One of Michigan’s oldest restaurants, the White Horse Inn, is also one of its most haunted ... or at least that’s what I was told when I was doing research for my book, “Hauntings of the Underground Railroad: Ghosts of the Midwest,” which was released Tuesday.
I found this out talking to Brad Mikulka, president of the SouthEast Michigan Ghost Hunters Society (SEMGHS), who conducted an investigation at the White Horse Inn in Metamora, where slaves were said to move through secret tunnels that connected the inn to nearby homes and the train depot.
Several spirits haunt the inn, including Civil War veteran Lorenzo Hoard, who moved to Metamora from New York around 1850. Hoard purchased the building, which had been a stage coach stop and store, remodeled it and called it Hoard House. Fifty cents could get you an overnight room.
Hoard created several dishes that are still on the menu. Resourceful, he took leftover bread and created a bread pudding, which is very similar to the dessert the inn is serving today. He also added fish and chips to the menu (and here I was thinking that was a modern meal).
But, over the years, new items have been added, including Elvira’s Beef Goulash. That was the winning recipe submitted by Elvira Egeland when she won the Mrs. Michigan contest in 1964.
In true pre-1980s style, the newspaper account (we’re looking at you, Detroit Free Press) of her win doesn’t mention Elvira’s first name. Instead, she’s known as Mrs. Duane Roger Egeland (we learn her husband “beamed with pride” as the crown was placed on her head) throughout the article.
Elvira won the baking and cooking bee with her goulash recipe.
Her daughter, Linda Egeland, co-owns with her husband, Victor Dzenowagis, the White Horse Inn, which they bought in 2012.
They spent $3 million restoring it.
I’m glad Egeland used Elvira’s first name on the menu to honor her mother’s cooking expertise.
As an interesting aside, it turns out Metamora is in the middle of Michigan’s fox hunting country (who would’ve guessed this state even had fox hunting) and Metamora Hunt, a fox hunting club, was founded in 1928.
Visiting Metamora becomes a type of trifecta – the chance to eat Hoard’s bread pudding and Mrs. Duane Roger Egeland’s beef goulash at one of the oldest restaurants in Michigan; visiting the heart of fox country without having to travel to England; and all those ghosts, including Hoard’s, who is said to wander around upstairs.
About the other hauntings, Mikulka told me there were reports of creaking stairs, cold spots, lights flickering, doors slamming and footsteps when no one is around. Much of the activity seems like a trickster, or two, playing games – silly and harmless, if somewhat irritating, fun.
Staff report eerie feelings as though someone is standing close by even when no one is around. Others report seeing a young girl, a man dressed in a 1940s tuxedo who likes to eye the female help, an escaped slave or two and an elderly man.
Then there’s the father and his 2-year-old daughter who went upstairs after dinner to look around but quickly headed back down when the dad saw curtains blowing as if in a breeze even though the windows were closed. But what made him hurry even faster was when his daughter, gazing into what he thought was an empty corner of the room, said excitedly “grandma.”
Elvira’s Hungarian Goulash
Serves about 8.
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons fat
1 cup onions, sliced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of pepper
2 1/4 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons flour
Parsley, for garnish
Brown meat in hot fat over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until tender but not brown.
Combine, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, salt, mustard and pepper; and stir into meat. Add 2 cups water, cover and simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours or until meat is tender; thicken with mixture of flour and remaining water.
Pour over cooked noodles and garnish with parsley.
Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.