Mysterious America

Barrington’s Mysterious Cuba Road

I grew up in the northwest Chicago suburbs. Des Plaines to be exact. Home of the famous Choo Choo Restaurant, the first franchised McDonald’s, and the stomping grounds of John Wayne Gacy. When my friends and I wanted a scare, we usually trekked out to Cuba Road, a lonely avenue north of the Chicago suburbs, about a good half hour drive from my home. My sister, being four years older than I, was the first person I ever heard mention the road. She had just gotten her driver’s license, and like many teens, wanted to take her new found freedom somewhere thrilling. Cuba Road was such a place.

It was dark and remote, filled with mansions set far back from the road, and where one never knew what was lurking around the bend. There were rumors of abandoned insane asylums, phantom cars, haunted cemeteries, and a whole host of things that went bump in the night. For added danger, a few of the more fool hardy visitors turned off their headlights to see how long they could drive along the inky black avenue before common sense, and fear, got the better of them.

Cuba Road sits nestled between the towns of Lake Zurich and Barrington, both upper and upper-middle class retreats. The main portion of the road runs between Route 12 (Rand Road) and Route 14 (Northwest Highway) and is home to a veritable cornucopia of legends. White Cemetery, located along the western half of the road, has its spook lights.

The avenue itself hosts a phantom car (or cars), a pair of spectral lovers, and a vanishing house. Rainbow Road, a side street off Cuba, had the distinction of being home to an abandoned mansion that some believed was either and old asylum or a getaway for gangsters. That building has since been torn down and the property is being redeveloped.

The ghost stories that seem to literally pour out of the mouths of visitors led famed author Ursula Bielski to proclaim, “For Chicagoland ghosthunters, Cuba Road is the single most notorious haunted site north of southwest suburban Bachelors Grove Cemetery.” Those familiar with the notoriety of Bachelor’s Grove understand the challenge of filling shoes of that size. Scott Markus, who has done impeccable research on the folklore of the road, dubbed it “the Archer Avenue of the North Side,” because of the variety of stories.

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13 replies on “Barrington’s Mysterious Cuba Road”

Michael, thank you for your response….glad to have corrected my mistake from my original comment.

I appreciate that you provide historical and in-depth look at significant events, landmarks, etc of our area.

It was a tragedy, and, presumably avoidable of course had there not been weapons so readily available. It made enough of an impression on me that, although I have nothing against others owning any kind of guns, I have never had the desire to keep one for fear of this exact kind of tragedy. Perhaps, had I never known this to have happened, I might feel differently.

The rumor was that the girl could have been saved had the brother not run, had gotten her medical attention. I of course don’t know this first hand, only from what I remember being told, and it is what really sticks for me remembering the tragedy.

Of course, none of us will ever really know what happened there that day. Can only think about how senseless of a loss.

I cannot begin to imagine what the family has been through, losing 2 children at such a prime moment in their young lives. Having 2 children myself who are now in their early 20’s, I cannot begin to imagine the pain of their loss.

Again, so much folklore and gossip surrounding Cuba Rd, White Cemetery, this and other homicides. Good that you keep the perspective.

Not to dwell on death or bring up more negative stories, just an odd coincidence, later in my life as an adult.

My neighbors, who my wife, kids and I were close with, felt they were good friends, we did things together, anyway, unbeknownst to me, he kept guns in their house. We never talked about them, he never showed them to me. Had I known about them, I probably wouldn’t have spent time there, and certainly would have not let my children play there who were very young at the time.

His then 16 year old daughter dated a boy, who later moved in with the family after being dis-owned and kicked out by his own due to substance abuse. He cleaned up his act, but, eventually, their relationship fizzled, he returned to abusing alcohol and drugs and was asked to leave. He was also suicidal and had evidently talked about it with them. Long story short, he showed up to the house inebriated when they weren’t home, gained access to a loaded shotgun, fell asleep on her bed while he waited for them to return and when they did, they thought he might be in there, and, RATHER than calling the police to investigate, the Mom sent the youngest into the house to “see if he was inside”….she startled him, he chased her down the hallway, she was able to lock herself inside her bedroom and escape out her 1st floor window, her Mom and older sister where out front, he eventually came stumbling out the front door and onto the front lawn, looked right at them and took his own life as they all watched. He was 18 or 19. Another senseless tragedy that certainly COULD have been avoided.

