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My Kind Of Ghost Town

My Kind Of Ghost Town
Daily Illini - University of Illinois - Champaign, IL USA
December 7, 1993
Page 12
Carl F. Hertz

Going to Chicagoland over break?

Visit the holiday spirits

The end of fall semester can be difficult to be excited about. As if finals and the oh-so-lovely Midwestern winter weren't injury enough, most of us will be going home to family for vacation. But alas, if the greater Chicagoland area is home, here is an idea that might lift your spirits ... ghost hunting.

Yes, believe it or not, the Chicago area has been blessed with, according to the Ghost Research Society, 148 haunted churches, structures, theatres, pubs, graves, Native American burial grounds, private houses and streets.

The Ghost Research Society, which is headquartered in Oak Lawn, Ill., has been hunting ghosts and other paranormal phenomena since their inception as the Ghost Trackers Club in 1978. The society publishes several journals, including the National Register of Haunted Locations, the Greater Chicagoland Psychic Directory, and the Ghost Trackers Newsletter.

Dale Kaczmarek, president of the Ghost Research Society, calls Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, just north of Oak Forest on the Midlothian Turnpike, "the most haunted place in Chicagoland." There are many stories of ghosts, lights and other strange events occurring in Bachelor's Grove, but none quite so strange or as heavily reported as that of a farmhouse.

The house is an old, whitewashed prairie home, complete with a porch, wood pillars, a porch swing and a light visible through the front door. The house appears to get smaller and smaller as it is approached, eventually disappearing from sight. According to Kaczmarek, there are no records of a farmhouse ever being on the property.

Probably the most famous ghost of the area is "Resurrection Mary." Mary hails from Resurrection Cemetery just outside of Chicago on Archer Avenue. People have reported seeing a beautiful blond ghost as far back as 1931.

In 1939, a man claimed she told him her name was Mary. Mary was supposedly killed by being struck by a car while hitchhiking on her wedding night.

In 1976, a police officer was called to Resurrection Cemetery when someone reported seeing a young woman locked inside the cemetery gates. When the officer arrived, he found handprints impressed in the bars of the gate, something no person could have done.

According to Kaczmarek, whose group has investigated the sight extensively, the impressions made by the fingers and thumbs were slightly corroded and blackened.

In a few years the bars rusted only in spots where the handprints were made. The bars were then sent away to be repaired and refinished, but rusted in the same spots again. Unfortunately, today the handprints are covered with rustproof paint and graffiti. The impressions are still visible, but the mystique is diminished.

Graceland Cemetery, at the corner of Irving Park and Clark streets on Chicago's north side, is the location of several paranormal events. The oldest of which occurred at the grave of a young girl named Inez Clarke.

Inez was killed by being struck by lightning at a family picnic. Her family was so upset that they commissioned an artist to sculpt a life-sized statue of the girl. The statue was then sealed in an airtight glass container.

On several occasions, security guards at the cemetery have reported that the statue was missing when they made their nightly rounds past the grave. In the morning, the statue would always be there. Other people have reported seeing the statue cry.

Graceland's second most reported apparition is at the underground mausoleum of Ludwig Wolff. The hill is said to be guarded by some sort of wild animal with glowing green eyes. At times, the eyes are the only things visible. Inside the mausoleum, people have reported hearing animal-like howling.

Another interesting site in Graceland is the grave of Dexter Grange. His grave has a statue of a shrouded figure named "eternal silence" (sculpted by Lorado Taft, the same person who sculpted the University's Alma Mater), and though it is not haunted, it is considered very bad luck to pass it without rubbing its nose.

Some other famous public locations in the Chicago area that are in the "National Register of Haunted Locations" are Hull House (800 S. Halsted St.), Water Tower (Michigan and Chicago avenues), The Red Lion Pub (2446 N. Lincoln Ave.) and the Woodstock Opera House (121 Van Buren St., Woodstock, Ill.)

For those of you who just can't wait, and want to go catch a ghost in the act, the closest reported haunting is just outside of Watseka, Ill. Watseka is a small town about an hour north of Champaign-Urbana on Ill. Highway 1. The haunt is on road 1500 North, otherwise known as Red Lantern Road.

According to the story, an eerie red light can be seen for miles, moving at a steady pace as if it were a lantern being carried by someone walking down the road. When the light is approached, it becomes obvious that no-one is carrying it.

If the idea of ghost-hunting on your own is a little too spooky, the Ghost Research Society sponsors tours of the area ranging from $20 to $32 per person. Interested persons should write to Excursions Into the Unknown, P.O. Box 205, Oak Lawn, IL 60454-0205 or call (708) 425-5163. The Society is also planning trips to Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and England in the future.

For a copy of the "National Register of Haunted Locations," or further information on the Ghost Research Society, contact the same address as above. Make sure it is sent c/o Dale Kaczmarek.

Happy Hunting!