just east of Ridgeland Avenue
For all intents and purposes, the area
known as Bachelor’s Grove was a large wooded area that included a forest
preserve north of 151st Street. It was occupied by a group of
single men while perfecting their titles to tracts of land they purchased at
$1.25 per acre. Each man possessed a
five-acre woodlot that dated back to the early 1830's.
The area became a source of outdoor entertainment while many others
visited the site of the cemetery itself, which today has been a constant target
for vandals. The earliest tombstone
dates back to 1823 and the last burial was in 1965 even though other tombstones
indicate a later date.
One of the largest landholders was John and Jane Fulton who emigrated
from their native
In the fall of 1976 a high-school teacher
The site for the existing cemetery was said to have been set-aside in
1864, however the first evidence of private ownership of the land was in 1835.
In 1864 Edward Everden sold this land to Frederick Schmidt but set aside
one acre of land to be used as a graveyard.
It is uncertain how many people are actually buried in the cemetery
because many of the tombstones are missing and historical records are considered
sketchy at best. Some local
historians have been suggesting that the cemetery is actually called Batchelor
Whatever the real origin, the cemetery is surely antique and quite
spooky. Located on what was then
known as, Bachelor’s
The many ghost stories associated with Bachelor’s
In the 1960's and 1970's the cemetery was the target of horrible grave
desecration. Some graves were dug up
to the wooden coffins while others had the remains of the deceased disturbed!
There has been occasional desecration in modern times with vandals
digging around gravestones, toppling over markers and spray-painting monuments.
Every Halloween, police have their hands full trying to keep Halloween
pranksters and vandals from further destroying this pioneer graveyard.
In the middle 1960's there was evidence of cult activity and animal
remains found in the cemetery. Many
believe that a group involved in satanic worship may have been the culprit in
these apparent animal sacrifices. This
author had a chance to interview a few people who had nearly walked right into a
satanic ritual in progress. They
described several individuals in black robes carrying candles who were in the
process of killing a small animal in the cemetery during a well-known witch’s
Many ask why the cemetery’s so haunted.
Most believe it to be a combination of the grave desecration, satanic
worship and the bodies that have been unceremoniously dumped out here throughout
the years. Add that to the fact that
those early pioneers have faded largely out of existence and are now almost
The first ghost stories that began
circulating amongst the tombstones were the glowing blue balls of light that
seemed to display some form of intelligence.
They eluded pursuit even though a
In December of 1971, Denise Travers claimed that she was able to pass her hand through the light on a very close encounter. She felt no heat or sensation at all. It was like putting your hand into a void. Skeptics say that the blue lights were actually the methane gas given off by decomposing bodies. However, most of those bodies had crumbled to ashes long ago. The blue lights have not been seen since the latter 1970's however a new light has been reported with increasing frequency zooming up and down the main trail leading to the cemetery’s entrance. This light has been likened to a red skyrocket and is never stationary but constantly moving.
The most fascinating story is the old house seen on either side of the main
trail leading back into the woods. Witnesses
have also reported the house as appearing the same; a white farm-style house
with white wooden columns, a porch swing and even a lantern burning dimly in one
window. However, there isn’t a
house there nor has there ever been one. The
house is a true phantom house. As
witnesses walk towards it, the house appears to shrink, getting smaller and
smaller before disappearing into the dark woods.
The house is never reported in the same place twice.
It’s been seen near the turnpike, along the dirt trail and even within
the cemetery itself! Arlene McComb
saw the house with a group of friends in 1975 and watched as the house began to
shrink in size until it was entirely gone from view.
Grace Nortman saw the phantom house in the winter of 1966 and 1967 while
another witness, Marianne Kerbs, experienced the ghostly abode in 1966.
Along the Midlothian Turnpike there have been numerous tales of
disappearing cars which one moment are there, the next they’re gone.
The first occasion was in June of 1977 when a passing motorist saw a car
parked on the side of the road near the creek that flows past the cemetery.
That same individual saw it again in September of 1978.
He was driving past the cemetery when he saw a car backing across the
road into the Rubio Woods area. He
assumed it was a police car setting up a speed trap but within a few seconds
after he arrived at the forest preserve entrance, it was nowhere to be seen.
The chain was still up over the entrance to the picnic area but the
vehicle was gone. Others have passed
by cars parked on the shoulder across from the cemetery.
After they pass the automobiles and look in their rearview mirror, the
cars have vanished. Some have made a
U-turn only to find no car there.
In 1975 a south-side man went to visit the
site in the afternoon. Suddenly as
he approached the cemetery, his SX-70 camera began taking pictures by itself.
Several pictures begin spilling out of the instamatic camera without the
shutter being depressed. On each of
the photographs was evidence of a strange white mist.
Some of the mists had an almost human-like form to them.
