Rev. Gerald S. Hunter - Author of "Haunted Michigan"
On the phone with Donrad - 2001
Of all the things that we tend to hear about but have mixed feelings about believing, ghostly apparitions and hauntings are up at the top of the list. Who is to say whether ghosts are real entities, mass hysteria, something simple with an explination, or merely a delusion brought on by an overactive imagination in search of something to call its own. The fact remains that hauntings have been reported throuout the ages. From some of the earliest writings to modern day news reports. Who is to say whether a reported sighting is legit? Does an apparition need to be witnessed by a licensed psychologist or government official? Is a regular layperson mentally able enough, or trustworthy enough, to know what he or she is witnessing? These questions make reports that much tougher for many to take in.
Gerald S. Hunter is a reverend in Michigan. He is also the author of the book, "Haunted Michigan," telling some reputably true expereinces involving the paranormal. Here is a man of the cloth - respected and God-fearing - who is believed by many, telling his versions of things that have happened but could not be simply explained away. "Haunted Michigan" is a collection of real events, as they were reported, that have struck curiousty in more than just a few. We recently had the chance to meet with Reverend Hunter and discuss how the book came about - and how a religious, fundamental person such as himself has come to believe that there is more out there than we are aware of.

K2K: How has your book been doing?
GH: Not too bad according to my publisher [Sharon Woodhouse - Lake Claremont Press ]. She said she'd be happy if I sold 4,000 copies in two or three years, it looks like I'm going to top that in one year.
K2K: When was your book "Haunted Michigan" released?
GH: October 17, 2000 and then it didn't even hit any of the bookstores until about two and a half weeks before Christmas. Amazon and people like that weren't even stocking it until just before Christmas, of course now they stock it but what does that mean? It just means they keep a couple copies on hand and when it sells they order more. It's still doing well, compared to the other books my publisher does, she usually only does Chicago and Illinois stuff but she took a chance with me as her first out of Chicago book and is doing Well, with it. The other books my publisher has on hauntings are "Chicago Haunts" and several others by Ursula Bielski, about four of them. Ursula said the trick is when the first book's published, if you did decent there's always an interest in it but when part two comes out it makes the first books sales go up.
K2K: How long have you been researching paranormal things or ghost sightings?
GH: I didn't get started until either late in 1987 or early 1988. The first one I did was a house in Ohio and I was called by a college colleague of mine to go down there. He had some really good friends in Wooster, Ohio and they tend to go to this one friends house that has all kinds of stuff going on and this friend of mine who's another pastor, his wife is really tuned into that stuff. She felt so uncanny in that house when she visited it and the people that lived there said "oh yeah, we can tell you all kinds of stories!" So they asked if I wanted to come over and check it out and out of interest I did. I took a guy named John Dennis with me, he was a jack-of-all-trades and a big big guy, smart as a whip... haven't seen him in years. So I took him with me there the first time, met the people and they were really nice - we got to be good friends with them in the course of the three years I was down there. I had numerous visits there, John only went there with me twice and said he wasn't going to go back there again, he got really spooked when he was there with me.
K2K: What did you see there?
GH: Ghosts (laughs nervously).
K2K: What kinds of things were they doing?
GH: Well, the first day there we met the people who lived there and talked with them, they gave us (John and I) the run of the house for the afternoon, so we went room-by-room. I'd take a picture of each room and write down a description... you know. A real old farm house built in 1828, it overlooks this valley, so when they remodeled it in early American decor of that period, I mean it's gorgeous inside. Antique furnishings, the pictures on the walls were hung by antique nails with ribbons that came down and held the pictures.
The stuff that happened just that day... we went upstairs up the stairway to a little short landing, three more stairs up and the master bedroom's on the left... took a picture - it was like "Better Homes and Gardens" - went down to the next room and took some more, the next one and took some pictures and came back and as we we walked past the master bedroom we looked in there and every picture on the wall is sideways and the drawer to the bureau is pulled out and some clothes are on the floor... John got a little freaked with that one.
We decided we were going to sit and meditate - he was big into meditation - so I said what the heck. When I get into meditation I drift (laughs), I'll fall asleep if I'm not careful. We meditated for a while then we got up and I said "lets put some video tapes on" and we started hearing bangings, it would be just like somebody would pound the walls as hard as they could with their fists upstairs and I said "whoa, this is interesting."
John set up a big tape recorder down the upstairs hallway between the bedrooms and I set mine up half way up the first flight of steps with the idea that I was going to sit by my box and John was going to sit next to his box. John said "no I want to sit where I can see you," he was getting that scared at that point. I said "oh that's fine with me," so we both sat, I was at the half of the steps and he was at the top of the landing.
The idea was, we meditated for awhile and I just spoke out loud and said "we're going to ask some questions and if you want to answer verbally fine, if you don't then answer one knock for yes and two knocks for no," you know, that kind of stuff and we took our time and I started asking a series of questions cause this was my first investigation and I asked some stupid questions... like the first one "are you here?" Now that is a dumb question! One knock yes, two knocks no... even if you get two knocks you know they're here, that's just a dumb question. So I asked that question and I thought "well, it's my first time, I always ask something like that" so I started asking more questions and never heard a thing, so after about thirty minutes of that we rewound the tapes.
He's down at his box and I'm down at mine and I remember saying to him "ah John, this is a waste of time," about that time he says "Gere... come here!" I said "what's the matter?" He was down on his knees in front of his boom box and he goes "you've got to hear this!" He rewound the tape where I ask the questions and he'd hear "BAM!" or "BAM BAM!!" this kind of stuff. It was loud, I mean it was loud enough where the VU meter on his box was at the top (in the red) every time. We never heard it, it's only on the tape which I discovered since then is typical.
