The most haunted cemetery: Bachelors Grove

Over the decades as a long-time Chicago girl, I was there; as teenager, young adult and mature woman trying to see and feel but I had no luck. My friends didn’t either but I thought it was fun just to try searching for the paranormal. Close to home, Bachelor’s Grove is one of the most haunted places in the Chicago area and mainly eerie discoveries took place in the 1970’s and 1980’s. People have seen orbs, flying vehicles as well as a disappearing farmhouse. In 1984, someone saw monks in robes and in the 1990s, a ghost dog. Bachelors Grove Cemetery is just northwest of Midlothian and Oak Forest, near the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve on the Midlothian Turnpike (near its intersection with Central Avenue), in the southwest Chicago suburbs.

An historic cemetery filled with ghosts, the area has suffered abuse and neglect from those looking for that one sound or light from beyond. The earliest burial being about 1838 and the last burial took place in 1965 and 1989. One of the most well-known graves in Bachelor’s Grove is that of a baby girl who died mysteriously in the early 1900’s. Visitors to the cemetery often leave trinkets and small toys on her headstone. Photographs of her grave often include orbs captured by Haunted Illinois. Some legends say a baby can be heard crying in the cemetery in the early morning hours, just before dawn.

According to Wikipedia, The Ghost Research Society has conducted numerous investigations into the reported phenomenon, and their results have included images which contain light resembling ectoplasm as well as orbs. One photograph, taken by Judy Huff Felz in 1991, includes a “supposed” full image of a ghostly figure.

After the film was processed, according to the Ghost Research Society, it was discovered that on one frame there was the image of a strange woman sitting on a checkerboard tombstone in an old-fashioned turn-of-the-century, full-length dress. She had long brown hair and was staring off in the distance in profile. Studying the detail, parts of her body are semi-transparent, especially her head and legs.  Everyone on the team was shocked with this revelation as it seemed to happen while a team member experienced electromagnetic deviations at the same time.  It is one of the clearest images this author has ever seen to date!  Researchers have reported electronic voice phenomena in the area.

They suggest a a documentary shot in 2009 by Cody Kats for your enjoyment. Visit his page on YouTube, Bachelor’s Grove. In 2012, the cemetery was featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures. Ursula Beilski, a Chicago legend in discovering paranormal activity, has written a book that concentrates on Bachelor’s Grove. Ursula is the founder of Chicago Hauntings and has appeared on many television shows with her spiritual discoveries.

Self guided tours are available on the Path to Bachelors Grove site since many struggle to find it. If you are planning visits, please take a look at the site and directions which is updated all the time. The Path website offers a great quote “You cannot reach a destination if you don’t know it exists,”. Maybe I need to be more confidant about meeting spirits and go back to the cemetery soon.

Marshall Field Juniors’ restless spirit

By Caryl Clem

Chicago’s original shakers and movers who shaped commercial wealth, fashion and culture lived on a stretch of Prairie Avenue nicknamed. “Millionaires Row”. Marshall Field, the founder of Marshall Field & Company was Chicago’s number 1 wealthiest man, lived at 1905 South Prairie. Marshall Field proposed to his wife a day after meeting the attractive party girl.  Learning she was leaving town, he raced to the train station. He blurted out a marriage proposal demanding that she pursue love with him; soon afterwards they wed.  Beneath his success driven demure was an impulsive wild side he passed on to his son.

Marshall Field Jr. as a child constantly witnessed his parent’s quarrels.  Mother was a trailblazer, fiercely strong-willed constantly defying conservative norms. She introduced the “Tea Gown” a flowing, body hugging, sheer revealing dress for women.  She dared to invite celebrities and actors to stay with or without consent from her husband.  Later, she started to live overseas. Ironically, Marshall Field Senior had the business motto, “Give the Lady What They Want”, without reaching marital harmony at home.

While Marshall was in college, an elaborate 43 room mansion was built at 1919 South Prairie. Marshall graduated from Harvard, returned to Chicago to marry beautiful Albertine Huck in 1890. Well educated, husband Marshall Field Junior lived under his father’s shadow working as a clerk. When the high class brothel, The Eveleigh Club, opened in 1900, Marshall Field Junior was named as a regular patron.  He had a place to escape boredom. 

At 2131-33 S Dearborn the famous brothel had a ballroom, parlors and private suites.  Everywhere were  fountains, fresh flowers, musicians played gold gilded pianos, eloquent furnishings, fine liquor and food with lovely  lady  “butterflies” floating through the rooms. Men boasted about evening adventures that would cost $50 at the door and a $150 feast before you could court a female dessert for later in the evening.  Weekly wages were barely over $5 for the “common” man. On a fateful November night, Marshall Field Junior was shot by his love interest! 

Vera Scott had started as a stunning, leggy chorus girl.  She bragged about her powers of seduction with numerous men during an interview by a reporter for The Los Angeles Times on November 23, 1913.  She coyly mentioned she had killed 2 men with no arrests.  Her first victim was Marshall Field, Junior.  

