The Haunting Of Quay
By James Donahue
About 100 miles north
Highway 25 winds along the shore of Lake Huron
on its way to the tip of Michigan’s Thumb District.
Among the small towns and settlements it passes through is the small community of Richmondville.
Once an active port lumber
town and stagecoach stop, Richmondville was all but destroyed during a forest fire that swept much of the state in 1871. Today
the place is comprised of a bar, general store, a few summer homes and a row of abandoned buildings. Across the highway from
the bar stands the Quay House, a building that once served as a stage coach stop, inn and town Post Office.
Some years back I was
fortune enough to meet and interview an elderly woman who then occupied the building, by then converted to be a rambling old
home. She was a direct descendent of the man for whom the building bore its name, Captain Quay. I have since forgotten his
first name, or hers.
The woman had an interesting
ghost story to tell that not only involved the house, but the town.
It seems that the Quay
family always occupied the house, even when it was an inn. There was a young teenage daughter that fell in love with one of
the sailors that worked on a ship making regular calls at the town’s dock.
The mother apparently
did not like the thought of her fair daughter getting involved with a traveling sailor and ordered her to stop seeing the
man. When the daughter disobeyed, she found herself locked in her upstairs bedroom each time that particular ship moored at
Like all teens, the daughter
found ways to escape and continue with nightly rendezvous with her lover. In a frantic effort to break up the relationship,
the girl was moved into a bedroom that could be entered only through the master bedroom where the mother slept, and that mother
kept a watchful eye on her whereabouts the next time the ship made a stop.
The girl pleaded and
sobbed, but was prevented from reaching the arms of her love that day. The ship sailed. There was a storm, and the ship was
lost. The young sailor was never seen again.
The girl was heart broken.
She spent her days walking the shore, and standing on the dock waiting for her lover to return. One day, when the news of
the loss of the ship reached Richmondville, she waded out in the water and drowned herself.
To this day her spirit
is said to walk the beach at Richmondville. Summer vacationers report seeing the pale white image of a weeping young girl,
in a flowing white gown.
Quay House also is quite
haunted. The old woman said things have a way of falling from tables, pictures drop from the walls, and electrical appliances
sometimes turn on without anybody being in the room.
There is a contemporary
part of this story that makes it even darker than it already is. After I wrote this story for the newspaper I worked for at
the time, a group of religious fanatics from a Detroit area
church decided to come to Richmondville and conduct an exorcism. Since it involved spiritual matters, they assumed it was
“of the devil.”
The event received a
lot of publicity when the Detroit newspapers picked up the
story. The whole affair was turned into a circus, and the people of Richmondville wanted no part of it.
I doubt if that bunch
of loonies found a trace of that spirit. As far as I know, it still walks the beach along Highway 25, waiting for a ship
that will never return.