Ada Township, MI

The Ada Witch of Findlay Cemetery

Author Ed Anderson
Is there a ghost haunting Findlay Cemetery?Photo byTimothy J. Seppala via Wikimedia

There are countless stories that revolve around paranormal activity in Michigan. Many people believe it is because the state is surrounded by water, a breeding ground for these types of stories to take root. While others believe that the geography and history make the tales more compelling.

One of the most enduring stories is that of The Ada Witch of Findlay Cemetery. This story has gained ground in recent years due to the fact that quite a few people have claimed to see a white, translucent figure in the graveyard after hours.

Some experts claim that it is simply an idea that is planted into their heads. The Hawk Herald reports that these people claim that most of the sightings happen near Halloween, the heart of spooky season, and therefore it is human nature to want to be scared.

Others think there could be another reason for it. Psychology Today reports that there could be a religious reason why people see a ghost. In part, they claim, "With most religions populated by an impressive cadre of prophets, gods, spirits, angels, and miracles, the tenets of your religious faith dictate who you think you are meeting when you encounter a ghost, and they determine whether the visitor from the spirit world is a welcome or unwelcome guest."

While both reasonings are inherently true, a third group says there's more to it than those reasons. In fact, they say that looking at the history of Michigan and the legends can be just as important as the other theories.

What is the history of the Ada Witch?
The origins of the Ada Witch go back to the 1800sPhoto byMichael MouritzonUnsplash

Looking Back

As the story goes, a woman was in an unhappy marriage in the 1800s. Most people peg the time frame in the 1890s, though some have suggested that it could have happened in the early 1900s.

At night, the woman would sneak out of the house and meet up with her lover. Absolute Michigan says that her secret boyfriend was a local man, who had recently come to town. Many people noted how close the woman and the newcomer seemed to be.

One of those people was the woman's husband. He detested that his wife looked happy with another man. More than that, he knew that she was having an affair and wanted to prove it.

According to Mysterious Michigan, when she snuck out of their bed one evening, he followed her. To his horror, he caught his bride making love to the newcomer. He made his presence known. The lovers were shocked.

The two men got into a fight. As she watched in horror as the man she pledged her life to get violent with the man that she loved, the woman tried to insert herself into the conflict. Without realizing it, the husband knocked the newcomer out.

She got hit accidentally, knocking her backwards. The woman hit her head on a rock. By the time her husband realized what happened, she was dead. He noticed that the newcomer was also dead. Not wanting to face questions about what happened or, worse, be charged with murder, he took his own life.

But there are no records for any of the people involved.
Who was the Ada Witch? While some suspect they know, there is no proof that she ever existed.Photo byALEXANDRE LALLEMANDonUnsplash

The Truth Is Out There

With no records of the people, the story has long been chalked up to being just another urban legend in the Michigan canon. This is the most widely accepted answer from most of the people who have heard the story. Most, but not all. Some people would like to find out the names of the people involved in the tale.

To that end, a group of paranormal investigators decided to comb through the records available to them. MLive says that in 2003 there was a break was made in the mystery. The group determined that the woman was Sarah McMillian. This lent weight to the argument that there was a witch haunting Findlay Cemetery.

However, the group's theory was summarily disproved. While Sarah McMillian did exist, she could not be the alleged Ada witch. Why? Because she died of Typhoid fever in 1870, at least twenty years before the events in the story took place.

Some literary scholars claim that the story is fiction. WMFK reports that it was a tall tale to help sell more books. The initial story was used in a collection called Haunted Houses of Grand Rapids.

While most of the stories had newspaper and other evidence to back it up, the Ada Witch story did not. In fact, investigators began to believe that it was made up fairly early on. The reason they reasoned that the fact that the people were not given names meant that this was a story meant to become an urban legend.

Many scholars believe that is the most likely scenario. While people claim to see the witch at night, there is no solid evidence that there is or ever was a woman walking the Findlay Cemetery.

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Ed Anderson is a true crime and gossip writer from Detroit, Michigan. Ed is the author of several true crime books, most recently Financing Doubt.

Rochester, MI

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