Well, we shut the tape players down and wherever I went John was like my shadow. We'd turn a light out, go into another room, come back and the light would be on... stuff like that. Then he had to go to the bathroom and it was upstairs, well, there was a small one downstairs but he wanted to go upstairs. So we went upstairs and the bathroom's in the bedroom off the hallway, as you go down the hallway they have shelves that have towels and things on them and John is walking ahead of me, I'm about six to eight feet behind him, as he goes on I came behind him and a towel came off the shelf... just dropped between us.
Well, I just picked it back up and he set it back on the wall and he said to me "you didn't have to scare me." I said "I didn't, you don't need to be scared anymore." So he used the bathroom, washed his hands and they had a big lions head thing made of brass on the wall that held towels on it. He dried his hands and hung the towel back on it and started walking out and the towel flew past us. He just stopped, got kind of angry, picked up the towel and went back in to put it on the lions head where it was - keep in mind that John was a big guy and had a lot of muscles - well the towel kept coming off as if it were being forced off no matter how hard John struggled to try and put it on.
(At this time the batteries in my tape player went dead. I had to go get some new ones... or were the ones I had in my tape player really ok?)
(The ghost that Gerald talks about is named George and with a new set of batteries in my tape machine we attempt to continue the interview.)
K2K: Crazy, I have new batteries in my tape deck, now the thing is not working. (All of a sudden the tape machine starts working again.)
GH: George in Ohio is somebody that, the fact that we're talking about him is grounds for him to act up again. One person who talked to me in depth about George started having trouble in their house with him. George is not nice. It has been since 1990 that I've been there, so it's been ten years but every time I talk about him or think about writing about the story, stuff starts up again, it's most unpleasant.
K2K: Have you done any research on who this George person was in real life?
GH: I sure have. I started doing a title search with the county records down in Wooster, Ohio and talking with people who used to live in the house and discovering through the deed search that from like the 1920's all the way up to 1930, until about 1975 nobody lived in that house for more than two or three years at a time tops. Highly unusual.
I remember calling one old lady in her 80's and she lived in the house about two years - I think it was 1955-1957 - and when I told her what I was doing and what was going on she just started saying "oh man am I glad to hear you say this, I lived in that house for two years and I thought I was crazy, I thought all those years it was me, now I know it's not!" But I did some research and what's interesting is the people who lived in the house at the time had two kids... one of them was a boy in college. While I was doing the research I discovered through newspaper articles and things like that who this guy was and pretty much what he'd done in that house, so I was looking for a name and I got the name George. I remember getting all excited and getting on the phone and calling the people who lived in the house - three friends of mine - and said "I got his name, I got his name..." and they said "don't tell us, we're gonna tell you... our son had a seance at college with a couple of psychics and they started talking about his house and him and his name is George and his wife's name is Marsha." I said "yup, that's what I got!"
Marsha had gotten pregnant by somebody else - or that's what George thought - so when the baby was born she claimed it was hers and his, George claimed it wasn't - whether it was or not I don't know, my guess is it probably wasn't - but he took the baby and killed it. He threw it up against the wall on the stairway going up the stairs which explains the cold spots and explains hearing the lady cry all the time in that house. Marsha died a few days later probably self inflicted.
K2K: Do you know what era that would have been?
GH: Yes, it was the 1910's and the last time we did something there we brought in somebody from the Akron Beacon Journal - a reporter - and there were several of us there and we turned the lights out and they decided they wanted to screw around with the Ouija board - which I don't do. I said " you want to do that fine, I'll observe but I'm not going to get involved." I had my nephew with me, we were watching them. The two women worked the board and one of their friends was watching and my nephew and I were sitting on the floor eye level with the table they were doing it on in the living room.
The owner of the house - a really neat guy not afraid of anything - was upstairs looking down the hallway but while they were working on the Ouija board three or four times these women at the same exact moment would scream and pull back and they were talking about how full of sorrow they felt and they wanted to cry because they were getting this woman and the woman was giving messages, she was leaving for her baby and she was mournful and all this kind of stuff. While they're doing this stuff my nephew and I are sitting there and all of a sudden this fog came in, icy cold and just enveloped us. My nephew was saying "uncle Gerry, uncle Gerry... you feel that?" Well, how couldn't you? Two or three times the women would let go of the planchette on the board, that planchette by itself would go (makes back and forth motions with his hands) and slide right off.
Well, they decided to take a break so they got off the board and they hollered out to John (the owner of the house) upstairs "we're taking a break." He comes downstairs and says "what the hell were you people doing down here?" His wife and best friend were saying "we got a woman, we got a woman on the board." He said (excuse my language as I'm quoting him) "No s***, I've been sitting here at the top of the stairs watching her for fifteen minutes, she's been going up and down the stairs in her velvet kind of gown, you could smell her perfume and watch her going back and forth in the hallway crying like she's looking for something." It was just the weirdest night that night, but he (George the ghost) gets violent, grabs people, taunts them and is mean. He's been seen by dozens of people and sometimes several at a time have seen him.
K2K: So he has been seen?
GH: Oh heavens yes, I've seen him. He'll show up as clear as you are, he's got red hair, beard... his beard is trimmed about, it's really close cropped like you would wear back then - his red hair is very neat looking - but he smells like sweat. Red hair, red beard, black outfit with a white shirt and a white kind of string/tie thing or whatever it was they wore back then. He was just most unpleasant. So that was the first one I investigated and then what happened was I wrote about that, moved back to Michigan and I decided "you know this is kind of a cool story, I'm going to write about my exploits just for myself." So I wrote it down.
It took me about 45 minutes to write my story and I wondered if the Akron Beacon Journal would be interested in this, so I sent them a copy. They wrote back and said they wanted to use it and sent a check for five-hundred bucks! I said "five-hundred bucks for fifty minutes? That's not bad!" When the article came out it was the front cover story of the Sunday news magazine that they do and as a result of that I started getting phone calls... radio stations, people who write and things like that. Then I started getting contacted by people in my area in Michigan that wanted to be taken seriously and thought I would listen, so one thing led to another and I just started checking out peoples stories and the rest is history.
