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Some Of Chicago's Favorite Haunts

Some Of Chicago's Favorite Haunts
Chicago Tribune
May 13, 1974
Page B13
Peter Gorner

Credit to Matt Galik of Mokena, Illinois for sending in this material.

Next time you're driving thru the old South Side Polish neighborhood along Archer Avenue, keep an eye out for Resurrection Mary.

Two generations of Chicagoans claim to have seen her thumbing a ride--a pretty Polish girl, about 18, with long blonde hair, wearing a white dancing dress.

Many young men say they've picked her up and taken her dancing, usually to the Willow Brook Ballroom in Willow Springs. And something odd always happens on the way home.

As Mary and date drive past Resurrection Cemetery [7200 S. Archer Av.], Mary suddenly gives a yell, jumps from the car, dashes thru the cemetery gates and vanishes. Until, that is, she wants to go dancing again.

"Resurrection Mary probably is the most persistent hitchhiking ghost story in Chicago," said Richard Crowe, who collects such data. "Mary supposedly was killed in a car wreck 40 years ago, and she's been coming back and going dancing ever since."

Crowe is seeking recent dancing partners of Mary. He spends much of his time tracking down Chicago's haunted places and things, the chunky, amiable, 26-year-old is drawn to anything unexplained, be it psychic phenomena or ancient astronauts. He's not a kook, just curious.

"I'll go anywhere for first-person accounts," he said, "preferably from as many different sources as possible. Independant corroboration really gets me interested."

Last year, his alma mater, De Paul University, asked Crowe to select a representation of Chicago spookdom, and what resulted was the Chicago Ghost Tour, a popular five-hour bus hunt which periodically departs from a parking lot behind de Paul.

What's haunted in Chicago, according to Crowe? Well, for starters, there's Bachelor's Grove Cemetery.

Bachelor's Grove is a desolate, overgrown, abandoned burial ground nestled in the woody marshlands off 143rd Street near Midlothian. Crowe considers it the most consistently haunted place in the Chicago area. It looks the part, even in daytime when few things go bump. This is one weird place.

"There's a pale blue ghost light that comes out at night and moves thru the swampy area onto higher ground thru the trees," Crowe said. "I have about a hundred independant reports, many of them on tape."

"The site also has a disappearing house. At night, people see an old one-story frame house-it's been spotted on both sides of the dirt road as you enter the cemetery. People who don't know each other all draw sketches of the same house, even down to the lamp burning faintly inside. They're flabbergasted to learn there's no house there."

Should you wish to see for yourself: From Chicago, take the Dan Ryan to I-57. Exit at 147th Street, go west to Ridgeland Avenue and turn right [north] to 143rd Street. Turn right again, and soon you'll pass over a bridge. Turn right at the first dirt road and follow it to the end. Should you see a moving blue light [about the size of a baseball] you're in the right place.

Then there's the grave of Mary Alice Quinn, at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 W. 111th St., Worth. "Mary Alice died in 1935 when she was 14," Crowe said. "She apparently was a very saintly girl and a number of cures have been attributed to her. Her ghost also revealed itself to many people, and some even took handfuls of soil from around the grave because it supposedly had miraculous properties. During one of our tours in December, everyone noticed the strong scent of flowers by the grave. It was overpowering."

Crowe puts St. Rita's Church, 6213 S. Fairfield Av., on his list, but its pastor, Father Francis Fenton, reacts rather violently to the notion.

"This place is not haunted! This place is not haunted!" he said. "I'll repeat--there are no ghosts around here. It's a bunch of nonsense."

Countered Crowe. "Three people have told me of an incident on All-Souls Day in 1960. The organ began to play by itself, and six hooded figures were seen in the choir loft. People tried to get out but the doors wouldn't open. These cowled figures then were said to glide thru the pews; a voice was heard pleading 'Pray for me,' and the doors flew open by themselves."

"I've been here since 1936," said father Fenton, "and I've seen no ghosts. With the possible exception of myself... I can be a little spooky."

The story is different, tho, at Holy Family Church, 1019 S may St. This grand old survivor of the Chicago Fire, is splendidly haunted, according to Crowe, and its pastor, Father David McCarthy, agrees.

"The shadowy figures come and go," he said with a laugh, "but there are many legends about the church which go back a hundred years to the days of Father Arnold Damen, its founder. Father Damen even had two of our ghosts carved in wood and places in the sanctuary."

The statues are of two young altar boys, brothers who drowned in 1874. One night in 1890, Father Damen said he awoke to find two boys at his door dressed in cassocks holding lighted candles. They led him to the house of an old woman who was dying, then they disappeared.

Father Damon stayed with the woman until she died. He firmly believed he had been brought to her by ghosts of her dead sons.

"I've buried several people whom I've later encountered," father McCarthy said, "and I'm not surprised. You see, it's a dogma of faith that dead can communicate with us and we with them."

The statues of the alter boys seem to watch as you move around," Crowe said. "In fact, the whole church is full of optical illusions, of weird angles and tilts. There are reports of things happening there all the time."

Crowe is a South Sider and knows more about that part of the city. But he always is seeking new material, and asks that those with stories to tell contact him thru P. O. Box 29054, Chicago, Ill. 60629.

"Of course the big thing on the North Side is the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre at 2122 N. Clark St.," he said. "A housing project for the elderly is there now.

"But there's this small grassy area with five trees. The center tree sits just about exactly where the men would have been lined up and shot."

"I am told dogs shy away from that tree," he said. "And many people have said they hear strange sobbings there at night..."