The Good Old Days: Halloween ghost stories

Back in the day without TV or the Internet, it was about talking, sharing and during the days of Halloween or camping outdoors, telling the best ghost stories. It was standing in front of a dark mirror with a candle at slumber parties….chanting I believe in Mary Worth. This ritual serves to summon the vengeful witch, Mary Worth. According to sources, Mary actually lived in Chicago on the old Wagon Road during the Civil War and it is said that she had kidnapped runaway slaves and chained them in her barn. Legend has it that she was burned at the stake. Some called her Bloody Mary and we summoned her many times at Halloween parties, but I never saw her.

Another famous story that can actually be documented over 200 years ago, is the Man with the Golden Arm. The Golden Arm is a folktale, a story appearing in multiple cultures but most most famously told by Mark Twain. The tale begins with a death or a recently deceased victim who has an artificial limb, usually an arm, made of gold. The victim has their limb stolen after their death, most often by a loved one or trusted one in greed. Then the victim comes back from the grave looking to get their golden limb back and scares the robber into giving back their arm. Where’s my golden arm????

My kids didn’t sit down and tell ghost stories unless they were camping out and they were bored. I got them with the golden arm story, though, and chased them around the house. Many learned telling stories during the series where a group of kids who gathered in the woods told ghost stories. This was performed on the 1990 – 1996 U.S. TV series “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” The series was a spooky anthology where a group of kids recounted ghost stories. I made a huge mistake back in the early 1990’s allowing my daughter to stay up with me to watch the original movie Night of the Living Dead. At that time, I was a sucker for the best horror stories in books and movies. She did have nightmares and still reminds me of this today.

According to child psychologists, it is ok for kids to be scared…..just a little. The following stories are some great examples to share.

The Lady with Emerald Ring actually is a story written in the late 1700’s and the woman dies but comes back to life.

The Scarecrow: A wonderful story about a young boy creating his own creepy scarecrow. Every year, his Dad puts out scarecrows in their fields because he thinks they’re effective in not only keeping the crows out, but evil spirits as well.  His Scarecrow changes during a storm.

Haunted is a great story about a ghosts who love to bake. Everyone in a small town in Arkansas knows this house is haunted. It was an old neglected house and sometimes would smell of bakery goods even though no one lived there. Sometimes they would hear the ghosts singing and dancing.

Chicago’s haunted cemeteries

Graceland Cemetery: On Chicago’s North Side, Inez Clarke is suppose to haunt the cemetery and has for several decades. A little girl that has been seen wandering the cemetery grounds. As the stories were told, it was the ghost of a little girl who had died in a lightening storm, while spending time outside at a family picnic, when she was six years old. However, according to Prairie Ghosts and a cemetery expert, no Inez Clarke has ever been buried at Graceland. He also looked up US Census records and found that no child existed at all.  Other supernatural stories exist at Graceland that include the Statue of Death where it has been said that if you look into the scary face of the statue, you may see what your own death in the future will be!

Rosehill Cemetery: Beginning in 1859, Rosehill is the largest and oldest cemetery in Chicago occupying over 330 acres of land and located at 5800 North Ravenswood Avenune. According to the Ghost Research Society, the most recent sighting of an apparition occurred in October of 1995 when a grounds keeper burst into the administration building around eight o’clock in the evening swearing that he had seen a strange figure of a woman on the grounds. She had been standing by a tree near the Peterson Avenue wall. As he began to walk towards her to find out what was wrong, he suddenly froze in his tracks. The apparition seemed to be floating wearing a vintage dress! The ghost disappeared into a mist and it was only then that he was able to move; hurrying to the administration building. Here, he made a report of what he saw. The very next day a phone call was received by the Rosehill office from a woman calling from Des Plaines who said that her deceased aunt had made a nocturnal visit. Her aunt was complaining to her that she had not been properly remembered and that no grave marker adorned her burial plot. She ordered a monument for her aunt, Carrie Kalbas, and since that day, no ghostly sightings have been reported. The Ghost Research Society has electronically visited many haunted sites in the cemetery but have found nothing so far.

Mt Carmel: Currently an active cemetery, Mt Carmel is a Roman Catholic cemetery located in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, Illinois. The most recent famous interment was the body of Cardinal Joseph Bernardine after his death in 1996 from liver and pancreatic cancer.  Mt Carmel is also the final resting place of gangster, Al Capone and many have claimed to see his ghost by his gravestone. Julie Petta, who died in childbirth, is also a famous ghost to walk the lawns of Mt Carmel also known as the Italian bride. Julia, it is said, died either in childbirth or on her wedding night. As legend has it, her mother was abused with nightmares from Julia that her grave be opened. After six years, Mother finally had her body exhumed and surprisingly, she was in great condition. The Mother was allowed to to build her a massive monument. According to The order of the good death, the monument to Julia was financed by her brother in 1927, six years after her death to celebrate her unusual death.

Holy Sepulchre: My aunt and uncle were buried at Holy Sepulchre, a beautiful Catholic Cemetery in Alsip. But the cemetery is also home to the legend of Mary Alice Quinn, known as Chicago’s Miracle Child. Mary died when she was 14 and was buried in the Reilly family plot but prior to her death, she was a natural healer. Those that visited her grave saw apparitions and smelt roses even in the winter time according to sources. The late Mayor Richard J. Daley is buried in Section 19, near the cemetery entrance on 111th Street.  The same section also contains the burial place of Dan Ryan, long time Cook County Board President after whom the Dan Ryan Expressway is named.  Helen Morgan, famous blues singer is interred in Section 14 and more than 500 priests, brothers and sisters are also interred according to the Ghost Research Society. A number of car accidents have occurred on the 111th side of the cemetery but most have been explained.

Resurrection Cemetery: Check out this article that I published last year about Mary  https://karlasullivandotcom.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/chicagos-most-popular-ghost-resurrection-mary/

Bachelors Grove: Check out this article also published last year https://karlasullivandotcom.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/chicagos-most-haunted-bachelors-grove/