Chicago history home page
Chicago History Home Page > Haunted Chicago > Bachelors Grove Cemetery
~
Chicago history books chicago collectors buying guide Chicago posters, clip art Chicago gift ideas Chicago history articles, essays, e-texts Chicago history search
virtual vintage Chicago postcards Chicago quotes Chicago links directory movies and music related to Chicago Chicago history discussion forum
~

Graveyards of Chicago: Bachelors Grove Cemetery

Rubio Woods Forest Preserve, 143rd Street & the Midlothian Turnpike, Bremen Township, near Oak Forest, Midlothian, and Crestwood

An excerpt from "Graveyards of Chicago: The People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries" by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski

This enigmatic site has been a thorn in the side of southwest suburban officials since the closing of the old Midlothian Turnpike in the 1960s, which barred the one-acre cemetery from vehicle traffic and simultaneously created the most legendary lovers lane in the metropolitan area.

Part of the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve, Bachelors Grove (also known as Batchelor Grove, Old Bachelor's Grove, Bachelder's Grove, Batchelor's Grove, English Bachelor's Grove, and others) was founded in the mid-nineteenth century as Everdon's Cemetery, hosting its first burial when Eliza Scott was interred in November 1844. For many years a placid place where families picnicked on Sundays and fished in the site's quarry pond, the burial ground began its aesthetic decline in the 1950s and '60s, when teenagers enjoying the surrounding woods initiated reports of mysterious flashing lights and a "magic house" that would appear and disappear from a clearing in the forest.

Since these earliest reports of a haunted Bachelors Grove, myriad tales have taken root in the area's fertile soil, which is credited as the place of origin of a number of popular modern American folktales; for example, these woods are supposed to have been the site where the original "Hooked Maniac" of urban legend preyed on lovelorn victims after escaping from a mental institution. In addition, numerous other phantoms have joined the magic house in haunting the grove, including a two-headed man, a woman in white called "The Madonna of Bachelors Grove," ominous, darkly-hooded figures, and a man in a yellow suit who is reputed to appear and disappear in a shower of sparks.

Fueling the imaginative fire here are the ongoing reports of Satanic worship alleged to have occurred at Bachelors Grove since the 1960s. Far from unfounded, such reports were authenticated with some frequency during the '70s, when hooligans in search of kicks routinely dug up graves and rearranged tombstones, some leaving animal remains and other grisly tokens as calling cards.

Though Bachelors Grove is a heart-wrenching mess of a place these days, there is hope that local frustration at the continued ransacking of the site will inspire a renewed effort to restore to the cemetery some its former dignity.

Originally settled in the early 1830s by British migrants from New England, a second influx of German settlers traveled to the Bachelors Grove area during the 1840s. Though local popular history traces the site's name to four single men who migrated to these woods during the first phase of settlement, resulting in the designation as "Bachelors" Grove, local researchers now believe that the true spelling of the place name was Batchelder, and that the Grove was named for the family that had settled in the area in 1845. Still, the popular name of Bachelors Grove persists, despite the more common historical use of the hybrid "Batchelor" Grove name, among others.

Though anywhere from 150 to 200 persons are estimated to have been buried in this tiny enclosure, fewer than 20 headstones remain. Fortunately, largely owing to the efforts of historian Brad L. Bettenhausen, a plot map was compiled in the mid-1990s, which was published along with background notes in the Fall 1995 issue of the South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society's journal, Where the Trails Cross. Gathering research from area maps, students of Bremen High School, and members of local historical societies, Bettenhausen matched up burial records and plot locations to create a picture of the true Bachelors Grove, despite the vandalism, missing stones, and waist-high foliage of recent years. The result is an intriguing tale of settlement and growth and, sadly, of decline.

The last known burial of a body at Bachelors Grove took place in 1965; the last burial of ashes was recorded in 1989. Burials after 1950 are rare, and many remains have been disinterred and moved from Bachelors Grove throughout the century as a result of the migration of families, the need for larger plots, and, later, the horror of families at the desecration of the grounds. Still, a search for the origins of Blue Island should begin by walking the few hundred feet down the weed-choked road to the grove, where many of the area's earliest and most influential settlers have, in recent decades, endured a less than peaceful sleep.

© Reprinted from "Graveyards of Chicago: The People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries," by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski, courtesy of Lake Claremont Press.

~
Chicago history books chicago collectors buying guide Chicago posters, clip art Chicago gift ideas Chicago history articles, essays, e-texts Chicago history search virtual vintage Chicago postcards
Chicago quotes Chicago links directory movies and music related to Chicago Chicago history discussion forum Chicago history home page
~
© 2001-2003 Interesting.com
Ghost story books from Amazon
Chicago posters and prints from AllPosters