Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

Archer Woods Cemetery’s Wailing Woman

Archer Woods Cemetery in Justice, Illinois sits near Chicagoland’s infamous Archer Avenue and shares many similarities with the more infamous Resurrection Cemetery. Both feature a tavern across the street, and both host the ghost of a woman in white. Some researchers believe this is no accident―that the two locations are inexorably linked in the beyond.

Ursula Bielski is one of the few credible folklorists to have examined this site in detail. As she pointed out in Chicago Haunts (1998), Archer Woods is easily passed over in favor of the more famous haunts that dot the area.

In the past, she assured her readers, Archer Woods Cemetery was one of the most notorious of the local cemeteries as a result of its resident specter, a lonely, sobbing woman. Like the sobbing woman of Bachelor’s Grove, it is likely that this spirit is in search of a lost child or lover. These apparitions are so common that they warranted their own category in Trent Brandon’s Book of Ghosts (2003).

According to Brandon, the sobbing woman of Archer Woods Cemetery is known as a “Broken Heart” because “the feelings of guilt have become so overwhelming that this ghost believes that it must suffer forever to make up for her child’s fate.”

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Luna at Mount Hope and Warner Castle

Model Luna Mae at Mount Hope Cemetery and Warner Castle in Rochester, New York. I continued to refine my use of a basic 70-300mm lens for this photo shoot.

One technique I’m experimenting with uses exposure compensation and my camera’s highlights feature to help produce a brighter exposure. With exposure compensation, you can increase or decrease the brightness of your photos (essentially by adjusting the shutter speed). With the highlights feature, the camera shows you what parts of your photo are “clipped“, or so bright the camera can’t reproduce the image (essentially pure white).

I start shooting with a high exposure compensation, and gradually decrease it until all the clipping has disappeared. This doesn’t always work because you might have a really bright sky in the background, and sometimes I forget to check the highlights, so I end up with a bunch of over-exposed photos. But generally this technique produces bright, well-exposed images. It’s easier to maintain quality when darkening areas of a photo in editing software than it is when lightening them.

Follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/luna_model_account/
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Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

The Battle of Cedar Creek (or Battle of Belle Grove) was fought in Frederick County, Shenandoah County and Warren County, Virginia on October 19, 1864 between Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s Army of the Valley and Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah in the American Civil War. The battle resulted in approximately 8,500 total casualties.

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park was created in 2002 and encompasses over 3,700 acres, 1,500 of which are preserved and administered by partner sites, including the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, Belle Grove Plantation, and Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park.

Belle Grove Manor House was built between 1794 and 1797 for Isaac Hite, Jr. and his bride Nelly Conway Madison. Hite owned a general store, grist-mill, saw-mill and a distillery. 276 slaves lived at Belle Grove between 1783 and 1851.

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The Afterlife of Chanute Air Force Base

Chanute Air Force Base opened in Rantoul, Illinois in July 1917 and was a vital part of the local economy for nearly 76 years. After its closure in 1993, the base was divided into residential and commercial properties, but many buildings remain abandoned. The Chanute Air Museum (closed in 2015) moved into one of the old hangers, and its website offered an illustrated retrospective of the base’s history. Inevitably, local kids exploring the abandoned parts of the base in the past few years have begun to bring home unusual stories.

Chanute Field, as the facility was originally known, opened as a result of the First World War. When the United States entered the war in 1917, our fleet of military aircraft was woefully inadequate. The War Department quickly allocated funds to open the Field and begin training an air corps. After the war, Congress bought the land around Chanute Field and authorized construction of nine steel hangers. Fires plagued the original base, since many of the buildings were made of wood.

Between 1938 and 1941, as the United States began modernizing its military, a “renaissance” occurred at Chanute. Buildings such as a headquarters, hospital, fire station, water tower, gymnasium, and even a theater were installed. The Works Progress Administration provided everything necessary for a permanent air corps to be stationed there.

At the outbreak of World War 2, thousands of new recruits flooded the base. According to the Chanute Air Museum website, the number of trainees at Chanute Field reached a peak of 25,000 in January 1943. After the war, however, the facilities deteriorated and the base gained a negative reputation. It became a joke in the Air Force that if someone needed to be punished, “Don’t shoot ‘em, Chanute ‘em.”

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