Just when they thought it couldn't be any worse...


In the 1830’s, the family of Caius Candee came to this area and settled in what would become Whiteford Township.
 “They built a house of saplings, with elm bark for a roof, and a chimney of mud and sticks in which they lived for a long time, planting a few potatoes and some buckwheat, experiencing a little more than the average pioneers trials.  Indians still hunted and fished this area quite heavily, as the area teemed with white-tail deer, and the streams were rife with Northern Pike and Walleye. They say that the Indians still hunt here…that if you walk these woods at night you may encounter a phantom hunting party. Watch and see…when a family of deer burst from the underbrush…the locals say they were startled by the Spirits of those who walk these lands.  
 Ghosts and Spirits haunt this land.
 But I digress…
 When the Candee’s abandoned this property to move into Ottawa Lake proper,(Caius Candee having been duly elected as the Township Director), his pitiful little homestead fell into decay. Locals will tell you however, that stories of strange happenings in this area have always abounded. Strange, ghostly lights, weird cold spots, and skulking, war-painted Indians, glimpsed, and then gone, from the corner of your eye, indeed, walking these fields at any time, day or night, one is often filled with a sense of dread. Almost as if the very land is cursed.
 Mere miles from the site of the River Raisin Massacre of 1813 (where 500 Wyandot warriors under Chief Roundhead slaughtered dozens of American troops they had captured in the Battle of Frenchtown, many of which were Kentucky Volunteers) it is not surprising that reports of soldiers, bloody, as if from battle, seen wandering the fields and woods of the area, were rampant at the time.
 During the Civil War, the site of the old homestead was used as a staging area for some of the 90,000 Michiganders who fought with the Union Army.  Even battle-hardened soldiers reported ghostly encounters with native hunting parties, and animals acting strangely all around the area. Locals said that this land was cursed. The reports were many, but no encounter was deemed terrifying. ( Personally, I think an encounter with a war- painted, tomahawk wielding Wyandot warrior, might be terrifying, but that’s just me!)
 Once again, the old homestead fell into disrepair.
 Around 1900, a young man returning from the Upper Peninsula ( where he had struck it rich in copper) to his birthplace in Indiana, passed through Whiteford Township and saw the decayed old homestead. He enquired about the property and listened, fascinated, as person after person told him the history of the old Candee homestead. Time and time again, he heard about apparitions and ghostly encounters. He was obsessed with the idea of owning this land. One might even say, possessed. But first he had business  to attend to at home.
 This young man, of Scottish origin, Andrew Fletcher by name, went home to Indiana to take his bride. Andrew married his long-time sweetheart, Sarah Jackson. Together, they came to Michigan to build Fletcher Farm on the site of the old Candee homestead.
 Andy, as he came to be known by the town-folk ,was a good-natured, determined man. He had all sorts of encounters with Spirits on the property, but the encounters were mostly benign. It appeared that the little four- square house that Andy had built was somehow immune to the goings on about the property. Sarah and Andy were convinced that their love provided protection from whatever was going on around it.

 Sarah and Andy felt that the protection of their great love for each other would protect their home...but that was not to be...
 Then Andy’s crops began to fail. His corn just would not grow in certain areas, and where it did grow well, it grew in strange patterned rows. His animals all acted strangely, too. His roosters would crow at midnight, irritating the surrounding farms animals. (Not to mention the farmers!) His horses did not like to be inside the barn, acting very frightened whenever he would try to take them in. He eventually let the horses stay out at night, and got rid of the roosters.
 Years passed and the Fletcher family grew. Jack was born in 1905, followed by the twins, Rocky and Robin in 1907, Paul in 1910, Carrie in 1913, and Baby Jessica in 1916. Sarah had many problems when carrying Baby Jessica, and the doctor told her and Andy that another baby would kill Sarah. Andy took this news badly. He had always dreamed of a large family to carry on all the duties of farm life. He brooded for a long time, but finally seemed to accept that he was only going to have his little family, and seemed to resume a normal life.
