In a quiet wooded area, nestled in Cook County, Illinois, in the southwest Chicago suburbs, lies what’s been called the most haunted cemetery in America. Visitors report an unusual feeling of despair and isolation while in the cemetery, despite it being only about an acre in size. Questions about why this tiny, almost forgotten burial ground has such a lofty reputation among paranormal experts and supernatural aficionados, are plentiful, as are the theories about what first triggered the start of these events. Since it was first established in 1840, Bachelors Grove Cemetery has had over 100 documented reports of paranormal phenomena. These incidents include bright balls of white light which either bounce from toppled tombstone to tombstone or meander through the woods seemingly without direction as well as the appearance of full form apparitions.
The long-since abandoned burial ground only has 82 plots, many of which were unused and was largely forgotten; the last actual burial of a body took place in 1865. Around 1833, the area adjacent to the cemetery was settled by homesteaders from Europe, looking to create a better life for themselves and their families. The local settlement really never grew as expected and the property changed hands many times until too few people remained to even consider calling it a town. The final act was when the local post office closed 1858 and the area was abandoned to nature. The forest quickly eliminated almost all traces of the settlement, with the cemetery still being tended by a lone caretaker for decades afterward.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery was rumored to have been a dumping ground for Chicago’s organized crime families. The isolated lagoon near the back of the abandoned cemetery is the supposed final resting place of snitches, bagmen, and those who borrowed from the mob but couldn’t repay.
Yet despite the rumors of these , up until the 1960’s the surrounding area was used by families for picnics and children swam in the nearby pond. The long gravel entrance road was a popular place for young lovers to park since it was so secluded. But, it was the seclusion that attracted a different crowd, one less interested in recreation but instead focused on destruction. Graves were unearthed, caskets stolen, tombstones toppled, and acts of vandalism committed. Many folks who saw ancient bones scattered haphazardly in the open areas cite this wonton destruction of sacred ground as the reason for the hauntings. Others began to notice the remains of small animals and chicken bones which were clearly killed violently. Evidence of black magic ceremonies and occultist rituals such as elaborate symbols carved in trees, fire circles, and strange writings on headstones were found by visitors and patrolling officers. The road leading in was blocked and the area fenced off to limit access in hopes of stopping the vandals and practitioners of darkness from visiting again.
Over the past fifty years, Bachelor’s Grove has been investigated by numerous paranormal investigator teams, featured on several television programs, and the subject of many stories. Some of the incidents that are embedded into the lore are “The White Lady,” a ghost of a woman that wanders the cemetery searching for something, the moving orbs, which have been sighted multiple times with photographic and video evidence to support their sightings, and the appearance of an entire ghost house. A Victorian-style house, surrounded by a neat white fence, has been reported to appear in the mist and subsequently fade away if anyone attempts to get close to it. Several Forest Rangers reported seeing as ghostly horse emerge from the pond pulling a plow, perhaps it was the spirit of a farmer and his horse from the 1800’s who drowned in the pond in a freakish accident. Others report ghostly vehicles on the roads around the cemetery crossing their path so abruptly that its almost led to several accidents.
Regardless of whether you are a believer or not, the evidence at Bachelor’s Grove is so compelling and in such great volume that you must take notice. Many of the original tombstones are now missing and the area has become cluttered with litter and looks broken down and ramshackle. Yet, those traits when combined with the seclusion and heavy overgrowth give the cemetery even more credibility as being haunted. There are still dead bodies buried beneath the earth and there are too many unexplained events to count, so unless you are of the daring type, I’d stay away, especially at night.
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