K2K: In your book "Haunted Michigan" you have twenty-nine stories, how many actual ghost sightings have you actually encountered?
GH: Total that I've written about and sighted probably close to fifty. Not everything goes in the book, there's a lot of times I don't trust it (peoples stories) I don't think it's authentic. I don't think people are trying to rip me off or anything, I think they're just trying to understand something that's going on that turns out that it can be explained away... weird noises in an old house are sometimes weird noises because you're in an old house, that's all, those kinds of things. It could be just about anything... rodents, bats, just an old house creaking, I mean these things weren't built by todays standards you know.
K2K: Since the book came out how many people have called you about ghost sightings?
GH: Nobody has called me in terms of "cold calling" because I don't give that number out. I advertise in the book and on radio and in print that they can contact me by e-mail through the publisher:
I've probably got forty to fifty people who have contacted me already by e-mail wanting to share their story. Two or three people wanted to volunteer their services. There's a ghost hunting club that wants to volunteer their services. There's some really respectable professional people - engineers and things like that - that want to tag along with equipment. Some of the leads I just kind of raise my eyebrows at, others I'll look into. I've got several good ones I'm going to follow up on.
K2K: In some hauntings it seems like the apparition's there or lasts for a couple of years then all of a sudden goes away and you never hear from it or see it again, can you explain anything about that?
GH: No. The only way I can explain or understand that myself is that either they've pulled out and left permanently for whatever reasons they had or time as we understand it is not the way they experience it. So to be gone for several years may not even seem like they're gone long at all for them. Einstein talked about the theory of relativity of time and space... all that there ever was, all that ever will be is... you know, that kind of thing, so who knows? Several of the hauntings that I've investigated people will say that nothing will happen for months at a time then all of a sudden WHAM! here it goes again and that's not uncommon at all.
K2K: My personal observation and research is that when someone dies abruptly by a murder, car accident, a drowning or whatever... before their time is due, it seems as if those are the spirits people usually see most often, can you attest to that?
GH: It's about half-and-half in my experience. There are people who die of old age and are so attached to their house or to the experiences they've had in their house that they don't leave, they just stay. Of course others - I think there are lots of them - that die suddenly, they don't know they're dead or they have unfinished business and they stick around. But you hear all the time of people who die of old age in the house and they don't leave it, they're still there, they had plenty of time to know they're dying, it's a lingering death but they're there still and they resent anything happening to their house.
K2K: Do you think that spirits are more apparent in graveyards?
GH: No I don't. Why would they be? The only time they've been associated with that in their lives is when they get put in the ground, why on earth would they be attached to that? Now I could be wrong. I think they're more attached to the places that they knew and people that they know more than anything else, otherwise every cemetery and funeral home would have stuff flying all over the place.
K2K: What do you feel about the Ouija board?
GH: The verdict is out on that with me, some people think it's demonic and I think that the power of psychological suggestion is very strong, so I think if you have strong beliefs in the demonic that somehow you are going to start having experiences that lead you to believe you're in touch with it, whether it's fulfillment of your own unconscious expectations or whatever, other people work with it and have no problems with it.
Some people have superstitions about them, that they'll work just fine if you put a piece of silver or a silver coin on it while you work it... like it keeps evil spirits away or whatever. I'm kind of blase with it but I also lean toward I'd rather not do it. I wouldn't mind being there and watching someone that wants to do it but I'd rather not do it myself.
K2K: Now have you been around a Ouija board other than that time at the house in Ohio and had any crazy experiences?
GH: Yes, some interesting experiences... just messages coming through from people that the spirits just wanted to talk, spirits that had nothing to do with the house you were in. It's almost like it's a magnet sometimes for that. I don't know why, I never have figured out why it would work that way. I think some houses attract spirits. I think the presence of a strong spirit will attract other ones. I think that explains why some houses have a whole bunch of spirits in them and people are baffled as to who these people are.
K2K: What about exorcisms, what's your take on that subject?
GH: I don't do it. I think it's an interesting phenomena that's almost exclusively a Catholic priest that practices that. Again I think if you have a theological or psychological mind set that demons exist and exorcisms are real, that if you're experiencing strange phenomena - even if it's in a manifestation of your own unconscious mind - that if you have a strong enough belief that that can happen, you can make it happen. But if you have a strong enough belief system in exorcism that the very act of doing that will be successful.
I've never encountered anything I thought was demonic. A lot of people want to say to me that hauntings are demons or the devil doing things, I don't buy that. If for whatever reason I died and I stuck around attached to a place, attached to a person, unfinished business, whatever, I think ghosts want to be heard, people want to be heard. I would resent somebody quoting scripture and throwing holy water at me, that's no way to treat somebody that has unfinished business, it just isn't.
K2K: Tell me the story about the kid who was talking to himself.
GH: I never want to answer questions in a definitive way to say that these things don't exist or these things can't happen because every now and then something will come along you can't explain. Now because you can't explain it doesn't mean that it has to be demonic, but it doesn't mean that it isn't. I was working a midnight shift at the Calvin County Juvenile home in Marshall, Michigan. This is back about 1986 and it was a summer night. There's three main hallways there, one where you lock down all of the girls and two where you lock down the guys. In almost all cases everybody has their own separate private room.
We put all the kids down for the night... after they're down there's no talking or anything and every fifteen minutes we're supposed to make rounds with a flashlight to check on the kids. In between the fifteen minutes you sit in this walled-in office with an audio scanner - a machine that automatically goes from one room to the next and lets you listen in - and you can set the time for one minute or stay at each room for five seconds. We had it on for about ten seconds in each room, then we'd click to the next room.
