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Haunted Cemeteries In Illinois: Part II
After starting my last hub on haunted cemeteries in Illinois, I realized that I had way more information than I had originally thought. It was very clear to me that I had more than enough information to fill at least two hubs, instead of the one that I had originally intended.
So, welcome back, and let's get started on the second leg of our adventure through the haunted graveyards that seem to show up all over the state of Illinois.
Mount Carmel Cemetery
Mount Carmel Cemetery is located in the Hillside neighborhood of Chicago. The numerous mausoleums, somewhere around 400, give the cemetery a very eerie feel. The cemetery boasts quite a few famous 'residents', including Alphonse "Al" Capone, his older brother Ralph James "Bottles" Capone, his younger brother, Salvatore "Frank" Capone and numerous other mobsters of the 1920s. Also buried there is Suzanne Bridgit Farris. She was one of the eight nurses murdered by Richard Speck in July of 1966.
A famous story of the cemetery is the story of Julia Buccola Petta. She died in childbirth in 1921, at the age of 29. She was buried in her wedding dress. Six years after her death, her body was exhumed. What was seen defies any and all explanation. The coffin was almost completely decayed and decomposed, yet her body was completely intact. No signs of the expected level of decomposition were found, and no explanation for the state of her remains could be given. A photo of the body was taken, and then placed on the monument. It is said that her spirit wanders the cemetery.
One account of what might be the spirit of Julia Buccola Petta, is the story of a boy who wandered off from his family, and was left behind in the cemetery. When the family found him, they said they saw him holding hands with a lady in a white gown. When they got closer to the pair, the lady supposedly vanished. Was it Julia lending motherly comfort to a child that she got to have, or was it perhaps another restless spirit wandering about the cemetery?
Greenwood Cemetery, in Decatur, Illinois, is said to be the most haunted cemetery in central Illinois. Records are unclear as to the first burial here. What is now the southern section of the cemetery is said to have been a burial ground for Native Americans of the Illiniwek Confederation. The first home built in the area was built by William Downing in 1820, and numerous settlers followed, and the population grew. There were no real burial customs (people buried without coffins or headstones) or accurate death records at that time, so it is hard to know just how many people are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery area.
In the late 1820's, a group of settlers set up a moon-shining still and were testing out the end product when a group of Native Americans wandered by. It is unclear what caused the settlers to pursue the group, but they chased the Indians through the woods. Before the Indians could make it to the top of the hill, near the burying grounds, the settlers opened fire, killing all of the Indians. The Native Americans are said to haunt the area, restless and unwilling to give up their land, even in death.
Greenwood Cemetery is also the home of "The Greenwood Bride." Legend says that in the late 1920s, there was a young couple, engaged to be married. It is rumored that her parents did not approve of their daughter's future husband. He sold whiskey during Prohibition; a filthy bootlegger. Since their union was not well looked upon, they made plans to elope. They agreed on a place to meet at midnight one night. She arrived at the secret location, and waited for her lover. Sadly, he never arrived. It is said that he was killed by a rival bootlegger, but maybe the girl's father found out and put an end to the relationship, once and for all. She waited all night for her lover, and then returned home feeling rejected, only to discover that her lover had been killed. Having heard this news, she sneaked away, under the cover of darkness, and drowned herself in the Sangamon River, near the spot where her lover's body was found. The spirit of "The Greenwood Bride" has been seen wandering around the hill near where she is buried, wearing the wedding dress that she was buried in, but never got to wear in life.
Other stories of hauntings in the cemetery have been reported, including stories involving some of the mausoleums and phantom funeral parties. Some of these involve a single phantom mourner, and others tell of entire funeral parties at nights, when no funerals are taking place. The cemetery is also said to be haunted by the spirits of some of the many Civil War soldiers that are buried there.
Queen of Heaven Cemetery
Queen of Heaven Cemetery is another cemetery located in the Hillside neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Several of Al Capone's henchmen are buried there, including Sam Battaglia and Paul Ricca.
Queen of Heaven Cemetery is said to be haunted by a large number of children. The stories of child ghosts make me the saddest. On December 1st, 1958, Our Lady Of The Angels Catholic School in Chicago caught fire and burned to the ground. Any and all routes of escape were blocked off and 92 of the children and three of the nuns perished in the fire. They are all buried at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery. The school was rebuilt over the charred remains of the old school, and as far as recent reports indicate, no paranormal activity of any kind has been reported at the school. It seems that they have all moved on to haunt the cemetery instead.
