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Among The Headstones

The Haunting of Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

By James Donahue

There is an small old graveyard in a forested area of Chicago known as Bachelor’s Grove which many say is a very haunted piece of real estate. Reports of strange orbs or "ghost lights" observed floating among the headstones and the apparition of a ghostly woman walking the grounds with a baby in her arms are among the stories that have made the place a popular draw for contemporary ghost hunters to visit on dark nights.

The cemetery, which remained all but forgotten until about 20 years ago, was a Nineteenth Century burial site for a small community of German immigrants called Bachelder’s Grove, believed named for an early settler by that name. Throughout time the name of the place has been altered to a more English term. The community of Bachelder’s Grove ceased to exist when the post office closed in about 1858.

The old cemetery is today choked with weeds and surrounded by a tall and rusting chain-link fence. Vandals, however, have managed to cut holes in the fence. Grave stones are scattered around. Some are even believed to be missing. The site appears to have even been ravaged by grave robbers looking for valuables and even the skulls of the dead that were buried there. Bones have sometimes been found strewn on the grounds.

Some believe it was the vandalism that stirred the spirits of the dead and brought about the haunting of the cemetery grounds. But local authorities say they have found evidence of some kind of ritualistic activity near a small pond at the edge of the cemetery that may have more to do with the spiritual activity. The mutilated bodies of chickens and other small animals have been found. Also strange inscriptions and sigils have been found carved or painted on trees and headstones.

In an effort to stop the ongoing desecration of the cemetery the road leading to the site has been closed and blocked with chains and large concrete blocks. No trespassing signs also are posted. But visitors and ghost hunters seem to manage to find their way to the grounds anyway. They have to walk about a half mile from the nearest road.

Some of the "ghost" stories told by locals are eerie.

One night during the 1970s two Cook County Forest Preserve officers were on patrol around the cemetery and they say they saw the apparition of a horse pulling a plow. The plow was being steered by the figure of an old man rising up out of the pond. They watched in disbelief as the ghostly image crossed the road in front of the ranger’s vehicle before disappearing into the trees. Other visitors claim to have seen the same strange vision of the old man steering a plow behind a horse.

Local historians say a terrible accident involving a horse and a farmer occurred at that site about a century earlier. It seems the farmer was blowing a nearby field. Something startled the horse. In his attempts to get the horse under control, he became tangled in the reins and was dragged behind the horse into the pond where they both drowned.

Yet another strange occurrence has been the appearance of a "phantom farm house" along the old trail leading to the cemetery. The house, which locals say does not exist, has been seen by numerous visitors, sometimes even in broad daylight. It has been described as an old, two-story white washed farm house with a large front porch. It has a porch swing and a light burns in the front window. People who approach the house say it appears to shrink until it fades away. Locals say there is no historical record of such a house even standing at that location.

Among the strange stories is that told by Chicago psychic detective Ken Melvoin-Berg, who went to the cemetery with a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. While there Melvoin-Berg heard the haunting voice of a child who tearfully complained that he had lost some money. The psychic then waded into the nearby pond, bent over and felt around in the muck. There he found a half-dollar coin, right where the ghostly voice told him it would be.