Pere Cheney ghost town (7/31 visit update!)

I'll appologize ahead of time...this post has alot of text and quite a few images to load! It's a lengthy post...

This is an old topic that I think deserves 'resurrecting'. In fact, this is the original topic that attracted me to Ghost Place in the first place from the original (now archived) topic posted by Tallgirljessca quite some time ago. Jess has some incredible accounts, as well as the emergance of her fantastic gifts as we know her to posess now. Though Jess now lives in Florida, and works as a lab scientist...she has an amazing connection to this 'backwoods Michigan' place!

Pere Cheney can be called a 'ghost town' not only because it was once a busy town that seemingly disappeared...but also because of the stories circulating about its lingering spirits.

Pere Cheney is located about 7 miles southeast of Grayling, Michigan. It's only about a 30 minute drive from my house, taking into account the dirt & trail roads used to get there. So its actually not far away...maybe about 15-18 miles away 'as the crow flies'. It's just a few minutes from I-75 exit 244 and driving north on Johnson road from Federal Hwy near the exit.

Anyway...historically speaking. Pere Cheney began as a lumbering operation & sawmill owned by G.M. "Papa" Cheney- the man that built the first sawmill there after the railroad was completed between Gaylord & Jackson at about 1873 . Cheney aquired the land through the railroad company as a land grant for the purpose of the location to become a depot stop. Cheney later built the "Cheney House" to accomodate the new settlers, lumberman & tourists of the new town. The cemetary was established in 1878 but the first recorded death occured in 1892. In 1872, Crawford county was reorgainzed and Pere Cheney became the first county seat. The county seat was shortly thereafter moved to nearby Grayling, where it has remained since.

Pere Cheney was once a busy town with a large population of lumberjacks and various labor hands that followed the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad (now Detroit & Mackinac) north towards Mackinaw City. The railroad line is still active today, though the Pere Cheney depot marking the destination is long since gone. By 1877 the town had 2 sawmills, a general store, a wagon maker, 2 carpenters, a doctor, a hotel telegraph service, railroad depot, and mail delivery. Soon the town grew to include three sawmills, a school and post office which operated until 1911. By 1918, the town was nearly abandoned with only a few families staying nearby. Most of the population (that was still living at least...) moved to the neighboring towns of Grayling or Roscommon. Quite interestingly, a large portion of the townspeople were immigrants from Europe- possibly an indicator that some may have brought the ravaging diseases with them since immunizations of imigrants was not very common then.

Lumber was the only product that was shipped from Pere Cheney...a railroad freight trend that seems to continue with the Weyerhaeuser plant that manufactures OSB board just a few miles away located just off of 4 mile road & I-75 exit. Loaded railroad cars with Weyerhaeuser products make regular trip past the old ghost town.

Pere Cheney had its share of tragedy as well. The town was ravaged by fire at least two occasions and rebuilt- because of a blazing outbreak at one of the saw mills on one occasion. The other occasion of razing could be attributed to an attempt at quarentine an outbreak of disease...but that fire too seems to have started at a mill. Fire was especially dangerous due to the lack of a quantity of available water nearby to combat it, so many of the building were simply left to burn on thier own- besides, rebuilding was simply a matter of using some of the available lumber.

There was at least two occurances of deadly ravaging diseases (Cholera? Diptheria?) as well that wiped out whole families of the townspeople within a matter of days. Many children died very young either as a result of the disease...or as some have speculated, from 'mercy' killings. Of course, the railroad also took a few townsfolk as well from various accidents on the tracks. There are at least two plots of mass gaves in the cemetary that possibly could be attributed to the plagues of the town.

The cemetary is pretty much the only evidence left that there was a town there, and is even maintained somewhat as such. There are a few of our military veterens buried there, and the remaining markers do get memorialized with fresh flags & wreaths every so often by the local veteren groups- which I find very nice. Other families gravesites get visited still get thier share of flowers & wreaths as well. There are some people that come just to leave their respects. Many visitors to the cemetary find it very peaceful. The towns location itself has very few remains, just a few depression holes for building foundations now. I remember not too distantly in my youth when there were some facades of the buildings still standing...but those are long gone now.
Some people, Jess included, have had most of their spirit encounters in the town location rather than the cemetary.

Most of the infamous stories about people visiting Pere Cheney report these things happening to them:
-Laughter of children, giggles
-Crying Children
-Blue orbs of light in photos, videos, and sometimes plain sight
-Ghostly figures, misty outlines of people
-Trees cracking, groaning
-Cold spots in the air, wind blowing and stopping frequently
-Children's voices, whispers
-Problems with electrical equipment, radios etc.
-Bad luck after you leave
-Sand hand prints mysteriously showing up on vehicles
-Intense feelings of fear

I've had a few experiances myself, which I'll may write about later!

Some people have speculated on the demise on Pere Cheney being due to its possible location of Indian holy ground. Other rumors say that it was cursed by a vengeful witch- legend has it that she was 'dispatched' and hung by a noose from a large tree in the cemetary, though there is no real proof of this. Maybe it's just a case of bad luck...and industry moving on with business?

Now that I have a new digital camera, I'll try to make a visit and get some photos of the town area of Pere Cheney sometime soon.
**July 31 Visit Update!

I spent a couple of hours visiting the town & cemetary areas of Pere Cheney armed with my digital camera.

I began my mid-afternoon excursion by first going exploring the town areas. I took photos of several building foundation areas on the north side of the still existing trail road that extends east from the 4-way intersection & railroad crossing- the areas labled buildings 9, 10, & 11 on the '1921' map posted above. Building 11 being notable as being the supposed location of the General Store building. This area is only sparsely wooded with many open areas. The ruins of the town here can barely be made out with only a few depressions & grassy areas marking where building once stood.

Crossing the trail road to the south, I found the very much intact foundations of the old school (labeled building #8 on the '1921' map). This is contrasted with the large open areas and hardly any ruins visible- to a very densely wooded area and very evident ruins of the school building.

Next I took a few photos of the railroad crossing area. The photos looking north showing the areas where the boxcars were placed and where the towns mail pick-up was done- while the south facing photo showing where the large saw mills once stood.

Moving on...I drove the 1/4 mile (or so...) down the 2-track access trail to the cemetary. I took several photos of the cemetary begining with the recently re-done front gate and continuing throughout the whole area. I took several photos of the remaining grave markers & other notable scenes.

I just uploaded the images to my computer, so I haven't examined them in great detail yet. In all, I photographed 55 images of this excursion.

I may post some of the images soon...but probrably not all here on GP. This topic has already become somewhat graphics
I'm thinking of creating a small mini webpage using Geocities or something so that I can post most of the pictures & descripions to go with them. I'll provide a link once I complete this 'project'!...

As far as the 'juicy' details of my visit to Pere Cheney- Ummm...I'll leave that for posting later once I go to bed & get some nice sleep. It's getting pretty late!