Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Happy Haunting Ground For Ghosts

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Happy Haunting Ground For Ghosts
© 2010 Kathleen Murphy -
May 2010

On a wooded trail that was once a pioneer road, there’s a deserted cemetery where strange things are seen.

Bachelor’s Grove cemetery is about twenty miles southwest of Chicago in the heart of the American Midwest, the final resting place of settlers who began to arrive there in the 1820’s. They came looking for land of their own and a fresh start. The earliest were Scottish and Irish, then Germans followed a few years later. There was plenty of timber for building, and the land was not difficult to plow up and cultivate.

Bachelor’s Grove was named for the Batchelder family, although Stephen Rexford claimed in 1833 that it was named for himself and three other bachelors who settled it. However, it had already been established and called Bachelor’s Grove for several years. Stephen may still have had a right to brag, though, since he started the first post office there.

Through the nineteenth century people lived and died in the area and were buried in Bachelor’s Grove cemetery. The pleasant forest setting with a nearby pond made it a peaceful resting place. Families would bring a picnic on Sundays and spend the day there relaxing; they would often fish or swim in the pond. The earliest record of burial in the cemetery was that of William B. Nobles in 1838. The last burial was that of Robert E. Shields in 1989.

But by the time Laura M. McGhee was buried there in 1965, the cemetery had largely fallen into disuse. Descendents of the early pioneers had died out or moved away. The Midlothian Turnpike which ran by the cemetery was closed to traffic. It had once been a major pioneer thoroughfare, but was now little more than a trail. What had once been a pleasant retreat became hidden by the overgrown woods, deserted and somewhat ominous.

Teenagers began using the isolated cemetery for drinking and making out in the sixties, then the activities there became darker. Vandals stole tombstones and even dug up bodies for souvenirs. Out of two hundred tombstones, there are only about twenty left now. What’s more, there was evidence of occult rituals in the cemetery; police officers found the remains of sacrificed chickens and other animals. Even before that, it was said that mobsters dumped bodies into the pond in the 1920’s.

All this sounds like a haunting waiting to happen, and many people have seen weird things in and near the cemetery. On the trail to it, a red light like an orb has been seen. It moves along the trail, growing and shrinking. Blue lights have also been spotted. People have heard shrieks and moans as they approached the cemetery.

The old Midlothian Turnpike is reportedly also haunted by ghost cars which appear and vanish as quickly as they come. Is it hit men from the Roaring Twenties, rushing to dispose of unfortunate victims?

There is a story that in the nineteenth century an old man was plowing a nearby field. His horse became frightened for some reason, and in a panic it jumped into the pond by the cemetery. The old man got entangled with the horse, and both drowned in the pond. In the 1970’s two police officers reported that they saw a very wet and cadaverous horse emerge from the pond, dragging an old man behind him. The horse and man stopped on the bank, then disappeared.

The area is haunted by a ghost farmhouse seen by a number of people, most of whom thought it was a real house. It’s always described as a white, two-story frame house. If it’s approached, it seems to shrink and disappear. There’s no record of any house like this ever existing near the cemetery.

But the most startling apparition in the cemetery may be a young woman in a white dress, who seems to be from the 1920s. She was photographed in 1991 by members of the Ghost Research Society. You can see the picture here:

She appears to be sitting on a tombstone, staring off into space. It’s thought that she was buried near the grave of her young child, and she’s sometimes seen carrying the child. People who’ve encountered her say she’s always unaware that anyone is nearby. She’s sometimes called the White Lady, and sometimes the Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove.

Except for the attentions of ghost hunters, the cemetery is neglected today. Tombstones are still toppled over. Trenches remain where bodies have been dug up. Weeds have taken over and a chain link fence put up around the cemetery is broken in several places. The last trustee, Clarence Fulton, retired in the 1970s. Here’s a video of the cemetery from 1976:

In case you want to introduce yourself to any of its many phantoms, Bachelor’s Grove cemetery is located in Cook County in Illinois about 20 miles southwest of Chicago, in Rubio Woods Forest Preserve on 143rd St. But I wouldn’t advise it. A couple went there with a camera and voice recorder. They began to feel uneasy right away and left after twenty minutes. The pictures they took revealed many ghostly apparitions, and the voice recorder ordered them to "get out." What’s worse, the man became very sick the next day, and bad luck dogged the couple for the next year. You can read the whole account at:

You’ll have to decide for yourself if you believe any of these stories or not. But if you want to see ghosts, Bachelor’s Grove cemetery seems like a good place to start.