Our neighbors sold the house and moved not too long after, I have not seen or spoken to any of them again. The new neighbors knew NOTHING about what had happened, evidently, because the shooting didn’t take place INSIDE the house, the seller was under no obligation to divulge the information.

This happened on Middleton Lane in Bartlett IL in or around 2006.

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My apologies, I was talking to my sister who was friends with John in her youth.

Jim was the brother who reportedly shot his sister on accident and fled the scene. He was a year older and same grade as my other older sister.

John was not home at the time of the shooting, nor was anyone else. My eldest sister was babysitting at a neighbor’s house next door at the time of the shooting. The homeowners had a dog kennel business at their house. She said she thought she heard something and then all the dogs started going crazy, barking in the direction of the Gallagher house. Very erie.

But sorry about the mix up…John was a real nice kid…quite but always nice to me. He was friends and in the same classes with my sister who was closest to me in age and a mutual friend Jimmy Peterson who lived right across the street from me since I was 2. I hung out with Jimmy almost every day from the time I have any recollection until his family moved across town when I was in 6th or 7th grade. My sister used to hang out with us sometimes too, go bike riding down Cuba Rd, go exploring in the woods, streams and open areas around there, stuff kids used to do.

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I grew up on the corner of 59 & Cuba, house was built by my parents in 1958 who were looking for good schools and a place to raise their growing family. It still stands on the NW corner. My grandparents followed from the city in 1959, buying 5 acres and building a home off Cuba Rd on Harbor Rd…they also bought the adjacent 17 acres to farm, a passion of my Grandfather. They sold in 1965 after he had a heart attack, built another house and moved nearby on 19th St off Hart Rd south of Cuba Rd before the intersection of St 14.

We used to ride our bikes up and down Cuba Rd and used the east portion of it to bike into the town of Barrington. I knew the Gallagher family, John was my 2nd olderst sister’s age. Scared, he reportedly fled the home after the incident on his mini bike and his sister bled to death…he came home later and confessed to what happened. It was sureal.

Neighbors to the Gallagher’s and backing up to White Cemetery was the home of Mugsy Halas, son of Chicago Bears founder and team owner George Halas. My sisters used to babysit for George Halas’ grandchildren.

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It wasn’t a controlled burn. There were still toys in the house, burned out half of the pool/deck area. The owner seemed to have some BIG issues with racketeering and bribing. I was there. Burnt house was on the left with a great brick patio, pool and swingset behind that. Older house was in the middle. Silo/barn on the right side by the pond. Behind the house there was a tennnis court, chicken coup, overgrown garden and a stable where the loft seemed to have chairs set up in a circle. The old house was abandoned quickly, clothing, beds, dishes and an entire attic left full of stuff. Needing money to pay for an appeal on a big million dollar conviction case is what insurance would help pay. Say if your house burnt down. No asylum there though. Just a creepy house with thousands of dollars of stuff behind. The barn was full of equipment too.


I’m interested in seeing any remains or images of any of the abandoned buildings mentioned here. I have a youtube channel where I go to haunted places in illinois and I happen to live near cuba.


I happened to be looking something up online and came across the killing of Eileen Gallagher in 1972. She was 19 and accidentally shot by her 12 year old younger brother, James. The family lived at 26060 W. Cuba Rd and both Eileen and a younger brother(?) are buried at the White Cemetery. The incident happened at the same time as the De Mau Mau murders in nearby Barrington Hills. I’ve been trying to find information on what happened to her brother, John Francis Gallagher, who died in 1982.

Once I started reading archived Tribune articles about the Gallagher story, I wanted to know how everything turned out.


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