Rosehill Cemetery Investigation

The Ghost Research Society was the first paranormal team to investigate Rosehill Cemetery on August 13, 1994!

CEMETERY ADDRESS: 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL. 60660 .

MEMBERS PRESENT: Dale & Ruth Kaczmarek, Stan Suho, Fran & Lisa Pizano, Kenneth Powell, Howard Hight and Donna Boonstra.

INVESTIGATION TIME: Saturday, August 13, 1994.

HISTORY OF THE CEMETERY: Rosehill is Chicago's largest and oldest cemetery dating back to 1859 and contains the remains of over 200,000 individuals. Many of those buried here were the rick and elite in Chicago's past while others were simple folk. Buried in it's 350 or so acres are famous Chicagoans such as Aaron Montgomery Ward, Richard Warren Sears, Arthur Rubloff, Henry Crown, William Boyington (designer of the Water Tower), Charles Hull, John G. Shedd and many, many others including sixteen Civil War generals and fourteen former Chicago mayors.

David Wendell, an employee and historian of the cemetery took members of the GRS on a haunted tour of several graves and the massive mausoleum.

PRESENT DAY HAUNTINGS: While the cemetery currently has a no ghost policy, within the confines of this huge burial ground are numerous hauntings. Mr. Wendell walked us through the large community mausoleum which was proposed in 1912 and by 1914 there were sufficient funds available largely because of donations from John G. Shedd for the construction. Interred within the walls are many prominent people including mail-order catalog giants Aaron Montgomery Ward and Richard Warren Sears situated only a stones throw apart. They died only about a year apart in 1913 and 1914 respectively. While the ghost of Ward hasn't appeared yet, the specter of Sears adorned in top hat and tails has been seen wandering near his burial vault

 Another haunted mausoleum though much smaller than the community crypt is that of Charles Hopkinson who died in 1885. He was a real estate tycoon who became rich during the Civil War. After his death, architect James Eagan designed a crypt which resembles a miniature version of a Gothic cathedral. However that was only the beginning of troubles for the Hopkinson family. Plot owners near the crypt complained to the cemetery that the construction of the mausoleum would obstruct the view of their loved ones graves and the battle went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of the Hopkinson's and construction continued.

Probably due in part to all the disruptions in the final burial of Charles Hopkinson, it is said that on the anniversary of his death a soft but gruesome moaning apparently rises from the crypt sometimes accompanied by the sounds of rattling chains.

The grave of Frances Willard, founder of the Women's Christian Temperance Union is located just across the road from the Hopkinson crypt. Though the site is not haunted itself, there is an interesting spectral tale to relate. It seems that Frances Willard's late sister Mary came a calling on Frances close friend and associate Belle Milner.

Belle came down with a mild case of tuberculosis. Doctors tried in vain to persuade Belle to move to a climate more suited to the treatment of the disease but she refused to leave her Northside home. One afternoon, the ghost of Mary, appeared to Belle and pleaded with her to change her mind and move in accordance with Frances and the doctor's wishes. Finally Belle moved to Arizona where she died about two years later.

     David Wendell at Frances Willard's Grave with Howard Hight

The most recent sighting of an apparition occurred in October of 1995 when a grounds keeper burst into the administration building around eight o'clock in the evening swearing that he had seen a strange figure of a woman on the grounds. She had apparently been standing by a tree near the Peterson Avenue wall. As he began to walk towards her to find out what the matter was, he suddenly froze in his tracks. The apparition seemed to be floating in mid-air dressed in a long gown of days gown by! Slowly the ghost dematerialized into a mist and it was only then that he was able to move; and move he did, straight to the administration building to report this most unusual sighting!

The very next day a phone call was received by the Rosehill office from a woman calling from Des Plaines who said that her deceased aunt had made a nocturnal visit. Her aunt was complaining to her that she had not been properly remembered and that no grave marker adorned her burial plot. She ordered a monument for her aunt, Carrie Kalbas, and since that day, no further apparitional sightings have been reported. Ms. Kalbas died on October 25, 1933 of coronary thrombosis in a Wheaton, Illinois hospital.

Last but not least is the story of Frances Pearce who died in 1854 at the young age of twenty and four months later their young infant daughter followed. To remember his young wife and daughter husband, Horatio Stone, commissioned Chauncey Ives to sculpture a memorial. The graves and sculpture were later moved from the old City Cemetery in Lincoln Park to Rosehill. A glass case was then added to protect the statues from further erosion. Allegedly on the anniversaries of their deaths a glowing mist is said to fill the interior of the glass case and the statues rise up from their eternal rest in some kind of ghastly greeting!

PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION/HAND-HELD SWEEPS/INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Ghost Research Society members visited these sites with David Wendell in an attempt to detect the presence of the ghosts with various types of meters including a Tri-Field Natural EM meter, Negative Ion Detector and other EMF devices. Tape recorders, camcorders and 35mm cameras were also employed however there was nothing to be seen or recorded that day.


Kenneth Powell and Howard Hight (Picture #1) and Stan Suho and Howard Hight at Frances Pearce Grave in (Picture #2).

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