All Points Southwest
Credit to Brad L. Bettenhausen of Tinley Park, Illinois for sending in this material.
The newspapers missed a corking good story last Halloween and the incidence is good enough to be repeated now -- weeks and weeks later. It is a tale of humour, and yet of somber, shocking facts.
For a long time workers of the Forest Preserve district in and near Bachelor cemetery on 143rd st. East of Rigeland av. have been concerned about happenings in the ancient graveyard where many pioneers lie buried, their weather beaten tombstones dating back more than 125 years.
The Forest Preserve has taken over all the land surrounding the small cemetery, but the sacred resting place of the area oldtimers was spared.
Something resembling a fence marks the cemetery boundery lines, and what used to be a gate had long since fallen apart.
The Forest Preserve workers noted tombstones began tilting, some marble slabs appeared to have been smashed over other heavier stones. There was evidence that a gang may be gathering regularly in the cemetery.
One morning they discovered that not only has a tombstone been removed over a grave, but a hole had been dug deep enough to reach the top of the concrete vault containing a coffin. There was no dirt to reveal digging had been done.
To the best of their deduction the lid had not be removed nor the dead disturbed.
When the police were around, nothing happened. But when the law turned its face, everything seemed to secthe.
To prevent further destruction, the Forest Preserve crew decided to install a gate across the entrance. It was to be a real gate, too. Which it was.
It was 14 feet long, six feet high, built of heavy galvanized pipe, some of it six inches in diamater. It was bolted, welded and constructed like the sides of a bridge. It weighed nearly 500 pounds.
This jail-like frame was swung across the cemetery entrance and kept shut by the use of a heavy chain, appropriately held together by a huge Yale snap lock.
The climax came last Halloween when the systematic placing of lighted flares detoured road traffic smack into the cemetery past the open gate. A traffic jam developed over the confusion with cars staled among tombstones.
Squads from the sheriff's police and the nearby state police headquarters sped to the cemetery, which shortly became jammed with cars, trucks, police cars and curiosity seekers attracted by the commotion and red police lights blinking among the dead.
The police said nothing important had happened and decided everyone should leave the cemetery.
It was then the big discovery wa made: While all the commotion was going on in the cemetery, someone or something had swung the big gate shut and snapped a new and string lock through the links of the big sturdy chain.
There they were, state and county police, throngs of persons and scores of cars, securely locked up in the cemetery.
Try as they did, the prisoners could not break the lock. Someone decided it was a case for an expert. While the throng remained in the cemetery, a garage man from Orland was summoned. he arrived with a torch and burned apart the chain and released the prisoners.
It would be well if the story ends there. But it doesn't.
Week in and week out since October, the cemetery has been patrolled. Traps have been set. Plain clothes men were assigned to duty. A dedicated program of protection had been pledged and carried out by all concerned.
Monday of this week Forest Preserve workers reported the big gate missing--all 14 feet and 500 pounds of it. So was the sturdy chain, and the great big pad lock. It had been removed between 11 o'clock Monday morning.
It all adds up to one of the biggest mysteries of the time. And there are those who tilt their head, and blink their eyes, and say: "Well, what can you expect? It's a cemetery isn't it?"
Police who don't believe in that sort of thing admit they're baffled. They will tell you that they have done everything possible to stop the strange goings-on. They admit they are "perplexed."
You can find remains to the missing gate near the roped off entrance to the cemetery. There are two concrete blocks on both sides of the gate. These two blocks have metal posts still in them.