Looking back to the Leland Report dated October 31, 2002, it reasonable to assume that the story of the Great South Manitou Pumpkin was the beginning of many mysterious happenings that occurred in the vicinity of the Sand Cut north of the Clay Cliffs. The story begins…
At midnight I rose after hearing voices calling me to the “Clay Cliffs”. I made my way through the darkness until reaching the bluffs edge and there it was….the “Great South Manitou Pumpkin”. I have heard about it, but this is my first real encounter. The following happened one hundred and nine years ago and is believed to be true..
In 1904, the steamship Congress set sail out of Sault Saint Marie with 10 tons of seed packets bound for the Ball Seed Company in Chicago IL. Three days later, in heavy seas, the steamship foundered in the shallow bay of South Manitou Island. All hands were lost including the cargo. Some of the cargo washed up on shore, but the rest sank to the murky depths and remained there for decades. After the Great War, an enterprising farmer decided to move to South Manitou and grow vegetables. His first crop was disappointing, so he enlisted the help of a local manure salesman the next year. As the corn grew higher and higher, he noticed bare patches in the field and began to investigate. He was never seen again. Those that looked for him found the strange bare patches in the cornfields...and found vines...pumpkin vines, but not a pumpkin in sight. Some say some pumpkinseeds came from the Congress and were possessed by the souls of the doomed crew. They come back year after year as disembodied vegetables, feeding off the living and then returning to their ship. So next time you visit South Manitou, visit the graveyard on the north road and listen...the rustling in the bushes might be a rabbit or a fox...or could it?
Three years later, early in September, 1907, Anton Babka, a Bohemian deckhand fell overboard during a violent storm just east of the northern tip of North Manitou Island. He washed ashore at what is known now as the Sandcut, 3 miles north of Leland. Seeking refuge and shelter he made his way to a small farm on North Manitou Trail. The farmer, Augustus Hodadt took him in and gave him a job as a farmhand. Anton proved to be a trusted and able worker, but It wasn't long before Anton became close to Augustus' wife Maria and had an affair.
Augustus grew suspicious of their affair and he confronted Anton. On October 30th they had a bitter argument and Anton was never heard from again. When people asked questions about Anton's whereabouts, Augustus claimed that Anton packed up and left in the middle of the night unexpectedly. With so many drifters coming into Leelanau County early in the 20th century, no one paid much attention to his departure. Anton was last seen helping Augustus plant a pumpkin patch across the road from the farm.
Over the years after the farm was abandoned and around Halloween, folks driving by at night would see what they thought was a great pumpkin aglow, the face of an agonized man in the house. Alerted to the October 4th Reportby a LR visitor I looked closely at the picture of the pumpkin patch across from the old homestead and discovered the image on one of the pumpkins in the field. I don't know, but I suspect that Anton Babka was buried at that very spot and condemned to return each and every Halloween for eternity to haunt the abandoned homestead of Augustus Hodadt.
The search for Anton Babka continued. The task made difficult because only sinners and those who have tricked after being treated can actually see him. For years he would reappear in mid September in Augustus Hodadt's pumpkin patch where it is alleged he was murdered and buried in 1907. The patch was plowed under a few years ago by Augustus's grandson, Tomminko and relocated to another field. During this time, rumors spread that Anton had been sighted in Fishtown 2004 and Main Street, Leland in 2005. I've been told by others, that they had actually seen him, confessing that indeed, they were sinners of some sort, leaving me to wonder of their truthfulness. I received a call from Sheriff Mike in 2006, that his deputies had reported a sudden appearance of a wreaked launch in a new pumpkin patch adjacent to the old Hodadt homestead bearing the name Chesky Raj (Bohemian Paradise). Researching shipwrecks occurring in the Great Lakes around 1907, it's chronicled that a ship loaded with "houby" (mushrooms) named Chesky Raj had sunk between Leland and Northport during a violent late October storm. It's possible that this launch may have washed ashore with Anton, by way of the "Sand Cut". How it made its journey to the pumpkin patch is mysterious. Each and every Halloween night, a light mysteriously shines in the upstairs bedroom of the abandoned Hodadat farmhouse, leaving us to wonder..... Has Augustus also returned to haunt?.... Will Anton and Augustus reunite?.............
Having thought that Anton Babka had found his peace in the graveyard at St Wenceslaus in 2007, it seems that perhaps his existence is eternal this time of year. For those who haven't been exposed to Anton, his story was told on the Report and again in October 2004 when he began to show himself to a number of self confessed sinners. I say sinners because it's said that only a sinner can see Anton. I can't verify this because... well... of the obvious.
Well... so much for the supposedly final resting place, as once again Anton was observed by some un-named sinner revisiting one of his former hide-outs on Main Street. After all these sightings, we still don't have a picture of Anton, so we are asking some sinner out there who has seen Anton to come forward and help identify him.
Since 2008 it seems that Anton has taken over Fishtown on Halloween night and it well is that where we will find him from now on.
Here it is twelve years later and the search continues, Easling Construction was contracted last Fall to upgrade the infrastructure of Fishtown and from what I observed was that many strange artifacts were found under the shanties and discarded with the trash, the crew, obviously not knowing what they uncovered. I’m sure many of our viewers are sinners and have seen Anton, please step forward and let us know where he has been sighted and what he looks like.
Received an Email from with a picture of a pumpkin floating in the harbor and claims that a image of Anton appears on the surface, I see nothing but the skin of a pumpkin, maybe someone out there can see something different.