Haunted Kiln

Haunted Kiln
Haunted Kiln

Date: November - 1889

Location: Near Muskegon, MI

On the left bank of the Wichita River are the remains of an old time kiln that have for some years borne the reputation of being haunted, and in consequence of which have been avoided after night fall by the people about. The Negroes have such a horror of the place that they will make a detour of several miles rather than pass it except in broad daylight and in a party. When questioned, however, about it they cannot be induced to speak of it save in a general, awe stricken way, accompanied by many ominous shakes of the head. General interest has lately been aroused in the haunted kiln owing to Robert H., a prominent farmer of this vicinity, having organized a party to watch the place with him one night, he having seen sufficient to convince him that either a party of mischievous boys were trying to frighten passersby, or that the kiln really deserves its uncanny reputation. A correspondent of the St. Louis Globe called on Mr. H. and heard the story of what he had seen. In the gentleman’s own words the narrative runs:

I was returning from town last Tuesday, having been detained unusually late and found myself just at nightfall opposite the old kiln. I had been rather earnestly thinking over some business, and scarcely noticed where I was, so I am sure a heated imagination had nothing to do with what I saw. My horse jumping back suddenly was the first thing that aroused me, and I looked to see the cause of his fright. The moon was shining brilliantly, and I had no difficulty in making out a hideous object that was running through the grass towards the kiln. It was on all fours, but kept looking back over its shoulder at me. It was about the size of a 13 old boy, but its face was that of an old, old man, with long gray hair all over it, that fluttered and streamed out as it ran. The eyes gleamed like those of a cat in the dark. I discounted, but just as I reached the place where I had first seen it I felt a hand jerk me backward and throw me violently to the ground, but in looking around I could see nothing whatever. Yes, I’ll acknowledge it, I was afraid to stay any longer, so I went back to where my horse was standing, and mounting him, left as quickly as he could carry me.

Mr. H. ended his story by inviting me to become one of the party that was going to watch the spot that night, which invitation was eagerly accepted. Well armed and provided with means for light and fire, as well as a certain quantity of Dutch courage in case of our own failing, we set out just at sunset and camped beneath a large pine growing within 50' of the old kiln. The night was still and our own voices were the only sound to be heard as we sat around the fire and talked quietly, until we were all brought to our feet by a fearful yell, coming apparently, from the trees above our heads. I cannot describe it, for it was unearthly, and enough to freeze the blood of any living creature. I felt the hair rising on my head and, on looking at my friends, I saw that they were equally affected. All stood as if awestruck motionless, until Mr. N. one of the most fearless men I ever know exclaimed:

I am going to know what that noise means, if I have to face the evil one himself.

As he spoke, a head with blue and white flames curling all about it appeared suspended in the air close to his own face, and grinned into it horrible. The spectral countenance was the embodiment of evil, and we all shrank back from it, while it slowly floated, laughing diabolically, toward the lime kiln, which burst into leaping flames as the head reached it.

The smell of brimstone and sulfur, so strong as to almost stifling, filled the air as the head passed through it, though accompanied by neither smoke nor vapor. The burning kiln was now filled by dancing, screeching imps, black and scarlet, that climbed the flames and out up every imaginable caper, the trunkless I have spoken of suspended high above them all. Detached hands now began to snatch at us, solitary limbs attempted to trip our own ups blows fell from an invisible whip on the backs of several of the party and voices bellowed in a deafening manner right in the cars of the rest. In fact, it would be impossible to enumerate the annoyances vented on the darling murals who thus ventured to gaze on the revels of demons and lost spirits. But as these failed a last weapon was resorted to, for, without warning, all light was extinguished, and we found ourselves in utter darkness, and the very ground quaking under our feet. This was too much for us, and all hands simultaneously broke for the open road running toward town, where we gradually assembled to talk over the fearful experiences of the night. Each had some story to relate of what had happened to him in that moment of darkness. One had been ridden by an imp that beat him about the head with his horned feet, another had had great bunches of his hair pulled out, while a third exhibited purple marks on his body where he had been prodded in the ribs by some sharp instrument.

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