After sending the film and camera back to Kodak for warranty work, he was
told by the technicians that the camera was in perfect operating condition and
the film was new and unflawed. Since
that experience he has returned one other time and had some similar images show
up on the film.
In the late 1970's two Cook County Forest Rangers on late night patrol came across a most unusual image that they could not explain. As they began to approach the lagoon, they saw what appeared to be a farmer and his horse pulling a old-fashioned plow suddenly materialize in the middle of the road and quickly disappear into nearby Rubio Woods. They both looked at one another in utter shock and disbelief but continued their nightly patrol. While they both had seen the same thing, neither one made an official report of the incident apparently fearing ridicule from their superiors and peers.
Later research indicated that in the 1870's a farmer and his horse did in
fact drown in the lagoon while clearing some land for crops.
For no apparent reason, the horse suddenly reared up and galloped
headlong into the lagoon. The farmer
not having time to let go of the reins was quickly pulled into the waters and
both drowned by being yanked down by the weight of the plow.
A local legend has been circulating since the 1960's of a two-headed
monster that supposedly crawls out of the lagoon and across the Midlothian
Turnpike before also disappearing into Rubio Woods Forest Preserve.
Perhaps this apparition was actually the ghost of the farmer and his
horse in a state of partial materialization?
Surely no one believes in a two-headed monster?
Within the cemetery itself an apparition of a lady dressed in white and
holding an infant in her arms allegedly appears on moonlit nights.
She has been dubbed “The Madonna” of Bachelor’s Grove.
No one knows whom she is however there is a small tombstone with no name
or date but simply “Infant Daughter” etched into the granite.
Electronic devices such as cameras, tape recorders and camcorders react
strangely while in or near the cemetery.
Tape recordings of strange sounds and sometimes voices have been recorded
in the cemetery over the years. One
recording simply says, “Hello, blackman”, while another sounds like a
forlorn voice calling, “Minna. Minna”; just wailing in the wind.
Within the cemetery is a tombstone with that name Minna.
During a weekend in August 1984, Carol Williams and her girlfriend
experienced sweaty hands, someone following them, strange voices stemming from
nearby bushes and a weird white form near a grave marked
The area is extremely photogenic and many
have come away with alleged spirit forms, strange lights, shadowy figures or
full-blown apparitions. During a
visit in August of 1991, Ghost Research Society members conducted a full-fledged
investigation with the latest in scientific equipment, cameras, tape recorders
and camcorders. All members were
given maps of the cemetery and instructed to walk through and note any changes
in electronic, electromagnetic and ion readings as well as their own psychic
experiences. After the maps were
compared, it became apparent that several investigators had indicated one or two
areas where unusual readings or sensory experiences were encountered.
Returning to those areas, the team attempted additional tests and
photographic experiments with both black and white infrared and other types of
film. Nothing was seen at the time
of the picture taking.
After the film was processed, it was discovered that on one frame there
was the unmistakable image of a strange woman sitting on a checkerboard
tombstone in an old-fashioned turn-of-the-century, full-length dress.
She had long brown hair and was staring off in the distance in profile.
On closer examination, parts of her body are semi-transparent, especially
her head and legs. Everyone on the
team was stunned with this revelation as it seemed to coincide with the
electromagnetic deviations team members were experiencing at the time.
It is one of the clearest images this author has ever seen to date!
It was taken by Jude Huff-Felz.
investigations were conducted three years later and also in the 1990's with some
course there are many folk legends also “told as truth” about Bachelor’s
Couples who have visited the area at night to make out have sometimes
complained of a sound of metal on metal near their front door handle.
Finally after the female is totally spooked, she asks to be taken home
whereby they find a hook swinging on the door handle.
Allegedly he was about to open the door when the couple drove away,
pulling the hook from his arm!
Another favorite tale spun at Bachelor’s Grove is the story of another
couple parked out there kissing and listening to soft music.
Suddenly a news bulletin tells of an escaped convict that has been seen
in the area. The girl again becomes
frightened and begs her boyfriend to take her home.
He tries to start the car but discovers he is out of gas.
Telling his girlfriend to wait while he takes a gas can to fill up; he
departs but warns her not to leave the car.
The girl now totally scared at being left alone begins to hear a weird
scratching on the roof of the car. Finally
after quite a long wait, a patrol car arrives at the scene.
They tell the girl to get out of the car and approach the police car but
not to look back. Of course her
curiosity gets the best of her and she does look back and sees her boyfriend
hanging from a tree above the car. His
throat has been slit and his fingernails scraping on the roof of the car, is
what the girl had heard all evening.
While these last two stories aren’t true
actual witnesses related the others just as they remembered them.
This video is a rare Super8 film shot in 1976 with the newly installed fence at Bachelor's Grove Cemetery. Bachelor's Grove Fence 1976
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
© 2013 Dale Kaczmarek. All rights reserved.
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