Spiritualism was alive and well throughout Michigan in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Spiritualist camps sprung up in various spots in the state – one of these camps showed up in the town of Vicksburg in Kalamazoo County.

The camp set up their headquarters in an area south of the town – a twenty-seven acre campground filled with trees called Fraser’s Grove. People from all over Michigan’s north central region flocked to nearby Vicksburg, hoping to communicate with one or more dead relatives and/or friends.

Conveniently, the camp was right next to the railroad; because of the influx of camp members, a station was set up for accommodations. Fifty cents from Kalamazoo to the camp and back, another dime to enter the camp, thirty cents to be part of a séance, and twenty-five cents for a chicken dinner for two. Well, if you failed to talk to a dead relative, at least you could eat some chicken.

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The camp at times filled with over 1,500 participants. In preparation there were events that preceded the meetings: they would be served ice cream & refreshments, and be treated to music, dancing, and parades. Drinking and smoking were prohibited...it dulls the senses.

Before the hosts began rousing the dead for the enjoyment of the crowd, they’d get up on stage and yell through a megaphone, getting everyone charged-up for the events that were about to take place.

The first meeting in Fraser’s Grove occurred in 1884, with numerous meetings held year after year for another sixty years. The peak of Vicksburg residents’ involvement in Spiritualism lasted between 1900-1910.

As belief and interest in spiritualism started to wane, as late as the 1940s those who were still avid followers did not give up easily. According to a 2005 article in the Kalamazoo Valley Museum's publication, Museography, “At séances in pitch-black rooms darkened by quilts hung over the curtains, folks seated in a circle were mesmerized by a medium. Participants went home either satisfied or with the distinct impression that fakery was afoot.”

In the 1950s, Fraser’s Grove was preparing for a change: the trees were to be cut down to make way for a housing development. Today, that’s just what it is. Gone are any remains of the old Spiritualist camp, now shrouded by look-alike homes with not as many trees.

Vicksburg Spiritualist Camp: 1890s-1900s


Spiritualists and Fortune Tellers of Michigan

Lake Lansing's Spiritualist Camp, 1882-1890s

Grand Ledge Spiritualist Camp, 1895-1910

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