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Century-old ghost haunts West Park Street house

October 30, 2008
By MIRIAM MOELLER, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - It wasn't until Kathy Morrison moved into a second-floor apartment on West Park Street in 2005 that she began to believe in ghosts.

Shuffling noises from the downstairs apartment even though no one lived there at the time, female voices in her bedroom while her husband was sound asleep and the strange behavior of her cats - all of this pushed Morrison toward investigating the possible presence of a ghost in her house.

"I started hearing these things, and I called the ghostbusters from Northern because I wanted to make sure I'm not crazy," she said.

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Northern Michigan University's Paranormal Research Team came, took pictures and recorded sounds.

"I didn't want to stay in this house after this, I wanted to stay at the Holiday Inn," Morrison said, explaining that the photographs revealed several "orbs" - floating bubbles of light - in the hallway, attic and downstairs apartment. The orbs were odd, but the recordings really frightened Morrison. Investigators placed two recorders in the bathroom and bedroom closet. After waiting for an hour outside, they retrieved the recorders after midnight.

One tape recorded a "God-awful whisper," Morrison said, adding that on her tape one could hear someone saying, "come here."

Despite the evidence, Morrison said her family did not believe her ghost stories until they saw and heard the manifestations themselves.

Morrison's then 8-year-old son Joey saw the ghost of a little boy in his room.

He said, "I know he is there because there is a cold wind that blows and he's all lit up," Morrison said.

Morrison's mother - who didn't believe in spirits at the time - stayed with her daughter and grandson one night.

"My mother goes into the bathroom and she said all of a sudden a white spirit comes out of the floor vent and it hovered above her and went into the ceiling," Morrison said. "My mother was so scared."

During the night, Morrison's mother had another experience that made her not want to come back to her daughter's house.

"She said she woke up and something was hovering over her," Morrison said. "She was paralyzed."

Morrison began to dig into the history of the house to find out who might have been haunting the 1891 structure. With help from the J.M. Longyear Research Library and other resources, Morrison found out that 43 people had occupied the house on West Park since its construction.

She discovered the first couple that lived there were named McNiel. She found out that the wife - and mother of three children - Ida May McNiel died in the house of pneumonia in 1900.

Tracking down McNiel's great-grandson, Morrison got a hold of a picture of Ida, who she said looks a bit like herself.

After unearthing these tidbits of history, Morrison decided to confront the ghost. Equipped with a recorder, she stood in her basement.

"I asked her, 'is this your house?'" Morrison said. "Before she answered, I heard her walk across the floor and then a whisper, 'this is my house.'"

Morrison said she believes the ghost is Ida McNiel.

Getting used to lights being turned on in the house in the middle of the night, dark figures floating out of the TV and her son seeing a glass of water being lifted up into the air, Morrison lost her fear of whatever was haunting her house.

In two years, three coffee pots broke, the refrigerator "roared like a lion" and lights turned on magically when no one was around.

Twice, she said she heard a male ghost speak. Once the apparition said, "they're leaving," observing Morrison's husband and neighbor pull out of the driveway one morning. The second time, the ghost bid farewell to one of Morrison's friends.

Morrison has since moved to Fair Avenue - into a house she said is not haunted. However, because of her experience, Morrison has developed a hobby of discovering spirits and haunted houses, she said.



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