I've recently found an interesting book while browsing through the 'local authors' section of a favorite bookstore nearby my home. The book is entitled "Michigan Haunts and Hauntings" by Marion Kuclo - The Green Witch Gundella. Of course I had to purchase the book & I've found it quite an interesting read, so much so that I've decided to share a some stories from the book (maybe more later...?) with the members here on GP. The book I have is the third printing and is dedicated to her memory since she passed in 1993.
The first short story I'll share from the book is entitled "The One Hundredth Skull"...which I found especially entertaining! But before the story, I think that it would help if I give some background of the author as well as some background info of the story for greater depth of understanding & proper context even if it makes this post somewhat long.
About the Author (excerpt from the Forward of the book):
Marion Kuclo, best known to her admiring Michigan audiences as the witch "Gundella," has been avidly collecting supernatural tales and ghost lore for more than forty years. For some twenty-five of those years, I have has the pleasure of knowing this warm and generous lady and am among the many she has enchanted with her personality and her energy for life and all its mysteries.
Gundella has lived in Lower Michigan since 1948. As a schoolteacher for many years, she acquired a well-earned reputation for her dramatic story telling at children's assemblies. A popular Detroit area lecturer and prominent media personality, she has known most of the local and visiting figures from the Occult World. Through her many public workshops and lectures, television and radio appearances, and her regular newspaper column (once a frequent contributor of the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News & the Observer-Eccentric newspapers), Gundella has come to know a remarkable range of people. And through her talent for listening, she has gathered an enormous amount of our local lore. She has also been in the unique position of learning about this area's strange events from those who sought her help in exorcising spirits and otherwise dealing with the paranormal.
Those who recall Gundella's first collection "The Werewolf of Grosse Pointe and Other Stories" (which quickly sold out of its small 1976 printing and is now a collector's item) will especially welcome this new collection. Not only is it more extensive in its range and coverage, but it again reflects the diligence and careful research Gundella's readers have come to know. In this new volume, she goes well beyond simply providing us with an oral history of this region's tales of wonder. She has carefully researched each of these stories, visiting their sites and interviewing witnesses wherever possible. This has enabled her to unearth many obscure and often fascinating details about Michigan lore that otherwise might be lost to us. Aside from being entertaining, these tales of haunts and haunting are an important contribution to the record of our cultural heritage.
Gundella brings special authority to her studies. A traditional witch, she is part of a family whose background in witchcraft (what some would call the Old Religion) extends back several generations. Initiated into a coven as a young girl in upstate Michigan, she can trace her family roots back to the Green Witches of Scotland. (She tells us that green dye was chosen by her ancestors to camouflage their bodies for secret travel through the woods for coven meetings.)
Gundella is certainly not alone in her preoccupation with "things that go bump in the night." A 1990 Gallup poll indicated that some 93% of all Americans believe in at least one form of supernatural, psychic, paranormal or otherwise "otherworldly" phenomenon. We in Michigan are no exception. And Gundella shows us a wealth of evidence that Michigan abounds with tales of such wonders. Whether you read her stories as real proof of the supernatural or simply as wonderful examples of modern mythology, this volume will give you one of the liveliest and most romantic perspectives on Michigan that you're likely to find anywhere.
Marcello Truzzi, Ph.D.
Eastern Michigan University
Authors preface to the short story "The One Hundredth Skull":
In 1961 I was teaching school in South Rockford when I met a young man named Jim Quick from Monroe. We shared an interest in Michigan folklore and especially in the collecting and telling of ghost stories. Jim was then teaching sixth grade in the Airport Community School District. He went on to become an English instructor at the University of Michigan, and in 1965 when I last heard of him, he was preparing to leave for Hollywood to become a scriptwriter. "The One Hundredth Skull" had been passed down through his family as a tale about some of his own relatives who had been among the very early settlers along what is now the Michigan-Ohio border.
The One Hundredth Skull
In the late 1700s, a frontiersman named Bill Quick lived with his aged father in a log cabin a few miles west of Lake Erie. One day while he was out hunting, his cabin was ransacked and his father was murdered and scalped. Bill swore he would not rest until he had taken revenge one hundred times over. He set himself a secret goal; he would kill 100 Indians before he died.