 The house was joyous with laughter while the children were growing up and Sarah was grateful that whatever was wrong on the farm, didn’t affect her home and family.
 In 1918, when Jack turned thirteen, that all changed. Suddenly, anywhere Jack went, the objects around him would react to his presence. Books would fly from shelves, dishes would smash themselves on the floor,  empty chairs would move of their own will.  It seemed that whatever was wrong on the farm had finally moved indoors.
 Sarah confided to Andy that she sometimes felt as though eyes were watching her, though no one else was around. She also told him that she sometimes heard singing coming from the empty nursery,( A nursery that would see no more babies.) as though a mother were singing to her infant. Andy put it down to the depression Sarah had been in since being told she could have no more babies, and paid it no heed.
 All this was happening in a house that Andy had thought immune to the forces that, he knew, walked his property daily.
 Andy began to brood. He cursed the farm, the house, his wife and their children. “My corn won’t grow right, my wife is barren, my children possessed.  It was folly to think that I could ever make something of this cursed land.” Andy complained to all who would listen…forevermore marking his farm as “Fletchers’ Folly”.
Main Entry:
fol·ly           Listen to the pronunciation of folly
Inflected Form(s):
plural follies
Middle English folie, from Anglo-French, from fol fool
13th century
1: lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight2 a: criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct bobsolete : evil , wickedness ; especially : lewd behavior3: a foolish act or idea4: an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking5: an often extravagant picturesque building erected to suit a fanciful taste
 Andy withdrew to his workroom more and more. The family could hear him in there, muttering and cursing, yelling and throwing things, generally acting rather deranged. Andy lost weight and wore a dark, brooding look all the time. The carefree young man who had taken on the farm was gone, replaced by a no-nonsense, grim, curmudgeonly man whose sense of humor was lost.
 Poltergeist activity in the house rose and fell in waves as the children grew.(Today it is known that poltergeist activity…mischievous spirits…reaches a zenith during adolescence. All Andy knew was that it seemed as though his children were possessed.)
 In 1920, Baby Jessica contracted influenza during a pandemic, and died in her mother’s arms in a rocking chair, where she was quarantined in the old nursery. Sarah too, contracted the flu, but survived. The loss of her youngest and last child was more than Sarah could bear. She slipped away from reality. She was often found in the nursery, rocking in the rocker, crooning a lullaby to one of Baby Jessica’s dolls.
 In 1923, Jack left home to make his way in the world. Leaving what was now known as “Fletchers’ Folly” behind, Jack made his way west, where a young man could seek his fortune. Jack was determined to make a name for himself and truly leave the “Folly” behind. He felt guilty leaving his mother and siblings, but Andy had become impossible to be around. Always grumbling and complaining, ready to lash out with the strap at the smallest provocation. They would have to muddle through on their own. His eyes on the future, Jack was on his way.
 Then, in 1929, the beginning of the end, Black Friday. The Great Depression.
 Andy’s already dark disposition, darkened. Sarah managed to keep the house together, but Andy had let the farm fall into disrepair, claiming “ Don’t do no good to plant, damn land is cursed. Cain’t have no critters, something always goes wrong with ‘em. No need to pretty up this place. It was folly, I tell you…Folly to build in this cursed place.”
 Andy spent more time in his workroom, creating bizarre tableaus with his taxidermy. His greatest pride was a tableau of a coyote ripping its dinner apart.
 The children tried to keep the failing farm together, a difficult job at best. Rocky and Robin were old enough to leave home, but felt that they were desperately needed by their siblings.  Sarah was, by now, wraithlike in appearance, not even really living in the present. She was living in her own world populated by Jack and poor Baby Jessica.
 Carrie and Paul tended to the house and even managed to grow a small garden, enough to feed themselves, and some to sell to neighbors.
 Andy seemed to be in a constant state of rage now. He would stay in his workroom for days on end. The children would hear him leave the house in the dead of night. By morning, Andy was once again closeted in his workroom. No one dared to enter, or even knock, for fear of being skinned alive!
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