Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

September 8, 2019
By Heidi E. Carpenter

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is one of the oldest and most infamous cemeteries in the Chicago metropolitan area. Sadly, it’s also one of the most vandalized.

Bachelor’s Grove (a.k.a. Bachelor Grove or Batchelor Grove) Cemetery is one of the oldest and most storied cemeteries in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 2012, it was featured on a popular paranormal-themed television show, which spread the cemetery’s notoriety to the furthest corners of the United States.

Bachelor’s Grove reputedly hosts several ghosts, including a disappearing house within the woods surrounding the cemetery, the spirit of a plow horse and farmer that drowned in the duckweed-choked slough bordering the north side of the cemetery, two different ghostly women, phantom vehicles on both the old Midlothian Turnpike — now a crumbling asphalt path leading to the cemetery entrance — and a stretch of the current Midlothian Turnpike just north of the slough, a black dog, glowing orbs, a two-headed creature, and more. The slough is also reputed to be a former corpse dumping ground for the mafia, and it’s not difficult to imagine 1920s-era sedans on the Midlothian Turnpike slowing to dump the weighed bodies of mafia victims into the slough before speeding back to Chicago. The remains of house foundations and wells in the woods to the west of the cemetery further lend mystery to the land.

This legendary duckweed-choked slough fills the expanse between Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and Midlothian Turnpike.

Yet beneath the stories is a historic cemetery that has suffered from decades of neglect and abuse. Headstones and monuments are toppled, missing, or moved to other parts of the cemetery, and it was once normal to navigate knee-high grasses, downed trees, and trash to get a look at the monuments. Narrow dirt trails created by decades of curiosity seekers criss-cross the cemetery, and modern trinkets of appreciation litter the more popular graves.

This legendary duckweed-choked slough fills the expanse between Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and Midlothian Turnpike.

While the first legal record of the cemetery dates from 1864, the earliest recorded burial was in 1838. For reference, the city of Chicago was established in 1833. The area around Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery was first settled by English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants in the 1820s, followed by a wave of German immigrants; these pioneers contributed towards shaping the Chicagoland area into what it is today. Several of these German immigrants and their families are buried in Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, and Civil War veterans can be counted among the interred. The last burials in Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery took place in 1965 and 1989.

These Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery family monuments were vandalized and are missing their obelisks.

The cemetery began suffering from vandalism long before the old section of Midlothian Turnpike was shut down in the early 1960s. In fact, the cemetery had a reputation as a teenage hangout in the ’40s and ’50s. As the decades progressed, the cemetery suffered horrific desecration. Graves were dug up, monuments were stolen or thrown into the slough, and numerous sloppy occult rituals were performed in and around the cemetery.

A toppled and broken headstone at Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery.

I have not seen direct evidence supporting whether Bachelor’s Grove is actually haunted. But ask yourself this: what happens when a one-acre plot of land nearly lost beneath the sleepy dust of time and nature’s creeping embrace is rudely awoken by malicious interlopers? What happens to a locale when it suffers clumsy attempts to conjure up and communicate with the darkness lurking in the corners of our dimension? Even the unimaginative among us can detect the uneasy vibrations such violations can bring. Unfortunately for Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, its mystery and isolation attracted decades of such acts.