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Local Legends. Definition of a legend: a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical. .

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Definition of a legend: a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.

What is an urban legend? Urban legends are incredible stories – sometimes scary, sometimes funny – which have a tantalizing bit of plausibility to them. Urban legends contain many folkloric elements and they spread quickly through a community or society. The tales are usually told dramatically, as if they are true stories that have happened to a real people, although they may in fact be fictional. Local touches are often added to the legend. A storyteller might say: “This really happened last year to my cousin’s friend in Chicago.” Urban legends often carry a warning or have some significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it. For example, the Hook Man story (see below) is often used to warn teenagers against parking in the local Lover’s Lane.


Shoe Tree-Belding, MI

At the edge of a farmer's field just south of Belding, hundreds of pairs of shoes hang like fruit from the tree.

Legend has it that a young boy who worked the field during the Depression went without shoes for several winters and lost his feet to frostbite. Infection set in, killing him while he was still in his teens. Before he died, he cursed the fact that such a basic necessity didn't grow on trees. On the first anniversary of his death, a pair appeared on one of the low hanging branches.

Since then, every year, more and more shoes have appeared on the tree. It's said that his ghost can be seen each night as the sun sets, watching over his crop of shoes.


I lived in Ionia for some time. It's a nice town with an adorable history. This description conflicts however with that of West Washington street. Which is where I lived. On which I endured in a tall yellow house that may be home to some 200 individuals.

Each very active and some even are demonic. The most active ghost being a young civil war veteran who whispers and shouts ''get out'' nonstop and a demon who loved to create chaos inside the household.


Whites Bridge

Superstation: Make a wish. Hold your breath until you reach the end of the bridge, your wish will come true.


Minniehaha aka Mini-mini Haha aka Minnie Haas

I don't remember much of the story now but where I grew up in Ionia, Michigan we had a haunted graveyard and the lady who haunted it was called Mini Ha-Ha. There are tales of bleeding statues and ghosts and goblins all around that area where the cemetery, called Highlands Cemetery, sits at the top of a hill. When I and my husband grew up in Ionia it wasn't nothing to enter a conversation with our friends on the going's on in that cemetery the night before. Most of the stories were actually thought to be true by the locals. I know you never got caught going into that graveyard at night for sure. I've included a site that I found on the web that has some into about her but you can get more from the Ionia Library there. I'm sure no one else would have a story like this one so you could abridge it by making it a different place and the names different a bit and then it would be your own tale.

Minnie Haas



And I wish someone would have told me that the Michigan Reformatory was haunted when they handed me my cell assignment. For example, on back of the slip of paper reading, “I-4, cell 7,” I wish there could have been the following summary of what was about to come: You’re going to hear a soft trombone playing at night on the small, tree-lined knoll across the parking lot. And when you take that late night job pushing laundry carts down to the quartermaster, along that long, dark “execution walk” hallway, you’re going to see Sonny through the window of the door in the pitch-black waiting room of Health Services. He’ll be sitting in a soft glow of his own post-life energy with his head on backwards, his trombone lying on the floor. None of the other three guys you work with will see him, of course.


Belding Library, Belding

In the children's section of the library, people have reported hearing a ghost of a girl laughing, books fall off the shelves, and some people even have felt like a spirit had wanted them out of the building. They would get an uneasy feeling.


Lowell, Mi

A poor farmer and his wife were expecting their 5th child. The farmer knew that he and his wife could not provide for this child because crops had been bad that year and he could barely feed his family of six.

When the wife went into labor the farmer called for the doctor. Unknown to the wife, the farmer and the doctor had already made arrangements to get ride of the baby. Their plan was to take the baby from the room immediately after the delivery and tell the wife that the baby died during birth.

When he left the farmhouse that night, the doctor took the baby to a nearby covered bridge and dropped him over the side. The wife never found out about what the farmer and the doctor had done.

It is said that on a cloudless night during a full moon you drive your car across Fallsburg Bridge and park it in the center. Get our of your car and sprinkle baby powder in a circle around your it. Then get back in your car and turn the engine and the lights off for 10 minutes. You will hear the soft sound of a baby crying. When you get out of your car there will be baby footprints in the circle of powder.


