Pere Cheney, Michigan

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Pere Cheney, Michigan
Former village
Pere Cheney is located in Michigan
Pere Cheney
Pere Cheney
Location in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 44°34′39″N 84°38′16″W / 44.57750°N 84.63778°W / 44.57750; -84.63778Coordinates: 44°34′39″N 84°38′16″W / 44.57750°N 84.63778°W / 44.57750; -84.63778
CountryUnited States
TownshipBeaver Creek
1,201 ft (366 m)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
GNIS feature ID1617781[1]

Pere Cheney, also called Cheney and Center Plains,[2] was a village located in Crawford County, Michigan in the late 19th century. It is located in Beaver Creek Township and was once a small lumbering town.[3] Pere Cheney was the first community in Crawford County, Michigan and was established by lumberjacks who trailed the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw Railroad north headed for Mackinaw City.[4] Established in 1874 around the sawmill of George M. Cheney,[5] it served as the temporary county seat when Crawford County was officially organized in 1879,[2][6] though it soon lost this distinction to the more heavily populated town of Grayling.[4] It had a station on the Michigan Central Railroad called the Cheney depot, and a post office.[5] The post office closed in 1912,[5] and the village was abandoned in the early Twentieth century. It has since taken on the reputation of a ghost town.[4][5]

Pere Cheney was established in 1873, as founder George Cheney received a land grant from the Michigan Central Railroad company to establish a stop along the railroad. A general store was established along with sawmills, carpenters, a doctor, hotel with a telegraph service and a post office.[citation needed] In the mid-1870s, the population was approximately 1,500 people.[citation needed] In 1893, diphtheria spread through the town, wiping out a great deal of the town's population. Diphtheria recurred in 1897, by 1901 the town's population fell to only 25 people and in 1917 there were only 18 people left in this once booming town.[citation needed] At that time, the land was sold off in a public auction and the town was declared a ghost town.[citation needed]

There are many stories surrounding the ghost town of Pere Cheney as well as the cemetery itself. Ghosts, witches, strange figures, glowing orbs, lights in the trees, and more. People have said to have heard children laughing while there and returning to their cars having handprints on them.[7] Some say that Pere Cheney was a cursed town from the start, as it was built on Native American land.[8] The cemetery is down a two track road and runs along some railroad tracks, hidden in the woods.[citation needed] There is a sign at the cemetery. A little farther north is the town of Pere Cheney, which is to be considered a Ghost Town. At least 90 people were buried in the Pere Cheney Cemetery, but, due to vandalism, very few headstones remain.[9] Some sort of disease; cholera, or diphtheria was said to have wiped out the entire town in the early 20th century. According to local legends, a witch cursed the village of Pere Cheney after being banished to the woods, hence the reasoning behind the mass outbreaks of disease in the area.[10] The only thing that grows in the town is a green mossy grass, tall grass and weeds. There are also foundations of the old buildings that can be seen. And according to some accounts, the entire town is haunted. Most of the information about Pere Cheney states that people from nearby towns had tried to burn the town down to stop the disease from reaching them, but there is no information to support it.[8] The disease came twice two years apart. The remaining people dragged their belongings to what we know now as Grayling. The cemetery has been vandalized and the town is covered with a strange mossy grass and there is other plant life there such as tall grass and weeds. The cemetery is owned by Beaver Creek Township, Michigan and is maintained by the township.[11]

In more recent news about Pere Cheney, on Friday, October 16, 2009 a group of teens who had gathered at the Pere Cheney Cemetery were confronted by a white male in his 50s. The man brandished and fired a shotgun at the teens. "We have had a ton of complaints over the years," said Crawford County Sheriff Kirk Wakefield, who encouraged people to stay out of the cemetery. "There's always something going in the Pere Cheney Cemetery." [12]

If you were to visit Pere Cheney now it is quite difficult to find the cemetery. It is in the middle of the woods on a two track road, so unless you have a truck or bigger car it is difficult to reach without getting stuck. In March 2015, it was announced that there is plans to restore the cemetery to its former glory.[13] To this day, Pere Cheney remains Number 2 on the Top 10 Witch Graves in the Midwest, topped only by Bloody Mary of Indiana.[14]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Pere Cheney, Michigan
  2. ^ a b John Fedynsky, Michigan's County Courthouses (2010), p. 43.
  3. ^ "Beaver Creek Township > Services > Cemeteries > Pere Cheney Cemetary". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Larry Wakefield, Ghost Towns of Michigan: Volume 2 (1998), p. 32-36.
  5. ^ a b c d Walter Romig, Michigan Place Names (1973), p. 436.
  6. ^ Stephen G. Ostrander, in George Newman Fuller, Lewis Beeson, eds., Michigan History: Volume 74 (1974), p. 46.
  7. ^ Sonnenberg, Mike. "The haunted ghost town of Pere Cheney". Lost in Michigan. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  8. ^ a b Moggo, Nycki. "History of Pere Cheney". Michigan's Otherside. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  9. ^ "Crawford County Michigan Genealogy". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  10. ^ Top 10 Witch Graves in the Midwest – Mysterious Heartland
  11. ^ "Beaver Creek Township > Home". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  12. ^[dead link]
  13. ^[dead link]
  14. ^ "Top 10 Witch Graves in the Midwest". Mysterious Heartland. Retrieved 30 December 2015.

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