Ron (my supervisor) and I were sitting there talking and all of a sudden the scanner hit one room and we heard this kid talking. Well, we thought he was talking in his sleep so we just let it scan and it came back again and we heard what sounded like a deep old mans voice talking and we thought "what the heck is this?" So we just picked the scanner to stay in that room permanently and we'd hear this kid talk and we'd hear this man answer. This is really weird, this can't be you know? He's in that room alone. So Ron - who's a big guy - says "Hunter, go down there and check that room and see if he's in there by himself." I said "I'm the basement boy, you're responsible for that hall, you go down and check it." He says "lets both go." I said "lets both sit here for a minute and listen to more of this and see what's going on first," so we did. We'd hear this conversation going back and forth.
K2K: Could you make sense of the conversation?
GH: Oh yeah, they were talking and I can't remember exactly what they were talking about but it was like the old man was asking very personal questions, so we thought "all right, we gotta go down there" so together we went down there. We walked up to the door - the door just had this little window in it - I kind of went under the window and got to one side, Ron was on the other and we went "one... two... three..." because we're both scared of doing this ourselves - and we shined the light in there and this kid's sitting on the edge of his bed looking towards the wall talking, oblivious to our light in his eyes and everything. Then all of a sudden he answers himself with another voice. As we're watching this kid we're hearing both voices at the same time and that's when I said to Ron "you deal with it!"
We sat back in the office and listened to it for about fifteen to twenty minutes and then it stopped, so we went down later and the kid was laying back down and sleeping again. Now you tell me what it was because I don't know. I don't think it's physically possible for one person to speak in two voices at the same time. How could I be talking right now and have two separate voices and two separate sentences coming out at the same time simultaneously? It's not possible, but that's what was happening.
K2K: Tell me about the 30th story that never appeared in the book... did it deal with George?
GH: Actually it was chapter 23 and it didn't have anything to do with George. George is an Ohio ghost and my book is only about Michigan. This story was in a small town in the upper part of lower Michigan near Kalkaska. Anyway it was chapter 23 and I was supposed to have 30 chapters which is what I wanted for the book - it's a nice round number. I got done typing it up and and whenever I'd type a story up I'd print out a copy in my printer and then I'd duplicate it in the duplicating machine and then I'd save the story to my disc - my floppy disc - and then I'd back up the floppy disc with two other floppy discs - because if your computer crashes you gotta have this stuff - then I'd keep the discs separately so nothing happens... that's a lot of work.
I was getting close to sending the manuscript in, so I'm proofreading everything, I put my disc in and go to call up number 23 and it's not there, it's not even on the disc and I thought "what the heck" so I put the other disc in and it's not there either so I thought "what's going on here?" I pulled up the hard copy and looked at it and there it was and I said to myself "I know I backed this up." So I took out the fourth disc and there it was on the fourth disc so I backed it up again on the others and checked it to make sure it was there... it was on all four discs now. I even printed out another copy so I've now got two hardcopies.
Then I get ready to do some more proofreading - I had to proofread each chapter several times - and went to call up chapter 23. Chapter 23 is listed on each floppy... blank, title... blank, so then I go to pull out my two hard copies that I printed out and I've only got one now and I was wondering "what's going on here?" So I took the one and made a duplicate... made two duplicates - one for myself that I put in order in my briefcase and the other two to send to my publisher. I took chapter 23 printed it out, stuck it in both hard copies of my book manuscripts and took my discs and I made sure they were there after retyping them and sent everything to my publisher. I sent her two discs and two printed out copies of everything and I kept two discs and two printed out copies of everything as well. She (my publisher) got the manuscript and the discs and she said "where's chapter 23?" It wasn't in the printed out copies and it wasn't on those discs so I thought "what a bunch of junk." I got into my briefcase and I start going chapter 1 - 2 - 3... going through the pages and I get to 22 then it jumps to 24, so I pull out my floppies and they also jump from 22 to 24... just gone, so I just figured where it is or whatever it is it doesn't want its story told.
K2K: Was it that unusual of a story compared to the others in the book?
GH: I didn't think so.
K2K: Where was it rated on the haunted meter (in the book there's a "haunt meter" that gives the reader an indication of how scary the story is)?
GH: I'd give it about a four out of five, but it wasn't anything violent, it wasn't anything nasty with anyone, it was just like somebody said "this is private and you're not going to tell it!"
K2K: There's a story in the book where a girl deals with dark and demonic ghost-like apparitions...
GH: The last story in the book (chapter 29). I put that in only because I was there to witness it. If that was a story that came to me that I wasn't actually there to witness what was going on I wouldn't have included it in the book because it's not a typical ghost story. It's the only one in there that people could read and say to themselves something demonic is going on. I threw it in because it was so much different and because I was there.
K2K: Now what about the girl practicing with tarot cards, is the situation in the book typical with what people who use tarot cards go through?
GH: No, it's not typical at all.
K2K: So was she dabbling with something other than what a normal kid just playing around with tarot cards would do?
GH: Yes, she was having friends over and they were doing more than seances, they were really into Dungeons and Dragons...
K2K: Does Dungeons and Dragons have anything to do with the occult though?
GH: I think it just helps open your mind or to allow yourself to experience evil. It doesn't mean you're going to, I think some people can play that game and not even have a problem with it. But I think if you really want to open your mind to things and consider it to be evil you're likely to experience things... that's been my impression.
K2K: Do you think Dungeons and Dragons is an evil game?
GH: I'm not sure there is an evil game, maybe there is... I don't know. I think if you feel uncomfortable with it or if you have a belief system that says "don't do it" then don't do it! It's that simple.
K2K: Isn't Dungeons and Dragons a fantasy game?
