In this special episode, Samantha and Aaron take a look back at the first year of Great Lakes Lore. What were their favorite episodes? What have they learned? What would they change? Then, they’re joined by Adam Sayne and Serfiel Stevenson of the Conspirinormal Podcast for a preview of the upcoming Strange Realities Conference. The conference takes place October 14-16 in Nashville, Tennessee with an online streaming option and features Samantha and Aaron presenting on Friday evening. Get more information and secure tickets at strangerealitiesconference.com.
Author: Samantha Engel
Episode 27: The Belle Gunness Murders
What caused a series of Norwegians to move to a small town in Indiana, never to be seen again? In this episode, Samantha and Aaron explore the murders of Belle Gunness in La Porte, Indiana and the mystery surrounding her own death. Often referred to as a female Bluebeard (which Samantha takes issue with), the pair dive into the tale of this famous serial killer and discuss a variety of issues dealing with memory, gender dynamics, and mental health.
Who was Belle?- 2:24
Her First Husband- 5:50
A Second Marriage- 10:05
Mail Order Men- 16:00
The Farm is On Fire- 31:32
But Whose Body Is It?- 36:34
Identity Crisis- 43:33
Picnic at the Crime Scene- 47:25
Ghosts on the Farm- 50:07
Female Serial Killers- 51:49
This article from the La Porte, Indiana library provides a thorough overview of the case.
You can find information about Cesare Lombroso here.
Episode 26: Bigfoot in Michigan
This week, Samantha and Aaron begin their exploration of the bigfoot phenomenon! After laying a solid framework, featuring discussions on the nature of bigfoot and a history of bigfoot in the 20th/21st centuries, they look at Bigfoot sightings in Michigan. They share audio clips, discuss video sightings, and talk about stick formations left in the woods. Join Samantha and Aaron for this first (yes there will be more) adventure with everyone’s favorite cryptid.
Meeting Bigfoot- 4:46
Flesh and Blood Creature- 9:51
Wide Open Spaces- 13:13
Supernatural Bigfoot- 19:26
Patterson Gimlin Film- 25:35
Finding Bigfoot- 35:35
Midway Break- 38:17
Rock Throwing and A Bit of Woo- 58:50
Stick Formations- 1:05:07
Criticisms and Pranks- 1:08:00
Continue the Investigation!
Check out the video of Bigfoot crossing the river here.
You can find more encounters on the BRFO website.
This Midland Daily News article contains the write-up of the Menominee sighting, as well as the Finding Bigfoot clip.
The Detroit Free Press article we referenced throughout the article can be found here.
The eagle cam video can be found here.
If you’re interested in diving into conversations about the nature of bigfoot, we recommend picking up Where the Footprints End volumes 1 and 2 by Timothy Renner and Joshua Cutchin.
Get them from Amazon and help support the show! (Volume 1) (Volume 2)
And if you’re interested in taking a deep dive into the Patterson Gimlin film check out the 6-part series Astonishing Legends did on the topic. They also have an episode with Micah Hanks on the history of bigfoot as a flesh and blood creature. Find them here.
Episode 25: An Exorcism in Earling
Screams could be heard throughout the town of Earling, Iowa in 1928. It was there, in a Franciscan Convent, that Father Theophilus Riesinger conducted a series of exorcisms on Anna Ecklund…or what is Emma Schmidt? Samantha and Aaron dive into the mysterious and troubling world of demonic possession with the story of Wisconsin natives Anna Ecklund and Father Riesinger. With a topic this complex, Samantha and Aaron make sure to provide a lot of background information on the practice and history of exorcisms, as well as a look at the practice in pop culture. Although Aaron didn’t approve of Samantha’s working title, Fun with Satan, they hope you enjoy this trek into the demonic dark side.
Intro: Am I an Adult?- 1:02
The History of Exorcisms- 5:30
Rituale Romanum- 12:22
Introducing the Case- 17:33
The Exorcism Gets Going (And Gross)- 22:01
Midway Break- 33:05
Visions and Prophecy-37:49
Exorcisms Today- 44:00
Pop Culture and Wrap-Up- 51:38
You can read the article about exorcisms from The Atlantic here.
Learn about the changing views the Catholic Church has on exorcisms here.
You can read about Begone Satan! and the earliest pamphlet on the case here.
We found our copy of Begone Satan! on Scribd.
Time Magazine ran a brief overview of the case in 1936.
And here you can find out more about Father Theophilus.
Episode 24: The Michigan Relics
In the 1890s, James Scotford discovered a series of ancient artifacts in Michigan’s Montcalm County that could cause a reevaluation of the way human history was understood…if they were authentic. Join Aaron and Samantha as they share the saga of the Michigan relics. From the Hopewell Indians to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this episode brings together archaeology, fraud, museums, and a touch of Indiana Jones (minus the Nazis).
