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  • The Rolling Muff of Gross Isle November 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Rolling muff

    Several years ago Chris from Haunted Ohio Books came across, in Paranormal Great Lakes, an Illustrated Encyclopedia, Charles Cassady, Jr., Schiffer, 2009,  p 64, a marvelous sounding monster called the Rolling Muff. As Beach has a now four-year interest in what Bob Rickard has called Unidentified Rolling Objects (UROs) he thought he would share this with his readership.

    GROSS ILE An island township in the Detroit River, the largest of the Detroit River islands, and now home to a small airport and a residential population nearing a thousand, it’s also the site of one of the more bizarre ghost stories of the Great Lakes, dating back to the 1700s French settlement of the Detroit area. The story goes that in those early days, a colonist embroiled in an adulterous affair lured his unwanted wife to the swamps of Grosse Ile and murdered her, sinking her body in the mud. But he failed to account for the large, European-style hand-warming muff that she wore, which fell off in the struggle. When he went back to the marshes to retrieve the potential clue, the muff rolled away of its own accord. Then it began to roll after him, possessed by his wife’s vengeful spirit. Terrified,the husband went to Detroit and confessed. Meanwhile the muff continued to roam the wastes. Reeking of the smell of death, the terrible ‘Rolling Muff’ would chase after intruders in its accursed domain, supposedly as recently as the Prohibition era, when it supposedly affrighted some rumrunners.’

    Beach, who were he ever to lure his wife to a swamp to murder her, would make sure that she was suitably dressed, recognizes a European style bogey here. There are a number of European references to supernatural creatures in the shape of bales of wool (or fabrics of different sorts) rolling along the ground. Whether this, then, borrows from European lore or whether the motif is much more widely known is difficult to say: though a couple of examples from Central America and Japan suggest that this may be something international.

    Beach can, however, now add what he believes is the original written reference to the Rolling Muff in Skinner, Myths and Legends. The following words were published at the very end of the nineteenth century.

    Now, at Grosse Isle was a strange thing called the rolling muff, that all were afraid of, since to meet it was a warning of trouble; but, like the feu follet [Will-o’-the’-wisp], it could be driven off by holding a cross toward it or by asking it on what day of the month came Christmas.The worse of the Tremblays encountered this creature and it filled him with dismay. When he returned his neighbours observed an odour – not of sanctity – on his garments and their view of the matter was that he had met a skunk.

    Anything else on the Rolling Muff, particularly interested in any early sightings: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com

    Note this marvelous image was thanks to Vengeful Doe on twitter.

    6 Nov 2017: Steven R. The curious tale of the rolling muff reminds me of a girl I knew back when we were teenagers. She lived in Massachusetts, I lived in Kansas, and our families were vacationing together near Boulder Colorado. While in conversation she expressed a fear of tumbleweeds. Can you imagine? Having lived all of her life in Massachusetts, the only place she could have ever seen one would have been on a TV or movie screen.  Of course, upon finding a small one while exploring the mountain side, I brought it back, and put it on the porch. I didn’t tease her with it, just set it down on the far end of a large porch. I told her about it and suggested she may want to face her fear, after all, they don’t have thorns and she wasn’t allergic to them, but she would have none of it. They were just too creepy for her. Of course, I did the right thing and released the menacing sage brush back into the wild unharmed. Of course, I could cobble the facts just a bit and say how we found her  the next morning having been strangled to death by a tumble weed. Poor thing. We should have heeded her fears. Who knew they were really out to get her? I can see it now…   “Attack of The Tumbleweeds!”  another B movie. She made it back to Massachusetts safely. There are things out in the western U.S. that will get you especially if you’re alone and unarmed, but not the tumbleweeds.