cemetery

Ramsey Cemetery’s Harrowing Casbah

Southern Illinois has a far more diverse topography than the rest of the state. Situated at the gateway to Little Egypt, Ramsey Cemetery in Effingham County is no exception. Its claim to fame is the nearby “caves” or rock shelters. Formed by thousands of years of erosion, generations of local residents have carved their names and proclamations of love into the sandstone walls.

Back in 2002, the Shadowlands Index of Haunted Places labeled it “Kazbar Cemetery.” The entry described it as an “old cemetery that has haunted caves.” Eschewing details, it added, “a were wolf and a man in a black coat with red eyes is said to be seen there. Many weird things have happened there.” Kazbar, or Casbah, seems to be a local place name.

Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk uncovered more information for The Illinois Road Guide to Haunted Locations (2007).

One story they uncovered was the tale of a young man who allegedly committed suicide in Ramsey Cemetery. According to Lewis and Fisk, a small chapel existed on the cemetery grounds for the benefit of mourners from the 1920s until the 1960s when it was torn down due to vandalism.

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A Quick and Dirty Guide to Cuba Road

Cuba Road has received some attention from writers of ghost lore. Two of the original and most authoritative writers on Chicagoland ghosts, Richard T. Crowe in Chicago’s Street Guide to the Supernatural (2001), and Ursula Bielski in More Chicago Haunts (2000), have selections of work on it. Scott Marcus devoted an entire chapter to the road in his book Voices from the Chicago Grave (2008).

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 and Route 14. Its legends are numerous. White Cemetery, located on the eastern 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, formerly had the distinction of being home to an abandoned mansion or farmhouse that some believed was an old asylum.

White Cemetery is usually the focal point of this lore. The small, rectangular graveyard is said to date from the 1820s, undoubtedly a local family plot at the time of its establishment. Mysterious, hovering balls of light are most often associated with White Cemetery, but other unusual occurrences have been described as well.

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Resurrection Mary: Chicagoland’s Most Famous Ghost

Resurrection Mary is undoubtedly Chicagoland’s most famous ghost, hitching rides from unsuspecting commuters in the southwest suburbs for decades. Folklorists and ghost enthusiasts alike claim that Mary’s story dates back to the 1930s, when the ghost of a burgeoning Polish girl was first seen along Archer Avenue near Resurrection Cemetery. According to Kenan Heise, who would later go on to write a novel about the ghost, “she is a minor cult, a shared belief and an initiation rite for teenagers. When you learn to drive… you test the myth’s reality.”

Richard Crowe originally popularized the story in the 1970s, when he began collecting firsthand accounts and theorized that the real- life Mary had perished in a car accident in the early 1930s. “Mary supposedly was killed in a car wreck 40 years ago, and she’s been coming back and going dancing ever since,” he remarked in a May 13, 1974 article in the Chicago Tribune. Later, he elaborated that the sightings usually occurred around 1:30am.

In July 1979, the Tribune published a letter that claimed the last time the ghost of Mary had been seen was in August 1976 or ‘77, by two policemen near the gate of Resurrection Cemetery. That anonymous writer was probably referring to the most intriguing event of all related to this saga: the night that Mary left physical evidence behind.

Although most accounts of the incident vaguely refer to a “man” or “someone” at “sometime” having seen a woman in white clasping the bars of the cemetery gate, Richard Crowe revealed that the man in question was none other than Pat Homa, a Justice police officer who had responded to a trespassing call the night of August 10, 1976 and discovered two of the bars burnt and bent irregularly, with what looked like finger impressions melted into the bronze.

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Elmwood Cemetery and Violin Annie

Elmwood Cemetery is located in the Southern Illinois’ town of Centralia off Gragg and Sycamore Streets directly west of the Raccoon Creek Reservoir. Originally called Centralia Cemetery (and sometimes referred to as such today), the graveyard was in use in the 1860s but not officially established until 1877. Its name was changed to Elmwood Cemetery in 1921. According to Centralia’s own website, the cemetery is a resting place for around 17,000 former residents.