Several years ago, a man claimed to have had visions while visiting the cemetery. For some reason, he had these visions every day, except for Tuesdays. He claimed that the Virgin Mary was speaking to him in these visions. I am unsure what he was shown in these visions, though. There was also a tree there that seemed to take on the shape of the face of either Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Like any suspected religious miracle, crowds gathered at the tree to witness the miracle and to pray. Both the man and the tree have since died, though. Other visitors to the cemetery also claim to have visions, and see strange, bright lights on even the cloudiest of days.
Sugar Tree Grove Cemetery
Sugar Tree Grove Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Warren County, and many of the headstones date as far back as the early 1800's. It is located in Monmouth, Illinois.
It is said that there is a Native American buried there that was killed by the people moving in and settling the area. The story says that the Native American scalped a white farmer, while the farmer was working in his fields. The community gathered together, hunted the Native American down and killed him. Of course, there is no guarantee that they found the right person, though. It is said that he is buried in the Southeast corner of the cemetery. The furthest stone in that area is said to be his grave marker. A few paranormal investigations have been done of the cemetery, and those that investigated claim that there are two Native American spirits that are wandering the graveyard. The spirits are said to be drawn to a particular tree in the cemetery. Why that tree, and why there are said to be two spirits is a mystery.
Claims have been made that faint chanting can be heard, and there were even claims that it was recorded. Inside the cemetery, you are supposed to feel a cold breeze that follows you around, even on the warmest days. Also, a sense of being watched or followed has been reported by visitors to the graveyard.
Pleasant Hill Cemetery
Pleasant Hill Cemetery, depending on where you get your information, is either in Rosiclare, Elizabethtown or Junction, Illinois. Actually, it is located in Junction, Illinois. It is near to both the other two towns, but in reality, it is tucked away in the Shawnee National Forest. Confusing, right?
There is a small creek that runs through at the back of the cemetery, and it is said that if you go back there, you can hear the sounds of bells and the sound of a gate opening and closing. The graveyard is the final resting place of many Civil War soldiers from both sides of the war. Though Illinois was a Union state, being that far south in the state, there were many that sympathized with the Confederacy, aided them, and even fought alongside them.
The strangest story, is the one of Ahab Gullett. He is said to haunt the cemetery. Even his tombstone is strange. It bears the inscription, "Friends beware as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am, you soon shall be, prepare for death and follow me." The legend holds that if you say these words out loud while standing near his headstone, spirits will appear before you. What happens from there? I can only speculate. Either way, it's a creepy enough headstone to make me think twice before going near it.
My step-father has visited this cemetery, and even photographed it (I have included a picture taken by him). He has said that the cemetery is strange, isolated and a little creepy. I do not know if he has seen any ghosts here, but he has at at least one other cemetery he has visited.
Clements Cemetery, formerly known as Woodlawn Cemetery, is located on High Cross Rd, just East of Urbana, Illinois. It is located near the University of Illinois, and for years, students attending college there have made nighttime trips to the cemetery, all in hopes of seeing the famed "Blue Man."
The legend of "The Blue Man" states that in 1841, a man was found hanging from a tree near the cemetery. No one ever found out if he had committed suicide, or if he was the victim of a lynch mob. No way to even know if he was ever identified, either. His ghost is said to have haunted the area ever since. Witnesses claim that they have seen a man walking down the road beside the cemetery swinging a lantern back and forth as he walks along. Most of these sightings seem to occur at twilight. He is called "The Blue Man", because he glows with a faint blue-ish color.
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is located in Alsip, another Chicago neighborhood. The cemetery is the final resting place of one of the most powerful names in Chicago history, former Mayor Richard J. Daly, and father of the former mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daly. But, he is not the only reason for visiting the cemetery. Many people have made trips here in hopes of having prayers answered and miracles delivered.
There is a young girl buried here, under a headstone marked Reilly, by the name of Mary Alice Quinn. She died at the young age of fourteen. She was an incredibly pious child, and during her life, she gained much attention, as well as the faith of numerous followers, who felt she had saint-like qualities. She was even rumored to have healed several people of various afflictions. After her death, people have made pilgrimages to her grave, in hopes that she can heal people of the ailments that they bear. Some have even taken some of the soil from her grave, in hopes that it will bring them good fortune and health. The grave is said to give off the distinctive scent of roses, though there are no roses growing anywhere near there. Was she really a miracle worker, and do these miracles continue today? Only one way to find out.