GH: Yeah, its just a fantasy kind of thing. Some people have claimed that it has led young impressionable people to do things they normally wouldn't do, if that's true then the same can be said for literature, music and all that kind of stuff. At any rate to get back about your question on the girl in the book, she and her friends were into Dungeons and Dragons, Satan worship, pentagrams and had black candles all over the place and they're doing all that kind of stuff, we discovered what they were doing.
K2K: What kind of pentagrams did they have?
GH: The five star things with different kinds of symbols at each point, I can't remember what they were, but that was underneath the rug on the floor. They had all kinds of books on Satan worship and Satanism and things like that. We also found literature that led us to believe that they were practicing Satanic sexual orgy kind of things. That house was really interesting, if I hadn't been there to witness some of the stuff that was going on the day I was there with Sheila I wouldn't have believed it.
K2K: Did the girl look like the typical teen trying to be a Satanist?
GH: No, she looked like somebody that was going to fool around with stuff she didn't know what she was fooling around with and that's what she admitted. She was overweight and had a hard time getting a boyfriend and the people she was doing this with - her best friend a girl and her best friends boyfriend who she also liked, I think he was taking advantage of that. I remember Sheila and I went in the house and we were talking to the people that lived there and she asked them to step outside, that it was a nice day and could you wait for us outside. She was very polite and as soon as they stepped outside she looked at me and said "what the hell have they been doing in this house?" I said "I don't know, how would I know what they do in their house?" I knew the old man who owned the house very well, a terrific human being, one of the best people you'd ever want to know. Then Sheila said "it's here, they're here right now... what are these things?"
She had me open the trap door that goes to the attic and she looked in there and started describing all the little bitty black creatures who were just scurrying about going from one level to the next and they were very afraid of her... she was extremely gifted, unbelievably so. I remember we went into that back bedroom - the master bedroom - and she said "they're in here but the spirit of his dead wife is in here too and they're wanting to run her out." All of a sudden the whole bedroom - the shades were up and bright sunlight was shining in from outside - went dark, I mean dark and cold.
K2K: It seems like the cold is always present when you see something like this, is that typical?
GH: Either cold or some people experience warmth. I talked to one lady who knew her ghost was near when she got a real warm safe physically warm feeling, but that was the kind of ghost that was very nurturing.
K2K: Do you think a majority of the ghosts you've encountered are good and the bad ones are the minority?
GH: I think whatever people were in life that's what they are in death. If they were nice people they are nice ghosts, if they were mean they're mean later on.
K2K: What about a ghost who likes their house but doesn't like someone altering it or adding on to it?
GH: They usually try to express their disdain for that by manifesting, you know they can't be heard audibly so they're going to be heard in other ways. I think it happens a lot.
K2K: What kind of feedback have you gotten from the book from the people written about in it? Have they had unwanted visitors hanging out on their lawns and that kind of thing?
GH: The public places I mention, people are actually going there and talking about it and the owners are ok with it. The private dwellings there's only a couple of them in the book I didn't obscure the address and names just enough where people could have their privacy because that's what they wanted. That's what helped me to believe them more that what they telling me was true. If somebody was chomping at the bit to have a story in the book and their name and address in the book that's a red flag to me. Most people say they'll do this if you promise not to let people know exactly where we live. Some people don't mind it listed at all.
The next book "Haunted Michigan Part 2" is going to have more public places in it that more people can actually visit. I've got a lot of leads that have come in already... libraries, churches, theaters, book stores and so on.
K2K: Do you plan on doing thirty chapters for the new book?
GH: I'd like to, it depends on how big each chapter gets. I'd like to personalize each chapter a little bit more too. The beginning of each chapter has not only directions but also a little something to say generally about the area, I like to keep it personal.
K2K: You mentioned a lot of good eateries in this book.
GH: I want to give people a reason to go there other than other than just look for a haunted house. You might as well stop and get something to eat or see some sights. I could have done a whole book on Bay County.
K2K: That's what it looked like, there's several stories from there.
GH: I've got even more and there's a real excellent one I haven't printed yet.
K2K: Have you ever read the Satanic Bible?
GH: No. I've taken a look at it. My brother has it because of his job (police chief), he looks at that kind of stuff.
K2K: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
GH: Everything except for country and rap. Country music is about as moronic and depressing as I've ever experienced and rap... if you ever want to torture me, tie me in a chair and make me listen to rap.
K2K: Who were your favorite bands or musicians while growing up?
GH: I always liked 60's rock and roll music. I love the Four Seasons and a little of the Beach Boys, but I had almost everything the Four Seasons ever did. Right now I listen to the Doors, the Grass Roots and all that kind of stuff. My son -he's 28 now - is really interested in music of the 60's, so he's bringing home all this stuff for me to listen to that he thinks I haven't heard before like Eric Clapton when he was with Cream, Jimi Hendrix and all this. I told him early Clapton and Hendrix all that kind of stuff are icons now and people today are thinking that that's what the bulk of the 60's music was and it wasn't. It had a following but it didn't have a main stream following. Steppenwolf was the exception. Steppenwolf was really counter culture but it was very popular as were the Beatles and Rolling Stones. I love blues and jazz too and a little bit of cajun as well.
K2K: Since you're a reverend what do you say to the people who claim rock and roll is Satanic or evil?
GH: There's a segment of the Christian community that's very fundamentalist and literalist in their interpretations and they're going to find the demonic under every rock, you can't stop that. I think that music, literature, movies all influence people and sometimes they they influence people to do terrific things and sometimes they influence people to do horrible things. I may be able to listen to a certain type of music and just find it entertainment and other people may be a little weak minded morally or ethically and they may decide to run out and do some of the dumb stuff they're listening to. That doesn't mean the music is satanic, in my mind it just means that people are impressionable and get a little too close to what it is they're doing and it becomes too much a part of their life and use music as their excuse. It comes down mostly to the parenting and I think people want to point a finger to outside influences and say "look what it's done to my kid!" rather than look at themselves and say "where have I been in the raising of this child?"