Deep inside Elmwood sits a large monument shaped like a tabernacle or an ancient Greek temple with only four columns. At the top of the monument stands a nearly life sized statue of a young girl with flowing locks of hair. In her hands she holds a violin. The statue depicts Harriet Annie, the daughter of Dr. Winfield and Eoline Marshall. Annie died in 1890, a few weeks after her eleventh birthday.

A popular local legend maintains that the sweet strains of a violin can be heard emanating from the cemetery at night. The origin of the ethereal notes is said to be none other than the statue of H. Annie Winfield, or “Violin Annie,” as she has come to be known.

According to a testimonial on the Shadowlands Index of Haunted Places for Illinois, Annie died of diphtheria, an upper respiratory tract illness that mainly affects children. The most gruesome version of the story claims that her own father (or mother) killed her with her violin.

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Moon Point Cemetery’s Hatchet Lady

Moon Point Cemetery is an old graveyard located just south of Streator in Livingston County. Like other rural graveyards, Moon Point became an object of folklore in the late 1960s and ‘70s when local teens, looking for a place to ‘hang out’ after dark, picked this isolated location to drink, spin yarns, and play pranks on one another.

According to the History of Livingston County, Illinois (1878), “Moon’s Point” got its name from Jacob Moon who, along with his daughter and three sons, was the first to settle that particular area. Moon had fought in the War of 1812, and like other veterans of that war, moved west in search of cheap and abundant land.

In 1830, the family settled along a winding creek near a wooded area in Illinois country that became known as Moon Point.

Moon Point Cemetery is located adjacent to Moon Creek, leading many to refer to the graveyard as “Moon Creek Cemetery.” It is listed as such in the Shadowlands Index of Haunted Places for Illinois. According to the Index, Moon Point is haunted by the ghost of a “hatchet lady.” This lady went insane, the story goes, after either her son or daughter died, and “each night of a full moon a spirit is seen running around the cemetery, tossing hatchets.”

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A Harrowing Trip Along Blood’s Point Road

Blood’s Point in rural Boone County, Illinois is a well-known local legend but has only been written about sparingly. The road and cemetery of the same name are home to a cornucopia of stories and myths, each one a variant on the last. The name of the road itself is enough to excite one’s imagination. What kind of event would leave such a name upon the landscape? A gruesome murder or massacre? An ancient battle?

Unfortunately, its origins are quite mundane. According to The Past and Present of Boone County, Illinois (1877), Blood’s Point was named after a prominent local family, the Bloods. Arthur Blood was the first white settler in Flora Township; a pleasant area that derived its name from the abundance of flower-covered fields.

One could say that ever since its christening, the area has been stained by Blood (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Digital and print media articles contain a myriad of tales relating to the cemetery and the railroad bridge that lies about a mile to the west. The road itself is said to be patrolled by phantom vehicles, most notably an old pickup truck, but also a big rig and a disappearing cop car.

Depending on who you ask, around 4-8 people have hung themselves or have been hung from the railroad bridge; a witch, her children, three anonymous women, and even Arthur Blood along with his wife and their entire family! A busload of elementary school students is also said to have plummeted from the bridge.

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Peck Cemetery’s Restless Residents

Peck Cemetery in rural Macon County, Illinois is yet another of those cemeteries that developed a bad reputation in the 1970s and has since been rehabilitated. The cemetery itself is of the typical rural stock, formerly hidden in a wood at the end of a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Things have changed a little in recent years.

People I have talked to who remember when the cemetery was at the height of its reputation tell me that the area has been dramatically transformed. Houses dot the pothole-filled road. The gravel path to the cemetery is now a driveway. “Beware of dogs” and “no trespassing” signs are prominently displayed. Passersby would never guess that Peck Cemetery is only about fifty yards away.

Troy Taylor has done much to publicize this place, but stories have circulated the Internet for years. One photo purportedly shows a dark figure standing among the headstones.

Unlike cemeteries with similar claims, Peck Cemetery seems to have actually been a location of Satanic worship in the past. Hidden from view prior to the 1990s, it would have been the perfect place to hold nighttime excursions far from any prying eyes. The evidence of these practices included burnt candles, graffiti, headless statues covered in red paint, and even statements from alleged Satanists themselves.

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