The Many Mysteries of Bachelor’s Grove

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery has been an enigma of southwestern suburban Chicago for over four decades. Like most such locations, it started out with a mundane existence. Over a century ago, picnickers dressed in their Sunday best lounged under oak trees in the park-like atmosphere of the cemetery. Two of the grove’s neighbors heated their small homes with coal burning stoves and drew water out of their brick wells, while horse drawn buggies trotted down the dirt road. It was a much different scene from today.

Much of the origins of Bachelor’s Grove have been obscured by the passage of time. Even its name is a mystery. Some say it was named after a group of single men who settled in the area around the 1830s, but a family named Batchelder already owned the land. According to Ursula Bielski, author of Chicago Haunts, the cemetery itself was originally named Everdon’s. Its first burial was in 1844, and the cemetery eventually contained 82 plots.

In the early half of the 20th Century, the Midlothian Turnpike ran past the cemetery, over the stream, and beyond. Today, the broken road appears to end at the cemetery gates, but closer inspection of a long ridge across from the stream reveals a roadbed that has been nearly reclaimed by the forest. The road was closed in the 1960s. Locals say that was when the trouble began.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Jason George, the body of a teenage girl was found in the woods in 1966, and in 1988 a man, who had been murdered by a former girlfriend, was found in the cemetery. Aside from those gruesome incidents, grave desecration regularly occurred. Bodies were dug up, animals were sacrificed, and headstones were moved or stolen.

Then the ghosts came.

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Introducing Memento Mori

Update: This blog has been completely retired and can no longer be viewed.

Hello friends! I’d like to announce a new blog dedicated to cemetery photography called Memento Mori. If you enjoy cemetery art, sculpture, and history, like I do, you’ll love this new blog. I hope to update it with new photos 4-5 times a week. I grew up with an interest in cemeteries. As an amateur historian, I loved the Victorian Period especially, with its romantic architecture, literature, and art. I hate everything about modern cemeteries, with their flat, cheap, and mass-produced headstones.

When I was younger, I enjoyed visiting cemeteries and looking at the artwork, and naturally, I wanted to share what I’d seen. As I got better at photography, I thought back to people like Matt Hucke, also a native Chicagoan, who captured images of this beautiful and haunting artwork, much of which is in danger due to erosion and vandalism. Although I’m not nearly as good a photographer, I created this blog to share some of my work. I hope you enjoy seeing these images as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

Live oak trees adorned with Spanish moss line the roadways of an old and neglected necropolis. Ferns engulf beautiful statues, while leaves and branches lay where they fell across stone-lined family plots. Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia is a setting made for dark romance and Gothic ghost tales. Its history, and its legends, have lured visitors for more than 170 years.

John Mullryne’s plantation, with its tree-lined avenues, once occupied this 160-acre site (though the plantation was a total of 600 acres). Mullryne was an English colonel who was granted the land in the 1760s. He named it “Bonaventure,” which is Italian for “good fortune.” Unfortunately for him, he was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, and his plantation was subsequently seized by the Georgia government.

Peter Wiltberger purchased Bonaventure in 1846, and his son William, turned it into Evergreen Cemetery 22 years later. In 1867, a man named John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist and preservationist, camped on the former plantation and wrote, “Only a small plot of ground is occupied with graves and the old mansion is in ruins.” He admired the Long Moss, “hanging in long silvery-gray skeins.”

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Lost Souls of Decatur’s Greenwood Cemetery

The undulating hills in this direful urban oasis conceal a number of strange tales.

Greenwood Cemetery is rumored to be one of the most haunted locations in central Illinois. According to Troy Taylor, a popular author on haunted locations in the Midwest, the land that would become Greenwood was originally an American Indian burial ground, and was later used by the first white settlers to bury their dead until the late 1830s.

These graves have since disappeared. The oldest visible marker on the grounds dates to 1840, and Greenwood Cemetery was officially established in 1857. Between 1900 and 1926, the cemetery was the premier location to be buried in Decatur, but by the end of the ‘30s the cemetery association ran out of money and the grounds were barely maintained.

In 1957, the city of Decatur took over ownership of the cemetery to save it, but they estimated that repairs would cost around $100,000. Volunteers gathered, and after much effort, the cemetery was restored. Vandals plagued the grounds, however, and rumors circulated regarding ghost lights and eerie sounds that emanated from the old public mausoleum.

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Harrison Cemetery’s Phantom Duet

Located between the town of Christopher and the village of Buckner in rural Franklin County, Illinois, Harrison Cemetery is home to two luminous phantoms, as well as haunting, ethereal tones. If you can get past the glowing ghosts of a man and a woman who are said to guard the cemetery, you will discover a small monument in the form of a piano. Although locked in stone, this unique headstone is said to be the source of the ghostly music.

Harrison Cemetery has served area residents for over 120 years and is named after one of the first families to settle Browning Township. The History of Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton, Franklin and Williamson Counties listed A. [Andrew] U. Harrison among the township’s early settlers, most of whom arrived in the same year Illinois became a state: 1818.

Both Andrew Harrison and his wife Elizabeth are interred in the cemetery. They died in 1845 and 1846, respectively, but Harrison Cemetery was not officially chartered until 1907.

The village of Buckner grew up along the Illinois Central rail during the 1910s and flourished due to its proximity to a large United Coal Mining Company plant that churned out 4,000 tons of coal per day.43 Workers at the plant and from the nearby mines converged on Buckner after their shifts.

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Anderson Cemetery: Hoax or Legend?

Is rural Illinois’ infamous “Graveyard X” simply a publicity stunt that got out of hand, or is it a portal to the beyond?

“Graveyard X.” The name conjures up images of a foreboding and desolate graveyard―a secretive place known only to an elite cabal of investigators who made an arrangement with local authorities to keep its location a secret. Only a privileged few have access to “the most haunted cemetery in Illinois.” A silly but romantic story.

Located south of Taylorville, Illinois near the tiny town of Clarksdale, “Graveyard X,” or “Cemetery X” as sometimes known, is actually Thomas Anderson Cemetery. Though hyped as Central Illinois’ version of Bachelor’s Grove (a cemetery in southwest suburban Chicago internationally-known for its ghostly legends) in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Thomas Anderson Cemetery is really an unremarkable rural cemetery. It’s not even abandoned.

Half-hearted attempts to keep its identity a secret have not been successful. In Troy Taylor’s book Beyond the Grave (2001), Anderson Cemetery, buoyed by a background story lifted from the pages of a Christian County cemetery record, was featured in a section entitled “Mysteries of the Grave.” That same year, the Field Guide to Illinois Hauntings, published by Taylor’s press, Whitechapel Productions, included an entry for “Graveyard X” with the very same background story.

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Cumberland Cemetery’s Headless Lady

The ghost of a decapitated woman who fell victim to a husband’s jealous rage is rumored to haunt this hallowed ground.

Cumberland Cemetery, located near the town of Wenona in Marshall County, is rumored to be the home of a headless lady, spook lights, and the ghost of a little girl. The cemetery itself is rich in history. It was the site of the first farm in Evans Township, and its rolling hills were once occupied by a fort built during the Black Hawk War to protect the nearby settlers from marauding Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo Indians.

Marshall County was settled comparatively late. Illinois became a state in 1818, but the first white settler in Evans Township, Benjamin Darnell, arrived there in 1828. The book Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties tells us that his nearest neighbor lived six miles away in what became Roberts Township.

Benjamin Darnell had ten children, including a 14 year old daughter named Lucy (the date of settlement given here, including Lucy’s age, is different than that given by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk in the Illinois Road Guide to Haunted Locations. I believe my source to be more accurate).

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