Oakhill Cemetery is located in Section 24 on Yeomans Street in Ionia.  This cemetery is Ionia's first cemetery.  Many of Ionia County's founders are buried here. There are over 1,400 transcribed burials for this cemetery from the early 1800's.  In addition, there are many more unmarked burials.


Years ago, there was an accident at Oak Hill Cemetery. Five kids went in at night-no one knows why. One of them urged the others to leave several times but they did not listen. By 3 am, four were dead. The last kid survived in the scatter but refused to explain what had happened or how he’d survived. On the first Saturday of every month between 2 and 3 am- it is rumored four kids will walk to the gate and beckon you to guide you safely through.


Legendary Dogman seen in Ottawa County?

Several times in the past decade, West Michigan newspapers have reported on a strange canine-like creature people claim to have seen in woodlands — not the legendary Chubacabra, but the Michigan Dogman.

Some eyewitnesses are convinced they have seen it — like one man who posted his opinion on an Internet message board.

“If you also live anywhere north of Grand Rapids in Michigan, how can you not know about the Dogman? It is one of the largest legends in the area and the story has been around for years,” he wrote. “It seems to me it is more than just a huge fantasy.”

The Dogman is reported to have a canine-like head, human-like body, reflective eyes and walks upright.


According to one Ottawa County resident, a creature fitting the description of the Dogman appeared in Grand Haven from 1993-94. “Ben,” who was a young teenager at the time, claims to have seen the creature not once, but three times. He believes each time he was seeing a different creature, in what could have been a pack taking refuge in a Grand Haven Township park.

In 1993, after dark, Ben was hiking the trails in Hofma Nature Preserve with as many as four friends when, passing the float bridge near the center of the preserve, they heard a sound to their right. Ben spied what resembled a dog standing behind a tree on a ridge above, approximately 70 feet away.


“I thought it was just a dog walking along, then it stood up on its hind legs,” Ben said. “One of its feet gripped a branch on the tree. Our eyes met and we just stared at each other for about five minutes, then it ran off.”

According to Ben, the second encounter occurred in December that same year in the driveway of his family’s home on Lakeshore Drive. Ben went outdoors in the cold to start his mother’s car.

“I only made it as far as the front bumper of the car,” he said.

The creature then rose up from behind the vehicle.

“It stood up on its hind legs, it had yellow eyes,” he explained. “I’m 6 foot, 8 inches tall, and it was staring down at me. I froze and began crying out.”

The creature took three incredible leaps and disappeared into the brush as Ben's family rushed out to the driveway.


According to Ben, his third encounter with the creature took place in 1994 when he and a cousin were walking after dark in the direction of the beach from Lakeshore Drive along the edges of dunes. As the two watched a deer standing in a clearing, an enormous dog-like creature rapidly snatched the animal and carried it off into the brush.

“We went down to the spot, and you could see where the deer tracks ended,” Ben said. “They vanished, leaving only tracks from that thing.”

There is also a tale that in early 1994 a car on Lakeshore Drive was involved in a collision with a large animal. It is said the occupants of the vehicle were uninjured and police determined it was a deer strike. The tale includes a witness that claimed gray fur covered the grill of the wrecked vehicle, but no blood or animal carcass was found. It was said the driver couldn’t explain what he hit.

As fantastic as the tales are, area folks have told similar stories for more than 50 years.


One of merit is from Robert Fortney, who may have encountered the beast as he stood on the banks of the Muskegon River in 1938. It was reported that a large black “dog” reared up on its hind legs and stared at Fortney, who shot at the creature, which then fled.

“I wouldn’t want to call it a Dogman,” he reportedly said, but relayed that he did not know what to call the canine that walked like a man.

What many have pointed to as the best evidence supporting the existence of a Dogman was the Gable film, a video transfer of what was claimed to be a mid-1970s home movie showing the creature. However, the film was proven to be fake in 2010 — even its creators admitted it was a hoax.

Dogman in Grand Haven? It's hard to imagine, but at least it keeps the legend alive and barking.