This week we are doing two surveys for Campus Archaeology on MSU’s campus. This first is part of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and the second is part of the demolition of the Old Botany greenhouses. The FRIB project was awarded to MSU …
Michigan State University has a hidden ghostly past. Everyday, hundreds of students walk over the hidden past, the foundations of burned buildings, and the artifacts of students long dead. We at Campus Archaeology spend our time trying to reveal these ghosts and uncover the past, but there are still gaps in our knowledge. There are still ghosts that walk the campus. This Halloween, why not take this haunted self-guided tour through MSU’s campus so that you can interact with the ghosts of campus past.
This is considered to be the most haunted place on campus. The building was constructed in 1931, and named after Mary Anne Mayo, a committee member of the Michigan Agricultural College and strong supporter of women on campus. She died in 1903 from illness, and never actually stepped foot into the building named after her, well at least not alive. The hauntings are reported throughout the history of the building, stories are passed down through its caretakers, and students consistently report odd noises and happenings. Many have seen the figure of a woman, possibly Mary, walking through the halls, the playing of the piano after dark, and lights switching off. There is also the mysterious red room, a supposedly locked room in the attic of the building that is sealed off. Students who have entered the room found satanic symbols, and it was rumored that seances occurred here when the building first opened. Student’s have written accounts of their time in this hall, and video has even been taken of the red room.
A student reportedly called police in the summer of 1995 in response to loud pounding at her door well after midnight. Looking out under the door she could see no one standing in front of the door, yet the pounding continued. Security staff were called and they could hear the racket. They ran down the hall to stand in front of her door watching it rattle in its frame, with the handle ratcheting back and forth. It stopped after about five minutes. No other reports have been made for this building.
The campus green area by Beaumont Tower is known for images of couples in old-fashioned dress holding hands and walking slowly by on foggy mornings; and glimpses of a man in tails and a stovepipe hat on particularly dark nights. This is also the location of the first building ever built on campus, College Hall. Its walls collapsed in 1918, and it has been reported that long dead students appear at night, searching for their building. Similar sightings have occurred near the area where Saints’ Rest once was.
Every year the auditorium is turned into a Haunted House to raise money for student organizations. However, throughout the year there are spooky reports from this building. Echoing noises come from the wings of the stage when no one is in them or producing the original sounds. Numerous sightings have been made of a small boy who wanders through the rows of seats, unable to find his way out. His laughter and the sound of a bouncing ball can be heard.
The sixth floor of Holmes Hall is rumored to have an extra resident who stalks the floor and mysteriously opens the elevator. Appliances have been known to turn on and off. Students have reported a male figure walking through their room at night. Two figures have been seen calling the elevator and walking into it, only for it to remain on the sixth floor, empty.
At Campus Archaeology we see the remains of what students once did on campus, the material effects of behavior past. Most of what we find is the result of students long gone and dead. Can we attest to these hauntings? Not so much. The evidence of the past we find is more tangible, remnants of behavior and actions. However, we have found some spooky finds including the soles of shoes and wads of human hair. We even discussed the possibility of a released curse as over half the graduate and undergraduates working on the recent Saints’ Rest excavation came down with colds, flus and a couple cases of bronchitis. The spread of sickness however is more likely related to our close proximity to one another and the early cold mornings were were working… but for this Halloween, we’ll say we released a historic curse from the building. The ghosts of the students of Saints’ Rest, haunting us and lowering our immune systems.
Have you ever run into any ghosts on campus? Any spooky interactions?
Author: Katy Meyers Emery
We are now deep into the throws of creating a typology for the CAP artifacts from across campus to establish a system for adding new objects during future work. In archaeology this set of artifacts is called a type collection which allows us to be …
After a few days of research we’ve been able to learn many interesting facts about the bottles recovered from the Brody Complex. Other than our Vicks Vatronol and Wilkens Whiskey bottles, we also found some other bottles that we were able to identify. Not only …
This past week we collected a number of bottles from the recent construction at the Brody Complex. This isn’t the first time we’ve been called out to this area, and it likely won’t be the last. The Brody Complex is built on the site of the historic East Lansing landfill. Since the site has been revealing high numbers of bottles and other artifacts, we can’t collect everything. As you can see from Terry’s earlier post on our first excursion to the site (See post here: Better Call Campus Archaeology…), we have a good sample already of the types of bottles found from this period.
However, we do collect things that have value to the history of MSU or East Lansing, such as MSU Creamery bottles, and anything that will benefit the education of students and the community. To this latter point, we look to recover bottles that can be identified or classified, and that will aid in better understanding the past. These include bottles with embossed or paper labels, and bottles with easily recognizable or unique shapes. Since we recovered the bottles on Tuesday, we have been analyzing our finds and doing background research on their origins.
The process of identification in some cases is quite easy, especially if there is a label or embossing. For example, one of the artifacts recovered was a small blue bottle with a metal lid. There was no label to the sides of the bottle, however the white residue on the lower half of the bottle also suggested that at one point it did have a label. There was also embossing on the bottom that read: “VICKS” and “NOL”. The portion between these two groupings of letters was damaged and couldn’t be read. However, this was enough evidence to get started. This small type of bottle is used primarily for medicines, and Vicks is a well known pharmaceutical company that has been producing congestion relieving medicines since 1891.
Looking at historic advertisements and bottles revealed a product known as Vicks Va-Tro-Nol, which were nose and throat drops. Some of the earlier forms of the bottle closely mirror the bottle that we recovered from the site. Even though we were missing the label, the lid was damaged, and the bottom embossing was incomplete- we were able to make a quick identification!
Not all are this easy. It becomes quite difficult trying to identify a bottle that has nothing more than an embossed image and some difficult to read text. In some cases, there is no product name present. We, as archaeologists, must always be up for the challenge of trying to identifying the most difficult things. The bottle we were investigating contained generic federal warning text at the top, an obscure picture of a man embossed front and center, and some decorative embossing along the edges.
Based on the text at the top: “Federal law forbids sale or reuse of this bottle”, the distinctive shape of the bottle, and the presence of some type of grain embossed on the sides, we could automatically denote that we had an empty liquor bottle on our hands. These facts allowed us to begin a search online for “antique liquor bottles with image of a man”. After panning through various websites and constantly refining the searches. This meant looking at a variety of antique and glass resource websites, looking at bottles with presidents faces and various proprietors of liquors to no avail. However, we did find a similar face and bottle on an antiques dealing website. The size and shape of the online bottle was a bit different from ours, but the images were the same. Their description of their bottle noted that it was an old Wilken’s Whiskey bottle. Further research into this company revealed that our bottle was also that of Wilken’s Whiskey. The company was started in the 1880’s and was a family run business. The face on the bottle was Pa Wilken, who ran the distillery until his death in 1936. We were able to narrow the date of our bottle to pre-1940, as after this date the label was changed to Wilken’s Family Whiskey and featured the faces of Wilkens and his two sons on a paper label.
The process of identification can be difficult, but it is also fun. Throughout our search for information on these seemingly mundane objects of the past, we learn more about daily life in the early 20th century.
Author: Katy Meyers Emery
On June 7th during an excavation in West Circle Drive we recovered a paperclip. Now, you should know that we don’t keep anything that is definitely modern. We don’t keep the crushed beer cans from tailgating or the McDonald’s straws from littering. We did keep …