Bachelor's Grove Cemetery Hauntings
Close to the southwestern suburb of Midlothian is Rubio Woods Forest Preserve. This little secluded area of trees sits in the very urbanized sprawl of Chicago.
This quiet little wooded sanctuary gives one the illusion that they are far away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded city; far away from the rat race of everyday life. However, right on the edge of the diminutive forest is a small graveyard that many people believe is the most haunted place in all of the Chicago area. The name given to this cemetery is Bachelor’s Grove and this once long forgotten graveyard seems to be teeming with ghosts. Over the years, numerous people have report many cases of paranormal phenomena, everything from full bodied apparitions to glowing balls of light. There have been no new burials in Bachelor's Grove for many a long year, and up until the last 15 to 20 years had been almost completely forgotten. In recent years, though, it has become a favorite place for ghost hunters to carry out their investigations.
The history of Bachelor’s Grove is a bit sketchy, but all of the local historians agree that this enigmatic burial ground was started in the very early part of the 1800s. One of the local legends says the cemetery got its name because only single men were buried here, but Bachelor's Grove got it's name from the family who settled in the area during the latter part of the 1700s and early 1800s. A nearby town dating back to the 1820s was settled mainly by German immigrants from New York, Vermont and Connecticut.
One of the families that moved into the area had the surname of “Batchelder” and it was their name was given to the land where they settled. The small settlement continued to be known as Batchelor’s Grove, until 1850, when postmaster Samuel Everden changed it to 'Bremen', which is where the new post office was built. In 1855, it was changed once again to "Bachelder’s Grove" by the new postmaster Robert Patrick, but the post office was shut down three years later and the settlement, officially, ceased to exist and, in time, was reclaimed by the forest.
The cemetery itself continued to be used up until 1989, then it too was forgotten by all but a very few. The land was set aside by Samuel Everden to be used as a burial ground in 1844, when one of the first of the locals passed on, Mrs. Eliza Scott. The land had been donated by Mr. Everden and it was named “Everden” in his honor. The last burials to take place in Everden Cemetery were that of Laura M. McGhee in 1965 and Robert Shields, who was cremated and then buried in 1989.
The last caretaker of the cemetery was Clarence Fulton, whose ancestors were some of the early settlers in the old township. Mr. Fulton reportedly said that Bachelor’s Grove was a sort of park for many years and people would go there to fish and swim in the pond. He also said that families would come on weekends to care for the graves of the deceased and to have nice picnics in the cool shade under the trees. However, as often happens, people eventually stopped coming to the quiet little cemetery to pay their respects and care for the graves of those who had passed on.
Vandals and grave robbers found Bachelor’s Grove sometime during the 1960s and began to trash the lovely little cemetery. Gravestones were pushed over, broken and destroyed and even stolen. Graves were dug up and opened. Bones of the deceased were sometimes found to be strewn all over the grounds of the cemetery.
It is these disturbances, many people believe, that started the haunting of the cemetery. However, others say that there is another reason for the activity. Forest rangers, and other people who have been visitors to the cemetery, have reported that they found the mutilated bodies of chickens and other small animals that had been killed in a sort of ritualistic fashion near the small pond on the edge of the cemetery. Police officers that have been on patrol around the woods during the night have often reported seeing evidence of occult rituals in and around the graveyard. Strange inscriptions and odd sigils have been carved or painted on trees, the grave stones and on the cemetery grounds as well. This, of course, has led many of the locals to believe that the cemetery has been, and is still being used for occult activities. Finally, authorities closed down the road ways leading to the cemetery and it became hardly more than a memory. For those curious folks who decide they want to check out Bachelor’s Grove for ghosts, it can be found by leaving the Midlothian roadway and taking a short walk up an overgrown gravel path that is surrounded on both sides by the forest. The old road is blocked with chains and large concrete blocks, as well as a "No Trespassing" sign, near the head of the old trail. The burial ground lies about a half-mile beyond it in the woods.
Today, the cemetery is choked with weeds and is surrounded by a tall, rusting, chain-link fence, but it's easy enough to gain access through the holes that vandals and trespassers have cut into the fence. The cemetery sign has long since rotted away. The grave stones are scattered about, no longer marking the resting places of the folks whose names are cut into them. Many of the stones are missing, probably lost forever to vandals and time. The most shocking thing to the people who see them are the graves that have been violated due to grave robbers attempting to make off with skulls or any valuables from those whose rest they disturbed.
One night during the late 1970s, a couple of Cook County Forest Preserve officers were on their usual night patrol around the cemetery and swore that they both saw the apparition of a horse pulling a plow behind it that was steered by the ghost of an old man rising up out of the waters of the pond. The creepy apparition crossed the road in front of the ranger’s vehicle and then vanished into the forest. The men later reported the incident and they have not been the only people reporting to have seen the ghosts of the old man and the horse.
What gives more credence to the ranger's story is that in the 1870s, a farmer was plowing a nearby field when something startled his horse and the old farmer became tangled in the reins. He was dragged behind the horse and it plunged into the small pond. The farmer was pulled down into the dark and murky water by the weight of the horse and the plow they drowned. Neither of the officers were aware of this little piece of the area's history.
It is also along this piece of deserted road where other odd occurrences have been reported. One such tale is of the "phantom farm house". Scores of people have reported seeing this strange apparition appearing and disappearing along the trail for many decades now. What makes these reports so credible is that they come from people who had no idea that the house doesn't actually exist. The house has been reported to be seen during all types of weather, as well as during both the day and at night. While there is no historical record of any house existing in that particular location, the descriptions do not vary. Each person who has seen the house describes an old, two-story farm house that is white washed, a large front porch with post to either side of the porch entrance, a porch swing and a light that cheerily burns in the front window. As people approach the old house, usually to seek directions to the cemetery, it is reported that it seems to shrink until it finally just fades away. No one has ever claimed to have actually set foot on the front porch of the house and local legend says that if a person does enter the house they will never return.
There are also reports of the spooky orbs or "ghost lights" being seen on a regular basis floating around the cemetery as well as numerous apparitions of the ghost of a woman walking aimlessly around the cemetery with a baby wrapped in a blanket and held in her arms.
In 2006 Ken Melvoin-Berg, one of the most well known of the local psychic detectives, went with a reporter from the Chicago Tribune to the old graveyard and there Mr. Melvoin-Berg encountered the spirit of a young boy. Ken heard the child crying and telling him that he had lost some money. The reporter stated that Ken got a very odd look on his face and seemed “to lose it himself”. Ken then staggered out of the cemetery toward the pond. Wading into the dark and scummy water, Ken stopped, bent over and stuck his hands into the muck, and found a 1942 Walking Liberty half-dollar coin. It was just where the little ghost boy said it would be.
It would seem that the spirits of the Bachelor's Grove cemetery do not rest in peace, forever wandering this lonely little patch of ground that seems to be a shadow's thickness and a age away from our modern world and big cities.