Marshall Junior spotted Vera while she was sitting in a popular lunch grill. . He approached her, later inviting her to join him at the Eveleigh Club. She agreed. Later she felt harmed by an action in a private room with witnesses, and reached for her revolver. She claimed shooting him was an accident.  He ordered a taxi to drive him home to save the family’s reputation never admitting he was shot.

Marshall died on November 27, 1905, ironically starting his life at 1905 S. Prairie.   Reports of feeling an restless entity have been reported in the Prairie street condo’s once his home and at the relocated Eveleigh Bar, recently the Tonic Room at 2447 S. Halsted.

Dying to dance: Resurrection Mary

By Caryl Clem:

Resurrection Mary  has been seen floating near her corner grave in Resurrection Cemetery, dancing in a crowded ballroom, or walking down Archer Road.  Two men recall a romantic evening shared dancing with Mary, a lovely damsel gowned in lace with strangely ice cold hands and fragile skin. After offering her a ride home, she ordered the car stopped at the cemetery entrance. Shock and surprise followed as Mary left the car, crossed the road to dissolve into thin air at the cemetery gate. The distraught suitors had her address and went to her home the next day to be informed by her mother she had died in a car accident after leaving the Ballroom years ago.  The fascinating details of this occurrence for Gerald Palus on 1/31/1936 (Richard Crowe) and a south side man named Vince (Troy Taylor)  1935 are eerily similar. Both men were interviewed by the named paranormal investigator.  Gerald’s story made in on the T. V. Show, “Unsolved Mysteries”.

Mary Bregovy was a 21 year old working at The Brach Candy factory during the Depression. Her girlfriend Vern during a 1985 interview said that on Saturday while shopping they met 2 men with a fancy car.  During the ride, Vern commented on the guys’ rough behavior. Mary had been forbidden to go dancing that evening but couldn’t refuse the young men’s offer to go to Willow Springs Ballroom. Vern declined.  Mary told Vern to tell her Mother she was going out with friends from work.  Vern watched the car leave to never see her friend again.  Mary was in the front seat and went through the windshield when the car crashed after leaving the dance. She died on March 10, 1934. She was buried in a plot that was moved to a corner of the cemetery where she has been seen hovering.

Physical evidence for Resurrection Mary was obtained by a policeman investigating a “trespassing” charge in the cemetery. He took pictures of bent bars with a black hand print.  When the policeman allowed the paranormal T. V. show to film, “That’s Incredible”, documenting the evidence, he was fired.  

Before Mary Bregovy, a young, beautiful, Catholic, Lithuanian,  Anna Mirja ( Mary)  Korkus  made her father promise she could dress up like a young lady and go dancing on her 13th birthday. She was tall, bonde and blue eyed.  As she was driven to the ballroom, the car went off the road and crashed killing her instantly in July 1927.  On Halloween weekend, Mary Murkowski was killed crossing the street near Bridgeport. The Mary’s may have joined together to form their own ghostly sisterhood.

The personal stories of meeting Resurrection Mary are “spell binding”.  I would suggest the following:

Haunting of Joliet Prison

Built in 1858 and in operation until 2002, the Joliet Prison is still open for haunted tours. The architect that designed Chicago’s Water Tower also designed the gothic prison built with the same limestone. The prison in Joliet replaced the first state penitentiary in Alton which was horrendous as far as inmate conditions and though Joliet Prison was supposed to improve, by 1878, over 1,200 people were housed there. The Prison still offered terrible accommodations. Statesville was opened in 1926 in Cresthill, but many gruesome disasters happened at the Joilet Prison.

According to Chicago Magazine, Joliet is among the oldest prison complexes in Illinois. Most famous for its appearance in The Blues Brothers movie, the penitentiary has hosted such notorious criminals as John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, and Adolf Luetgert, the original “sausage king” of 19th-century Chicago, who famously dissolved his slain wife in lye at his meatpacking warehouse.

In 1924, Leopold and Loeb were given a life sentence known for kidnaping and murdering Robert Franks. Baby Face Nelson was held there and in 1975, the Almighty Black Stone Nation and other Chicago street gangs took over a cell block and held officers hostage. Other horrible events happened at the Prison that included the warden’s wife being set on fire as well as other violent crimes throughout its history.

Joliet Hauntings offers video’s displaying contact with spirits that include voices as well as being touched. They were the first to investigate in 2018. Award winning author and ghost hunter, Ursula Bielski and the Joliet Paranormal Crew offer an amazing book that details the authorized investigations of hauntings at the Prison just launched this summer. Ursula is founder of Chicago Hauntings and has been writing and researching the spirit world for decades here in Chicago. She is a renowned expert on Chicago’s supernatural folklore. She has written thirteen books as well as a guest on many television shows describing her experience with the paranormal world.

Tours are available at Joliet Prison but because of the state mandates due to Covid, tours are mainly outdoors. All tickets must be pre-purchased at jolietmuseum.org. You can also get involved at the historic site as a volunteer, donate or share artifacts from the Prison.