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The Beeson Mansion and Crypt: A haunted house with its very own cemetery
South of Bond Street in Niles, Michigan, stands a beautiful Greek Revival1847 mansion said to be haunted by the ghost of a child long-dead. The baby ghost doesn’t have far to travel, it can simply cross the street where, enclosed by a low stone fence, the old family crypt of the Beeson-Brownfield clan still stands as a private cemetery. Originally built by a whiskey distiller who deposited a whiskey bottle in the home’s cornerstone, the house was later purchased by lawyer Strother Beeson. Beeson had a grandson, Job Withrow Beeson, who was born in 1869 and died a year later, in 1870. The parents, Willaim and Harriet Beeson, were griefstricken, of course. Strother Beeson had already erected a tomb across the street, not far from the banks of the St. Joseph river, where he had laid his mother to rest. His infant grandson was soon interred in the mausoleum as well. The ornate little crypt was lined with fine marble, and the surrounding area was groomed and planted like a park, with urns full of flowers.
But watchful neighbors concluded that Harriet Beeson never camer to terms with her grief. They said that the child’s mother visited the crypt every night to feed, bathe and even diaper the infant’s lifeless body. And since he was afraid of the dark, she began leaving a lit lantern inside so that he wouldn’t be scared. Eventually, the Beesons installed their own carbide gas plant with a a pipeline into the crypt to keep an ever-present flame burning. At least one old newspaper photo shows the line entering one of the exterior ground-level vent on the crypt’s south side. According to legend, the young mother kept up her ritual of feeding and rocking the baby until one horrifying night when the eyes finally fell out of the tiny corpse’s head. The shock was supposedly so great that she never recovered and was eventually institutionalized. Relatives of the family have disputed that Harriet actually took the baby’s body out to care for it, or that she “lost her mind.” Harriet did die young, however, at age 28, and rests in the tomb with a total of 12 family members. The mansion is also supposed to be haunted by the sobbing ghost of a little girl, although there is no record of a young female dying there.
The home and cemetery are private, no trespassing, but can be seen easily from the road.