MUSKEGON, Mich. — Like many American cities, Muskegon, Michigan is not immune from legends and scandals. More than a century ago, one of the city's former mayors was assassinated. Muskegon was also the home to a notorious gangster and a serial bomber.
If you weren't aware of these anecdotal yet factual moments that make up the history of one of Michigan's well known lakeshore cities, there's an upcoming opportunity to learn all about them, and more, during Muskegon's third annual 'Legends & Lore' Walking Tour.
"Just like other towns, we've had a lit of different events and occurrences that have happened here," said Jackie Huss, who is the program manager of the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon. "There's so much people likely don't know about."
On Oct. 8, the museum is hosting a walking tour around downtown Muskegon. The walk will last at least 90 minutes and will cover 10 city blocks. Huss, along with another historian from the museum, will host the tour, which will stop at numerous locations that are connected to Muskegon lore.
"One of the stops will be on Pine Street," said Huss. "It was right in the middle of the street in 1899 when then Muskegon mayor James Balbernie was assassinated by one of his former directors who worked for him.
"The former Poor Director was really upset [with Balberine] for not reappointing him, so he killed Balbernie, then himself, by breaking a vial of Carbonic Acid in his mouth.
"When that didn't work, he shot himself."
Huss says more about the Balbernie assassination will be revealed during the tour.
"In 1917, there were a couple of incendiary bombs that were detonated at some local factories," said Huss. "There was a serial bomber loose in Muskegon, and authorities suspected he was probably a German agent because World War I had begun."
Muskegon's serial bomber was never caught or identified, but it's believed he set off the bombs near Muskegon Lake near Ottawa St. where many factories used to be in the early 1900s.
"Then in 1925, Muskegon became home to a notorious gangster," said Huss. "His name was [George] Dutch Anderson and he somehow managed to escape from federal prison and wound up in Muskegon."
Huss says Anderson committed a rash of armed robberies in the area, before he was apprehended and brought in for questioning by Muskegon Police detective Charles Hammond.
"A shootout broke out in an alley in downtown Muskegon between Anderson and Hammond," said Huss. "The result of the shootout is fascinating, so I won't give it away, but if people want to know, they can join us on the tour."
Huss says one of the tour stops will be in the exact alley where the gun battle happened.
"The tour will also consist of several ghost stories and a bad guy around town who shot Charles Hackley's brother," added Huss. "We have an artist currently drawing up sketches of suspects based on newspaper descriptions and we will be revealing those renderings publicly for the first time during the tour."
If you're interested in joining the tour, tickets must be pre-purchased. You can get them at lakeshoremuseum.org, or you can pay with cash by visiting the museum during regular business hours.
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