Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery
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Photo Credits: Gene Wagendorf III

Located just southwest of Chicago in Midlothian, Illinois, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery has a reputation for being the most haunted place in Illinois, if not the country. Practically abandoned by the outside world for decades, save the occasional urban explorer/troublemaker, the cemetery is nestled into a small clearing across from the Rubio Woods at 143rd and Ridgeland.

The area was used as a burial site from the mid-1800s until at least 1965, but has since fallen into a state of somber disrepair. What headstones remain have been tossed about, are damaged or slightly defaced. This only leads to further speculation about malcontent spirits and vengeful apparitions.

The small, overgrown entrance road leading to the cemetery grounds was once an extension of the Midlothian Turnpike, which allowed the area to serve as both a drag racing strip and popular lover’s lane during the ’50s and ’60s. It’s around this time that myths of Bachelor’s Grove hauntings seemed to take off. Of the estimated 200 tombstones once on the grounds only around 20 have survived the vandalism and grave robbing that took place during the ’60s and ’70s. Due to this destruction and lawlessness many family members of those buried on the grounds chose to relocate the graves to more secure locations.

Many of the ghost stories surrounding the area involve the angry deceased haunting the wrecked remains of their plots, moaning and wailing, manifesting themselves in orbs of blue light or eerie spots of intense cold on otherwise warm, still summer evenings. The neighboring stagnant pond is said to have been one of Al Capone’s dumping grounds for corpses. Those dead, along with the ghosts whose tombstones have been chucked into the water by liquored-up trespassers, are said to draw people into the water, invisible arms reaching up past the algae, their persuasive whispers inviting visitors to take a dip.

The pond was also the site of another legend, that of a farmer and his plow horse who are said to have drowned in the thick, murky water in the 1870s. The story goes that the horse went berserk upon passing the pond and raced to the bottom of the water, taking the farmer and his buggy down in the process. These days it’s not uncommon to find the occasional fisherman idling at the end of the pond, watching his bobber rest motionless on the olive green slate.

The most popular of Bachelor’s Grove’s residents is the infamous White Lady, or The Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove. In 1991 members of the Ghost Research Society were doing whatever it is paranormal investigators do when Mari Huff caught a “ghost” while photographing the area. Using a high-speed infrared camera to document a spot in which the group suspected something odd was taking place, Huff captured an image of what appears to be a semi-transparent woman in a flowing white gown sitting calmly on the edge of one of the graves, almost as if she’s waiting for someone.

The area is relatively safe to visit during the day. You’re likely to come across one or two other curious visitors shooting photographs, recreating the White Lady photo or perhaps leaving a trinket at the infant Fulton-child’s grave. The smattering of dolls, stuffed animals, jewelery and, inexplicably, a human tooth, is likely the creepiest thing most people will see during a visit. Rumors of satanic rituals still swirl around Bachelor’s Grove, but most of the evidence suggests that the only hoodlums in the area are of the Mickey’s-drinking variety. Do Satan’s followers drink Mickey’s? Well, probably. That being said, it would be unwise to visit the area at night, as there have been reports of the occasional mugging. I mean haunting. Haunting…






Gene Wagendorf III

About Gene Wagendorf III

Gene is a writer who has spent his entire quarter century of life as a resident of Chicago. When not exploring the city he can be found wandering flea markets and garage sales or having a cigarette between classes at Northeastern Illinois University, where he hopes to acquire a degree in the next quarter century. His favorite smells are old books and bowling alleys. His poetry (how embarrassing!) can be found in issues of Kill Poet, Ditch, Word Riot, O Sweet Flowery Roses and Vowel Movements.

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