By Jason McCurry
Near the suburb of Midlothan, IL, in the Rubio Woods Forestry Preserve lies a much noted hot spot of paranormal activity, rich in history and lore. This isolated location has gained quite a reputation over the years, sparking the curiosity of many individuals. Unfortunately, the increased interest and sheer isolation has brought about more than a few cases of vandalism and hostility.
An overwhelming feeling of abandonment stretches out in every direction from this diminutive burial ground. The isolation is like a breathing entity where not even the peaceful sound of birds dare to pierce the silence.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is spooky, even during daylight hours. Located seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the atmosphere of the graveyard and surrounding woods will strike fear in even the most seasoned ghost hunter. At The Grove, occupants are in a state of “Unrest” where no peace will ever come. “It is a vortex of chaos,” notes one Chicago native.
The number of souls laid to rest at this small graveyard have apparently long been forgotten. They are, indeed, in a presence of desecration and despair . The spirits that call The Grove their home deserve so much more than the treatment they have received. When I think of Bachelor's Grove I am reminded of the song "Dust in The Wind." In the end, apparently, all we are is dust in the wind. The mistake is stirring up that "dust."
Bachelor’s Grove was originally a pioneer settlement, founded in 1864. Immigrants, primarily German, settled in the area in the 1840s near timberland which supplied materials for construction. In addition, the grassland prairies were easier to break and cultivate.
The cemetery and surrounding settlement went through several name variations over the years. It was originally believed to be named after a group of single males residing in the area, hence the name “Bachelor.” It is now believed by many, however, that the original derivation of the name was “Batchelder”. The surname of a prominent family that lived in the area as least as early as 1845.
The cemetery welcomed its first occupant in 1838, before the land was even a burial ground. The area was officially mapped out as a graveyard in 1864, when one acre of the Bachelor’s Grove settlement was set aside for use in disposing of the dead.
In the early days, The Grove was like a park. You could fish or swim in the adjacent quarry pond. Families would often go there on Sundays and have a picnic while visiting loved ones buried there.
Today the ponds water is very murky and the isolated cemetery has fallen into an extreme state of disrepair, due largely to neglect and vandalism. There is very little left of the pioneering village that once was thriving.
The vandalism at Bachelor’s Grove extends back over many years. In a December 1959 newspaper article by Elmer Lysen, it states that the Forestry Preserve noted markers being smashed and gangs gathering regularly in the cemetery. One morning a large hole was discovered. It was deep enough to reach the top of a concrete vault containing a coffin.
In another news article dated approximately fourteen years later, police seized seven teenagers that were caught digging up a grave. Officers had staked out the graveyard after a patrol officer noticed that about five feet of earth had been removed from the grave the previous night.
Beer cans and broken bottles have littered this final dwelling of more than one hundred forgotten lives. The vandalism at Bachelor's Grove also includes the desecration of bodies, reports one source. Theft of monuments has also been a problem. Markers have been knocked over, spray painted, broken, & moved to other locations.
About two dozen markers remain, some toppled over and broken, some on their backs and some on their sides. One stone laying on its side is very old and the worn stone carvings are now illegible. Another stone has been cracked off near the top. A third is partially hidden in an overgrowth of weeds. Other monuments have been stolen by vandals or thrown in the nearby stagnant pond. On more than a few occasions, the grounds have been littered with trash. It is disheartening to believe our society is capable of such a callous disregard for humanity, especially at such a historical landmark.
One local resident stated, "There are two different levels to the problem at Bachelor's Grove. The lack of respect on the part of individuals responsible for maintaining the cemetery and the total disrespect of individuals who visit." This particular source continues by offering an opinion of visitors, "Visitors often remind me of patrons at a zoo who like to taunt the animals to get a rise. The Grove responds."
Another area resident says, "there's been heavy resistance from local officials who simply want the grounds to become grown over and forgotten, based on its history of vandalism and other unsavory acts."
Patrick Reardon said it best when he said, “The thick forest preserve surrounds the cemetery, hiding it like the child a family is ashamed of.”
The small lagoon or pond that hugs one side of the cemetery was used as a dumping ground for well known gangsters such as Al Capone. In April 1989, The Chicago Tribune reported the story of a body being found near the entrance to the old abandoned cemetery. The dead man had been shot once in the head and once in the abdomen.
On the Graveyards of Chicago website a quote from Psychic Norman Basile calls The Grove, “probably the most ghost infested cemetery in the Chicago area and maybe in the world.” Due to this, the area has become a sort of paranormal amusement park.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is lost in the shift of time. The ghosts sited here include: a two headed man, a farmer with a horse and plow who died in the 1870s when his horse bolted and pulled him into the pond. Faces in the mist, phantom cars, and human ghostly apparitions have also been witnessed here.
According to various documents, a face was seen formed on a stone, only to vanish soon after. Many have witnessed a white house in the distance, usually described as a Victorian farmhouse, with a white picket fence, a porch swing, and a warm light coming from within. The house disappears when anyone tries to approach it. One version of the legend claims that anyone who succeeds in entering the house will never return. It was told by some that a teenage boy did just that and was lost forever.
Another ghost is referred to as Mrs. Rogers or the “White Lady.” She appears entirely in white and seems to be searching amongst the graves frantically searching for something, thought to be her baby she lost. In addition to this, blue light has been seen floating between the stones.
According to Siochain Crow, “the energies there voluntarily present themselves, and manifest in a number of different ways.” He goes on to state, “There’s the overwhelming feeling of entrapment, like the entities are in a cage. This is accompanied by feelings of confusion and grief.”
This memorial park is now a wasteland and its future is uncertain. At Chicago’s most notorious haunted site, there is almost nothing left to destroy. According to Tom McNamee of the Chicago Sun-Times, “after a decade of relentless abuse, this tiny graveyard is like an old man who’s been mugged so often that nobody bothers to mug anymore. He has nothing left worth stealing.
Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is believed to be the most haunted cemetery in America, quite possibly the world. The significance of this location to the research and study of paranormal phenomena is crucial. It is important for us as a society to preserve this piece of American History and give proper respect to the spirits that dwell here.
Special thanks to Siochain Crow and C.T. Thieme for their assistance on this project.
Also thanks to Pete Crapia, Owner/Webmaster of BachelorGrove.com
For more information, please visit GraveYards of Chicago (http://www.graveyards.com), or Bachelor’s Grove Official Website (http://www.bachelorsgrove.com)