Assuredly as the days grow shorter, the nights become chillier, and the leaves transition to their seasonal hues, ghost stories about Whaley House Museum emerge from their very shallow graves (I’m looking at you Internet). There are a number of tales of ghosts and unexplained occurrences here at the museum. Some stories may be true and some may be fabrications. (Tales of Whaley House Museum’s haunting are also perpetuated because of confusion that arises between Whaley House Museum and a similarly named organization located in San Diego, California.) Simply by their nature, ghost stories rely on evidence that skews ethereal, not historical. Though ghost stories can form a part of a historic site’s story, the core of a historic site’s narrative must form around provable evidence. Hence it’s not possible, in my opinion, to say whether or not Whaley House Museum is indeed haunted.
But I understand the desire for things spooky, spine tingling, creepy, and inexplicable.
So, to fill the need of readers seeking tales appropriate to the season, this week’s posting is from an odd and tragic incident that happened here in 1904. This extract from the Flint Daily Journal focuses on the peculiar death of R. J. and Mary Whaley’s brother-in-law, Morey Andrews, on the morning of August 11.
M. T. Andrews Passes Away
End came at an early hour this morning.
His death was unexpected and came as a painful surprise to his many friends.
Morey T. Andrews passed away this morning at 4 o’clock at the home of his brother-in-law, R. J. Whaley, 624 East Kearsley street, from the effects of a quantity of corrosive sublimate [ed. note: mercury chloride]which he drank a week ago last Monday from a bottle which he supposed contained mineral water. The announcement of his death came as a surprise and shock to his many friends as he was generally believed to be improving and well on the road to recovery, and elicited expressions of regret on all sides.
After the immediate effects of the poisonous drug had passed off Mr. Andrews seemed to improve until last Friday, when he was attacked by hiccoughs. Other unfavorable symptoms also made their appearance and on Monday last the patient was removed from his rooms in the Wood block to the residence of Mr. Whaley, where he continued to steadily grow weaker until the end came at the hour named. His death was due to exhaustion resulting from the effect of the corrosive sublimate upon the blood and mucous membranes, but in spite of his excessively weak condition he retained consciousness up to within a few minutes before he passed away.
The deceased was born in Genesee township, this county, his parents being Harvey and Cornelia Andrews, and was 60 years of age. When a young man he went west to engage in mining and spent a number of years in Idaho and Oregon. Upon his return to Flint he was united in marriage to Miss Jennie McFarlan, a sister of Alexander McFarlan and Mrs. R. J. Whaley, who died a few years later, shortly after their return from South Bend, Ind., where they lived for some time following their marriage. Mr. Andrews was at this time employed in the McFarlan saw mills, but he subsequently embarked in the insurance business, in which he continued up to the time of his death, and for a number of years had been the representative of Mrs. Mary Stockdale in looking after her property and business interests. He was a member of the Maccabees and of the Union Club, a director of Citizens’ Commercial and Savings bank and of the Honduras Banana Plantation company, and secretary of the Glenwood Cemetery association.
Mr. Andrews was possessed of a genial personality and sterling traits of character that won for him the high regard and the complete confidence of all with whom he came in contact either in a social or a business way, and his sad death will be sincerely and universally deplored in his large circle of friends and acquaintances.
The only immediate surviving relatives of the deceased is a brother James, who lives on a farm near Ann Arbor. Another brother, Manley, died a few weeks ago at South Bend, Ind. The arrangements for the funeral have not yet been made.