At the turn of the nineteenth century, every small town with any civic pride at all had at least one genuine honest-to-goodness haunted house and Charlevoix was no exception. It is very doubtful that a more imposing haunted house ever existed anywhere. It was three stories high, with fancy dormers and decorative metal trim around its rooflines, and from its lofty perch, overlooking the south bluff, it cast its haunting eye in every direction, and could be seen from almost any part of town.
Built-in 1882 by Mr. Adelbert R. Upright, this home was located on the northwest corner of State and Hurlbut Streets. A tragedy in the family was the cause of its being known as haunted. The kids in the neighborhood were extremely aware of the eerie spirits that emanated from the imposing structure. After dark was especially nerve-tingling. When one had to go by the place alone it was not considered cowardly to walk on the opposite side of the street. At a given point one was supposed to break into a run…probably that point which to a child was the moment of truth, the one point where the distance from the haunted house lengthened as the inner thrill decreased.
The Uprights had two children, plus a daughter of high school age, very lovely and popular with the young people of the town. One day in the early part of the summer she became ill and was confined to her bed. She remained so all during the summer and early fall. No one seemed to know the nature of her illness, which was not surprising in those days. Sickness was taken care of in the home, for Charlevoix was without a hospital at that time. About the middle of the month of October Dr. Lewis, in charge of the case, had to leave town for a few days. He left instructions for Mr. Hines concerning the girl’s medication during his short absence. Mr. Hines said that from the start of the girl’s illness he had delivered medicine to the Upright home several times a week. Shortly after the doctor left town, Mr. Upright send word to Mr. Hines to stop sending medicine, as they had no more need for the drugs. A few days later Mr. Upright called the livery stable and ordered a rig sent to the house. He, Mrs. Upright, and the other two children drove to the depot, got on the train, and were never seen in Charlevoix again. To this day, no one knows what happened to the daughter.
Martha Ayers bought the property in 1887. It was her home until 1925. During all that time it is said she never spent a nickel on the house for repairs or improvements. She lived in two rooms and used the rest of the house to store her many purchases acquired at auction sales. She attended all auctions for miles around. Auctioneers often waited for her to arrive on the scene before they began a sale. One room of the house contained nothing, but huge boxes filled with balls of material from which rag rugs were made. Tables in the basement were weighted down with dozens of crocks of rancid butter. Another room was filled floor to ceiling with mattresses. Items of furniture of all kinds were piled to the ceilings of other rooms. One room was filled with old dresses and hats. Ironically, after her death, everything in the house was auctioned off. Antiques that came from that auction are still to be found in many homes in Charlevoix.
And so Charlevoix had its haunted house. It remained so for many years, even during the hectic days of World War II, when the house was used as a lookout for enemy planes in the Civil Defense effort. Many of those who stood to watch duty in the lonely cupola will swear to this day of hearing noises that were really not noises at all, something more felt than heard.
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