Chicago’s Most Popular Ghost: Resurrection Mary

As a lifer in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, I have taken many trips along the roads, Resurrection Cemetery and the Willowbrook ballroom to find Mary…no luck so far but continue to do so when I hear there may be new sightings.

Who is Resurrection Mary? Just outside Resurrection Cemetary in Justice, Illinois a few miles southwest of Chicago, Mary, a young ghostly hitchiker has been seen along Archer Avenue between the old Willowbrook Ballroom and the cemetery since the 1930s. Mary has been picked up by drivers and then suddenly disappears by the cemetery as the driver passes by. Sightings have described her as having blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white party dress. The first sighting of Mary was actually from Jerry Palaus asking Mary to dance and when they touched, she was so cold.

Where and when has Mary been seen? Over the years, Mary has been seen a number of times. She showed up in 1973 at the Harlows nightclub on Cicero Avenue and since recorded sightings include one in 1976, 1978, 1980, and the last being in 1989. Janet Kalal and a friend were out in October of 89 and they were out for a drive ending up at Resurrection Cemetery and claim that Mary stepped right in front of their car. They were moving and felt no bump , seeing a stream of white.  Just this year, a movie was made about Resurrection Mary.

What and who do I believe?

Ursula Bielski, a Chicago historian and lover of ghosts, met her on a bar stool at the tender age of vie, drinking a Shirly Temple at Chet’s Melody Lounge on a Wednesday morning. According to Ursula the research that connects Mary to a real person that is the most solid is that Mary is Anna Norkus who was born in Cicero in 1914.  As a young girl, Anna used her middle name Mary, because of her devotion to Blessed Mary. Anna  loved to dance and her father took her to the famous OHenry Ballroom (Willowbrook) and  on the drive home they were passing Resurrection cemetary and was in a car accident. Anna was killed.

Ursula talks more about her research of Mary She is the author of: Chicago HauntsMore Chicago HauntsGraveyards of ChicagoCreepy Chicago, and the forthcoming book, Beloved: The Lives and Afterlives of Resurrection Mary. With her husband, David Cowan, author of To Sleep with the Angels (on the tragic Our Lady of Angels school fire) and Great Chicago Fires she owns and operates Chicago Haunting’s Ghost Tours. She has been awarded as one of the top ghost tours in America and provides different tours that you may enjoy such as Gothic Chicago Tours, The Devil and the White City, and the Classic Chicago Ghost Tour that includes the site where the Eastland disaster occurred. You can visit her Web site at: www.chicagohauntings.com.

As a Downers Grove resident today, I still wander over to Justice and Willow Springs. Just last year, the Willowbrook Ball Room was destroyed by fire. However, a nonprofit foundation plans to re-build with therapeutic dance programs for seniors and the disabled including a ballroom.

I wonder if there are more ghosts than ever walking along Archer Avenue. It is a beautiful day today….I might just take another cruise.