I received a request to research Mouth Cemetery, and I’m not going to lie, I got a little excited because what a name for a cemetery! Turns out the name is based on geographical location, and not because of something quirky. Despite this, after doing a bit of research I found that the cemetery and surrounding area are known for having a history of strange occurrences.Located in White River Township, Michigan, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan the cemetery is surrounded by dense trees in a somewhat remote area. At a little over 165 years old, Mouth Cemetery has fallen into disrepair over the years and appears to be mostly overgrown. Based on its remoteness and unkempt appearance it’s not hard to see how this cemetery has gained the reputation of being one of Michigan’s most haunted locations.Visitors to the cemetery have reported seeing strange mists among the bushes and trees, hearing the sound of footsteps behind them yet turning and finding no one, seeing a young girl in an old-fashioned white dress, and disembodied sounds of crying and screams. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there is also an urban legend connected to Mouth Cemetery, the cursed chair!
With a name like Mouth….
Located near the mouth of the White River, in White River Township, Mouth cemetery got its name from an old town nickname. Locally the town was often referred to as “the Mouth” or simply “Mouth”. The nickname stuck for the cemetery and also one of its first schools. Long before White River Township existed, there was a large Native American village at the mouth of the White River. According to stories passed down through the years, and a few historical records, a great massacre between tribes occurred on the north shore of White Lake in the mid-1600’s.In 1854 the White River Village post office was established and the town had become a thriving lumber town. The earliest date found on tombstones in the cemetery was 1851, but it is thought that burials took place in this cemetery around 1830. In 1859 all the township records were burned by city officials after it was determined to be impossible to reconcile the financial records. With these records, all early records of burials at Mouth Cemetery were also destroyed.
While many of the people buried at Mouth Cemetery have been lost to time, one of the most talked about graves here belongs to Captain William Robinson. Interestingly enough, the ghost of Captain Robinson has reportedly been seen and heard over the years, but not at Mouth Cemetery.The ghost of Captain Robinson and his wife Sara are said to haunt the nearby White River Light Station. Captain Robinson maintained the lighthouse from when it was built in 1875 until his death 45 years later in 1919. He was not ready to retire, despite the fact that he was 87 years old. Eventually, he was forced to retire due to his age and the responsibilities of keeping the lighthouse fell to his grandson. Many at the time felt that he died from depression over having to leave the place that he loved so much. Captain Robinson died the day before he was set to leave the lighthouse. The staff of the White River Light Station, report hearing the sounds of footsteps and the thunk of a cane after the lighthouse is closed for the night.Towards the end of his life, Captain Robinson used a cane to get around. I found mentions of the sounds of his distinct gait. It doesn’t seem that Captain Robinson is alone at the lighthouse, however. When tidying up after visiting hours are over, museum staff report that dust rags will be moved when left near a specific display case.
A Cursed Chair
Not only is Mouth Cemetery rumored to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Michigan, it’s also home to an urban legend. According to the Grand Rapids Paranormal Investigations blog, a teenage boy who sat in a chair in the woods near the cemetery was killed in a car accident one year to the day following sitting in the chair. It’s also referred to as Sadony’s chair, which we’ll get to later.The legend of the cursed chair brought so many people to the cemetery that local police removed the chair to deter further legend tripping.
Valley of The Pines & Joseph A. Sadony
In the research request, the laboratory of Joseph A. Sadony was mentioned. The ruins of his laboratory are visible from the cemetery. Joseph Sadony was known as a “philosopher-scientist” and focused his life on the study of intuition. He was also known to have an uncanny ability to foretell future events, including his own death. To say that he was an interesting person would be an extreme understatement.When I first started researching the cemetery I couldn’t understand the connection to Joseph Sadony or events that occurred nearby at his estate, Valley of The Pines to Mouth Cemetery. He died in 1960 and is buried at Valley of The Pines. I read numerous newspaper articles printed during his lifetime about him and Valley of The Pines. I also read many different current websites about his life and beliefs. Most of the articles written about him were very positive. A few articles referred to Valley of The Pines as a cult and painted a less than flattering picture of Joseph Sadony. It was then that I realized that his name is mentioned in connection to Mouth Cemetery because he lived close to the cemetery, and he was considered to be a very unusual person. Over the years of researching haunted locations and urban legends, I’ve found that even just a little bit of weirdness is often enough to spark an urban legend.Even if he had lived today he would be considered unusual and different, let alone during his lifetime (1877-1960). In an interview with his granddaughter, she said how her father told her that people would often see Joseph Sadony walking down the street and they would cross to the other side so as to not get too close. They were afraid that he could read their minds. That was when I realized that the close proximity of the mysterious Valley of The Pines, the place where Joseph Sadony kept a laboratory and wrote his newspaper columns and books, made for a perfect “creepy” background to the strange occurrences in this old cemetery.
Do you know of a great urban legend or a haunted location that you’d like to learn the real history of? Send me the info and it could be featured in a future Dead History post.
Detroit Free Press, Sun, Jan 16, 1994