If a parent thinks that a child should not be listening to music or reading certain literature or watching certain movies because they feel it's inappropriate - even if it isn't inappropriate - they have a right to stop the child from doing that. It's not a right, they have a responsibility. I'm not going to be out finding the demonic everywhere you turn around.
K2K: What are some of your hobbies?
GH: Reading and writing... those are my hobbies. I love to read and write.
K2K: You've obviously been researching this material for several years, what spurred you to write "Haunted Michigan" and how did it come to fruition?
GH: Well, I sold that one story and I thought "is it really possible to work this little and make this kind of money?" and I guess it is. I was intrigued but I never gave thought to writing a book. What happened was about 1991 when that story got published in Ohio, it wasn't until 1998 when I thought - if I don't start putting my notes together and the narrative that I received it (doing your tapes and putting your notes together) - I'm going to forget my stories, there's too many of them, this is going to be a part of my life that I'm not going to be able to go back when people ask me what it was like and give any kind of distinctive answer, so I started writing the stories down in story form for my own benefit.
I went to Gettysburg and I took a photograph that had a ghost in it, so I got on the internet and wondered if anybody else has had this experience and discovered that there's all kinds of books on hauntings. I didn't know there was that many out there. I got a hold of Chris Woodyard -who does the haunted Ohio books - and I told her about my experience at the house in Ohio and all these chapters I had and she said "I don't do anything in Michigan but I know a publisher in Chicago that might be interested in them." I thought "Well, ok" and didn't think anything of it. At the time I only had about three of my stories put together so I sent those three to the publisher along with a query letter. She read them and got on the phone and called me and said "I want them all, how fast can you get them to me?" I said "I don't know I've never done this." Now this is in January and she said "can you have them to me by September first?" I told her I'd try and as it turned out I had them done by the fourth of July. I sent the chapters in, she said "we're going to do a book" and that's how it happened.
K2K: Tell me about your Gettysburg photograph.
GH: Geez... my wife and I had been married a year - this is my second marriage - and we decided to go out to Gettysburg. She and I and her mom and dad, great people who love the Civil War and we thought we'd drive out there and spend the night and tour the battlefield during the day. It was July and hotter than a whores dream... it was so hot there was hardly anyone touring the battlefield - Pennsylvania can get very muggy and nasty - matter of fact, the three day battle back on July 3, 1863 was a horribly hot day.
Anyway we got there early in the morning and we bought one of those tapes you stick in your car and it tells you where to go and stop and tells you what happened so you can do your own tour. Well, we got to the scene of Pickett's Charge, which is a clump of trees and in front of this clump of trees is this memorial cannon that was actually there and the cannon looks out at this expanse of of open field that goes for a mile one way and probably four miles wide. Pickett's Charge was this whole bunch of guys just doing a suicide attack across that open field with the cannons and muskets, so it's kind of a touching experience just to be there.
The battlefield itself was just a beautiful place. Standing at just a little bit of a distance from that clump of trees and looking at that cannon I thought "this would be a great photograph, I'm going to get a picture of this." That lone cannon, that clump of trees and just get a picture of it for my desk or the wall or something. So hardly anybody's there, it was so hot that my father-in-law was wearing a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off of his skin and I was doing something I never do... I was wearing shorts! We got to this scene and there was nobody else there but us four. I told my wife that anybody can pull up at any time so I asked them to stand in certain places in the clearing so if anybody pulled up they wouldn't walk into the picture because I wanted to take my time getting set up and get a couple of shots, it wouldn't take me two minutes. Well, there were no cars around and nobody else was there. There was nothing, so I got down and clicked the picture then we all went over to the cannon and talked for a while and eventually a car pulled up and we continued our tour down the line.
When I developed the photograph - it's a beautiful photograph - you can see the clump of trees, the sky and the cannon. Standing behind the cannon is a woman looking at the camera with her arms folded and she's as solid as you and I are. Because she's behind the cannon you can see where the cannon cuts across and you can see her feet below. She's wearing a yellow like high-waisted skirt that goes all the way to the ground and she's wearing a white puffy blouse that has a neck that comes all the way up to under her chin, puffy sleeves and the sleeves were all the way down to the bottom of her wrist, her hair is in a bun. There's nobody that dresses like that today... nobody! Nobody would be dressed like that on that day and there was nobody to be around in that photograph... yet there she is. It's still on my desk.
K2K: Have you heard of other people experiencing the same thing in photographs from old battlefields or elsewhere?
GH: Yes. Go to a site on the internet called the Shadowlands, and go to Tombstone or just to ghost photos. There's all kinds of sights, it's amazing what's out there. Some of them have all kinds of pictures, most of the time what you get are what they call "orbs" which are round balls of light or there's "streaks" or "mists." There's thousands of these photographs and people are saying "orb photos of spirits" I don't buy it, maybe it really is but I don't buy it. I've seen too many ghosts that are just like you and me sitting here. Why can't it be an orb of light that's bad film or a light reflection or whatever, who knows what it is?
There are people that want to see these everywhere so they'll call anything a ghost. But there's a lot of sites out there that are very interesting and one of them is Tombstone. Go to the "ghost of Tombstone" and you'll see some very good photographs there. Another picture I have is a ghost at the Alamo that is really a nice picture. His face is showing up in a sign next to a security guard and I can see another ghost behind that without even trying. I've contacted that security guard since and he has informed me that all kinds of ghostly activity is going on. He said that he and two other security guards there who are Texas Rangers are assigned to the Alamo and one visiting park ranger spent a whole evening literally chasing down two ghosts that were just running all over the place. It reached a point to where they had to station themselves in different areas and talk back and forth on their "two-ways" and try to pin-point where the ghost was now and get at him.
K2K: What would they do if they did see it?
