rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 10/10/2006
Bachelor's Grove Cemetery - One of Illinois' Most Haunted Locales Only A Drive Away
by Gary Hill

It's getting to be Halloween time again and that means another Beet Café haunting installment is also upon us. This time we're going to turn our attention to something a little (but not too much) farther away. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is in the Southern part of Chicago and is considered to be the most haunted place in that city (and some would say one of the most haunted in the world).


Now would be a good time to mention that, like all of our discussions of the supposed spirited places around the area, the reports here are from others. We neither acknowledge (nor deny) their veracity and more than anything they are put here to entertain and send a chill down your spine. A little history is probably the best way to start the discussion of Bachelor's Grove Cemetery. This tiny (only one acre) burial ground (located in an isolated part of the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve) has an intriguing and checkered past, even forgoing the ghostly side of the tale.


The cemetery was first set up in 1844. Located just on the edge of the suburb known as Midlothian, this boneyard originally was called "Everdon's." The graveyard remained well used until 1965. It had become Bachelor's Grove Cemetery at some point in the middle part of the 19th Century. There are several possible explanations for the change of monikers, but for my money the story that speaks of a community by that name in the area seems the most likely. Still, there are other explanations that are put forth as well. None of that portion of the history really has much to do with our frightening story, though. So, let's suffice it to say that no one really knows the answer for certain. Even before the cemetery fell into disuse it had begun to have problems.


First it became sort of a make out point for couples in the 60's. Then vandals began attacking it. By the time they closed the place it had become quite desecrated. During the 1970's occult groups began doing dark rituals in the burial ground. Between all of these things, by the current day there are few stones that are still completely intact. Some tombstones were removed entirely - although many were eventually returned. There are those who believe that many of the missing ones are at the bottom of the quarry pond that is adjacent to the burial ground. There are even rumors and legends that victims of the Chicago mobs of the 1920's may also be "swimming with the fishes" in that pond. To my knowledge no one has ever investigated the murky depths of the water to look for either, though. In any event, the desecration was (and to a degree - although the police patrol it quite aggressively these days - still is) so bad that many families had the remains of their loved ones moved to other graveyards.


Even the location of the cemetery has gotten the short end of the stick in many ways. While there had been a direct route to the site in the form of the Midlothian Turnpike, that thoroughfare closed to traffic in the 1960's. There had been a plan for an entrance to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery from 143rd Street, but it never materialized. Now the only way into the graveyard is by foot through a small gravel trail in the midst of the Forest Preserve. It is on this trail where the first tales of supernatural activity in the area occur - although there have been some reports of experiences on the Midlothian Turnpike itself.


Perhaps the first of these occurrences is the most peculiar. Many visitors have reported seeing a farmhouse off this small road. We are talking about independent observers here. They all point to the house in varying places and when they approach it disappears. That disappearance does not always happen right away, though. Some visitors have said that it seems to remain the same distance from them, even as they approach. In all cases, though, it eventually vanishes. While the overall occurrence may have some difference, all the descriptions bear striking resemblances to one another. Everyone reports seeing a white house. It has pillars on the porch along with a swing. There is a soft light burning in the window. Interestingly enough, there are no records of a house of this type ever existing anywhere on the premises.


It's also worth noting that this phenomenon has been seen both in daylight and at night. Other things that have been reported along this path are similar to some of the hauntings seen in England. Hooded monk-like entities are often seen along the walkway. They do not seem benevolent, though, as most reports indicate that the beings give off a very ominous sensation. They have been known to lurk near the shadows, frit around the edges, and on occasion chase people out of the graveyard. The cemetery itself has a number of phenomena reported within, and in fact the "monks" are often seen inside the confines of the graveyard itself. As seems common in many "haunted" areas, phantom lights have been reported all over and around this place. There have been flashing blue lights with abrupt and precise movements. They also have been said to react to pursuers, almost taunting them by dancing just out of range. This particular item has been seen by many people and is one of the most widely reported phenomena in this locality. There are also red lights that move extremely quickly. These are seen mostly on the trail but have also been said to dart from tombstone to tombstone in the graveyard proper.


The "monks" are not the only "human-like" apparitions in the graveyard, though. In fact, one of the most famous - and to this day unexplained - ghost photographs ever was taken in Bachelor's Grove Cemetery. Dubbed "The Madonna of Bachelors Grove," this ghost is said to be a sorrowful female lady that who moves amongst the graves with the body of her dead infant in her arms. The photo in question was taken many years ago with high-speed infrared film by Mari Huff. It was daylight and the investigators were the only people in the cemetery. Yet when a photo of one of the graves was developed the image of a woman sitting at the site was clearly visible. This same entity has been reported on numerous occasions by varied visitors, generally when the moon is full. The story of that photograph brings up another interesting peculiarity about this cemetery. It is said that pretty much any time you take a picture inside the graveyard that you will find some abnormality in the picture.


The variations on this include strange lights or floating masses. There have even been pictures that seem to show some sort of weird fog-like material around tombstones. Stranger still, there have been other shots that seem to show faces on the headstones themselves. Looking, though, to other examples of phantoms that resemble people, there have been a number of various reported beings. A ghostly individual in a long buttoned coat has been seen making its way (flying according to the reports) around the grounds. Another entity that was described as a "glowing yellow man" was seen in the 1980's. The pond has been the site of another human (or seemingly human being). An old farmer and his horse have been seen around the pond.


The story is that the duo was killed when the horse bolted and they both landed in that pond. Supposedly two forest rangers are among those who saw this apparition (or pair of apparitions, depending on how you look at it). There is another being that has been reported to be haunting the pond area. It has been described as a strange two-headed creature. While the mass of items mentioned thus far would seem to be a nearly inexhaustible list, there have been still other things that have been seen by people. Recordings made on the grounds have turned up anomalous sounds. Voices have been heard seemingly from nowhere. Even the turnpike area has been said to have both light activity and phantom cars. Whether you believe any or none of this haunting, there have certainly been a large number of people making such reports over the years.


If you choose to check it out for yourself remember that the cemetery closes at sundown and the police are very aggressive about keeping people out of there after hours. For more information (including on the effort to restore and preserve the cemetery) you can check out In any event, let's hope we managed to get at least a couple hairs on your neck standing at attention. After all, isn't that half the fun of Halloween?

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