Never a sociable man to begin with, Bill kept even more to himself after his father's murder. And because he was an excellent marksman, he had little trouble in the first few years working towards his goal. He did not collect scalps like most men of that time and place; scalps were not enough for him. Bill Quick collected skulls. He lined the walls with shelves to hold his ghastly trophies, and one by one, his collection grew.
Year after year he relentlessly stalked his prey. He took his time, always waiting patiently until he saw a lone figure hunting in the woods or paddling a canoe on the river. Only when there was no one else about would his bullet zing through the air and into an Indian heart. The Indians were unable to retaliate because they never knew who was picking them off one at a time. So, as the years went by, fewer and fewer of them traveled alone in that area.
His game became more difficult to obtain as the Indians became more cautious, but Bill finally amassed 99 grizzly skulls. They stood in a row on the shelves of his innocent looking log house deep in the woods. He felt certain he would have no difficulty meeting his ultimate goal- certain that he could easily shoot the one remaining Indian needed to complete his revenge. But, before he had the satisfaction of making his one last kill, Bill Quick fell victim to what he knew would be his last illness. He summoned his only son, Tom, to his bedside.
The two men had never been close. They had little or nothing in common. Bill was a fearless hunter with a vicious temper and a cruel sense of humor. Although he enjoyed his whiskey, he did not drink to excess and no one could ever remember seeing him drunk. He never went without his rife and never had to shoot twice at the same target. Tom, on the other hand, was an easygoing fellow who never bore a grudge. Although he enjoyed fishing, Tom disliked hunting and had never learned to shoot well. He didn't even own a gun, a rarity in those times. He was seldom sober, but he was a happy drunk and was often heard singing to himself as he stumbled home from the tavern. His mother had died giving birth to him and his maternal grandmother had raised him. Never in his life has his father spoken a pleasant word to him.
Because he knew that his father had always considered him worthless, Tom was more than a little surprised that the old man wanted to see him, even on his deathbed. But he didn't hesitate, and went at once to his father's cabin.
For the first time, Bill confided in Tom, telling him the story of the oath he had taken and the goal he had set. Pointing to the skulls grinning down at them, he demanded that his son fulfill the oath by obtaining the one hundredth skull. The morbid collection caused Tom to retch. As much a he longed for his father's approval, he flatly refused to carry out the macabre order.
But Bill would not let him go. He threatened that if Tom did not do as he asked, he would return from the grave and haunt him until he did. Tom ran screaming from the cabin, the taste of bile rising in his throat. Soon after, his father died and Tom tried to forget the threat by losing himself in drink. But he was no longer a happy drunk. Wherever he looked, he thought he saw his father glaring at him. For the next two years his life was a nightmare.
Then one day, in a drunken stupor, he babbled the gruesome tale and soon people for miles around knew that the town drunk was under oath to kill an Indian. He became a laughing stock and the butt of cruel jokes. Every time an Indian came into town people would make sure Tom knew. They would tease him, telling him to get a gun or offering to lend him theirs. Their taunting echoed after him down the streets where little children would call out "Sic 'em Tom!" as he passed by.
One clear, cold night in October when Tom was alone in his cabin, the door suddenly burst open and there stood the rotting corpse of his father. As he had promised, Bill had returned from the grave to haunt his son. And as he had done in life, he carried his rifle. Shaking it in the air, he screamed wildly for Tom to go out and get the one hundredth skull so that his ancestors could rest in their graves. He said that if Tom could not complete the task by midnight the next night he would return and bring Tom's murdered grandfather with him.
Tom rushed into town begging for asylum, telling everyone he met about his father's threat. It was clear to all who saw him that Tom had now gone mad. Everyone, even those who had earlier taunted him, now steered clear of him.
Throughout the following day, Tom searched in vain for someone, anyone, who would help him. As dusk fell, he was last seen stumbling down the road toward his father's isolated cabin deep in the woods. It had remained undisturbed since Bill Quick's death more than two years earlier. When he did not return by late afternoon the following day, a group of men decided to search for the unfortunate derelict, expecting to find him dead somewhere. When they reached Bill Quick's cabin, they found the door standing open. Cautiously pushing it open, they searched the room. Tom's body was nowhere to be found. Instead, there on the shelf so long reserved for the one hundredth skull was a freshly severed head. But it was not the face of an Indian that stared down at them.
It was the face of the town drunk, Tom Quick.
Hope you enjoyed the story...maybe some more short stories from the book later??