Other Haunted CemeteriesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Other Haunted Cemeteries
There are many other cemeteries that are supposedly haunted. Some of these include very vague accounts, and others are a little more detailed. I chose to highlight the more interesting stories, the ones with some backstory to it. Some of the others are just accounts of things that have happened, things that have been seen, with no real story behind it. They bear attention in their own right. Maybe the stories have just not been found, or there is no one left to tell them. Either way, I have included a list of some of the other supposed haunted graveyards of Illinois.
- St. Omer Cemetery (Ashmore, IL): There is a large gravestone with a crystal ball on the top. It is said to be the grave of a witch. It is said that photos taken of the headstone do not turn out, or that a strange glow can be seen coming from the headstone. I have found several pictures of the aforementioned headstone, so the claims that pictures do not turn out is false.
- Elmwood Cemetery (Equality, IL); This is a story told to me by my own mother of an experience she had several years ago, along with my step-father and youngest sister. They said they saw a tall, slender figure, wearing an old-fashioned, western style duster coat, walking up the hill in the cemetery, then he then vanished. There was nowhere he could have gone, he just disappeared. He never acknowledged them in any way, and just kept walking.
- White Cemetery (Barrington, IL): Claims of glowing orbs and a phantom black car have been made. Also, again, photos taken of the cemetery are said to not turn out. For many years, claims of glowing white orbs have been reported, as well as hazy, human-shaped figures. There have been pictures showing orbs and misty shapes.
- Mount Thabor Cemetery (Crystal Lake, IL): No, not the Crystal Lake from the Jason movies. Though the cemetery has had some creepy accounts of red, green and white glowing orbs, strange shadows, and a mysterious green mist that at times, engulfs the whole graveyard, there have been no reports of a hockey mask wearing maniac killing teenagers. Strangely cold pockets of air have been detected using thermal scanners, near the "baby lot" at the north end of the cemetery. Around thirteen babies, all of whom died during a two year period, are buried there. It is also said that the current count of headstones accounts for only one third of the number of bodies actually buried there.
- Elgin Psychiatric Hospital Cemetery (Elgin, IL): What sort of cemetery would be more haunted than this, right? Graves in this cemetery date from 1933 to 1986. At the earliest points of psychiatric care at this hospital, conventional 'treatment' methods were more torture than cure, and many patients died horrible, painful deaths that you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy. Bodies are said to be buried five to a grave, with the name of the body at the top marking the plot. All kinds of paranormal activity has been reported, from orbs to apparitions, to the somewhat playful antics played by the ghosts if you happen to drop something. It is said that if an item is dropped, you will not be able to find it, but it will turn up the next day, sitting atop one of the headstones in the graveyard. This cemetery is owned by the hospital, and is off limits, unless by permission. Patients dying before 1933 were buried at the Channing Street Pioneer Cemetery, which is now gone.
- Elkhart Cemetery (Elkhart, IL): This is where Governor Ogelsby is buried. It is said that his wife's spirit still visits his tomb, and that she can be seen visiting his tomb, but after a few short minutes, she is chased away by the spirits of several Native Americans. They chase her through the cemetery, over a bridge leading over the road. There are woods located at the back of the cemetery, along with a path through the woods. Strange sounds and voices can be heard coming from the woods, and apparitions can be seen watching you from the woods.
- St. Mary's Cemetery (Evergreen Park, IL): People driving down the road late at night have claimed to have seen a man leaning on the fence, looking at them drive by. Some have claimed that he has crouched down as they passed by, as if to get a better look through the trees. There are far fewer sightings than one would expect considering the number of violent deaths that have taken place in the area near the cemetery, including the murder of a one of the O'Bannion Brothers by Al Capone's mob in 1927, and the death of one of the robbers involved in a train robbery. More recently, in the 1990s, two men were gunned down while visiting the grave of a rival gang member. Either way, there seems to be a great deal of negative energy in the area.
- Mount Zion Cemetery (Forest City, IL): A church once stood on the site. It is said that the church burned down while a service was going on. The bodies of those that died are buried here. Claims have been made that you can hear the giggling of small children as well as a sound like a sharp whistling. A cool breeze is said to be felt in the cemetery. A preacher is buried near a tree in the graveyard, and legend says that if you knock on this tree, the sound will carry down to the roots, and down to the preacher's body, and he will shriek briefly.
- St. Mary's Cemetery (Lake Forest, IL): There is a tale of a grave in the far corner of the cemetery bearing the name Dameon. It is located by a creek. It is said that on occasion, at night, you can see a young boy sitting on top of the gravestone. As you get closer to the grave, he disappears. Is he Dameon?
© 2010 Anna Marie Bowman