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Ghosts

The Keeper of Seul Choix Point

by Ken Rudine
Editor's Note: Ken and Yvonne Rudine recently toured forty-two lighthouses along the shores of Lake Michigan in June of 2005. Like many places where mortals spend a lot of time (or perhaps because of their lonely setting) lighthouses are frequently thought to be haunted. This is one such case.
Lighthouse at Seul Choix Point, Gulliver, Michigan
The lighthouse at Seul Choix Point
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine

At the north end of Lake Michigan is a lighthouse near Gulliver, Michigan named Seul Choix Point. It is pronounced "sis-shwa" in French and translates into "only choice." It was named by French sailors who found this point as refuge in a storm. For that reason a lighthouse was built there in 1892. Marilyn Fisher, president of the local historical society showed us through the lighthouse living quarters. We did not take the offer to climb the tower, but decided to go upstairs where Marilyn said she had seen the former lighthouse keeper in a round mirror on three separate occasions.

Joseph Willie Townsend was the keeper there from 1902 to 1910 when he died in that upstairs bedroom. His body was drained and prepared for his wake which was held in the basement. He lay in state in the parlor until his relatives could assemble from other locations. He was buried nearby in a cedar coffin. Joseph was a cigar smoker in life, but his wife refused to let him smoke in the house. Now cigar smoke is often smelled in the house, as if Townsend now enjoys what his wife forbade.

Some time after Townsend's death, the former round kitchen table parts were retrieved from the four corners of the basement where they had been stored. When it was reassembled in the kitchen it seemed possessed since the place settings and the chairs have been disturbed over 100 times by Marilyn's count. Forks are found turned upside down, placed on the edge of a plate or forming a cross with a knife. Townsend's typical way of laying a fork on his plate was with the tines down.

An alarm company was once asked to make a quote on installing an alarm system. The salesman was given a key so he could make his estimate at his convenience. After making notes, he went outside to his car, locking the lighthouse door behind him. As he sat alone totaling his quotation in his car, he happened to look up at one of the windows and saw Joseph Townsend looking back at him. He dropped his clip-board, started his engine and left at a high rate of speed. He never submitted his quote. Another company performed the alarm installation.

The pictures I took in the round mirror showed nothing unusual, but coming down the stairs afterward, on the landing, Yvonne and I felt a definite cold down-draft. Marilyn said that is a regular event without a cause. We don't know whether to believe in ghosts or just believe we don't yet understand, what we call ghosts.


Ken Rudine
October 2, 2005


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Lighthouses of Lake Michigan's Shores by Ken Rudine


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