GH: They did see it and it would just turn and take off. As fate would have it I'm going back to San Antonio in March for three days and I'm going to get ahold of the administration of the Alamo to see if they'll let me go in and do an investigation and let me go public with this. Everybody I know there had me promise I wouldn't go public with this because they didn't want to lose their jobs and I honored that but the Alamo is an extremely haunted place, extremely haunted.
K2K: Well, a lot of deaths occurred there.
GH: Yes. What's interesting is some of the ghosts that show up are priests in the long robes and there was a lot of stuff going on in the Alamo before the battle.
K2K: When a ghost makes itself visible to you is there a time limit it remains visible - like ten seconds, a minute - what's typical?
GH: Usually just a few seconds. Sometimes you'll see one in the corner of your eye and when you turn to look at it it's gone, other times I've looked up and I see them standing there and I watch what they're doing for fifteen or twenty seconds and they just turn and walk away or they disappear.
K2K: Do you think they know once they're visible to you they have to go to another dimension where they know they're not seen?
GH: Nope. I think they can do whatever they want. I think what interferes is our sense of what can and can't happen, what we've been told and eventually I think that over rides. I think we're the ones that make them vanish as much as they vanish on their own because right away the logic kicks in that says "this can't be" and then it's gone. It's interesting how the mind can over ride the senses
K2K: Do you believe in time travel?
GH: Einstein certainly seemed to. Alex Tanos has been documented by the ASPR (American Society of Psychical Research) where they would put him in a soundproof booth and hook up wires, electrocardiograms and things and give him a target address - somewhere across the country where he'd never been before - and ask him - as they would call it "astral projection" - to leave his body and he'd do it. He'd go into a trance and he'd come out of the trance several minutes later and he would describe the contents of the room, who was there, where he was... everything. In some instances the target people on the other end would see him in the room... they'd see him there. When you hear that kind of stuff about him and agencies like that, if you don't believe in it you at least say "it's a possibility isn't it?" How many times have you gone someplace you've never been before but you know you've been there? Maybe you have been there before.
K2K: What do you think of reincarnation?
GH: I hear some of the stories about that. I'm not sure if they've been reincarnated as if maybe the spirit is very strong within them expressing itself. I'm not one that buys into reincarnation but maybe that's my own personal theology.
K2K: How would you explain a six year old kid that speaks three different languages and there's no way he's read books on them?
GH: Again, the only thing I can say is maybe some kids are extremely gifted or maybe he's just plain spiritually "in touch" to the point where this comes normally. Kids experience a lot more than adults do, a lot more and it's not until they start growing up that we start telling them implicitly or explaining "this can't happen," then they consciously repress it.
K2K: So what as a reverend do you say to someone who's agnostic, atheist or doesn't necessarily believe in god?
GH: What I simply say to people who say "prove to me god exists" is "in the first place I can't, in second place, it's not my job and we don't know anything exists until first we open ourselves to see what's there." Never in the whole bible is there one attempt to prove the existence of god. Nobody makes an attempt... nobody. Instead the old testament says "taste and see." That means it's a subjective experience "we're going to try it out and see, be still and know, only a fool says in his heart there is no god."
K2K: The book mentions that your wife did the artwork, did she design the cover?
GH: She didn't do the cover. The cover was done by one of the publishers artists, a guy named Timothy Kocher. My wife did the pen and ink drawings on the table of contents. She's a graphic artist. She's done paintings that hang at the University of Michigan. She's got a hand made ceramic Christmas angel that she made that hung for eight years on the Clinton's Christmas tree in the White House, we have a letter of thanks and a certificate of authenticity from them. She's going to do more artwork and probably design the cover for the next book... she does a lot of creative stuff.
K2K: How many book signings have you done?
GH: Two. They're not lucrative. In other words you don't get anything for doing them except for when the book store sells your book you get credit. I've made more money selling my books on my own than through the book stores, so I'll order a couple of cases and go hawk them somewhere... which is fine with me. There's people who say "he's just making this stuff up so he can write a book and make money." Hey, it's only 70 cents a book, I'm not in this for the money folks. I've got December's residual check in my pocket right now (pulls it out) and it's $280.00. I'm sure I'm going to make more money, but it's not like I'm getting rich... it's a hobby.
K2K: How have the other "brothers of the cloth" felt about your book and its contents?
GH: I haven't heard from a single one of them, not a single one. I know for a fact that some of them are raising their eyebrows a little bit. I know for a fact that some are dead set against me for this and that others don't have a problem with it.
K2K: Do you think some of them are in denial?
GH: I think those who have a knee-jerk reaction are basically in denial about this stuff yeah. I haven't heard anything yet but this thing is getting bigger and bigger. I've got two television stations that want to tag along on my next haunting adventure over in Kalamazoo, Michigan and I've got a couple of places to visit over there now.
K2K: How many hauntings do you typically go to in a month?
GH: Whatever my schedule permits. This next book, things are coming in so fast that I'm going to actually write in the forward of the book that I will identify which chapters I've actually gone to and investigated on my own and which chapters are events that were related to me and that the people involved and other witnesses will attest to and have signed papers saying yes. I can not possibly get to all of them in time for this book to come out. The first book I did part time over five or six years, now they want the second book out a lot quicker.
K2K: There's one story in your book about a couple who eventually get divorced and you didn't actually go into their house, can you elaborate on that?
GH: Yes. I knew the guy really well and got to know him even better as a result of the story. When there's a divorce it's not like you can call up the ex-wife and say "hey, your ex gave me this wonderful story, can we sit down and talk?" Besides that, the nature of the story itself was such that I'm not real sure she'd want to be talking about it at all.
K2K: How many goose chases have you been on where you get a lead about a ghost and it turns out to be a hoax?
