Upper Peninsula Wiki

Assinins is a historic district consisting of several buildings that were originally a school and orphanage, located in Assinins, Michigan. The district was listed on theNational Register of Historic Places in 1972.[1]

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Assinins was founded in 1843 by Bishop Frederic Baraga,[2] who came to the area at the invitation of Chief Edward Assinins.[3]Assinins was the first person to be baptized at the site.[3] Baraga built the Old St. Joseph Orphanage and School on the site in 1860; wings were added to the building in 1866 and 1877.[2] After the Civil War, Baraga gave the complex's land and buildings to Chief Assinins and the Keweenaw band of the Chippewa Native Americans. The orphanagehoused both Native American and European children;[3] a larger orphanage was built on the site in 1929.[2] In 1957, the complex was rededicated as the Sacred Heart Friary by the Capuchin Fathers as their novitiate until the late 1960s.[2] The site was then used as the KBIC tribal Center and was later torn down.[2]


The complex at Assinins is one of the earliestCatholic missions in the Upper Peninsulaassociated with Bishop Frederic Baraga, and served as an important link for establishing rapport between the local Ottawa and Chippewa tribes and settlers arriving from the east.[2] Baraga helped the local tribes to establish recognized self-governance, and to purchase land in their own names, establishing the tribe's members as local citizens.[3] The site holds some of the oldest structures in the area, and Bishop Baraga wrote some of his best-known works, including a book on Chippewa grammar and a Chippewa dictionary, while staying in Assinins.[2]

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The site at Assinins originally consisted of multiple buildings, including over 15 log cabins, spread over approximately 500 acres (2.0 km). It currently consists of a school building (now used as a warehouse) and several orphanage buildings.[2] The largest structure is the Old St. Joseph Orphanage and School, which stands three stories tall, and is built of rubble with a dormered gable roof.[2] Nearby is a cemetery holding the graves of missionaries Father Gerhard Terhorst, Monsignor Melchior Faust, FatherJohn Henn, and Father Anthony Vermare.

Paranormal Activity[]

This is Assinins Orphanage which is near Baraga, this photo was taken in the early 1900's. This was the last mission that Father Baraga, the Snow Shoe Priest built back in 1843. The Original orphanage burned to the ground where they erected a new and bigger one however had problems dealing with the influxes of children so would build and add on haphazardly including several staircases that were built for seemingly no reason, leading nowhere. A bizarre maze of a sort of Winchester mansion where today is a condemned building as it is in a state of ruins and falling apart. Locals say the dead still reside there where the sounds of children playing or screaming can still be heard and doors mysteriously slam shut, footsteps can be heard or the light of a lantern from a nun that had fallen down a staircase, after tripping on a child's toy, lantern still glowing but her body dead can still be seen through the windows at night. One of the things I truly love about paranormal investigating is the history behind the site of our chosen location. This orphanage has a colorful and rich history of it's past which includes cruelty, abuse and even murder. One such story is of a small girl, who one night froze to death by playing outside in a blizzard, which then her body was placed on display in the lobby as a warning to the other children of the consequences. One boy was forced to wear a dress all day long after he accidentally stepped over the line into the girls play area. Many children were placed here, mostly from poverty ridden families and included 60 Cuban refugee boys and girls where this catholic mission provided a roof for them but little more. Punishments were severe and cruel within these walls and chores were immense leading to boils on the children's knees. I can only imagine the horror and miserable existence these poor children had to endure here through the great depression era. There is a small cemetery down the road marked mostly by unnamed blank crosses, so many without a name to remember them by. There is a church on the premises as well however has a history of burning down every time they rebuild it. The church has burned to the ground on at least 2 occasions now having to be rebuilt. Assinins means "Little Rock" and was named for the first chief here that Father Baraga Baptized. A man by the name of James had grown up in this orphanage, having spent almost 7 years there, had come out with his story to the newspaper of what it was like to be there back in 1986, interestedly enough he died 9 days after the article appeared in the Lanse sentinel.