The voice scratched through the crackle of the recording made at a Grand Haven house: “I’m not happy. I’m not happy. I’m not happy. Help me!”
The electronic voice phenomenon is believed to be of a woman murdered by her husband in 1922.
“You can’t have a haunting without history,” said author and paranormal investigator Amberrose Hammond.
While many people head to make-believe haunted houses and spooky corn mazes this time of year, others are exploring the many properties in Allegan and Ottawa counties that could be home to other-worldly spirits.
The real haunted houses
The ghost of Kate Koopman supposedly haunts the Second Impression Consignment Shop, 310 Fulton Ave., in Grand Haven.
Hammond devotes part of her 2009 book “Ghosts & Legends of Michigan’s West Coast” to the haunting.
Koopman was killed by her husband in November 1922. She was found by her son at the bottom of the stairs with a bullet in her back. Koopman’s husband was convicted in a day-long trial and served more than 7 years in jail
People in the building have heard footsteps and seen lights flick on and off by themselves. A visitor also saw an apparition walk down the stairs, Hammond said.
Hammond and her friends recorded the “I’m not happy” sounds at the shop.
She’s also had personal experience with paranormal activity at the Felt Mansion in Laketown Township.
The mansion was completed in 1928 by Dorr E. Felt, the inventor of the Comptometer, an adding machine, who feared fire. The mansion was not constructed of wood, but instead the beams are steel. The walls and even the roof are concrete.
The grounds were powered by a windmill, a wave undulation machine put in Lake Michigan powered a generator and a collection pool used the sun to warm irrigation water for the vineyard and orchards for the self-sufficient estate along the lakeshore.
Shortly after the mansion was complete, Felt’s wife, Agnes, died.
And that’s where some of the haunting begins.
“I can say from personal experience we had some strange stuff happen while helping out the tours,” Hammond said on her website michigansotherside.com, including spotting shadow people on the third floor ballroom. One spectral image, “human-like and blacker than the shadows around it. It had density” seemed to make a sweeping motion with a broom. A second figure appeared next to it, then both suddenly vanished, she said.
At another time, her camera picked up a door in the room of Agnes Felt slowly open on its own as an ice blast of air filled the room.
For the first time, the mansion has been giving visitors a chance to experience the 17,000-square-feet at its spookiest — from 9 p.m. to midnight. Friday, Oct. 31, is the last of the two weeks of “October Blackness Unhaunted Mansion Tours.”
The tours were in response to public demand.
“I would (otherwise) spend most of October answering questions about ‘Is it haunted’ — so I decided to let people decide for themselves,” said Patty Meyer, director of the Friends of the Felt Estate and project manager for Felt Mansion and Estate restoration project.
“We have been very busy, especially on weekends, and people love the opportunity to go through and, instead of having a manufactured ‘haunted’ experience (the kind you would have at a typical haunted house), they have the chance to have their own paranormal experience and decide for themselves,” she said.
Tours are $30 per person and flashlights are needed — the lights will be turned out.
Next year, Meyer is considering taking reservations for groups that want to have their own night at the mansion.
Hammond, who has been a paranormal investigator, presented a talk Oct. 21 at Howard Miller Public Library in Zeeland about paranormal experiences throughout the state.
She has been interested in ghosts since she was a child and calls herself “an open-minded skeptic” who discounts pictures of spirit orbs as dust on a camera lens and tells people not to be frightened if they come across a spirit at the Felt Mansion.
“If you go to the Felt Mansion, nothing will follow you home,” she said.
She says interest in ghosts and the supernatural is increasing thanks to the many television programs and the real-life events including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent wars that have taken the lives of many people. Survivors want to reach out to those who have died, she said.
Gettysburg, for example, is one of the most haunted battlefields in the United States with many sightings of soldiers of that Civil War battle.
“It’s like going back in time,” she said about the feeling on the battlefield.
Katie Dishinger of West Olive and her friend Jaime Puckett of Los Angeles took the chance to talk to Hammond about her experiences.
“We were just kind of interested in it,” Dishinger said.
— Follow Jim Hayden on Twitter@SentinelJim.