GH: About fifteen or twenty. Usually I can head those off with some phone calls. Sometimes the people are just not mentally up to being able to relate events so I just leave it alone.
K2K: How do you get your leads?
GH: For instance I'm talking to you and you may share what I do with a couple of people over a beer somewhere and they may share that with somebody else, the next thing I know, that person they've shared it with way down the line - two or three people removed from you - say "I'm going to call this guy because I've got a story." They come in from all over the place. Now that the first book is out they're coming in from public places. That's what I want to concentrate on is public places... especially if I can't always get there.
K2K: I've had dreams where several months and possibly a year or so later they have come to fruition, it's like a deja vu kind of thing... is this strange?
GH: No it's not strange at all. Carl Jung believed very strongly in that sort of thing, if you get a chance start reading some of his stuff. This stuff happens to my wife all the time to the point where we'll go to someplace we've never been before and she can tell me what the inside of the place looks like and not only what it looks like but where they keep things in different rooms. There'll also be times where we'll be in a conversation and she'll whisper to me "I've had this before, we've got to start talking about 'such and such' and lead it away from where it's going or we're headed for trouble" and we'll do it. That stuff is legitimate.
Jung talks about the collective unconscious. I've had a lot of professional training in symbols and images and dream interpretation. Look at the bible, some of the most important things that ever happened in the bible happened in dreams. How did Joseph find out Mary was pregnant? In a dream. How did Mary find out things? In a dream! What made Joseph in the old testament so popular with the pharaoh? He could interpret dreams! What happened with Jacob when he wrestled with god? It was a dream! All of these things... that's powerful stuff. What's the bible say? "Your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall have visions." the bible is very clear about all this and into this stuff, we're out of touch with it now, we just want to throw a "new age" blanket over it and label it and call it "evil" and walk away from it. One of the strongest ways that god communicated with people was through dreams and symbols.
A great book to look at if you want to understand dream imagery and symbols is Sir Lowe's "Dictionary of Symbols," it's a great book. Jung would say "symbols evolve through culture as a result and live in the collective unconscious of people of a given culture." So if I'm having a dream and there's certain things that show up in that dream, those symbolic images in my dream haven't changed for thousands of years. They mean the same thing now as they did then. It's how your unconscious mind talks to you to make you a more whole person. People who don't listen to their dreams or their unconscious mind are missing out on half of who they are. That's why if your unconscious mind is trying to tell you something in a dream and you don't listen to it, eventually it'll turn into a nightmare and you'll start having recurrent nightmares until you learn how to interpret and understand what your unconscious mind is trying to tell you. The instant you start working on that dream, it either goes away or it evolves into something more pleasant because your unconscious mind is trying to be heard... it's trying to tell you something.
K2K: How do you feel about aliens and UFO's?
GH: I've never experienced anything like that, never have. I've never really looked into it or thought about it, I don't really have an opinion on it. I do know that I was in touch with Alex Tanos who was in the American Society of Psychical Research (ASPR) in New York City and they used him as the most gifted psychic in the world. He's dead now but I had a couple of conversations with him before he died. I just called him up one night - he didn't know me from Adam - and he was an instructor of philosophy and theology at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. He and I just started talking - he was just such a nice guy. He told of how a woman out in Arizona - he would only work through the ASPR and would only work when they were there with their scientists to document what he was doing and he would never charge for his services... he thought it was a gift from god - and how he got a phone call from a police agency out in Arizona about this woman who had a fenced in back yard who let her little three year old boy go out to play while she was doing dishes. She could see him through the window. Well, one time she looked down for a minute and looked back up and he was gone. Naturally the police were called and searches were made and absolutely no leads, no evidence, no indication that anything could have happened. They're frantic, so they called Alex in as a last ditch effort and he went.
He said he went out there a day early as he wanted to relax before he did his thing. He said he went into a diner and there were three men there and said "now this is going to sound stereotypical but there were three men sitting there in the diner with black suits, black ties, white shirts and sunglasses." He said "I walked in and they were sitting at the counter. I went over and sat down next to them and I got the weirdest feeling." He said "so I thought that I would just look at one of them and ask him to pass the sugar and when I looked at him and our eyes made contact through the sunglasses..." He said "the guy just started telling me 'mind-to-mind' 'you don't want to be here, the little boy is with us, he'll be back when we're ready to bring him back and it's best that you go.'" So Alex said the next day he just went to the police and this woman and the woman's husband and said "I don't know where your boy is, I can't help you." But he knew exactly where he was, he said "these people were not from this planet." That's just the story he told me so take it as its worth.
K2K: Do you think you've been secretly investigated by the government for your involvement in paranormal activity?
GH: I don't have anything that leads me to believe that they've done anything like that. Now maybe later on as I get more popular - if I get more popular - that could happen. I wouldn't see why. What I do - I don't have any "gifts" - I just kind of look into things. I don't look into aliens and alien abductions and UFO's, I'm not interested. I'm just interested in hauntings... hauntings have always fascinated me.
K2K: The one connection I have put together between alien and ghost encounters is the lack or absence of verbal communication and the advent of mental telepathy, how do you explain that?
GH: That's interesting isn't it. It's almost as though there's more to us as human beings than we want to admit and do I believe that we can communicate unconsciously? Yes I do. I think it happens a lot more often than people think... it's happened too many times.
K2K: What are some of your favorite movies?
GH: I loved "the Asphalt Jungle," "Chinatown," "Paths of Glory" those kinds of films.
K2K: Who's your favorite actor or actress?
GH: Current actors are Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey. Robert Downy Jr. is really fabulous... if he would just get his nose out of the white powder. Classical actors of course would be Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, I love Jack Nicholson too.
(This is the end of a great afternoon interview with Reverend Gerald S. Hunter. I thanked him for his time and we parted ways, myself a bit more mystified than before regarding the paranormal.)
Written by and photo © 2001 by Donrad

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