Death and the City: A Haunted Flint Presentation by Roxanne Rhoads #HauntedFlint

In case you missed my Death and the City Presentation at Witchtober Fest at the Good Beans Cafe on October 12, here it is. 

Flint is a city plagued with extremely high numbers of violent deaths. More so than your average small city.  Flint’s murder rates have made headlines in the past several years but the truth is, murder is nothing new here.

My Haunted Flint co-author Joe, has a weekly column here on the blog called Freaky Flint History, which recounts tales of weird deaths from the early 20th Century. Stories of jealousy, rage, and strange accidents abound. What is it about this land that turns normal people into murderous monsters?

Flint is filled with ghost stories. Are the multitudes of violent deaths to blame? Or is there something else lurking underneath it all, causing the murders and the hauntings?

Is there something sinister attached to the land itself? An ancient curse, perhaps?

Read Haunted Flint to learn more about Flint's curse.

Today I’m going to talk about some of the death haunts in and around the Flint area. Old mortuaries, funeral homes, and cemeteries.

Spencer House Photo by Joe Schipani

Spencer House of Mortuary

Places that have housed the dead are always filled with strong energy but is it spirits or imprints of grief from the living people left behind?

Built in 1910, the Spencer House of Mortuary had many incarnations. In 1955 Dr. Merrill Spencer and his wife, Edith, converted the home into the Spencer House of Mortuary for African Americans. It closed in 1997 and was boarded up for years which fueled more rumors of the building being haunted. Spencer House had its fair share of whispered tales of shadowy figures in the windows and sounds of distant screams filling the night.

Mrs. Spencer donated Spencer House of Mortuary to the Historic Carriage Town Neighborhood Association. In 2012 The Flint Public Art Project turned the mortuary into a center for the arts.

On a cold and dreary May evening in 2016 my co-author, Joe Schipani, had the chance to participate in a paranormal investigation with the Haunt Investigators of Michigan. After a slow start Joe was ready to give up hope of anything interesting happening. Then a shadowy figure appeared on a sensor in a small hallway upstairs. As they approached he disappeared, then reappeared farther down the hallway, then again at the top of the stairs. Poof he disappeared again. They continued searching for him.  When he finally appeared again he was ready to play. The investigators interacted with him and discovered his name was George Kepler and that another spirit named Rose was with him. Later on that evening the group encountered two more spirits downstairs. One of the spirits was a child that liked to dance.

In November 2018 the building was torn down but that didn’t stop the spooky occurrences. Neighbors are often awakened in the middle of the night by moans and screams coming from the property where the mortuary once stood.

Abandoned funeral homes and mortuaries are always rumored to be haunted and there are usually rumors about human remains being left behind.

In 99 percent of the cases, there is no truth to the rumors.

However, in 2006, human ashes were found in the shuttered Collins Memorial Funeral Home on Clio Road.

In 2017 the State of Michigan revoked the mortuary license of Swanson Funeral Home on Martin Luther King Avenue after discovering stacks of un-refrigerated bodies and numerous other violations. They also found 300 sets of unclaimed cremains which were eventually laid to rest at New Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

The sad thing is that it took the state over 2 years to investigate and shut them down. Claims were made in 2015 that there were stacks of rotting bodies and other unsanitary conditions. But the state didn’t close them down until 2017.

It’s shameful the way these two funeral homes neglected the remains of the dead.

Other locations in Flint have suffered as well. Reports have been coming in that several cemeteries in Genesee County are severely neglected. One of them is Avondale.   

Avondale Photo by Ari Napolitano

Avondale Cemetery is one of Flint’s oldest remaining burial grounds. Not as well kept as Glenwood but still a favorite destination for local explorers. Full of crumbling tombstones and ancient mausoleums, the cemetery is filled with history…and spirits.

Disturbed spirits are a popular trope for horror movies and ghost stories. Often combined with a tale of the house or building being built on top of an old cemetery, where bodies were left behind.

Avondale Photo by Ari Napolitano

In Flint this frightening tale is more than just a spooky story.

The Flint City Cemetery was established in 1842 when Flint was still just a village. By the 1950s trash and overgrown weeds had taken over.

The city decided to redevelop the land.

Around 1200 remains were reinterred at the Flint City Cemetery at the corner of Linden Rd and Pasadena Avenue. Around 925 of the remains were unknowns. Bodies had been buried on top of each other. Some of the remains exhumed were wearing buckskins.

The property was sold to Albert J Koerts in 1958, who owned Koerts Glass and Paint.

The remaining residents of the old City Cemetery were reburied in Avondale along with 122 grave markers.

Or were they?

The section where the gravestones were moved to inside Avondale is called Pioneer’s Row. The stones are arranged in two rows, very close together, in a way that suggests stones and bones are probably not buried together.

In 1985 the remains of more than 24 bodies were found during construction in the basement of the Holiday Inn Express at 1150 Longway Boulevard and I-475. They were eventually reburied at the Flint City Cemetery.

Rumors swirl that Albert J Koerts, who purchased the old cemetery property, just moved the grave markers to Avondale which means the remains of some of Flint's earliest residents may still be lost under Flint buildings and parking lots. Unfortunately Koerts is long dead and took that secret to his grave.

Holiday Inn Photo by Joe Schipani

Those remains found under the hotel? Do they belong to grave markers in Avondale or do they belong in the Flint City Cemetery?

Both the Holiday Inn and Avondale Cemetery have numerous reports of haunting encounters.

Several psychic mediums say that Avondale is filled with spirits, they see them clearly...everywhere. The cemetery is a popular destination for both vandals and ghost hunters in Flint. Orbs and strange noises have been reported along with numerous sightings. More than one dead body has been discovered right outside the perimeter.

Are angry spirits lurking because their final resting place was disturbed?

Do ghosts linger when they do not receive a proper burial?

Haunted Flint
Haunted America Series
Roxanne Rhoads and Joe Schipani 

Publisher: The History Press

Release Date: September 2, 2019

ISBN-10: 1467143049
ISBN-13: 978-1467143042

Book Description:

Sinister Secrets in Flint’s History

Home to ancient burial grounds, unsolved murders, economic depression, and a water crisis, Flint emits an unholy energy rife with ghostly encounters.

Colonel Thomas Stockton’s ever vigilant ghost keeps a watchful eye over his family home at Spring Grove, where guests occasionally hear the thump of his heavy boots.

Restless spirits long separated from their graves lurk among the ancient stones in Avondale Cemetery.

Carriage maker W.A. Paterson’s spirit continuously wanders the halls of the Dryden Building, and something sinister and unnamed resides in a Knob Hill mansion waiting to prey on impressionable young men.

Join authors Roxanne Rhoads and Joe Schipani on a chilling tour of Flint’s most haunted locations.

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