Big Themes- 3:04
The Initial Discovery- 12:50
Early Debate- 13:40
Daniel Soper- 19:03
Tools and Tempered Copper- 23:14
Midway Break- 26:29
Confirming the Book of Mormon- 32:46
James Tallmadge- 36:33
Finding the Answers- 41:02
Why Should We Care?- 48:16
Samantha and Aaron relied heavily on this article from Brigham Young University.
The article from Brigham Young University about the tools used to make the relics can be found here.
Learn more about Hopewell Culture here.
You can find images of the Norton Mounds in Grand Rapids here.
Episode 23: Tales of Melon Heads
Is there a group of small humanoids with bulbous heads living in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan…and Cleveland, Ohio…and Newtown, Connecticut? Aaron and Samantha have a theory, so join our hosts as they investigate doctors without first names, buildings that may or may not have existed, and speak to the evils of turning those with medical conditions into monsters. Aaron and Sam get a bit angry this time.
Michigan Melon Heads Overview- 4:22
The Felt Mansion and Junction Insane Asylum- 8:31
A Few More Issues- 12:15
Midway Break- 16:45
Melon Heads in Ohio- 30:40
And Now Connecticut…Really?- 43:25
Closing Thoughts and Lots of Concerns- 49:44
A bulk of our Michigan and Ohio research came from the the Weird Michigan and Weird Ohio books.
Find more information on the Felt Mansion here.
The New England Historical Society’s page on the Melon Heads can be found here.
Episode 22: Swamp Gas and UFOs
This time on Great Lakes Lore, Samantha and Aaron tackle their first modern UFO case. They’ll introduce the broader topic of UFO sightings and the government response to them in the 1950s and 1960s and then dive into looking at the 1966 wave of sightings in southeast Michigan that garnered national attention and led, eventually, to huge changes in how the US military dealt with UFOs.
Read J. Allen Hynek’s final Blue Book Report on the sighting here!
A UFO Primer- 3:45
Sightings and Reporting- 9:51
NICAP and the Robertson Panel- 13:05
Project Blue Book and J. Allen Hynek- 15:22
The Dexter and Hillsdale Sightings- 22:09
Midway Break- 34:38
The Investigation- 39:17
The Findings- 45:26
The Reaction- 49:30
The Consequences- 52:43
Questions and Wrapping Up- 55:57
Episode 21: The Whitechapel Club
Club? Professional networking opportunity? Secret society? In Gilded-Age Chicago, the Whitechapel Club was a little bit of all of these. Join Samantha and Aaron as they explore the origins, activities, and membership of this macabre circle of journalists. Along the way, enjoy a story from a belly dancer, phrenology, and a ritualistic funeral pyre on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Introduction: Secret Societies- 1:11
Club Life in the Gilded Age- 6:40
Establishing the Whitechapel Club- 11:00
Club Activities- 14:14
Mid-way Break- 25:07
The End of the Whitechapel Club- 31:26
Who was a Member?- 33:53
The Funeral Pyre- 37:10
Professionalization, Phrenology, the Morbid, and the Occult- 42:11
Episode 20: The Rattle Run Murder
What happens when a bloody torso is found in a small Michigan church in 1909? With no immediate identification of the body, no apparent motive for the crime, and mysterious rumors in town, investigators threw out numerous hypotheses and put out BOLOs in surrounding states and Canada. And, while this crime does end with a confession, the reasons for it are still a mystery. Check out this week’s episode to hear Samantha and Aaron share the story of the Rattle Run Murder and come up with a few hypotheses of their own!
A Body in the Church!- 2:38
Suspicions Arise- 7:17
A Blood Sacrifice- 14:43
But Where’s the Reverend?- 18:14
Midway Break- 21:46
A Letter from John Elder- 27:14
Newspaper Reactions- 32:55
Possible Motives- 35:37
Sam and Aaron Hot Takes- 41:58
For a complete transcription of one of the confession letters, see the Lost in Michigan website here.
Episode 19: Gangster Ghosts of St. Paul
Haunted histories can be fun and they can allow people to explore actual history along with deeper metaphysical questions. But where is the line between haunted history and haunted attraction? In this episode Samantha and Aaron dive into the stories of two haunted locations in St. Paul, Minnesota that have connections to Prohibition and, perhaps, gangster ghosts. Perhaps? Maybe?
What’s the Deal with Prohibition? – 3:34
The Wabasha Street Caves – 12:30
Mid-Way Break- 35:32
The Schmidt Brewery- 43:17
Why do Gangsters Intrigue Us?- 52:11
Ghost Tourism, History Tourism, and Dark Tourism- 54:45
The Boundaries Between History and Legend- 55:57
Adrian Lee. Mysterious Minnesota: Digging up the Ghostly Past at 13 Haunted Sites. 2nd Edition, 2017.