home - Marquette

One can imagine Bishop Baraga standing in the house’s little tower, looking out over the lake in winter or watching the residents bustle about the streets of Marquette. One wonders whether he ever felt like Moses seeing the Promised Land—marveling at how the Upper Peninsula had changed in the more than thirty years since he first arrived there, long before iron ore and copper led to the influx of settlers, and whether he felt satisfaction in all the good he had done for so many for so long.

Bishop Baraga Home Historic Marker

Today, Bishop Baraga’s home is the headquarters of the Bishop Baraga Association which has several thousand members worldwide. The association’s main purpose is to further the cause for the canonization of Bishop Baraga, an effort that has been in progress since the 1950s and which my cousin, Monsignor Joseph Zryd, played a major role in promoting as president of the association in 1955 when Bishop Noa set up the historical commission to begin the canonization process. Members of the diocese have fervently worked since then to achieve Bishop Baraga’s canonization based on his years of dedication to the natives and settlers of Upper Michigan as well as the miracles ascribed to him, including healings of different ailments and his intercession through prayer. The house is open by appointment for research into the association’s archives about Bishop Baraga and the Catholic Church’s presence in Upper Michigan.

For more facts about Bishop Baraga, see the Marquette Timeline at http://www.marquettefiction.com/timeline.html

Check back later this week for my posting on Marquette’s First Fourth of July celebration.