Minnie Quay was born way, way back in May of 1861 to James Quay and his wife, Mary Ann. She grew up with her family in the town of Forester, on Lake Huron, halfway between Port Huron and the tip of the thumb, which I first read and I thought it was just funny Michigan speak but it’s actually 103 mile water trail and by is it this island called Turnip Island because it juts up from the water and looks like a turnip.
Minnie’s family owned a tavern in Forester which was a little small town right on the lake and during this time ships would dock at the small town due to it’s booming lumber industry.
When Minnie was only 14 when she fell in love with a young sailor, that worked on one of the ships that would make it’s way to town. However, everyone in her small town was not as taken by the young man and the rumors flew around that he had a girl waiting for him in every port he stopped at. Minnie’s father outright forbade his daughter from having any contact with the man, he prevented her from saying goodbye and seeing him off when his ship left the harbor but she made it very, very clear to those around her that she had every intention of hatching a plan and sneaking off to see him the next time his ship came into port.
However, she never got the chance to put her plan into action because he would never be coming back… In the spring of 1876, the news hit the town of Forester that the ship her young sailor had been on got caught in a bad storm and sank to the bottom of Lake Huron.
Poor young Minnie was devastated by the news. Not only had her true love died, but she never even got to say goodbye. A few days later, on Apr. 27, 1876 she killed herself by going to the town pier and jumping off into the cold water and drowning. She was only a month shy of turning 15.
An 1876 newspaper article reported the story:
“A young girl named Minnie Quay, about fifteen years of age, committed suicide by throwing herself into the lake from Smith’s dock, at Forester, one afternoon last week. She was seen in the act of jumping by her little brother, who was on shore. A quick alarm was given, and men commenced at once to grapple for the body, but it was an hour before it was discovered. Her father is a mechanic in Smith’s mill, and is highly respected. No cause is assigned for this rash act.”
But there was a cause, and that cause was a very broken heart.
Buried in the Forester Cemetery, overlooking Lake Huron, the legend says Minnie’s ghost has been seen walking the shoreline…her mournful cries of sorrow have been heard coming from the cemetery late at night as she still waits for her sailor who will never come back….young women from Forester claim that they’ve seen the apparition of Minnie calling them to the waters as if inviting them to join her at the bottom; one girl went so far as drowning herself after saying she saw the ghost of Minnie drawing her into the water.
To learn more about Minnie Quay and other tales of true love gone wrong listen into our episode “Love Hurts! I’d Rather Get Ghosted!” available wherever you listen to podcasts or by clicking HERE